Week 6.1 - Constantine's Conversion

Week 6.1 - Constantine's Conversion - Week 6: Constantine's...

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Week 6: Constantine’s Conversion to Christianity Here's some background on the conversion of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 AD). It's interesting to compare and contrast the conversions of Roman Emperor Constantine and St. Augustine. We are continuing to seek what made people convert to Christianity and some of the theological, social-political- ethical, and supernatural factors in this. With Constantine's conversion, we see these factors in the context of political concerns and the 3rd. Century rd Century crisis & solutions, and Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. After Constantine, we will do Augustine's career as Bishop of Hippo & his political theories (including the theory of the just war), and then we will focus on St. Benedict. Note that these 3 figures (Constantine, Augustine, & Benedict) are 3 founders of the Middle Ages—founder of important institutions and theories of authority. See the summary in XP p.24a. The material on Constantine is in XP 14-15 and in Tierney . Please review the sources on the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan on pages 11-13 & 16-17 of Tierney . Note that Constantine and Augustine both experienced famous miraculous conversions. What are the similarities and differences in these two influential conversions? Compare/contrast both with St. Paul's conversion described in Acts chapter 9. *Why did the Emperor Constantine (306-337) convert to Christianity? *What did he experience in his conversion? *What did he hope to gain from Christianity? *What were the effects of his conversion: personal and political? **Do you think becoming Christian enhanced the power of Constantine and other rulers? We can never be certain as to "why" Constantine converted to Christianity because we have no way of knowing his reasoning and motivations. However, in addition to our understanding of conditions in Rome and the Church (which underlie this momentous decision), we do have a contemporary account of this event from Eusebius (the Bishop of Caesarea), who was close to the Emperor. But he was incredibly biased—his main purpose was to praise & glorify Constantine; he also tried to proclaim & glorify the triumph of Christianity in the Roman Our purpose is to use evidence from primary sources to answer the above questions. If we carefully examine Eusebius' account in The Life of Constantine (written in 337-339), we can find clues as to what he thinks Constantine might have been thinking. Careful analysis of clues found in Eusebius' account (or in the Edict of Milan , written in 313) sheds some light on reasons for Constantine's conversion. We need to examine details of the account of what happened in Constantine's miraculous conversion: the vision, the message, the dream, the test of God's power, the victory, and the results. Here's background on Constantine's miraculous conversion. Does it seem bizarre to be analyzing miracles and
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course HIST 111 taught by Professor Rutenburg during the Fall '05 term at Maryland.

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Week 6.1 - Constantine's Conversion - Week 6: Constantine's...

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