Beyond Intolerance: The Meeting of Milan of 313 AD and the Evolution of Imperial Religious Policy from the Age of the Tetrarchs to Julian the Apostate [Paperback]

Davide Dainese (Editor); Viola Gheller (Editor)

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ISBN: 9782503574493 | Published by: Brepols | Series: Studi E Testi Tardoantichi | Volume: 14 | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 220p,

Beyond Intolerance: The Meeting of Milan of 313 AD and the Evolution of Imperial Religious Policy from the Age of the Tetrarchs to Julian the Apostate


313 AD is generally considered as a "turning point" in religious and political Western history. The meeting of Constantine and Licinius in Milan and the subsequent "edict" not only recognised to the Christians the right to assemble and practice their cults, but opened the way to the Christianisation of Roman imperial structures and, finally, to the declaration of Christianity as the only allowed religion in the Roman Empire. The papers summoned in this volume tackle this complex historical phase from a number of perspectives (from Church history and theology to political and juridical history), following a strongly multidisciplinary approach. The chronological schope, stretching from the decades preceding the meeting of 313 to the reign of Julian the Apostate, permits to highlight both the cultural, political and juridical premises of Constantine and Licinius' decisions and the way they affected a number of aspects of everyday life within the Empire's borders, until Julian's pagan "restoration" and beyond it.

Table of Contents

Foreword (Viola Gheller)  
- Religious Tolerance in the Melting Pot of the Fourth Century AD: An Introduction (Ulrico Agnati): presents a thorough discussion on the concept of religious tolerance in the IV century AD, enriched by an overview of inter-religious dialogue in present days, leading the reader to consider the specific issues discussed in the following essays in a wider perspective, that of the historical continuum leading from 313 to the contemporary world.
- The Edict of Serdica and the Meeting of Milan through the Legislation Promoted by Maximinus Dazha: Notes for a Study about his Religious Policy (Valerio Massimo Minale): Considers Maximinus Dazha’s legislation in the years between 311 (when the ‘Edict of Galerius’ was issued) and the meeting of Milan in 313. Through a thorough analysis of Eus., HE, IX and Lactantius’s De mortibus persecutorum, Minale shows the means employed by the Tetrarch (a specific use of rescripta, edicta and epistulae) in order to enforce an anti-Christian religious policy and to gain the support of local communities and functionaries, avoiding an open conflict with Constantine and Licinius.
- Identità e funzioni dello hiereus nel ‘religious revival’ di Massimino Daia e di Giuliano Imperatore (Daniela Borrelli): Takes into account and compares the role of the high priest (ἱερεύς) under Maximinus Dazha and Julian "the Apostate". Through a deep analysis of the accounts provided by Eusebius and Lactantius concerning Maximinus and the writings of Julian himself, Borrelli shows how the ἱερεύς had to play a pivotal role in the strengthening of the traditional cults, in order to contrast the invasive Christianity, and was central to the reorganisation of a pagan hierarchy about fifty years after the so-called ‘Edict of Milan’.
- Intolerance at the Court of Constantine? The Case of Fausta and Helena (Marco Rocco): Proposes to undertand the subsequent killings of Constantine’s son Crispus and the emperor’s wife, Fausta against the context of the transition from the Tetrarchy to Constantine's Christian Empire. Starting from the analysis of literary accounts on the events considered, Rocco argues that Helena could have pushed her son to get rid of his wife, considered as the last representative of the tetrarchical experience, in terms of religious beliefs and kinship (Fausta was the only surviving descendant of the persecutors Maximian and Maxentius). Religious tensions could have been exploited to realise a political manoeuvre, aimed at removing the surviving traces of Tetrarchy’s ideology.
- Ideological Premises and Legal Strategies in Costantine’s ‘Turning Point’ towards Christian Communities (Michele Giagnorio): Examines the specific cultural and ideological premises of the measures on religious matters established by Constantine and Licinius at the meeting of Milan of 313. Tertullian’s work (and especially his Ad Scapulam) is supposed to have introduced the concept of ‘religious freedom’ in the Christian discourse, possibily influencing the formulation of the ‘Edict of Milan’ itself, or at least the way Lactantius presented it. However, a substantial discrepancy rests among Tertullian's approach (considering religious freedom as a "naturalis potestas", an intrinsic right that does not need any formal recognition from the political power) and that of the emperors (treating religious freedom as a "libera potestas", founded on a political and juridical act, and therefore revocable.)
- Bishops and the Emperor in the Framework of Late Antiquity. The Council of Nicaea in De vita Constantini (Davide Dainese): analyses the account of the council of Nicaea of 325 offered by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Vita Constantini, highlighting three ‘discrepancies’ in the bishops’ and the Emperor’s intentions and perspectives, detectable in Eusebius’s presentation of the events and the constantinian documents he quotes. Dainese considers these ‘discrepancies’ as signs of an ongoing transformation concerning both the role of the Emperor in a Christian Empire and his relationship with the Church and the bishops, while the detectable gap between the points of view of the bishops and the emperor is understood by the author as the space where Eusebius builds his political theology.
- Considerazioni sulla proprietà ecclesiastica: dalle origini del Cristianesimo a Costantino (Dario Annunziata): tackles on the one hand the problem of the moment when a property right was formally recognised to Christian communities and Churches, intimately intertwined with that of the juridical status accorded to these communities by the Roman political power; on the other hand, the author analyses the social and economic thought of the Church Fathers (with a particular focus on Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian), in order to find out what influence it exerted on Constantine’s legislation concerning ecclesiastical property.
- Constantine and Slavery (Alessia Spina): examines contents and purposes of a selection of constitutions issued in the ten years after the meeting of Milan, so introducing a discussion on the evolution of the practice of manumissio in ecclesia. The author outlines the process through which the latter progressively replaced the traditional juridical means employed to grant freedom to slaves: an informal method firstly developed alongside those envisaged by Roman ius civile, which acquired full recognition thanks to the Constantinian provisions analysed in the contribution. Through an analysis of juridical sources, which takes also into account patristic and literary texts, Spina questions the influence of an alleged favor libertatis in Constantine’s conception of slavery and in his measures affecting the slave’s status, and underlines the important role played by political motivations – and namely of the evolving relationship between the Empire and the Church – in the evolution of the emperor’s legislation towards slavery.
- Constantine’s Statutes De Iudaeis. The Jews and the Roman Empire from Diocletian to Constantine (Francesca Zanetti): Examines the conflicting relationship between the Jews and the Roman Empire, and between the Jews and the Christians. Against the long-since recognition of some privileges to the Jews, Constantine took a clear stand toward the Jews and their influence on both Christians and Gentiles. However Constantine’s legislation does not show any pronounced anti-Judaic character, nor the enforcing of a ‘crime of Judaism’ can be detected in the constitutions de Iudaeis. On the contrary, from a juridical point of view, a substantial continuity can be detected from Diocletian’s to Constantine’s time: although strongly engaged in protecting the Christians against whatever injury they could suffer from Jewish part, still the constantinian legislation held on a juridical tradition which had recognised Judaism as a religio licita and had granted privileges and protection to this cult, thus giving rise to the ambiguity of imperial policy toward the Jews which would characterise the Christian Empire of the IV and V century.

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