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The Rise of Christianity

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The Rise of Christianity

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Stark argues that, contrary to popular belief, Christianity was a movement not of the lower classes and the oppressed, but of the upper and middle classes in the cities and of Hellenized Jews. Stark also discusses the exponential nature of the growth of religion, and why therefore the speed of the rise of Christianity is not as miraculous as might thought to be. He argues that, contrary to commonly-held belief, the Christian mission to Judaism was successful, and outlasted both the destruction of Jerusalem and the Bar Kochba rebellion; that two hardly-noted plagues in 165 and 251 A.D. were keystones in Christian growth and that the conversion of women to Christianity was likewise a major factor in the hold that the disciples of Christ took into the solid rock face of the pagan Roman Empire.

Stark argues that during the 19th century when the Jews were emancipated it caused a religious crisis for the Jews. Who then seized the opportunity for a citizenship that their new emancipation caused. Hundreds of thousands of European Jews became socially marginal which would cause a large marginal to convert to Christianity. Since there were such large numbers that converted within city limits, if the Diaspora Jews had found out more and known about this new opportunity there would have been a larger number convert to Christianity than there was. Stark points to a number of advantages that Christianity had over paganism, to explain its growth: Christians were more likely to survive in times of plague, due to their care of the sick; Christian populations grew faster, due to the prohibition of abortion, infanticide and birth control; in Christianity women outnumbered men, while in Paganism men outnumbered women, leading to a high rate of secondary conversion. Stark's basic thesis is that ultimately Christianity triumphed over Paganism because it offered its followers an enhanced and at times longer life. The conversation to Christianity by the unhappy people was caused by...