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The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure,…
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The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became…

by Rodney Stark

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Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600
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.
  kgreply | Jul 8, 2014 |
This was one of the most interesting books on early Christianity I've ever read. It gave texture to life in that day, and shone a new light on much that is all too familiar. His explanations of how Christianity likely spread and the rate at which it spread were fascinating. Highly recommended for anyone interested in how Christianity took over the western world. ( )
  jeffclocke | Jul 3, 2012 |
This book was really interesting. Stark approaches the history of early Christianity with a social scientist's eye. He applies different social theories to explain how Christianity could have grown at the rate it did without mass conversions or lots of miracles. (Instead he looks at things like social network, increased fertility, ability to survive plagues, etc.)

Stark isn't a terribly interesting writer (hence the lower stars) and his method of footnoting within the text is distracting and annoying, but the book still manages to read fairly quickly.

There are a lot of good insights about what causes people to convert, the makeup of early Christian communities, and more.

This book is definitely recommended for a different take on early Christian community. ( )
  shannonkearns | Feb 5, 2012 |
Stark’s book is an excellent read for anyone interested in early Christian history. His innovative approach, using sociological rather than historical methods, brings many new revelations and does much to further explain the origins of Christianity. This book is a great starting point for a reevaluation of some of the common notions of historians of early Christianity and I hope that future historians will apply some of Stark’s findings to their research as they will do much to contribute to our knowledge of the nativity of the Western world. ( )
1 vote davidpwithun | Sep 16, 2011 |
NO OF PAGES: 246 SUB CAT I: Emergence of Christianity SUB CAT II: SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: Finally, all questions concerning the rise of Christianity are one: How was it done? How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization? Although this is the only question, it requires many answers--no one thing led to the triumph of Christianity. This book details how that obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the Western world in just a few centuries. Some of the subjects covered are the role of women, the martyrs, class basis and Christianizing the urban empire. The author gives explanations to why and how it succeeded as well as unexpected blockades along the way.NOTES: Purchased from Amazon.com. SUBTITLE: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060677015, Paperback)

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).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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 picture of early Christianity.… (more)

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