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The Promise Of Cognitive Science For The Study Of Early Christianity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reflects on the work of the historian and on the appropriateness and utility of cognitive theorizing for historical method. It illustrates the utility with reference to the historical study of early Christianity. The chapter also proposes that the conclusions of cognitive scientists can offer well-founded theories that can supplement and provide correctives to the traditional tools. It can do so by identifying and explaining data that have been produced by ordinary processes of human cognition but that have otherwise been neglected in favor of more explicit forms of data or evidence which historians have, for one reason or another, come to privilege. These theories promise explanations for how and why religious representations have been exploited as efficient ways by which elaborated and complex information such as codes of behavior or morality, social knowledge, or political ideology have been legitimated and successfully transmitted over time.

Keywords: cognitive scientists; cognitive theories; early Christianity; political ideology; religious representations; social knowledge



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