Discuss the Evidence for Constantine's "Conversion" to Christianity. to What Extent Does Constantine's Experience Before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in October, 312 Represent a Conversion Experience? Essay

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Introduction Constantine’s conversion to Christianity is one of the most significant incidents in the history of Christendom and Western Civilisation as a whole. The alteration of the religious order in the empire, particularly in light of the Great Persecution waged by Diocletian, was especially pertinent. Because of the conversion, in the long-term, Christianity transitioned from a harshly persecuted sect to a continental and well-established faith. However, the historical evidence for this conversion challenges certain and popular narratives, namely that Constantine undertook the process quickly, with a sense of immediacy following a vision just prior to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Such a notion, primary to the account provided by Eusebius, will be evaluated in this essay and contrasted with the statements made by Lactantius. On the whole, this comparison will evoke a discussion of the evidence for the conversion and its alleged nature. In evaluating the evidence, this essay will posit that the vision at the bridge does not, in and of itself, constitute a conversion experience as often portrayed. Rather, the vision is more correctly positioned as a prelude to a long evolution of Constantine’s religious persuasions and convictions. Nonetheless, a conversion appears very likely to have taken place; as such, the vision ought to be located within a longer sequence which may, in its entirety, be called a conversion experience – as opposed to an isolated and one-off incident underpinned by immediacy. The Context of Constantine’s Conversion to Christianity Constantine’s conversion to Christianity can be contextualised in a number of different dimensions. The first amongst them is the political condition at the time, whilst the second is the situation of the Christians. In relation to politics, Constantine’s conversion came at a time of much

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