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Constantine: Turning Point for Popular Religion - An examination of the advantages and disadvantages for the Church, and a discussion on how the conversion of Constantine was a turning point

Garner, Gary O. (2003) Constantine: Turning Point for Popular Religion - An examination of the advantages and disadvantages for the Church, and a discussion on how the conversion of Constantine was a turning point. (Unpublished)

Abstract

The period leading up to the rein of Constantine over the Western Roman Empire was one often plagued with Christian persecution. Whilst oppression of the Jews did feature prior to establishment of the Roman Empire, the capturing of Jerusalem by the Roman General Pompey in 63BC meant that all the Holy Land including the provinces of Palestine became subject to Rome.

Thus commenced Roman persecution of the Church - not to mention the death of thousands of Christian martyrs - for the next 400 years. The nature and extent of the persecution varied, however some of the more grisly episodes included burning Christians alive to illuminate Emperor Nero’s gardens in the early first century, a particularly savage but short-lived torturing and execution of Christians at Gaul (Lyons and Vienne), attempted complete extermination of Christianity under Decius around 250, and arguably the worst persecution of all in the very early fourth century under the Roman Emperor Diocletion.

Diocletion carried out a major remodelling of the Empire until his abdication in 305. In March 303 the order was given to exterminate all churches and scriptures, with Christians losing their entire civil rights and where imprisonment, torture and execution lay ahead for those unwilling to sacrifice to the Emperor. Whilst the edict for these terrible persecutions applied mainly in the East, upon Diocletian’s abdication his successor, Galerius, continued the goal of exterminating Christianity. However, the population at large was becoming increasingly sickened by the bloodbath, paving the way for an ending of the era of persecution.

This paints the picture prior to the conversion of Constantine and his subsequent ascension as sole ruler of the Empire in 324 AD whereupon comparative total freedom for Christians was achieved.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 7233
Item Type: Other
Keywords: Church, conversion, Constantine, Western Roman Empire, Christian, persecution, Jew, General Pompey, Palestine, martyr, Emperor Nero, torture, execution, Decius, Emperor Diocletion
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS (220400) > Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History) (220401)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Gary Garner
Deposited On: 27 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:39

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