Larry W. Hurtado
(Baylor University Press)
The early Christians’ contemporaries branded them irrational, simple, wicked, hateful, obstinate, and antisocial. The new religion was so different from the pagan religions of its day that it wasn’t even recognized as one; Christians were called atheists. Most notably, adherents were actually expected to behave differently, and unlike Judaism, the movement transgressed ethnic and social boundaries. This scholarly yet readable survey tells the unlikely story of the movement’s explosive growth, often through the words of its critics and detractors.
Today, many of the beliefs and practices that were distinctive back then are commonplace. Who believes in dozens of gods anymore? But modern Christians have much to learn from our foreparents’ spunk and distinctiveness. There are more than a few new idols and false gods to be toppled.