Christianity: 300-425
Transition from beleaguered minority to dominant religion

I. The Roman Empire in 300

A. No longer the all-powerful dominant governing entity

1. Conquests weakened the empire; the larger it got, the harder to govern
2. Far-flung armies stretched too thin
3. Citizenship extended everywhere
4. Incursions of new peoples from Asia Minor and Germany
5. Constant wars drained the upper classes

B. Diocletians Reforms 284-305

1. Divided the empire into 4 provinces
2. Reformed the tax system
3. Peasants became serfs, sold with the land
4. Everyone frozen in place
5. Last great persecution of Christians in effort to unify the empire

II. Constantine: 312 -337

A. Son of Constantius, one of Diocletians' tetrarchy

1. Defeated his rivals in 312: Battle of the Milvan Bridge
2. Vision of the cross: "By this sign you will conquer"
3. Converts to Christianity
4. Issues Edict of Milan 313: tolerance to Christians extended throughout the empire
5. Vast church building program begins
6. Moves capital to Constantinople 324

B. Thereafter, Christianity becomes not just tolerated, but the favored religion

1. Eventually other religions are outlawed (395)

C. Council of Niceae: 325

1. Arius: pastor of Alexandria, 312: Emanationist theory of God's relationship to Jesus
2. Constantine calls Council of Bishops to decide
3. Doctrine of Trinity elaborated: God is one, but forms 3 persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit
4. Implications of the council

a. Constantine is head of the church
b. There is one truth which must be decided
c. Christianity now is the Roman Empire: divided into dioceses, headed by bishops, tax system to fund churchs, and system to instruct everyone in correct belief
d. No longer heroic to be a Christian but rather, financially advantagious
e. Beginnings of monasticism: the "white martyrdom"

III. The Roman Empire and Christianity: 325-400

A. Theodosius outlaws all other forms of religion, and only one form of Christianity, in 395
B. Altar of Victory removed from Senate along with other pagan symbols
C. Major invasions of other groups culminate with the sack of Rome 410
D. Augustine begins writing the City of God in 413