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THE STORY OF THE CHRISTIANS

Volume VII: Constantine

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In the previous volume of The Story of the Christians we examined that half century (235-285) of chaos, bloodshed, and ruination that befell the Roman Empire, the Time of Troubles. The mayhem finally came to an end with Diocletian’s ascent to power and the gradual creation of the Tetrarchy, a radical plan that saw the division of imperial power amongst four men, an arrangement which finally allowed for an orderly succession to the throne. The imposition of order came at a heavy price, however, as the imperial government ballooned in size and came to exercise increasingly tyrannical power. Persecution of Christians increased and became empire-wide under the Tetrarchy.


Diocletian and Maximianus retired from the Tetrarchy in 305 and Galerius and Constantius Chlorus took their places. Within two years the second Tetrarchy had fallen apart and civil war returned to the Roman Empire for the next two decades. The persecution of the Christians would intensify under Galerius before peace would come. These events unfolded during the life of Constantine and, in large part, due to Constantine.


The focal point of this volume, Constantine has been held culpable for the fall of the Roman Empire and he has been praised for saving the Roman Empire, or at least postponing its collapse. He has been maligned as an egomaniacal debauched tyrant and he has been lauded as a benevolent abstemious monarch. Portrayed by some as a murderous despot, he is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Christian churches.


Despite all the upheaval and oppression during the Time of Troubles and the reign of the Tetrarchy, Christians were plowing ahead in their Christological debates, standardizing their corpus of sacred literature, and organizing their ecclesiastical hierarchy. During Constantine’s reign two great controversies would rock the young church as it continued to wrestle with these issues, requiring intervention by the emperor.

Chapters in VOLUME VII:

  1. Introduction
  2. Plotinus, Neoplatonism, and Porphyry
  3. The Emperor Constantine and his Historians
  4. A Biography of Constantine I the Great
  5. The Council of Elvira
  6. The End of the Persecutions and the Edict of Toleration
  7. In Hoc Signo and the Battle of the Milvian Bridge
  8. The Donatist Controversy
  9. A Biography of Arius and an Introduction to the Council Of Nicaea (325)
  10. Arius’ Christology and the Nicene Creed
  11. Constantine’s Christianity
  12. Diocletian and the Tetrarchy

Related Video Series

History of Christianity The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire Constantine

Volume VII: Constantine

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