Sunteți pe pagina 1din 10

Rechizitoriu constantinian la adresa persecutorilor,

a pgnilor i a ereticilor

Pr. conf. univ. dr. Gabriel-Viorel Grdan


Facultatea de Teologie Ortodox din Cluj-Napoca
Email: ggardan@yahoo.com

n literatura istoric mpratul Constantin cel Mare a fost receptat i ca un apologet al


cretinismului1. Pornind de la aceast premiz, ne propunem s analizm modul n care
binecredinciosul basileu i-a perceput i s-a raportat la cei care au persecutat anterior pe cretini, la
cei care nc nu s-au convertit la cretinism i la cei care au denaturat nvtura cretin. n acest
sens vom face recurs la izvoare, cuvntri i acte oficiale care i sunt atribuite lui Constantin cel
Mare2 i vom sintetiza acuzaiile pe care mpratul le aduce la adresa adversarilor religiei cretine.
The perception of Constantine as an apologist of Christianity was best outlined, in our
opinion, by Mark Edwards3. He substantiates the apologetic image of Constantine the Great in his
work Oration to the Assembly of Saints4.
In Chapter XXXII, book IV of The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine 5, Eusebius of
Caesarea6 mentions, without offering too many details, one of Constantines orations, which
Eusebius intended to offer the readers as an edificatory example at the end of his work. The
majority of the manuscripts and, implicitly, the most important editions7, as well as some of the
1
Vezi n acest sens i studiul nostru Gabriel Viorel Grdan, Constantine The Great, The Apologist of Christianity, n Dr.
Sergiu Popescu (coord.), The Christian Paradigm of a United Europe. The Historical and Religious Dimension of The
Reign of Saint Constantine The Great and His Presesnt Reception, Regional Development Foundation, Sofia, 2014, pp.
174-183.
2
Printre cei care au adunat scrisorile lui Constantin cel Mare din diferite surse, le-au grupat i aezat n ordine
cronologic se numr Heinz Kraft, Kaiser Konstantins religise Entwicklung, Tbingen, 1955. Potrivit lui Emanoil
Bbu, aceste texte au fost prezentate i analizate sistematic iniial de H. Drries, Das Selbstzeugnis Kaiser Konstantins,
Gttingen, 1954 i recent de Pierre Marraval, Lettres et discours, La Belles Lettres, Paris, 2010. Vezi Pr. prof. dr.
Emanoil Bbu, Probleme religioase n scrisorile imperiale constantiniene, n Pr. prof. dr. Nicolae Chifr, pr. lect. dr.
Daniel Buda (coord.), mpratul Constantin cel Mare i viziunea sa asupra vieii sociale, politice, religioase i
culturale a Imperiului Roman, Editura Andreian & Editura ASTRA Museum, Sibiu, 2013, pp. 76-77.
3
Mark Edwards, The Constantinian Circle and the Oration to the Saints, in Apologetics in the Roman Empire, edited
by Mark Edwards, Martin Goodman, Simon Price, Christopher Rowland, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 251-275.
4
Una dintre cele mai amnunite analize ale acestei cuvntri a fost realizat sub forma unei cercetri doctorale la
Kings College, London, de ctre David John Ison, The Constantinian Oratio to the Saints autorship and background,
1985.
5
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, introductive study by Emilian Popescu, translation and notes by
Radu Alexandrescu, in col. Prini i scriitori bisericeti, SN, 8, Ed. Basilica, Bucharest, 22012, p. 228.
6
For a recent analysis of the way in which the image of Constantine is reflected in the texts of Eusebius see Timoty
Barnes, Constantine. Dinasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire, Willey Blackwell, 2014, pp. 8-13.
7
PG 20, col. 1253-1316; critical edition Ivar A. Heikel, Eusebius Werke I, in col. Die griechischen christlichen
Schriftsteller, 7, Leipzig, 1902, pp. 149-192.
1
translations8 of the biographical work dedicated by Eusebius to Emperor Constantine, add to
annexes this oration attributed to Constantine and entitled Oratione ad Sacrum Coetum9.
Ample discussions regarding the authenticity of the work took place, as well as regarding
Constantines paternity10. Our goal is not to resume here the discussions pertaining to this theme,
but to start from the premise that the work, initially written in Latin and later translate into Greek,
belongs, at least in its initial state, to Constantine the Great. This oration, of which it is believed to
have lasted at least two hours11, was said most likely on Good Friday12 in front of an auditorium
formed mainly of clergymen.
If we take into account the witness of the very same Eusebius of Caesarea, this oration is not
a singular act. Constantine was preoccupied with studying, with writing his points of view in an
expositive manner. He made a habit out of writing in his spare moments and addressing the masses
via his orations, being convinced that the best way he could establish a relationship with the people
is by using the power of faith and belief. Also, for him it was only natural to insert theological
debates into his orations. When his orations carried theological content, he would adopt a special
attitude: he would stand tall, have a severe look and would lower his voice. As a result of his an
approach and because of the way he would maintain his point of view, he was able to make the
people listening shouts in sings of approval13.
The reasoning behind the writing of the initially spoken oration had different interpretations.
With theological underpinnings, a philosophical argumentation, written in Latin and later translated
into Greek, the oration probably was focused on converting the non-believers, in order to end
8
See for example Ernest Cushing Richardson, The Life of Constantine by Eusebius, together with the Oratio of
Constantine to Assembly of the Saints and the Oration of Eusebius in Praise of Constantine, a revised translation with
prolegomena and notes, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, second series,
vol. 1, Michigan, 1890.
9
Constantine the Great, Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 3, in Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului
Constantin i alte scrieri, introductory study by Emilian Popescu, translation and notes Radu Alexandrescu, in col.
Prini i scriitori bisericeti, SN, 8, Ed. Basilica, Bucharest, 22012, pp. 249-297.
10
When presenting the main contestants of the Constantinian paternity in Oration at the Assembly of Saints, H.A. Drake
observes that the first doubts were expressed in the year 1845, J.P. Rossignol in his work Virgile et Constantin le
Grad.The paternity was categorically denied by the editor Ivar A. Heikel, especially, in chapter 1 of his work Kritische
Beitrge zu den Constantin-Schriften des Eusebius (Leipzig, 1911). A new wave of critics denied the authenticity and
the paternity proclaimed by Eusebius in Vita Constantini, starting with Henri Grgoire. Furthermore, we have Norman
Baynes who believes that this text can be used to demonstrate the personal beliefs of emperor Constantine. See in this
direction Norman H. Baynes Constantin the Great and the Christian Church, in Proceeding of British Academy,
London, 1929; H.A. Drake, Suggestions of Date in Constantines Oratio to the Saints, in The American Journal of
Philology, vol. 106, no. 3 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 335-349; H.A Drake, Policy and Belief in Constantines Oratio to the
Saints, in Studia Patristica, XIX, (1989), pp. 43-51.
11
Mark Edwards, The Constantinian Circle and the Oration to the Saints, p. 252.
12
Regarding the date and the place of the oration there are several theories. The following years are mentioned 314,
317, 325 or even 337, Sardica, Constantinopol or Nicomidia being the places where the oration could have been uttered.
See the excellent analyses of Timothy Barnes, The Emperor Constantine's Good Friday Sermon in The Journal of
Theological Studies, 27, 1976, pp. 414-423 i H. A. Drake, Suggestions of Date in Constantines Oratio to the Saints,
n The American Journal of Philology, vol. 106, no. 3 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 335-349.
13
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, IV, XXVIII, 1-2, p. 226.
2
existing disputes among believers or to illustrate the authors piety 14. Later it was seen as a guide to
the emperors politics and faith15, for the text included a passionate argument for a sophisticated
religious policy of pluralism and toleration16.
Without analyzing in detail the entire work, in order to understand the context in which his
apology in favour of Christians is assumed, we present here a concise summary, as rendered by
Edwards. The orator commences by declaring that it is now the anniversary of the Passion. After,
his speech falls into three divisions, each with its own apologetic subject. The first part sets the case
for monotheism: the pagan gods, with their diverse births and characters, cannot maintain the
harmony of the cosmos, and their immoralities prove that they are either living demons or dead
mortals. The notion the world came into being through some automatic process is absurd, since an
almighty and benevolent creator would be needed to appease the eternal conflict of the elements.
Plato had an inkling of the truth, but no philosopher has fully understood how the world is governed
by the Father through the offices of the second god, his Son.
Next he extols the majesty and voluntary abasement of this Son in his incarnation. A god in
human form, replete with virtue and inalienable wisdom, Christ has opened up the path of heaven
by his teaching. Having manifested his philanthropy by his willingness to suffer, he imitates his
Fathers magnanimity by waiving his revenge for a certain interval, during which he enlightens
every nations with the brilliance of his resurrected glory. His life and vindication were foretold by
the Hebrew prophets, but the most persuasive arguments for pagans are in the Sibylline acrostic
which predicts of the Day of Judgment, and the Fourth Eclogue of Virgil, which celebrates the birth
of an unnamed infant as the prologue to a returning age of gold.
Finally the speaker declares his personal adherence to the Saviour. He apostrophizes Decius,
Valerian and Aurelian, the three persecuting emperors of the third century, and cites himself as
witness to the calamitous effects of the Great Persecution initiated by his predecessor Diocletian in
303. He claims that those successors of Diocletian who have perished most conspicuously were
those who had compounded their defiance of the imperial constitution with the oppression of the
Church. He ends with the praise of Christ, whose wise and merciful dominion he will never cease to
acknowledge and proclaim17.
With the apologetic dimension of the oration in mind, it is interesting to note the way
Constantine sees the pagans and the way they relate themselves to Christianity. The attitude of the
14
Mark Edwards, The Constantinian Circle and the Oration to the Saints, pp. 253, 260-262.
15
H.A Drake, Policy and Belief in Constantines Oratio to the Saints, p. 43.
16
H.A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops. The Politics of Intolerance, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore,
2000, p. 298.
17
Mark Edwards, The Constantinian Circle and the Oration to the Saints, pp. 253-254. For another division of the the
oration see Johannes Quasten, Patrology, vol. III, Christian Clasic Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN, f.a., pp. 324-325.
3
pagan persecutors towards Christians and towards the Church is defined by Constantine as being
reckless folly18. According to an ample indictment of the pagans and persecutors, made by the
emperor, the means of manifestation were the following: the pagans persisted in ruining the gifts of
God, in destroying the Church that had the role of bringing salvation to everyone. The persecutors
propelled the new vain beliefs in idols; they imagined cruelty can defeated the love of mankind;
they were not aware that the great endurance and patience of God could be thrown about by mans
pride19; they spoke against Christ, God and the Son of God, Who is the reason of goodness 20; they
adopted the mask of piety to fully abandon themselves into pleasures and debauchery; they did not
have the slightest idea of how good exists in the world 21, whats the purpose of life and existence22,
they did not know Gods commandments23, and when they were made known to them, they defied24
such commandments for they did not wish to know God 25; they started a merciless war against faith
in God and against His Holy Church26; they drenched in blood people with no fault 27; mocked the
righteous people28; hated the Church29; punished the ones that led a holy life 30; they were governed
by blood thirst when it came to the servants of God 31; they committed unimaginable acts of
cruelty32; they imagined terrible punishments for Christians 33; they forced into debauchery virgins
and women that led an abstemious life34; they fought against God35.
As a result of this indictment on the pagans that persecuted the Christians, Constantine
reached the following conclusion: What madness is this? and what an insolent abuse of power, that
man should dare to fight against God; should deliberately insult the most holy and just of all
religions; and plan, without the slightest provocation, the destruction of so great a multitude of
righteous persons? [...]So great was the effusion of bloodshed, that if shed in battle with barbarian
enemies, it had been sufficient to purchase a perpetual peace [...].At length, indeed, the providence
of God took vengeance on these unhallowed deeds 36.
18
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, I, 5, p. 253.
19
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 4, p. 268.
20
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 7, p. 269.
21
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 7, p. 269.
22
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXI, 4, p. 291.
23
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 7, p. 269.
24
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XII, 2, p. 273.
25
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXI, 2, p. 291.
26
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXII, 2, p. 292.
27
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXII, 2, p. 292.
28
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIV, 1, p. 294.
29
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIV, 1, p. 294.
30
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIV, 1, p. 294.
31
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIV, 1, p. 294.
32
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 3, p. 295.
33
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 3, p. 295.
34
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 3, p. 295.
35
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 1, p. 294.
36
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 3, p. 295.
4
In the same apologetic register, by making a parallel between the Christian faith and the
pagan religions, Constantine identifies the following features for the Christian religion: in it is
found the nobleness of thought, unity and the everlasting love of man; Christianity is perfection in
faith, it is animated by the pity for the oppressed; it asked for a simple life; it offered the knowledge
of one true God and His unique kingdom37; Christianity is the pure religion; the mind is awake in
Christianity; the ones that embrace this faith and confess God choose a wonderful path, they
continue with the role given by God, they do not turn into prey, despair or anger, but face, without
fear, the hardships of life and receive Gods mercy in vigil38.
On one hand, formulnd o adevrat teologie a victoriei ntemeiat pe credina n
Dumnezeul cretin39, Constantine observed that the reckless folly of the pagan persecutors and of
the ones that allow to be governed by it, for they lie in the dirt conquered by justice and by the
power of virtue and were overwhelmed with guilt. From Constantines perspective, the causes of
this tragic end are the following: they did not know how to serve God with propriety; did not
understand that everything that happens in the world is the result of the divine providence, and not
of hazard40; they manipulated the small passions of the masses for personal interests; their lack of
faith and sincerity took neurotic forms41; their cruelty and their inability to restrain their anger42.
On the other hand, Constantine expressed his belief that anyone guilty of living a worthless,
critical, dishonourable life, still could benefit of Gods ruling and the eternal life on condition: he
was repentant; if he thought of God; if he opened the eyes of the heart wide; he gave up the life
he had before; if he fully trusted God healing power of the souls43.
In trying to make the Church, its servants, and the martyrs more valuable from an apologetic
point of view, Constantine focused on a few aspects regarding their mission and position in society.
Therefore, the Church and its servants gained the holiness of chastity, were the caretakers of
childhood and holiness, they strove for truth and the love of people never let them rest. They were
an eternal spring streaming the nectar of salvation, and were to serve God, for which reason God
took care of them as well44. The mission of the Church and of its servants is to make sure that Gods

37
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIII, 1, p. 293.
38
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXIII, 2, p. 293.
39
Emanoil Bbu constat faptul c pentru prima dat noiunea de teologie a victoriei a fost folosit de J. Gage, La
thologie de la victorie impriale, n Revue Historique, 17, 1933, pp. 1-44, ulterior fiind abordat i de F. Heim, La
thologie de la victorie de Constantine Thodose, Paris, 1992. Pr. prof. dr. Emanoil Bbu, Probleme religioase n
scrisorile imperiale constantiniene, p. 97.
40
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, I, 2, p. 252.
41
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, I, 2, pp. 252-253.
42
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXII, 4, p. 292.
43
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 1, p. 266.
44
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, II, 1, p. 253.
5
commandment was permeated with truth and was kept untouched45. The knowledge preached by the
Church begets audacity when facing death; faces the storms of life and the apostolic endeavours; it
ignites in the one that receives the power of endurance and joyful accomplishment of the godly
commandments46. When referring to the position of the apostles in the church and in society,
Constantine considers that the apostles leave behind an unforgettable memory and an eternal
glory47. He praises their wise way of living, their fight to achieve holiness, their perseverance in
faith and firmness in front of the suffering caused by Christian persecutors48.
Completely assuming the role of an apologist, Constantine perceived himself as being at the
same time subject and instrument of the divine providence. He was called by God himself to apply
the divine judgment upon the ones that persecuted the Christians 49. The care manifested by the
emperor towards the Christian Church, was also a result of this call. In his opinion, the good flows
onto the state and is the result of three factors: all of the emperors actions are devoted to God, the
emperors courage and his perseverance in pray50. To these factors we add our care of God and His
response to the prayers of the ones that pray for the emperor51.
For this reason he confessed that he felt his duty was to praise God the inexhaustible spring
of proofs of power; to manifest the appreciation he owes God for the wonderful good act
accomplished by God: to praise and announce Christ in the parable of his life 52. Also, he confessed
that he tried to plant the seeds of hope in the souls of the pagans, of the ones that never knew faith 53.
When he felt that he needed divine support in the mission to bring the pagans to faith, Constantine
invoked in his pray inspiration, support and Gods help54.
The responsibility to make known to people the preaching of truth was for Constantine a
motif of joy, a form of doxology, an additional reason to assume the very exigencies of life achieved
by converting to Christianity55. For these reasons he recommends that: we lead a moderate and quiet
life; raise our thought above what is given to our nature; be convinced that God, Who knows
everything, is always by our side56.

45
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XII, 3, pp. 273-274.
46
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XII, 3-4, p. 274.
47
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XII, 4, p. 274.
48
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 5, p. 296.
49
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXV, 5, p. 296.
50
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXVI, 1-2, pp. 296-297.
51
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XXVI, 2, p. 297.
52
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, V, 1, p. 257; XXII, 1, p. 291; XI,13, p. 271.
53
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 1, pp. 266-267.
54
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 3, p. 267.
55
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, XI, 3, p. 267.
56
Cuvntarea la adunarea sfinilor, V, 4, p. 259.
6
Therefore, the Oration of Constantine the Great to the Assembly of Saints has a witness
value. Its apologetic force resides in the fact that its text is the public deposition of a converted
person57. He demonstrates the vigour of faith of an apologetic emperor capable to give theological
expression to his faith58. Hence, Constantines oration illustrates very well which were the spiritual
resorts and the exceptional methods of religious politics of the first Christian emperor.
Politica religioas constantinian axat pe unitate i-a avut n vedere i pe adversarii interni ai
Bisericii, cu att mai mult cu ct creterea rapid a comunitilor cretine a fcut ca n snul acesteia
s se nasc interpretri diferite, uneori contradictorii, ale adevrului de credin mntuitor. Ereziile,
nvturile de credin greite i n contradicie cu cele asumate de Biserica universal, i ereticii
sunt menionai n diferite scrisori i acte oficiale imperiale. Atitudinea mpratului Constantin fa
de erezii i fa de eretici este explicit i fr echivoc.
La sfritul anului 312 sau n prima parte a anului 313 mpratul Constantin trimite o
scrisoare episcopului Cecilian al Cartaginei59 prin care i face cunoscut faptul c a disponibilizat o
important sum de bani pentru oferirea de ajutoare financiare unor clerici din Africa 60. Banii urma
s-i pun la dispoziia lui Cecilian administratorul financiar general al Africii, iar episcopul
Cartaginei urma s mpart banii conform unor instruciuni primite prin intermediul sfetnicului
imperial Osiu de Cordoba61. Constantin face astfel referire la un document redactat de Osiu la curtea
imperial prin care, ca urmare a disputelor i a rupturii existente n Biserica din Africa de Nord,
erau identificai acei clerici care au rmas fideli adevrului i Bisericii universale i se aflau n
comuniune cu Cecilian i prin acesta cu Osiu de Cordoba i Miltiade al Romei. Doar acetia puteau
beneficia de generozitatea imperial. Documentul este expresia opiunii constantiniene de a milita
pentru unitatea Bisericii, sprijinirea ierarhiei i a clericilor aflai n comuniune de credin cu
mpratul fiind un mijloc n aceast direcie62.

57
For a recent analysis of the theories regarding the conversion of Constantine see Policarp Prvuloiu, Convertirea lui
Constantin cel Mare. Pons Milvius 312. Pronie i istorie in Emilian Popescu, Mihai Ovidiu Coi (editors), Cruce i
misiune. Sfinii mprai Constantin i Elena promotori ai libertii religioase i aprtori ai Bisericii, vol. I, Editura
Basilica, Bucharest, 2013, pp. 39-85. See also the rich bibliography presented here, pp. 78-84.
58
Mark Edwards, The Constantinian Circle and the Oration to the Saints, p. 267 i 275.
59
Aprilie 313 este limita pentru datarea acestei scrisori. Vezi Victor De Clercq, Ossius of Cordoba, pp. 149-150.
60
Eusebiu de Cezareea, Istoria bisericeasc, X, 6, 1-5, traducere, studiu, note i comentarii de pr. prof. T. Bodogae, n
col. Prini i Scriitori Bisericeti, vol. 13, pp. 384-385.
61
Gabriel-Viorel Grdan, Osiu de Cordoba sfetnicul mpratului Constantin cel Mare, n pr. prof. dr. Nicoale Chifr,
pr. lect. dr. Daniel Buda (coord.), mpratul Constantin cel Mare i viziunea sa asupra vieii sociale, politice, religioase
i culturale a imperiului roman, Editura Andreiana i Editura ASTRA Museum, Sibiu, 2013, pp. 165-187.
62
Charles Matson Odahl, Constantin i imperiul cretin, pp. 127-128.
7
La nivel conceptual, erezia este definit de mpratul Constantin din perspectiv socio-
politic63 drept o vlvtaie de flcri 64, aductoare de vrajb n/ntre bisericile/comunitile
cretine65, un ru cumplit abtut peste oameni66, biserica ce este cuprins de ea fiind asemenea unui
trup ros de boal67. Din perspectiv religioas i teologic erezia este strin adevrului, justific
cele mai jalnice vicii, se marginete la sminteli i simulacre, este o nebunie mare, hd i
degradant68, smnt a rului69, o credin degradant70, o sminteal de nesuferit 71. La originea
ereziei stau, n opinia imperatorului cretin, pasiunile umane i invidia, discuiile cu privire la
dogmele dumnezeieti fiind doar un pretext72.
Pe de alt parte, ereticii sunt receptai i acuzai de mpratul dreptmritor ca fiind oameni
fr Dumnezeu, neltori care fcuser un adevrat prpd prin orae, prooroci mincinoi i lupi
rpitori73, potrivnici ai adevrului, dumani ai vieii, sfetnici ai pierzrii 74. Ereticii au dat glas unor
crezuri sectare, au mpletit credina lor deart cu minciuni i au mbibat nvtura lor cu otrav 75.
Ei dau chip minciunii, asupresc pe cei nevinovai, lipsesc de lumin pe cei credincioi, pierd vremea
n discuii amgitoare, pngresc tot ceea ce ating, imprim n contiinele limpezi i nevinovate ale
oamenilor rni aductoare de moarte76. Mai mult, ereticii dau dovad de o iresponsabil uurin,
amgesc puterea de credin a poporului i o risipesc n erezii77.
Pentru mprat rspndirea ereziilor i a vrajbei/lipsei de unitate aduse de ele a dobndit
sensul unei nenorociri care l-a rnit profund78, i-a provocat mult suferin79, iar nmulirea ereticilor
l-a determinat s ia atitudine.

63
Vezi i L. Bernard, The Criminalisation of Heresy in the Later Roman Empire: A Sociopolitical Device? n Legal
History, 16 (1995), pp. 121-146; E. Iricinschi & H.M. Zellentin (eds.), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, Tbingen,
2008; E. Junod, Les hrtiques et lhrsie dans le programme de lHistoire Ecclesiastique dEusbe de Csare,
Rivista di storia del christianesimo 6 (2009), pp. 417-434.
64
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXI, 5, p. 154.
65
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXII, p. 154.
66
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIII, 1, p. 206.
67
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXII, p. 154.
68
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIV, 2, p. 207.
69
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXX, p. 161.
70
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIV, 2, p. 208.
71
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXVI, p. 155.
72
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXI, 3-4, p. 154.
73
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIII, 1, p. 206.
74
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIV, 2, p. 206.
75
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIV, 1, p. 206.
76
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIV, 2, p. 207.
77
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXVI, p. 155.
78
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXIII, p. 154.
79
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, II, LXVIII, p. 156.
8
Maniera n care Constantin cel mare a ales s acioneze n raport cu grupurile eretice este
ilustrat de criza donatist. Disputele dintre cretinii din Nordul Africii au ajuns n atenia curii
imperiale ca urmare a faptului c ramuza dizident donatist a Bisericii din Africa de Nord a fcut
apel la judecata i intervenia mpratului n nenelegerile interne. Exista n istorie un precedent n
acest sens. Episcopii rsriteni aflai n disput cu ereticul Paul de Samosata au apelat la mpratul
Aurelian (270-275) pentru a trana disputa. Aurelian a stabilit i el un precedent, supunnd
problema ateniei i judecii episcopului Romei i solicitndu-i acestuia o soluie. Iniial Constantin
a intenionat s adopte o soluie similar, supunnd chestiunea, n anul 313, judecii episcopului
Miltiade al Romei. Protestele donatitilor l-au determinat, la sfatul lui Osiu, s stabileasc un alt
precedent, de aceast dat favorabil Bisericii, hotrnd convocarea unui sinod la Arelate n anul 314
la care a invitat s participe episcopii din Apus i care urma s analizeze disensiunile doctrinare i
disciplinare care dezbinau Biserica din Nordul Africii. Datorit faptului c hotrrile acestui sinod
nu au fost acceptate de donatiti, Constantin a mers mai departe i a acionat n for, prin decrete
imperiale i prin braul narmat al statului pentru restabilirea ordinii n Biseric80. Acelai model l-a
urmat i n cazul ereziei ariene, cu meniunea c dat fiind gravitatea, amploarea i consecinele
disputelor ariene, sinodul cruia i-a fost ncredinat rezolvarea controversei doctrinare a fost unul
general/ecumenic.
Principial, prin adoptarea unui Edict mpotriva ereticilor 81, uznd de instrumentul legislativ
cu caracter general i abstract - lex generalis 82, Constantin a reglementat din punct de vedere legal
situaia ereticilor. Emis cel mai probabil dup anul 325, edictul avea n vedere cazul concret al
Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionits, Paulicianists, Montanists or Cataphriges i al tuturor celor care
au dat promovat alte crezuri sectare. Legea interzicea att ntrunirile publice ct i cele particulare
ale ereticilor i dispunea confiscarea locurilor de adunare i de rugciune ale acestora. n baza
acestei legi bisericile lor, dup confiscare, urmau s fie ncredinate Bisericii universale, iar celelalte
proprieti erau puse la dispoziia autoritilor83. Pe de alt parte legea cuprindea un ndemn imperial
potrivit cruia ereticii ar trebui s slujeasc Domnului n duh de adevr, s se alture Bisericii
universale cu bun credin, s se mprteasc din sfinenia Bisericii i s ajung la cunoaterea

80
Pentru o prezentare detaliat a problemei vezi John L. Boojamra, Constantine and The Council of Arles: The
Foundations of Church and State in the Christian East, n The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 43 (1998), 1-4, pp.
129-141; Nicolae Chifr, Micarea donatist i politica religioas constantinian n Revista Teologic, XXII (94),
octombrie-decembrie 2012, pp. 130-142; Charles Matson Odahl, Constantin i imperiul cretin, pp. 127-136.
81
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXIII - LXV, pp. 206-208.
82
Vezi analiza excelent i bibliografia complex la Valerio Massimo Minale, Creating a law about religion under
Constantine the Great: The Case of Edict Against the Heretics (Eus. Vita Const. III 63-66), n Dragia Bojovi (Ed.),
Saint Emperor Constantine and Christianity, vol. I, Ni, 2013, pp. 383-405.
83
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXV, 1 i 3, pp. 207-208.
9
adevrului84. Acest ndem ilustra politica Bisericii cu privire la eretici: intransigen fa de erezie i
deschidere fa de cei care se desprind din mrejele ei.
Textul conine o meniune explicit cu privire la eficacitatea acestor msuri n eradicarea
fenomenului eretic85, mpratul fiind convins c prin msurile adoptate nelciunea ntortocheatelor
nvturi eretice va disprea86.
Pe de alt parte, i n textul Edictului mpotriva ereticilor mpratul i recunoate i afirm
n mod explicit dubla sa misiune pe care i-a asumat-o ca semn al recunotinei fa de Dumnezeu,
izvorul fericirii sale. n egal msur, el vrea s ndrume pe cei fideli credinei i s-i fereasc de
rtrici, iar pe cei care s-au ndeprtat de credina adevrat vrea s-i aduc de la ntuneric la
lumin, de pe calea deertciunii pe calea adevrului i din moarte la mntuire87.
Apologet n faa pgnilor i a persecutorilor i mrturisitor n faa ereticilor, Constantin cel
mare a identificat cu precizie elementele generatoare de conflict n raporturile dintre cretinism,
religiile pgne i manifestrile eretice. Rechizitoriul su la adresa adversarilor religiei cretine
perceput ca vehicol al unitii imperiale i cale de mntuire personal este necrutor, iar msurile
legislative imperiale sunt fr echivoc.

84
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXV, 2, p. 207.
85
Exist rezerve cu privire la maniera n care acest edict a fost aplicat i implicit la rezultatete sale. Peter J. Leithart
diminueaz valoarea juridic a edictelor mpotriva ereticilor i a pgnilor, considerndu-le mai degrab expuneri
retorice moralizatoare, menite s-i mulumeasc pe credincioii fanatici. Cu toate acestea, el este de acord c politica
religioas constantinian a creat o atnosfer ostil att pentru eretici ct i pentru pgni. Peter J. Leithart, Defendig
Constantine, InterVarsity Press, 2010, pp. 129-131.
86
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXV, 2, pp. 207-208.
87
Eusebius of Caesarea, Viaa mpratului Constantin, III, LXV, 2, p. 208.
10