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There Is No Crime for Those Who Have ChristReligious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire$
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Michael Gaddis

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241046

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241046.001.0001

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“What has the Emperor to Do with the Church?”

“What has the Emperor to Do with the Church?”

Persecution and Martyrdom from Diocletian to Constantine

Chapter:
(p.29) 1. “What has the Emperor to Do with the Church?”
Source:
There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ
Author(s):

Michael Gaddis

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520241046.003.0002

This chapter describes the Diocletian, the Great Persecution, Christian martyrdom, and then the religious policies of Constantine, with particular attention to his dealings with the early Donatists. It also examines the motives and justifications behind pagan emperors' persecution of Christians, and argues that some of the same attitudes toward violence and coercion persisted under the Christian empire. Moreover, it describes the formation of Christian concepts of martyrdom that cast a shadow over the religious conflicts of later generations. The end of persecution had been accompanied by an even more dramatic development: for the first time in history, an emperor had openly embraced Christianity. Constantine's mention—and dismissal—of martyrdom not only implies his awareness that lethal force was necessary, but also suggests that he anticipated how the Donatists might have responded to coercive violence. Violence used for the sake of unity shatters that unity.

Keywords:   Diocletian, Christian martyrdom, Constantine, Donatists, persecution, violence, coercion, Christian empire, Christianity

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