Miguel Espinal Western Civilizations 101 4/24/13 Assignment-Ch.

#6/The Transformation of Rome

1. Summarize early Christianity in Rome. Christians did not hold such a dominant place in the first few centuries. They were not the majority, and held little real power in society until Constantine's reign (312-337 CE) at the earliest. They lived instead on the margins, first as varieties within early Judaism with apocalyptic and messianic emphases, and then, thanks to the missionary work of Paul and others, as small communities in many cities scattered throughout the Empire. The urban profile of early Christianity grew in the first centuries, and it is within the cities of the Roman Empire that Christianity experienced much of its early growth and where it was called upon to respond to societal needs. 2. Discuss the ways that Christianity changed after it became a legal religion. The Romans tried to beat down Christianity but failed. By the fourth century Christianity becomes the state religion and by the end of the fourth century it is illegal to do any form of public worship other than Christianity in the entire Roman Empire. There is a great mystery in how this happened -- how such an extraordinary reversal, that begins with Jesus who is executed by the Romans as a public criminal, as a threat to the social order, and somehow we wind up three centuries later with Jesus being hailed as a God, as part of the one, true

God who is the God of the new Christian Roman Empire. There is a remarkable progress, a remarkable development in the course of three centuries. ... It's hard to understand exactly how it happened or why it happened, but it is important to realize that we have a progression and a set of developments, and that Christianity by the fourth century is not the same as the Christianity that we see in the first or even the second. 3. Describe how three emperors discussed in the lecture, dealt with Christianity and Christians. Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against them. It was not until the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution. When Gallienus acceded in 260, he issued the first imperial edict regarding tolerance toward Christians, leading to nearly 40 years of peaceful coexistence. Diocletian's accession in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of disregard to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. 4. Why do you believe Constantine built a new capital? Why do you believe he chose that location? He came to the conclusion that Rome had ceased to be a practical capital for the empire from which the emperor could exact effective control over its frontiers. Constantine built his new capital because of its strategic location. The Western part of the empire was becoming militarily vulnerable and he wanted the

capital to be in a safer part of the empire. The western part of the empire was becoming populated more and more by tribes who were less "Roman" than the inhabitants of the eastern part of the empire and so an eastern location was preferable. Finally, the eastern part of the empire was wealthier and locating the capital there would allow better administration and military protection of the best part of the empire. 5. Summarize Rome’s decline. The split into an eastern and western empire governed by separate emperors caused Rome to fall. The eastern half became the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople (modern Istanbul). The western half remained centered in Italy. Many say the Fall of Rome was an ongoing process, lasting more than a century. Since Rome still exists, it is argued that it never fell. Some prefer to say that Rome adapted rather than fell. 6. What role did women play in the early Church? Why did the role change? In the early days of Christianity shortly after Jesus death, women had an active role in his arrangement of things, after which women played a significant part in spreading Christianity. Along with men, they preached to others about God’s Kingdom and did things related to that work. What seems to happen within the first few centuries is that whatever limited activities women might have had in the beginning begins to get curtailed as you have the development of a hierarchy of clergy members with bishops, presbyters and deacons, and it's pretty firmly established that women should not be either bishops or priests. Many church fathers write about this. So women tend to get excluded from those functions,

though they do have some roles, such as joining a group called the widows or deaconesses in the fourth century. We have good evidence of an order of deaconesses, but they are excluded from the priesthood. From about the end of the second century though, whatever roles women may have had earlier, leaders of the church were beginning to clarify the fact that women should have no official position in the church as they were establishing it.

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