Julian Religious Tolerance Edict

In his tolerance edict of 362, Julian decreed the reopening of pagan
temples, the restitution of alienated temple properties, and called
back Christian bishops that were exiled by church edicts. The latter
was an instance of tolerance of different religious views, but may also
have been an attempt by Julian to widen a schism between different
Christian sects, further weakening the Christian movement as a whole. –Wikipedia Entry

In reading Bowerstock, Julian the Apostate, I came across this reference and googled it up.  Bowerstock cites the actual edict but I haven’t been able to find the original text.  Regardless, it is interesting to see the multiple intents here, and while his behavior as Emperor turned out to be anti-Christian during his 19 month reign, the idea of religious tolerance was not something I expected to see documented in the late 4th century C.E.  I believe somewhere it is stated, or I’ve been told, that the declaration of religious freedom/tolerance by King Sigismund of Transylvannia was one of the first in Europe in the mid 16th century.  Perhaps Sigismund (egged on by our Unitarian forefather Rev. Francis David, royal court religious leader), was more true to the idea.


3 responses to “Julian Religious Tolerance Edict

  1. It wasn’t religious tolerance as we understand it, but I believe the pre-Christian Roman approach to empire was to allow the conquered to retain their culture and religion, so long as they paid their taxes and didn’t rebel. Julian’s actions may have been more in keeping with this pragmatic, cosmopolitan approach to governing diverse people than with the desire to affirm multiple religious truths. (Then again, most of my knowledge of ancient Rome comes from watching HBO, so take this with a pinch of salt.)

  2. I loved Rome, is that what you’re referring too? Good to talk with you today as well. Stay warm in the South.

  3. Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. Not as great as Deadwood.. those British accents are no match for Deadwood’s fanciful, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it way with rough and literary 19th c. American English (“an’ I thank yew fer permittin’ me mah full range uv expression”), but pretty great nonetheless. There’s a bust of Octavian in the Roman collection at Emory’s Carlos Museum… hard to believe that curly-haired kid will grow up to be Emperor in a season or two…

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