Augustine Casiday And Frederick W Nqrris

But of course not every powerful patron favoured Christianity. The emperor Julian (regn. 360-3) attempted to revive paganism by drawing on moral features taken from the 'Nazarenes' whom he so hated and, had he but lived longer, the stories of Christianity would have been remarkably different. But his death in battle, perhaps perpetrated by some of his Christian troops, foiled his plans. Theodosius II (401-50) set the final terms for Christian establishment by implementing measures in his legal code against heretical groups and traditional religions. Yet deeper investigation has revealed that, in various places, practitioners of traditional religions and marginalised Christian groups alike survived despite their outlawed status (see particularly chs. 6-7). Hagiography and inscriptions unmistakably illustrate how many bishops continued to struggle with pagan communities and influences (e.g., in North Africa: see ch. 9). We have long known of their efforts in writing against classical Greek and Roman paganism as well as groups like the Manichaeans (ch. 11); but more research findings show that, with bishops needing to give almost weekly attention to other religions' hidden festivals and secretive worship, no Christian group had completely eliminated its competitors, even towards the end of this period.

It also needs to be noted that the Christianisation of the Roman Empire itself was often a tumultuous and divisive business and it sometimes contributed to problems with neighbouring Christian populations. For example, in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Christian factions struggled against each other with alacrity and where the early Byzantines who established the Christianity of Constantinople exerted great pressure on its Christian opponents through taxation and bias in the courts, all the rival Christian communities were weakened. They proved to be no match for the seventh-century invasions of Islam.

The Cambridge History of Christianity includes by design significant coverage of Christian developments in the East and in the Orient - subject areas that are sometimes overlooked in surveys of this kind. Such coverage is entirely appropriate, not least because Christianity is, and from its early days has been, a missionary faith with global aspirations. And yet too often the earliest Christian developments outside of the Mediterranean world go unremarked. This is regrettable, though partly understandable, owing to the relative paucity of evidence and the fact that surviving literary and documentary evidence exists in multiple oriental languages. Even so, from the age explored in this book, Christianity enters into the history of a great many civilisations around the world and treatment of these communities in this early epoch helps set the stage for the treatment of 'world Christianity' in subsequent volumes.

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