The overall goal

is to break new ground in cultural evolutionary studies by combining up-to-date cultural evolutionary theorizing with detailed textual and cultural analyses of key topics, in order to analyze the possible selective advantage of early Christian groups and texts in their Jewish and Greco-Roman cultural context.

There are two main hypotheses to be tested

1) Early Christian groups, or some of them, had selective advantage over other religiously oriented groups in the same environment. This advantage provides at least a partial explanation for the rise of Christianity during the first centuries CE.

2) Some variants of early Christian social formation and textual tradition had selective advantage over other corresponding early Christian variants in the same environment. This advantage provides at least a partial explanation for the relative success of these variants within emerging Christian culture.

More specifically,

the cultural evolution of early Christianity is analyzed through certain key research topics, studied by the members of the team. The goal is not to simply take up “old” research topics and subject them to evolutionary analysis but to contribute to currently significant research topics in the way that also makes possible evolutionary analysis and the integration of knowledge. Each topic has its own particular research questions and hypotheses (not to speak of multiple concepts and terms!). The topics feed the evolutionary analysis by paying attention to variation, selection and transmission. 

Read more about the key reasearch questions here.

A short overview of earlier research and the expected impact 

of the present project, click here