Dr. Erika Manders
The economy of imperial ideology and the Christianization of Empire, AD 249-395
This project focuses on the diachronic development of imperial ideology in the second half of the third and in the fourth century, a period that was characterized by an increasing influence of Christianity, not only within society at large but also within the highest circles of imperial power. By way of an in-depth examination of material expressions of the religious representation of Roman emperors (imperial coins and imperial temples/churches) between 249 and 395 this study offers an analysis of imperial uses of religious rhetoric in a period of transition. To which extent and regarding to which elements did continuity prevail in the religious messages that were disseminated by the emperors in this period? When and in which ideological aspects did changes occur? Could these changes be linked to attempts of emperors to strengthen their power at a time when the power base of the church was expanding rapidly? By answering these questions more insights will be gained into (a) the different stages of the process by which Christianity was accepted and disseminated within the structures of imperial power and (b) the initial phase of the power struggle between state and church from the perspective of the emperor. In this way, the transition from a pagan to a Christian empire and the role of the emperor herein will be put into a new perspective.