Constantine's Sword, By James Carroll

A friend just gave me this book and I am wondering who here at CAF has read it and what they thought about it.

In particular, I am curious to know if there are factual errors in the book.

Thanks in advance for the responses.

I started to read it, stopped, and threw it away.


Was it because of factual errors or did you disagree with his conclusions?

I found it pretty hard even to find what factual claims he was making. Mostly it seemed to be turgid rhetoric.

Perhaps you could refresh our memories (since I think most of us found the book well-nigh unreadable) and tell us what his major factual claims are. All I remember is that he started by talking about how terrible it was that Catholics wanted to put up a cross at Auschwitz and have a convent nearby, and then he jumped back to Constantine and the Council of Nicea and claimed that Christians persecute Jews because of our belief in the Cross of Christ. At about this point I lost patience–or probably by this time I was skimming anyway.

The only real argument I remember is the one about the link between the Cross and anti-Judaism. Of course if you believe Jesus was crucified you will be tempted to hate those who you think killed Him. The answer is in the traditional Christian doctrine that all sinful human beings are guilty of Jesus’ death, with the first-century Jews simply being the ones on the spot at the time, as it were. The modern emphasis on the guilt of the Romans also helps. I see no need to abandon a basic Christian doctrine. It’s like arguing that because the Jewish doctrine of the “Chosen People” has led some Jews to think that non-Jews are inferior and less than fully human, therefore Jews should stop believing that they are chosen by God. No, the answer is for them to interpret their doctrine carefully to make it clear that Jews have been called to be a light to the nations and that God loves Gentiles too–and for the most part this is what they have done.


It would be useful to check out the reviews on Amazon. You can sort them by lowest rating first to get right to the heart of the various objections (many of which are made by non-Catholics, and at least one by a serious historian).

I haven’t started on it yet. I’m a little hesitant and that’s why I thought I would ask the posters here at CAF what they thought about it in general.

The book, as you know, is kind of thick so I imagine that it will take a while to get through so it’s not something that I will be in a position to discuss anytime soon.

I started watching the documentary on it and didn’t finish either. I plan to, just haven’t had a chance yet. I got the same impression though as the previous poster, that the cross was not put up before he was around, was not view of Christianity, and that Chrisitans blame Jews, etc. I wasn’t sure it was very accurate. I know first century bishops, aposltes, etc, all referred to the cross so obviously that was around before Constantine though.

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