Daniel H. Abbott. Revolutionary Strategies in Early Christianity. Nimble Books, Ann Arbor: 2008.

The one and the only Dan Tdaxp has published his first (and by no means last) book. ‘Revolutionary Strategies’ applies contemporary military theory to the Christianization of the Roman Empire.  Using biblical sources and secondary histories to deduce the strategy of early Christians, Dan argues that the Christian movement adopted a strategy with regards to the Roman Empire that is analogous to 4th Generation War: By loving their enemies (the Romans), the Christians ultimately destroyed the Roman will to resist Christianity.  As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, it came to be seen by the Romans as a useful pillar to uphold the legitimacy and authority of the state as it was confronted by external enemies (re: pesky barbarians).    Thus, Constantine’s vision in 312 comes at a fortuitous time, as Rome was ripe to embrace Christianity, waiting patiently for its embrace. 

The best of Dan’s strategic analysis involves integrating Boyd’s PISRR steps to victory and the gendering of different aspects of war.  PISRR stands for Penetrate-Isolate-Subdue/Subvert-Reorganize-Reharmonize. However, to successfully PISRR an enemy, and harmonize its existence according to one’s own strategy, it is necessary to use both male Panzers and female Soldats.  Panzers crash gates, Soldats build societies.  Using one without the other leaves one strategically vulnerable to further annihalation or eventual subversion.  Femininity and Masculinity go hand in hand in warfare, a velvet glove to an iron fist.  Christian Panzers spread the Good Word, Soldats ensured it stayed in the hearts and minds of the people.  When the Empire was weak, it could switch to a Christian ideology that was already well received among the people.  Thus, Christians destroyed the Roman will to resist it, as it became more rational to embrace it. 

At least that’s what I got out of it (without revealing too much). 

However, no good review should be completely uncritical.  So allow me to pick a fight.  Instead of 4GW, might it be more consistent with xGW to think of this as 5GW? To quote Dan:

“Your enemy must not feel that he is not on your side”.

By loving the Romans and respecting their political rule, the Christians were trying to keep the Romans from perceiving them as enemies, despite the fact that Christian social norms were non-hierarchal (everyone equal in the eyes of God) and threatening to the patriarchal Roman social order. Thus, I see carrying the equipment of Roman soldiers (as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 5:41) as a way to falsify the Roman characterization of Christians as enemies.  Loving your enemy is the best way to make him not think of you as an enemy. 

Either way, this is a sweet book that gets me thinking about xGW in pre-modern terms.  Check it out, and then go read Dan’s blog, Dreaming 5GW, and the blogs of those esteemed contributors.