The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion

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Overview

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 ...

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The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

World Magazine
“2012 Book of the Year”
Kirkus Reviews
A no-nonsense, defensive account of Christianity's rise in the West. There is much to correct in the historical record, as sociologist Stark (Institute for Studies of Religion/Baylor Univ.; God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, 2009, etc.) makes plain here, repositioning the central role of Christianity in Western development. Once it started to spread among the privileged urban classes and, especially, women, Christianity promised a better life in a typically brutish time. Its appeals to mercy and alleviating misery fell on welcome ears amid squalid ancient cities of the Roman Empire. Early Christians elevated the role of women, denounced infanticide and raised the marriageable age. Early persecution only strengthened Christian intransigence, while the "performance" of martyrs proved utterly convincing in the conversion process. With the conquest of Islam, Stark shows how Christianity was mercilessly decimated in the East, forcing the faithful to seek safe harbor in European lands. In the chapter titled "Europe Responds: The Case for the Crusades," the author debunks previous assertions by Karen Armstrong and other historians that the Crusades were essentially colonizing and exploitative; rather, he writes, they were "fundamentally defensive" in protecting Christian pilgrims and shrines from Muslim attack. Moreover, the Medieval era categorized erroneously by the Enlightenment writers as the "Dark Ages" was a rich, inventive period that spurred capitalism (profits, property rights, modern banking, etc.) and science. It was the Christian Scholastics educated in urban universities and steeped in the Christian theology of logic and reason who invented science long before Copernicus and Galileo. Stark credits European belief in "God as the Intelligent Designer" as their scientific mentor. The author provides a refreshing, unorthodox polishing of Martin Luther and the Spanish Inquisition, while crediting the survival and growth of Christianity to the rich pluralism of America. Take that, warriors of secularism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062007681
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 700,126
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Rodney Stark is the Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University. His thirty books on the history and sociology of religion include The Rise of Christianity, Cities of God, For the Glory of God, Discovering God, and The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Stark received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Christmas Eve

1 The Religious Context 9

2 Many Judaisms 33

Part 2 Christianizing the Empire

3 Jesus and the Jesus Movement 49

4 Missions to the Jews and the Gentiles 71

5 Christianity and Privilege 87

6 Misery and Mercy 105

7 Appeals to Women 121

8 Persecution and Commitment 137

9 Assessing Christian Growth 153

Part 3 Consolidating Christian Europe

10 Constantine's Very Mixed Blessings 169

11 The Demise of Paganism 183

12 Islam and the Destruction of Eastern and North African Christianity 199

13 Europe Responds: The Case for the Crusades 213

Part 4 Medieval Currents

14 The "Dark Ages" and Other Mythical Eras 237

15 The People's Religion 255

16 Faith and the Scientific "Revolution" 273

Part 5 Christianity Divided

17 Two "Churches" and the Challenge of Heresy 299

18 Luther's Reformation 315

19 The Shocking Truth About the Spanish Inquisition 333

Part 6 New Worlds and Christian Growth

20 Pluralism and American Piety 353

21 Secularization: Facts and Fantasies 369

22 Globalization 387

Conclusion 413

Bibliography 419

Notes 461

Index 495

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    A mist read

    Like all of starks work, thoughtb provoking. And challenges the current myths about christianity and the mythical dark ages

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Interesting and comprehensive

    A good overview of the religion history. The author is too biased though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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