A problem here comes from the fact that we hae just defined paganism at the time of the rise of Chritianity as the religion of the poor peasants not the rich urbanites. So if the rise of Christianity is to be discussed as a movement of the rich, then their previous religion should not be called paganism. I expect that paganism is the term used in the book but how do we reconcile the definitions? --rmhermen
well, to be blunt its a rather controversial book. Both types of paganism existed, and both types of Christianity. There were elites and peasants in both. The main thrust of it though is, to believe the reviews, (not very controversially) to counter mid-20th c. ideas of a kind of Christian Socialism converting the empire by mutual support, which was in itself a reaction against elitist studies that neglected common people in favor of the literate and the evidence they left, in your typical cycle of academic fashion running back to Hume, at least. --MichaelTinkler
Oh, and I haven't read the book (just reviews) but I wonder how he balances pro-child policies with ascetic celibacy in terms of rapid growth. Just a thought. --MichaelTinkler
Well, I've read it, and I mainly understand it as an attempt to apply some of the concepts of modern sociology to the history of Christianity -- to let interact two fields that don't often have much to do with each other.
I can't remember him mentioning ascetic celibacy in terms of population growth; but I would guess that he would say that rather few (in terms of the total proportion of Christians) were celibates, and that those births lost by celibacy were more than made up for by those gained through increased fertility -- Simon J Kissane
Perhaps this should be redirected to something like The Rise of Christianity, book since it is a discussion of a book about the topic and not the topic itself and in general? --rmhermen