Monday, October 10, 2011

Defending Constantine

Defending Constantine

Defending Constantine
The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom

by Peter J. Leithart
InterVarsity Press - IVP, Forthcoming November 2010
367 pages, English
ISBN: 9780830827220
List Price: $27.00
Your Price: $21.60

I just finished reading this a week or so ago. Nick from IVP gave me a copy back in June (thanks Nick!) and I didn't get to it until now, so here's a very brief review.

I know the book has generated some controversy, but I fail to see why. Sure, he attacks Yoder, but I've always felt that Yoder's history was pretty poor. I'm sympathetic to Yoder and think his pacifism is correct, but I never bought his historical justification of it.

Leithart refers to Fredriksen's Augustine and the Jews extensively (which I reviewed here, by the way). He also cites one of my graduate professors at Kentucky, Louis Swift, so he must be ok, right :)

The book does a good job of defending Constantine, rehabilitating him from the current anti-Constantine diatribes. Anyone who is unfamiliar with the 4th century would do well to read the book. When Leithart tries to draw parallels and conclusions related to the modern world, though, I would urge caution. That is where his anti-Yoderism is wrong. Pacifism is similar to the anti-slavery stand in the church, in my opinion. It is latent in the texts and just needed to be brought out over the course of time as the thinking developed.

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