from jesus to christ - the first christians
Began What began as a small sect of Judaism ultimately eclipsed the power of the gods of Olympus.

why did christianity succeed?

The Testimony
of New Testament Scholars Pliny's Policy: Execution
Marking the beginning of the Roman Empire's legal prosecution of Christians.
The Martyrs
Treated as criminals in the second and third centuries, the early Christians were subject to empire-wide persecution.
Legitimization Under Constantine
From persecuted minority to official imperial religion - what caused this extraordinary reversal for Christianity?
The Great Appeal
What did Christianity offer its believers that made it worth social estrangement, hostility from neighbors, and possible persecution?
also »

The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History
Two excerpts from Rodney Stark's book probing what helped Christianity succeed. One excerpt looks at the appeal of the Christian message itself, for example, how it brought a new conception of humanity "to a world saturated with cruelty." In 'Organization and Opportunity,' Stark examines other factors, such as paganism's weakness and the early church's social structure, which helped draw so many to the new faith.

Audio Excerpt from the Documentary
New Testament scholars assess the reasons why Rome ultimately embraced Christianity.

symposium . jesus' many faces .  portrait of jesus' world . storytellers . first christians . why did christianity succeed?
maps, archaeology & sources . discussion . bible history quiz . behind the scenes
teachers' guide . viewers' guide . press reaction .  tapes, transcripts & events

published april 1998

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