A History of Christian Conversion

ISBN : 9780195320923

David W. Kling
852 ページ
187 x 262 mm
  • The first comprehensive global history of Christian conversion
  • Incorporates theological, theoretical, and methodological approaches to conversion
  • Examines individual and group conversion
  • Accessible to educated lay and professional audiences

Conversion has played a central role in the history of Christianity. In this first in-depth and wide-ranging narrative history, David Kling examines the dynamic of turning to the Christian faith by individuals, families, and people groups. Global in reach, the narrative progresses from early Christian beginnings in the Roman world to Christianity's expansion into Europe, the Americas, China, India, and Africa. Conversion is often associated with a particular strand of modern Christianity (evangelical) and a particular type of experience (sudden, overwhelming). However, when examined over two millennia, it emerges as a phenomenon far more complex than any one-dimensional profile would suggest. No single, unitary paradigm defines conversion and no easily explicable process accounts for why people convert to Christianity. Rather, a multiplicity of factors-historical, personal, social, geographical, theological, psychological, and cultural-shape the converting process.
A History of Christian Conversion not only narrates the conversions of select individuals and peoples, it also engages current theories and models to explain conversion, and examines recurring themes in the conversion process: divine presence, gender and the body, agency and motivation, testimony and memory, group- and self-identity, "authentic" and "nominal" conversion, and modes of communication. Accessible to scholars, students, and those with a general interest in conversion, Kling's book is the most satisfying and comprehensive account of conversion in Christian history to date; this major work will become a standard must-read in conversion studies.


1. An Anatomy of Conversion
Part One: The Roman World
2. The New Testament (50-100)
3. The Early Church through Constantine (100-337)
4. The Western Imperial Church and Beyond (312-500)
Part Two: Medieval Europe
5. Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Europe (500-1000)
6. Rulers, Missionaries, Popes, and Patriarchs (400-1200)
7. Conversion by Coercion: Jews and Pagans (400-1500)
8. Interior Conversion: Monks, Mendicants, Mystics (1050-1500)
Part Three: Early Modern Europe
9. Protestants and Continental Reformers (1517-1600)
10. English Protestantism (1520-1700)
11. European Catholicism (1500-1700)
12. The Rise of Evangelicalism (1675-1750)
Part Four: The Americas
13. Catholics in Colonial America (1500-1700)
14. The Puritans and the Great Awakening in America (1630-1790)
15. American Evangelicalism in Black and White (1750-present)
16. Protestants and Pentecostals in Latin America (1900-present)
Part Five: China
17. The Church of the East and the First Catholic Mission (635-1840)
18. Protestant Entrance and Christian Expansion (1840-1950)
19. Independent Protestant Movements (1930-present)
Part Six: India
20. Upper Caste Conversions (1500-1900)
21. Lower-Caste Conversions (1530-present)
Part Seven: Africa
22. The Age of the Prophets (1900-1930)
23. The East African Revival (1930-2000)
24. Catholic East and Pentecostal West (1800-present)
25. Revisiting Themes in the History of Christian Conversion


David W. Kling, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of Miami
David W. Kling is the author of A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792-1822; The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times; co-editor (with Douglas A. Sweeney) of Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons; and an area editor (American Christianity) for the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Miami.