Reassessing the Relationship between Emperor and Church under Justinian


  • Emil Hilton Saggau Lunds universitet


Emperor Justinian’s reign (527–565) was a pivotal time in early Christian history that shaped the divisions between various Christian factions, which later emerged as the Oriental, Orthodox and Catholic denominations. A crucial part of the division was the controversy of the Three Chapters and the Council of Constantinople in 553. Justinian’s role in these events was crucial and has often been read as undue imperial interference that pushed the Eastern and Western factions further apart from each other. This is reassessed in this paper on the basis of how Justinian and his officials formulated their perception of the relationship between church and emperor in the law code, the Novellae from 535. Justinian’s involvement is thus re-examined on grounds of Eastern materials and sources which justify the emperor’s role in the debate in accordance with contemporary Roman jurisprudence and late Antique Christian-imperial ideology.