Item description for Constantine and the Conversion of Europe (MART: The Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching) by A. H. M. Jones...
'Constantine hardly deserves the title of Great which posterity has given him, either by his character or by his abilities. He was highly susceptible to flattery, and fell completely under the influence of any dominating personality who happened to be at his side ... Still less does Constantine deserve the title of saint, which the Eastern Church has bestowed upon him. He was, it is true, according to his lights, a good man on the whole, though his political murders - particularly that of Licinius - shocked even contemporary opinion, and his execution of his wife and son was felt by many to be an inexpiable stain on his character...
To the other title which the Orthodox Church has bestowed upon him, "the Peer of the Apostles," he has a better claim, for his career profoundly influenced the history of the Church and the future of Christianity ... Constantine had no doubts about his imperial duty. It was his task to secure God's favour on the empire by securing, by force if necessary, that his subjects worshipped God in a manner pleasing to Him.'
Originally published by Macmillan, 1948.
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Studio: University of Toronto Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.97" Width: 6.01" Height: 0.67" Weight: 0.77 lbs.
Release Date Dec 1, 1978
Publisher University of Toronto Press
ISBN 0802063691 ISBN13 9780802063694
Reviews - What do customers think about Constantine and the Conversion of Europe (MART: The Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching)?
Interesting Read May 10, 2008
In my book, "Astronomical Symbols on Ancient and Medieval Coins", I devote an entire chapter to the visions of Constantine, the depiction of these visions on Constantinian coinage, and what Constantine actually saw in the heavens. As part of my research, I read numerous books on the life of Constantine, and I found Jones' book, "Constantine and the Conversion of Europe," to be useful.
There many items of interest that added to my understanding of the history of his reign, but at times I found this book to be a bit tedious to read compared to some other books about Constantine that I read. Nevertheless, Jones' book is a valuable resource.
I recommend this book to all who are interested in Roman history.
A Synopsis of Contantine's Conversion to the Faith Jan 29, 2002
This book was required reading for one of my undergraduate history classes. I've picked it up once again some 12 years after having read it the first time, and am happy to recommend it as a quality history of Constantine's conversion to the faith.
Jones does not spend a significant amount of time with Constantine's vision of the Chi Rho at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. This is proper because the most important thing about that event is what occurs afterwards.
This is a fair history with minimal amounts of speculation. Jones accurately states that we know little of Constantine's personal relationship with God. We have a historical record that, at first, is a witness of a somewhat ambiguous conversion and then speaks to a sort of "learning curve" where Constantine gets comfortable with his new Christian identity.
Constantine's first attitude toward the Christian faith seems to be that of a minimal insider. His first act was to cease persecutions and enact laws that tolerated the Christian faith. Interestingly, this emperor of an uncertain conversion (you get the impression he didn't know what to do with his faith) immediately began to intervene in Christian relgious affairs. Unfortunately, his conversion may have been too much of a "good thing" for the Christian church. Jones develops this theme well.
It had been Roman imperial custom for the emperor to decide what was pleasing to the gods. In this sense, Constantine seems to have struggled with this role in a Christian milieu. As compared to the pagan religions, Christianity had a well established hierarchical priesthood. And this, as Jones relates, is a powerful dynamic in Christian history - a struggle to find the right accommodation between Church and state.
Jone's work is a very good history. It is brief but packed with interesting data regarding not only Constantine but the early struggles of the Church in refuting error. Any student of early Church history or european history for that matter would enjoy this work.
Brief but informative May 7, 2000
This small, well-written volume does an admirable job of recreating the volatility of the theological-political cusp which the Roman empire found itself in the early 4th century. The primary instigator of this momentous transition, the Emperor Constantine, is rendered in a balanced, but somewhat muted, portrait. Beginning with an excellent explication of the root causes of Roman social and political difficulties in the 3rd century, Jones focuses quickly on the religious milieu of the times. In a few well-crafted paragraphs, he clearly illustrates Christianity's parallels and divergences from the other contemporary popular cults. This is combined with a somewhat bland recounting of Constantine's path to power and reasoned speculation concerning his famous pre-Malvian "vision," acceptance or rejection of which will largely depend on personal taste. Sounds good to me, though. Where the book really shines, though, is in its detailed portrayal of the bitter fractious disputes within the Church, and how they mercilessly frustrated Constantine's wish for theocratic unity. Seventeen centuries later, the Emperor's rage and consternation are still fresh in his letters.
Describing the most momentous event Apr 4, 2000
in the course of Roman history, Jones aptly threads the line between historical analysis and narrative. He assuredly begins the book with a brief, yet astute history of Christianity in the Roman empire and carries through to the legal decrees establishing Christianity as the most favored religion of the empire. Yet, he does not forget to speculate on the plebeian reaction to Constantine's refusal to sacrifice to the Capitoline gods after his ascension to the throne.
This book is a wonderful place to begin the exploration of Christianity's role in the Roman empire.