How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers? Who listened to this "good news," and who ignored it? Where did Christianity spread, and how? Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, scholar Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church, overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the world. By analyzing concrete data, Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity, offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of more than one-third of the world's population.--From publisher description.