The next question from our reader on this subject:
Do you think introverts and extroverts were running around in the days of the early church? Or, hey, what about the entire package of the Myers-Briggs personality types? …You warn against reading our modern concepts of psychology into the Bible, what of this?
Technically, Myers-Briggs is a classification tool; it would probably be able to work in a very basic sense of defining people’s characteristics, but what would change is how those would be expressed in an agonistic society.
That said, I can’t think of any reason why the two basic categories of introversion and extroversion would not at least have existed. I do imagine the introvert found it harder to cope with the pressures of a collectivist society; it may well be that the church’s monastic movement gave them a refuge, and perhaps such people did their best to find ways to be alone, whether by tilling the fields or joining some religious order.
Of course, this opens up the question of whether introversion and extroversion are “stamped” on us from birth or whether they are trained into us. That’s certainly not a question I’m expert enough to settle; you can find all sorts of resources debating “nature vs nurture” whether online or in print (the latter, please), so it’s not settled out there either. But if “nurture” is it, then we’d have to ask if the sort of behaviors that “nurture” introversion and extroversion also existed in that period (or whether comparable behaviors did). I can’t imagine this not being the case.