There is a fascinating interview with the sociologist Rodney Stark on Al Hirsch’s blog, Forgotten Ways. Stark wrote one of the best books I’ve read in last few years, The Rise of Christianity, which gives fascinating insights into the way the early church grew and developed. You get a good flavour of the book by reading the interview. As ever, I’ve put a taster below to give you some idea of what is going on.
You conclude your book by saying that “what Christianity gave to its converts was nothing less than their humanity.” What do you mean?
RS: If you look at the Roman world, you have to question whether half the people had any humanity. Going to the arena to enjoy watching people tortured and killed doesn’t strike me as healthy. I’m a big football fan, and I see that, when some player gets hurt, they bring out an ambulance and the doctors take twenty minutes to get him off the field. They don’t want people hurt out there. But these people did. They’d shout, “Shake him! Jump up and down on him!”
Rodney Stark has written a number of other books which I’d like to read when time allows.