A Warrior's Will by Justus Roux

By Justus Roux

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His new capital in the east, Constantinople, still had a marked non-Christian presence. Even in 326 he underwrote the journey to Egypt of a leader in the Eleusinian mystery religion. For the empire to function properly, Constantine thought that pagans should also be supported. The privileges and riches he lavished on Christians, however, were considerable. His mother, Helena, visited holy sites in Jerusalem and had imposing churches built there. Constantine provided the funds for the expensive task of copying Bibles.

As monotheists, they had to think hard about Jesus Christ as God. Hymns, rules of faith (small confessions), prayers and worship rites – all based in remembrances of his life, death and resurrection – led them to see him as divine. At the same time they saw in him various human aspects. As they wrote and collected their sacred scriptures, they also discussed the place of the Holy Spirit. At the end of this period they were moving toward Trinitarian belief. qxd 19/03/02 2 B 11:49 Page 35 PERSECUTED AND PERSECUTING, 300–630 efore the reign of Constantine (306–37) Christians had lived primarily either as a somewhat politically protected religion under the tent of recognized Jewish communities or as an illicit faith that could be attacked at any time for nearly any reason.

The Ballana kings of this era evidently did not establish an official religion. Their allegiances were multiple. Although they practiced a form of human sacrifice that disgusted their neighbors, their tombs include luxurious items marked with Christian symbols like the cross. Their tolerance of different religions seems to have well served the spread of Christianity in the country. In the sixth century the Byzantine emperor Justinian organized a mission to Nubia that was more concerned with political alliances than religious conversion.

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