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Title: Ideas of love and kinship in early Christian self definition from the earliest period to the mid-third century
Author: McCormick, Gavin
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the ideas of love and kinship of early Christians in the first three centuries! Its principal aim is to map how Christian writers in this period employed the ideas to define points of difference between people: between themselves and their fellow Christians and between Christians and non-Christians. The central argument of the thesis is that the ideas functioned as boundary markers - but also to signal the absence of boundaries - in a hitherto unacknowledged variety of ways. This variety is illustrative of the malleability of the ideas, of their capacity to acquire new tinctures of meaning in different settings, and sheds fresh light on their role in shaping the character and development of the early Christian movement. The focus of discussion is on the evidence of materials which are commonly placed within the orthodox or proto-orthodox lineage of Christianity: it is among these materials that diversity of thought is least emphasised in existing scholarship. Special attention is given to the lexical meanings which attached to specific love and kinship words in the war of individual authors. Analysis of these meanings is used to uncover assumptions which illustrate, the structure of the authors' social thought. The conclusion of the thesis is that simple characterisations of how early Christians understood ideas of love and kinship to define their status as believers can no longer be considered adequate .The ideas were understood by some authors to demonstrate the openness of relations between Christians and non-Christians and the absence of significant differences or boundaries between them. For other authors, they demonstrated the opposite. Both outlooks, moreover, took a number of different forms an d both could even be present within the thought of a single author.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available