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The Rise of Christianity through the eyes of Gibbon, Harnack and Rodney Stark

Jan N. Bremmer

ISBN-13: 9789077922705

Publication year: 2010

Publication type: Book

Pages: IX, 87

Cover: Softcover

Format: 14,5 x 21 cm; 175 gr.

Price excl. VAT: 13.50

Price incl. VAT: 14.72

The rise of Christianity up to the victory of Constantine has often been studied and remains a puzzling phenomenon. In this valedictory lecture Jan N. Bremmer concentrates on the explanations adduced, focusing in particular on the works of three iconic figures from the last two hundred and fifty years:The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of Edward Gibbon, the most famous ancient historian of all time, at the end of the eighteenth century; Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums of Adolf von Harnack, the greatest historian of early Christianity of all time, around 1900, and The Rise of Christianity of Rodney Stark, the most adventurous sociologist of religion of our times, at the end of the twentieth century.

Bremmer locates their concerns and explanations within their own times, but also takes them seriously as scholars, discussing their analyses and approaches. In this way he shows both the continuities and the innovations in the evolving view which scholarship presents of early Christianity. Bremmer's exceptional knowledge of the huge range of scholarship and his humane and balanced judgment make this lecture the ideal introduction to the many problems raised by Christianity's displacement of paganism.

About the author

Jan N. Bremmer (Ph.D. 1979) is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. He has published extensively on Greek, Roman, Early Christian and contemporary religion, including Greek Religion (1994) and The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife (2002).


All those interested in the history of Christianity, as well as historians of religion and classicists.

Extra information

A free pdf file containing the frontmatter and index of the book.


"Bremmer’s engaging little book is warmly recommended both as a good read for the specialists and as an introductory text that can be used with considerable profijit in the classroom." Einar Thomassen in Numen 60 (2013), 135–154

- Einar Thomassen in Numen 60 (2013), 135–154
Brent Nongbri in Review of Biblical Literature, (2012)
- Anthony Dupont in Latomus (2012), LXXI, 948