Cover image for The triumph of Christianity : how a forbidden religion swept the world / Bart D. Ehrman.
Title:
The triumph of Christianity : how a forbidden religion swept the world / Bart D. Ehrman.
ISBN:
9781501136702
Edition:
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
xiv, 335 pages ; 24 cm
Contents:
The beginning of the end: the conversion of Constantine -- Back to the beginning: the conversion and mission of Paul -- The religious world of conversion: Roman paganism -- Reasons for the Christian success -- Miraculous incentives for conversion -- The growth of the church -- Christians under assault: persecution, martyrdom, and self-defense -- The first Christian emperor -- Conversion and coercion: the beginnings of a Christian empire -- Gains and losses.
Abstract:
In The Triumph of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, a master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, shows how a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some thirty million people in just four centuries. The Triumph of Christianity combines deep knowledge and meticulous research in an eye-opening, immensely readable narrative that upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen - one that revolutionized art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law.
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Summary

Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the bestselling authority on early Christianity, the story of how Christianity grew from a religion of twenty or so peasants in rural Galilee to the dominant religion in the West in less than four hundred years.

Christianity didn't have to become the dominant religion in the West. It easily could have remained a sect of Judaism fated to have the historical importance of the Sadducees or the Essenes. In The Triumph of Christianity , Bart Ehrman, a master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, shows how a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some thirty million people in just four centuries. The Triumph of Christianity combines deep knowledge and meticulous research in an eye-opening, immensely readable narrative that upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen--one that revolutionized art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus), a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides a lucid and convincing account of the growth of Christianity in the Roman world. He begins with a question: how to explain the phenomenal success of Christianity within a pagan empire? His answers reject the theory that Christianity's spread was due simply to Emperor Constantine's embrace of the faith or continual missionary activity (which he says didn't happen after Paul). Instead, he shows Christianity's achievements to have been the result of an incremental numbers game in which geometric progression won the day. Ehrman doesn't provide new research, but his careful synthesis of existing scholarship creates an approachable study of the early church. Strong aspects of the book include Ehrman's placing of such issues as Christian exclusivity, Christian care for plague victims, and Christian martyrdom within the context of the wider Roman ethos. The book covers much familiar ground but is well worth reading for those wishing to dispel myths around the early Christian churches. Agent: Roger Freet, Foundry Literary + Media. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

ASYMMETRY, by Lisa Halliday. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) This stunning debut comprises two novella-like sections, one about a young editor's affair with an older author and the other about an Iraqi-American economist detained at Heathrow. The result is transgressive, shrewd and politically engaged. HOW TO STOP TIME, by Matt Haig. (Viking, $26.) Tom Hazard, the protagonist of Haig's new novel, is old - old "in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old," he tells us. He has a condition that causes him to age more slowly than others, but on the cusp of his 440 th birthday he appears to be suffering a midlife crisis. THE UKRAINIAN NIGHT: An Intimate History of Revolution, by Marci Shore. (Yale, $26.) Shore draws evocative portraits of the Ukrainian demonstrators who braved beatings and even death in 2013 to protest the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Still, the revolution they sparked remains unfinished. THE TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, by Bart D. Ehrman. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) A best-selling scholar of the Bible explores how a small group of despised believers made their faith the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, thereby overthrowing an entire culture. DIRECTORATE S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Steve Coll. (Penguin, $35.) Coil's is a dispiriting tale of a 16-year war that has cost a trillion dollars and more than 2,400 American lives to little end. "The United States and its allies went barreling into Afghanistan," Coll writes, "because they felt that they had no alternative." DOWN THE RIVER UNTO THE SEA, by Walter Mosley. (Mulholland/ Little, Brown, $27.) A new private eye, an ex-cop named Joe King Oliver, makes his debut in this atmospheric crime novel, set in New York and featuring, as always with Mosley, an array of distinctive characters. PECULIAR GROUND, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett. (Harper/ HarperCollins, $28.99.) Agreat house in the English countryside, seen in both the 1600s and the mid-20th century, is the venue for a historical novel that uses walls, both actual and metaphorical, as its presiding metaphor. THE MAZE AT WINDERMERE, by Gregory Blake Smith. (Viking, $27.) Set in Newport, R.I., this novel intersects five stories from different eras, from the 17th century to the present day. Among the more notable characters is the young Henry James. BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE, by Brian Selznickand David Serlin. Illustrated by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $16.99, ages 4 to 8.) Selznick's lavish pencil drawings enhance this early reader book about a detective who happens to be an adorable monkey. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Library Journal Review

Triumph has a positive ring to it, yet Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Misquoting Jesus) provides a decidedly neutral evaluation of Christianity. In his hands, the rise of Christianity from obscurity was neither miraculous nor a historical inevitability; it was simply unsurprising. Ehrman's study starts with two foci: the emperor Constantine and his choice to devote himself to the Christian faith; and the apostle Paul, whose interpretation of the Gospel was instrumental in the religion's trajectory. From these, the author maps out the early growth of Christianity against a detailed background of Roman society and history, seeking to explain its appeal, the reasons for an otherwise tolerant society's hostility toward it, and how that hostility missed its mark. He not only brings a clear presentation of his own views but also gives alternative interpretations a fair hearing. VERDICT Ehrman's lively and thoroughly researched volume is bound to become a standard text on early church history. It is a rare work that delivers so vast a history in such a comprehensive and coherent fashion. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/17.]-JW © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Time Linep. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 The Beginning of the End: The Conversion of Constantinep. 13
Chapter 2 Back to the Beginning: The Conversion and Mission of Paulp. 39
Chapter 3 The Religious World of Conversion: Roman Paganismp. 74
Chapter 4 Reasons for the Christian Successp. 105
Chapter 5 Miraculous Incentives for Conversionp. 131
Chapter 6 The Growth of the Churchp. 160
Chapter 7 Christians Under Assault: Persecution, Martyrdom, and Self-Defensep. 178
Chapter 8 The First Christian Emperorp. 217
Chapter 9 Conversion and Coercion: The Beginnings of a Christian Empirep. 243
Afterword Gains and Lossesp. 279
Appendixp. 287
Notesp. 295
Indexp. 323