Constantine the Great and Christianity

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have often argued about which form of early Christianity he subscribed to. There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena's Christianity in his youth, or, as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea, encouraged her to convert to the faith he had adopted himself.

Constantine ruled the Roman Empire as sole emperor for the remainder of his reign. Some scholars allege that his main objective was to gain unanimous approval and submission to his authority from all classes, and therefore chose Christianity to conduct his political propaganda, believing that it was the most appropriate religion that could fit with the Imperial cult (see also Sol Invictus). Regardless, under Constantine's rule Christianity expanded throughout the Empire, launching the era of Christian Church's dominance under the Constantinian dynasty.[1] Whether Constantine sincerely converted to Christianity or remained loyal to Paganism is still a matter of debate among historians (see also Constantine's Religious policy).[2] His formal conversion in 312 is almost universally acknowledged among historians,[1][3] despite that he was baptized only on his deathbed by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia in 337;[4][5][6] the real reasons behind it remain unknown and are debated too.[2][3] According to Hans Pohlsander, Professor Emeritus of History at the University at Albany, SUNY, Constantine's conversion was just another instrument of realpolitik in his hands meant to serve his political interest in keeping the Empire united under his control:

The prevailing spirit of Constantine's government was one of conservatorism. His conversion to and support of Christianity produced fewer innovations than one might have expected; indeed they served an entirely conservative end, the preservation and continuation of the Empire.

— Hans Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine[7]

Constantine's decision to cease the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was a turning point for early Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Triumph of the Church, the Peace of the Church or the Constantinian shift. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship. The emperor became a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor within the Church and the notion of orthodoxy, Christendom, ecumenical councils, and the state church of the Roman Empire declared by edict in 380. He is revered as a saint and isapostolos in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and various Eastern Catholic Churches for his example as a "Christian monarch."

Raphael Baptism Constantine
Raphael's The Baptism of Constantine depicts Sylvester I instead of Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, Constantine's actual baptizer.

Before Constantine

The first recorded official persecution of Christians on behalf of the Roman Empire was in AD 64, when, as reported by the Roman historian Tacitus, Emperor Nero attempted to blame Christians for the Great Fire of Rome. According to Church tradition, it was during the reign of Nero that Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. However, modern historians debate whether the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva's modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in 96, from which point practicing Jews paid the tax and Christians did not.[8]

Christians suffered from sporadic and localized persecutions over a period of two and a half centuries. Their refusal to participate in Imperial cult was considered an act of treason and was thus punishable by execution. The most widespread official persecution was carried out by Diocletian. During the Great Persecution (303–311), the emperor ordered Christian buildings and the homes of Christians torn down and their sacred books collected and burned. Christians were arrested, tortured, mutilated, burned, starved, and condemned to gladiatorial contests to amuse spectators.[9] The Great Persecution officially ended in April 311, when Galerius, senior emperor of the Tetrarchy, issued an edict of toleration, which granted Christians the right to practice their religion, though it did not restore any property to them.[10] Constantine, Caesar in the Western empire, and Licinius, Caesar in the East, also were signatories to the edict of toleration.[11] It has been speculated that Galerius' reversal of his long-standing policy of Christian persecution has been attributable to one or both of these co-Caesars.[12]

Conversion

Constantine's conversion
Constantine's conversion, as imagined by Rubens.

It is possible (but not certain) that Constantine's mother, Helena, exposed him to Christianity; in any case he only declared himself a Christian after issuing the Edict of Milan.[13][14] Writing to Christians, Constantine made clear that he believed that he owed his successes to the protection of that High God alone.[15]

Battle of Milvian Bridge

Eusebius of Caesarea and other Christian sources record that Constantine experienced a dramatic event in 312 at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, after which Constantine claimed the emperorship in the West. According to these sources, Constantine looked up to the sun before the battle and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words "Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα" (in this sign, conquer), often rendered in a Latin version, "in hoc signo vinces" (in this sign, you will conquer). Constantine commanded his troops to adorn their shields with a Christian symbol (the Chi-Rho), and thereafter they were victorious.[16]

Following the battle, the new emperor ignored the altars to the gods prepared on the Capitoline and did not carry out the customary sacrifices to celebrate a general's victorious entry into Rome, instead heading directly to the imperial palace.[15] Most influential people in the empire, however, especially high military officials, had not been converted to Christianity and still participated in the traditional religions of Rome; Constantine's rule exhibited at least a willingness to appease these factions. The Roman coins minted up to eight years after the battle still bore the images of Roman gods.[16] The monuments he first commissioned, such as the Arch of Constantine, contained no reference to Christianity.[15][17]

Edict of Milan

In 313 Constantine and Licinius announced "that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best,"[18] thereby granting tolerance to all religions, including Christianity. The Edict of Milan went a step further than the earlier Edict of Toleration by Galerius in 311, returning confiscated Church property. This edict made the empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship; it neither made the traditional religions illegal nor made Christianity the state religion, as occurred later with the Edict of Thessalonica of 380. The Edict of Milan did, however, raise the stock of Christianity within the empire and it reaffirmed the importance of religious worship to the welfare of the state.[19]

Patronage of the Church

Hagia Irene2
Hagia Eirene, the first church commissioned by Constantine in Constantinople.

The accession of Constantine was a turning point for early Christianity. After his victory, Constantine took over the role of patron of the Christian faith. He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g., exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices, returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian,[20] and endowed the church with land and other wealth.[21] Between 324 and 330, Constantine built a new imperial capital at Byzantium on the Bosporos, which would be named Constantinople for him. Unlike "old" Rome, the city began to employ overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls, and had no pre-existing temples from other religions.[22]

In doing this, however, Constantine required those who had not converted to Christianity to pay for the new city.[21] Christian chroniclers tell that it appeared necessary to Constantine "to teach his subjects to give up their rites ... and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein,"[23] This led to the closure of temples because of a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure;[24] Constantine did not need to use force to implement this.[21] Only the chronicler Theophanes has added that temples "were annihilated", but this was considered "not true" by contemporary historians.[25]

Public office

Constantine respected cultivated persons, and his court was composed of older, respected, and honored men. Men from leading Roman families who declined to convert to Christianity were denied positions of power yet still received appointments; even up to the end of his life, two-thirds of his top government were non-Christian.

Legal reforms

Constantine's laws enforced and reflected his Christian attitudes. Crucifixion was abolished for reasons of Christian piety, but was replaced with hanging, to demonstrate the preservation of Roman supremacy. On March 7, 321, Sunday, already sacred to Christians and to the Roman Sun God Sol Invictus, was declared an official day of rest. On that day markets were banned and public offices were closed,[26] except for the purpose of freeing slaves.[27] There were, however, no restrictions on performing farming work, which was the work of the great majority of the population, on Sundays.[28]

Some laws made during his reign were even humane in the modern sense, possibly inspired by his Christianity:[29] a prisoner was no longer to be kept in total darkness but must be given the outdoors and daylight; a condemned man was allowed to die in the arena, but he could not be branded on his "heavenly beautified" face, since God was supposed to have made man in his image, but only on the feet.[30] Publicly displayed gladiatorial games were ordered to be eliminated in 325.

Early Christian Bibles

In 331, Constantine commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded around 340 Alexandrian scribes preparing Bibles for Constans. Little else is known. It has been speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta and Codex Alexandrinus, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles.[31]

Christian emperorship

Enforcement of doctrine

The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor in the Church. Emperors considered themselves responsible to the gods for the spiritual health of their subjects, and after Constantine they had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy.[32] The Church generally regarded the definition of doctrine as the responsibility of the bishops; the emperor's role was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity.[33] The emperor ensured that God was properly worshiped in his empire; what proper worship (orthodoxy) and doctrines and dogma consisted of was for the Church to determine.[34]

Constantine had become a worshiper of the Christian God, but he found that there were many opinions on that worship and indeed on who and what that God was. In 316, Constantine was asked to adjudicate in a North African dispute between the Donatist sect (who began by refusing obedience to any bishops who had yielded in any way to persecution, later regarding all bishops but their own sect as utterly contaminated). More significantly, in 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, effectively the first Ecumenical Council (unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified).[35] The Council of Nicaea is the first major attempt by Christians to define orthodoxy for the whole Church. Until Nicaea, all previous Church Councils had been local or regional synods affecting only portions of the Church.

Nicaea dealt primarily with the Arian controversy. Constantine himself was torn between the Arian and Trinitarian camps. After the Nicene council, and against its conclusions, he eventually recalled Arius from exile and banished Athanasius of Alexandria to Trier.

Just before his death in May 337, Constantine was baptised into Christianity. Up until this time he had been a catechuman for most of his adult life. He believed that if he waited to get baptized on his death bed he was in less danger of polluting his soul with sin and not getting to heaven. He was baptized by his distant relative Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. During Eusebius of Nicomedia's time in the Imperial court, the Eastern court and the major positions in the Eastern Church were held by Arians or Arian sympathizers.[36] With the exception of a short period of eclipse, Eusebius enjoyed the complete confidence both of Constantine and Constantius II and was the tutor of Emperor Julian the Apostate.[37] After Constantine's death, his son and successor Constantius II was an Arian, as was Emperor Valens.

Suppression of other religions

Constantine's position on the religions traditionally practiced in Rome evolved during his reign. In fact, his coinage and other official motifs, until 325, had affiliated him with the pagan cult of Sol Invictus. At first, Constantine encouraged the construction of new temples[38] and tolerated traditional sacrifices;[15] by the end of his reign, he had begun to order the pillaging and tearing down of Roman temples.[39][40][41]

Persian relations

Beyond the limes, east of the Euphrates, the Sasanian rulers of the Persian Empire, perennially at war with Rome, had usually tolerated Christianity. Constantine is said to have written to Shapur II in 324 and urged him to protect Christians under his rule.[42] With the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, Christians in Persia would be regarded as allies of Persia's ancient enemy. According to an anonymous Christian account, Shapur II wrote to his generals:[43][44]

You will arrest Simon, chief of the Christians. You will keep him until he signs this document and consents to collect for us a double tax and double tribute from the Christians … for we Gods [45] have all the trials of war and they have nothing but repose and pleasure. They inhabit our territory and agree with Caesar, our enemy.

— Shapur II, A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500

Constantinian shift

Constantinian shift is a term used by some theologians and historians of antiquity to describe the political and theological aspects and outcomes of the 4th-century process of Constantine's integration of the Imperial government with the Church that began with the First Council of Nicaea.[46] The term was popularized by the Mennonite theologian John H. Yoder.[47]

The claim that there ever was Constantinian shift has been disputed; Peter Leithart argues that there was a "brief, ambiguous 'Constantinian moment' in the fourth century," but that there was "no permanent, epochal 'Constantinian shift'."[48]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Wendy Doniger (ed.), "Constantine I", in Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006), p. 262.
  2. ^ a b Noel Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge University Press, 2006), "Introduction". ISBN 978-0-521-81838-4.
  3. ^ a b A. H. M. Jones, Constantine and the Conversion of Europe (University of Toronto Press, 2003), p. 73. ISBN 0-8020-6369-1.
  4. ^ Hans A. Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine (Routledge, NY 2004), pp. 82–84. ISBN 0-415-31938-2; Lenski, "Reign of Constantine" (The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine), p. 82.
  5. ^ Gonzalez, Justo (1984). The Story of Christianity. 1. Harper Collins. p. 176. ISBN 0-06-063315-8.
  6. ^ "Eusebius of Nicomedia". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  7. ^ Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine, pp. 78–79.
  8. ^ Wylen, Stephen M., The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction, Paulist Press (1995), ISBN 0-8091-3610-4, Pp 190-192.; Dunn, James D.G., Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999), ISBN 0-8028-4498-7, Pp 33-34.; Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro & Gargola, Daniel J & Talbert, Richard John Alexander, The Romans: From Village to Empire, Oxford University Press (2004), ISBN 0-19-511875-8, p. 426.;
  9. ^ Bomgardner, D. L. The Story of the Roman Amphitheatre. New York: Routledge, 2000. p. 142.
  10. ^ Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors") ch. 35–34.
  11. ^ Galerius, "Edict of Toleration", in Documents of the Christian Church, trans. and ed. Henry Bettenson (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), 21.
  12. ^ H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 149.
  13. ^ Brown, Peter (2012-12-18). The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000, 10th Anniversary Revised Edition: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000. Making of Empire. 3 (3 ed.). John Wiley & Sons (published 2012). ISBN 9781118338841. Retrieved 2012-08-08. Constantine was not a young convert. He was over 40 and an experienced politician when he finally declared himself a Christian. He had had time to take the measure of the new religion and the difficulties which emperors had experienced in suppressing it. He decided that Christianity was a religion fit for a new empire.
  14. ^ Peter Brown, The Rise of Christendom 2nd edition (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2003) p. 61.
  15. ^ a b c d Peter Brown, The Rise of Christendom 2nd edition (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2003) p. 60.
  16. ^ a b R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) p. 55.
  17. ^ J.R. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000) pp. 70–90.
  18. ^ Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors") ch. 48.
  19. ^ Constantine and Licinius, "The 'Edict of Milan'", in Documents of the Christian Church, trans. and ed. Henry Bettenson (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), 22.
  20. ^ R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) pp. 55-56
  21. ^ a b c MacMullan 1984:49.
  22. ^ R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) p. 56
  23. ^ quoted after MacMullan 1984:49.
  24. ^ MacMullan 1984:50.
  25. ^ MacMullan 1984: 141, Note 35 to Chapter V; Theophanes, Chron. a. 322 (PG 108.117)
  26. ^ Corpus Juris Civilis 3.12.2 https://web.archive.org/web/20130727022718/http://www.freewebs.com/vitaphone1/history/justinianc.html accessed 20 April 2016
  27. ^ Carson, Don A. From Sabbath to Lord's Day. Wipf & Stock Publishers/Zondervan. pp. 252–98. ISBN 9781579103071.
  28. ^ MacMullen 1969; New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908; Theodosian Code.
  29. ^ Norwich, John Julius, A Short History of Byzantium. Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, p. 8. ISBN 0-679-77269-3.
  30. ^ Miles, Margaret Ruth, The Word Made Flesh: A History of Christian Thought. Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 70, ISBN 1-4051-0846-0.
  31. ^ The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, pages 414-415, for the entire paragraph
  32. ^ Richards, Jeffrey. The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) pp. 14–15.
  33. ^ Richards, Jeffrey. The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) p. 15.
  34. ^ Richards, Jeffrey. The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) p. 16.
  35. ^ Pre-Ecumenical councils include the Council of Rome (155), Second Council of Rome 193, Council of Ephesus (193), Council of Carthage (251), Council of Iconium 258, Council of Antioch (264), Council of Elvira 306, Council of Carthage (311), Council of Ancyra 314, Council of Arles (314) and the Council of Neo-Caesarea 315.
  36. ^ Drake, "Constantine and the Bishops", pp.395.
  37. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Eusebius of Nicomedia" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  38. ^ Gerberding, R. and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) p. 28.
  39. ^ R. MacMullen, "Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400, Yale University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-300-03642-6
  40. ^ "A History of the Church", Philip Hughes, Sheed & Ward, rev ed 1949, vol I chapter 6.[1]
  41. ^ Eusebius Pamphilius and Schaff, Philip (Editor) and McGiffert, Rev. Arthur Cushman, Ph.D. (Translator) NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine quote: "he razed to their foundations those of them which had been the chief objects of superstitious reverence".
  42. ^ Eusebius, vita Constantini IV, 8-13
  43. ^ Moffett, Samuel H. (1992). A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500. p. 140.
  44. ^ "After Constantine". gnosis.org. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  45. ^ In general, there is a "silence of the Perso-Arab and classical historians on any claim by Iranian kings to divinity". The Cambridge history of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian ...: Volume 1 – Page xxxiii.
  46. ^ Clapp, Rodney (1996). A Peculiar People. InterVarsity Press. p. 23. What might be called the Constantinian shift began around the year 200 and took more than two hundred years to grow and unfold to full bloom. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  47. ^ e.g. in Yoder, John H. (1996). "Is There Such a Thing as Being Ready for Another Millennium?". In Miroslav Volf; Carmen Krieg; Thomas Kucharz (eds.). The Future of Theology: Essays in Honor of Jurgen Moltmann. Eerdmanns. p. 65. The most impressive transitory change underlying our common experience, one that some thought was a permanent lunge forward in salvation history, was the so-called Constantinian shift. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  48. ^ Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, p 287.

Further reading

  • Eusebius, Life of Constantine, Introduction, translation, and commentary by Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.
  • Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D. 100-400, Yale University Press, 1984 ISBN 0-300-03642-6,

External links

Battle of the Milvian Bridge

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius on 28 October 312. It takes its name from the Milvian Bridge, an important route over the Tiber. Constantine won the battle and started on the path that led him to end the Tetrarchy and become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Maxentius drowned in the Tiber during the battle; his body was later taken from the river and decapitated, and his head was paraded through the streets of Rome on the day following the battle.According to chroniclers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, the battle marked the beginning of Constantine's conversion to Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision sent by the Christian God. This was interpreted as a promise of victory if the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek, was painted on the soldiers' shields. The Arch of Constantine, erected in celebration of the victory, certainly attributes Constantine's success to divine intervention; however, the monument does not display any overtly Christian symbolism.

Bishops of Rome under Constantine I

Constantine I's (272–337) relationship with the four Bishops of Rome during his reign is an important component of the history of the Papacy, and more generally the history of the Catholic Church.

The legend surrounding Constantine I's victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312) relates his vision of the Chi Rho (☧) and the text in hoc signo vinces in the sky and his reproducing this symbol on the shields of his troops. The following year Constantine and Licinius proclaimed the toleration of Christianity with the Edict of Milan, and in 325 Constantine convened and presided over the First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council. None of this, however, has particularly much to do with the popes, who did not even attend the Council; in fact, the first bishop of Rome to be contemporaneously referred to as "Pope" (πάππας, or pappas) is Damasus I (366-384). Moreover, between 324 and 330, he built Constantinople as a new capital for the empire, and—with no apologies to the Roman community of Christians—relocated key Roman families and translated many Christian relics to the new churches.

The Donation of Constantine, an 8th-century forgery used to enhance the prestige and authority of popes, places the pope more centrally in the narrative of Constantinian Christianity. The legend of the Donation claims that Constantine offered his crown to Sylvester I (314-335), and even that Sylvester baptized Constantine. In reality, Constantine was baptized (nearing his death in May 337) by Eusebius of Nicomedia, who, unlike the pope, was an Arian bishop. Sylvester was succeeded by Mark (336) and Julius I (337-352) during the life of Constantine.

Although the "Donation" never occurred, Constantine did hand over the Lateran Palace to the bishop of Rome, and begin the construction of Old Saint Peter's Basilica (the "Constantinian Basilica"). The gift of the Lateran probably occurred during the reign of Miltiades (311-314), Sylvester I's predecessor, who began using it as his residence. Old St. Peter's was begun between 326 and 330 and would have taken three decades to complete, long after the death of Constantine. Constantine's legalization of Christianity, combined with the donation of these properties, gave the bishop of Rome an unprecedented level of temporal power, for the first time creating an incentive for secular leaders to interfere with papal succession.

Constantinian shift

Constantinian shift is a term used by some theologians and historians of antiquity to describe the political and theological aspects and outcomes of the 4th-century process of Constantine's integration of the Imperial government with the Catholic church that began with the First Council of Nicaea. The term was popularized by the Mennonite theologian John H. Yoder.The claim that there ever was Constantinian shift has been disputed; Peter Leithart argues that there was a "brief, ambiguous 'Constantinian moment' in the fourth century", but that there was "no permanent, epochal 'Constantinian shift'".

Constantinianism

Constantinianism refers to those policies said to be enacted, encouraged, or personally favored by Constantine the Great, a 4th-century Roman Emperor. In particular, it may refer to any of the following:

Constantine's patronage of Christianity.

The practice of state control of or influence over the Church, sometimes called Erastianism.

The notion that Roman Emperors have authority over the Church, sometimes called Caesaropapism.

Identification of the Church with the Roman EmpireThe Church's willingness to use the state's coercive power structures to assist in the Church's mission

A tendency to exuberance due of the subsequent rise of Christianity, sometimes called Christian triumphalism.

The notion that Constantine received his mandate from God, as in the Divine Right of Kings.

The practice of Religious tolerance as mandated in the Edict of Milan.

The doctrines of the Council of Nicea, which Constantine organized and promoted.

The corruption of Christian doctrine that is alleged to have taken place during or because of the reign of Constantine, sometimes called the Great Apostasy or more particularly the Constantinian shift.

Certain Roman Catholic criticisms of Separation of Church and State found, for instance, in the Syllabus of Errors.

Certain Protestant doctrines such as Reconstructionism and Dominionism.

Decline of an Empire

Decline of an Empire is a 2014 British biographical historical drama film produced and directed by Michael Redwood about the life of Catherine of Alexandria. It is one of the last film roles of Peter O'Toole, who died before the film was released. The film originally carried the working title Katherine of Alexandria.

Defending Constantine

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom is a 2010 book by Peter Leithart which examines Constantine the Great and Christianity. Leithart argues that Constantine was a real Christian, and takes issue with John Howard Yoder's view on the Constantinianism, arguing that there was no Constantinian shift.Defending Constantine provoked a book-length response: Constantine Revisited: Leithart, Yoder, and the Constantinian Debate, edited by John D. Roth (Wipf and Stock, 2013).

Domus Aurea (Antioch)

Domus Aurea (in English Golden House) or the Great Church in Antioch was the cathedral where the Patriarch of Antioch preached. It was one of the churches whose construction was started during the reign of Constantine the Great. It is thought to have been sited on an island where the Imperial Palace of Antioch used to stand during the Seleucid period. The church became a major point of the controversy between Christians and Julian the Apostate when the latter closed the cathedral in response to the burning of an ancient temple to Apollo in the nearby suburb of Daphne. From 526 to 587 it suffered from a series of earthquakes, fires and Persian attacks, before being finally destroyed in another earthquake in 588, after which it was not rebuilt.

Donation of Constantine

The Donation of Constantine (Latin: Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the 4th-century emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Pope. Composed probably in the 8th century, it was used, especially in the 13th century, in support of claims of political authority by the papacy. Lorenzo Valla, an Italian Catholic priest and Renaissance humanist, is credited with first exposing the forgery with solid philological arguments in 1439–1440, although the document's authenticity had been repeatedly contested since 1001.In many of the existing manuscripts (handwritten copies of the document), including the oldest one, the document bears the title Constitutum domini Constantini imperatoris. The Donation of Constantine was included in the 9th-century Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals collection.

Edict of Milan

The Edict of Milan (Latin: Edictum Mediolanense) was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the Edict of Toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the State church of the Roman Empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD with the Edict of Thessalonica.

The document is found in Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum and in Eusebius of Caesarea's History of the Church with marked divergences between the two. Whether or not there was a formal 'Edict of Milan'  is debated by some.The version found in Lactantius is not in the form of an edict. It is a letter from Licinius to the governors of the provinces in the Eastern Empire he had just conquered by defeating Maximinus later in the same year and issued in Nicomedia.

Elevation of the Holy Cross

The Elevation of the Holy Cross (also known as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 14, which corresponds to September 27 on the Gregorian calendar. It is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of John the Forerunner on August 29.

According to Orthodox Church teachings, Saint Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, discovered the Holy Cross on 14 September 325 AD in the vicinity of Golgotha, where it lay buried in the dust of the centuries. On the spot where the Cross was discovered, there was also found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named Vasiliko (Basil), meaning the flower of royalty, out of respect for the Dowager Queen who led the expedition. For the next three hundred years, the Cross stayed in the possession of the Christians in Jerusalem, but the city was captured by the Persians in 614 AD and the Cross fell into their hands. It was later recovered by the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire).

Eusebius of Nicomedia

Eusebius of Nicomedia (died 341) was the man who baptised Constantine the Great. He was a bishop of Berytus (modern-day Beirut) in Phoenicia. He was later made the Bishop of Nicomedia, where the imperial court resided. He lived finally in Constantinople from 338 up to his death.

Fifty Bibles of Constantine

The Fifty Bibles of Constantine were Bibles in the Greek language commissioned in 331 by Constantine I and prepared by Eusebius of Caesarea. They were made for the use of the Bishop of Constantinople in the growing number of churches in that very new city. Eusebius quoted the letter of commission in his Life of Constantine, and it is the only surviving source from which we know of the existence of the Bibles.

John Howard Yoder

John Howard Yoder (1927–1997) was an American theologian and ethicist best known for his defense of Christian pacifism. His most influential book was The Politics of Jesus, which was first published in 1972. Yoder was Mennonite and wrote from an Anabaptist perspective. He spent the latter part of his career teaching at the University of Notre Dame.

In 1992 media reports emerged that Yoder had sexually abused women in preceding decades, with as many as over 50 complainants. The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary acknowledged in a statement from 2014 that sexual abuse had taken place.

Labarum

The labarum (Greek: λάβαρον) was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, a christogram formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" (Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Χριστός) — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ). It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ.

Ancient sources draw an unambiguous distinction between the two terms "labarum" and "Chi-Rho", even though later usage sometimes regards the two as synonyms. The name labarum was applied both to the original standard used by Constantine the Great and to the many standards produced in imitation of it in the Late Antique world, and subsequently.

Maris (bishop)

Maris was a bishop of Chalcedon in the 4th century and a prominent backer of Arianism.He is best known to history as an attendee present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. He was one of the Arian Bishops at that Council. He eventually signed the Nicean Creed with the other Arian supporters, Zopyrus (Bishop of Barca), Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea. He was exiled with the other three Arian bishops.

He is also notable for confronting the anti-Christian emperor Julian the Apostate in 362 after going blind - in reply to Julian telling him "Thy Galilean God will not heal thy sight." He replied "I thank God for depriving me of the power of beholding thy face."

Old St. Peter's Basilica

Old St. Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, where the new St. Peter's Basilica stands today in Vatican City. Construction of the basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of Emperor Constantine I. The name "old St. Peter's Basilica" has been used since the construction of the current basilica to distinguish the two buildings.

The Baptism of Constantine

The Baptism of Constantine is a painting by assistants of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. It was most likely painted by Gianfrancesco Penni, between 1517 and 1524.

After the master's death in 1520, Penni worked together with other members of Raphael's workshop to finish the commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Baptism of Constantine is located in the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). In the painting the Emperor Constantine the Great is depicted kneeling down to receive the sacrament from Pope Sylvester I in the Baptistery of the St John Lateran. The painter has given Sylvester the traits of Clement VII, the Pope who had ordered the frescoes to be finished, after the work was interrupted during the papacy of Hadrian VI.

While attempting the control and serenity typical of the High Renaissance, the crowded scene demonstrates the Mannerist tendency towards complexity and discordance.

Theognis of Nicaea

Theognis of Nicaea (Greek: Θέογνις) was a 4th-century Bishop of Nicaea, excommunicated after the First Council of Nicaea for not denouncing Arius and his nontrinitarianism strongly enough.

He is best known to history as an attendee present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. He was one of the Arian Bishops at that Council. He eventually signed the Nicean Creed with the other Arian supporters, Zopyrus (Bishop of Barca), Eusebius of Nicomedia and Maris of Chalcedon. He was exiled with the other three Arian bishops.

Zopyrus (bishop of Barca)

Zopyrus (Bishop of Barca), (Ζώπυρος) was a Bishop of the ancient Roman Town of Barca in Cyrenica, (Marj, Libya, North Africa.Zopyros is best known to history as an attendee present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. He was one of the Arian Bishops at that Council. Even though Arius (the founder of Arianism) and his bishop Secundus of Ptolemais were from the neighboring city (and Barca's port) of Ptolemais, Cyrenaica Zopyrus eventually signed the Nicean Creed with the other Arian supporters, Theognis of Nicaea, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Maris of Chalcedon. He (probably) did not sign the condemnation of Arius. It is unclear if he was exiled with the other three Arian bishops.

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