Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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The term “hospitality” often translates the Greek φιλοξενία for which a more faithful but less handy rendition would be the “loving care shown to strangers.” The concept is closely related to that of φιλανθρωπία – the “love for fellow human beings.”

In ancient Greece and Rome, these two terms defined the borders of the civilized world (Hiltbrunner, 1972; 1992; Chadwick, 1992; Reece, 1993; Constable, 2003). Odysseus elegantly expressed this distinction upon his return to Ithaca:

Woe is me, to the land of what mortals am I now com…

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Banev, Krastu, “Hospitality”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 27 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2018

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