Coming Spring 2024
Burnt Offerings Series
Entertain ~ Educate ~ Inspire
Burnt Offerings is a series of five novels centered around the early Christians finding their way in the Roman Empire during the late first century to the mid-third century.
It is both history and fiction, hence "historical fiction." Many of the principal characters are historical figures and the “action” finds them in the actual time and place of their daily situations. We discover a “pagan” world that was initially indifferent to and later increasingly hostile towards this new religious cult. The story spans the provinces of the Empire around the Mediterranean.
The inspiration for the stories came principally from two sources: first, Warren Carroll’s The Founding of Christendom/A History of Christendom, Vol. 1 (principally chapters 18 “The Seed in the Earth” and 19 “Blood of the Martyrs”). The second, Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries.
Professor Carroll’s work is history written from a Catholic perspective, well researched and abundantly footnoted. The two chapters mentioned cover the period from 70 AD to 311 AD: from the death of St. Paul to the end of the persecutions by Diocletian. Constantine would very soon become emperor, and give formal legal status to the Christian church that from the reign of Nero was an unlawful cult—
Christiani esse non licit.
Professor Stark’s book is a sociologist’s study of life in the Roman world, of the nature and dynamics of new religious movements, and offers his conclusions of the “real world” factors that helped Christianity to both survive and become eminently successful. Of particular interest to me beyond the sociological factors studied is a statistical model projecting the growth in numbers of Christians from mere hundreds in 40 AD to 6,300,000 in 300 AD, from a miniscule fraction to approximately 10% of a total population of about 60 million. 50 years later after the death of Constantine, the "first Christian" emperor, Christians were more than half of the population.
Why, again, did Christianity succeed, when, on the surface, the “odds” were stacked against them?
The answer(s) are multi-faceted. Pick your position and argue for or against. Regardless, Christianity did in fact "win the day."
I am not offering an apologetical work per se, but I am telling a story about people, Christian and Roman, who lived interesting lives, some heroic, some infamous, many, like us, trying to find meaning and happiness in the big scheme of things.
In following their journeys, we may recognize something of ourselves in them.
Click on a book cover to read a "snapshot" of the upcoming books.