Concept

Historiography of Christianization of the Roman Empire

Résumé
The growth of Christianity from its obscure origin 40 AD, with fewer than 1,000 followers, to being the majority religion of the entire Roman Empire by AD 350, has been examined through a wide variety of historiographical approaches. Until the last decades of the twentieth century, the primary theory was provided by Edward Gibbon in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1776. Gibbon theorized that paganism declined from the second century BC and was finally eliminated by the top-down imposition of Christianity by Constantine, the first Christian emperor, and his successors in the fourth century AD. For over 200 years, Gibbon's model and its expanded explanatory versions—the conflict model and the legislative model—have provided the major narrative. The conflict model asserts that Christianity rose in conflict with paganism, defeating it only after emperors became Christian and were willing to use their power to require conversion through coe
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