Constantine and Christianity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard Wayne Parris (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
John Beeler

Abstract: It was the purpose of this dissertation to examine the origins and reasons for the Emperor Constantine's relationship with Christianity. In church history, Constantine was a figure of great importance. During his reign Christianity became a legal religion and grew in wealth and prestige. This study attempted to determine the reasons for Constantine's supporting the Christians and to explain the emperor's interference in matters which pertained to church doctrine. It has been hypothesized that he was guided by superstitious beliefs in supporting the Church. The victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge in 312 was the key to understanding these beliefs. The victory convinced Constantine that his own and the Empire's prosperity was linked with the Christian Deity. If Constantine had been beaten in battle or had encountered strong opposition to his support of the Christians, then he would have withdrawn his assistance. In this paper Constantine's conversion has been examined in the light of primary and secondary sources. Next the legal position of Christianity in the Empire both before and after the Edict of Milan (313) was studied. The Donatist and Arian controversies have been discussed in detail. Constantine was determined to retain God's favor, therefore, the emperor's interference in matters of church doctrine was prompted more by a concern for church unity and correct worship than for the finer points of Christian theology. The final section dealt with the building of churches and the creation of Constantinople as important symbols of the emperor's alliance with the Church.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1976

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