- Jan 2007
I think the reason why it was successful in Europe and the Middle East (until the rise of Islam) was because of it's similarities to the pagan religion. For instance, the date for Christmas, December 25, comes from the cult of Mithras which was popular amongst Roman legions toward the tail end of the empire. My guess is that Christianity adopted the date as means to attain more followers. There is a book by Marvin Meyer called Ancient Christian Magic. In the book, there are many spells and remedies that were once used by pagans and adopted by many "Christians" who believed they were practicing a form of Christianity. I think I have the book in my library and I will see if I can post an example when I find the book.
To make a long story short, early Christianity sought to convert by convincing pagan worshipers they were, in a sense, practicing a form of Christianity. That was one of the major reasons why Christianity was so successful. The were able to adopt or adapt pagan religious practices and concepts (i.e. Saint worship=God and goddess worship of ancient Rome and Greece).
Hopefully this partially answers your questions. I think the main reasons why Christianity did not spread any further than it did was because it simply wasn't "compatible" to the religions of the Far East (although Hindu and Buddhist ideology is sometimes argued as similar to that of Christianity).
Thanks for the reply Comet,