Read Patricia Crone's Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam.
The position of Christianity in the Empire led to two complementary dynamics.
Well-educated people trained in classical philosophy were becoming theologians, bringing that perspective with them.
This led to ever-deeper probing of the religion, particularly into vexing questions like the nature of Jesus Christ. Probing and analysis led naturally to disagreements. These disputes, however, did not remain merely theological, but often took on a related political character.
A competition existed among sees, particularly between the metropolitan or patriarchal sees.
Constantinople, now the capital of the Empire, sought not only to become a patriarchate, but also to position itself above much older sees like Antioch and Alexandria. Competition between Antioch and Alexandria for control of Constantinople was yet another dynamic. To win these contests, imperial favor was a necessity.
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