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  •  Then why did early Christianity prevail? (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of religions proselytized, some violently (of course Christians were to do this centuries later in the Crusades, of course). Why did this one win out? Was it a matter of luck, the skills of its leaders, or was there something about its beliefs that allowed it to prevail? Why did Constantine pick Christianity and not other religions? How did an ascetic offshoot of an already severe religion become the dominant religion in the west? It's nearly as amazing as how the descendants of a small tree shrew evolved into humans.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:45:29 PM PDT

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    •  By the time Constantine came around (6+ / 0-)

      there were a lot of Christians.  So by then it wasn't a surprise (after all his mother was Christian).  

      The more interesting question is why it spread in the first century.  It was one of the eastern mystery religions like the cult of isis, which is also widely attested.  Christianity appealed to both the rich and the slaves, with no distinction.  It was not exclusive to one group (they proselytized which seems to have been rare).  And it promised a better afterlife, which a lot of religions didn't.  They were for this life, which (when it sucked) obviously wasn't a good argument for how much the gods loved you.

      •  I meant, of course, the more interesting question (2+ / 0-)
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        kovie, Ojibwa

        for me.  You may find Constantine more interesting.  It is completely in the eye of the beholder.  Sorry -- didn't mean to come across as being as arrogant as that sounded!

        •  Not at all (2+ / 0-)
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          Ojibwa, EJP in Maine

          They're all interesting. And, actually, you're probably right to find the earlier history more interesting, since by the time Constantine picked it as the state religion, it was already quite big and established, and he was making a political more than religious decision, not unlike today's fake pious leaders.

          I guess the Christians had a better "product", in that it was more internally cohesive and appealing and in touch with the times, and better "sold" by its practitioners, benefiting from their worldliness and sophistication and willingness to travel far on missions, taking advantage of the transportation and communication technologies of the time.

          Of course, many people would just say it was a better product, period, and eventually sold itself. But I think it's clearly that it's not that simple.

          I mean, Papa Johns sells a lot of pizzas. Why not Papa Jesus?

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:28:28 PM PDT

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