The Diffusion of Christianity in the Third Century AD as a Case-Study in the Theory of Cultural Selection

@article{Runciman2004TheDO,
  title={The Diffusion of Christianity in the Third Century AD as a Case-Study in the Theory of Cultural Selection},
  author={W. G. Runciman},
  journal={European Journal of Sociology},
  year={2004},
  volume={45},
  pages={3 - 21}
}
  • W. Runciman
  • Published 1 April 2004
  • Philosophy
  • European Journal of Sociology
Explanation of the growth of Christianity in the third century Roman Empire has long been controversial. However, recent game-theoretic research shows how a strategy of unconditional altruism such as Christianity formally enjoined can, under certain conditions, resist invasion by defectors, free-riders and cheats. It is accordingly plausible to suggest that in the particular environment of the third century Empire this uniquely distinguishing feature of Christianity accounts for much of its… 

Marxism and the spatial analysis of early Christianity: the contribution of G.E.M. de Ste. Croix

This is an in-depth engagement with the neglected Marxist classicist, G.E.M. de Ste. Croix. Although Ste. Croix's focus was Ancient Greece and, to some extent, Ancient Rome, he wrote extensively on

Human intentionality in the functionalist theory of social change: the role of French provincial intendants in state-society differentiation

  • S. Clark
  • Sociology
    European Journal of Sociology
  • 2005
This paper seeks to assess the validity, in a particular historical case, of two ways of thinking in functionalist literature about the role of human intentionality in social change. It does so by

Why Groups Matter to Sociocultural Evolution: How Religio-Cultural Entrepreneurship Drove Political and Religious Evolution in Ancient Israel

Abstract: Evolutionary concepts have a rich history in sociological theory, from Spencer to Durkheim, Marx to Weber. Recently, a neo-evolutionary revival has occurred in the social sciences, (1)

PART II: MORALITY AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY 1. Morality and the Evolution of Christianity267

Some evolutionary theorists and cognitive scientists, like Richard Dawkins and Pascal Boyer, take religion as a spandrel, a by-product of mental modules that originally supported the evolutionary

What is Worth Defending in Sociology Today? Presentism, Historical Vision and the Uses of Sociology

In recent years, sociology in Britain – and in national contexts influenced by British sociology – has been diagnosed by various parties as suffering from a wide range of ailments. These forms of

Social Change and Selectionist Thought: On Spencer, Darwin and Runciman

TLDR
This article clarifies Spencer's ideas on evolutionary process, disentangling them from and establishing their marginality to Darwin's central concerns, and considers with examples, including Goffman on ‘stigma’ and the decline of the poor law, the new questions opened up for social theory by this modestly selectionist mode of analysis.

Old age in Byzantine society

ABSTRACT This paper examines the status afforded old age in the Byzantine Empire. Frequently neglected in accounts of state formation or comparative history, this Christian imperial state transformed

Puritan American Capitalists and Evolutionary Game Theory

Two of the distinctive ways of behaving which Weber attributed to Protestant, and more specifically Puritan, capitalists have a particular relevance to the evolution of capitalism in the Northern

Does culture evolve by means of Darwinian selection? The lessons of Candide’s travels

TLDR
The concept of selection as it is defined here loses, in its three spheres of application – GTE, culture but also biology – the meaning and explanatory power it has in classic population genetics.

Sociology and theology reconsidered

This article explores the relationship between theology and sociology on two levels. The first is in terms of the general disciplinary closure that has marked much of their coexistence, despite the

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 37 REFERENCES

The Rich Christian in the Church of the Early Empire: Contradictions and Accommodations . By L. William Countryman. Texts and Studies in Religion 7. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1980. ix+239 pp $24.95.

In this revised dissertation the author's decision to approach the problem of private property and riches in the early church by means of a sociological method grounded in exegetical faithfulness to

Pagan And Christian In An Age Of Anxiety

contemporaries to realise or than recent champions of his orthodoxy among French scholars have admitted. The author is convinced that Origen deliberately intended to conceal from the average

Some Reflections On the Relationship Magic-Religion

The well-known substantialist-'Frazerian'-definitions of magic as distinct from religion by its immediate and individual goals, the concomitant manipulative and coercive attitude, the instrumental

Bread and Circuses: Historical Sociology and Political Pluralism

The phenomenon, known as "euergetism", is one of the most striking features of the ancient world. It can be seen as a form of altruism, civic pride or wealth redistribution, a means of buying honour,

Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology

This volume shows how Max Weber (1864-1920) laid a solid theoretical foundation for economic sociology and developed a series of new and evocative concepts. He not only investigated economic

Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives

This paper presents an economic analysis of religious behavior that accounts for the continuing success of groups with strange requirements and seemingly inefficient prohibitions. The analysis does

The sociological explanation of ‘religious’ beliefs

The aim of this paper is methodological, not substantive. In the first section I shall discuss the familiar problem of how ‘religious’ beliefs can, if at all, be usefully distinguished from beliefs

Magic in the Ancient World

This text aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to ancient magic. It gives direct access to the sources but selects the important, characteristic examples. Ancient Greeks and Romans often

Strong reciprocity and human sociality.

  • H. Gintis
  • Economics, Psychology
    Journal of theoretical biology
  • 2000
TLDR
The evidence for an empirically identifiable form of prosocial behavior in humans, which is called "strong reciprocity", is reviewed and a simple model of the evolutionary emergence of strong reciprocity is presented.

The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World from the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests

This text is a challenging work on ancient history and should be of interest to historians of the Greco-Roman world. It combines sociological acumen with solid historical craftsmanship, to provide an