|Welcome to TRS 220: All you ever wanted to know about the History of the Western Church. I will post notices on this Bulletin Board to supplement or to repeat email messages you will receive. KP||
Cathedral of Amalfi (Italy)
A model Answer for the First Quiz.
No one in the class covered all the points in this answer, but if you covered most of them you got a 10. KP
Constantine I, Emperor of the Roman Empire
He won the legendary Battle of Melvian Bridge in 312 after which he issued the Edict of Toleration (also known as the Edict of Milan) in 313, making it no longer illegal to be a Christian. This is significant because Christianity had been outlawed previously and Christians had been persecuted under the Emperors Nero and Diocletian. The Edict of Toleration allowed Christianity to be practiced freely and publicly, beginning to create the conditions for its expansion.
He erected churches. This is significant because these are the first public buildings for Christian worship that were allowed to be erected. That said, these were located on the outer edge of Rome owing to Rome's strong pagan culture. In Rome, they were also modeled on the "basilica" style of Roman courts and market places. This is significant because, once again, it points to the close link between the Church and the pre-existing Roman culture.
He created a second capitol for the Roman Empire in the city of Byzantium in the East, which he renamed "Constantinople," and which he created as a Christian capitol. This is significant for several reasons. First, it represents a move away from the old pagan senatorial power of Rome and creates a locus of political power elsewhere in the empire. Second, it locates this new center of power in the East, where Christianity was stronger and more widespread. Third, one may draw a connection between this new locus of power and disputes in the Church about the role of the Bishop of Rome (the pope). Upon Constantine's moving of the capitol, the bishop there was elevated to a patriarch, and the increasing importance of the Patriarch of Constantinople led to disputes over the jurisdictional role of the Bishop of Rome in the universal Church, even though the Patriarch of Constantinople granted the pope's honorific primacy.
He called the First Council of Nicea. This is also significant for several reasons. First of all, it was the first ecumenical council and inaugurated a period of ecumenical councils that were very significant in the life of the Church in the first millennium. Second, it addressed doctrinal and disciplinary issues that were important for the Church at that time, specifically concerning the Arian heresy and regulations applicable to the clergy. Third, it promulgated the Nicene Creed, which formed the basis for the creed still used today in Christian Churches. Fourth, it witnessed to the growing distance between East and West insofar as it was located in the East and Pope Sylvester was absent. Fifth, it illustrated the concept of caesaropapism, insofar as the secular ruler exercised authority in ecclesiastical affairs.
Check mark: Good point
"X" : Incorrect point
Squiggly line: Dubious or unclear point