A History of Christian Conversion
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.
David Kling has been at the University of Miami since 1986, serving initially in an administrative capacity before joining the Department of Religious Studies in 1993, where he currently serves as Department Chair. He is a specialist in American religious history and the history of Christianity.