The great appeal of Ehrman’s approach to Christian history has always been his steadfast humanizing impulse ... Ehrman always thinks hard about history’s winners and losers without valorizing the losers or demonizing the winners. The losers here, of course, were pagan people.Reading about how an entire culture’s precepts and traditions can be overthrown without anyone being able to stop it may not be heartening at this particular historical moment. All the more reason to spend time in the company of such a humane, thoughtful and intelligent historian.
Tangled lives...the raw footage of history, sadly wind up on the cutting-room floor of Bart Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity, a chipper but superficial retelling of the rise of Christianity ... Mr. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar, is to be commended for daring to tackle the rough politics of the fourth century. But he never quite finds his footing as a social historian. The story he tells, it must be admitted, features a spectacular cast: maniacal emperors, wondrous miracle workers and at least one well-known day laborer ... in the balance of the book, he connects the dots and proceeds to characterize—in 'broad swaths'—the 30 million Romans who converted to Christianity ... There's a lot left out of the picture ... What readers are given, instead, is an unconvincing account of how Christians came to dominate Roman culture through their nagging evangelism.
Ehrman’s conclusions are debatable, as he knows perfectly well. Like a good college lecture class, his book offers both a wealth of historical information and, to make sense of it all, a few plausible theories — including his own. He doesn’t tell us what to think. He gives us a lot to think about.