The turmoil, both physical and mental, which the Roman Empire underwent during the chaotic third century, resulted in a Greco-Roman culture which was essentially exhausted. For a thousand years this culture had spread itself over the Mediterranean world in roughly the same recognizable architecture, law, art and religion. By the end of Diocletian's reign in the opening years of the fourth century, the pagan world had collapsed into the arms of a multicultural religious movement which had spread from the eastern Mediterranean. These were the "mystery religions" which had been in competition with one another for a century.
By the time of Constantine, they had spread everywhere within the empire. But one of these religions, Christianity, was chosen by the young emperor. His decision changed the course of history. By putting the bureaucratic weight of the empire behind the Christian church, Constantine brought the new religion into prominence. He gave it the breathing spell it needed to vanquish its rivals and establish its political dominance. But hardly had Constantine's proclamation been made before the new religion began to tear itself apart in a series of recriminations and heresies.
Listen and learn how Constantine guided this new force and placed his personal imprimatur on Christianity for all time.
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