Skip to main content

The Monstrous Growth of Christianity in Rome in the Early Centuries

Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome

Philip Jenkins, Mark Noll, and Rodney Stark have chronicled the amazing and exponential growth of Christianity in the first few centuries.  One chart from Rodney Stark's book, The Triumph of Christianity (163) gives an indication of the growth of Christians in Rome from the time after Jesus' death to 300 A.D.  Here is the chart:

Year                Number         Milestone    % of Rome's Population
100                 700                1,000          0.15
150                 3,600              -                   0.8
200                 19,000            20,000         4.2
250                 78,000            -                   17.3
300                 298,000          -                   66.2

Just in 50 years, from 250 to 300, Christianity increased in the percentage of Rome's population by roughly 49 percent.  What gave way to Christianity's monstrous growth.  For one, Christianity began claiming adherents in the port cities, reaching people where trade routes from sea and land would come to sell goods and exchange services.  There is an overwhelming difference between the growth of the faith in and around port cities and in the main land.  In fact, by 180 only 14 % of port cities lacked a visible Christian congregation.  Further, much of the growth of early Christianity was due to its language, Greek.  Meaning Diaspora Jews and Hellenistic Jews were already moving away from Hebrew and were influenced heavily by Greek language, thought, and religion.  The translation of the Hebrew bible into Greek (LXX), the Septuagint, also meant that these Jewish people could read Scriptures in the language they knew.  Even more, many of the early Christians spoke Greek as was their Scriptures, the New Testament.  The Greek in which the New Testament was written was called Koine, or common Greek.  

If you are interested further in this subject, check out a few good books:
Mark Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity, 2013
Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity, 2011
Rodney Stark, Cities of God:The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome, 2006 
 Jonathan Hill, Christianity: How a Tiny Sect from a Despised Religion came to Dominate the Roman Empire, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.


Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…