From Beyond the Pulpit – Coins and Constantine’s Sun God

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

In continuing our series on Biblical coins, remember how I mentioned that (for the Romans at least) coins were meant to send out political messages? That’s right; before there was the Internet, Imperial coins were the thing.

Moving on to the later empire Constantine the Great’s (AD 307-337) personal religion evolved from sun worship to Christianity. The conversion itself supposedly took place at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312, where a voice from heaven admonished Constantine to put Chi-Rho symbols of Christianity on his army’s helmets and shields to ensure victory. He did just that and was victorious.

What is interesting is that well past AD 312 his coins still showed predominantly “Sol,” the sun god. But in this rare example of a bronze follis from AD 317, the sun god has a Latin cross in the field to the left, a clear blending of the two religions. In fact, all of his later coins show this enigmatic tendency…which god is Constantine promoting? At his death commemorative coins showing his flying off to heaven in a chariot where a god’s hand welcomes him (Sol or the Christian God?). Also there is a series of coins showing his pious gazing towards heaven, again something that could promote either religion.

Is was not until his sons’ coinage that clearly Christian designs prevailed.

Comments Off on From Beyond the Pulpit – Coins and Constantine’s Sun God

Filed under Lifelong Learning