The Cross before Constantine: The Early Life of a Christian Symbol (Emerging Scholars)

December 1, 2020
The Cross before Constantine: The Early Life of a Christian Symbol (Emerging Scholars)

This book brings together, for the first time, the relevantmaterial evidence demonstrating Christian use of the cross prior toConstantine. Bruce W. Longenecker upends a longstanding consensusthat the cross was not a Christian symbol until Constantineappropriated it to consolidate his power in the fourth century.Longenecker presents a wide variety of artifacts from across theMediterranean basin that testify to the use of the cross as avisual symbol by some pre-Constantinian Christians. Those artifactsinterlock with literary witnesses from the same period to provide aconsistent and robust portrait of the cross as a pre-Constantiniansymbol of Christian devotion. The material record of thepre-Constantinian period illustrates that Constantine did notinvent the cross as a symbol of Christian faith; for an impressivenumber of Christians before Constantine’s reign, the cross servedas a visual symbol of commitment to a living deity in a dangerousworld.