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Archaeology And The 'Arian Controversy' In The Fourth Century

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Chapter Summary

The so-called 'Arian Controversy' that divided the Christian Church in the 4th century has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate in recent decades. This chapter reconsiders the material evidence from this period in the history of the Church and asks how an archaeological approach independent of the biases of our literary sources might broaden our understanding of the controversy and its impact upon the 4th century Roman empire. It gives a brief analysis of the polarised polemic of our textual sources has important consequences for the study of the archaeological evidence for the 4th century theological controversies. The relationship between art and doctrine is considerably more complex than this simplified model would allow, while the Christian communities in the cities of the eastern empire at this time were not divided into distinct churches but rather included a variety of Christian groups, all seeking to control the one true Church.

Keywords: 4th century Roman empire; Arian controversy; Christian church



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