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The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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“2012 Book of the Year” (World Magazine)

From the Back Cover

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062007688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062007681
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I'm a big fan of Rodney Stark because his works are both scholarly and readable, as well as being well-argued, well-researched, and positively revelatory. His new book, "The Triumph of Christianity," is similar to his earlier work, "The Rise of Christianity." However he not only extends the time of his discussion to cover all of church history but has also incorporated what he calls "new perspectives" on some old questions.

I highly recommend "The Triumph of Christianity" for the following reasons. First, Stark presents a lot of intriguing and important information that is hard to find anywhere else. Second, his work is very well-researched and based on this solid research he provides provocative insights into Christianity that are bound to deepen one's understanding. Third, Stark packs an amazing amount of information into one book. Fourth, while being academically sound his writing is also very readable.

Stark's startling insights often overturn a lot of mischievous nonsense about Christianity and common misperceptions. He does it with amazing clarity and authority, and what he says matches up with all I've observed about human behavior and what I've read about sociology. The book would be well worth its price for only a fraction of the revelations Stark communicates. I just finished the Kindle version but am thinking about also ordering a hard copy so I can properly mark it up as I like to do with an important work.

In Part 1, Stark presents a succinct and useful summary of other religions at time of Christ, as well as why Oriental religions (besides Judaism) appealed to the Roman world and paved the way for Christianity.
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Format: Hardcover
In the past 15 years, leading sociologist, Stark, has challenged a lot of what is commonly believed about Christianity. This is nothing new since Stark became famous for his challenge of some of the core beliefs held by the academy about religion in general. His basic insight: religion works like a market. When you have religious freedom it leads to competition and innovation, which leads to more religion. When you have a monopoly few believe in it, even though everyone is "forced" to. This insight has been the guiding theme of a series of stunning works Stark has released into the genre of the history of Christianity.

Up until this point, however, if you wanted to benefit from Stark's insight you had to read about a half dozen different books: The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force ...., The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery,God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades.
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Format: Hardcover
Rodney Stark is well-known for dispelling persistent rumors. Many of his books have been well-received and recognized as an example of refreshing scholarship. More importantly, his works have pulled timeless accepted truths into the light, examined them and found them wanting. Those works have covered nearly every epoch of church history. Now he has published a history of the church from its inception to the modern age. Instead of this being an exhaustive treatment, he examines major periods of the church's history, dispels rumors and demonstrates their significance for future periods.

He divides his study into six parts. Each part focuses on the broader periods of history: Early Church, expansion throughout the world, Constantine, the "Dark Ages", The Reformation and the modern age. In every age, the church has triumphed in a world which seeks to destroy it. Despite being razed in A.D. 70, Christianity would ultimately conquer Rome. Caesar was not victorious. Jerusalem conquered Rome.

Stark will argue through each age of Christianity that it has triumphed - though not always in the overt way of kings and kingdoms. It certainly has not been the oppressive majority many of the new Atheists make it out to be; or the religion of the poor or the suppressors of science. Christianity has proven to be the opposite, in fact. That is part of Stark's purpose for writing this book. It combines the scholarship of his many other excellent books into one volume that examines important parts of the church's history in order to dispel rumors and demonstrate the prejudice of the academy towards religion.

As always Stark is well-researched and highly readable.
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