Week 24: Thursday, April 20, 2017
Constantine and the Christians

David Potter in his book on Constantine, Constantine, The Emperor:

The Roman Emperor Constantine changed the world. For many millions of people across this planet, an institution that he introduced and promoted has become a central part of their lives; they use or hear words that he approved. In the twenty-first century, Constantine is best known as the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity and in so doing made it possible for Christianity to become a world religion. Without Constantine, Christianity probably would not occupy the place that it does today. Without him it is unlikely that Christianity would have emerged from the mass of conflicting, if often quite similar, belief systems coexisting in the empire into which he was born. . . . the immense impact of Christian thought upon the behaviors and thinking of the many generations who came after Constantine makes it very difficult to imagine a world without it. When he was born around AD 282, it would have been far easier to imagine a world in which Christianity had a marginal place.

At the right you will find a copy of the Nicene Creed adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and amended at the Council of Constantinople in 381. The text here provided uses the language that is used in almost all the various denominations in both Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity. The Roman Catholic church has just recently adopted a new word, “consubstantial,” which I think is not helpful, since no one suggested using this word in 325.  Why complicate the problems of a public creed by introducing a new word 1700 years after the adoption of the original creed? It makes no sense to me. (Note: WHF)

READING:

Michael Grant, History of Rome, Part VIII, Chapter 19, “The Supreme State and the Church.”

REQUIRED READING

This week: Book 10 on the triumph of Constantine.

Eusebius,

The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine,

G. A Williamson, trans.,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140445358

RECOMMENDED READING

David Potter,

Constantine, The Emperor,

Oxford University Press, 2012,

ISBN 0199755868

REVIEWS:

"David Potter's Constantine the Emperor is a fresh look by a veteran scholar at one of the most pivotal reigns in Western history. Almost all studies of this emperor take his conversion to Christianity as their starting point. Potter broadens the focus to show a shrewd field commander who can diagnose and exploit his opponents' weaknesses and an able ruler with a deeply held belief that his 'job' committed him to protecting the weak and ensuring fairness for all his subjects." --Harold Drake, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Crisp in its prose and comprehensive in its coverage, Constantine the Emperor grounds its much mythologized subject in the solid realities of imperial governance." --Noel Lenski, University of Colorado

"This is a penetrating and original analysis, closely based on contemporary evidence, of the step-by-step evolution of Constantine's role as Emperor, and of his conception of that role. Within that wider framework, the nature of Constantine's commitment to Christianity, and of his self-representation as a Christian, is carefully re-evaluated." --Sir Fergus Millar, University of Oxford

PART TWO: PICTURES

The earliest churches of Rome, built in the immediate aftermath of the Edict of Milan in 313 which now permitted the construction of public houses of worship for the Christians and other non-Roman religions. (Ex: Mithra)

Some of the churches:

  1. Santa Pudenziana.
  2. Santa Maria Maggiore
  3. Santa Prassede
  4. San Clemente