Category Archives: Early Church History

#336 – A History of the Catholic Church – In This Sign

archofconstantine

In the East, Galerius dies and the Meletian Schism comes to Alexandria. In the West, Constantine become the Master of Rome.

Links:

Image of Chi-Rho according to Eusebius, the image seen by Constantine

Image of Staurogram – according to Lactantius, the image seen by Constantine

Image: From the Arch of Constantine Depiction of Constantine’s victory at Battle of the Milvian Bridge by Luk Constantyna

Bill Leadbetter, “Constantine and the Bishops: The Roman Church in the Early Fourth Century”, The Journal of Religious History, Vol. 26, No. 1, February 2002

R. Williams, “Arius and the Meletian Schism”, The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1, April 1986, pp. 35-52.

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#336 – A History of the Catholic Church – In This Sign

#335 – A History of the Catholic Church – Tetrarchs and Traditors

trierbasilica

The Imperial Tetrarchy runs into problems with the rise of Constantine and Maxentius, each of whom will look to the Christians to support them against rivals. However, the Church has its own problems as both Rome and Carthage struggle to deal with the effects of the Persecutions and the Donatists come on to the scene.

Links:

Image: reproduction of Constantine’s basilica at Trier.

Coin of Constantine with Sol Invictus

Map of provinces of Roman Empire. In North Africa, you can see province of Proconsularis Africa that supported Caecelian and provinces of Numidia that supported Majorinus.

Maps of territory held by the different Tetrarchs

T. D. Barnes, “The Beginnings of Donatism”, The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, April 1975, pp. 13-22.

Alan Dearn, “The Abitinian Martys and the Outbreak of the Donatist Schism”, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 55, No. 1, January 2004, pp. 1-18.

Peter Iver Kaufman, “Donatism Revisited: Moderates and Militants in Late Antique North Africa”, Journal of Late Antiquity, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2009, pp. 131-142.

Robert Wisniewski, “Lucilla and the Bone: Remarks on an Early Testimony to the Cult of Relics”, Journal of Late Antiquity, 4.1, Spring 20011, pp. 157-161.

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#335 – A History of the Catholic Church – Tetrarchs and Traditors

#334 – A History of the Catholic Church – Martyrs and Apostates

imageofchristbetweenpeterandpaul

The Great Persecution also effected the Western half of the Roman Empire. While the territory of Constantius Chlorus was only mildly affected, the Christians of Italy and North Africa faced a more difficult situation. Some Christians chose death over submission to the Imperial authorities. Other Christians will abandon their faith in order to preserve their lives. One of those might have been the bishop of Rome Marcellinus. However, as serious as the persecutions were, they won’t keep bishops from meeting at the important Council of Elvira and laying down important future laws for the Church.

Links:

Image: 4th century icon of Christ between Peter and Paul. At the bottom of the icon are images of various Roman martyrs.

Canons of the Council of Elvira

Maureen A. Tilley, Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996.

Robert Grigg, Aniconic Worship and the Apologetic Tradition: A Note on Canon 36 of the Council of Elvira, Church History, vol 45, no. 4, December 1976, 428-433

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#334 – A History of the Catholic Church – Martyrs and Apostates

#333 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Impious On Earth

martyrsofnicomedia

The Great Persecution begins in the Roman Empire as the Imperial Government throws its weight against the Christians. This week: the initial persecution in the Eastern Half of the Empire.

Links:

Image: Icon of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

Chronological list of saints in the 4th century

List of Christians martyred under Diocletian

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#333 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Impious on Earth

#332 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Illuminator And The Emperor

gregorytheilluminator

Continuing our history of the conversion of Armenia, we look at the religious and political reasons that motivate that country’s shift from paganism to Christianity. We begin our movement into the Great Persecution with a look at Diocletian’s desire to promote devotion to the Roman gods and his persecution of the Manicheans.

Links:

Image: Image of Gregory the Illuminator

See last episode for links on Armenia

Map of the spread of Christianity by 300 AD

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#332 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Illuminator And The Emperor

#331 -A History of the Catholic Church – Marked With The Seal

saintmaurice

In the years prior to the outbreak of the Great Persecution, the martyrdoms of the Theban Legion and Saint Maurice, Saint Maximilian, and Saint Marcellus demonstrated that it was difficult for the Christian soldiers to serve both Christ and the Emperor. In this episode, we also begin our look at how Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity.

Links:

Image: Saint Maurice by Matthias Grünewald

Donald F. O’Reilly, The Theban Legion of St. Maurice, Vigiliae Christianae, 32, 1978, 195-207

The Passion of St. Maximilian of Tebessa

David Woods – The Origin of the Cult of St. Maximilian of Tebessa

The Passion of St. Marcellus of Tingis

Agathangelos – History of St. Gregory and the Conversion of Armenia

Saint Gregory the Illuminator

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#331 – A History of the Catholic Church – Marked With The Seal

#330 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Thundering Legion

thunderinglegion

The ascension of Diocletian as Emperor brought with it significant changes in the political structure of the Roman Empire – changes that would affect the nature and structure of the Church as well. Christians will wrestle over whether service in the Roman Army is acceptable.

Links:

Image: Image of the Thundering Legion from the Column of Marcus Aurelius by Cristiano64

Eusebius on the Thundering Legion

John Helgeland, “Christians and the Roman Army A.D. 173-337”, Church History, Vol. 43, No. 2, June 1974, pp. 149-163

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#330 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Thundering Legion

#329 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Manifestation Of Our Lord

solinvictus

The History of Religions and the Chronology Theory attempt to explain why Christians in the Roman Empire began to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th and whether there is a relationship between the celebration of the birth of Christ and the pagan celebration of the birth of Sol Invictus. The origins of Christmas and Epiphany are somewhat murky, but do shed light on the life of early Christians.

Links:

Image: Image of the Adoration of the Magi from 4th century sarcophagus

History of Religions Theory presented by Joseph F. Kelly in “The Birth of Christmas”

The Calculation Theory presented by Andrew McGowan in “How December 25 Became Christmas”.

Pope Benedict presents his support of the Calculation Theory in “The Spirit of the Liturgy” pp. 107-109.

Kurt Simmons in The Origins of Christmas and the Date of Christ’s Birth argues against both the History of Religions and Calculation theories – instead asserting that Biblical and historical evidence show likelihood of 25th of December date for Christ’s birth.

Susan K. Roll, “Towards the Origins of Christmas”, 1995.

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#329 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Manifestation of our Lord

#328 – A History of the Catholic Church – Sol Invictus

solinvictus

As Christianity expanded and developed in the Roman Empire it would use pagan images and symbols to express Christian theology – Christ as the Good Shepherd, Christ as the Philosopher, Christ as the Unconquered Sun. But the Christians did not simply adopt these images, they gave to them particularly Christian meanings to show how the message of Christ was different that anything that had ever happened before.

Links:

Image: Image of Christ as Sol Invictus in the Tomb of the Julii

Via Saleria Sarcophagus showing Christ as the Philosopher and as the Good Shepherd

Sarcophagus showing Jesus Christ as philosopher raising Lazarus from the dead

Coin of Vespasian with image of Sol

Coin of Caracalla with image of Sol Invictus

Coin of Aurelian with image of Sol Invictus

Coin of Probus with image of Sol Invictus

Image of Apollo riding chariot at Orbe Bosceaz, Switzerland

More information about the Tomb of the Julii/Mausoleum M and Saint Peter’s Basilica – including map of the necropolis

Sarcophagus of La Gayole

Steven Hijmans – “Christ or Sol in Mausoleum M of the Vatican Necropolis?”

Robin M Jensen, “Towards a Christian Material Culture”, The Cambridge History of Christianity: Origins to Constantine, Vol 1, New York: Cambridge, 2006, pp. 568-589.

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#328 – A History of the Catholic Church – Sol Invictus

#327 – A History of the Catholic Church – Holding Festival In Our Whole Life

oxyrhynchushymn

Music occupied an important place in the life of the Early Church. Good music moved the Christian closer to God, whereas bad music led the Christian astray. Some musical instruments were praised, others were condemned. There was no part of the Christian life that music did not touch.

Links:

Image: Section of the Oxyrhynchus Hymn

An example of ancient Greek music in a Chromatic scale

A presentation on ancient Greek music in the Enharmonic scale and Dorian mode

An example of ancient Greek music in an Enharmonic scale

An example of the Greek Aulos/Auloi instrument

The Oxyrhynchus Hymn as it might have sounded

The Phos Hilaron Hymn

W. J. Holleman, “The Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1786 and the Relationship Between Ancient Greek and Early Christian Music”, Vigiliae Christianae 26, 1972, 1-17.

Christopher Page, The Christian West and its Singers: The First Thousand Years, Yale University Press, Yale, 2010.

Kristen L. Southworth, Music in Early Christianity and Its Cultural-Historical Context

Calvin R. Stapert, A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church, William , Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2007.

David VanBrugge, An Analysis of the Ancient Church Fathers on Instrumental Music

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Check out the other great Catholic podcasts at the Starquest Production Network

To listen, just click on the link below:
#327 – A History of the Catholic Church – Holding Festival In Our Whole Life

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