The supposed collapse of Roman civilization is still lamented more than 1,500 years later - and intertwined with this idea is the notion that a fledgling religion, Christianity, went from a persecuted fringe movement to an irresistible force that toppled the empire. The intolerant zeal of Christians, wrote Edward Gibbon, swept Rome's old gods away, and with them the structures that sustained Roman society. Not so, argues Douglas Boin. Such tales are simply untrue to history, and ignore the most important fact of all: Life in Rome never came to a dramatic stop. Instead, as Boin shows, a small minority movement rose to transform society - politically, religiously, and culturally - but it was a gradual process, one that happened in fits and starts over centuries.
Drawing upon a decade of recent studies in history and archaeology, and on his own research, Boin opens up a wholly new window onto a period we thought we knew. His work is the first to describe how Christians navigated the complex world of social identity in terms of passing and coming out. Many Christians lived in a dynamic middle ground. Their quiet success, as much as the clamor of martyrdom, was a powerful agent for change. With this insightful approach to the story of Christians in the Roman world, Douglas Boin rewrites, and rediscovers, the fascinating early history of a world faith.
Not quite what I was hoping for
I was really looking for more of a focus on the early Christians and learning about the gap between Christ's death and the 5th century when Christianity really took a strong hold on the Roman Empire (or what was left of it). There were many tangents about the jews and Romans that were good information, but seemed too long and not on topic. I know you need to see the situation from many angles, but it was just not as fulfilling as I hoped it would be.