Sunday, August 1, 2010
On the Constantinian Shift
On the Constantinian Shift: When Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 AD, the religion emerged from its otherwise underground status. The following year he issued the Edict of Milan, which legalized Christian worship throughout the Roman Empire. Constantine I's conversion experience (depicted in the above picture) occurred just before his legions were about to fight in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Prior to 313 AD, Christians faced persecution from Roman authorities - examples included being thrown to the lions in the Coliseum for public entertainment or being crucified (upside down at times) as Saint Peter was. In their willful attempts to worship the Trinity, early Christians often assembled in caves marked by the fish symbol (ichthys) because in ancient Greek the word for "fish" was the same as "savior." With their symbolic use of language, they not only avoided certain persecution, but also established basic theological decrees to govern the Church's liturgical processes. These processes eventually became standardized in 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea, where early Church Fathers achieved consensus on the elemental beliefs of Christianity.