|Why did you decide to celebrate masculinity and exclude femininity within the Bible?
Why did you decide to convert to Christianity?
Guy, Laurie. Early Christianity. A Topical Survey of Its Life, Beliefs & Practices. Illinois:
Intervarsity Press, 2004.
Once the new emperor Constantine declared himself Christian and gave favor to Christians in the early fourth century, the church grew apace, though motives for conversion often now had a more worldly aspect. As Augustine was to note at the end of the fourth century, ‘crowds of heathen’ who joined Christianity at Hippo (North Africa once persecution ceased unfortunately brought their old practice of drunken revelry with them. Growth there certainly was. Hilary of Poitiers highlighted the advance of Christianity in the fourth century. (Page 12)
The conversion of Emperor Constantine in A.D. 312 and the ensuing gradual Christianity of the empire marked a huge change Christian self-identity. Christianity increasingly shifted from the edge of society to its center. Bishops became government officials in their function of hearing appeals from court decisions that involved Christians (increasingly most of the populace). They had prestige similar to that of a state governor. Governors, even emperors, were members of their congregations, and so subject to their moral and religious guidance, which at times could become coercive in nature. Priestly power could corrupt. Christianity began in the face of cruel persecution. By the end of the fourth century Christians were close to the levels of power and were starting to manipulate them in the oppression of heretics and pagans. The persecuted were on the way to become persecutors. (Page 19)
For a couple of centuries the church struggled with the relationship between institutional and charismatics ministry. By the time of Constantine the answer was pretty clear: the church was the institutional church, though sometimes supplemented by other, self-authenticating ministry. (Page 21)
Constantine’s conversion seems to have been sudden and dramatic: a sign in the sky on the eve of a crucial battle and immediately he was a Christian. That is a Reader’s Digest condensed version. Along path, however, led up to that day. And a long converting process also followed, a process hardly begun in many facets of his person within his lifetime. (Page 113)
Did Constantine become a Christian? What is a Christian? Certainly much of Constantine’s subsequent behavior seems sub-Christian. Cynics may view Constantine’s delaying of his baptism until his deathbed in 337 as a case of having his cake and eating it. (Page 113)
Constantine’s completing his Christian conversion when he was fast losing the capacity to commit sin suggests a fine sense of Machiavelli judgment and timing-sin all you like and wash it all away right at the end. We should note, however, that end of life baptism was common in the fourth century. (Page 113)
Eusebius. Life of Constantine. Claredon Ancient History Series. London: Oxford
University Press, 1999.
It was but recently the whole human race celebrated various ten-year periods for the great Emperor with festive banquets. It was but recently we ourselves hymned the conqueror with praises for his twenty tears, taking the floor at the Council of God’s ministers. Just now we wove garlands of words also for his thirty years, in the very palace hardly yesterday to crown his sacred head. But today our thought stands helpless, longing to express some of the conventional things. But at a loss which way to turn, stunned by the sheer wonder of the amazing spectacle. Wherever it casts its gaze, whether east or west, whether all over the earth or up to heaven itself, every way and everywhere it observers the Blessed One present with the Empire itself. On earth it perceives his own sons like new lamps filling the whole with his radiance, and himself powerfully alive and directing the whole government of affairs more firmly than before, as he is multiplied in the succession of is sons. If previously they still shared the honors of Caesars, now that they have put on his whole mantle of God-fearing virtue, they have been declared Imperators Augusti, singled out with their father’s honors. (Page 67)
Those who had no sacrilegious doctrinal teaching, but were in other ways separated from the common fellowship by reason of flocking back like those returning from exile to their native land, and acknowledged their mother the Church, from which they had wandered off, but now with joy and gladness made their return to her. The parts of the coomn body wwere united together and joined in a sigle harmony, and alone the Catholic Churcg of Godhone forth gathered into itself, whth no heretical or achievement also, among those that ever were, only the Emperor who cared about God could claim responsibility. (Page 153)
What do you think are the reasons that Christianity increased at such as fast rate over the century, from 250 AD to 350 AD?
Lieu, Samuel N. Constantine. London: Routledge, 1998.
The Church was now the conscience of the Roman State. First, some animal stories. Honorius’ third consulship (396), was celebrated in Milan with a wild beast show and a panegyric from Claudian which likens the timid emperor to a lion cub.4 One of the exhibits in the show, a convicted criminal called Cresconius, unfortunately escaped and sought sanctuary in the Cathedral. In spite of the clergy’s protests, he was dragged out by soldiers of the commander-in-chief; but when they made their report, they were set upon by another of the escaped exhibits, some leopards, which mauled them badly. In consequence it was necessary to pardon Cresconius, although he was admittedly very guilty.5 It is a far cry from the martyr Ignatius’ famous description of himself as God’s wheat: ‘I am ground fine by the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ.’ On his way to Rome under military guard, he wrote that he was already battling with the beasts, ‘chained as I am to half-a-score of savage leopards, who only grow more insolent the more gratuities they are given’.6 What would he have thought of the sixth-century abbot who converted a lion to vegetarianism on a diet of bread and mushy peas?7 But he might have been heartened by the story of the hermit Arsacius, who lived in one of the towers of Nicomedia for almost forty years, until his death in the great earthquake of 24 August 358 which he had predicted. Arsacius, a Persian, had been a Christian soldier in the army of Licinius and a conscientious objector: he resigned his post as keeper of the imperial lions. (Page 22)
It is undeniably true, as Fergus Millar has recently reminded us, that the conversion of Constantine in 312 was not ‘the moment when Christianity became “the official religion of the Roman Empire”’.1 But it is misleading to assume, as many including Norman Baynes have done, that ‘for the student of the religious policy pursued by Constantine the crucial period is that which lies between the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and the Battle of Chrysopolis’ in 324.2 Such an exclusive concentration on the conversion of Constantine in 312 and its immediate consequences leads directly to the erroneous inference that at no point in his reign did Constantine do more than make Christianity ‘the religion of successive emperors other than Julian. (Page 7)
That is simply to leave out of account what Constantine did after he conquered the East in 324. For when Constantine defeated Licinius in a war which he advertised as a religious crusade to rescue the Christians of the East from persecution, he was able to go much further than he had gone after he defeated Maxentius. In the winter of 312–13 Constantine began a systematic policy of giving honours, privileges and donations to the Christian Church and Christian clergy. In 324–5, as the new master of the East, he prohibited the cultic activities which until then had characterised the traditional religions of the Roman empire, and he thus affirmed the status of Christianity as the official religion of the state and its rulers. Constantine outlawed the performance of animal sacrifice, ordered that no new cult statues of the traditional gods be dedicated, and forbade magistrates and governors to begin. (Page 8)
Whether Constantine also in the years after 324 bestowed on Christianity the privileged standing of which he deprived paganism is a question on which my views are well known and controversial.5 In this chapter, however, I do not wish to traverse this boggy terrain yet again. My purpose is, rather, to set out some of the more important general conclusions which seem to me to follow from my detailed reconstruction of the episcopal career of Athanasius. (Page 8)
Eusebius. Life of Constantine. Claredon Ancient History Series. London: Oxford
University Press, 1999.
As to the Sarmatians, it was God himself who thrust them under the feet of Constantine, defeating men who gloried in their barbaric mentality in the following way. When the Goths attavked them, the masters armed their servants to repel their enemies. But when the slaves had them all from their own land. The masters found no other safe reguge than Cobstantantine alone. (Page 156)
He kew the menaing of rescue, and received them all as subjects in Roman territory. Thse who are suitavle he enrolled in his own forces; to the rest he apportioned land for cultivation of the means of subsitence, so hat they acknowledge that the disaster had turned out good for them in that they enjoed Roman liberty instead of barbaric bestiality. Thus God bestowed upon him victories over all the nations, so that of their own accord all sorts of barbarian tribes were willing o submit to him. (Page 155)
Why did you get baptized by the local bishop but not the Pope, since you were emperor at the time of your baptism?
Pohlsander, Hans A. The Emperor Constantine. London: Routledge, 1996
A strange tale of Constantine’s conversion is told by a hagiographic text of the early fifth century, the Vita S Silvestri or Actus S Silvestri. It knows nothing of Constantine’s vision before the battle with Maxentius. Rather it turns Constantine, initially, into a pagan oppressor who orders all Christians to sacrifice. Pope Sylvester and the clergy withdraw to Mt. Soracte outside the city. Now Constantine suffers from leprosy, and pagan priests have advised him to seek a cure by bathing in the blood of infants, but his compassion does not allow him to follow their advice; he dismisses the infants, who have already been assembled to become his victims, and their mothers. He then, in a dream, is visited by the apostles Peter and Paul. He seeks out Pope Sylvester on Mt. Soracte, has the dream interpreted to him, and accepts Christianity. After a week spent in fasting and prayer he is baptized by Pope Sylvester in Rome and healed of his leprosy in the process. Sylvester then adds another exploit to his achievements: he defeats a fierce dragon which had been threatening the citizens of Rome. (Page 26)
A strange tale of Constantine’s conversion is told by a hagiographic text of the early fifth century, the Vita S Silvestri or Actus S Silvestri. It knows nothing of Constantine’s vision before the battle with Maxentius. Rather it turns Constantine, initially, into a pagan oppressor who orders all Christians to sacrifice. Pope Sylvester and the clergy withdraw to Mt. Soracte outside the city. Now Constantine suffers from leprosy, and pagan priests have advised him to seek a cure by bathing in the blood of infants, but his compassion does not allow him to follow their advice; he dismisses the infants, who have already been assembled to become his victims, and their mothers. He then, in a dream, is visited by the apostles Peter and Paul. He seeks out Pope Sylvester on Mt. Soracte, has the dream interpreted to him, and accepts Christianity. After a week spent in fasting and prayer he is baptized by Pope Sylvester in Rome and healed of his leprosy in the process. Sylvester then adds another exploit to his achievements: he defeats a fierce dragon which had been threatening the citizens of Rome. (Page 25)
It is now generally accepted that Constantine did not receive baptism until shortly before his death (see Chapter 11). It would be a mistake to interpret this as a lack of sincerity or commitment. In the fourth and fifth centuries Christians often delayed their baptism until late in life. This was true not only of Constantine but also of Constantius II, Theodosius I, and even St Ambrose. St Augustine comments on it in his Confessions. The practice was not, however, encouraged by the church. (Page 25)
But this strange tale enjoyed a long life and exerted considerable influence. It was accepted by the Liber Pontificalis (Book of the Popes), a collection of papal biographies first compiled c. 530. Later in the same century it underwent considerable embellishment, as happens so often in hagiography, in the Chronicon of Johannes Malalas: Constantine, it says, “was baptized by Sylvester, bishop of Rome, he himself and his mother Helena, and all his relatives and his friends and a whole host of other Romans.” The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, dating from c. 810–15, claims to know that Sylvester baptized both Constantine and his son Crispus in Rome and dismisses reports to the contrary as a forgery of the Arians (on Arius and Arianism see Chapter 7); it seeks to prove its case by pointing to the “Baptistery of Constantine,” meaning the Lateran Baptistery.
The Breviarium Romanum, published by Pope Pius V in 1568, and the Martyrologium Romanum, published in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII, both assert that Constantine was baptized by Sylvester. In 1588 Pope Sixtus V caused to be erected in the piazza to the north of the Basilica of St John Lateran an Egyptian obelisk which had originally been brought to Rome and erected in the Circus Maximus by Constantius II but which had fallen long ago and lain neglected since then. On the base of the newly erected obelisk, the largest of Rome’s obelisks, an inscription informs us that “Constantine was baptized here.” In 1592 Cardinal Cesare Baronio, church historian and Vatican librarian, records in his Annales Ecclesiastici that Constantine was baptized by Sylvester. A last spirited defence of the thesis, flying in the face of all reason, was offered by a French author in 1906! (Page 26)
Jurgens, William, A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. Vol. 1. Minnesota: The Order of St.
Benedict, Inc., 1970
Where is it written that we are to bless the baptismal water, the oil of anointing, and evern the one who is being baptized? Is it not from silent and mystical tradition? Indeed, in what written word is even the anointing with oil taught? Where does it say that in baptizing there is to be a triple immersion? And the rest of the things done at Baptism. – where is it written that we are renounce. Satan and his angels? Does this not come from that secret and arcane teaching which our Fathers guarded in a silence not too curiously meddled with and not idly investigated, when they had leened well that reverence for the mysteries is best preserved by silence. (Page 953)
Why did you make Christianity the official religion of Rome?