Journal of Cognitive Historiography, Vol 4, No 1 (2017)

Enduring Shame as Costly Signalling: The Case of Public Confession of Sin According to Tertullian

Rikard Roitto
Issued Date: 4 Dec 2018


This article analyses public confession of sins according to Tertullian (160-225 CE) as an emotionally and socially costly signal of commitment to a religious group, early 3rd century Christianity in Carthage. Here "public" means "before the community of believers" rather than "before society in general". What group dynamic functions did the ritual have and why did people accept undergoing the shame of public confession of sins?

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DOI: 10.1558/jch.17704


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