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Making the Bestseller List

As many of you know, I made an appearance on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross a couple of weeks ago.  I had mentioned in an earlier post that the only way it is humanly possible for a book to become a bestseller is by having some media attention paid to it – a herculean task, especially these days, over the past two years, when the national media wants to talk about nothing but That One Thing.

Fresh Air has millions of listeners, though, and I was very fortunate to be on it.  The results were fantastic, as I’ve indicated before.  And a new indication has just appeared.   Triumph of Christianity  has made it on the New York Times Bestseller this week, coming in at #11 on the list of Hardback Non-Fiction.

That’s a big deal for me.   There are something like 600 books that get published every day.  To  be on this list is special.  I don’t expect the book to stay on for more than a week, but still, it is a milestone.

There is some other coverage I’m getting as well.   I will be on Sam Harris’s podcast (we do it next week).  And there are other venues, including a short piece that I wrote for the History channel, that has gone out on History.com.   Here is the intro to the piece and the link if you want to see the rest of the essay.


History Reads is a weekly series featuring work from Team History, a group of experts and influencers, exploring history’s most fascinating questions.

The triumph of Christianity over the pagan religions of ancient Rome led to the greatest historical transformation the West has ever seen: a transformation that was not only religious, but also social, political and cultural. Just in terms of “high culture,” Western art, music, literature and philosophy would have been incalculably different had the masses continued to worship the gods of the Roman pantheon instead of the one God of Jesus—if paganism, rather than Christianity, had inspired their imaginations and guided their thoughts. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance and modernity as we know them would also have been unimaginably different.

But how did it happen? According to our earliest records, the first “Christians” to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus were 11 male disciples and a handful of women—say 20 people altogether. These were lower-class, uneducated day laborers from a remote corner of the Roman Empire. And yet, within three centuries, the Christian church could count some 3 million adherents. By the end of the 4th century, it was the official religion of Rome, numbering 30 million followers—or half the Empire.

A century after that, there were very few pagans left.

Christians today might claim that their faith triumphed over the other Roman religions because it was (and is) true, right and good. That may be so. But …




The Sixth Anniversary of the Blog!
An Easter Reflection 2018



  1. Avatar
    Durkan23  April 4, 2018

    Please come to the UK Bart. We love American authors and professors with interesting things to say and we have many television, radio programs and podcasters who would love to have you on.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      I”m normally there for 6-8 weeks a year! And often when I go I’m on Justin Brierley’s radio program “Unbelievable” on Premier Christian Radio.

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    plparker  April 4, 2018


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    justyn  April 4, 2018


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    Jana  April 4, 2018

    Yes Congratulations!!!

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    jakethedog  April 5, 2018

    Congratulations! I am excited to hear the podcast with Sam Harris. Your blog and Sam’s Podcast are my two go to’s.
    I’ll follow on from Durkan23’s comment and say let us know if you ever come to Australia!!

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    fmurphy925  April 5, 2018

    Congrats Bart! I’m also excited that you’re going on Sam Harris’ Podcast Waking UP. I am a subscriber of this podcast and since I have a graduate degree in Historical Christianity, I’m an avid reader of your books. A while ago I recommended to him that he interview you. He has a penetrating intellect (as do you) as well as a fierce devotion to “reliable” historical sources and evidence and less to speculation. Should be very interesting. Have fun.

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    pjamato8  April 5, 2018

    I have questions on a topic that is outside of your expertise of Jesus and early Christianity, but I am going to ask anyhow. Last week, I attended a Passover Seder where we discussed Exodus and how thankful the modern Jews are today for being released from slavery. I suspect you are familiar with Exodus and the Passover Seder. Do you think there is any historical accuracy to the events of the Pharaoh releasing the Israelites from slavery? How much time do you think passed between each plague? Days? Months? Years? The first 9 seem to be attributable to natural occurrences, but not the 10th. In theory, God took the first-born of the Egyptians and Passed Over the first born Israelites. If such an event occurred, who took the first-born from the Egyptians?

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    rmallard  April 6, 2018

    Hi Bart! Congratulations on this fantastic news. I believe that your books and the success of your blog are vivid indications of the hunger in this country for sound scholarship penned for the layperson. I am not a theologian (nor even a Christian) but I have devoured your books and look forward to many more.

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    forthfading  April 7, 2018

    Congrats on your TRIUMPH!!

    I have followed you for many years as a leading scholar of the historical Jesus, and I love your popular level works as well (I can understand those a bit easier).

    Would you every consider teaming up with a leading conservative scholar (i.e. Mike Licona, Craig Evans, D.A. Carson) and write a “point-counterpoint” popular level work?

    I think this could really help the lay person understand the difficulties in getting back to the historical Jesus. Obviously the point would not be to try an convince each other of your points, but to give a general audience a wide introduction to the topics and issues that a historian of the historical Jesus faces.


    • Bart
      Bart  April 8, 2018

      Interesting idea. I’ve done that with Dan Wallace. But I have too many other irons in the fire just now!

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    modelthry  April 8, 2018

    Good for you Bart! It must be tricky to find the right way to introduce these topics (e.g. historical Jesus, textual criticism) to a mass audience, who are on the average familiar with only the basic Sunday school 101. I’m an agnostic but my friends have a hard time believing it, because I’m always reading “Jesus stuff”. I’ve been an utter failure at communicating my enthusiasm to my friends: I’m either accused of being a “closeted Christian” (there’s a doozy for ya) or accused of having a toxic fascination with tearing down other people’s faith. I can’t seem to get across the idea that the Bible is 100x more interesting when you start learning about how and why it was compiled. I’m glad you have the ability and you’re doing it!

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    ailith  April 8, 2018

    Triumph of Christianity has to wait until next month for me – I got Timothy Snyder’s new release this month, but it was a near thing.

    (I didn’t know about you at all until a couple weeks ago when I picked up several from the library)

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    BartyD4all  April 10, 2018

    New York Times Best Seller! I feel so good for you, and your honesty about Christianity. Sometimes the good guys really do win.

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    SidDhartha1953  April 11, 2018

    You say the Christians had a brilliant strategy for converting pagans. Do you think it was calculated or were they merely telling the truth as they understood it and, serendipitously, it turned out to be a great PR campaign?

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    SidDhartha1953  April 11, 2018

    Second question: Orthodox Christianity, as I understand it, does not preach eternal damnation, but ultimate reconciliation of all things (including humanity) to God in Christ. Were the early successes in converting pagans due to proto-heretics who were preaching hellfire and damnation and orthodoxy reaped the benefits for a few centuries? Universalism doesn’t seem to be selling very well now, if you look at which churches and religions are growing fastest.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 11, 2018

      Hell fire and brimstone was completely orthodox in the early centuries.

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    VirtualAlex  April 20, 2018

    Congratulations on this achievement! And I haven’t bought my copy yet.

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