Clemency, A Neglected Aspect of Early Christian Philanthropy
AbstractIn classical and early Christian usage the concept of philanthropia (philanthropy) rarely just meant “love for one’s fellow human beings” or generosity towards people whom one did not personally know. Classicists have pointed out that in both of these ancient traditions it was most synonymous with the Latin term clementia. As such, it had a concessive facet and a universalizing force: showing kindness to humans, even if doing so went against one’s natural or justified reluctance; being merciful, despite the fact that beneficiaries might not seem worthy of it. These observations have not informed prior scholarship on early Christian philanthropy. Based on a comprehensive survey of how the word philanthropia is used in church histories, hagiographies, monastic literature and church sermons written in the Greek language from the fourth to seventh centuries, this paper argues that the classical notion of philanthropy as clemency prevailed among Christian authors throughout late antiquity, and was fundamentally important in the early Christian promotion of universal almsgiving. View Full-Text
Share & Cite This Article
Caner, D.F. Clemency, A Neglected Aspect of Early Christian Philanthropy. Religions 2018, 9, 229.
Caner DF. Clemency, A Neglected Aspect of Early Christian Philanthropy. Religions. 2018; 9(8):229.Chicago/Turabian Style
Caner, Daniel F. 2018. "Clemency, A Neglected Aspect of Early Christian Philanthropy." Religions 9, no. 8: 229.
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.