Part of seventh-century casket, depicting the pan-Germanic legend of Weyland Smith, which was apparently also a part of Anglo-Saxon pagan mythology

Paganism is commonly used to refer to various, largely unconnected religions that existed during Antiquity and the Middle Ages, such as the Greco-Roman religions of the Roman Empire, including the Roman imperial cult, the various mystery religions, monotheistic religions such as Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and more localized ethnic religions practiced both inside and outside the Empire. During the Middle Ages, the term was also adapted to refer to religions practiced outside the former Roman Empire, such as Germanic paganism, Slavic paganism and Baltic paganism.

From the point of view of the early Christians these religions all qualified as ethnic (or gentile, ethnikos, gentilis, the term translating goyim, later rendered as paganus) in contrast with Second Temple Judaism. By the late Middle Ages, Christianity had eliminated those faiths referred to as pagan through a mixture of peaceful conversion, persecution, and military conquest of pagan peoples; the Christianization of Lithuania in the 1400s is typically considered to mark the end of this process. The term "pagan" was typically not used to refer to non-Christian peoples with whom Christians interacted after that point, such as during colonization.



Early Christianity arose as a movement within Second Temple Judaism, following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. With a missionary commitment to both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), Christianity rapidly spread into the greater Roman empire and beyond. Here, Christianity came into contact with the dominant Pagan religions. By the 2nd century, many Christians were converts from Paganism. These conflicts are recorded in the works of the early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr as well as hostile reports by writers including Tacitus and Suetonius.

Persecution of early ChristiansEdit

Christianity was persecuted by Roman imperial authorities early on in its history within the greater empire. By the early part of the second century Christians are no longer viewed as part of a Jewish sect, but are considered as belonging to one of many foreign cults that infiltrated the Empire.[1] They gradually become conspicuous by their absence from festival activities where ritual sacrifices for the health of the emperor and well-being of the empire take place, behavior that carried a "whiff of both sacrilege and treason."[2][3][4]

Persecution under Nero, 64–68 ADEdit

The first documented case of imperially-supervised persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire begins with Nero (37–68). In 64 AD, a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. Nero himself was suspected as the arsonist by Suetonius. In his Annals, Tacitus (who claimed Nero was in Antium at the time of the fire's outbreak), stated that "to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians[5] by the populace" (Tacit. Annals XV, see Tacitus on Jesus). Suetonius, later to the period, does not mention any persecution after the fire, but in a previous paragraph unrelated to the fire, mentions punishments inflicted on Christians, defined as men following a new and malefic superstition. Suetonius however does not specify the reasons for the punishment, he just listed the fact together with other abuses put down by Nero.[6]

Persecution from the 2nd century to ConstantineEdit

By the mid-2nd century, mobs could be found willing to throw stones at Christians, and they might be mobilized by rival sects. The Persecution in Lyon was preceded by mob violence, including assaults, robberies and stonings (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.1.7). Further state persecutions were desultory until the 3rd century, though Tertullian's Apologeticus of 197 was ostensibly written in defense of persecuted Christians and addressed to Roman governors.[7]

There was no empire-wide persecution of Christians until the reign of Decius in the third century.[8] A decree was issued requiring public sacrifice, a formality equivalent to a testimonial of allegiance to the Emperor and the established order. Christians who refused were charged with impiety and punished by arrest, imprisonment, torture, and/or executions. Some Christians and purchased their certificates, called libelli, which certified their compliance; others fled to safe havens in the countryside. Several councils held at Carthage debated the extent to which the community should accept lapsed Christians.

The Diocletianic PersecutionEdit

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883).

The persecutions culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the 4th century. Beginning with a series of four edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face immediate execution. This persecution lasted until Constantine I, along with Licinius, legalized Christianity in 313. It was not until Theodosius I in the later 4th century that Christianity would become the State church of the Roman Empire. Between these two events Julian II temporarily restored the traditional Roman religion and established broad religious tolerance renewing Pagan and Christian hostilities.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that "Ancient, medieval and early modern hagiographers were inclined to exaggerate the number of martyrs. Since the title of martyr is the highest title to which a Christian can aspire, this tendency is natural". Attempts at estimating the numbers involved are inevitably based on inadequate sources, but one historian of the persecutions estimates the overall numbers as between 5,500 and 6,500,[9] a number also adopted by writers including Yuval Noah Harari:

In the 300 years from the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine all the victims of all these persecutions, it turns out that in these three centuries, the polytheistic Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians."[10]

Prohibition and persecution of Paganism in the Roman EmpireEdit

The Edict of Milan of 313 finally legalized Christianity, with it gaining governmental privileges and a degree of official approval under Constantine, who granted privileges such as tax exemptions to Christian clergy.[11] In the period of 313 to 391, both paganism and Christianity were legal religions, with their respective adherents vying for power in the Roman Empire. This period of transition is also known as the Constantinian shift. For the first two centuries of the Byzantine Empire, official policy towards paganism was cautious and tolerant. In 380, Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. Paganism was tolerated for another 12 years, until 392, when Theodosius passed legislation prohibiting all pagan worship. Pagan religions from this point were increasingly persecuted, a process which lasted throughout the 5th century. Hover, even with the closing of the Neoplatonic Academy by decree of Justinian I in 529, its philosophers were permitted to remain within the Empire without converting to Christianity,[12] although many of its scholars choose to move to the more tolerant Sassanid Persia.

Lay Christians took advantage of these new anti-pagan laws by destroying and plundering the temples.[13] Theologians and prominent ecclesiastics soon followed. One such example is St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. When Gratian became Roman emperor in 375, Ambrose, who was one of his closest advisors, persuaded him to further suppress paganism. The emperor, On Ambrose's advice, the emperor caused the statue of Victory to be removed from the senate house at Rome (382). In this same year he abolished all the privileges of the pagan pontiffs and the grants for the support of pagan worship. Deprived of the assistance of the State, paganism rapidly lost influence.[14]

When Gratian delegated the government of the eastern half of the Roman Empire to Theodosius the Great in 379, the situation became worse for the Pagans. Theodosius prohibited all forms of Pagan worship and allowed the temples to be robbed, plundered, and destroyed by monks and other enterprising Christians[15][16][17][18][19] and participated in actions by Christians against major pagan sites.[13] Pagans openly voiced their resentment in historical works, such as the writings of Eunapius and Olympiodorus. Some writers blamed the Christian hegemony for the 410 Sack of Rome, provoking Saint Augustine, a Christian bishop, to respond by writing The City of God, a seminal Christian text. Christians destroyed almost all such pagan political literature and threatened to cut off the hands of any copyist who dared to make new copies of the offending writings.[20][21]

Pagan influences on ChristianityEdit

Hermes Kriophoros

Depictions in the catacombs suggest that Christians readily adapted common motifs such as "The Good Shepherd", which in Roman culture represented "philanthropy", and the "orans" image, which indicated "piety".[22]

Noah catacomb (orans)

The transition from paganism to Christianity took place very gradually and unevenly in late antiquity and in the early Byzantine world. Customary funeral rituals remained. These included the belief that at the time of death angels and demons contest for the decedent's soul. Macarius of Egypt writes of such a contest, which is only resolved by the intervention of the person's guardian angel -roughly equivalent to Plato's daimon.[12] A second belief was that the soul was weighed in the scales of justice; a concept that Eustathius of Thessalonica found in the Iliad.[12] Both ideas precipitated loud lamentation, which Gregory of Nyssa and others attempted to modify to the singing of psalms and hymns.

In 609 Pope Boniface IV obtained leave from the Byzantine Emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon in Rome into a Christian church,[23] a practice similar to that recommended eight year earlier by Pope Gregory I to Mellitus regarding Anglo-Saxon holy places, in order to ease the transition to Christianity. According to Willibald's Life of Saint Boniface, about 723, the missioner cut down the sacred Donar's Oak and used the lumber to build a church dedicated to St. Peter.[24] Around 744, Saint Sturm established the monastery of Fulda on the ruins of a 6th-century Merovingian royal camp, destroyed 50 years earlier by the Saxons, at a ford on the Fulda River.

Following Bede, it was for a long time thought that the name of the Christian holyday of Easter derived from the Anglo-saxon goddess "Eostre". Later scholars considered it unlikely that Anglo-Saxon churchmen would name their holiest feastday for a pagan goddess, and that it was more probable that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon eastan, meaning east.[25]

Reliquary of St. Oswald, Hildesheim

After his death, King Oswald of Northumbria came to be regarded as a saint, and the spot where he died was associated with miracles. Reginald of Durham mentions one, saying that Oswald's right arm was taken by a raven to an ash tree, which gave the tree ageless vigor; when the bird dropped the arm onto the ground, a spring emerged from the ground. Both the tree and the spring were, according to Reginald, subsequently associated with healing miracles.[26] Aspects of the legend have been considered to have pagan overtones or influences and may represent a fusion of his status as a traditional Germanic warrior-king with Christianity.[27] The cult surrounding him gained prominence in parts of continental Europe.

The Germanic Pagan solstice celebrations (Midsummer festivals) are also sometimes referred to by Neopagans and others as Litha, stemming from Bede's De temporum ratione and the fire festival or Litha was a tradition for many pagans. This pagan holiday was basically brought in and given a name change, and in Christianity was then associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which now is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches. It is six months before Christmas because Luke 1:26 and Luke 1.36 imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus, although the Bible does not say at which time of the year this happened. As some argue, some of the most basic tenets of Christianity "derive from ancient paganism rather than from the Bible."[28]

In the case of Christmas, Druids, a Pagan priesthood in ancient Britain and France held a 12-day celebration around the winter solstice, believing it to be part of an annual battle between death and life.[28] They built huge bonfires and knew that days got longer as the calendar progesses through the winter season into spring. As such, the current holiday of Christmas began as a midwinter festival of the Pagans, with the Christians adopting the tradition of decorating with green plants from the Druids.[28] They would also adopt the 12 days of Christmas from the aforementioned 12 day festival held by pagans. Christians would eventually adopt the cutting down of a tree to decorate and display in their homes, with German immigrants bringing thus tradition to the United States.

Others put it more plainly, writing that many symbols that "modern-day Christians associate with Christmas have pagan roots."[29] Martin Luther King, Jr. even wrote about this connection while in late 1949 or early 1950, noting that the place at Bethleham selected by early Christians as Jesus's birthplace was an early shrine of a pagan god, Adonis, with the story of resurrection also said to be similar to that of Adonis.[30] His essay also argued that the descent of Jesus into hell was also borrowed from paganism, as was a baptismal ceremony. More recently, some scholars have argued that Easter symbols "give the festivities an air of pre-Christian paganism," but added that Easter rituals as they are now known represent "an untidy collection of customs" and that any "connection with pre-Christian paganism is entirely coincidental."[31]

Influence on early Christian theologyEdit

Christianity originated in the Roman province of Judaea, a predominantly Jewish society, with traditional philosophies distinct from the Greek thought which was dominant in the Roman Empire at the time. The conflict between the two modes of thought is recorded in the Christian scriptures, in Paul's encounters with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers mentioned in Acts,[32] his diatribe against Greek philosophy in 1st Corinthians,[33] and his warning against vain philosophy in Colossians 2:8.[34]

One early Christian writer of the 2nd and early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria, demonstrated the assimilation of Greek thought in writing: "Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ... the philosophy of the Greeks... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human... even upon those spiritual objects."[35]

Augustine of Hippo (354–430), who ultimately systematized Christian philosophy after converting to Christianity from Manichaeism, wrote in the late 4th and early 5th century: "But when I read those books of the Platonists I was taught by them to seek incorporeal truth, so I saw your 'invisible things, understood by the things that are made'."[36]

St. Augustine was originally a Manichaean.

Until the 20th century, most of the Western world's concept of Manichaeism came through Augustine's negative polemics against it. According to his Confessions, after eight or nine years of adhering to the Manichaean faith (as a member of the Manichaean group of Hearers), he became a Christian and a potent adversary of Manichaeism. It is speculated by some modern scholars (Alfred Adam, for example),[citation needed] that Manichaean ways of thinking had an influence on the development of some of Augustine's Christian ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of Hell, the separation of groups into Elect, Hearers, and Sinners, the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity, and so on (Manichaeism had originated in a heavily Gnostic area of the Persian empire[citation needed].) How much influence Manichaeism actually had on Christianity is still being debated.

The Paulicians, Bogomils, and Cathars were dualists and felt that the world was the work of a demiurge of Satanic origin. Whether this was due to influence from Manichaeism or another strand of Gnosticism has been impossible to determine. The Bogomils and Cathars, in particular, left few records of their rituals or doctrines, and the link between them and Manichaeans is unclear. Regardless of its historical veracity the charge of Manichaeism was leveled at them by contemporary orthodox opponents, who often tried to fit contemporary heresies with those combated by the church fathers. Only a minority of Cathars held that The Evil God (or principle) was as powerful as The Good God (also called a principle) as Mani did, a belief also known as absolute dualism. In the case of the Cathars, it seems they adopted the Manichaean principles of church organization, but none of its religious cosmology. Priscillian and his followers apparently tried to absorb what they thought was the valuable part of Manichaeaism into Christianity.

Christianization during the European Middle AgesEdit

The Anglo-Saxon conversionEdit

The conversion of Æthelberht, king of Kent is the first account of any Christian bretwalda conversion and is told by the Venerable Bede in his histories of the conversion of England. In 582 Pope Gregory sent Augustine and 40 companions from Rome to missionize among the Anglo-Saxons. “They had, by order of the blessed Pope Gregory, brought interpreters of the nation of the Franks, and sending to Æthelberht, signified that they were come from Rome, and brought a joyful message, which most undoubtedly assured to all that took advantage of it everlasting joys in heaven, and a kingdom that would never end with the living and true God.”[37] Æthelberht was not unfamiliar with Christianity because he had a Christian wife, and Bede says that there was even a church dedicated to St. Martin nearby. Æthelberht was converted eventually and Augustine remained in Canterbury.[38]

The Anglo-Saxon conversion in particular was a gradual process that necessarily included many compromises and syncretism. A famous letter from Pope Gregory to Mellitus in June 601, for example, is quoted encouraging the use of pagan temples by converts to Christianity, though festivals should be held on significant Christian dates.

Tell Augustine that he should be no means destroy the temples of the gods but rather the idols within those temples. Let him, after he has purified them with holy water, place altars and relics of the saints in them. For, if those temples are well built, they should be converted from the worship of demons to the service of the true God. Thus, seeing that their places of worship are not destroyed, the people will banish error from their hearts and come to places familiar and dear to them in acknowledgement and worship of the true God. Further, since it has been their custom to slaughter oxen in sacrifice, they should receive some solemnity in exchange. Let them therefore, on the day of the dedication of their churches, or on the feast of the martyrs whose relics are preserved in them, build themselves huts around their one-time temples and celebrate the occasion with religious feasting. They will sacrifice and eat the animals not any more as an offering to the devil, but for the glory of God to whom, as the giver of all things, they will give thanks for having been satiated. Thus, if they are not deprived of all exterior joys, they will more easily taste the interior ones. For surely it is impossible to efface all at once everything from their strong minds, just as, when one wishes to reach the top of a mountain, he must climb by stages and step by step, not by leaps and bounds.

Richard A. Fletcher suggests that Holy wells developed out of a like adaptation.[39]

Some time prior to 655, Œthelwald of Deira gave Chad of Mercia land upon which to build a monastery. According to Bede, Chad felt is necessary to fast for forty days in order to cleanse the place. This ritual purification indicates that the new monastery was likely built on the site of a pre-Christian cult.[40]


The Saxons were one of the last groups to be converted by Christian missionaries. They converted mainly under the threat of death by Charlemagne, although some concessions to pagan culture were made by missionaries. The Saxon conversion was so difficult for a number of reasons including their distance from Rome and the lack of a centralized polity capable of imposing Christianity from the top down until much later than other peoples that converted; additionally, their pagan beliefs were so strongly tied into their culture that conversion necessarily meant massive cultural change that was hard to accept. Their sophisticated theology was also a bulwark against an immediate and complete conversion to Christianity.[41]


Olaf I of Norway, during his attempt to Christianize Norway during the Viking Age, had those under his rule that practiced their indigenous Norse Paganism and refused to Christianize tortured, maimed or executed, including seidmen, who were tied up and thrown to a skerry at low tide to slowly drown.[citation needed] After Olaf I's death, Norway returned to its native paganism.

Northern CrusadesEdit

The Christianization of the pagan Balts, Slavs and Finns was undertaken primarily during the 12th and 13th centuries, in a series of uncoordinated military campaigns by various German and Scandinavian kingdoms, and later by the Teutonic Knights and other orders of warrior-monks, although the paganism of the inhabitants was used as justification by all of these actors. It involved the destruction of pagan polities, their subjection to their Christian conquerors, and frequently the wholesale resettlement of conquered areas and replacement of the original populations with German settlers, as in Old Prussia. Elsewhere, the local populations were subjected to an imported German overclass. Although revolts were frequent and pagan resistance often locally successful, the general technological superiority of the Crusaders, and their support by the Church and rulers throughout Christendom, eventually resulted in their victory in most cases - although Lithuania resisted successfully and only converted voluntarily in the 14th century.[42] Most of the populations of these regions were converted only with repeated use of force; in Old Prussia, the tactics employed in the conquest, and in the subsequent conversion of the territory, resulted in the death of most of the native population, whose language consequently became extinct.[43]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Notes & Commentaries". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  2. ^ "BBC - History - Ancient History in depth: Christianity and the Roman Empire". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  3. ^ "Pagans and Christians". Ross Douthat. 2014-10-03. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  4. ^ Bond, Sarah. "Why Did Early Christians And Pagans Fight Over New Year's Day?". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  5. ^ In the earliest extant manuscript, the second Medicean, the e in "Chrestianos", Chrestians, has been changed into an i; cf. Gerd Theißen, Annette Merz, Der historische Jesus: ein Lehrbuch, 2001, p. 89. The reading Christianos, Christians, is therefore doubtful. On the other hand, Suetonius (Claudius 25) uses the same 'e' transliteration of the Greek Krystos, meaning the anointed one, and associates it with a troublemaker among the Jews]
  6. ^ Nero 16
  7. ^ Tertullian's readership was more likely to have been Christians, whose faith was reinforced by Tertullian's defenses of faith against rationalizations.
  8. ^ Martin, D. 2010. "The "Afterlife" of the New Testament and Postmodern Interpretation Archived 2016-06-08 at the Wayback Machine (lecture transcript Archived 2016-08-12 at the Wayback Machine). Yale University.
  9. ^ Frend, W. H. C. (1984). The rise of Christianity. Fortress Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8006-1931-2.
  10. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (2014). "Chapter 12". Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. United Kingdom: Harvil Secker. ISBN 978-0-7710-3852-5.
  11. ^ R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) pp. 55–56.
  12. ^ a b c "2. From paganism to Christianity". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  13. ^ a b Ramsay McMullan (1984) Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100–400, Yale University Press, p.90.
  14. ^ Scannell, Thomas. "Gratian." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 20 April 2019  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ Grindle, Gilbert (1892) The Destruction of Paganism in the Roman Empire, pp.29–30. Quote summary: For example, Theodosius ordered Cynegius (Zosimus 4.37), the praetorian prefect of the East, to permanently close down the temples and forbade the worship of the deities throughout Egypt and the East. Most of the destruction was perpetrated by Christian monks and bishops,
  16. ^ Life of St. Martin
  17. ^ Gibbon, Edward The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch28
  18. ^ R. MacMullen, "Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100–400, Yale University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-300-03642-6
  19. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia (1912) article on Theophilus, New Advent Web Site.
  20. ^ MacMullen, Ramsay (1997) Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Yale University Press, p.4 quote: "non Christian writings came in for this same treatment, that is destruction in great bonfires at the center of the town square. Copyists were discouraged from replacing them by the threat of having their hands cut off
  21. ^ Kirsch, R. (1997) God Against the Gods, p.279, Viking and Compass
  22. ^ "The Collision With Paganism | From Jesus To Christ - The First Christians | FRONTLINE | PBS". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  23. ^ MacDonald, William L. (1976). The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01019-1
  24. ^ Willibald. Life of Saint Boniface, (George W. Robinson, trans.) (1916). Harvard University Press
  25. ^ Fletcher, p. 256.
  26. ^ Tudor, Victoria, "Reginald's Life of St Oswald", in C. Stancliffe and E. Cambridge (eds), Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint (1995). p. 190, ISBN 1-871615-51-8
  27. ^ Rollason, David, "St Oswald in Post-Conquest England", in C. Stancliffe and E. Cambridge (eds), Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint, p. 170. (1995).ISBN 1-871615-51-8
  28. ^ a b c Frank Dunkle, David Cobb (2011-10-22). "Paganism In Christianity". United Church of God. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  29. ^ Kuruvilla, Carol (2015-12-17). "What Christians And Pagans Have In Common During The Holidays". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  30. ^ University, © Stanford; Stanford; California 94305 (2014-12-17). ""The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity"". The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  31. ^ Stevenson, Jane. "Easter: eggs, hares, lamb and the return of warmth and sunshine – a Christian festival that feels pagan". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  32. ^ "Acts 17:18–33 – Passage Lookup – New International Version". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  33. ^ "1 Corinthians 1:20–25; – Passage Lookup – New International Version". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  34. ^ "Colossians 2:8; – Passage Lookup – New International Version". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  35. ^ Clement of Alexandria. Miscellanies 6. 8
  36. ^ Augustine of Hippo. Confessions 7. 20
  37. ^ Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England. Charleston: BiblioBazaar, 2007
  38. ^ Fletcher, Richard. The Barbarian Conversion : From Paganism to Christianity. New York: University of California, 1999.
  39. ^ Fletcher, p. 254.
  40. ^ Fletcher, p. 255.
  41. ^ Chaney, William. "Paganism to Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England." The Harvard Theological Review 53 (1960): 197–217.
  42. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 14-15.
  43. ^ The German Hansa, P. Dollinger, page 34, 1999, Routledge

Further readingEdit

  • Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (Boston: Yale University Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0300080773).
  • Christopher P. Jones, Between Pagan and Christian (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2014, ISBN 9780674725201).
  • Leonard W Cowie, The Christian calendar: A complete guide to the seasons of the Christian year telling the story of Christ and the saints, from Advent to Pentecost (US: G. & C. Merriam Co, 1974, ISBN 978-0877790402).
  • Page duBois, A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0674728837)
  • Ronald Hutton, Pagan Britain (Cambridge: Yale University Press, 2015,ISBN 978-0300205466)
  • Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (New York: HarperOne, 2015, ISBN 9780062104557)
  • Joscelyn Godwin, The Pagan Dream Of The Renaissance (US: Weiser Books, 2005,ISBN 978-1578633470)
  • J. N. Hillgarth, Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985, ISBN 978-0812212136)
  • David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0195067880)
  • Samuel Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity (New York: University Books, 1966).
  • Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine (London: Viking, 1986, ISBN 978-0-670-80848-9; Penguin Books Ltd new edition, 2006, ISBN 978-0-14-102295-6)
  • Gordon Laing, The Church Fathers and the Oriental Cults, The Classical Journal (1918).
  • Ramsay MacMullen and Robin Lane (ed.), Paganism and Christianity 100–425 C.E.:A Sourcebook. (A primary sourcebook for interaction between Pagans and Christians from the 2nd century to 425 CE)
  • Lutz E. von Padberg Die Christianisierung Europas im Mittelalter, 1998. Reclam ISBN 3-15-017015-X (in German) (History textbooks on the Christianization of Europe are also easily available in English.)
  • Stanley E. Porter, Stephen J. Bedard, Unmasking the Pagan Christ, 2006. Clements Publishing. 172 pp. ISBN 1-894667-71-9
  • J. M. Robertson, Pagan Christs, 1966. Dorset Press, New York, NY. 171 pp. ISBN 0-8216-0136-9