The First Division Of Ancient Ch

By the accession of Constantine to the sole sovereignty of the Roman

Empire, A. D. 324, ancient Christianity may be conveniently divided into

two great periods. In the first, it was a religion liable to persecution,

suffering severely at times and always struggling to maintain itself; in

the second, it became the religion of the State, and in its turn set about

to repress and persecute the heathen religions. It was no longer withou

legal rights; it had the support of the secular rulers and was lavishly

endowed with wealth. The conditions of the Church in these two periods are

so markedly different, and the conditions had such a distinct effect upon

the life and growth of the Christian religion, that the reign of

Constantine is universally recognized as marking a transition from one

historical period to another, although no date which shall mark that

transition is universally accepted. The year 311, the year in which the

Diocletian persecution ceased, has been accepted by many as the dividing

point. The exact date adopted is immaterial.

The principal sources in English for the history of the Christian Church

before A. D. 324 are:

The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down

to A. D. 325. American edition, Buffalo and New York, 1885-1896; new

edition, New York, 1896 (a reprint). The collection, cited as ANF,

contains the bulk of the Christian literature of the period, with the

exception of the less important commentaries of Origen.

Eusebius, Church History. Translated with Prolegomena and Notes by

Arthur Cushman McGiffert. In A Select Library of the Nicene and

Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Second series, New York,

1890. The Church History of Eusebius is the foundation of the study of

the history of the Church before A. D. 324, as it contains a vast number

of citations from works now lost. The edition by Professor McGiffert is

the best in English, and is provided with scholarly notes, which serve as

an elaborate commentary on the text. It should be in every library. This

work is cited as Eusebius, Hist. Ec. The text used in the extracts given

in this source book is that of Ed. Schwartz, in Die Griechischen

Christlicher: Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte. Kleine

Ausgabe, Leipsic, 1908. This text is identical with the larger and less

convenient edition by the same editor.