Thursday, October 30, 2008

Article Reviews: "Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome," "Western Roman Empire," and “Eastern Christianity on the Eve of Islam.”

The Conversion of Constantine
In this article, Whitney Oates reviews the book “The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome,” by Andrew Alfoldi. In the book, Alfoldi speak about the theory of a genuine religious conversion of Constantine at the Battle of the Mulvian Bridge in October, 312 AD. The book also hints at Constantine progressing through 4 phases in his life, slowly ridding himself of paganism, and moving from tolerance to a thorough opposition and persecution of the religion in the final years of his life prior to his death in 337 A.D. Oates communicates the problems other scholars would find with this theory of conversion in light of the murder of Constantine’s wife and son, as well as the retention of the title of pontifex maximus. Also in this article, Oates reviews the book, “The Age of Constantine the Great,” by Jacob Burckhardt.
The Impact of the Fall of the Western Empire on the Church
In this article, various Wikipedia contributors discuss the background, dynasties, rebellions, and eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire. The time period discussed is from 259-480 AD. Also discussed in the article are the Roman Republic, tetrarchies, non-dynastic emperors, economy, and the legacy of the Western Empire. Part of that legacy included the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. The various provinces and regions within the Western Empire were slowly conquered by invading Germanic rulers, however, these rulers’ “tribes were already Christianised [sic], though most were followers of Arianism.” These rulers converted to Catholicism, gaining loyalty from the Roman populace, and enabling the Roman Catholic Church to replace many Roman institutions in the West, so that the majority of Europe was converted as well.
“Eastern Christianity on the Eve of Islam”
In this article, Dr. George Khoury explains several Christological heresies that occurred prior to the coming of Islam. Focusing in particular upon the Syrian Church, Khoury briefly discusses Arianism and Apollonarism before discussing Nestorianism and Monophysitism. Following Monophysitism, the “Jacobites” transferred the influence of Greek thought to Syria and then to Islam. Following a short discussion on Islam, Khoury closes with a brief discussion of the Armenian, Coptic-Ethiopic, Maronite, and Melkite Churches, which are independent descendents of the Monophysitic churches of Syria.

Oates, Whitney Jennings. 1950. "Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome." Theology
Today 7, no. 3: 423-427. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
(accessed October 29, 2008).
Wikipedia contributors, "Western Roman Empire," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, ht
223 (accessed October 29, 2008).
Al-Bushra. “Eastern Christianity on the Eve of Islam.”

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