Why on Earth Did Anyone Become a Christian?

A Word in Edgewise

I recently received a book by my friend, colleague, and co-conspirator in the Early High Christology Club, Larry Hurtado. The book is entitled Why on Earth Did Anyone Become a Christian in the First Three Centuries? (Marquette University Press, 2016).  It is the published version of his Marquette Lecture in Theology in 2016.  As with everything Hurtado does, the book is well researched and well written steering clear of claiming too much or too little from the evidence he cites.  He is a sober and careful historian of early Christianity.larry-hurtado1

The driving question or “big idea” of the book comes down to this question: given the serious social and political consequences of choosing to identify with the Jesus movement, why did anyone make that choice in the first three centuries (AD or CE, if you prefer)?  Now this question is distinct from the one posed by Rodney Stark (The…

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