Ancient History & Civilisation

8

Conversion to Christianity and the Politics of Religious Identity

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Conversion in the fourth century

312–25

The impact of Constantine's conversion

332–63

The life and religious convictions of Julian

354–97

The conversion of Augustine

324–553

Politics and Christianity: Bishops and bishoprics

324–553

Politics and Christianity: Christian identities

c.300–450

Novatians

c.312–30

Melitians

c.312–411

African Christianity, the Donatists

319–81

The Arian controversy, the Council of Nicaea (325), and the career of Athanasius

381

The Council of Constantinople

428–31

Nestorius, Cyril of Alexandria, and the first Council of Ephesus

449–51

The Robber Council of Ephesus and the Council of Chalcedon

c.450–550

The Monophysite schism in Syria and Egypt

482

The Henotikon of Zeno

484–518

The Acacian schism splits the western and eastern churches

527–53

The religious policies of Justinian

Three Conversions and their Consequences

Christians in the fourth century and throughout late antiquity were confident of their ability to absorb pagan traditions, and triumphantly aware that the tide of religious change was flooding in their direction. The period as a whole may be seen through Christian sources as a vast collective narrative of conversion, comprising innumerable episodes which fitted into this large picture. Two accounts loom large in the historiography, from each end of the fourth century; the conversion of the emperor Constantine, and the conversion of St Augustine. These have done more than anything else to shape perceptions of the phenomenon. They are counterbalanced by an equally famous conversion in the other direction, that of the emperor Julian.

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