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14871Re: Constantine and Ardashir (slightly OT)

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  • richfaussette
    May 29, 2013
      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Jgibson <jgibson000@...> wrote:
      > I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
      > Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
      Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.

      Dear Jeffrey,
      Edward Gibbon is enamored of Zoroastrianism and devotes considerable text to its re-establishment under Artaxerxes I.

      It's a very enjoyable read...

      The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1,
      chapter VIII: Of the State of Persia after the Restoration of the Monarchy by Artaxerxes

      Jeffrey wrote:
      Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under Ardashir.

      Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the assumptions behind it?


      Rich responds:

      The claim that Constantine consciously established Christianity is worthy of consideration.

      It is the process of 'establishing a national religion' that must have been known to Constantine.

      Zoroaster established his religion, declaring monotheism and aniconism. Once he acquired a national patron, he established his sons as head of the army and head of the priesthood and declared war on the daevas (national gods).

      In biblical Law monotheism and aniconism are declared while foreign gods (daevas) are condemned.

      The compilation of Biblical Law and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem are examples of spiritual and temporal centralization financed by Zoroastrian emperors.

      Ardashir, the first Sassanid emperor, summons the finest of the magi until he identifies the most learned one and has him verify a single Zoroastrian religious text. He has re-established and recentralized the priesthood and the text.

      Constantine acquires and finances an Oriental religion which is also monotheistic, aniconic (in theory) and also idol (daeva/foreign god)destroying. A centralized hierarchy is appointed.

      Armenia, a Roman ally in the East establishes the world's oldest national church (301 A.D.) trying to shed Oriental rule but Zoroastrianism persists in Armenia for centuries after Christianity is adopted.

      Jeffrey wrote about:

      "Constantine's inspiration "to bind together""

      Rich responds:
      The establishment of a proselytizing Christianity with a central church and priesthood and standard texts offers diverse communities integration and cohesion, their rulers; centralization of propaganda and control; the same goal as in the other establishments of religion.

      Jeffrey wrote:
      'First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so...'

      Rich responds:
      The establishment of a national religion seems to have been accomplished a few times beginning with Zoroaster and Moses.

      Constantine could have benefited from these establishments that preceded him. I've made the same suggestion your web site makes. I don't call it valid, just probable as you can see from the series of 'establishments' that precededed Constantine.

      Enjoy the Gibbons' text on the re-establishment of Zoroastrianism.

      Rich Faussette
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