Christianity: The Repurposed Greco-Roman Model

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For centuries, Athens and Jerusalem thrived as separate entities. Beginning with the advent of Christ, the two began converging, culminating in Christ’s death and resurrection. After his ascension into heaven, Christ’s disciples began exploring the tension between Athens and Jerusalem engendered by Christianity. Christianity, initially thought to be a sect of Judaism, quickly evolved into a separate religion with a far greater reaching scope than either Athens or Jerusalem. As it continued to spread across the Roman empire, the church fathers debated and investigated the influence of both Athens and Jerusalem in Christianity. Eventually, they adapted the forms of the Roman government for the church. This repurposed Greco-Roman model ultimately …show more content…
As Christianity expanded throughout Rome, it eventually caught the attention of the royal household. Initially the emperors either ignored or persecuted the Christians, but this pattern ceased with Constantine. Constantine converted to Christianity during his rule, turning Rome into a Christian empire. This decree raised the questions of politics and Christianity. Church father Augustine explores this question in his work City of God. In this book, Augustine proposes the existence of two cities: the city of God and the city of man. Christians hold citizenship in both cities, “so long only as no hinderance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced,” (???, 369). However, he warns these dual citizens against the desire to rule for, “the dominion of good men is profitable, not so much for themselves as for human affairs,” (??, 363). Hidden in Augustine’s warning lies the fear of …show more content…
Due to their greatness, these men often gain complete power over their subjects. Attributing absolute power to one man invites corruption, irregardless of his virtue. Roman emperors held the power of imperium–control of life and death–over their subjects. Despite his Christian faith, Constantine faced the siren-song of corruption. In his treatise on Florentine government, Savonarola argues “that the power of government is more united and bound together in one that many, it follows that by its very nature the government of one, when it is good, would be better…than any other form,” (Savonarola, 180). However, Savonarola agrees that at its worst, monarchy, and empires, swiftly denigrate into despotism and oppression. God warned His people of this possibility when they begged for a king, saying, “He [the king] will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants…He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves,” (???, 29). Even David, the epitome of the Hebrew kingship, struggled with temptation, and eventually abused his position of authority to kill Uriah the Hittite. Therefore, despite his faith and integrity, the entirety of Constantine’s rule struggled against the temptation of corruption. Thus, every emperor and monarch will struggle against corruption. With the eternal state of mankind on the line, this wager appears too

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