Defending Constantine

Feast of Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles
Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart

Defending_Constantine_Square.jpgAND THE search for the historical Constantine continues. Reexamining the major primary sources on Constantine and the emperor’s own recorded words, the ever-engaging Peter Leithart paints a very different picture from the one promoted by Constantine’s pagan enemies, and ultimately transmitted to us by Gibbon and Voltaire. Far from a cynical manipulator who played all sides to his own advantage, Leithart’s Constantine is a sincere Christian convert whose new faith—and sophisticated political theology—forever redefined antiquity’s assumptions about the relationship between religion and state, emperor and God. Leithart’s historical research leads him to a vigorous critique of various other “anti-Constantinian” claims (Constantine as progenitor of “bad” medieval art, corrupter of early Christian pacificism, usurper of church authority, etc.) with particular attention—appreciative but critically pointed—to John Howard Yoder, whose views have influenced an entire generation of Christian theologians. A lively and entertaining writer, Leithart’s approach to current Constantinian controversies is fair, deeply thoughtful, and eminently persuasive.

373 pp. paper $28.00

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