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Constantine I, (full name: Imperator Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; AD 272 – May 22, AD 337) was a Roman Emperor famous for being the first Christian Emperor of Rome, and legalizing Christianity.
Struggle for Political Power
Constantine's early life did not show what he was to become as Constantine is well known to have considered many different religions. He had shown no particular revulsion to the last great persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian. He became Caesar of the West upon the death of his father in AD 306 and ruled the region of Gaul while Severus became the Augustus of the West, a higher designation than Caesar. Maximian usurped the power of Augustus and his son Maxentius, who had also assumed the title of Caesar, had Severus executed. Maximian had a falling out with his son and feared Galerius, who was Augustus of the East; Maximian sought Constantine's protection. Continued bickering eventually saw Constantine given the title of Augustus in AD 310. Maximian tried to revolt and was killed by Constantine. Galerius died of disease in AD 311 and his nephew Maximinus Daia, who had also been made an Augustus, took his lands. Continued difficulties with Maxentius led to open warfare between him and Constantine. Constantine invaded Italy to face Maxentius and then had the event that proved to be the turning point of his life.
Victory and embracing of Christianity
While preparing for battle against Maxentius, Constantine is said to have seen in the sky the Chi Rho ΧΡ [ ⳩ ] an early Christian symbol, with the Latin words "IN HOC SIGNO VINCES," or, "under this sign shall you conquer." He ordered his troops to paint the Chi Rho on their shields and won a crushing victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge the next day (Oct 28th, 312) as recorded by the historian and bishop of Caesarea Eusebius. Maxentius drowned while trying to escape. Constantine met with Licinius in Milan in early 313 and together they signed the Edict of Milan which gave equal rights for all religions and made Christianity legal in Rome for the first time and after almost 300 years of persecution. Property that had been confiscated from Christians was restored. An effort by Maximinus Daia to attack Licinius later that year met in failure and he fled and died soon after. Constantine was now the sole leader of the West while Licinius was the sole leader of the East. After a brief war in 314 AD, the two made peace agreeing on the boundaries between them. In 316, at the invitation of the newly legalized Christian church, Constantine tried to settle the Donatist schism. Tensions between Constantine and Licinius grew when Licinius again started persecuting Christians in 320 and led to all-out civil war in 324, which ended with Licinius' surrender and imprisonment. Later that year, Constantine accused Licinius of conspiracy and had him killed. Constantine had become sole Emperor and would remain so until his death in AD 337
Constantine as sole Emperor
In 324 Constantine began building a new city on the site of the village of Byzantium, on the Bosporus. The city was completed six years and given the name of Nova Roma (New Rome), and made his new capital. After Constantine's death, the city would be renamed Constantinople after him.
With his authority over the entire Empire safely secured, one of Constantine's first actions was to call together a meeting of Christian leaders. After years of never being able to all meet together openly, Constantine encouraged Christian leaders from all over the Empire to come together and draw up common understandings of their beliefs. This became the Council of Nicaea in AD 325
Upon Constantine's death in AD 337, his Empire was divided between his three sons. They would not work together peacefully and open warfare would soon ensue as they would each seek to consolidate power for themselves.
It is worth noting that much of Constantine's earlier religiosity remains in the archaeological record. For example, Roman coins from the time period of Constantine I can be found, emblazoned with the legend,
"IMP CONSTANT AUG, SOL INV.," expanded as, "Imperator Constantinus Augustus, to Sol Invictus," and translated as, "Commander Constantine, Augustus, dedicated to the God of the Unconquered Sun."
The question "How did Constantine alter the Bible?" has become popular since the release of The Da Vinci Code. The book reads, "The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great."
However, the evidence is clear that is not true. Constantine did not form or collate the Bible. In 306 AD, Constantine (274 – 337 AD) became ruler of the Roman Empire. He gained his fame for becoming the single ruler of the Roman Empire (after he deceived and defeated Licinius) before supposedly converting to Christianity (his reported conversion is debatable).
In 325, Constantine called the Council of Nicea, which was the first general conference of the Christian church. Constantine had virtually nothing to do with the forming of the canon and it was not even discussed at Nicea. Instead, the council that formed decisions about the canon took place in 397 in Carthage. This was 60 years after Constantine's death.
It is important to note that 21 books were acknowledged by Christians long before Constantine. In AD 330, Constantine did finance the copying of 50 Christian Scriptures. However, this was not a new Bible, and he did not omit any of the already accepted books.
In 330 a.d., Byzantium was renamed as Constantinople / New Rome, and became the Christian capital of the Roman Empire. It was formally dedicated to the Theotokos by Emperor Constantine.
In 333 a.d., Constantine commissioned Eusebius to make 50 copies of the Bible available to churches in this new capital.
Long before constatine 21 books were acknowledged by all Christians (the 4 Gospels, Acts, 13 Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation). There were 10 disputed books (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Ps-Barnabas, Hermas, Didache, Gospel of Hebrews) and several that most all considered heretical—Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthaias, Acts of Andrew, John, etc.
Constatine changed the roman empire from a polytheistic empire to an monotheistic empire
Benjamin Franklin was an ethical monotheist which hardly makes you an atheist or hardly makes you a deist
Franklin was a Christian agnostic which means it was a practice in the early Christian church
Constatine and Benjamin Franklin bear similarities
If constatine invented the deity of christ he would have lived during the second century he lived during the 4th century
- Who’s Who in Christianity, Lavinia Coh-Sherbok, 1998
- There is also the speculative possibility that he may instead have seen the Chi Iota ΧΙ ⧆ with the Greek letters similarly superimposed together, like a sunburst with six brilliant rays. The chi iota was also used in the Byzantine east as an early Christian symbol.
- An Encyclopedia of World History, Kingsport Press, 1948