The Concept of Philanthropy in the Early Syrian Fathers

Gather, Jill

Philanthropy implies love of humankind and the wish to improve the welfare of one’s neighbor, often through charitable deeds or donations. The philanthropic mission therefore also implies relatedness, because it depends on a setting in which the needs of fellow beings are discerned and met. The understanding that philanthropy and communal existence are intimately linked is at the heart of this article.
Given the close association of philanthropic work and interrelatedness, a discussion of the former notion within the context of Oriental Christianity may, at first sight, appear a rather hopeless enterprise, especially if considering the more extreme manifestations of early Syrian ascetical practices , which are reported in historical source. Passages from texts, such as Theodoret of Cyrrhus’ History of the Monks of Syria, Palladius’ Historia Lausiaca, or Sozomen’s Church History, conjure up the image of Syrain ascetics living in remote, isolated areas, untouched by civilization.

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Philanthropy and Social Compassion in Eastern Orthodox Tradition: Papers of the Sophia Institute Academic Conference, New York, Dec. 2009
Theotokos Press

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Academic Units
Sophia Institute
Sophia Institute Studies in Orthodox Theology, 2
Published Here
September 13, 2011