Rodney Stark on the Triumph of Christianity, Part 1
Date: February 6th, 2012
In 2012, Christians represented roughly 2.8 billion people (or 40%) of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants. How did a small group of individuals representing what could be considered a Jewish sect on the outskirts of the Roman Empire succeed in become the world’s largest faith tradition. Prof. Rodney Stark, co-director of Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, discusses his new book The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion. While that books spans over 2000 years of world history, our focus is on the century leading up to “Christmas Eve” (Christ’s birth) and the three hundred years that followed. Prof. Stark details the religious landscape of the Roman Empire at that time, starting with the sectarian nature of Judaism and then discussing what paganism was all about and how there was a tendency towards monotheism and what implications that had for Christianity. We then discuss several other sociological factors that played a role in the expansion of Christianity, including the role of mercy (and health care), the paradoxical effects of persecution, the surprising socio-economic status of early converts, and the important role that women played in the early Church. Rod also discusses some recent understandings of who Jesus was and why this mattered. We finish with the conversion of Constantine and Rod hints at what consequences this had for the medieval Christian Church, which will be a topic of future conversation. Recorded: January 6, 2012.
The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion, by Rodney Stark.
The Rise of Christianity, by Rodney Stark.
God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, by Rodney Stark.
The Victory of Reason: How Cristianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, by Rodney Stark.
For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery, by Rodney Stark.
Discovering God: The Origin of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief, by Rodney Stark.
Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.
Rodney Stark on the Crusades.
Jim Papandrea on the Church Fathers.
Brant Pitre on the Jewish Origins of the Eucharist.
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