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May 14th - Lecture #3.doc

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Adam Lehto

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May 14 th RLG203 Lecture #3 - illegal to be Christian – had no legal power o but it had considerable social and economic power – had resources to be able to care for their own o state within a state - we don’t know what might have happened if this movement had no received political support - two parallel worlds o 1. orthodox Byzantine world - East o 2. Roman catholic – Latin - West 1. What evidence is there of an engagement with philosophical ideas in some of the later New Testament writings? What does this engagement tell us about the Christian movement? 2. Discuss the leadership structure that emerged in the Christian movement by the 2nd century. What were the priorities of these leaders? - what was Constantine up to? – his motives o his decision to support the church was irrelevant to political power o yet, there must have been a political motive o was this a political movement? - if you can show yourself as a good Christian ruler o payoff – social control - we ought not to measure Constantine by our modern statures o have to take into consideration that he was one of the most powerful people on the planet o he had to be thinking politically when supporting the Christians  had no option of pure religious or personal conversion, like in modern society - but that does that mean that he was only acting politically? o was he using Christianity? o maybe not – but there is room to believe that he must have also felt some kind of personal religious o divinity of the one God communicated to the world through his word – he may have been persuaded by that o he became convinced that he had a role – he was a subordinate of God - Constantine’s motives remain an enigma – we will never truly know - dramatic shifts to make Christianity legal and to support it - Constantine does not make Christianity the official religion of the empire o he made it legal and supported it and favoured it  but he did not enforce it’s observance  but within a few generations, Christianity does become the official religion of the empire and anyone who is not Christian has some danger and liabilities in persisting in your divine deviance - because of the political power of the church and because the emperor wants just one church, tolerance for any deviance from that church becomes non- existent - money pours into the church o leaders of the church received tax exemptions – if you were upwardly mobile in the roman empire (male and educated) – instead of pursuing a career in the army, you would consider a career in the church  changes the nature of the movement  benefits of being part of the Christianity movement - because Christianity was now supported by authority – standardization was important o standardized theology  ex. rituals – under imperial support  need for a single Christian empire - things did not change overnight – there were still mostly pagans around in the roman empire o just because Constantine made this political decision does not mean most people converted o it took a while for everyone to…become Christian - after Constantine, the empire is focused in the eastern half o by the 5 century – the western provinces of the roman empire become too expensive to maintain and are dropped Embracing Power in the Western Roman Empire - migration of Germanic groups into former Roman territory – begins in late 4 th century - most of the barbarian groups – with the exception of the Huns and the Celts – shared a similar culture – often called Germanic or Teutonic o but the boundaries between the various Germanic groups were porous and often shifting  new alliances constantly broken or made - shape of the political landscape changes dramatically in late 4 and 5 th century o roman church is best suited to jump in o network of bishops – Latin based Roman church was already in place, filled with educated people - * represented the culture of Rome  it was the Church that stepped in the power vacuum • not by acting directly as a
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