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Constantine: From religious pluralism to christian hegemony

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks at the fourth century as the period that gave birth to Christendom and was determinative in the shaping of Western law and church-state relations. There is a long minority tradition within Christian history that has identified the conversion of the emperor Constantine the Great in the fourth century, including the events leading up to that conversion and its subsequent workings out, as the Fall of the Church from the original intent of its founder Jesus Christ and his Apostles. Before Constantine, Jews and Christians were rival but overlapping communities co-existing on the edges of the Roman Empire. By the time of Constantine there were an estimated three million Jews in the Roman Empire, while Christians numbered an estimated 10 percent of a total Roman population. The nature and understanding of citizenship, and one's duties to the state changed profoundly under Constantine.

Keywords: Christian hegemony; church-state relations; Constantine; Jews; religious pluralism; Roman empire



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