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Who Were the First Christians?Dismantling the Urban Thesis$
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Thomas A. Robinson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190620547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190620547.001.0001

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Counting Romans and Christians

Counting Romans and Christians

(p.24) 3 Counting Romans and Christians
Who Were the First Christians?

Thomas A. Robinson

Oxford University Press

The assumption that Christians made up 10% of the Roman Empire by the year 300 C.E. has become a popular view largely because of the work of Rodney Stark, who claimed that he had a parallel in Mormonism for the kind of growth that Christianity supposedly had. This chapter examines the scholarly debate about the demography of the Roman Empire and the skepticism of many researchers on this question. Christian numbers rest on even less secure methods for calculating a population, and the commonly accepted results, if accepted, make the urban thesis impossible, though most scholars have overlooked this crucial matter. To demonstrate this, several detailed charts of population scenarios for the Roman Empire, the Christian component, and the urban/rural possibilities in the Christian mix are provided.

Keywords:   Rodney Stark, demography, urban Christianity, rural Christianity, Roman Empire

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