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The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History Hardcover – May 13, 1996
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Stark provides compelling reading, adding depth and coherence to the often nebulous hyperbole of historical hypotheses."--Library Journal
". . . likely to generate spirited argument."--Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Because, in spite of his subtitle, he actually doesn't wander as far from his sociological academic works into speculative history-cum-apologetics in this book.
He uses sociological studies of current new religions, including growth patterns of the most successful ones like the Mormons, or the Unification Church, the show that Christianity could, with a steady growth rate, have become the majority of the Roman Empire by 350 or so.
That said, he does have a number of weak points to just being wrong in places.
First, in affirming the success of a "mission to the Jews," he makes assumptions about the historicity of the book of Acts that many critical scholars wouldn't accept.
Second, and related to that, he ignores one huge conflict between Paul's writings and Acts when referring to the Apostolic Council of Acts 15.
There, the apolostolic leaders decided Gentiles did not have to be circumcised, but that they did have to abstain from blood (i.e. meats with blood in them) and food sacrificed to idols. NOTE: These were not "optional"; changing these behaviors were to be required of Gentile converts. Yet, in I Corinthians, Paul tells his Gentile audience, in essence: "You want to eat meat that just came from a sacrifice? Go ahead." Now, he does say that if another person offers you meat that they tell you has been sacrificed to an idol, say no **for the sake of that person,** and not because there's anything wrong with it. (I have yet to read an evangelical bible scholar seriously wrestling with this conflict.)
Third, as far as the "marginality" of Hellenized Jews making them prime targets for Christianity, that's pretty weak. Jews had been Hellenizing, and gladly so, for 200 years before Jesus and Paul.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"The idea that Christianity started as a clandestine movement among the poor is a widely accepted notion. Read morePublished on November 12, 2010 by Siuyinh
Not for people who need A truth. Great for people with an open mind.Published on September 2, 2008 by X
Stark's writing of the book is problematic because it is cluttered and very hard to comprehend. Although Stark's struggle to combine sociological and historical disciplines can be... Read morePublished on October 2, 2002 by E. Rivera