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Approaching Late AntiquityThe Transformation from Early to Late Empire$
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Simon Swain and Mark Edwards

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297375

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297375.001.0001

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Pagan and Christian Monotheism in the Age of Constantine

Pagan and Christian Monotheism in the Age of Constantine

Chapter:
(p.211) 9 Pagan and Christian Monotheism in the Age of Constantine
Source:
Approaching Late Antiquity
Author(s):

Mark Edwards

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297375.003.0009

This chapter focuses on a decisive moment — the reign of Constantine, who advanced his own religion by the suppression of idolatry and the multiplication of written documents. It might be said in general that the history of early Christianity is a story of words and images — one subject rather than two, perhaps, if Plato is right to say that words are images of meaning. Plato also said that words are seeds. It is argued that this spermatic metaphor enabled a Christian sovereign to tolerate many religions in his Empire while he aimed at the final victory of one. Finally, he warned us that when words begin to germinate they lose their truth as images, this is believed to have been the fate of ‘monotheism’ in recent scholarship.

Keywords:   Constantine, Roman Empire, religion, idolatry, monotheism

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