The Spread of Christianity in the Late Antiquity
The period between 300 and 400 C.E named Late Antiquity, a period between 300 and 400 C.E, witnessed the rise in Christianity to its eminence in the Roman Empire. This complex transformation caused regional diversity. The Late Antiquity, which saw the “Great Persecution” under Emperor Diocletian, promoted the Roman Empire to develop notions of sanctity and heresy. After the death of Emperor Severus Alexander in 235 E.C, disloyalty among the would-be emperors, civil war and external aggression ravaged the economy and governance of the Roman Empire (Levack et al, 2011). The imperial government later regained it power when Diocletian took over leadership and established military, administrative and economic reforms.
Scholars argue that Diocletian failed to stem the growth of Christianity despite his military conquest and success in administration and economic development. Diocletian emperorship ended when a young general, Constantine, overthrew him and centralized the empire’s governance. He kept part of Diocletian’s reform agendas and converted to Christianity due to the belief that his triumph was an action of a Christian God (Levack et al, 2011) Constantine’s conversion to Christianity led to the Christianization of the empire and mitigated religious persecutions. In addition, it led to the foundation of an administrative and religious city called Constantinople. Diocletian’s rule sanitized, organized and facilitated the spread of Christianity to rural areas that had remained disorganized and concentrated in urban areas during the first three centuries.
Complexities rocked the spread of Christianity and its organization. Bishops were teachers, defenders of religion and managers of economic resources, which they used to help the poor. Christianity whipped the polytheistic culture of the fourth century. Christians, publicly and in private belief, attacked paganism (Levack et al, 2011). New Christian communities and identities, which adhered to well-defined sets of beliefs and values, emerged. In their practice, they required integration with the daily life and older ways of living. Christianity also led to conversion of temples, circuses and bathhouses in Roman cities into churches, hospitals and monasteries.