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Eschatology and Politics in Cyril of Jerusalem’s Epistle to Constantius

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

Cyril’s letter to Constantius II on the Jerusalem cross-apparition of 351 has usually been read as a declaration of Cyril’s loyalty during Constantius’ war with Magnentius. However, the letter also includes a discussion that links the cross to the eschatological “sign of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:30). Modern interpreters have either ignored this eschatological section or assumed that it is aimed at a non-imperial audience. This paper advances a unified reading of the letter that shows how Cyril uses explicit verbal cues and his description of the cross’s appearance and position over the sacred landscape of Jerusalem to prepare his imperial reader for the switch from politics to eschatology. Cyril thus reinforces his portrayal of Constantius as a devout Christian emperor and assures Constantius not just of military success but of the truth of the Christian faith, while still maintaining his own episcopal authority.

Affiliations: 1: Queens’ College Cambridge cb3 9et United Kingdom


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