The Rise of Christianity
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|Author||: Rodney Stark|
|Editor||: Harper Collins|
This "fresh, blunt, and highly persuasive account of how the West was won—for Jesus" (Newsweek) is now available in paperback. Stark's provocative report challenges conventional wisdom and finds that Christianity's astounding dominance of the Western world arose from its offer of a better, more secure way of life. "Compelling reading" (Library Journal) that is sure to "generate spirited argument" (Publishers Weekly), this account of Christianity's remarkable growth within the Roman Empire is the subject of much fanfare. "Anyone who has puzzled over Christianity's rise to dominance...must read it." says Yale University's Wayne A. Meeks, for The Rise of Christianity makes a compelling case for startling conclusions. Combining his expertise in social science with historical evidence, and his insight into contemporary religion's appeal, Stark finds that early Christianity attracted the privileged rather than the poor, that most early converts were women or marginalized Jews—and ultimately "that Christianity was a success because it proved those who joined it with a more appealing, more assuring, happier, and perhaps longer life" (Andrew M. Greeley, University of Chicago).
|Author||: Rodney Stark|
|Editor||: Princeton University Press|
The idea that Christianity started as a clandestine movement among the poor is a widely accepted notion. Yet it is one of many myths that must be discarded if we are to understand just how a tiny messianic movement on the edge of the Roman Empire became the dominant faith of Western civilization. In a fast-paced, highly readable book that addresses beliefs as well as historical facts, Rodney Stark brings a sociologist's perspective to bear on the puzzle behind the success of early Christianity. He comes equipped not only with the logic and methods of social science but also with insights gathered firsthand into why people convert and how new religious groups recruit members. He digs deep into the historical evidence on many issues--such as the social background of converts, the mission to the Jews, the status of women in the church, the role of martyrdom--to provide a vivid and unconventional account of early Christianity. The author plots the most plausible curve of Christian growth from the year 40 to 300. By the time of Constantine, Christianity had become a considerable force, with growth patterns very similar to those of modern-day successful religious movements. An unusual number of Christian converts, for example, came from the educated, cosmopolitan classes. Because it offered a new perspective on familiar concepts and was not linked to ethnicity, Christianity had a large following among persons seeking to assimilate into the dominant culture, mainly Hellenized Jews. The oversupply of women in Christian communities--due partly to the respect and protection they received--led to intermarriages with pagans, hence more conversions, and to a high fertility rate. Stark points out, too, the role played by selflessness and faith. Amidst the epidemics, fires, and other disasters that beleaguered Greco-Roman cities, Christian communities were a stronghold of mutual aid, which resulted in a survival rate far greater than that of the pagans. In the meantime, voluntary martyrdom, especially a generation after the death of Christ, reinforced the commitment of the Christian rank and file. What Stark ultimately offers is a multifaceted portrait of early Christianity, one that appeals to practical reasoning, historical curiosity, and personal reflection.
|Author||: Jan N. Bremmer|
The rise of Christianity up to the victory of Constantine has often been studied and remains a puzzling phenomenon. In this valedictory lecture Jan N. Bremmer concentrates on the explanations adduced, focusing in particular on the works of three iconic figures from the last two hundred and fifty years: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of Edward Gibbon, the most famous ancient historian of all time, at the end of the eighteenth century; Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums of Adolf von Harnack, the greatest historian of early Christianity of all time, around 1900, and The Rise of Christianity of Rodney Stark, the most adventurous sociologist of religion of our times, at the end of the twentieth century.Bremmer locates their concerns and explanations within their own times, but also takes them seriously as scholars, discussing their analyses and approaches. In this way he shows both the continuities and the innovations in the evolving view which scholarship presents of early Christianity. Bremmer's exceptional knowledge of the huge range of scholarship and his humane and balanced judgment make this lecture the ideal introduction to the many problems raised by Christianity's displacement of paganism
|Author||: W. H. C. Frend|
|Editor||: Fortress Press|
Traces the early history of the Christian church from Jewish Palestine prior to Christ's birth to the sixth century monastic movement, and explains how Christianity survived under a variety of cultures
|Author||: Paula Fredriksen|
|Editor||: Yale University Press|
"Magisterial. . . . A learned, brilliant and enjoyable study."—Géza Vermès, Times Literary Supplement In this exciting book, Paula Fredriksen explains the variety of New Testament images of Jesus by exploring the ways that the new Christian communities interpreted his mission and message in light of the delay of the Kingdom he had preached. This edition includes an introduction reviews the most recent scholarship on Jesus and its implications for both history and theology. "Brilliant and lucidly written, full of original and fascinating insights."—Reginald H. Fuller, Journal of the American Academy of Religion "This is a first-rate work of a first-rate historian."—James D. Tabor, Journal of Religion "Fredriksen confronts her documents—principally the writings of the New Testament—as an archaeologist would an especially rich complex site. With great care she distinguishes the literary images from historical fact. As she does so, she explains the images of Jesus in terms of the strategies and purposes of the writers Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."—Thomas D’Evelyn, Christian Science Monitor
|Author||: Paul Barnett|
|Editor||: InterVarsity Press|
Paul Barnett not only places the New Testament within the world of caesars and Herods, proconsuls and Pharisees, Sadducee and revolutionaries, but argues that the mainspring and driving force of early Christian history is the historical Jesus.
|Author||: Bart D. Ehrman|
|Editor||: Simon and Schuster|
The “marvelous” (Reza Aslan, bestselling author of Zealot), New York Times bestselling story of how Christianity became the dominant religion in the West. How did a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some thirty million people in just four centuries? In The Triumph of Christianity, early Christian historian Bart D. Ehrman weaves the rigorously-researched answer to this question “into a vivid, nuanced, and enormously readable narrative” (Elaine Pagels, National Book Award-winning author of The Gnostic Gospels), showing how a handful of charismatic characters used a brilliant social strategy and an irresistible message to win over hearts and minds one at a time. This “humane, thoughtful and intelligent” book (The New York Times Book Review) upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen—one that revolutionized art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law.
|Author||: James J. O'Donnell|
|Editor||: Harper Collins|
A provocative and contrarian religious history that charts the rise of Christianity from the point of view of traditional” religion from the religious scholar and critically acclaimed author of Augustine. Pagans explores the rise of Christianity from a surprising and unique viewpoint: that of the people who witnessed their ways of life destroyed by what seemed then a powerful religious cult. These “pagans” were actually pious Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Gauls who observed the traditions of their ancestors. To these devout polytheists, Christians who worshipped only one deity were immoral atheists who believed that a splash of water on the deathbed could erase a lifetime of sin. Religious scholar James J. O’Donnell takes us on a lively tour of the Ancient Roman world through the fourth century CE, when Romans of every nationality, social class, and religious preference found their world suddenly constrained by rulers who preferred a strange new god. Some joined this new cult, while others denied its power, erroneously believing it was little more than a passing fad. In Pagans, O’Donnell brings to life various pagan rites and essential features of Roman religion and life, offers fresh portraits of iconic historical figures, including Constantine, Julian, and Augustine, and explores important themes—Rome versus the east, civilization versus barbarism, plurality versus unity, rich versus poor, and tradition versus innovation—in this startling account.
|Author||: Rodney Stark|
|Editor||: Harper Collins|
Celebrated religious and social historian Rodney Starktraces the extraordinary rise of Christianity through its most pivotal andcontroversial moments to offer fresh perspective on the history of the world’slargest religion. In The Triumph of Christianity, the author of God’sBattalions and The Rise of Christianity gathers and refines decadesof powerful research and discovery into one concentrated, concise, and highlyreadable volume that explores Christianity’s most crucial episodes. The uniqueformat of Triumph of Christianity allows Stark to avoid densechronologies and difficult back stories, bringing readers right to the heart ofChristian history’s most vital controversies and enduring lessons.
|Author||: Leif E. Vaage|
|Editor||: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press|
Religious Rivalries in the Early Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity discusses the diverse cultural destinies of early Christianity, early Judaism, and other ancient religious groups as a question of social rivalry. The book is divided into three main sections. The first section debates the degree to which the category of rivalry adequately names the issue(s) that must be addressed when comparing and contrasting the social “success” of different religious groups in antiquity. The second is a critical assessment of the common modern category of “mission” to describe the inner dynamic of such a process; it discusses the early Christian apostle Paul, the early Jewish historian Josephus, and ancient Mithraism. The third section of the book is devoted to “the rise of Christianity,” primarily in response to the similarly titled work of the American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark. While it is not clear that any of these groups imagined its own success necessarily entailing the elimination of others, it does seem that early Christianity had certain habits, both of speech and practice, which made it particularly apt to succeed (in) the Roman Empire.
|Author||: Arland J. Hultgren|
|Editor||: Wipf and Stock Publishers|
More than fifty years ago, Walter Bauer's 'Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity' undercut the traditional views on the making of orthodox Christianity by arguing that in several geographic areas, heresy preceded orthodoxy. Subsequently, the ancient documents discovered at Nag Hammadi proved that early Christianity was tremendously diverse. These influences have given rise to the notion that the various gnostic interpretations are mere alternatives to more traditional interpretations of Jesus and his significance. Using a focused but broad definition of normative Christianity, Hultgren contends that such a tradition originated at the very beginnings of the Christian movements, developed, and came to dominate as the most adequate expression of Jesus' legacy. Normative Christianity - a stream as wide as the New Testament canon - forged a coherence between confession of faith and community ethos that could endure and was the basis for later orthodoxy.
|Author||: Catherine Nixey|
|Editor||: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 “Searingly passionate…Nixey writes up a storm. Each sentence is rich, textured, evocative, felt…[A] ballista-bolt of a book.” —New York Times Book Review In Harran, the locals refused to convert. They were dismembered, their limbs hung along the town’s main street. In Alexandria, zealots pulled the elderly philosopher-mathematician Hypatia from her chariot and flayed her to death with shards of broken pottery. Not long before, their fellow Christians had invaded the city’s greatest temple and razed it—smashing its world-famous statues and destroying all that was left of Alexandria’s Great Library. Today, we refer to Christianity’s conquest of the West as a “triumph.” But this victory entailed an orgy of destruction in which Jesus’s followers attacked and suppressed classical culture, helping to pitch Western civilization into a thousand-year-long decline. Just one percent of Latin literature would survive the purge; countless antiquities, artworks, and ancient traditions were lost forever. As Catherine Nixey reveals, evidence of early Christians’ campaign of terror has been hiding in plain sight: in the palimpsests and shattered statues proudly displayed in churches and museums the world over. In The Darkening Age, Nixey resurrects this lost history, offering a wrenching account of the rise of Christianity and its terrible cost.
|Author||: Alan Kreider|
|Editor||: Baker Academic|
How and why did the early church grow in the first four hundred years despite disincentives, harassment, and occasional persecution? In this unique historical study, veteran scholar Alan Kreider delivers the fruit of a lifetime of study as he tells the amazing story of the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Challenging traditional understandings, Kreider contends the church grew because the virtue of patience was of central importance in the life and witness of the early Christians. They wrote about patience, not evangelism, and reflected on prayer, catechesis, and worship, yet the church grew--not by specific strategies but by patient ferment.
|Author||: Hector Avalos|
|Editor||: Hendrickson Pub|
"In "Health Care and the Rise of Christianity" Avalos helpfully turns our attention to the care of bodies as fundamental to the growth and expansion of early Christianity. Response to basic issues" such as cost, access to care, and perceived efficacy" helped to fashion an early Christian system of health care that was distinct from contemporary approaches. Avalos raises eminently relevant questions about the role of ideas and practices of health care in the attractiveness of new religious movements, both historically and today." " Nancy L. Eiesland, Candler School of Theology, Emory University "Professor Avalos brings his considerable expertise in medical anthropology to the study of health care systems in the ancient cultures out of which Christianity arose. His analysis of the role played by health care in the advent of Christianity is carefully constructed through cross-cultural and interdisciplinary methodologies, and presented in a readable format which makes his results easily accessible to the specialist and layperson alike. This book is a must for anyone interested in the topic, or concerned about the ethical and long term implications of a modern health system care in crisis." " Carole R. Fontaine, Andover Newton Theological School
|Author||: Brad Christerson,Richard Flory|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
Why, when traditionally organized religious groups are seeing declining membership and participation, are networks of independent churches growing so explosively? Drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders and participants, The Rise of Network Christianity explains the social forces behind the fastest-growing form of Christianity in the U.S., which Brad Christerson and Richard Flory have labeled "Independent Network Charismatic." This form of Christianity emphasizes aggressive engagement with the supernatural-including healing, direct prophecies from God, engaging in "spiritual warfare" against demonic spirits--and social transformation. Christerson and Flory argue that macro-level social changes since the 1970s, including globalization and the digital revolution, have given competitive advantages to religious groups organized as networks rather than traditionally organized congregations and denominations. Network forms of governance allow for experimentation with controversial supernatural practices, innovative finances and marketing, and a highly participatory, unorthodox, and experiential faith, which is attractive in today's unstable religious marketplace. Christerson and Flory hypothesize that as more religious groups imitate this type of governance, religious belief and practice will become more experimental, more orientated around practice than theology, more shaped by the individual religious "consumer," and authority will become more highly concentrated in the hands of individuals rather than institutions. Network Christianity, they argue, is the future of Christianity in America.
|Author||: Cynthia White|
|Editor||: Fortress Press|
This brief survey text tells the story of early Christianity. Cynthia White explores the emergence of Christianity in Rome during the first four centuries of the Greco-Roman empire, from the first followers of Jesus Christ, to conflicts between Christians and Jewish kings under Roman occupation, to the torture of Christian followers, Diocletian's reforms, and Constantine's eventual conversion to monotheism, which cemented Christianity's status as the official religion of Rome. The text's chapters will integrate key pedagogy, including introductions, study questions, textboxes, photos, maps, suggested readings, and a glossary and timeline.
|Author||: Don Nardo|
Discusses the rise of Christianity including the Christian revolution, its Jewish roots, Jesus, Constantine's revolution, and the Christianization of Europe.
|Author||: Rodney Stark,Xiuhua Wang|
|Editor||: Templeton Foundation Press|
What is the state of Christianity in China, really? Some scholars say that China is invulnerable to religion. Some say that past efforts of missionaries have failed, writing off those who were converted as nothing more than “rice Christians,” or cynical souls who had frequented the missions for the benefits they provided. Some wonder if the Cultural Revolution extinguished any chances of Christianity in China. Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang offer a different perspective, arguing that Christianity is alive, well, and even on the rise. Stark approaches the topic from an extensive research background in both Christianity and Chinese history, and Wang provides an inside look at Christianity and its place in her home country of China. Both authors cover the history of religion in China, disproving older theories concerning not only the number of Christians, but the kinds of Christians that have emerged in the past 155 years. Stark and Wang claim that when just considering the visible Christians, those not part of underground churches, there are still thousands of Chinese being converted to Christianity each day, and forty new churches opening each week. A Star in the East draws on two major national surveys to sketch a close-up of religion in China. A reliable estimate is that by 2007 there were approximately 60 million Christians in China. If the current rate of growth were to hold until 2030, there would be more Christians in China—about 295 million—than in any other nation on earth. This has significant implications, not just for China but for the greater world order. It is probable that Chinese Christianity will splinter into denominations, likely leading to the same kinds of political, social, and economic ramifications seen in the West today. Whether you’re new to studying Christianity in China, or whether this has been your area of interest for years, A Star in the East provides a reliable, thought-provoking, and engaging account of the resilience of the Christian faith in China and the implications it has for the future.