Playing with the Numbers (of Christians)

I have been musing on the rate of growth of the Christian church during the first three hundred years, and have pointed out some problems with Rodney Stark’s discussion.   I won’t go over all that again here.   I will say that his argument tends to be very convenient for his … argument.  What he points out is that a growth rate over time of about 40% grows the church from about 1000 Christians in the year 40 (that’s a number ...

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How Many Christians Were There?

There are a lot of things that I’m really very interested in that I’m not very good at.  As a kid I was passionate about baseball.  I was an All Star every year up to high school, but I really wasn’t all that great.  I was just better than most of the other kids, who *really* weren’t great.  It was a rather low bar.  Same with tennis.  Same with a lot of things – even into adulthood.

As an adult I’ve ...

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The Rate of Christian Growth

I have been discussing the fascinating article by Keith Hopkins, “Christian Number and Its Implications,” about how many people converted to Christianity at certain points of time (say, from ten years after Jesus’ death to the time the emperor Constantine converted in the year 312).  As we have seen so far, the first problem Hopkins deals with is how to count – that is, who counts as a Christian?  Hopkins takes the (in my opinion) justifiable and sensible view that ...

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Growth Rate of Early Christianity

Time to answer a readers’ question, as a change of pace, unrelated to anything else I’ve been posting on:

QUESTION:

The question on my mind is almost certainly NOT knowable, but I will ask it anyway.

1 – can anyone estimate how many Christians (all variations included) were abroad on Planet Earth at any given time in the 100s or 200s?

2 – when Constantine chose to back Christianity and make it the “official” religion — in the early piece of the ...

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Why Did Christianity Succeed?

QUESTION:

What I have been wondering lately is “why” did Christianity win out. There seemed to be much competition in the ancient world between the pagan polytheisms and monotheistic religions. Competition not only between the Jewish religion and Christian religion but within Christianity.

I would be interested in why you think the current version of Christianity won out. Was it purely a matter of cultural evolution and this form of Christianity seemed to benefit people the most, easiest to adhere to, most ...

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