Christianizing the Roman Empire

(A. D. 100-400)

Ramsay MacMullen

View Inside Price: $28.00


September 10, 1986
184 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300036428
Paper

How did the early Christian church manage to win its dominant place in the Roman world? In his newest book, an eminent historian of ancient Rome examines this question from a secular—rather than an ecclesiastical—viewpoint. MacMullen’s provocative conclusion is that mass conversions to Christianity were based more on the appeal of miracle or the opportunity for worldly advantages than simply on a “rising tide of Christian piety.”
“Provocative to the Christian religious scholar and the nonreligious historian alike. . . . MacMullen’s style is lucid, and the story of a period with its own innate interest is narrated with compelling feeling. . . . It is an important book, and highly recommended for the general reader of history as well as the Christian who wonders how the ‘Jesus movement’ came, by Constantine’s time, to be the church we know—Choice
“Written in a fresh and vigorous style, . . . [this book] offers an admirable survey of some major aspects of the history [of the early Christian church].”—Robert M. Grant, New York Times Book Review 
“Gently provocative. . . . MacMullen has written an instructive and enjoyable book on a great theme.”—Henry Chadwick, Times Literary Supplement  
“A carefully argued and well-written study.”—Jackson P. Hershbell, Library Journal

"Provocative to the Christian religious scholar and the nonreligious historian alike. . . . MacMullen's style is lucid, and the story of a period with its own innate interest is narrated with compelling feeling. The book has a full complement of notes to give depth to the text. Additionally, the full bibliography will be appreciated by the historian of this period. Finally, there is a very useful index. All this makes the 119 pages of text more meaningful. It is an important book, and highly recommended for the general reader of history as well as the Christian who wonders how the 'Jesus movement' came, by Constantine's time, to be the church we know."—Choice

"A carefully argued and well-written study."—Jackson P. Hershbell, Library Journal

"Written in a fresh and vigorous style, . . . [this book] offers an admirable survey of some major aspects of the history [of the early Christian church]."—Robert M. Grant, New York Times Book Review

"Gently provocative. . . . MacMullen has written an instructive and enjoyable book on a great theme." —Henry Chadwick, Times Literary Supplement

"Macmullen's account of this vast cultural shift allows the specialist or general reader to move beyond the tenacious assumptions of Christian apologetics or secular reductionism."—J. Rebecca Lyman, America

"[This] fine and very readable study offers an effective challenge to the stereotyped image of pagans in the Roman period"—Robert A. Wild, S.J., Biblical Archaeological Review

"The book is vintage MacMullen. . . . Well-written and well-informed with numerous interesting anecdotes and perceptive observations. . . . A valuable contribution to this fascinating and important problem."—Jan Bremmer, De Novis Libris Iudicia

"[MacMullen's] books provide a much-needed perspective on Graeco-Roman religiosity as a social and cultural phenomenon, a perspective frequently obscured by more traditional and exhaustive church historians. . . . Historians of religion and classical historians alike will find CHRISTIANIZING THE ROMAN EMPIRE not only provocative but indispensable to their understanding of a complex period and a complex subject."—Gail Paterson Corrington, Classical World

"[An] illuminating and insightful survey. . . . MacMullen's erudition is vast and his judgement careful."—Journal of Religion

"This is a highly readable book. . . . All students of early Christianity will learn from it, but, perhaps more importantly, they will provoked by it to further analyses of the Church's success."—D.F. Wright, History

"An interesting and informative book about the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. . . . MacMullen's book reads well. It makes a contribution to the specialist in classical studies and it is equally stimulating to the nonspecialist interested generally in church history."—Keith L. Sprunger, Conrad Grebel Review

"A readable and provocative work. . . . He has placed scholars lastingly in his debt."—W.H.C. Frend, The Downside Review

"It is without any doubt one of the most readable books in the field of Church History. MacMullen consciously writes as a historian, and not as a theologian." —Jakob J. Petuchowski, Jewish Spectator

"One of the most outstanding historians of the ancient world."—Anthony A. Barrett, The Historian

"Ramsay MacMullen has done a superb job showing us how a religious majority became a religious minority and a religious minority a religious majority.  The explanation helps us enhance our understanding of this important epoch in world history; it in no way changes the impact or development of that historical event for which there was additionally ample religious and theological foundation."—John E. Rexine, The Greek Orthodoxy Theological Review

Ramsay MacMullen is the recipient of a lifetime Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association (awarded Jan. 5, 2001). The citation begins, “Ramsay MacMullen is the greatest historian of the Roman Empire alive today.”