Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Letter written by the Emperor Constantine respecting the building of Churches.
p. 53 Chapter XIV.—Letter written by the Emperor Constantine respecting the building of Churches 383 .
“Constantinus Augustus, the great and the victorious, to Eusebius.
“I am well aware, and am thoroughly convinced, my beloved brother, that as the servants of our Saviour Christ have been suffering up to the present time from nefarious machinations and tyrannical persecutions, the fabrics of all the churches must have either fallen into utter ruin from neglect, or, through apprehension of the impending iniquity, have been reduced below their proper dignity. But now that freedom is restored, and that dragon 384 , through the providence of God, and by our instrumentality, thrust out from the government of the Empire, I think that the divine power has become known to all, and that those who hitherto, from fear or from incredulity or from depravity, have lived in error, will now, upon becoming acquainted with Him who truly is, be led into the true and correct manner of life. Exert yourself, therefore, diligently in the reparation of the churches under your own jurisdiction, and admonish the principal bishops, priests, and deacons of other places to engage zealously in the same work; in order that all the churches which still exist may be repaired or enlarged, and that new ones may be built wherever they are required. You, and others through your intervention, can apply to magistrates 385 and to provincial governments 386 , for all that may be necessary for this purpose; for they have received written injunctions to render zealous obedience to whatever your holiness may command. May God preserve you, beloved brother.”
Thus the emperor wrote to the bishops in each province respecting the building of churches. From his letter to Eusebius of Palestine, it is easily learnt what measures he adopted to obtain copies of the Holy Bible 387 .
This letter, according to Du Pin, was written a.d. 324 or 325.53:384
Either Maxentius or Licinius.53:385
ἡγεμονεύω, used in Luke ii. 2, of Quirinus, and Luke 3.1, of Pontius Pilate, but Theodoretus employs it and its correlatives of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities.53:386
ἐπαρχικὴ τάξις̀ ἐπαρχία occurs Acts xxiii. 34, of Cilicia, and in Acts 25.1, of Judæa, the province of the Procurator Festus, but in the time of Constantine the ἔπαρχοι were civil præfects, without any military command, governing four great ἐπαρχίαι, viz. (i) Thrace, Egypt, and the East, (ii) Illyricum, Macedonia, and Greece, (iii) Italy and Africa, and (iv) Gaul, Spain, and Britain. (Zos. ii. 33.) On the accurate use of titles in the N.T. vide Bp. Lightfoot in Appendix to Essays on Supernatural Religion.53:387
τὰ ιερὰ βιβλια, or, “the holy books:” The Books, par excellence, were about this time becoming The Book, whence Biblia Sacra as a singular.
Next: The Epistle of Constantine concerning the preparation of copies of the Holy Scriptures.
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