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Opportunity Comes Knocking!!

Here’s a unique opportunity.

Well, it’s not unique because it’s one you’ve had before.  But you get it now again!

As most of you probably know, the book I am working on, tentatively titled, The Triumph of Christianity, is about the Christianization of the Roman Empire.  How did the Christian movement grow from about 20 people soon after Jesus’ death to some 30 million people in less than four hundred years?  That’s a lot of converts!  And it’s not an easy question to answer.   I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.  (I actually taught a PhD seminar on the topic nearly 20 years ago!)

I am especially excited about this book because I have moved to a new publisher.  My past seven trade books have all been with HarperOne.  That was a great experience and I will never, ever regret it.  But I have decided to move on to something else, and last summer negotiated a contract with Simon & Schuster, one of the three largest trade publishers in the world.   They have a strong historical focus, and I look very much forward to working with them.

I have started writing the book, and plan to have a draft of it finished by, say, mid-July, gods willing.

That’s where opportunity is knocking.  I would like to use this moment to raise some extra funds for the blog.

So here’s the (possible) deal.   I will give anyone who is willing to donate $1000 to the blog  the opportunity to read a draft of the book and make comments on it.  I will then consider the comments as I make further revisions, prior to submitting the book to my publisher.  (I did this with my last book if you recall; and I found it extremely useful.)   If you do this, I will acknowledge you by name in the acknowledgements in the book.

This is a win-win-win situation, if you have the funds that make it possible.  You get to see the book before it goes into production; I get the benefits of your insights; and most important for me, we raise more money for the charities that the blog supports.  No one loses!

So, are you interested?   I would get the book to you electronically in three or four weeks, and I would like you to have comments back to me about a month later at the latest.   All it would take would be a donation on your part in advance.

Everyone who is interested, let me know.  Everyone who is not interested, well, you’ll need to wait sixteen months or so before you see the book in published form!

Follow up on Knocking Opportunity….
Paul’s Converted Vision of Himself



  1. Avatar
    twiskus  June 21, 2016

    Count me in for the opportunity. I’ll donate!

  2. Avatar
    john76  June 21, 2016

    I don’t know why it is problematic to figure out why Christianity succeeded. From beginning to end the purpose of the movement was to sell the new religion to the world:

    (A) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

    (B) The Great Commission

    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

    (C) Sending out Emissaries

    Just as Moses had chosen twelve spies to reconnoiter the land which stretched “before your face,” sending them through the cities of the land of Canaan, so does Jesus send a second group, after the twelve, a group of seventy, whose number symbolizes the nations of the earth who are to be “conquered,” so to speak, with the gospel in the Acts of the Apostles. He sends them out “before his face” to every city he plans to visit (in Canaan, too, obviously).

    (D) For Paul, Jesus resurrection is understood as the “first fruits” of the general resurrection, and so was a selling point for the new religion: “The end of the world is at hand, so you better join the winning team.”

    Christianity was all about winning converts and spreading the word, so it is no surprise that they succeeded doing just that.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 23, 2016

      Wanting to do something and being able to do it are two different things!

      • Avatar
        john76  June 24, 2016

        It was the message the first Christians were preaching. For example, the tearing of the veil of the temple meant overcoming the gulf between God and man caused by sin, overcoming the sacrificial system, and reconciling the priestly class and the kingly class in one person (Jesus).

  3. Avatar
    clairemcdougall  June 21, 2016

    If I only had an extra $1,000! But anyway I am about to start the re-wite of book three in my “Veil Of TIme” series (Simon and Schsuter 2014) which by the end is asking many of the same questions you are asking because it takes place in Scotland on the cusp of paganism going out and Christianity moving in. So, what was lost when this happened has been very much on my mind, and thank you for your blog and all your media outreach which continues to give me deeper insight.

  4. Avatar
    rburos  June 21, 2016

    Oh you are good! Question–is the blog an established nonprofit?

  5. Avatar
    HawksJ  June 21, 2016

    You, Sir, are brilliant!

  6. Avatar
    Judith  June 22, 2016

    Would it be alright for those of us who are not scholarly and who would not have comments to offer or want our names listed to donate the money (tax deductible???) for the sole purpose of getting to read the book early?

  7. talmoore
    talmoore  June 22, 2016

    “if you have the funds that make it possible”

    Well, there’s the rub. If I were a millioniare, I’d cut you a $10,000 check, but, alas, I’m an independent researcher (unattached to any institution so that I have all the time and freedom I need), which means I’m dirt poor, so… 🙁

  8. Avatar
    Forrest  June 22, 2016

    I’m interested.

  9. Avatar
    godspell  June 23, 2016

    Although that’s a very reasonable price for what you’re offering, in an election year, I’ve just got other things to do with money I don’t really have anyway. 🙂

  10. Avatar
    Prizm  June 23, 2016

    “gods willing” lol

  11. Avatar
    ppclarke  June 23, 2016

    I’m interested.

  12. Avatar
    Steefen  June 24, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman: the Christian movement grew from about 20 people soon after Jesus’ death / (in an earlier post: Jesus’ largest audience during his lifetime was less than approximately 20 people

    Steefen, Author of the Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy:

    Is this idea published in three scholarly journals we can consult? We are looking for what you published and at least two articles of peer review.

    Second, the gospels Mark and Matthew present a living Jesus more popular for his mission than you give credit.

    Third, Josephus’s Testimony and the Acts of the Apostles present a Jesus popular among more than 10 Greek men (for sake of discussion, Jesus had an audience of 10 Jewish followers and 10 Greek followers)

    “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.”

    3B St. Stephen was stoned for repeating something Jesus said while he was alive; so, conviction for Christianity started before Jesus’ death.

  13. Avatar
    Matt2h  June 26, 2016

    You don’t consider it a major problem that Rodney Stark has a book with the same title about pretty much the same subject matter? Are you having some kind of feud with Stark?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 26, 2016

      Not really. People writing on similar topics often use the same title. His book is not at all like mine, as you’ll see.

      • Avatar
        MMahmud  July 4, 2016

        You are bound to get some ignorant flak for this….just avoid it and kill the controversy before it begins. There are plenty of awesome titles to choose from, he just nabbed that one in time.

  14. Avatar
    Phil  June 26, 2016

    I see a similar phenomenon between the spread of Christianity and the BREXIT vote. People voted on the issue depending on their point of view.

    Some voted against leaving the EU because it made economic sense — the UK is no longer an all-powerful empire that can arbitrarily call the economic shots for Europe.

    Those who favored BREXIT favoured (!) leaving the EU because the alleged undesirable immigrants allowed into the UK and massive control EU held over the UK.

    SO the people voting on BREXIT weren’t even voting the same issues. I think that was true with Christianity too.

    I personally think that the early followers of Christianity were drawn to a better life than they had and were not particularly concerned whether it would happened next week in this life or after they died. Some might have been to the idea of the afterlife. Since the idea of Christianity was rather vague at the time, it was easy for the followers to make up a religion based on the bits and pieces of oral tradition floating around and later compiled. Today, we can pick up a bound copy of the NT and read it with footnotes. For the early Christians, this new religion was like the birth of rock n roll — nobody had ever seen anything like it (even with ragtime & jazz & blues) and it captivated all the young people as well as some of the older folks. (RnR It had a beat, it had catchy lyrics and you could dance to it.)

    So I think that for early Christianity, the religion was so open-ended that it could mean lots of different things to different people and so it had a universal appeal. Only later did the religion become a bureaucratic mess — with the “Professional Christians” deciding this new religion was too important to be left to the rabble. (Sorry, didn’t have time to write shorter.)

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