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Click here to see 1,000 archaeology/ancient history books and 2,000 ancient artifacts, antique gemstones, antique jewelry! Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Paperback. Publisher: IVP Academic (2010). Pages: 373. Size: 9x6 inches. Peter Leithart weighs what we've been taught about Constantine and claims that in focusing on these historical mirages we have failed to notice the true significance of Constantine and Rome baptized. He reveals how beneath the surface of this contested story there lies a deeper narrative--a tectonic shift in the political theology of an empire--with far-reaching implications. We know that Constantine: issued the Edict of Milan in 313; outlawed paganism and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire; manipulated the Council of Nicea in 325; exercised absolute authority over the church, co-opting it for the aims of empire. And if Constantine the emperor were not problem enough, we all know that Constantinianism has been very bad for the church. Or do we know these things? Peter Leithart weighs these claims and finds them wanting. And what's more, in focusing on these historical mirages we have failed to notice the true significance of Constantine and Rome baptized. For beneath the surface of this contested story there emerges a deeper narrative of the end of Roman sacrifice--a tectonic shift in the political theology of an empire--and with far-reaching implications. In this probing and informative book Peter Leithart examines the real Constantine, weighs the charges against Constantinianism, and sets the terms for a new conversation about this pivotal emperor and the Christendom that emerged. CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. IVP Academic (2010) 373 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 14 days! #8358a. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Peter J. Leithart (PhD, University of Cambridge) is president of Theopolis Institute and an adjunct senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. He is the author of many books including Defending Constantine, Traces of the Trinity and Gratitude: An Intellectual History. He is a blog writer and columnist for, and he has published articles in many periodicals, both popular and academic. Ordained in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), Leithart pastored Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church (now Trinity Presbyterian Church) in Birmingham, Alabama, and Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho. He and his wife Noel have ten children and seven grandchildren. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: Peter Leithart is that rare and wonderful kind of theologian so engaged with the theological tradition of the church catholic that he lives and breathes it--and trusts it matters--yet is intellectually curious and skeptical enough not to accept inaccurate and prejudiced historical caricatures at face value. He believes that the "historical stories we tell contribute a great deal to our theology and practice as Christians, so a distorted view of Constantine and the civilization that followed him is bound to produce distortions elsewhere" Leithart believes many if not most theologians in the present era do indeed have a distorted view of Constantine, and although this applies to much of the constructive and historical work done in the field (and so also preached from our pulpits) it is especially instantiated in the work of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder and Duke ethicist Stanley Hauerwas. Given the growing and substantial influence of these two theologians, and especially given their constant references to Constantinianism as the bogey man, clear thinking about Constantine and his influence is essential. For the sake of full disclosure, readers of reviews in Word & World may know that I have written positive reviews of two very Yoderian and Hauerwasian books by Craig Carter in these pages. Both books Leithart takes issue with because they develop their arguments based on the historical inaccuracies that undergird the theology of Yoder and his epigones. Unlike Leithart, I have simply taken the received wisdom concerning Constantine's (supposedly negative) influence on Christendom at face value. I am chastened and challenged by the scholarship of Leithart. Here are some of the questions Leithart raises: What if a majority of the received wisdom concerning Constantine and his legacy is wrong? What if the concept--Constantinianism--is premised on inaccurate interpretations of the historical record? And the most troubling question of all--what if some of the most enduring and influential constructive theologies of the last century, including such luminaries as Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder, have been constructed on this damnably false edifice? What if, in the end, all of these problems come down to a misunderstanding of baptism? It is not surprising that Leithart, a strong proponent of infant baptism, would take issue with Yoder, a Mennonite, on the topic of baptism. What is surprising is that the paedobaptist/Anabaptist debate pertains to discussions concerning Constantine. And yet it does. "In the end it all comes round to baptism, specifically to infant baptism... Christian Rome was in its infancy, but that was hardly surprising. All baptisms are infant baptisms... Yoder failed... to give due weight to `the interim, the interval between the remission of sins which takes place in baptism, and the permanently established sinless state in the kingdom that is to come, this middle time of prayer, while [we] pray, `Forgive us our sins.'' He failed to acknowledge that all--Constantine, Rome, and ourselves--stand in medial time, and yet are no less Christian for that" Leithart considers Constantine a Christian--fallen, immature in faith in his early years, paradoxical--but a Christian nonetheless. Out of that operative assumption, he finds Constantine and his reign generative for a whole theology as a social science (11). "I have found that, far from representing a fall for the church, Constantine provides in many respects a model for Christian political practice. At the very least, his reign provides rich material for reflection on a whole series of perennial political-theological questions: about religious toleration and coercion, about the legitimacy of Christian involvement in political life, about a Christian ruler's relationship to the church, about how Christianity influence civil law, about the propriety of violent coercion, about the legitimacy of empire". This book is full of surprises. For example, I had not expected to have my thinking about the relationship between the theology of baptism and political theology reinvigorated. But even more stunning, whereas most Christian theology considers the end of sacrifice accomplished by Christ and effected through the practices of early synagogues in Babylonian captivity in absence of a temple, Leithart draws attention to Constantine as perhaps the greatest figure (after Christ) who brought about the end of sacrifice. First, Leithart notes that "Romans sacrifice Christians to protect Rome by fending off the unthinkable prospect of the end of sacrifice" (27). Leithart understands the phenomenon of martyrdom under Roman rule to be the logical corollary of Rome's sacrificial practices, as well as its defense mechanism for the same. "Constantine's victory marked the end of the entire system of the Tetarchy and the beginning of a new political theology. The change showed itself almost immediately. The rules of the triumph required Constantine to enter the Capitolium and offer sacrifice to Jupiter; Constantine refused. Diocletian's empire was built on sacrifice, his persecutions inspired by a failed sacrifice. As soon as he defeated Maxentius, Constantine made it clear that a new political theology was coming to be, a political theology without sacrifice. It was a signal of the `opposition to sacrifice' that he would hold to `consistently for the rest of his life'" (66-67). Furthermore, his future legislation created an atmosphere where sacrifice, as it were, faded away (129). As they say, "I did not know that!" We learn from Leithart that the U.S. Senate does not begin its sessions by slaughtering a goat, perhaps primarily because Constantine brought an end to such practices. So thank you, Constantine. John Howard Yoder is widely recognized as one of the greatest apologists for radical Christian pacifism. Leithart's most significant theological contribution in this book is to vitiate Yoder's historical claims and the force of those claims for his apology. "Yoder claims that the church slid or fell into Constantinianism from an earlier renunciation of violence and war. In fact, things are more messy and complicated, and therefore Yoder is wrong... in short, the story of the church and war is ambiguity before Constantine, ambiguity after, ambiguity right to the present. Constantine is in this respect a far lesser figure than Yoder wants to make him". Leithart achieves the goal he sets for himself of writing a book of Christian political thought that attends to the "gritty realities of history" (29). Really, this book should be required reading for anyone who has read anything by John Howard Yoder or Stanley Hauerwas, anyone who has tossed the concept of Constantiniasm into the fray in a theological conversation, or anyone who would like to think clearly about what a robust and baptized political theology might look like in a new era of empire. It also helps that Leithart is polemical, authentic, and at times witty. Consider this sentence, "Yoder's Augustine is so far from the real Augustine that it is difficult to find a response beyond pointing to a copy of City of God with the exhortation Tolle lege" (287). Or this one, tossed into the middle of the book. "Constantine was not just a Christian; he was a missional Christian!" (88) I imagine Leithart may be able to claim to be the first person to write a book on missional Constantinianism. Maybe they should have thrown "missional" into the sub-title to sell more copy! The destruction of Osama bin Laden underlines how many U.S. church voices, even since 9/11, have adamently insisted that Christianity demands pacifism. REVIEW: Much of the Evangelical Left, so influential on Christian college campuses and increasingly prominent in Washington, D.C., relies on neo-Anabaptist beliefs. Sojourners activist Jim Wallis, who last week launched a crusade against “cuts” in the 2012 federal budget, adheres partly to this tradition. These neo-Anabaptists demand total pacifism and reject the military. Unlike traditional Anabaptists, they are not separatists, and many exuberantly advocate Big Government control over medical care, food, energy, and virtually all of life. The godfather of sorts for these disjointed neo-Anabaptists was the late Mennonite theologian and Notre Dame professor John Howard Yoder. He joined most Anabaptists in assuming that Christianity was massively corrupted by 4th century Roman Emperor Constantine’s embrace of Christianity. The resulting Christendom created over 1,600 years of wars and oppression ostensibly in the name of Christ. Constantine famously professed Christianity after winning a military battle before which a cross had appeared to him in the sky. His conversion largely ended Rome’s persecution of Christians and facilitated Christianity’s eventually becoming the majority faith for the West. Constantine is often derided as a brute who usurped the church to enhance his own rule over the empire. His critics note that that he governed and waged war bloodily like all such emperors, and that he purportedly executed his wife and son. The more extreme conspiracists, echoing the Da Vinci Code‘s fiction, accuse Constantine of imposing theological orthodoxy, even Christ’s divinity, upon an obedient Council of Nicaea. Anabaptists typically fault him for turning previously pacifist Christians into willing soldiers for Rome and all subsequent empires. The neo-Anabaptists are most distressed by Christians who support today’s American “empire.” In response, Presbyterian theologian Peter Leithart has penned a very important book, "Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom". He not only competently restores Constantine’s reputation but also thoughtfully and polemically rebuts the Anabaptists, specifically including John Howard Yoder. A senior fellow at new Saint Andrew College in wonderfully named Moscow, Idaho, Leithart argues that Constantine’s conversion was sincere, that his legalization of Christianity was a tremendous relief to the persecuted church, that his Christian inspired legal reforms ameliorated some of Rome’s pagan savagery, that he respected the church’s autonomy, and that he desacralized the empire and began the end of all civic pagan burnt offerings once so universal. Leithart also persuasively disputes that the early church was decisively pacifist. Despite Anabaptist claims, especially by Yoder, there simply is not sufficient evidence to show the early church had ratified a teaching on military force. Leithart points to the usual New Testament examples of Jesus and His apostles not objecting to force by civil authorities. He also describes the pagan sacrifices once required within the Roman military, probably enhanced in reaction to Christianity’s growth, and which prohibited service by Christians who otherwise did not object to legitimate force. Constantine’s abolition of state-imposed pagan sacrifices removed this barrier for Christian military service. Leithart’s book is not an unqualified ode to Constantine. He admits that much of Roman law remained brutal, and Constantine was sincere in faith though still inexact in theology and often savagely politically ambitious, like any successful emperor. Constantine was hardly the “thirteenth apostle,” as some eastern Christians later portrayed him in their icons. And his main contemporary biographer and apologist, Eusebius, was not flawless, though neither was he merely a propagandist. Leithart thinks Christians of the time were understandably grateful and fulsome in praise for their patron and emperor, who delivered them from centuries of routine persecution and martyrdoms. Leithart also suggests that the ostensible execution of Constantine’s wife and son, reputedly in punishment for a tryst between the son and his step-mother, may in fact have been self-induced. The son supposedly died by poisoning, while the wife ostensibly was boiled to death in her bath, possibly, Leithart proposes, while trying to induce an abortion. Even if they were executed, incestuous and treasonous adultery would have demanded the penalty by standards of that day. Constantine created a new system of sort of religious liberty, in which pagans continued to worship their deities, but without state patronage. The emperor often cited God vaguely enough to incorporate Christians and pagans, creating a new form of civil religion, even while he himself lavished personal patronage on the church and granted bishops some juridical authority. This new civil arrangement, Leithart argues, created a relatively coherent form of mostly harmonious civil arrangement corrupted by later emperors who more assertively suppressed paganism. Still, he credits Constantine for ending nearly once and for all the system of ritual sacrifices so central to virtually every society. The suppression of sacrifices has thankfully persisted to this day, Leithart notes. But he qualifies his thanks by noting that the modern era’s nihilism, embodied in genocidal totalitarianism, arguably opened a new form of terrible state-imposed sacrifice. Leithart is respectful of Yoder while amply illustrating that much of Yoder’s version of history was superficial when not completely false. Even Yoder’s main disciple, Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, favorably reviewed Defending Constantine for Christian Century. “Leithart’s fundamental criticism of Yoder is that he betrayed his own best insights when he denied the possibility that by God’s grace emperors (or whoever is the functional equivalent, such as “the people”) might receive a vision sufficient to make them Christian,” Hauerwas wrote. “That is a point that I think Yoder would find worth considering.” That God can use armed rulers to achieve His purposes is hardly a profound discovery about omnipotent Divine Providence. But it’s still an assertion that befuddles many of Yoder’s followers. Oddly, many neo-Anabaptists of today’s Evangelical Left, Jim Wallis above all, vigorously assert that the coercive, modern welfare and regulatory state are God’s chief instruments for His justice. Leithart does not directly address their claims, and somebody else will have to write that book. But Defending Constantine more than adequately explains that a Roman Emperor’s conversion, even amid the squalor and brutality that characterized that age and every age, did overall bolster the church and humanity with it. [The American Spectator]. REVIEW: Leithart (Deep Exegesis), a pastor who teaches at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho, takes aim at the received wisdom that Constantine's establishment of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire was a political co-optation that made the church the creature and justification of the imperial state. He reads the original ancient, the seminal secondary, and lots of other sources to contend that Constantine was a believer and a conciliator who sought theological agreement for the political stability it brought. Contra the influential interpretation of Anabaptist theologian John Howard Yoder, Leithart maintains that when Constantine is understood in historical context, his disestablishment of pagan religion opens a place for a Christian understanding of sacrifice and of the significance of the kingdom of God. His provocative view deserves examination. Besides his peers, general readers with a close knowledge of early church history will appreciate his well-supported argument, and anybody whose understanding of early church history comes from The Da Vinci Code needs to read this. REVIEW: There have been of late a splurge of populist history books damning Constantine the Great as the villain of the piece. Almost without exception they have drawn their picture of this most complex and complicated of late-antique Roman emperors from secondhand, clichéd and hackneyed books of an older generation, adding their own clichés in the process. Constantine has been sketched luridly, as the man who corrupted Christianity either by financial or military means. At long last we have here, in Peter Leithart, a writer who knows how to tell a lively story but is also no mean shakes as a scholarly historian. This intelligent and sensitive treatment of one of the great military emperors of Rome is a trustworthy entrée into Roman history that loses none of the romance and rambunctiousness of the events of the era of the civil war, but which also explains why Constantine matters: why he was important to the ancient world, why he matters to the development of Christianity (a catalyst in its movement from small sect to world-embracing cultural force). It does not whitewash or damn on the basis of a preset ideology, but it certainly does explain why Constantine gained from the Christians the epithet 'The Great.' For setting the record straight, and for providing a sense of the complicated lay of the land, this book comes most highly recommended. [John A. McGuckin, Columbia University]. REVIEW: This book is a must read for anyone assaying to deal with Constantine in the foreseeable future; it is a valuable correction of the tendentious views that frame the first Christian emperor. Leithart’s work is a welcome contribution to Constantine scholarship and should find its place in responsible library collections. Scholars will want to get their own copy, and many classes will be enriched by the addition of this book to the list of required readings. [James R. Payton, Jr., Calvin Theological Journal]. REVIEW: Many evangelicals view the fourth-century conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine as an unfortunate chapter in church history, one that sabotaged the purity of the early church and ushered in the corrupt Middle Ages. Peter J. Leithart believes this version of church history is a myth. In “Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom” (IVP Academic), Leithart shows that the early church was not as united as we think, nor was Constantine the villain many have made him out to be. Along the way, Leithart teases out contemporary implications regarding the church’s role in the world, implications that distance him from scholars like John Howard Yoder. “Defending Constantine” could have been called Dismantling Yoder, for although Leithart’s primary purpose is to vindicate Constantine, he devotes significant effort to pointing out the cracks in Yoder’s Anabaptist perspective on Christendom. “Defending Constantine” begins as a biography. Leithart argues that the emperor was a sincere believer who transformed the empire by proclaiming “the end of sacrifice.” Citizens of Rome once expressed their support for the empire’s civic religion by making offerings to the city’s deities. In contrast, Constantine’s newfound Christianity insisted upon the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Leithart does not portray Constantine as a power-hungry leader who adopted Christianity for political gain, as some have. Nor is he the saint (or apostle!) some ancient Christians thought him to be. Instead, we see a complex individual who gave preferential treatment to Christians without dominating church councils. At times, Leithart’s sketch of Constantine is overly sympathetic, a portrayal challenged by the emperor’s hatred for the Jews and his murder of his wife and son. While Leithart notes these unflattering incidents, he is unable to find a place for them in his overall portrait that makes sense of the man. The greatest strength of Leithart’s proposal comes later in the book, when he demonstrates how Anabaptist thinkers like Yoder oversimplify the issues surrounding Constantine’s reign. By showing, for example, that the early church was not universally pacifistic, Leithart casts doubt on Yoder’s insistence that the so-called uniform non-violence of the early church should be the norm today. Interestingly enough, Leithart agrees with Yoder’s critique of Constantinianism: It is indeed a heresy that seeks efficiency instead of faithfulness to Christ. The difference is that Leithart does not believe we should name this heresy after Constantine. Instead, we should recognize the great debt we owe to Constantine for “desacrificing” Rome and thus allowing Christians to worship without fear of retribution. “Defending Constantine” demonstrates the enduring relevance of the “Constantinian moment” of the fourth century. While recent scholarship has focused mainly on the negative results, Leithart swings the pendulum back, reminding us of all the good that God brought from this contested period of history. [Trevin Wax, Christianity Today]. REVIEW: Too many people, for far too long, have been able to murmur the awful word Constantine, knowing that the shudder it produces will absolve them from the need to think through how the church and the powers of the world actually relate, let alone construct a coherent historical or theological argument on the subject. Peter Leithart challenges all this, and forces us to face the question of what Constantine's settlement actually was, and meant. Few will agree with everything he says. All will benefit enormously from this challenge to easygoing received 'wisdom.' [N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews, Scotland]. REVIEW: An excellent writer with a flair for the dramatic, Peter Leithart is also one of the most incisive current thinkers on questions of theology and politics. In this book, Leithart helpfully complicates Christian history, and thereby helps theologians recover the riches of more than a millennium of Christian life too easily dismissed as 'Constantinian.' If the Holy Spirit did not simply go on holiday during that period, we must find ways to appreciate Christendom. Any worthwhile political theology today cannot fail to take Leithart's argument seriously. [William T. Cavanaugh, Research Professor, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University, Chicago]. REVIEW: For a generation that thinks it approves of those who challenge the conventional wisdom, it can come as quite a shock when someone actually does it. In this book, Peter Leithart takes up the daunting challenge of defending Constantine, and he does it with biblical grace, deep wisdom, profound learning and scholarship that has let the clutch out. This is a magnificent book. [Douglas Wilson, senior fellow of theology, New Saint Andrews College]. REVIEW: In “Defending Constantine” Leithart has done the historian, theologian, church leader, and layman a great service by providing an enjoyably readable historical-theological-conceptual look at this critical era of church history. [Michael Philliber, Touchstone]. REVIEW: This work should serve as a welcome redress of the often one-sided debate regarding Constantine and Constantinianism. [Britton W. Norvell, Restoration Quarterly]. REVIEW: Leithart has written an important book that does more than help us to better understand the complex human being who bore the name of Constantine. . . As a pacifist I could not want a better conversation partner than Peter Leithart. [Stanley Hauerwas, Christian Century]. REVIEW: This erudite work will be of interest to academic seminarians and theologians, as well as those seeking a historically sound Christian interpretation of Constantine. [Matthew Connor Sullivan, Library Journal]. REVIEW: Here is an excellent scholarly and fair treatment of Constantine. [Christian News]. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Peter Leithart's latest book, "Defending Constantine," should, in my opinion, be considered THE Christian Book of the Year. "Defending Constantine" is a stunning work of scholarship on a closely related collection of issues that are among the most important in Christianity: the life of Constantine, the meaning of Constantinianism, and the radical transformation of the world that took place while he was Emperor. Leithart's work is especially impressive because he has taken on a host of scholars who have so thoroughly denigrated Constantine and "Constantinianism" that it is a truism among most Christians that Constantine was bad for the church and still is. In this scholarly contest, Leithart clearly has proven himself to be the more careful and insightful scholar. It is a work that particularly appeals to me as an Anglican priest, school teacher, and professor of Religious Studies, but it should also be read by every thinking Christian. Despite the lofty themes Leithart tackles, he writes in wonderfully clear English prose. If you read one book on Christian history, Christianity and politics, or Christianity and culture this - this book should be the one: it's THAT good! Don't let the academic topic of the book fool you: this book has radical implications for every thinking Christian and every church. "Constantine," as Leithart reminds us, "has been a whipping boy for a long time, and still is today." His name is identified with tyranny, anti-Semitism, hypocrisy, apostasy, and heresy. While experts in the field of early Christianity now believe that Constantine was a genuine Christian who earnestly tried to apply his faith to his role as Emperor, many other scholars and laymen incorrectly continue to claim otherwise. In "Defending Constantine," Leithart audaciously sets out to redeem the reputation of both Constantine and Constantinianism. In both of these tasks, Leithart succeeds admirably. He defines his tasks, more specifically, as being four-fold: to write a life of Constantine, to rebut the popular caricatures of Constantine, to redeem the notion of Constantianism, and to demonstrate that Constantine provides a model for Christian political practice. It is safe to say that anyone who succeeds to a large degree in these tasks has written a magisterial work. "Defending Constantine" is just such a work. Leithart's history of Constantine is good, but the real virtuoso nature of the book begins with his discussion of whether or not Constantine was a genuine Christian or not. Leithart's unequivocal (and correct) answer is "Yes." One of the reasons we misunderstand Constantine is that we import our own cultural and historical expectations into Constantine and his time. This is an important and recurring theme throughout "Defending Constantine." In this case, false views of the way conversion really works have led some to deny that Constantine was ever a Christian. But Leithart demonstrates how Constantine constantly appeals in his writings to the Christian God who is the heavenly Judge and who, in history, opposes those how oppose Him. Constantine also demonstrated a genuine and sustained desire to protect the Church - not from political motivations (although they were likely also present) - but from a genuine desire to see the Church remain pure and united. Another common damnation of Constantine is based on the notion that he meddled terribly in ecclesiastical matters and acted, apart from the bishops, as the defender of Christian orthodoxy. Once again, Leithart has done his homework and dramatically, though graciously, dismantles Constantine's critics. There is no evidence, contrary to assertions by scholars such as Burckhardt and Carroll, that Constantine ever acted as the final authority in church matters. In dealing with the Donatist controversy, Constantine deflected responsibility to the bishops assembled in Rome. Constantine refused to be seated at the Council of Nicea until he was invited by the bishops. It's true that he facilitated the work of the Church's councils by calling them and providing venues, but these and the legal recognition of the conciliar decisions were unavoidable in the political and cultural situation of the time. Constantine not only did not dominate the discussions at Nicea: he also did not formulate the final creed nor sign off on it. Leithart's discussion of Constantianism is also excellent. He defines it as "a theology and ecclesial practice that took form when the church assumed a dominant position in Roman society. Constantianism is "the wedding of power to piety, the notion that the empire or state, the ruler of civil government rather than the church, is the primary bearer of meaning in history." Leithart reserves his most withering and sustained attack for the Anabaptist theologian, John Howard Yoder, on this point. He shows that Yoder misrepresents the facts and has an axe to grind that comes from his presupposition as an Anabaptist that the church had been in a state of apostasy from the fourth to seventeenth centuries. If this popular hypothesis were true, we would expect to see dramatic evidence of decline in the lives of Christians and their godly effect on Roman culture. But the opposite is true. In the first place, the bishops refused to be reduced to mere chaplains of the Empire. Second, it was at the instigation of Constantine that the gladiatorial shows and other immoral public entertainments were reduced and eventually abolished. Constantine's legislation looks very much like the kind of legislation Christians should desire the civil magistrates to enact. Constantine removed previous Roman penalties against the celibate and the childless. He extended the rights of women, removing deprivations such as loss of property and double standards for divorce. He discouraged sex with slaves and was the first in Roman history to legislate against rape. In turn, all of these reforms fostered a new kind of Christian masculinity that relied less on sexual prowess, victory in battle, and political power. Constantine also provided for many laws that elevated true justice and protection for the poor, including children who were exposed, orphans, outcasts, and slaves. He issued laws that enabled slaves to be liberated, as well as those to ameliorate slave conditions (for example, trying to keep slave families together). Finally, in the area of law, Constantine began the "Christianization" of the law, not by legislating for the Church but by giving the Church freedom to be itself, build its own buildings, erect its own legal structures, organize its own system of conflict resolutions, and to carry out its own sanctions. Leithart concludes his magnum opus by refuting three related errors concerning Constantine and Constantinianism: the early church was uniformly opposed to Christians serving in the Roman army; the earliest Christians opposed the Roman Empire; the Roman Christians so identified the Church with the Empire that they ignored or despised the barbarians. In each of these three cases, Leithart demonstrates conclusively that the attitudes of early Christians were ambiguous and not uniformly anti-Empire as Yoder and others have assumed. As if all of this weren't enough, Leithart saves the best for last. He argues brilliantly that what Constantine actually did was to "desacrifice" Rome in order to establish it upon the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Constantine enacted a "baptism" out of the world of Rome, and so he eliminated the competing Roman sacrifices: those associated with senatorial decisions, military victories, and the emperor. Instead, it was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that became the founding sacrifice of the new city, the eschatological city. As with our individual baptisms, the consistent and holy implications of this baptism of the Empire would have to be worked out, imperfectly, in history. "Through Constantine, Rome was baptized into a world without animal sacrifice and officially recognized the true sacrificial city, the one community that does offer a foretaste of the final kingdom." Breathtaking stuff! Leithart is a fair and careful scholar; however, I wish he'd offered more evidence for the negative sides of both Constantine and Constantianism. Both are present in the book, but only in minor ways. This is a forgivable oversight, due to the complexity of the task Leithart has already taken on. This is a book that will explode in your mind and then in your soul! You owe it to yourself to read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest this book. Sit back and enjoy the ride as Leithart skillfully and artfully articulates a more edifying way of thinking about Constantine, the church, culture, and our lives. This is one book that deserves 6 stars! REVIEW: With Defending Constantine, Peter Leithart has written a well-researched, well-balanced biography on a controversial character in history. Christians don't like Constantine because he combined too much state with church, and non-Christians don't like him because he combined too much church with state. Poor Constantine is left homeless. Leithart, however, attempts to make sense of the controversy and give Constantine credit for his accomplishments within a historical context. Leithart's nicely footnoted work presents a convincing case for Constantine's genuine conversion. Constantine, having no model of a post-advent, Christian, civic ruler, brought about remarkable cultural changes. Leithart specifically focuses on the end of sacrifice. Moderns think sacrifice is something found only in a secluded, jungle tribe, but in fact, sacrifice was a cultural norm prior to Constantine. In addition to reviewing the Roman history, Leithart attempts to put Constantine's reign in a larger context of Christian history. God has a purpose for His church. The impact of His church in history is more evident by studying characters like Constantine. Admittedly, Leithart's book is over this home-schooling mom's head at times - especially as the book turns from history to polemic. The shortcomings are really mine, however. He didn't translate all his Latin phrases, and my high school Latin is rusty. He also refers to a variety of Christian movements that I struggled to keep identified. A glossary for groups like Sabelians, Nestorians, Meletians and Donatists might have been helpful to those of us who aren't as well versed in church history as perhaps we ought to be. He also spends a good deal of time refuting the misconceptions of a Constantinianism promoted by John Howard Yoder, a theologian of whom I've never heard or read. I know I missed a good bit of Leithart's concluding thesis, but regardless, it was good to read a history that tries to get beyond dry facts and delves into the greater purpose and impact of a character in history. REVIEW: Constantine, his `alleged' conversion to Christianity and his rule as a Christian, or at least pro-Christian emperor has been a source of debate for a long time. There are many who see Constantine as a shrewd political operator who used Christianity as a way of solidifying his support and rule of the empire. There are others who think that he had a real experience of God and that he straddled the Christian faith, holding onto much of his paganism but also adopting some Christian practices. Still others (of which I am one) see the question of whether Constantine was a convert to Christianity as up for debate, but that the effects of Constantine's rule - the legalization of Christianity, and it's elevation to the State religion of Rome as having a negative effect on the Church both in the 4th century and continuing to today. Peter Leithart's book Defending Constantine is a superb addition to this debate. Leithart vigorously defends (maybe too much) Constantine, answering the critics and at the same time seeking to show that Constantine was a positive and indeed vital addition to the history and development of the Church. Leithart reminds the critics of Constantine that they must assess him in light of the fact that lived in the fourth century and the decisions and actions he took have to be seen in light of that context. The bottom line is that for Leithart, the Church fared well under Constantine and that those critics who have attacked Constantine have simply got it wrong and have misread major church figures like Eusebius and Augustine. Leithart does not engage with some important scholars, such as Alistair Kee (Constantine Verses Christ) who argues that Constantine's intervention in the church was not because of his Christian commitment but because the unity of the empire was at risk and John Eadie (The Conversion of Constantine), who argues that Constantine was trying to appease the Christian God and not necessarily worship him, which can be seen in the dualism that Constantine showed by banning private divination (punishable by death) and yet public divination was encouraged in the temples. However, this book is a wonderful read - informative, challenging, well argued and very enjoyable. REVIEW: An defense of Constantine the Great. Leithart takes on many historical misrepresentations of the man, stemmed by "classical" enlightenment thinkers, as well as other historic Constantine bashers I was not even aware of, such as John Wycliffe. Leithart pays particular attention to a modern Mennonite (Ana-baptist) scholar, Howard Yoder. I am familiar with the Ana-baptist view of Constantine, and how they have argued that the true Church went into hiding when Constantine rose to power (or more properly, "converted"), and I have always felt that the Ana-baptist version of what happened was easily refutable. Thanks to writers like Lord Acton, Jean Gimpel, Otto Scott, R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, and a short paper Leithart had written over 20 years ago (I can't remember the title of the paper), I began to see that the Middle Ages had been seriously neglected in our modern age; dismissed as irrelevant. Still, my view on Constantine prior to reading this book, is that he probably was not a Christian until he agreed to be baptized just before his death. He, and Eusebius, in my previous view, were Arian, and Arianism was compatible with the old Roman cult (Jesus, just a man, ascends to godhood, if he can, so can Caesar). So, although I am intensely interested in redeeming the Middle Ages, I had, up till now, been disinterested in Constantine. Surely, I thought, from reading Rushdoony, the spread of Christianity had been pervasive enough, that Constantine only did what any other pagan emperor, in his right mind, would do to save the empire. And admit defeat to Christianity, which up until this point, had spread into every institution within Rome. Not that Rushdoony had ever stated that (did he?), but it seemed to be implied from his argumentation. Yet Leithart states: "Constantine's reasoning here was less sociological than many of the modern accounts suggest. When he rebuked Christians for their quarrels, he was not arguing that the church should remain unified so it could serve as the glue of imperial power. Such a claim would be nonsensical, since at the time of Constantine's conversion the Christian population-cohesive and well organized to be sure-amounted to about 10-15 percent of the population. The church did not provide enough glue to stick the empire together. Constantine's argument was directly theological." I found this astonishing! 10 - 15% of the population? Well then, that puts just about everything I thought I knew about Constantine and this time of history on its head. Leithart continues: "In a letter of 332 urging the people of Antioch to desist from their efforts to call Eusebius as their bishop, he referred to "our Savior's words and precepts as a model, as it were, of what our life should be."71 He rebuked the Arians for "declaring and confessing that they believe things contrary to the divinely inspired Scriptures."72 He was acting on this faith when he provided fifty copies of the Bible to the churches under Eusebius' care." So then, so much for Constantine being Arian. Leithart touches on the treatment of the Jews under Constantine, and in defending where the Church landed on the issue (against persecuting Jews), points out: "Yet it was one of Yoder's main "Constantinian" theologians, Augustine, who stemmed the tide. Augustine's sermons are nearly as full of the themes of adversus Iudaeos as those of any church father, but after working through his "literal" commentary on Genesis and formulating a response to Faustus, he came to a quite different position. Crucially, he affirmed that the sacrifices and rites of the Old Testament were commanded by God and, moreover, that precisely by putting the law into bodily practice, the Jews became fitting types of the coming Lord. Their dignity in salvation history depended on obedience to what earlier Christians had dismissed as "carnal" law. God told them to sacrifice, and when they did, they foreshadowed the passion of the incarnate Son. It was a brilliant maneuver, striking down the anti-incarnational and anti-Jewish elements of Faustus's theology at a single blow while simultaneously correcting the soft Marcionism of Catholics by binding Old and New unbreakably together." He references Paula Fredriksen's book Augustine and the Jews. Which I may add to my 'to-read list'. This is a crucial development in the history of the Church, and also, an excellent counter-view to our wide-spread Marcionism in today's Church. Another point that Leithart gives to my utter instruction is that the concept of the "liberty of conscience" had its origin in the Church father, Lanctantius (Location:1455-58). And here I figured it was an idea that had been worked out much later, either in the Middle Ages or during the Reformation. I am most definitely adding Lanctantius' book Divine Institutions to my reading list. Yoder's Ana-Baptism, according to Leithart, gets in his way of assessing Constantine rightly. Constantine would appear more in agreement with Yoder than Yoder had realized. Leithart points out: "Eusebius's account is revealing for our purposes, particularly in the contrast that Eusebius draws between Constantine the emperor and Constantine the baptized Christian. Baptism was the moment of his "regeneration and perfection," the moment when the emperor was received into the people of God. Constantine had the same view. Not only did he discard the imperial purple when he took on the baptismal white, but in his final speech to Eusebius and the other bishops he expressed his wish that, should his life continue, he would be "associate[d] with the people of God, and unite with them in prayer as a member of his church" and devote himself to "such a course of life as befits his service." This comes in the closing chapters of a biography that has described Constantine's vision before the battle with Maxentius, his support for the church and suppression of paganism, his Christian legislation, his devotion to prayer and study, his victories in wars often presented as holy wars, his missionary zeal. At the end of all this, Eusebius quoted Constantine saying that in the future he would devote himself to the service of the God whose salvation was sealed to him in his baptism. As Eusebius recounted the story, Constantine seemed to believe there was a basic incompatibility between being an emperor and being a Christian, between court and church, warfare and prayer, the purple and the white. It would be an ironic conclusion: Constantine, the first anti-Constantinian. Constantine the Yoderian." I have not read Yoder, so cannot fairly say he has dealt with Yoder fairly, but I can say that Leithart points out Yoder's fine qualities. For instance: As noted above, unlike earlier modern forms of anti-Constantinianism, Yoder's critique is not premised on a dichotomy of power and religion, or politics and religion. Yoder says the opposite. The dualism he prefers is church-world, rather than church-state or religion-politics, and that is because the church is a polity, the only true polity, because it is the only polity that does justice in worshiping God. Precisely because it is already political, it is a betrayal for the church to attach itself to and find its identity in an existing worldly power structure. Precisely because the church is always a political power in itself, it does not need to find the stockpile of worldly weapons before it carries out its mission. On all this Yoder is correct. He is also correct in refusing the nature-grace dichotomy on which so much traditional political theology has been based. The church is a polity, and thus any ethical or political system that minimizes or marginalizes Jesus and his teaching hardly counts as Christian. Here again I think Yoder is correct. (Location: 3630-31) Leithart does, in my opinion, an excellent job in re-telling the story of Constantine using primary resources, stripped of all the Roman Catholic, anti-papal rhetoric, and anti-Christian sentiments of the enlightenment thinkers. The crux for this book to me is this: "That, I think, is a fair historical portrait of the man, his career, his times and his effect on the church. In my judgment, it is a history that John Howard Yoder and other theological and historical critics get wrong on many particulars and in the general outline. Yoder cannot know as much as he claims about the pacifist consensus of the early church, badly misreads major figures like Eusebius and especially Augustine, oversimplifies the history of "mainstream Christianity" to the point of caricature, and tries to convince us that the orthodox church handed missionary activity to heretics for a millennium after Constantine. His rhetoric of anti-Constantinianism discourages Christians from a serious and sympathetic engagement with more than a millennium of Christian theological, and political theological, reflection." That's why I am very interested in reading clear, well documented history of the Middle Ages. It all begins with this subject, and this book I will be recommending to others for years to come. REVIEW: For too long Protestants of every tradition have attacked Constantine, and in so doing attacked the Catholic Church. However, Leithart sets the historical record straight, answering all of those who strive mightily to assert that the Catholic Church "fell" and that the so-called fall was the direct result of the efforts of Constantine. In Leithart's book, Constantine appears more as a 4th century St. Paul encountering Christ on the road to Damascus. In the case of Constantine this direct encounter with Christ occurred on the road to Rome as he prepared to do battle with Maxentius, and neither Constantine, nor the Roman Empire, nor the the Catholic Church was ever the same again. Because of Constantine and all of his work in support of the Church, Christians were able to finally come out of their hidden churches and into the light of day, freely testifying of their faith in Jesus Christ without fear of reprisal. The Church grew greatly in the years after Constantine legalized Christianity, allowing Christians to convert millions of pagans to the faith. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to clear the air on the life and conversion of Constantine, a man whose conversion to Christianity has always been recognized and treasured by both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches, but now perhaps even among the various traditions and denominations of protestantism as they learn the truth. REVIEW: As Peter Leithart points out in his "Defending Constantine: the Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christianity," Emperor Constantine has often been made into the bête noire of those who have some particular grievance against the world they live in. Constantine is a particular target for those who dislike the institutionalized Christian church, the role of Catholicism in history or the existence of what they consider to be an intolerant, patriarchal or otherwise wrong-headed form of Christianity. Leithart's self-described "polemical" purpose is to re-examine Constantine in light of the state of Christianity as Constantine found it at the beginning of the Fourth Century, shorn of the usual retrojection of current ideology. Leithart's particular target is late Mennonite, pacifist theologian John Howard Yoder, whose theology developed the idea of "Constaninianism," whereby, in Yoder's view, Christianity went horribly off the rails when the church formed an alliance with the state. Leithart's book is well worth reading for its fresh look at Constantine and its common sense critique of critics of Constantine. For example, Leithart marshals a persuasive rebuttal to the contemporary view of Constantine as a pagan or a cynic who exploited religion for political purposes. Leithart finds substantial evidence in Constantine's life that point to a true believer in Christianity, such as legislation by Constantine that began the process of eliminating gladiatorial games, infant exposure and sacrifices to the pagan gods. These laws seem to have been aspirational, but they point to Constantine's adherence to a Christian value system. Likewise, Constantine considered himself a missionary and would give sermons to his court. For myself, I was forced to re-evaluate my previous view - engendered by the typical works on Constantine - that Constantine was uninterested in, and ignorant of, the fine points of Christian theology. Constantine may not have been a theologian, but in Leithart's description, Constantine comes off as far more theologically sophisticate. For example, Leithart quotes Constantine's "Letter to Arius" as follows, "I know that the plenitude of the Father's and the Son's pre-eminence and all-pervading power is one substance." Likewise, Leithart offers an explanation for the death of Constantine's wife and son, which partially exonerates Constantine. Given that even my 12 year old daughter has learned in public school that Constantine was unquestionably a murderer, suggesting some uncertainty in an ancient mystery might have the effect of moving the zeitgeist away from its knee-jerk anti-Constantinian default position. Leithart also examines the world of the early Christians. Christianity had been subjected to intense persecution under Diocletian, immediately prior to Constantine's reign. Christians had also experienced persecutions under prior emperors. During those persecutions, Christians had prayed for deliverance, and for such Christians, a Christian emperor looked exactly like what they had been praying for. Contemporary critics of Constantine and the Christian assumption of power in the Roman Empire should really answer the question, what were Christian supposed to do? Remain a persecuted minority? People who think that Christians should never have assumed political power have a highly romanticized view of persecution and suffering. In the last part of the book, Leithart tackles Yoder's critique of "Constantinianism." Yoder and his supporters assume a primeval Christianity that disdained any role in the state and uniformly embraced pacifism. Leithart demonstrated that no such uniform position ever existed. Christians, for example, joined the military with the acquiescence of their bishops from the earliest moments of Christianity. Hence, Yoder's pacifism represents a strain of Christianity, but Constantine hardly represents a betrayal of "true Christianity." I suspect that there are subtexts in the dispute over Yoder's "Constantinianism" which are lost on those of us who are not immersed in religious traditions that adhere to a "Two Kingdoms" theology. For example, I'm not clear why Yoder's work, largely a product, it would seem of the peace movement of the `70s, would require such a strong critique in 2010. I had the feeling of being ringside to a scholarly infight without having a real sense of the players and the positions. Nonetheless, any good grudge match sharpens the issues in dispute and heightens audience interest, which may be one reason why this book was a thoroughly engaging read. REVIEW: Leithart's spirited and extensive depiction of the vastly positive impact of Emperor Constantine on the Roman world and in important ways on our world today may have been aimed primarily at Christian academics and scholars who spend time debating the meaning of the shards of history. Of course, most people today, even those with a reasonable level of familiarity with church history, are largely unaware of the details of Constantine's life and his reign. Yet it is the non-academic audience which will be the most interested in this work and will gain the most benefit from reading through to the end (including footnotes!). The transition of the Roman Empire from primarily pagan to a primarily Christian is a historical pivot point of enormous significance. It is likely the most significant event in Christian history between the First-century acts of the apostles and the Reformation. Leithart's book filled in large gaps in my knowledge of how the Christian faith conquered the government that at times savagely persecuted and tortured the faithful and of how God used one man of courage and conviction to accomplish the almost 180 degree turn in a matter of a few years. The themes of the book are not of merely historical interest. For example, the division of authority between government and the church, the indepedence of the church from worldly and corrupting influences, and the permissible role of Christians in just and unjust wars were issues Constantine faced (with no precedent to follow) and are still debated today. The form of the book is a response to certain writers who have marginalized, demeaned, and even demonized Constantine's policies and role in history. In "setting the record straight", Leithard treats Constantine's detractors fairly while rebutting them with a compelling mixture of facts and analysis. In this regard, the book appeals to readers with legal and logican minds. The book portrays Constantine as a dedicated, true believer and bold reformer, but stops far short of canonizing him. The thesis is that Constantine, guided by God, got most of the big questions right and totally transformed the relationship between the government and the Christian community. The reader is left to ponder, in light of later history, whether moving from persecution to strong monetary and policy support for the church ultimately led to various kinds of apostasy and corruption. One must also consider, however, hugely positive effects Christians and their values had on the government at that time, changing it from one that used pagan gods as vanguards of power to one that recognized the supreme authority of God over those temporarily "in power". Overall, Leithart's work was enormously informative, compellingly presented and argued, and extremely insightful. My thanks to the author for the benefits I received from studying this book! REVIEW: In case you've missed it, the pressure is on to toss Constantine and his program into the rubbish bin and to disinfect our hands of his infectious disease. The push has been coming from several different arenas for some time, from Anabaptists to Anglicans to Academicians. With all the punches and jabs, it appeared that it was going to be a smashing knockout. But the match is not over. Into the ring has stepped a new reading of Constantine that may very well turn the bout into overtime! Peter J. Leithart has thrown into the match a stirring piece that will likely unsettle the presumed success of the anti-constantinians for years to come. His new paperback, "Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom" is a rugged and rambunctious 342 page work worth the time-investment, and will merit hours of valuable discussion. Though "Defending Constantine" is primarily focused on the Emperor's program, the first five chapters build steam laying out the background behind the rise of Constantine. This sets up the sitz im leben of the Church, Constantine and the actions that will unfold. The next seven chapters (6-12) unpack various aspects of the Emperor's changes, and their application. The material here is rich, stout, and will keep the attention of most readers. On of the more delightfully testy sections was Chapter 12 "Pacifist Church?" Here Leithart goes toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose with Yoder, whom he has been tussling with all along. He takes on the notion that the earlier church was pacifistic, as Yoder and his Anabaptist clan have propounded for decades. The author challenges this dogmatic opinion on several different levels, but primarily by showing that at the best, only a small portion of Church theologians and leaders might have been pacifistic, but that many were not necessarily of that frame of mind. Christians enlisting in the Roman military, for example, had been going on for many decades long before Constantine was even known or rose to power. The reason this is important for the writer, is that it strengthens his case that Constantine's conversion and enthronement did not pollute the church, or cause it to "fall". That "pacifism" was not necessarily nor provably the ethic of the earlier church, and cannot be used as an empirical gauge that substantiates the apostatizing decline of the Church. Leithart's argument helps to explode the Anabaptist/Restorationist claim of a "pristine" early church that went really bad for the next something-hundred years. In the final two chapters of "Defending Constantine", there are remarkable and paradigm-rattling surprises in store for the reader in this section, material that will likely cause most folks neck trouble from nodding vociferously in agreement and disagreement almost simultaneously! Leithart has done the historian, theologian, church leader, and layman a great service in "Defending Constantine" by providing an enjoyably readable historical-theological-conceptual book on this significant stage in the Church's history. As I came to the last page and closed the book, I couldn't help but find myself vocalizing my gratitude for what God had done for His Church in converting and raising up Constantine. I thoroughly recommend this book. REVIEW: The Emperor Constantine is one of those people who could very ably defend himself while alive, but now, having the misfortune of being dead, has become a whipping boy for church historians and theologians alike. In his book Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, Peter Leithart attempts to wipe the rotten vegetables off Constantine’s face and scour the reputation that the centuries have sullied. A common version of Constantine’s story, one that Leithart sets out to refute, is that Constantine (who may or may not have truly converted) took control of the Church and absorbed it into the empire in such a way that its distinctives became diluted and its witness ineffectual. He freed the Church from persecution but then neutered the Church and created an atmosphere where “real” Christians and “pretend” Christians could not be told one from the other. Leithart’s first method of refutation is to provide a biographical study of Constantine, firmly seating the man in the context of late Roman antiquity, judging his actions as they would have been understood by his contemporaries instead of holding them up against a perfectionistic standard. Yes, Constantine often referred to God in ambiguous terms like “Providence” instead of with explicitly Christian ones, but the fact that he paid no sacrifice or acknowledgment to Jupiter was enough to make Romans sit up and take notice. Yes, Constantine meddled in Church affairs, but the Church had some serious problems that needed to be meddled with. Yes, Constantine “called” the Council of Nicea, but he did not “preside” over it or dictate its verdict. Yes, contemporary ecclesiastics like Eusebius flattered Constantine unduly and thought he was the greatest thing since pita bread, but wouldn’t you too if you had suffered the horrendous persecutions of Diocletian and Galerian? In a section titled “The Emperor and the Queen,” Leithart explains how Constantine had the right motivations but sometimes went overboard in his execution: "Kiss the Son,” Psalm 2 exhorts, addressing itself to kings of the earth. Constantine kissed the Son, publicly acknowledging the Christian God as the true God and confessing Jesus as “our Savior.” "For Constantine and the emperors who followed him, after kissing the Son and Lord, it made sense to do homage to Jesus by supporting his Queen, the church–building and adorning cathedrals, distributing funds for poor relief and hospitals, assisting the bishops to resolve their differences by calling and providing for councils. Constantine did not always show restraint. Sometimes he took over business that belonged to the King and Queen alone. But if we want to judge Constantine fairly, we have to recognize that the Queen often had issues. A queen’s bodyguard ought to keep his hands off the queen, but what does he do when she turns harpy and starts scratching the face of her lady-in-waiting?" In the latter half of the book, Leithart waxes theological and deals with complaints by the theologian John Howard Yoder about the “heresy” of Constantinianism. Yoder claims that during Constantine’s reign, the Church was knocked off its Biblical trajectory and “fell” in such a way that it has never recovered. His three main issues with Constantinianism are: (1) it identified the nation/empire with the purposes of God (instead of the Church) and thus distorted the mission of the Church; (2) it destroyed the non-imperialist stance that the early Church had adhered to; and (3) it destroyed the early Church’s commitment to pacifism. Leithart decimates these arguments in reverse order, showing that the history underpinning Yoder’s arguments is shaky at best. A shift in emphasis did occur during Constantine’s rule, but it was not the open break with the past that Yoder postulates, and much of the change can be seen as the difference between the Church in exile and the Church come into the promise land. To me, the most interesting section was where Leithart refuted the claim that the pre-Constantine Church was unreservedly pacifist: "[T]he church was never united in an absolute opposition to Christian participation in war; the opposition that existed was in some measure circumstantial, based on the fact that the Roman army demanded sharing in religious liturgies that Christians refused; and once military service could be pursued without participating in idolatry, many Christians found military service a legitimate life for a Christian disciple." Constantine did not seduce Christians into the military; he allowed them to become part of it by removing the ritual of pagan oaths and sacrifice that earlier emperors had demanded of their soldiers. Leithart concludes his book by applying the analogy of infant baptism to what happened to Rome under the rule of Constantine: "In the end it all comes round to baptism, specifically to infant baptism. Rome was baptized in the fourth century. Eusebian hopes notwithstanding, it was not instantly transformed into the kingdom of heaven. It did not immediately become the city of God on earth. Baptism never does that. It is not meant to. Baptism sets a new trajectory, initiates a new beginning, but every beginning is the beginning of something. Through Constantine, Rome was baptized into a world without animal sacrifice and officially recognized the true sacrificial city, the one community that does offer a foretaste of the final kingdom. Christian Rome was in its infancy, but that was hardly surprising…." And what about John Howard Yoder and those other theologians that our long-dead Constantine needs defending against? "For Yoder, Rome was not radically Christian, Rome’s adherence to the faith was infantile, and because of that, he reasons, it was not Christian at all but apostate. He failed, as Augustine said against Pelagius, to give due weight to “the interim, the interval between the remission of sins which takes place in baptism, and the permanently established sinless state in the kingdom that is to come, this middle time of prayer, while [we] must pray, ‘Forgive us our sins.’” He failed to acknowledge that all–Constantine, Rome, ourselves–stand in medial time, and yet are no less Christian for that." REVIEW: This is a thoroughly interesting and well written piece of history. Not being an expert on this period I can't intelligently comment on most of his ideas, but he certainly provides stimulation to further reading and study of Constantine and Christianity during the later Roman Empire. The author uses the sources that are available. People don't realize how scarce the sources are for the classical period of history, or for most periods of early history. There really isn't a lot to go on, as the author clearly points out. He seems to demolish Yoder, though again, I'm not familiar enough with the arguments and Yoders work to really evaluate the controversy. I'm a little concerned by his eagerness to depict Christianity as fighting a war, and Christians as soldiers. Spiritual warfare isn't the same as human combat, as Christ clearly taught. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, and as Christians we have to remember there won't be truly Christian politics until He returns to reign on this earth. Spiritual weapons aren't the same as AK-47's. This a great read,I really enjoyed this different interpretation of Constantine. The author has convinced me that Constantine was a lot more complex and interesting than I had thought. As to whether Constantine was a Christian or not, I try never to judge if a person is a Christian. If they say they are. and their actions show a reasonable effort to follow Christ that should be sufficient. Constantine certainly meets that standard. REVIEW: Peter Leithart's book on Constantine is typical Leithart -- well researched and beautifully written. The argument is compelling. Leithart is one of the most brilliant scholars among Christians today, which he proves it again by this magnificent book. REVIEW: This book really is a paradigm shift for anyone who has been reading Hauerwas and Yoder. Really loaded with historical data and gives a new perspective of an imperfect man who was a victim of his time and culture, but was perhaps more concerned about clear Trinitarian theology, and certainly the unity of the church, than the bishops of that day. REVIEW: What a refreshing contrast to all the Da Vinvci Code pseudo history out there distorting people's minds about the church. Peter is a first class scholar that has done his homework. I highly recommend this reading for church historians and the regular lay person that has an interest in getting a more truthful evaluation of this era. This book is a keeper. REVIEW: I wanted to read something for the anniversary of the Edict of Milan and must say that this book more than fit the bill. Excellent! REVIEW: At last a balanced portrayal of the life of one of the greatest men to walk this earth. Yoders lies are put to rest. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $12.99 to $33.99 for an insuredshipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."

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