I received a couple books for Christmas about the history of Europe’s conversion to Christianity (Ironic gifts for CHRISTMAS, eh?). One is ‘The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity’ by Richard Fletcher and the other is ‘Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries’ by Ramsay MacMullen.
Have you heard of/recommend either of them over the other? Or do you have a different recommendation altogether?
I have read _about_ these books but not actually read them. Both deal with the post-Theodosius conversion of Germanic and Scandinavian peoples and appear to focus on the use of Christianity as a political tool of rulers. The MacMullen book in particular is very hostile to Christianity. Fletcher is more balanced.
I’d recommend Charles Norris Cochrane’s book “Christianity and Classical Culture,” published by Liberty Fund, for a classic treatment of the process of conversion in the early centuries. “Pagans and Christians” by Robin Lane Fox is also highly regarded. Both of these focus on Rome.
Another outstanding book in this general area is Robert Wilken’s _The Christians as the Romans Saw Them_. Its topic is the way that pagan intellectuals in the Empire apprehended Christianity. It’s brief and clear, so that both experts and beginners can benefit from it.