Pagans and Christians

Michele R. Salzman

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Pagans and Christians

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As Christianity ‘triumphed’ over the course of the fourth century, so too did Christians' growing intolerance for pagans, and also Jews and ‘heretical Christians’. In the traditional narrative, Christians ended the fourth century by persecuting pagans and coercing their conversion. The political conflict was constant. The balance of power only shifted after Constantine, as Christians came to persecute pagans in the new Christian empire. This clear, simple model of pagan–Christian political conflict, leading, in the first three centuries, to persecution and martyrdom, and ending, in the fourth century, with Christianity triumphant, has been challenged, if not displaced, by nuanced studies of the interactions of pagans and Christians in Roman society.

Keywords: Constantine; Christianity; paganism; Christian empire; Roman society; persecution

Article.  7002 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religion in the Ancient World ; Religious Studies

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