Defending Constantine— Part Six: On to Nicaea

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Modern Iznik (ancient Nicaea) is a beautiful little city on a lake.  It is famous today for being the birthplace of Iznik tiles, a form of beautiful art which was co-opted by Europeans and relabeled Delft tiles.   But in 325 A.D. it was the locale Constantine chose to host the first 'ecumenical' council of the Christian church with bishops and others coming from all over the Empire, and indeed even from beyond the Empire  (Armenia, Persia, even the Crimea).   For its day, it was remarkable and wo … [Read more...]

Defending Constantine— Part Five


Constantine was what Andy Crouch calls a culture-maker.  The question is whether he was building a good culture which distilled Christian values, or somehow distorted  Christian values.  Besides all his church building exercises, there were also Constantine's legislative initiative, one of the earliest being tax exemption for clergy (yeah!).   Constantine said this would protect them from harassment by heretics.One of the problems in evaluating Constantine and the impact of his reign is that … [Read more...]


Israel 066

[Modern Painting next to the restored Pool of Siloam]   This poem taken from the book entitled The Living Legacy.MOTHER LOADFrom the very beginning The burden was clear Sometimes bearable Sometimes severeAte from the apple Shared it with him Disobeyed the order Indulged the whim.What was the outcome? The fruit of the act? Did she ‘know’ good and evil? Did she experience it in fact?Did the earth creature join her? Did he crumble into dust? Did he die in an inst … [Read more...]

Defending Constantine— Part Four


It would be hard to under-estimate the novelty and importance of the so-called Edict of Milan when it comes to religion in antiquity.   I say so-called because it was neither an edict nor was it issued from Milan.  What it was was official letters from two men who were ruling the Empire at the time--- Licinius and Constantine.  The letters were largely the same,  one in Latin, one in Greek  one posted in Nicomedia in 313, the Greek one in Caesarea a bit after that.   The letter, written to provin … [Read more...]

Re-Kindled Interest in the Art West Thrillers!


O.K. you Kindle dudes,  there is now available a Kindle edition of all three of our Art West thrillers, with the fourth one,   Corinthian Leather on the way to the press soon.     Here is the link to the Kindle editions on Amazon.      Read away and catch up before the 4th one comes out.  Art West is counting on you. … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado on the Chi Rho


In view of the important of the Chi Rho symbol to Constantine, the following recent post of my friend and NT colleague  Larry Hurtado is worth recycling.   Here it is.Last night, my wife and I watched the final episode of Neil Oliver's series on the History of Britain, this one dealing with the Roman impact on ancient Britain.  Overall, so far as I can judge, interesting and informative.  But one thing got up my nose, and prompts me to correct and clarify.At one point, Oliver pointed … [Read more...]

Defending Constantine— Part Three


As  Leithart says  (Chapter 4, pp. 68ff.) Constantine, to the surprise of probably the vast majority in Rome, entered Rome as a Christian Emperor.  His soldiers carried an entirely new standard--- the labarum a long spear made into a cross with a perpendicular bar and perched on the top was a wreath of gold and precious stones within which the first letters of  Christos were engraved.  The proper thing to conclude from this was that Constantine was making a statement that he was a Christian.  Aft … [Read more...]

Defending Constantine— Part Two


Constantine was a military man through and through.  Long before he was an Emperor, he was a rising star in the Roman army.  He was not a philosopher nor a theologian, and those who have tried to suggest that Constantine somehow created Christian orthodoxy by meddling in church councils such as the one at Nicaea  in 325  honestly do not know what they are talking about.   Constantine was a facilitator and promoter of church councils, working hard for unity in a divided group of clerics and types … [Read more...]

Papias and the Mysterious Menorah—- Sale!!


Big news novel fans.  Cokesbury has given a good thumbs up review of our latest novel,  Papias and the Mysterious Menorah,  and is now offering the novel for sale for a limited time for  30% off.   Here is the link---   and you are looking for:Papias and the Mysterious Menorah: The Third Art West AdventureBen Witherington III and Ann Witherington, Pickwick Publications, May 2010ISBN 9781608994601Reg. $29.00The di … [Read more...]