The Christianity of Constantine the Great
A new look at the conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity. The conventional wisdom has it that before the final definitive battle in 312 with his rival Maxentius for the senior Augustuship of the Roman Empire, he appealed to the Christian God for victory. When it was his, he became a Christian and made the labarum, with its Christian symbols the military standard of the Roman Armies. Elliott argues that this "miraculous" conversion is the stuff of legend and the reality is that there are many indications that Constantine's Christianity developed earlier and along normal lines. This is more than a scholarly debate over dates. It focuses on the point that this more mature character of Constantine's Christian faith had an important shaping impact on his imperial policy toward Christianity. It gave greater nuance and depth not merely to his Edict of Milan in 313 but also to the way that he approached Christian legal status, Christian structures and worship and even the great issues raised and dealt with by his convocation of the first Council of Nicaea in 325. It is an interpretation that will help to shape future discussions of the Emperor Constantine and his reign.
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