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Constantine and Christianity: It Was Just Politics - Updated

Updated: Apr 4



Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity
La Vision de Constantin by Jacob Bunel


There are many that feel that Constantine's conversion to Christianity was sincere and that converting to a minority sect made up of supposed communities of the lower classes had no political or power advantage. However, as with all the evidence, from primary sources, presented on this site, preconceptions appear to be wrong.



Introduction


It all starts with accounts that describe Constantine’s vision, as that is where we get our information from. According to Eusebius in ‘Life of Constantine, in which the man who is known to us as 'Eusebius' writes a favorable biography of the emperor, Constantine sees something in the sky.


We read that in 312 C.E. at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, which was essentially a battle between Emperor Constantine and Maxentius over the throne of Rome, Constantine looked up to the sun before the battle and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words - "Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα" meaning 'in this sign, conquer', which is often rendered into the Latin version - "in hoc signo vinces", which means in this sign, you will conquer. Constantine then commanded his troops to adorn their shields with a Christian symbol, 'chi-rho' (XP) which are the first two letters of ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ which is Greek for Christos.


'Eusebius' says that Constantine did not know which God gave him the sign in the sky, but that he was so moved by his vision of the cross that he vowed to worship no other God than the one represented to him. He then began to seek out those who might help him to learn more about what he has seen. We are told the priests of God became his close advisers, and he believed that it was his duty to honor the God who had appeared to him in his original vision. We are told that Bishops regularly traveled with Constantine, those being Maternus from Cologne, Recticius from Autun, Marinus from Arles, and Ossius from Cordoba.


From what we read, we are given to understand that these Bishops made Constantine confidently believe that Jesus was the only begotten son of God and that the cross he had seen in his vision was a symbol of Jesus's triumph over death; ‘Only Begotten Son’ is used to say the wrong thing in the Jewish Antiquities 20.2.1. The phrase, ‘Only-Begotten Son’, was a figure of speech used as a term of endearment, used for a son considered a ‘favorite’ out of more than one, by the father or mother of that son.


However, because 'Lactantius', a tutor to Constantine's son, states that in Gaul, before setting out towards Rome, Constantine and his army saw a great cross in the sky and underneath was written, "In this sign, conquer", that means that these accounts contain discrepancies.


  • 'Eusebius' says that Constantine saw this vision just before the Battle began

  • Lactantius says that Constantine and his army saw a great cross in the sky whilst in Gaul, before setting out towards Rome.

So obviously one of these accounts is wrong or confused, which makes neither one reliable.

But the important factor that comes from this information and time in history, is the fact that it starts the long process of making Christianity the official religion of Rome, which it would eventually become in 380 C.E. under Theodosius I.


Further, Libanius (314 – 392 or 393 C.E.), who we are told was a Greek teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school, and, during the rise of Christian dominance in the time of Constantine, remained a Hellenistic pagan, contradicts himself regarding Constantines "vision" and adoption of Christianity. On one hand, he states Constantine's army fought against the gods as early as 312 C.E., referring to the supposed Christian tradition regarding Constantine's victory over Maxentius under the cross. On the other hand, Constantine's own adoption of Christianity is assigned to after the overthrow of Licinius, as opposed to when Constantine defeated Maxentius. Libanius was clearly trying to link Constantine's adoption with the looting of pagan temples, which began after the final defeat of Licinius; Valerius Licinianus Licinius, Roman Emperor from 308 to 324 C.E. and rival and colleague of Constantine. He and Constantine co-authored the Edict of Milan (313 C.E.), granting official toleration to "Christians" in the Roman Empire. (Ref - Eusebius, Life of Constantine, book 8, chapters 1-4; Julian, Orations, book 7, chapter 22, 228b; Libanius, Orations, book 30.6, 37)


However, pagan tradition claims Constantine's adoption was due to guilt from the execution of Flavia Maxima Fausta (his second wife) and Crispus (his eldest son). Apparently, when pagan priests refused to purify him, he turned to an "Egyptian from Spain" who promised him Jesus would forgive him.


Christianity A Fast Growing Religion?


This then brings me to the reason for this article and the problem that has always been present when researching this period of history, and in particular, Christianity's history. It is no secret that every source of information for this religion's history comes from one direction, Rome. It is believed that Christianity was a fast-growing religion at the time, but it was not. It is known that the Sadducean Jewish sect, who received their support from the aristocracy, and, therefore, supported the monarchy, had resorted to church prostitution to make money. The leaders of the early 'Christian' church (the members of the Pisonian family), had built tiny rooms into the sides of the church where patrons could pay for sex.


The New Testament contains sexually explicit passages, as evidenced by the Oxford Encyclopedia Biblica (1900-1910). The encyclopedia gave the original meanings of words used in the biblical texts, some of which offended many. The passages could be read to make the people in the churches sexually aroused. Because most of the people who were not of the aristocracy did not read, they had no idea whether or not those lines were actually in the texts that were being read to them in the early churches:


...within the Jewish lower society, the average literary rate must be considered lower than the Roman average, significantly less than 10-15 percent... [giving us a figure of approximately 5-6 percent, perhaps.] (Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, Professor of Jewish Studies, Catherine Hezser, page 496.


The Oxford Encylopedia Biblica states:


"The offer of the body, which was in honor of the deity and prevailed in the Northern Semitic religions, where a special class of temple harlots was maintained and commerce with them was a religious act". (Encyclopedia Biblica, page 837)


The new 'Christian' Churches were simply brothels, just like the "high places" of the Old Testament (law), where all prostitutes had their fees. This is shown in the story of Tamar and Judah, where, she, acting as the professional prostitute, says:


"What wilt though give me that thou mayest come in unto me." (Genesis 38:17)


There were little rooms of around eight feet by five feet surrounding the Temple, which were called 'selaoth' or 'lesakoth'. 'Selaoth' means "chambers for men and women" or "double-sexed chambers", 'Lesakoth' means "for the purpose of being joined".




Emperor Titus is reported to have left valuable gifts for the benefit of the maidens, whose "converse" he had enjoyed, and for the temple treasury when he visited Paphos on his way to subjugate Jerusalem. Even the locations the man who is known to us as 'Paul' travels to were known for having great Roman brothels. for example, the mentioning of Antioch, Lystra, Salamis, Paphos, Perga, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Iconium, Athens, and Corinth. Essentially, the mentioning of these locations acted as advertisements for these Churches/brothels.


Traditional Jewish sources condemn prostitution and trafficking, although there are some mixed messages:


Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity” Leviticus 19:29; but the law appears to allow male soldiers to rape foreign captive women. Deuteronomy 21:10-14


The Talmud, too, gives mixed messages, which can be viewed as more preventive cautions than permissions. A text about prostitution and Jewish men frequenting prostitutes states that it is:


Better that a man secretly transgress and not publicly profane God’s name so that no one learns from his actions” and that “If a man sees that his [evil] inclination [yetzer or urge] overwhelms him, he should go to a place where he is unknown, wear black clothing and cover himself with black [perhaps to subdue his lust], and do what his heart desires, so that he does not publicly profane God’s name


With the 'Christian' "churches" blatantly offering prostitution, the wives of the locations became aware, leading to an uproar. The people in those cities drove the operators of the early churches out of their towns and cities. Therefore, the only way to make the new 'Christian' religion (law) appear to be growing was by the use of scripture, essentially creating the perception that it was growing.


Constantine And Christianity


The use of the 'Christian' scriptures by Constantine was a great tactical move to unite the disparate Pagan tribes in the Roman Empire under just one belief system, leading to more unity right across the empire.

The sources from around Constantine's time paint highly positive biased arguments for highly complex Christian theology, and describes converts apparently rapidly accepting these ideas, and in so doing, changing their lives for this religious movement.


Even after his supposed 'vision' and then 'conversion', Constantine still retained many pagan attributes, and until 321 C.E., his coins were still inscribed with the symbols of traditional Roman gods - Mars, Jupiter, Apollo, and particularly the sun god, Sol Invictus; in his city of Constantinople, a statue depicted him wearing the radiate crown of Sol. He also still allowed pagan temples to be built. Now one possible reason for this is because although he had 'converted', the act of forcing others to convert at that time was an unknown practice. However, he did grant toleration to all religions in 313 C.E. with the edict of Milan, but this only benefited Christianity.


Many coins were issued by Constantine with pagan images and motifs. After the year 305 C.E., is when Emperor Constantine seems to have first adopted Sol Invictus as his personal deity and protector. However, the gods, Mars, Hercules, and Jupiter still appear on his coinage.



Emperor Constantine Coin
Bronze coin issued by Constantine in 317 C.E.. The reverse shows the sun god Sol Invictus, referred to as 'Companion of the Emperor'.


It was not unusual for an emperor to identify himself with a particular god, and Constantine seems to have initially adopted the sun god, Sol Invictus, around 309-310 C.E., then, later, it seems, he used this association as a link to his supposed "conversion", going from the Sun God to the Son of God.


Christianity incorporated a variety of beliefs, with no reason to insist that only one was correct. Constantine changed that understanding to insist that only one doctrine could be tolerated. Many problems arose from this change, one of which concerned the theology around the Trinity and the nature of free will and original sin. The monotheism of Judea prevented the worship of Rome's declared gods from being adopted or even tolerated by the cult of YHWH. This was seen as a serious problem in Rome, the solution, therefore, was to undermine the Jewish faith by playing on their hopes for a Messiah, while slowly introducing the concept of a plural God, the Holy Trinity. The beginning of Mark (1:8) contains a mysterious character called "spiritus Sanctus", or "Spiritu Sancto":


'Ego baptizavi vos aqua, ille vero baptizabit vos Spiritu Sancto' - 'I have baptized you with water. Yet truly, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'


The earliest Latin versions of which have spiritus Sanctus mentioned in the first chapter, and, as far as my investigations go, I can find no precedent for this term. If this is the earliest instance of spiritus Sanctus, then logically conjecturing that the primary aim was to subtly undermine the Jewish monotheistic belief system, using a vague term like this, is not unreasonable. 'Spiritus Sanctus' can be interpreted in more than one way:

"Dedicated breath" is an equally valid translation, though 'Holy Spirit' is the meaning that became canon. The word 'spirit' can be viewed as the word 'pneuma' (also spelled Numa or Nooma), the Ancient Greek word for 'breath'. In the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the word 'pneuma' is used for 'spirit' or 'soul'; an important point to be made here is that the word Numa is the name of Numa Pompilius, one of the main ancestors of the Calpurnius Piso family.


Widespread Destruction Of Pagan Temples? Not Quite


The sponsorship of pagan cults by the elite declined, leading to a sharp decline of pagan temples. This happened over the course of three to four generations, beginning from the "conversion" of Emperor Constantine. It is during this period that the common people began converting to this new religion (law), although the numbers given by "Christian" commentators of time are undoubtedly inflated. Archaeology evidence points to the widespread destruction of temples at this time as being wrong. In a publication called The Archaeology of Late Antique 'Paganism' (Brill, 2011), it states:


“As a result of recent work, it can be stated with confidence that temples were neither widely converted into churches nor widely demolished in Late Antiquity. According to Bayliss' study, only around 120 temples are known to have been converted into churches...evidence of desacralization or active architectural destruction of temples from any source is still very are in terms of the thousands of temples known around the Roman empire. In his Empire-wide study, Bayliss located only 43 cases [of desacralization or active architectural destruction of temples] of which a mere 4 were archaeologically confirmed.” (Lavan, “The End of the Temples: Toward a New Narrative?” in Lavan and Mulryan, p. xxiv)


Only the provinces in the Levant (the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia) in Lavan's words “seems to have been a hot spot of temple destruction: 21 of 43 cases of temple destruction/desecration cited by Bayliss come from this zone” (Lavan, p. xxxviii)



The Feudal System



Slavery in Ancient Rome


It is clear that the success of Christianity as we know it today is mainly due to Constantine's long reign and that his family and all emperors after, apart from Julian, or rather Flavius Claudius Julianus, whose short reign had no real impact, portrayed themselves as "Christians". But, as the genealogies on this site show, Constantine's family could only have been "Christians" in the political sense, not the ‘believer’ sense.


The motivation for Constantine 'converting' to Christianity was clearly not a divine one, because for one thing there is no evidence for it being a divine one, well there is evidence, but that evidence is incredibly unreliable. Constantine's 'conversion' was a purely political decision and his 'divine vision' was created as a 'convincer' story to give a dramatic reason for his 'conversion', a story which could neither be debunked nor verified, which seems to be the norm with many "vision" stories regarding religion. Vision stories were nothing new, in the Acts of the Apostles, the presence and observation at the death of Stephen by 'Paul', and then 'Paul' persecuting new believers, provided the stimulus and background for his "vision" and 'acceptance of Christ'. Constantine realized that a Christian belief was the route to success, which is evident in the fact that he gave official orders which began the feudal system, or in other words, a slave system.


The word 'serf' used for an agricultural laborer who is bound by the feudal system, is just a synonym for slave and when research is carried out in regards to the hierarchy structure of this system, we find the Pope/Emperor at the top, then below that, you have the Cardinals and religious and military individuals. But as you get to the bottom you see the serf (laborer/slave) who is literally an animal, sometimes even a sheep. The official orders given by Constantine, which began the transition of Christianity being made into the state religion, are presented as being separate from the orders that created the feudal system, but they are not separate at all, they are part of the same process.


In reality, Constantine effectively created a feudal system that replaced an existing, freer system. In the first and second centuries, big landowners found it more profitable to lease out their property to small farmers who paid rent, therefore, tenant farmers flourished. Small farmers were free to give up their farms at the end of their tenancies (normally after five years), though most stayed, the option to move was there.



Ancient Roman Farmer
Stooping farmer drives an ox to market. Ox carries a sheep on its back.


In the third century, however, the increasing taxes as a result of new terms of trade and the rising number of bureaucrats made these small farmers worse off, many became unprofitable. The tenants gave up the farms and relocated to the cities, leaving many farms abandoned. Previously, the running of the empire had been what we could call, amateurish, a minimum of bureaucracy, few controls, and low taxes, and it worked. Emperor Diocletian changed this by implementing similar feudal restrictions to Constantine, by mandating that sons take the professions of their fathers, high taxes, and demanding commodities and finished goods. Few Romans protested as they were led to believe they were gaining more security by giving up their freedom, but it was not worth it.


We see the above as is true when researching a whole class of citizens called the Coloni, who developed ownership rights by essentially cultivating the wildland. They would colonize the land, which is where the expression 'colonization' comes from, and they would then turn the wildland into farming land and they could own the product produced from that land. Emperor Constantine changed this and began to issue official orders which stated that you could not own the land or the product of that land, and if the magistrate decided they needed more population in some other area, then your children could be sold. As far as occupations were concerned, it had to be the same occupation as your father and you could not change occupations, or ever leave the land.


So what we have here is the beginning of what would become the medieval feudal system, and the Roman Catholic Church is an element of that feudal system. By taking a step back, we can see how it functioned -


The serf (laborer/slave) was given a religious context for slavery. They were told that the representative of 'Jesus Christ' was basically telling him to accept his hardship. They were told that there was going to be a "worker’s paradise" for the individual once he dies, but in the meantime just do what the magistrates tell you to do and everything will be fine. The teaching of the church was that God appointed the pope and kings (the divine right of kings), meaning each person was born into their "divinely" determined position in society.



The Catholic Church Feudal System



Conclusion


The pagan beliefs of Rome were a matter of life and death, they were true religions, to the common people. The Roman Empire welcomed new religions when new countries became part of the empire - Mithras from the East; Cybele from Asia Minor; Isis from Egypt, to name a few.


Emperor Constantine's ancestors, the Flavians, and Calpurnius Pisos were responsible for the creation of the early Christian scriptures, demonstrated here.


Constantine's descent from the Calpurnius Piso family, through Constantines paternal Grandmother:


Arrius Calpurnius Piso

(born 37 C.E. and died 119 C.E.)

(known in history by many other names, including 'Flavius Josephus', Caesennius Paetus (a name used by the Pisos) (Jewish War, 7.59) - see my book for more information.

M. Boionia Procilla

|

Fabius Justus Calpurnius Piso (who wrote as Justin Martyr)

M. Eunice Corelia Rupilia Faustina

|

Annius/Arrius Verus (Salvius) Julianus C. Piso (used the name, Timothy)

M. Domitia Lucilla II

|

Marcus Aurelius

(Roman Emperor from 161-180 C.E.)

M. Annia Galeria Faustina II (daughter of Emperor Antoninus Pius, reigned 138-161 C.E.)

|

Annia Antonia Galeria Faustina (Princess, born 151, died pre-175 C.E.)

M. Emperor Septimius Severus/ Cn. Claudius Severus/Tertullian (born 145/6 C.E.

ruled 193-211, died 211 C.E.)

|

Bassina Septimia Severa (Princess)

M. Claudius Apellinus/Apollianus

|

Claudia Bassina Apellina/Apollina

M. Flavius Numerius (Greek Prince)

|

Flavius Crispus/Emperor Pupienus/Clodius Commodus (ruled 238 C.E., brother of

Emperor Clodius Albinus)

M. Aurelia (a descendant of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled 161-180 C.E.)

|

Flavia Claudia Aurelia Crispa (sister of Emperor Probus, who ruled 276-282, died 282 C.E.)

M. Tiberius Claudius Marcian(us) (Eutropius) (born 213 C.E. died 274 C.E.)

|

Constantius I Chlorus

(Roman Emperor, reigned 305-306 C.E.)

M. Flavia Julia Helena Britannia

|

Constantine I

(Roman Emperor, reigned 306-337 C.E.)

M. Minervina

M. Flavia Maxima Fausta


Just like his ancestors, to Constantine, Christianity was simply a way to control how the slaves thought, so they would think they were doing the work of their God as opposed to following the commands of the emperor. Paganism was about the moment at hand, bargaining with the Gods through sacrifice in the hopes of a good immediate outcome. There was no concept of salvation, everyone went to Hades, sinner or not. The offer to follow a religion that did offer salvation and made the slaves as important as their master would have had appeal. By this time, this new religion (law) had more scriptures written for it, to give the perception of some kind of history to it, whereas before, after the Roman-Jewish War of 70 C.E., a long battle mainly between the Jewish sect the Pharisees and the aristocracy of Rome, there were only a few. Plus, the fact that the Pharisees (who changed their name to Rabbi) were still around after the war, meant they must have informed people the religion was false.


The Crisis of the Third Century (235–284 C.E.), saw migrations into Roman territory, barbarian invasions, and the army spread too thinly. Emperors came and went (by the year 300 C.E., the aristocracy was becoming divided and aware of how fatal the position of emperor was), and there was a devastating plague. Therefore, we can conclude that the people doubted their pagan gods were supporting them.


Considering Constantine initially adopted the sun god, Sol Invictus, around 309-310 C.E, after Diocletian left the imperial office in 305 C.E., and we have contradictory accounts of the supposed "vision" in 312 C.E., and the issuing of the Edict of Milan in 313 C.E., it is clear he wanted to revive Christianity, or, as the case certainly appears to be, bring it back from the dead.


Christianity was a minority faith, but in only one sense, that sense is that only some members of the aristocracy wanted to promote it, and some did not, those who did not were Emperor Diocletian; Galerius; Maximianus I; and Constantius Chlorus - Diocletian was in favor of the traditional Roman religions. The so-called "persecution" in the year 303 C.E. of "Christians" by Diocletian, who reigned 204-305 C.E., and others, was in reality about the suppression of those members of the aristocracy who wanted to promote it, for example, Constantine. However, the "persecutions" would be presented in history as acts of martyrdom, giving the impression that the religion was moral and people were willing to die for it. As English New Testament scholar Candida Moss states:


"Furthermore, it’s surprising that Christians could and did achieve power and status in the government, if—as tradition has us believe—they were being systematically persecuted by that same government. That both Valerian and, as we will see, Diocletian ejected Christians from public office demonstrates that Christians not only lived peacefully among the Romans, they flourished and rose to positions of prominence and power." (The Myth of Persecution, page 195; Cyprian, Letter 80.2) That prominence and power can only mean that the 'Christian' writers were members of the aristocracy - as demonstrated on this site and in my book. It is only from the fourth century that, under Diocletian, 'Christians' had to give their scriptures to authorities.



For most of the centuries prior to Constantine, this religion/law was not banned in the sense of a community of Christians being persecuted. As I explain in my book, it was not even a religion, it only appears to have been a growing religion because Emperor Constantine's ancestors portrayed it that way in their writings. Scholars are well aware of the exaggerations in the various literary sources available, both 'Christian' and pagan. Pliny the Younger, the early-second-century Roman governer of Bithynia-Pontus (in modern Turkey), is the first account we have of a pagan author to refer to the existence of 'Christians'. In a letter addressed to the Roman emperor Trajan, written in 112 C.E., Pliny discusses the threat posed by 'Christians' to the traditional Roman cults and indicates that he has initiated an official proceeding against them. He tells Emperor Trajan (who he is related to - see here) that the 'Christians' are “many of all ages, every rank, and both sexes.


"The matter seems to me worthy of your consideration, especially as there are so many people involved in the danger. Many persons of all ages, and of both sexes alike, are being brought into peril of their lives by their accusers, and the process will go on. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only through the free cities, but into the villages and the rural districts, and yet it seems to me that it can be checked and set right."

(Ref - Pliny 10.96)


It is clear Pliny wanted the above letter to sound serious. The Roman historian, Tacitus, a few years later, would create his Annals of Rome, published around 120 C.E. It presents an account of the empire from the reigns of Emperor Tiberius to Nero. Tacitus, too, mentions 'Christians', he portrays the "cult" as "an immense multitude" (Annals 15). Tacitus's mention is in regards to the great fire of Rome under Nero in 64 C.E. Nero is portrayed as starting the fire and blaming the "Christians", but there are many issues with this. One is the fact that Nero built many great popular buildings and structures before the fire and second is the fact that, in terms of the current understanding of Christian history, Christianity would not have been separated from Judaism in Nero's time.


So here we have:

Pliny the Younger stating "there are so many people involved in the danger. Many persons of all ages, and of both sexes alike..."

and Tacitus stating the number of Christians were "an immense multitude".


But other Roman writers say nothing, only those known in history as 'Suetonius', Lucian of Samosata, Galen give very brief references. If Christianity had a large following and was such a threat, why did most Roman authors have little and, more often, nothing to say? The Roman historian, known as Herodian, detailed the careers of the emperors from 180 to 238 C.E. He gave details about the threats they confronted, any threats from "Christians" are not mentioned.


We then have the exaggerated numbers of 'Christians' portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 1:14, after Jesus's resurrection, the number of Christians presented is eleven, but in the very next verse, the number drastically shoots up to 120 believers? In Acts 2:41, 'Peter' apparently converted three thousand Jews and another five thousand in Acts 4:4. In Acts 5:14, we read "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."


The supposed Christian author, known to us as 'Tertullian', exaggerates the most. He wrote the Apology approximately a century after Acts (end of the second and beginning of the third century). In it, 'Tertullian' states "The outcry [from pagans] is that the state is filled with Christians-that they are in the fields, in the citadels, in the islands." (Apology 1) He also states that "our numbers are so great-constituting all but the majority in every city." (To Scapula 2) In Apology 37 comes his most famous excessive statement:


We are but of yesterday, and we have filled every place among you—cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum—we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods . . . . For if such multitudes of men were to break away from you, and betake themselves to some remote corner of the world, why, the very loss of so many citizens, whatever sort they were, would cover the empire with shame . . . . Why, you would be horror-struck at the solitude in which you would find yourselves . . . . You would have to seek subjects to govern. You would have more enemies than citizens remaining. For now, it is the immense number of Christians which makes your enemies so few—almost all the inhabitants of your various cities being followers of Christ.


However, other authors, who presented themselves as 'Christians', knew the exaggerated numbers were just that, exaggerated. Those authors include Minucius Felix, Latin apologist, who, writing years after 'Tertullian', presents the 'Christians' as only being a few. (Octavius 23)

And the man known to us as 'Origen' (first half of the third century), presents the knowledge that the Christian faith was unheard of in the empire. (Commentary on Matthew 24:9)


Based on the above evidence, modern experts reject the numbers claimed by the 'Christian' authors. 'Christian forces' were not destroying Pagan religions in the first and second centuries, and the new 'religion' (law) was not an unstoppable force. British historian, Robin Lane Fox has stated:


"By c. 200, Christians still wrote polemically as if the gods had fallen silent, but they were ignoring the contrary facts at the sites to which they referred." (Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, page 201) The evidence Fox is referring to is that of stone inscriptions, showing that pagan religions were flourishing in the second and third centuries C.E., as demonstrated by more than three hundred pagan dedications at the temple of Apollo at Claros.


Christianity was nothing at this time, or even before, except for those members of the aristocracy attempting to promote it. It is clear that any promoting or building of an infrastructure for this religion (law) was done on a shoestring budget. The elite had the means to pour money into it but must have thought they did not need to. When Constantine re-entered Rome in 312 C.E., Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History (IX.9.9) says that Constantine was met by the senate and notables and the throng of Romans including women and children. He neglects, however, to mention the presence of any welcoming Christians (which has been noted by the publication 'The See of Peter', page 448) nor any letter from the Roman church, again, which the authors of the publication, 'The See of Peter', expressed their puzzlement.


However, the reason looks to be obvious. There were no Christians in Rome, we do not even find any mentioned by Eusebius.


There are many people who have not understood the argument regarding the purely political reason for Constantine "adopting" Christianity, some feel he would have enjoyed no practical benefit from conversion.


However, Christianity incorporated many aspects from different religions, and that was done on purpose, it was a purely aristocratic creation; only the elite would have had the means to create the scriptures. (Ref - 'The Origins of Early Christian Literature' and 'Class Struggle in the New Testament', chapter 5, IVDAEA DEVICTA: The Gospels as Imperial "Captive Literature") Constantine was a great general and won many battles, therefore, the mindset of the people would surely have been that the emperor was worshipping the correct God. He also gave benefits to those who converted in the form of promotions, tax breaks, political advancement.

Really, Constantine most certainly had the power and authority to fully adopt Christianity straight away. However, his strategy for promoting and using Christianity was a gradual, subtle, political power move. He did not have thousands of pagan temples destroyed, nor were pagan worshipers physically persecuted. In a supposed letter by Constantine, the Letter to the Eastern Provincials (Eusebius, Life of Constantine, Book II, chapter 48-60) presents the wish that all his subjects should convert to Christianity but makes it clear that pagan worship was not to be suppressed by force - change by force only creates anger, and, therefore, the ignition for rebellion.


We do read about his apparent remarks regarding paganism from 'Eusebius', it is understood he wrote to Sapor, King of Persia, stating how he shunned the "abominable blood and hateful odors" of pagan sacrifices, instead, he worshipped the high God "on bended knee". (Ref - Life of Constantine (Book IV), chapter 9: Letter of Constantine Augustus to Sapor, King of the Persians, containing a truly Pious Confession of God and Christ; chapter 10: The Writer denounces Idols and glorifies God.) What did happen was the funding of the temples by the elite declined due to the withdrawal of imperial favor and, therefore, eventually rhetorical studies declined and the pagan ways fizzled out. Constantius (Constantine's son) did destroy a few temples and abolished every sacred custom. Constantine focused on stripping the temples of their wealth and confiscating temple land. plundered some, and converted others into churches. (Ref - Libanius, Orations, 62.8-9)


To believe Emperor Constantine really had a powerful spiritual experience goes against all the evidence pointing to the contrary.

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