310 AD to 330 AD, Psalm 63: Constantine.

help-bouton-fotolia_61356253_subscription_monthly_mButton aus zwei Puzzlestücken zeigt E-Mail Kontakt 

constantin shutterstock_122889400This generation is that of the 310s and 320s.

This generation is the occasion of the real advent of Constantine and through him the triumph of Christianity.
Diocletian’s latest attempt to stem the grip of the new religion has been futile:
  • Galeria_ValeriaIn 311 [1], after eight years when the « great persecution » launched by Diocletian had tried to stop the Christian expansion, an edict of tolerance due to his successor Galère, first Augustus, made Christianity a religion allowed in the Roman Empire.The years that followed were going to see tolerance changed in favor; soon the Roman state would become officially Christian and engage in the struggle against the old religion, or rather against traditional religions. The Barbarians, on the other hand, would have more and more contacts with the Empire; many would come to settle on his lands and would gradually disappear his power in the West; but Christianity, already firmly established in these regions, would find in them a vast field of expansion.
The model of sharing in four of the Roman Empire wanted by Diocletian did not long resist the appetites of the new masters of the Empire.
Constantí_davant_Maxenci,_tapís,_Museu_de_Belles_Arts,_València      ROMA, ITALY, APRIL 2, 2013 : Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. The Lateran Basilica, is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope.
At the death of Galerius in 311, the three remaining masters of the empire: Licinius, Maximin Daia and Constantine suffered the challenge of a new pretender Maxentius who opposed mainly to Constantine. Which provoked the warlike expedition of this one:
  • During [2] the long progression of Constantine, Maxence remained in Rome. Only when his brother-in-law’s army (Constantine had married the daughter of Maximian, Maxence’s brother) approached the city he went out to meet him. The two armies clashed on October 28, 312 in Saxa Rubra (the Red Rocks) on Via Flaminia, ten or twelve kilometers north-east of Rome. […] Constantin routed Maxentius’s army, pushing it back to the south where the old Milvian bridge crosses the Tigris. Near this bridge, Maxence had thrown another, established on pontoons, by which, if necessary, he could retreat and he could then break in the middle to avoid being pursued. His army passed over the bridge, soldiers fleeing to save their lives. They could have escaped if the engineers had not lost their heads and pulled the holds too early. The whole building collapsed, precipitating hundreds of men in tumultuous waters. Those who had not yet crossed rushed on the old stone bridge, their only chance of safety, but as Maxence knew, he was too narrow. Many died crushed or trampled, others were thrown over the parapet by their own comrades. Among these, we found the body of the usurper (Maxence) in person, rejected on the bank. The battle of the Milvius Bridge made Constantine the absolute master of Europe. It also marked, if not its own conversion to Christianity ( – according to Eusebius, following a vision before the battle promising him victory, Constantine would have converted to Christianity before the battle, however this legend is largely undermined by the author – John Julius Norwich – in the developments that follow this quote ), at least the moment he became a protector of his Christian subjects. On his departure from Rome (– he will move the capital of the empire to Constantinople, formerly Byzantium –), he offered Pope Miltiade the old Palace of the Laterani family, which Empress Fausta (who had joined him soon after his arrival)  had occupied during his stay. It was to remain a papal palace for a thousand years. Beside, he ordered the construction, at his own expense, of the first of the Constantinian basilicas of Rome, St. John Lateran, which remains today the cathedral of the city. It is significant that the baptistery was devoted to an immense circular space: there was a considerable increase in conversions in the following years.
     
Although during this generation, Constantine does not take action against the Jews (which will be the case at the end of his life), it is a transitional generation that transforms the kingdom of Edom (Rome) pagan into a new kingdom of Cristian Edom.
The priority of Christianity during this generation is first of all to fight its own « heresies ».

Thus [3] Arians of Alexandria proclaims that Jesus is neither eternal nor of the same substance as God the Father, but created by Him as an instrument to save the world. His nature is human and not divine.

Arianism met with great success in the Christian world.

Cesare_Nebbia_Concile_de_Nicée_(1560)_-_crop_(2)

Nikea-ariusConstantine decides to convene a first « universal » council, the Council of Nicaea in 324 which took place from May 20 to June 19, 325.

A compromise was found with the Arian supporters: Jesus is consubstantial (homoousios) to God
This will only temporarily settle the conflict with Arianism but will give the church its universal dimension by uniting Eastern and Western churches.
This new force will continue in future generations to focus on the different heretical movements of the church almost eliminating all. But also, to their greatest misfortune, it will also address the fate of the Jews of the empire.
So if this generation is not black for the Jews, it announces an even deeper night for the Jews for generations and centuries to come. Before this darkening night, David can only renew his hope in God even if he knows that the worst is yet to come.
This is expressed in the beginning of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 63 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 9 )

  • A song of David when he was in the desert of Judah.
  • O God, You are my God, I seek You. My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You, in an arid and thirsty land, without water.
    • The Jewish diaspora confined to the ancient Roman empire is now in an essentially Christian land in which the Jews will have to fade (arid land).
  • As I saw You in the Sanctuary, [so do I long] to see Your strength and Your glory.
  • For Your kindness is better than life; my lips will praise You.
    • The remaining phase of the night will be dark for the Jews, David knows that only the dawn at the end of it when the Jews will find their land and their temple is to be hoped.
  • Then I shall bless You in my lifetime; in Your name I shall lift my hands.
  • [As] with choice foods and fat, my soul will be sated, when my mouth praises with expressions of song.
  • When I remember You on my couch; in the watches I meditate about You.
    • David evokes the fidelity of the Jewish people to the divine covenant despite the black generations that announce those of the last « watches of the night. »
  • For You were my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I shall praise.
  • My soul has clung after You; Your right hand has supported me.
Baptême_Constantin_Basilique_Saint-RémiThe reign of Constantine will be decisive in the history of humanity :
  • Constantine [4] I, emperor of Rome. No sovereign in history has earned more the title of Grand Car, in only fifteen years he made two decisions which alone would have changed the future of the civilized world. The first was to adopt Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The second was to transport the capital of this empire from Rome to the new city he built on the site of ancient Byzantium, and which for the next sixteen centuries was to be named after him: Constantinople, the city of Constantine. Together these two decisions and their consequences gave him the right to compete for the title of most influential man in history – apart from Christ, Buddha and the Prophet Muhammad.
It is this power that David challenges regardless of the brilliance of Constantine, the true king (the Messiah) will come to restore belief in God and will end among other things, at least its known form, to nascent Christianity based on the divine nature of Jesus.
This is how David concludes his psalm:

(extract of the psalm 63 associated to this generation, verses 10 to 12 )

 

  • But they seek my soul to make it desolate; may they come into the depths of the earth.
  • May he be dragged by the sword; they will be the portion of foxes.
  • And may the king rejoice with God; may all who swear by Him boast, for the mouth of those who speak lies will be closed.

 

 

help-bouton-fotolia_61356253_subscription_monthly_mButton aus zwei Puzzlestücken zeigt E-Mail Kontakt 

[1] Pierre Maraval: « Christianity of Constantine to the Arab conquest » / Chapter: « The expansion of Christianity » (French: « Le Christianisme de Constantin à la conquête arabe »/Chapitre : « L’expansion du Christianisme » (p2) ).

[2] John Julius Norwich: « History of Byzantium » / Chapter: « The first centuries / Maxence » (French: « Histoire de Byzance » /Chapitre : « Les premiers siècles / Maxence» (p.19 et 20) ).

[3] According to John Julius Norwich: « History of Byzantium » / Chapter « The first centuries » (French: « Histoire de Byzance »/Chapitre « Les premiers siècles » (p23/24) ).

[4] John Julius Norwich / History of Byzantium / Chapter I: « Constantine the Great » (French: « Histoire de Byzance » /Chapitre I : « Constantin le Grand » (p17) ).