The Triumph Of Christianity: How The Jesus Movement Became The World's Largest Religion
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"2012 Book of the Year"--World Magazine. Celebrated religious historian and sociologist Rodney Stark has spent his career engaging with that very question. Indeed, after thirty highly regarded books on the matter, he has created a true master course in Christian history. Now, for the first time, he distills his research to just the most important and interesting episodes--the seminal moments in the story that, he now believes, demand new perspectives. Stark gets right to the events of greatest interest, often turning them on their heads: He argues that Constantine's conversion did the Church a great deal of harm, for example, and that the majority of converts to early Christianity were women. And he asks the questions at the heart of the human story: What role did Jesus's family play in the early Church? How was Christianity's rise influenced by the misery of daily life in Greco-Roman cities? What role did vigorous competition play in the success, and failure, of churches in colonial America? Finally, having brought readers to the present day, Stark makes a compelling case that the popular notion that religion must disappear to make room for modernity is amply disproved by the sociological evidence.
More than 40 percent of the people on earth today are Christians, and their number is growing more rapidly than that of any other major faith. In "The Triumph of Christianity," acclaimed religious and social historian Rodney Stark explains how an obscure Jewish sect became the largest, most thriving religion in the world.
In Stark's groundbreaking book "The Rise of Christianity," he examined the early success of Christianity and how it conquered Rome. Now, in this much-anticipated volume, Stark tells a far more extensive story, beginning with the religious and social situation prior to the birth of Jesus and continuing to the present.
As it moves through six historical eras, "The Triumph of Christianity" gets right to Christianity's most pivotal and controversial moments--often turning them on their heads:
- Christmas Eve surveys the religious situation within which Christianity began.
- Christianizing the Empire looks at Jesus's life and the formative days of the movement he inspired, explaining why Christianity was a reprieve from the miseries of daily life for so many.
- Consolidating Christian Europe argues that Constantine's conversion did the church a great deal of harm, examines the gradual demise of paganism, and clarifies the motives behind the Crusades.
- Medieval Currents sheds new light on the misleadingly named "Dark Ages" and the essential role that faith played in the scientific revolution.
- Christianity Divided examines two Roman Catholic "Churches"--the Church of Piety and the Church of Power--as they respond to the challenges of heresy, Luther's Reformation, and the Spanish Inquisition.
- New Worlds and Christian Growth considers the development of religious pluralism in the United States and the continuing vigor of Christianity worldwide, disproving the popular notion that religion must disappear to make room for modernity.
With his signature knack for making the boldest and most original scholarship accessible to all readers, Stark presents the real story behind the tragedies and triumphs that have shaped the trajectory of the Christian faith and, indeed, much of global history. For scholars and armchair historians alike, this is a brisk and thought-provoking journey through events we think we know--and need to reconsider.
About the Author:
Rodney Stark, a former journalist, is the Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and codirector of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. His previous books include The Rise of Christianity, God's Battalions, Cities of God, and Discovering God, which won the 2008 Award of Merit for Theology/Ethics from Christianity Today.
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