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Context: Judaism and Christianity


Read the following passage and answer the question:
In 386 the emperor gave the Arians [a Christian sect the Church considered heretical] the right of assemblage and declared it violators would be...liable to the death penalty. When Ambrose [The bishop of Milan - at this time the Western Roman capital] again refused to allow the Arians the use of church property [the emperor] issued a decree exiling him. Ambrose replied that the emperor was within the church, not over it, and that in matters of faith the layman has no jurisdiction over the priest. The sympathies of the people were again with him, and [the emperor] did not attempt to enforce the decree of exile.
From: William K. Boyd, The Ecclesiastical Edicts of the Theodosian Code (New York: Columbia University Press, 1905), 47-48.
What does Ambrose’s reply that “the emperor is within the church, not over it” tell us about the importance Christianity had achieved in the Roman Empire at this time?
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