The Rise of Christianity

The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark
How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries

This book wins the award for longest sub-title...

This book was recommended on a blog that I frequent and has been on the shelf for a while, read it this weekend. I disagree with a lot of what the author presents; it's as if his foundation is built on social science theory instead of on scripture and not once does he mention the possibility of resurrection in the early boldness and growth. Having said that, he does a good job of presenting the early church as an alternative, counter-cultural community and believes that the benefit of being part of this community assisted the early growth. Here are my dog-ears and notes:

  • Chapter 4 - Epidemics, Networks and Conversion (re: the compassion of the church)
  • Chapter 5 - The Role of Women in Christian Growth
These two chapters were the highlight of the book, now for the rest:
  • pg. 82 - Dionysius quote on the compassion of the early church
  • pg. 84 - Emperor Julian's comments on the compassion of the early church
  • pg. 175 - "free-riders"
  • pg. 191 - "if state vigorously persecutes any challengers to traditional faith, it will be difficult for new religions to grow." Except in China...
  • pg. 193 - "underground movements (churches) don't grow", except in China...
  • pg. 208 - growth because of intense community
  • pg. 212 - refreshing Christian morals in a world that was groaning under a host of miseries.

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