- Oct 2018
"Luck" is certainly an arguable factor. If Christianity had not been adopted by Constantine, the Bible may not have survived to the present day.
This was a privileged class. Noel Lenski (2008: Constantine, in Barrett (ed.), Lives of the Caesars, Malden MA, Oxford & Carlton, Victoria, 255-279) 274: ‘…Constantine began privileging the Christian church within months of defeating Maxentius by granting exemptions from mandatory service to clergy, by calling two councils to examine the Donatist dispute, and by pushing for freedom of worship and the restitution of properties confiscated during the Great Persecution. His grant of revenues from imperial domains to Roman and African churches in the months after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge was eventually extended across the empire. This amounted to imperial financing for Christianity, making it into something of an official religion. Constantine took further steps down this road, beginning in the mid-310s, when he granted authority to bishops formally to manumit slaves and to adjudicate civil suits. The combination of these powers and privileges turned bishops into an elite, which, by the end of the fourth century, had come to dominate local government and even to play a significant role in politics at the imperial level.’ With such measures, Constantine had made being a bishop appealing to the aristocratic elite. Within a few decades the elite dominated the clergy.