THE TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY: HOW THE JESUS MOVEMENT BECAME THE WORLD’S LARGEST RELIGION
By Rodney Stark
Published by HarperOne, $27.99
As Rodney Stark sees it in The Triumph of Christianity, several factors enabled an obscure Jewish sect to become the world’s largest religion. Here are some: Jesus Christ admonished his followers to preach the Gospel to all nations, and they did. He commanded them to practice works of mercy, which they also did. Christian commitment to mercy mitigated suffering and attracted converts. As Stark explains it, Christianity was an island of security in the midst of the squalor, misery and illness of ancient cities.
Stark writes for the general reader based on his belief that “if I can’t say it in plain English, it must be because I don’t understand what I am writing about.”
Writing from a sociological and historical angle, he also refutes what he calls misconceptions concerning early Christianity. He argues that Jesus Christ may not have been poor, that his parents were sufficiently well-off to travel to Jerusalem on Passover.