And the search for the historical Constantine continues. Reexamining the major primary sources on Constantine and the emperor's own recorded words, the ever-engaging Peter Leithart paints a very different picture from the one promoted by Constantine's pagan enemies, and ultimately transmitted to us by Gibbon and Voltaire. Far from a cynical manipulator who played all sides to his own advantage, Leithart's Constantine is a sincere Christian convert whose new faith--and sophisticated political theology--forever redefined antiquity's assumptions about the relationship between religion and state, emperor and God. Leithart's historical research leads him to a vigorous critique of various other 'anti-Constantinian' claims (Constantine as progenitor of 'bad' medieval art, corrupter of early Christian pacificism, usurper of church authority, etc.) with particular attention--appreciative but critically pointed--to John Howard Yoder, whose views have influenced an entire generation of Christian theologians. A lively and entertaining writer, Leithart's approach to current Constantinian controversies is fair, deeply thoughtful, and eminently persuasive.
An Eighth Day View:
We know that Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 outlawed paganism and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire manipulated the Council of Nicea in 325 exercised absolute authority over the church, co-opting it for the aims of empire And if Constantine the emperor were not problem enough, we all know that Constantinianism has been very bad for the church. Or do we know these things? Peter Leithart weighs these claims and finds them wanting. And what's more, in focusing on these historical mirages we have failed to notice the true significance of Constantine and Rome baptized. For beneath the surface of this contested story there emerges a deeper narrative of the end of Roman sacrifice--a tectonic shift in the political theology of an empire--and with far-reaching implications. In this probing and informative book Peter Leithart examines the real Constantine, weighs the charges against Constantinianism, and sets the terms for a new conversation about this pivotal emperor and the Christendom that emerged.