By Emperor of Rome Theodosius I; Emperor of Rome Theodosius I; Freeman, Charles

Examines the pivotal ways that Theodosius's decree mandating a Christian orthodoxy ended debates concerning the nature of God, exploring the explanations why Theodosius's position was once made to seem as a consensual ruling through the Council of Constantinople.

summary: Examines the pivotal ways that Theodosius's decree mandating a Christian orthodoxy ended debates in regards to the nature of God, exploring the explanations why Theodosius's function was once made to seem as a consensual ruling via the Council of Constantinople

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Extra resources for A.D. 381 : heretics, pagans, and the dawn of the monotheistic state

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It seems, in fact, that the churches have been able to survive largely because Christianity has proved so astonishingly flexible. The early Church was Jewish, the ‘Greek’ Church of the second century often strongly anti-Jewish. In the third century there were campaigns of persecution of the Church so that, in the 250s and early fourth century, it operated as an underground organisation drawing strength from its martyrs. By 350, it was part of the structure of the empire, housed in opulent buildings and giving full support for the empire’s wars.

2 So any argument that in general terms Christianity saved or destroyed civilisation, rational thought or whatever has to be qualified by a study of the specific historical and social context for which the statement is being made. When one reads that European civilisation is based on Christian values, one has to ask which of the enormously wide range of ‘values’ Christians have supported over the centuries are the relevant ones and whether some obviously important values, such as religious toleration, did not have to fight for survival against the attempts of the churches to suppress them.

I have provided details in the Notes of the original sources I have used. The legislation of Theodosius I and his successors also survives and is referred to when appropriate. All ‘general’ laws from 312 to 438 were collected in the law code drawn up by Theodosius II in 438, which was later used in the west and so remains intact. Although there is some argument as to how effectively laws were enforced (and some may have been no more than imperial propaganda), the Theodosian Code shows just how widespread was the suppression of beliefs, both Christian and pagan, that conflicted with Nicene orthodoxy after 381.

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