What Is the Didache? When It Was Written & Why It Isn’t In the Bible

In the recent exchange that I posted on the blog (dealing with the existence of Q) the document known as the Didache was mentioned – especially by guest contributor Alan Garrow, who thinks that the Didache was a source used by the authors of Matthew and Luke.  I think even Alan will agree that this is a highly anomalous view; I don’t know of any other scholar who accepts it (though if Alan knows of any who do, I’m sure ...

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More on Numbers of Converts

In case you didn’t read the post of yesterday, I include the final two paragraphs here.  Skip them if you remember what I said.  The issue I’m dealing with is how much and how fast did the Christian church grow over the first four centuries.   I would very much like your feedback, and if you’re a numbers person, I would love it if you would check my calculations to see if I’m making any egregious errors.   All of this is ...

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Back to the Question of How Many People Converted

I want to return to the question of how quickly the Christian church grew in the first four centuries.  This will be part of chapter 6 of my book on the Triumph of Christianity.   If you want a fuller background to what I say in this post and the one to follow, see my earlier musings on May 16 of this year, at https://ehrmanblog.org/how-many-christians-were-there/

In two posts I’m going to lay out what I think we can say both about ...

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The Resurrection and the Beginning of the Church

In my book on the Christianization of the Empire, I probably will not be talking about *how*, exactly, Christianity started.   That’s a very thorny issue and not directly germane to what I want to do in the book.   And I’ve talked about it a bit in a couple of my other books, especially How Jesus Became God and Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene.

In the former book my main interest was precisely what the title indicates.   There I argued that the ...

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How Did Christianity Start?

I wish we knew how many people “started” Christianity.   Before I reflect on this issue, let me say some things about definitions and terms, specifically the terms “Christianity” and “Christian.”

A lot of scholars object to using the term “Christianity” for the first followers of Jesus who came to believe that he got raised from the dead.   Once they believed this, these scholars say, these people didn’t actually become “Christian.”  They were still fully Jews, Jews who believed that Jesus was ...

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How Many Christians Could Read?

How many Christians by near the end of the New Testament period – say, 100 CE – could read and write?   In his intriguing article “Christian Number and Its Implications,” Roman historian Keith Hopkins tries to come up with some ball park figures.

As you may recall, he is assuming that there were Christian churches in about 100 communities in the world at the time (we have references to about 50 in our surviving texts, and he is supposing that maybe ...

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How Many Churches? How Many Letters?

In his important and stimulating article, “Christian Number and Its Implications,” Roman historian Keith Hopkins next begins to think about the implications about the size of the Christian church at different periods.  One point to emphasize is that there was not simply one church.  There were lots of churches in lots of places, and it is a myth to think that they were all one big cohesive bunch.  On the contrary, they were often (as we see in our records) ...

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How Significant Was Early Christianity?

I return now to Roman historian Keith Hopkins’s fascinating and influential article “Christian Number and It’s Implications.”   As I pointed out, for the sake of his article, and after checking it out for plausibility, Hopkins accepts the calculations of Rodney Stark that if Christianity started with 1000 believers in the year 40 CE, and ended up being 10% of the empire (60 million believers) by the time of the Emperor Constantine, you would need a growth rate of about 40% ...

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