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The Second Division Of Ancient C

The second division of the history of ancient Christianity, or
Christianity under the influence of the Graeco-Roman type of culture,
begins with the sole rule of Constantine, A. D. 324, or his sole reign in
the West, A. D. 312, and extends to the beginning of the Middle Ages, or
that period in which the Germanic nations assumed the leading role in the
political life of western Europe. The end of this division of Church
history may be placed, at the latest, about the middle of the eighth
century, as the time when the authority of the Eastern Empire ceased to
affect materially the fortunes of the West. But it is impossible to name
any year or reign or political event as of such outstanding importance as
to make it a terminus ad quem for the division which will command the
suffrages of all as the boundary between the ancient and the mediaeval
epochs of history.

The second division of ancient Christianity may be subdivided into three

I. The Imperial State Church of the Undivided Empire, or until the Death
of Theodosius the Great, or to 395.

II. The Church in the Divided Empire until the Collapse of the Western
Empire and the Schism between the East and the West arising out of the
Monophysite Controversies, or to circa 500.

III. The Dissolution of the Imperial Church of the West and the Transition
to the Middle Ages.

In the third period are to be placed the beginnings of the Middle Ages, as
the German invaders had long before 500 established their kingdoms and had
begun to dominate the affairs of the West. But the connection of the
Church of the West, or rather of Italy, with the East was long so close
that the condition of the Church is more that of a dissolution of the
ancient imperial State Church than of a building up of the mediaeval
Church. At the same time, the transition to the Middle Ages, so far as the
Church is concerned at least, takes place under the influence of the
ancient tradition, and institutions are established in which the leading
elements, taken from ancient life, are not yet transformed by Germanic
ideas. The East knew no Middle Age. For a history of the Eastern Church
other divisions would have to be made, but in a history in which, for
practical reasons, the development is traced in Western Christianity, the
affairs of the Eastern Church must be treated as subordinate to those of
Western Christianity.

For the second division of the history of ancient Christianity, the
principal sources available in English are the translations in A Select
Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church.
Edited by Ph. Schaff and H. Wace. The First Series of this collection
(PNF, ser. I) contains the principal works of Augustine and Chrysostom.
The Second Series (PNF, ser. II) is for historical study even more
valuable, and gives, generally with very able introductions and excellent
bibliographies, the most important works of many of the leading patristic
writers, including the principal ecclesiastical historians, as well as
Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil the Great, Cyril
of Jerusalem, Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, Rufinus, Cassian, Vincent of
Lerins, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, and others. These translations
are in part fresh versions, and in part older versions but slightly, if at
all, revised, taken from the Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic
Church anterior to the Division of the East and West, Oxford, 1838, et

For the period before the outbreak of the great christological
controversies, the ecclesiastical historians are of great value. There are
no less than four continuations of the Ecclesiastical History of
Eusebius accessible: the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, 324-439
(ed. R. Hussey, Oxford, 1853); of Sozomen, 324-425 (ed. R. Hussey, Oxford,
1860); of Rufinus, 324-395, which is appended to a Latin version or rather
revised and "edited" Latin version of Eusebius; of Theodoret, 323-428 (ed.
Gaisford, Oxford, 1854). Fragments of the Ecclesiastical History of the
Arian Philostorgius, from the appearance of Arius as a teacher until 423,
have been translated and are to be found in Bohn's Ecclesiastical
Library. For the period after the Council of Ephesus, A. D. 431, there is
no such abundance, but Evagrius, of whose history (ed. Parmentier and
Bidez, London, 1898) there is a translation in Bohn's Ecclesiastical
Library, though not in PNF, is of great value as he gives many original
documents; and a portion of the Ecclesiastical History of John of
Ephesus (trans. by R. P. Smith, Oxford, 1860) carries the history to about
600. There are also works devoted to the history of the West by Gregory of
Tours, the Venerable Bede, and Paulus Diaconus, and others of the greatest
value for the third period of this division. They will be mentioned in
their place.

As the series of the great church councils begins with the Christian
Empire, the History of the Councils, by Hefele, becomes indispensable to
the student of ecclesiastical history, not only for its narrative but for
the sources epitomized or given in full. It has been translated into
English as far as the close of the eighth century, or well into the
beginnings of the history of the mediaeval Church. The new French
translation should be used if possible as it contains valuable additional
notes. In connection with Hefele may be used:

Percival, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, in PNF, ser. II, vol. XIV.

Wm. Bright, Notes on the Canons of the First Four General Councils,
1882, should be consulted for this period. Bruns, op. cit., and
Lauchert, op. cit., give texts only.

The two great collections of secular laws are:

Codex Theodosianus, ed. Mommsen and Meyer, Berlin, 1905.

Corpus Juris Civilis, ed. Krueger, Mommsen, Schoell, and Knoll, Berlin,

The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. I, 1912, covers the period
beginning with Constantine and extending to the beginning of the fifth
century. It contains valuable bibliographies of a more discriminating
character than those in the Cambridge Modern History, and render
bibliographical references unnecessary. To this the student is accordingly
referred for such matters. The second volume of this work will cover the
period 500-850.

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