Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome

Cities of God The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers Who listened to this good news and who ignored it Where did Christiani

  • Title: Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome
  • Author: Rodney Stark
  • ISBN: 9780060858421
  • Page: 103
  • Format: Hardcover
  • How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers Who listened to this good news, and who ignored it Where did Christianity spread, and how Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, preeminent scholar and journalist Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about theHow did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers Who listened to this good news, and who ignored it Where did Christianity spread, and how Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, preeminent scholar and journalist Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church, overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the world.Drawing on both archaeological and historical evidence, Stark is able to provide hard statistical evidence on the religious life of the Roman Empire to discover the following facts that set conventional history on its head Contrary to fictions such as The Da Vinci Code and the claims of some prominent scholars, Gnosticism was not a sophisticated, authentic form of Christianity, but really an unsuccessful effort to paganize Christianity.Paul was called the apostle to the Gentiles, but mostly he converted Jews.Paganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression following the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the temples in response to the superior appeal of Christianity.The oriental faiths such as those devoted to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love and magic, and to Cybele, the fertility goddess of Asia Minor actually prepared the way for the rapid spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire.Contrary to generations of historians, the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism posed no challenge to Christianity to become the new faith of the empire it allowed no female members and attracted only soldiers.By analyzing concrete data, Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of than one third of the earth s population.

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      Rodney Stark

    About Author

    1. Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, and began his career as a newspaper reporter Following a tour of duty in the U.S Army, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington In 2004 he joined the faculty of Baylor University He has published 30 books and than 140 scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as prejudice, crime, suicide, and city life in ancient Rome However, the greater part of his work has been on religion He is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and of the Association for the Sociology of Religion He also has won a number of national and international awards for distinguished scholarship Many of his books and articles have been translated and published in foreign languages, including Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Slovene, and Turkish.

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    Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome Comment

    1. This book wasn t at all what I expected I thought I would learn a lot about cities in the Greco Roman world, how Christianity developed in those areas, what churches might have looked like in those contexts, etc Instead I learned a little bit about life in Greco Roman cities only about 5 pages are devoted to a discussion of urban life , a few things about certain cults and heretical movements, and a LOT about how spectacularly condescending Rodney Stark can sound when he feels like he s being s [...]


    2. Like his previous books, this one is well worth reading.Stark disproves many currently popular views about early Christianity such as Christians forced paganism out of existence and pagan beliefs produced Christian thought Stark also debunks the myth that Gnosticism represents a authentic Christianity He shows that Gnostic writers are known to have gathered only small schools of devotees They were not an alternative Christianity They were paganism s attempt to paganize Christianity.I was intere [...]


    3. A brilliant and elegant refuation of many of the most prevelant theories surrounding the nature and origin of Christianity Why are members of non Abrahamic religions called pagans How did Christianity become an imperial power Why did the elite and the intelligentsia engage in Christian exegesis All explored herein


    4. Uses data regarding the spread of early Christianity to describe how it permeated the Roman empire while other, competing religions either did not or faded He uses the data to give better description to the other gospels , shows how they not popular expressions of religion but rather are esoteric.His supposition is that the simple outlines of the Christian religion one God of love better suited people s ideas of reality, especially those of urban and flexible circumstance.


    5. How did Christianity move from being a provincial movement in Palestine to the leading religion of the Roman Empire This is the question the historian Rodney Stark sets out to answer and along the way challenges a number of well established myths.Was the missionary activity of the apostles key to the growth of Christianity No, not really.Was Paul really just focused on the mission to the Gentiles Nope.How important were the eastern cults of Cybele and Isis to the success of Christiantiy Very.Did [...]


    6. This is the second book I ve read from Stark, and I enjoyed it only slightly less than How the West Won Its focus is how Christianity grew throughout Rome and the entire Mediterranean Stark has a very accessible writing style, perfect for the layman who is new to the subject but still packed with lots of information and sophisticated thought.


    7. If you read the Rise of Christianity then you will like this book to if you like history like I do I like than history as I want to hear what they people really were saying.I really wanted to read this book because of what it reveals on Gnosticism as it was considered heresy I have to agree in their interpretation as to how far God appears to be Today in some denominations it would appear that this has been reflected in teachings through the ages of time to a certain degree in how people speak [...]


    8. If you can explain statistical regression and don t think that Christianity requires a supernatural conversion experience, then this is the book for you Yes, even though the book is badly mistitled, the history explained here has nothing to do with God, nor will you find a story.Instead, you will find a social scientist bent out of shape that historians routinely ignore quantitative analysis of the available evidence You will also find some interesting historical conclusions, such ase Apostle Pa [...]


    9. Rational choice theory Some don t enjoy Stark s books because of his religious agenda or a belief that he takes a tendentious tone yet, I have a different take on Stark Cities thesis is that historical inquiries should concentrate on quantifiable historical data the analysis of which will yield historical and sociological information I have a couple of complaints though My first has to do with me than his book Stark s conclusions about the rise of Christianity are based on data mined from othe [...]


    10. For one who has already read The Rise of Christianity by the same author, the first chapter is repetitive, but necessary for laying the theoretical foundations This book explores the reasons for the rapid spread of Christianity in the larger cities of the Roman empire It considers and dismisses many theories that have become doctrine among scholars For instance, it is assumed that Christianity grew rapidly because of the conversion of Jews While this was an important foundation, it could never h [...]


    11. I had previously read another book by Rodney Stark for a class on early Christianity called The Rise of Christianity How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force That book was pretty interesting, from what I remember it, in looking into what affects a person s decisions to convert religious affiliations This book as well tried to examine the rise of Christianity through statistical analysis, but wasn t as thorough with its supporting information The reference cit [...]


    12. Rodney Stark applies continues his statistical demographic analysis of the early Christian movement that he began with his excellent book The Rise of Christianity In this volume he analyses the 31 biggest cities of the Roman Empire to see what hypotheses can be made concerning the spread of Christianity and other New Religious Movements of the time In doing so he also draws on some analyses of modern proselytisation, notably that of the Unification Church Moonies This book is not such an invigor [...]


    13. Well written, easy reading, slightly academic presentation of how Christianity spread via networks so quickly throughout the Roman world overturning many prevailing views of how it grew through time to become the largest religion in the world Solid statistical and archaeological evidence is used to show rapid growth via sea transport to major urban centers of the region and how oriental faiths such as devotion to goddesses Isis and Cybele prepared the way for this monotheism Also explains how Pa [...]


    14. I really liked Stark s The Rise of Christianity 1989 , so had high hopes for this one Cities of God gives case studies of the main cities where Christianity took hold among the early Church Overall less interesting agenda than the earlier book.Also, I was put off the polemical tone of the book Stark seemed argumentative with NT scholars, like he had a chip on his shoulder that they didn t accept sociological studies, particularly the quantitatative variety that he is known for I would have pre [...]


    15. I read The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark years ago and practically worshipped it However, this book is mostly an extended version of a few sections of that book, so it wasn t very interesting to me It surprised me to see that this book was written years later than that one However, I did enjoy the conclusion, where Stark details a few questions he d like answered by using quantative research such as is demonstrated in this book The questions he poses are intriguing and I hope he gets answ [...]


    16. Interesting and informative Stark uses statistical analysis to reach strong conclusions regarding the rise of Christianity For example, it seems that the work of Paul had no direct impact on the dramatic rise of Chrisitianity That being said, the book came across as a personal feud rebuttle of other historians, and while I agree with the author s views, it got a little old reading about all the people who have gotten it wrong.


    17. Insightful ideas using a quantitative method of history As I have read prior books, i like his easy to read style even if it does sound condescending In this, you see his purpose quite clearly in his conclusion where he goes on a historiographical rant However, even if it is a series of hypothesis based on such analysis, this book does bring some interesting propositions to consider in early church history esp considering the origins of Gnosticism.


    18. I had previously read Rodney Stark s book on the Crusades, so I was looking forward to reading other books he had written This, like the other book I read was well written It was interesting to see the correlation he made between city size, proximity to bodies of water and other factors with the spread of Christianity in the Roman empire If you re a fan of church history and statistics, you should give this one a try.


    19. Interesting perspective and background on how Christianity began, mainly through the Jewish community The author uses statistical methods and data to provide insight into the size and evolution growth of Christianity He also relates how the pagan practices and so called Gnostic heretical movements appeared and died out due to secrecy and stories of imagination not real people.


    20. This was an interesting book, but it was a bit dry It read a bit like a text book It was filled with a lot of data to support his hypothesis A few things I learned Social networks are important to the spread of faith People tend to move to similar faith or religious experience I also learned about quite a few of the heretical religions present in early Christian history.


    21. I had so many misconceptions about the beginnings of Christianity Stark refuses to go along with anything trendy He demands facts This book shows how a historian should analysis various hypotheses and conclude that the evidence supports them or does not For example, early Christianity was almost entirely an urban movement all income levels Very good book.


    22. Very entertaining Stark usually is I m a little skeptical of some of his claims based on very low n values, but in general I applaud his efforts to introduce quantitative analysis into history as a disciplinary venture.


    23. This history of the early Christian Church shows how the new religion spread in Roman cities and eventually became the preferred faith of the empire.




    24. It is a study of the spread of Christianity in the major cities of the first 3 centuries a.d It reads like a dissertation but is well done and interesting.




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