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

  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},
  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… 

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