Wilson, Arthur Ernest (1914)
Other thesis, University of Birmingham.
In the conflict between Christianity and Paganism for the dignity of the Established Religion of the Roman Empire, the Fourth Century witnessed the unique recorded example of the death struggle of a great religious system. Though the former gained the nominal victory, it was forced to make so many compromises to Paganism that Bishop Westcott has written: - "The world got into the Church in the Fourth Century and we have never since been able to get it out".
The Roman armies in their all-conquering career came into contact with many different forms of religion. Their practice of drafting soldiers of one conquered part to serve in other far-distant corners of the Empire, and the readiness of the populace to adopt new customs, helped to diffuse many creeds throughout the then known world. Within the dominions of the Caesars were to be found barbarians, who still invoked their demi-gods; philosophers, who looked to the One Supreme God; the Jews, who awaited their Messiah; Eastern mystics, especially those who professed the two chief forms of such religion; Christians from Judea and Mithraists from beyond Jordan. These last, originally Sun-worshippers of Persia, had developed a cult which Dr. Bigg called "the purest and most elevated of non-Biblical religions". […]
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