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Margins and MetropolisAuthority across the Byzantine Empire$
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Judith Herrin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153018

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.001.0001

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Ideals of Charity, Realities of Welfare

Ideals of Charity, Realities of Welfare

The Philanthropic Activity of the Byzantine Church

(p.299) 14 Ideals of Charity, Realities of Welfare
Margins and Metropolis

Judith Herrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the ideals of charity and the realities of welfare under the Byzantine Empire by focusing on the philanthropic activity of the Byzantine church. While ecclesiastical philanthropy grew and changed over centuries, the earliest Christian experience remained an important model that was often reasserted in an effort to imitate the direct charitable activity of Christ and the Apostles. This duty to assist has two outstanding features, love and charity, summed up by Jesus' instructions to his followers to love one another and to sell all they had and give to the poor. The chapter considers two aspects of the development of Byzantine charitable institutions: the mechanisms by which welfare was administered, and the underlying theory of good works. It shows that the theory of good works provided a major impetus to the practice of all Byzantine philanthropy.

Keywords:   charity, welfare, Byzantine Empire, Byzantine church, love, charitable institutions, good works, ecclesiastical philanthropy

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