Read & Download Cities of God The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conuered Rome ¶ PDF DOC TXT or eBook

Rodney Stark Þ 0 Read & Download

Read & Download Cities of God The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conuered Rome ¶ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ✓ ❰Download❯ ➵ Cities of God The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and CHe eBook #8608 the Roman Empire to discover the following facts that set conventional history on its headContrary to fictions such as The Da Vinci Code and the claims of some prominent scholars Gnosticism was not a sophisticated authentic form of Christianity but really an unsuccessful effort to paganize ChristianityPaul was called the apostle of God The Real Story PDFEPUB or to the Gentiles but mostly he converted JewsPaganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression following the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in AD but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the temples in response to the superior appeal of ChristianityThe oriental faiths such. A sociologist Dr Stark uses an approach to history in this book that I have never seen before He uses statistical analysis of available data to validate hypotheses about the growth and spread of Christianity Further he starts with “no brainer” hypotheses about which there is little disagreement to demonstrate confidence in his approach and then moves on to controversial issues So while he starts out with hypotheses regarding city size and the timing of the existence of a church in a city he moves on to geographical considerations such as proximity to Jerusalem or whether the city is a port Finally he compares the locations of heretical movements gnostic variants Montanists etc relative to the locations of orthodox congregations to assess whether these heretical groups represented early diversity within the church or represented separate movements entirelyDr Stark’s initial thesis that churches tended to get an early start in large cities isn’t just backed by the data; it is a no brainer Because that is where the people are missionary evangelists would tend to focus their efforts there Further the larger the population the likely it is that fringe groups like the early church would fit within the diversity of the population a dynamic that is less likely villages and rural areas which tend to hold to traditional values much longer Interestingly enough this fringe group dynamic is exactly why when I was in the Navy years ago I reuested assignment to an aircraft carrier I was with a small denomination and realized that I was likely to encounter fellow members on a larger ship rather than on a cruiser or submarine As it was the denomination had a few members within the crew and air wing and we held Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services at sea with a typical attendance of five men fairly evenly split between the two major sects of that denomination So I get Dr Stark’s thesisI found the port thesis was intriguing though because I remember discussions in church about how “the fullness of time” included the Roman roads to facilitate missionary efforts On the contrary Dr Stark asks “Have you actually seen a Roman road” He then proceeds to describe them and how they actually operated before making the point that a major means of commerce within the Roman empire was coast hugging ships This is attested by the large number of ancient shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean Further while Paul’s missionary journeys featured significant overland travel they all featured substantial time at sea Further 2 Corinthians 1025 documents three shipwrecks he had endured and Acts 27 actually describes a shipwreck that took place during his trip to Rome as a prisoner at least a decade after he wrote 2 Corinthians So Paul suffered a minimum of four shipwrecks as a Christian missionary The bottom line is that because ships were a major source of commerce and transportation early Christian missionaries traveled through ports all the time; as a result churches were founded very early in the port cities as attested by available historical data available to Dr StarkEver since Walter Bauer’s thesis that early Christianity featured many forms and that orthodoxy was the variant that won out and wrote the history there has been a lively ongoing scholarly debate regarding the nature of the early church with Bart Ehrman being the most prominent current proponent of the Bauer thesis By conseuence Dr Stark gives consideration to various heretical movements• Marcionism was an attempt to expunge Christianity of Jewish influence that disregarded the Old Testament and rewrote Luke and the Pauline epistles to eliminate any Jewish references Speculating that this was a symptom of rising Christian Jewish conflict Dr Stark verifies that Marcionite congregations tended to be located in cities with Jewish Diaspora communities while not correlating with other parameters such as city size port status etc• Valentinianism was a variant of Gnosticism Dr Stark identified that Valentinian congregations were overwhelmingly located in cities with heretical schools and also tended to be in the larger cities However they didn’t statistically correlate with other factors such as ports Marcionite congregations Diaspora communities or Christianization• Montanism was heresy known for its charismatic tendencies To validate the scholarly thesis that it is not Gnostic Dr Stark verified that Montanists congregations were no likely to be in a city with a heretical school than a city without one He also noted that such congregations didn’t correlate with Christianization or Diaspora communities either• Manachaeism was a highly developed Gnostic sect with some bizarre teachings I found Dr Stark’s description to be absolutely entertaining Like Valentinianism Manichaeist congregations tended to be located in cities with heretical schools as well as in larger cities There was no correlation with Diaspora communities and ChristianizationBecause Dr Stark found no correlation between Valintinian Montanist and Manichaeist congregations and Christianization he concludes that they were never part of the Christian mainstream The heretical sect that comes closest to validating the Bauer thesis is Marcionism which by attempting to form its own canon prompted the church to formalize what we now know as the New Testament canonOne weakness of the book pertains to its tables of statistical data While tables are cited in the body of the book eg Table 6 1 in chapter 6 they are all located in the Statistical Appendix I think the book would probably be readable if the tables were located in the chapter where cited Regardless I found Dr Stark’s approach to be an intriguing method of challenging the Bauer thesis I have read other books that use different methods to come to similar conclusions

Read & Download ☆ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Þ Rodney Stark

As those devoted to Isis the Egyptian goddess of love and magic and to Cybele the fertility goddess of Asia Minor actually prepared the way for the rapid spread of Christianity across the Roman EmpireContrary to generations of historians the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism posed no challenge to Christianity to become the new faith of the empire it of God The Real Story PDFEPUB or allowed no female members and attracted only soldiersBy analyzing concrete data Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of than one third of the earth's population. This was uite a bit technical and polemic than I was expecting which is not necessarily a bad thing but is certainly an interesting combination the reader should know aboutFirst Stark devotes a significant portion of the book to methodology even explaining statistical regression and how it applies to historical research Some will find this helpful others will be bored out of their minds If you are expecting historical cultural background then be warned though some of that is definitely present Stark is interested in providing hard uantitative data even while acknowledging the difficulties of applying it to history This all does well to buffer his conclusions but the reader should know that some technical writing is aheadSecond the polemicsthis is where I could imagine many being turned off Stark clearly has a bone to pick with popular historical theories and leftist academic orthodoxy and he does not try to hide his disgust Even as someone who is largely in agreement with him I found the tone to be a bit grating so know this going inAll that said I am glad Stark is writing at a mostly popular level with this stuff His arguments are both compelling and convincing and certainly enriched my own understanding of the first generations of Christians the cultural setting in which the faith was born the activities of the first apostles and why the faith may have taken root the way it did His data on heretical movements is also extremely rich and sheds a lot of light on pop conspiracy theories about the Gnostics and the early churchSo if you are interested in history particularly the early church and can stomach some hard data methodology and a polemical tone then this is an easy recommendation

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Cities of God The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conuered RomeHow did the preaching of a peasant God The PDFEPUB #189 carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers Who listened to this good news and who ignored it Where did Christianity spread and how Based on uantitative data and the latest scholarship preeminent scholar and journalist Cities of eBook #240 Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the worldDrawing on both archaeological and historical evidence Stark is able to provide hard statistical evidence on the religious life of of God T. This book wasn't at all what I expected I thought I would learn a lot about cities in the Greco Roman world how Christianity developed in those areas what churches might have looked like in those contexts etc Instead I learned a little bit about life in Greco Roman cities only about 5 pages are devoted to a discussion of urban life a few things about certain cults and heretical movements and a LOT about how spectacularly condescending Rodney Stark can sound when he feels like he's being scientific than historiansMore than a real history this book felt like an extended argument for a particular approach to historiography Stark thinks historians need to spend time counting He's really uite vehement about it and about as subtle as a marble column falling on your head Basically Stark tries to answer uestions about the spread of Christianity through the urban centres of the Roman Empire by yes counting counting people counting inscriptions counting churchessuffice it to say he likes it when things are counted This is history via statistics and it yields some interesting resultsStark basically takes the 30 or so largest cities in the Roman Empire from about 100 to 300 CE and starts looking at correlations between different variables related to the level of Christianization in the area For example he determines that port cities cities with large Jewish populations very Hellenized cities and cities with high numbers of Isis worshippers all tended to have churches earlier than cities that didn't fit these categories He makes some genuinely interesting observations that give him a chance to weigh in on some historical controversies such as whether gnostic texts like the Gospel of Thomas prove that many eually valid Christianities circulated widely before being brutally silenced by the orthodox church He says no which to my mind is the historically credible answer though it's not clear that he contributes anything original to the conversation All this is relatively interestingI had a few real problems with this work however especially because the tone Stark uses in his introduction and conclusion is frankly obnoxious Stark is very much a sociologist and very much convinced of the superiority of his discipline's methods he's out to tell the world how stupid it is that historians don't rely on objective scientific methods like statistical analysis and if they don't listen he'll just say it again louder It either doesn't occur or doesn't matter to him that he's on historians' turf here and might be straying out of his elementIn fact Stark does come across as out of his element in a few ways He seems to think that he was the first to suggest applying social science methodology to historical study he wasn't and that this solves all of history's annoying little interpretive tangles it doesn't Social science history has been fashionable in the past and perhaps will be again one day but it's not anything new at this point Ironically it seems to me that Stark inadvertently highlights some of the reasons why social science history's heyday was rather fleetingFirst Stark comes across as extremely confident in his numbers and statistics but he gives little if any attention to how he came up with those numbers He mentions that population estimates for ancient cities can vary extremely widely 40000 to 200000 in Pergamum for example but pretty much just tells readers to trust him that he has the right numbers which are essential to the arguments he's making Realistically one of the reasons historians don't do of what he's urging them to do is that making calculations about the past is extremely difficult when evidence is limited Stark is either so overconfident in his statistics that he doesn't see the need to explain or argue for them or doesn't respect his readers enough to share his evidence with themSecond the whole framework of argumentation struck me as contrived Stark wants to prove that he's doing scientific history so he sets up his chapters as series of hypotheses that surprise all seem to be confirmed by the statistical data Maybe I'm just cynical but I kept wondering how many unsuccessful experiments didn't make it into the book That aside the format made the book feel very fragmented and it was sometimes hard to know what larger point if any Stark was trying to make Some chapters felt like collections of scattered factoids than coherent arguments Third even if we assume that all Stark's numbers and calculations are right and all his data crunching is sound and relevant we basically end up with a collection of correlations or relationships eg Christianity and Isis worship tended to be popular in the same places but no real insight into their meaning Stark proposes and sometimes seems to assume some conclusions from the correlations he finds but he doesn't really argue for his interpretations This seems to me to be a fundamental weakness of social science methodology applied to history it can sometimes tell you THAT something happened but it rarely tells you WHY A sociologist studying contemporary phenomena can go and ask people uestions about what's going on but historians can't In the absence of documentary evidence Stark's methodology leaves a gap between data and interpretation that can't be bridged without serious speculation Finally for all Stark's insistence that historians need uantifiable data to be credible there are only so many historical uestions that lend themselves to uantifiable answers Unfortunately a lot of people don't find the uestions that numbers can answer nearly as interesting as the ones they can't Statistics can't tell us what it was like to live in the ancient world; they don't bring the past to life; they don't let the voices of the past speak for themselves At the end of the day that's why I think the unscientific narrative style of history that so obviously frustrates Stark isn't going anywhere when we want to learn about people sometimes counting them is less important than trying to listen to their stories