ABSTRACT: In his Life of Constantine, the ecclesiastical writer Eusebius of Caesarea looks upon the emperor as ‘universal bishop appointed by God’. Constantine paid in fact particular personal attention to the Christian Church and convoked general councils, yet he was not a sort of ‘Pope’, as some modern scholars think; in his vision, the Roman Empire was sustained by a Christian God and founded on an orthodox faith, thus the emperor felt that God, in giving him the sovereign power, had laid upon him a special responsability, which included the protection of Christians outside the imperial frontiers and the conversion of all men to the true faith: as ‘universal bishop’, Constantine claimed his ‘supervision’ – i.e. his genuine ‘episcopal concern’ – over Christians, pagans and mankind beyond the frontiers. On one occasion, when entertaining bishops to dinner, Constantine let slip the remark that he was perhaps himself a bishop too, using the obscure phrase that Eusebius heard: ‘You are bishops of those within the Church, but I am perhaps a bishop appointed by God over those outside’ (or, maybe, a bishop ‘of what lies outside the Church’). What exactly did the emperor mean? Since the puzzling statement appears in the context of Eusebian account where in successive laws Constantine seeks to suppress polytheism and promote Christianity beyond as well as within the Roman frontiers, we can suppose that the emperor was referring to his ‘missionary role’, which rested on the identification of universal Church and universal Empire. In short, Constantine felt himself to be the ‘bishop of all mankind’.

Sperandio, M.U. (2015). Costantino "vescovo universale". HISTORIA ET IUS, VII(1), 1-17.

Costantino "vescovo universale"

SPERANDIO, MARCO URBANO
2015

Abstract

ABSTRACT: In his Life of Constantine, the ecclesiastical writer Eusebius of Caesarea looks upon the emperor as ‘universal bishop appointed by God’. Constantine paid in fact particular personal attention to the Christian Church and convoked general councils, yet he was not a sort of ‘Pope’, as some modern scholars think; in his vision, the Roman Empire was sustained by a Christian God and founded on an orthodox faith, thus the emperor felt that God, in giving him the sovereign power, had laid upon him a special responsability, which included the protection of Christians outside the imperial frontiers and the conversion of all men to the true faith: as ‘universal bishop’, Constantine claimed his ‘supervision’ – i.e. his genuine ‘episcopal concern’ – over Christians, pagans and mankind beyond the frontiers. On one occasion, when entertaining bishops to dinner, Constantine let slip the remark that he was perhaps himself a bishop too, using the obscure phrase that Eusebius heard: ‘You are bishops of those within the Church, but I am perhaps a bishop appointed by God over those outside’ (or, maybe, a bishop ‘of what lies outside the Church’). What exactly did the emperor mean? Since the puzzling statement appears in the context of Eusebian account where in successive laws Constantine seeks to suppress polytheism and promote Christianity beyond as well as within the Roman frontiers, we can suppose that the emperor was referring to his ‘missionary role’, which rested on the identification of universal Church and universal Empire. In short, Constantine felt himself to be the ‘bishop of all mankind’.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11590/312281
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