"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Constantine: Co-Equal to the Apostles?

Eastern Christian hymnody has long lauded Constantine as "co-equal to the apostles" and as "apostle among kings" (apolytikion in the 4th tone). He is considered a saint by many Eastern churches alongside his mother Helena, both being feted on May 21. (For Helena, one simply must read the hilarious but moving historical-fictional novel Helena by the great and incomparable Evelyn Waugh. It has been unjustly neglected, though Waugh regarded it as his masterwork, and I would agree.) Lately in the West, however, it has been fashionable for a good twenty years or so to bash Constantine or, better, "Constantinianism," i.e., this belief that Christianity became too entangled with the business of empire and has suffered ever since. John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas are perhaps most clearly associated with this line of thinking. Now along comes a new book to revise, or at least challenge, their revisionism:

Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (IVP, 2010).

This will be reviewed in Logos in 2011 by Daniel Larison.

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