Nijay K. Gupta – Strange Religion

Episode: Fighting statues? Mystery cults? Roman religion was strange. Yet in many ways Christianity was even stranger. Nijay Gupta’s Strange Religion explores how Christianity was oddly attractive to Romans. If we “keep it weird,” Christianity can remain compelling today. Co-hosted by Matthew Bates.

The Book: Nijay K. Gupta, Strange Religion: How the First Christians Were Weird, Dangerous, and Compelling (Brazos, 2024). The first Christians were weird. Just how weird is often lost on today’s believers. Within Roman society, the earliest Christians stood out for the oddness of their beliefs and practices. They believed unusual things, worshiped God in strange ways, and lived a unique lifestyle. They practiced a whole new way of thinking about and doing religion that would have been seen as bizarre and dangerous when compared to Roman religion and most other religions of the ancient world. Award-winning author, blogger, speaker, and New Testament teacher Nijay Gupta traces the emerging Christian faith in its Roman context in this accessible and engaging book. Christianity would have been seen as radical in the Roman world, but some found this new religion attractive and compelling. The first Christians dared to be different, pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, transformed how people thought about religion, and started a movement that grew like wildfire. Brought to life with numerous images, this book shows how the example of the earliest Christians can offer today’s believers encouragement and hope. (Publisher’s description).

Guest: Nijay K. Gupta (PhD, Durham) is Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. He has written numerous books, including recent titles such as Tell Her Story (IVP Academic), Galatians (in The Story of God Commentary series by Zondervan Academic), Galatians (in the Word Biblical themes series) and Paul and the Language of Faith (Eerdmans). Gupta blogs at and can be found on X/Twitter (@NijayKGupta).

OnScript’s Review: Let’s keep it authentically weird. Roman religion was odd: talking statues, meaningful entrails, warring gods. In Strange Religion, Nijay Gupta shows how ancient Christianity was equally weird yet oddly attractive in the Roman world. If the contemporary church can look to the earliest church’s strange way of life, it will remain compellingly different today. Highly recommended. — Matthew W. Bates, author of Why the Gospel?; professor of theology at Quincy University.

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