Justinian and the Byzantine Papacy eliminated Anianism.

Purpose of this article

JUSTINIAN THE GREAT

This article series has a dual purpose:

Firstly, it discusses the Historical Development of the Trinity Doctrine.  The purpose is to show that the decisions to adopt the Trinity doctrine were not taken by Church Councils, but by the Roman Emperors; particularly Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian. 

The second purpose is to identify the eleventh horn of Daniel 7. It grows out of the fourth beast; after that beast has already fragmented into many kingdoms (Dan 7:7, 24). That horn becomes God’s all-time great adversary (Dan 7:25) and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:9-14). A comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identified the fourth beast as the Roman Empire. Since these articles also explain the history of the fall of the Roman Empire, they also identify that 11th horn.

Previous Articles

In summary, the previous articles in this series cover the following ground:

First Three Centuries

The series starts with articles that show that Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and other church fathers of the first three centuries were not Trinitarians. They had a very high view of Christ, but always subordinate to the Father, who they identified as the only true and almighty ‘god’.

Fourth Century

The controversy over the nature of Christ arose early in the fourth century when a presbyter named Arius taught that, with respect to the Son, “there was when He was not.” But since he also believed that the Son existed before time began, the phrase “there was when He was not” does not refer to literal time but means that the Father was the Ultimate Source of all things. In other words, the Son received His existence from the Father and therefore was subordinate to Him

To bring an end to the controversy, Emperor Constantine exerted his influence on the Council of Nicaea of the year 225 and on the formulation of the Nicene Creed. That creed declared the Son to be “true God from true God.” To support this view, the Nicene Creed ventured that the Father and Son are of the “same substance” (homoousios).

However, over the next fifty years following Nicaea, more or less from 330 to 380, the church adopted Arianism and rejected the Nicene Creed. Constantine’s successors, Emperors Constantius and Valens were Arians and actively encouraged the church to reverse the Nicene Creed. They also exiled bishops adhering to the Nicene Creed and crushed the Nicene party.

But then Theodosius – an ardent supporter of the Nicene Creed – became emperor in 380. He immediately outlawed Arianism and exiled all Arian bishops. He did this even before the 381 Council and manipulated that council to accept the Nicene Creed.

Fifth Century

After Theodosius died, the Western Roman Empire weakened. Germanic tribes, who previously migrated into the Empire, reached such large numbers and high positions in the Roman army that they, in reality, controlled the Western Roman Empire. Over the course of the fifth century, they divided the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. Since these Germanic peoples were Arians, the Western Empire was Arian once again!

In the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire), with Constantinople as its capital, Nicene Christianity remained dominant.

Sixth Century – Byzantine Papacy

To free the Roman Church in the west from Arian domination, Emperor Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the sixth century, sent troops to combat the Arian nations and significantly weakened Arianism. His troops dispersed the Vandals to the fringes of the empire, forced the Ostrogoths back north to South Austria, and barricaded the Visigoths with the new province of Spania.

Some Arian nations remained, but after liberating the Roman Church from Arian domination, the Byzantine Empire continued to protect, strengthen and rule over the Roman Church. Through two centuries of Byzantine rule over the Papacy (known as the Byzantine Papacy) , the Byzantine Empire, through the Roman Church, converted the remaining Arian kingdoms, one after the other, to Nicene Christology.

Conclusion

Given the facts of this brief overview, it is not possible to deny the decisive influence which the emperors had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine. As mentioned above, Constantine and Theodosius respectively manipulated the key creeds of 325 and 381, and Justinian, through the Byzantine Papacy, wiped Arianism out. These emperors did not develop this doctrine, but they did decide what the church should believe concerning the nature of Christ (Christology).

This means that the church received the Trinity theory from the Roman Empire. As stated in Revelation 13:2, the dragon (the Roman Empire), gave the beast from the sea (the Church of the Middle Ages) “his power and his throne and great authority.

Summary of this article

Fall of the Western Roman Empire

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over the previous century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy. They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor. Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations at least pretended to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

Although they were Arian Christians, they allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories. This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But still, the Roman Church managed to grow in strength, partly due to its central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government in the fourth century.

Unity of Church and State

Justinian I was the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire) from 527 to 565. 

It is important to understand that separation of Church and State did not exist at that time. In the view of the time, the Christian Roman Emperor was regarded as God’s agent on earth. The supreme bishops of the Empire – the spiritual heads of the Christian world – acting in harmony with him. Church and State were therefore one.  Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline.”

His authority was not limited to the church in the east. In Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty to also protect and regulate the Church in Rome. 

The Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the faith by persecuting and killing ‘heretics’.

DELIVERED THE PAPACY FROM ARIAN DOMINATION.

After the Germanic peoples, in the fifth century, divided the territory of the Western Empire between them, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. The Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As a keen supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. He sent troops to combat the Arian nations in the west:

      • They dispersed the Vandals of North Africa to the fringes of the empire.
      • Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in South Austria.
      • Justinian’s troops recovered a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast which formed a barrier between the Visigoths and Rome.

It is remarkable that Justinian attacked the Christian nations in the west, but was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to his east. As it turned out, in later years, these pagan nations later became Muslim countries and conquered most of the previous territory of the Eastern Empire.

BYZANTINE PAPACY

Justinian’s wars conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination. This commenced the period of about two centuries which is known today as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome.

On the one hand, the Roman Church was now once again subject to the authority of the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor. On the other hand, the Nicene Church (the Byzantine Papacy), with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Byzantine Papacy, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West. To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

The Germanic tribes, consequently, during the Byzantine Papacy, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism. By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.   

CONCLUSIONS

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. If Justinian, followed by the Byzantine Papacy, did not wipe out Arianism in the territory of the Western Empire, Arianism might still have dominated the church today. It is not possible to deny the decisive influence which emperors such as Constantine, Constantius, Valens, Theodosius, and Justinian had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine.

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the Nicene Church. As predicted in Daniel 7:

    • The Roman Empire was divided into MANY FRAGMENTS (symbolically, the 10 horns),
    • The 11th horn comes into existence AFTER the Roman Empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns), and
    • It UPROOTED THREE of the other horns as it came up; the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals.  

– END OF SUMMARY –

FALL OF THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE

BARBARIANS DIVIDED THE TERRITORY OF WESTERN ROME

Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495
Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over a century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy.  They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor.  Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations continued to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

TOLERATED THE ROMAN CHURCH.

There are at least two reasons why the Germanic peoples might have made an end of the Roman Church (the Church in Rome):

Firstly, the Roman Church was part of the Roman government.  In the Roman Empire, there was no separation of church and state.  The church was a department of government.  In practice, the bishop of the Church in Rome was accountable to the Roman Emperor.

Secondly, the Germanic peoples were Arian Christians because they became Christians during the 50 years in the fourth century when the Roman Church was Arian (Fourth Century Arian Period).  These Germanic peoples included the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths of Spain, and the Vandals in North Africa.

Despite these facts, the Arian nations allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories.  This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

THE ROMAN CHURCH GREW IN STRENGTH.

After the Western Roman Empire was divided up into these kingdoms, the Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But the Roman Church managed to grow in strength. The reasons include the following:

1. Previously, the Emperor appointed the bishop of Rome and the bishop was subordinate to the Roman Emperor.  Now, the church had more independence.

2. The church’s central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government allowed it to stand out among the various Germanic nations that had no central political control.

3. The Germanic nations desired to remain part of the Empire. As the official religion of the Empire, the church had a certain status.

UNITY OF CHURCH AND STATE

Justinian I is traditionally known as Justinian the Great. He was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565.  He ruled from Constantinople; the capital of the empire.  Due to his religious preferences and actions, he is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church and by some other churches.

WHAT WAS THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE?

This article often refers to the “Byzantine Empire.”  Byzantium was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople; the capital of the Roman Empire.

The Byzantine Empire is simply another name for the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.  The Byzantine Empire, therefore, was the continuation of the Roman Empire.

Byzantine Empire is a term created after the end of that empire.  Its citizens referred to their empire simply as the Roman Empire and to themselves as Romans.

CHURCH AND STATE WERE ONE.

It is important to understand the context of the time. A Cambridge article explains the relationship between church and state in the Byzantine Empire:

The idea of papal sovereignty was foreign to the Byzantines. … unintelligible, unreasonable, and unhistorical. …  (in) their concept of the order of the Christian world … The Christian Roman Emperor was the elect of God and God’s vice-gerent (God’s agent on earth) on earth … His patriarchs or supreme bishops of the Christian Empire … were the spiritual heads of the Christian world, acting in harmony with him. Church and State were therefore one, indissoluble and interdependent.

Modern readers may find this lack of separation of Church and State may be difficult to grasp but unless we understand this concept, we will not understand the history of the church or of the process through which the Trinity doctrine became accepted.

Similar to his predecessors, Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church”. (Ayer, John Cullen, ed. (1913). A Source Book for Ancient Church History. Mundus Publishing (2008 reprint). p. 553)  The Emperor regulated everything:

At the very beginning of his reign, he promulgated by law the Church’s belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation and threatened all heretics with the appropriate penalties.[See Wikipedia page on Justinian 1]

He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church: “We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.” (Codex Justinianus)

Justinian felt entitled to settle disputes in papal elections, as he did when he favored Vigilius and had his rival Silverius deported.

As a result, the church within the Eastern Roman Empire had become firmly tied with the imperial government.  Church and State were one.

ALSO THE CHURCH IN THE WEST

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 affirmed that the bishop of a provincial capital had a certain authority over the other bishops of the province. It also recognized the authority of the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch and granted special recognition to Jerusalem. The First Council of Constantinople in 381 added the see of Constantinople.

Emperor Justinian assigned to those five sees (including Rome) a superior ecclesial authority that covered the whole of his empire. In other words, in Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty also to protect and regulate the Church in Rome

A GENUINE INTEREST IN THE CHURCH

Justinian had a genuine interest in the church.  Over the course of his reign, he authored a small number of theological treatises.  He was indeed a “nursing father” of the Church. Both the Codex and the Novellae contain many enactments to benefit the church.  Just in Constantinople, he built 25 churches (see traditioninaction).  Justinian also rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal dome, and mosaics.

SUPPRESSED HERETICS

Even before Christianity was legalized in 313, the Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the church by suppressing heretics. For example:

The Codex contained two statutes [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 76] that decreed the destruction of paganism.  These provisions were zealously enforced.

At Constantinople, on one occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were executed in the emperor’s very presence: some by burning, others by drowning. [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 93]  Manichaeism was a major religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani.  It taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. (See the Wikipedia page on Manichaeism.)

MONOPHYSITISM

In the east, in Justinian’s time, the main threat to the orthodoxy was not Arianism but Monophysitism.  This sect had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. While the Council of Chalcedon in 451 concluded that Jesus has two natures; a divine and a human nature, Monophysitism maintained that Jesus Christ only had one nature; a divine nature or a synthesis of a divine and human nature.

Previous emperors and the Patriarch of Constantinople tolerated Monophysitism and allowed the appointment of Monophysites to church offices but this had been a source of tension in the relationship with the bishop of Rome.

Justin I—Justinian’s predecessor—reversed this policy, confirmed the Chalcedonian doctrine, openly condemned the Monophysites. This allowed him to reestablish the union between Constantinople and Rome.[WIKIPEDIA – JUSTINIAN – NOTE 75]

Justinian’s policies alternated between ATTEMPTS TO FORCE Monophysites to accept the Chalcedonian creed by persecuting their bishops and monks – thereby embittering their sympathizers in Egypt and other provinces – and ATTEMPTS AT A COMPROMISE that would win over the Monophysites without surrendering the Chalcedonian faith.

Justinian’s wife Theodora favored the Monophysites unreservedly. While Theodosius’ wife is venerated in the Catholic Church because she was a fervent supporter of the Nicene Creed, Empress Theodora, for Catholics, was “one of the most … deplorable figures of ancient history,” for “she became an enemy of the Faith and a supporter of the heresies, and she strove to make Justinian enter into conflict with the Holy See at the end of his life” (traditioninaction).  “Near the end of his life, Justinian became ever more inclined towards the Monophysite doctrine” (Wikipedia).

WARS AGAINST THE ARIAN NATIONS IN THE WEST

After the Germanic peoples divided the territory of the Western Empire between them in the fifth century, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. 

From a catholic perspective, the website Traditioninaction states that the Catholics at the time were groaning under the yoke of the barbarians.  But from a Jewish perspective, “in contrast with the domination of the orthodox church, the Arian was distinguished by a wise tolerance and a mild treatment of the population of other faiths” (Kohler et al, ARIANISM”. Jewish Encyclopedia). 

What we can conclude, at least, is that the Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As an ardent supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. Justinian never personally took part in military campaigns, but one of the most spectacular features of Justinian’s reign was the recovery of large stretches of land around the Western Mediterranean basin that had slipped out of Imperial control in the 5th century.

Through these wars, Justinian neutralized the three main Arian nations that prevented the supremacy of the Papacy:

VANDAL KINGDOM OF NORTH AFRICA

The first Arian Christian kingdom which Justinian’s armies attacked was the Vandals in North Africa. Again, from a catholic perspective, “that whole area had been taken over by the worst barbarians, the Vandals” (traditioninaction).  Although the Arians generally tolerated other faiths, the Vandals tried for several decades to force their Arian beliefs on their North African Nicene subjects, exiling Nicene clergy, dissolving monasteries, and exercising heavy pressure on non-conforming Nicene Christians.  This might have been why Justinian attacked them first.

In the Vandalic War of 533–534, general Belisarius defeated the Vandals. [WIKIPEDIA ARIANISM NOTE 40]  The Vandals were dispersed to the fringes of the empire and became lost to history.

OSTROGOTHS IN ITALY

Justinian next attacked the Ostrogoths; another Arian Christian nation.  This war may be divided into three phases:

In 535, Belisarius invaded Sicily and advanced into Italy, sacking Naples and capturing Rome in 536. In 540 he reached the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and reclaimed it for the Empire.[WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 52]

But Belisarius was recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by the Persians to the East.  While military efforts were focused on the east, the Ostrogoths made quick gains in Italy. They reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire Italian peninsula.

The third phase of the war in Italy (from 541 to 554) followed after a truce was agreed upon with the Persians.  Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in south Austria.  Through the Gothic War, Justinian restored Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of Ostrogoth rule.

VISIGOTHS IN SPAIN

In 552, Justinian dispatched a force of 2,000 men to invade Visigothic Hispania: still another Arian Christian Germanic nation.  This short-lived reconquest recovered only a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, known as the new province of Spania (Hispania) before being checked by the Visigoths. This campaign marked the apogee (apex) of Byzantine expansion. Spania kept the Visigoths as a threat to Hispania alone and not to the western Mediterranean nor to Africa.

Perhaps it is worth commenting that Justinian was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to the east of his empire but attacked Christian nations in the west. One obvious reason was that his purpose was to reunite the old empire, but it also reveals his intolerance for Arianism.

BYZANTINE PAPACY

After Justinian conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination, he replaced the pope and also appointed the next three popes.  In this way, Justinian put the church in the west firmly under the control of the Byzantine monarch.  This practice was continued by his successors for the next two centuries. The papacy in the years 537 to 752 is known as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome.  This allowed the emperor to also dominate the Papacy in other ways during this period.

DOMINANCE OF THE GREEK LANGUAGE

One indication of the dominance of the Byzantine Empire, over the church in Rome, during these years, was the Greek dominance of the Roman Church:

The two halves of the Empire always had cultural differences, exemplified particularly by the widespread use of the Greek language in the Eastern Empire and its more limited use in the West.  The spoken vernacular in the West was Latin.

During the Byzantine Papacy, countless Easterners rose through the ranks of the clergy in the church in Rome. At the end of the sixth century, Easterners constituted less than one percent of the papal hierarchy.  In contrast, according to Ekonomou, over a century later, between 701 and 750, “Greeks outnumbered Latins by nearly three and a half to one”.

This confirms that the church in the west was now once again firmly subject to the authority of the (Eastern) Roman Emperor. 

THE EMPIRE REIGNED OVER THE WEST.

After Justinian defeated the Goths, the Roman Church was no longer dependent on the Arian Germanic nations for protection. The church and its Nicene Christology, with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Church, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West.  To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

ARIAN CONVERSIONS TO THE PAPACY

The Franks entered the Western Roman Empire as Pagans.  In 496, before the time of Justinian, Clovis I, the pagan king of the Franks, was the first important barbarian ruler to convert to Catholicism rather than to Arianism.  He forcibly converted the Franks to Chalcedonian Christianity.

After Justinian established protection for the Papacy, the Germanic tribes, consequently, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism.

The first Germanic ruler to convert from Arianism to Chalcedonian Christianity was Reccared I of the Arian Visigoths in Spain. He converted in 587.  Visigothic Spain converted to Catholicism at the Third Council of Toledo in 589

Pope Gregory I reigned from 590 to 604; a few decades after Justinian.  He was perhaps the best-known pope of the Byzantine Papacy.  Britannica describes him as the first of the medieval popes.  With the support of the Byzantine Empire, He reformed the ecclesiastical structures and administration, which then launched renewed missionary efforts to convert the peoples of northern Europe as far north as Ireland. These efforts were able to convert the Arian peoples to Catholic (Nicene) Christianity:

The Anglo-Saxons of Southern Britain were the predecessors of the English. They have never been part of the Empire and were entirely pagan, but were forcibly converted by their kings Æthelberht of Kent, following the work of missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the Great.

The Anglo-Saxons in turn sent missionaries to northwestern Europe – to what is now the Netherlands. 

The Visigoths also converted to Catholicism during the Byzantine Empire.

Aripert I of the Lombards converted to Catholic Church in 653. Grimwald, King of the Lombards (662–671) and his young son and successor Garibald (671) were the last Arian kings in Europe. By 700, the Lombards in northern Italy have moved away from Arianism to Catholicism.

By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.   

CONCLUSIONS

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. What would the Christian world have looked like if Justinian did not effectively wipe out Arianism in the territory of the Western Empire?  If Europe was allowed to remain Arian, Arianism might have dominated the church today.

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the formal Christian Church:

In Daniel 7, the Roman Empire (the fourth empire) divides into MANY FRAGMENTS (symbolically, the 10 horns). – This article mentions some of these kingdoms, such as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, and the Anglo-Saxons.

The little horn comes into existence AFTER the fourth (Roman) empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns). – The Papacy was not able to dominate until after Justinian conquered the Arian nations.

The little horn UPROOTED THREE of the other horns as it came up. – The Roman Empire uprooted the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals to establish the Papacy.  

Daniel 7 also explains that the eleventh horn will become larger than the others, persecute the saints, and attempt to change the law. The next articles will explain this.

Articles in this Series
Historical Development of the Trinity Doctrine

First 300 years (The persecuted church)

Fourth Century (State Church)

Fifth & Sixth Centuries

Middle Ages

The Fall of Rome shows the Book of Daniel to be true prophecy.

ABSTRACT: The Book of Daniel itself claims to have been written in the 6th century B.C. but critical scholars believe that it was written in the second century B.C. This article shows that the Fall of Rome proves Daniel to be true prophecy, for Daniel correctly predicted HOW the Roman Empire would break apart in many kingdoms in the fifth century A.D.

SUMMARY

PURPOSE

Daniel the prophetsThe Book of Daniel claims to have been written in the 6th century before Christ as a prediction of future events. Critical scholars, however, do not believe that Daniel is true prophecy. They argue that Daniel describes past history in the form of prophecy. However, that would mean that Daniel is a fraud. The purpose of the current article is to support the view that Daniel is true prophecy by showing that it correctly predicted HOW the Western Roman Empire would fall in the fifth century after Christ.

THE FALL OF ROME PREDICTED

Consider HOW Daniel predicted the Fall of Rome would occur:

The vision of Daniel 2 presents the Roman Empire as the iron legs of an image of a man, followed by “feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” The feet “will be a divided kingdom.”

Daniel 7 depicts the Roman Empire as a fourth beast that will be “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong.” “It devoured and crushed and trampled down.”  Eleven horns grow out of it.  These are eleven “kingdoms” are equivalent to the “divided kingdom” in Daniel 2.

These prophecies predict that:

      • The Roman Empire will be very cruel;
      • It will be subdivided into many kingdoms; and 
      • These kingdoms would be a continuation of the Roman Empire. 

The purpose of the current article is to show that historians confirm these three facts. 

FOUNDING PRINCIPLES OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The vast Roman Empire was a unity of many different nations; enforced by violence.  The emperors and Roman aristocrats became very wealthy by looting other nations.  

DECLINE AND FALL OF ROME

It is possible to identify major milestones or events in the decline of the Roman Empire, but it is more important to identify the underlying trends. 

The first major trend was the immigration of Germanic tribes into the Empire throughout the 4th and 5th centuries.  The immigrants did not intend to destroy the Roman Empire or to replace it with something new, but to become part of it and to enjoy the benefits offered to citizens of the Roman Empire.  They sought permission to settle in Roman territory, and Imperial Authorities also granted such permission.  However, severe conditions were set for them which made them second-class citizens. 

The second major trend was that many ‘barbarians’ were recruited into the Imperial Forces.  To make things worse, the ‘barbarians’ eventually controlled the Roman military machinery.  Some of them became top generals.  Since the real power of the Empire always was its army, the top general in the Roman Army often became the emperor.  For ‘barbarians’ to become top generals, therefore, meant that ‘barbarians’ effectively became the real rulers of the Western Empire, even though they were not allowed to become emperors.  The consequence was that the emperors in the West Roman Empire in the 5th century became mere figureheads.

‘CATASTROPHIC’ FIFTH-CENTURY EVENTS

‘Barbarians’ sacked Rome in 410 and again in 455.  They deposed of the last Western Emperor in 476.  These major events did NOT CAUSE the Empire to fall or decline.  These events should rather be seen as indications of how weak the Empire has become by then.  These ‘catastrophes’ subdivided the Empire into separate political entities.  But, what really happened? 

Firstly, it was not foreign armies that sacked Rome in 410 and 455, or that deposed the last Roman Emperor in 476: It was the Gothic component of the Roman Army that revolted.

Secondly, it was the severe conditions under which the ‘barbarians’ were allowed to reside in the Empire that triggered these ‘catastrophes’. 

Thirdly, the Goths did not aim to replace the Roman Empire with something new. Their demand was to be treated as equal citizens; as part of the Empire.

Fourthly, the Empire approved the ‘Barbarian’ Rule. After Odoacer conquered Italy in 476, the Eastern Emperor Zeno granted Odoacer the title of patrician, effectively recognizing his rule as King of Italy in the name of the Eastern Empire. A few years later, Zeno appointed the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great to be king of Italy. 

The Western Roman Empire, therefore, did not come to an end in 476, when Odoacer deposed the last emperor.  Deposing the emperor was simply a formality that aligned outward form to existing reality, for the ‘barbarians’ were already in control of the Western Empire since soon after the beginning of the fifth century.  Roman power, practices, economy, and culture continued after Odoacer deposed the emperor.  Even the Roman Church, whose bishops were appointed by and accountable to the emperor, was allowed to continue to function. 

CONTINUATION OF WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE

After the ‘barbarians’ assumed control of the Western Roman Empire, there always remained a desire and pressure to reunite the empire:

In the fifth century, after the Western Roman Empire was divided into many fairly independent ‘nations’, the Roman Church played a cohesive role between the ‘barbarian’ nations and the Empire.  

In the sixth century, to strengthen the Church in Rome, and to strengthen Roman control of the Western Empire through to church, Justinian I neutralized some of the Arian ‘barbarian’ nations.  This resulted in the Byzantine Papacy; about two centuries during which the Eastern Roman Empire controlled the nations in the West through the church.

Francia at its greatest extent in 814

The Kingdom of the Franks (481–843), which at its greatest expanse covered much of the previous Western Roman Empire, actually was a continuation of the Roman Empire.  

The civilization of Medieval Europe emerged from a SYNTHESIS between the Graeco-Roman world and the Germanic civilizations penetrating the Roman Empire.

CONCLUSION

In summary, over centuries, ‘barbarians’ migrated into the Empire and were absorbed into the Empire.  Many of them were recruited into the Imperial Forces until they controlled the military machinery.  From that point forward, the ‘barbarians’ were the real rulers of the Western Empire, but they were still treated as second-class citizens. In the fifth century, they rebelled against their Roman overlords and took by force what the Empire was not willing to award them voluntarily, namely permanent residency and equal rights. 

The Western Roman Empire did not fall in the fifth century.  The ‘barbarians’ did not replace the Roman Empire with a different political system.  They did not drive the Graeco-Roman population or the Roman church out of their territories.  Their purpose was to remain part of the Empire.  What happened, in reality, was that the ‘barbarian’ immigrants wrestled control of the Empire from the original Graeco-Roman population. 

The ‘barbarians’ simply contributed to an ongoing process of transforming Roman institutions. It was a complex cultural transformation of Rome, rather than the Fall of Rome.

PROVES DANIEL AS TRUE PROPHECY

This confirms Daniel’s prophecies:

Daniel predicted that the Roman Empire will be very cruel: The vast Roman Empire was a unity of many nations, held together by violence; by military force.  “It devoured and crushed and trampled down.” 

Daniel predicted that Rome will be subdivided into several kingdoms.  It is amazing that Daniel could predict, a thousand years before it happened, that the fourth empire would not be conquered and replaced by another mighty empire, but would be subdivided.

Daniel predicted that these kingdoms would be a continuation of the Roman Empire: The substance of the Roman Empire continued in the kingdoms that arose from it; particularly in the form of The Evil Eleventh Horn.

– END OF SUMMARY –

PURPOSE

IS DANIEL A FRAUD?

The Book of Daniel itself claims that it was written in the 6th century before Christ (e.g. Dan 2:4).  It presents itself as a prediction of future events.  For example, the book explicitly refers to “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 9:20-21; cf. 11:2), which only became a ‘world empire’ in the fourth century BC (see Alexander the Great). 

However, many, perhaps even most, theologians do not believe that God knows the future.  Many accept that God knows everything, but argue that the future does not yet exist, and is therefore not knowable.  The point is, if true prophecy does not exist, then Daniel is a fraud, for then it was written after the events it pretends to predict. 

The article Daniel is not a Fraud presents much evidence from within Daniel (internal evidence) and from outside Daniel that argues against the view that Daniel is a fraud. 

Correctly predicts the Fall of Rome

In the fifth century, the vast territory of the Western Roman Empire was divided into several independent ‘nations’, each controlled by a different ‘barbarian’ group, such as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians, Alans and the Sueves, Lombard or Huns.

The purpose of the current article is to provide further evidence of the reliability of the Book of Daniel by showing that it correctly predicts HOW the Roman Empire will fall in the fifth century after Christ.  Copies of the book of Daniel are available that have been dated undeniably to the second century BC.  If Daniel correctly predicts events in the fifth century AD, then it is a true prophecy, and God does know the future.

DANIEL 2 – DIVIDED KINGDOM

The vision of Daniel 2:30-35 depicts the history of mankind using an image of a man, consisting of various metals:

Daniel explained the head of gold as the Babylonian empire (v38).  The phrase “another kingdom” in verse 39 indicates that the head of gold does not refer to King Nebuchadnezzar himself, but to his entire empire.

The other parts of the man are identified in the article series on the Prophecies of Daniel as follows:

        • The “breast and its arms of silver” represent Medo-Persia.
        • Its “belly and its thighs of bronze” represent Greece.
        • The “legs of iron” are the Roman Empire.
        • The “feet partly of iron and partly of clay” is a historical period after the Roman Empire came to an end.

All these kingdoms are destroyed by the Return of Christ (Dan 2:34, 44-45).

The important point, for the current article, is the difference between what happened after these empires:

The first three empires are replaced by the next empire.  For example, “After you there will arise another kingdom” (Dan 2:39-40).

But the fourth empire becomes divided.  The iron of the legs continues into the feet, but the feet are a mixture of iron and clay.  “It will be a divided kingdom” (Dan 2:41). “It will have in it the toughness of iron” (Dan 2:41). In other words, the nature of the Roman Empire will continue after the demise of that empire. See Daniel 2 for a more detailed discussion.

DANIEL 7 – ELEVEN HORNS 

Daniel 7 elaborates on the prophecy of Daniel 2.  It presents the same four empires, but now as beasts of prey.  We focus on the fourth beast, which is the same as the fourth metal (iron) in Daniel 2.  The fourth beast is not identified as any known animal but is described as “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” (Dan 7:7). “It had large iron teeth” (v7), which is the same metal as the fourth empire in Daniel 2.  “It devoured and crushed and trampled down” (v7), which describes its cruel nature.

Eleven horns grow out of that fourth beast.  These are eleven “kingdoms” (Dan 7:24) into which the Roman Empire subdivides.  (See Daniel’s evil horn.)  These eleven horns are equivalent to the “divided kingdom” in Daniel 2.

These prophecies contain at least the following predictions concerning the Roman Empire:

It will be very cruel. It “devoured and crushed and trampled down.”

Second, while the previous ‘world’ empires (Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece) were all replaced by another single large empire, but the Roman Empire will be subdivided into many empires.

Third, since the eleven horns grow out of the fourth beast, they are a continuation of that beast.

HISTORIANS CONFIRM THESE PRINCIPLES

Lately, I have been studying the development of the Trinity doctrine, from the very earliest church fathers, through the fourth, fifth, and later centuries.  In the process, I read up on the Fall of Rome, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that historians confirm the three principles above.  The purpose of the current article is to reflect on the Fall of Rome, as explained by historians.  The goal is for the reader to understand that the Empire did not really fall but simply was transformed and continued to exist even into the Middle Ages. 

For that purpose, much of the information in this article is a summary of Wikipedia’s articles about that period, particularly the articles about the Events and the Historiography of the Fall of Rome, but also a summary of many other Wikipedia articles. The Events article has an excellent animated map showing the growth and decline of the Roman Empire.  The events described by the Wikipedia articles are summarized on this website by the article on the Decline and Fall of Rome.

FALL OF ROME

ORIGINATING RATIONALE

The vast Roman Empire was a unity of many different nations.  These nations were not held together by culture or religion or economy.  It was a unity that was enforced by violence.

Rome became prosperous, not through trade or manufacturing, but by looting other nations.  The Roman Empire reached its peak in the 2nd century. There-after, when it no longer expanded, and therefore no longer was able to derive wealth from looting other nations, it started to decline.  It slowly declined over many centuries. 

IN-MIGRATION

It is possible to identify major events in its decline, but it is more important to identify the underlying trends.

The Roman Empire conquered the previous Greek (Macedonian) Empire and established an empire that was much larger than the Greek Empire. Still, there always were areas and peoples outside of the Roman Empire that it was not able or interested to conquer.

The first major trend was the migration of Germanic tribes from outside its borders into the Empire.  Historians mention the year 376 and the Crossing of the River Rhine in 406 as decisive events, but throughout the 4th and 5th centuries, in what is known as the Migration Period, large numbers of ‘barbarians’ migrated into Roman territories.  It was one of the first signs of weakness, for it means that the Empire became unable to repel invading ‘barbarians’. 

What did the immigrants want?

Henri Pirenne published the “Pirenne Thesis” in the 1920s. This thesis remains influential to this day. It holds that the Germanic ‘barbarians’ migrated into the Empire not to destroy it or to replace it with something new, but to take part in its benefits, and thus they tried to preserve the Roman way of life.

They sought permission to settle in Roman territory, and Imperial authorities also granted such permission, on certain severe conditions.  As early as 376, Emperor Valens allowed Goths to settle within the borders of the Empire.

Second Class Citizens

‘Barbarians’ were accepted into the Empire, but as second-class citizens; as cheap labor, or even as slaves.  Alaric, for example, through his siege of Rome in 408, liberated 40,000 Gothic slaves in Rome.  As another example, it was the foederati that revolted and deposed the last emperor in 476. Foederati were ‘barbarians’ whom the Roman Empire allowed to remain in the Empire in exchange for military assistance. 

There always remained friction and even hatred between the original Graeco-Roman inhabitants of the Empire and the increasingly dominant ‘barbarian’ peoples.  At times, the Graeco-Romans massacred the ‘barbarians’.  For example:

In 400, the citizens of Constantinople massacred 7000 armed Goths and as many of their people and their families as they could catch.

In 408, the western Graeco-Roman population massacred tens of thousands of wives and children of Goths serving in the Roman military.

RECRUITED INTO THE ARMED FORCES

The second major trend was that many ‘barbarians’ were recruited into the Imperial Forces.  For example, the great Roman General Stilicho urged Roman soldiers to allow their slaves to fight beside them.  And, after he defeated the Gothic invaders, he drafted 12,000 prisoners from the defeated invaders into his service.

One may speculate about the reasons for this dangerous practice, for its armed forces were the basis for the Empire’s power.  Perhaps the armed forces were insufficiently funded, and only second-class citizens, such as these ‘barbarians’, were willing to work for such low wages.  Other historians estimate that the Graeco-Roman population in the Western Empire declined, and became too small for the size of the army required by the Empire.  Therefore the Imperial Forces became dependent on the service of Goths. 

Goths became Top Generals

A related trend was that the ‘barbarians’ eventually controlled the military machinery.  They became generals and even top generals.  For example:

Gainas was a Goth but was promoted to magister militum (literally, master of the military) in the Eastern Roman Empire.  For a few months in 399, he was in control of Constantinople; the Eastern capital. 

Stilicho’s mother was Roman but his father was a Vandal cavalry officer. Nevertheless, after Theodosius died in 395, Stilicho came to be the commander-in-chief of the Roman armies in the west.  In a few years, he became the most powerful man in the Western Roman Empire. 

Alaric also was a Goth but Theodosius appointed him as leader the army’s 20,000 Gothic troops.  After Alaric became a threat to the eastern capital, the emperor appointed him as magister militum (master of the military).

Fifth Century Western Emperors were figureheads.

The real power of the Empire always was its army.  As stated, the Empire was a unity of many different nations which was enforced by violence.  Consequently, in the Roman system, the top generals often became emperors:

For example, both Constantine the Great and Theodosius, two key emperors in the fourth century, first earned their reputations as top generals. 

As another example, in 475, Orestes, the Magister militum (master of the military) in the west, drove the emperor out of Italy and proclaimed his own young son Romulus as emperor.

For ‘barbarians’ to become to top generals, therefore, was a most significant development.  It means that ‘barbarians’ have progressively become the real rulers of the Western Empire.  

Note that the examples above (Gainas, Stilicho and Alaric) are all from the few years after Theodosius’ death.  It is perhaps true to say that the ‘barbarians’ were in control of the Western Empire as from Theodosius’ death.

The consequence was that the emperors in the West Roman Empire in the 5th century became mere figureheads: The military power came to reside in the hands of ‘barbarians’, but they were not allowed to become emperor.

When Odoacer—a Germanic chieftain—deposed the last emperor in Italy (Romulus Augustus) in 476), he chose neither to assume the title of Emperor himself nor to select a puppet emperor.  This confirms that the position of Emperor in the West no more had any value.

MAJOR EVENTS OF THE FIFTH CENTURY

‘Barbarians’ sacked Rome in 410 and again in 455.  They deposed of the last Western Emperor in 476.  These major events did NOT CAUSE the Empire to fall or recline.  They should rather be seen as indications of how weak the Empire has become by then. 

Under Theodosius, the entire Roman Empire—east and west—was still controlled by a single emperor.  He died in 395.  Fifteen years later, Rome was sacked.  The decisive events of THOSE 15 YEARS WERE A TURNING POINT in the history of the Roman Empire.  But the causes of these events have existed for much longer. 

A separate article discusses the causes of the Fall of Rome.  These must include Theodosius’ decree that his two underage sons would rule the Empire after his death.  These boys were not capable of keeping the nations of the vast empire united, which was a very difficult task.

The major events of the fifth century divided the Empire up into separate political entities.  The question is, what really happened?  Did the ‘barbarians’ replace the Roman system, or did they remain part of the Roman system?  Did they seek to control the Empire or did they merely want to have equal rights with the Graeco-Roman population? 

Not Foreign Armies

Firstly, it was not foreign armies that sacked Rome in 410 and 455, or that deposed the last Roman Emperor in 476: It was a part of the Roman Army that rebelled.  It was, namely, the Goths in the Roman army that rebelled.

To become equal citizens

What triggered these decisive events? 

It was after the massacre of tens of thousands of wives and children of Goths serving in the Roman military that the Gothic soldiers defected to Alaric, and they sacked Rome in 410.

It was the foederati, under Odoacer’s leadership, that deposed the last Western Roman Emperor in 476 because they were no longer willing to suffer the harsh conditions set for them to remain in Italy. 

Furthermore, what motivated the Goths? The following are indications that the Goth rose up—not to make an end of the Roman system, but to be treated as equals with the Graeco-Roman population:

In 399, the Ostrogoths in the Eastern Empire demanded to be allowed to settle within the boundaries of the Empire.

The Visigoths laid siege to Rome in the years 408 to 410 to secure rights to settle within Roman territory.

Our second conclusion is therefore that the Goths did not aim to replace the Roman Empire with something new but to be treated as equal citizens with the Graeco-Roman population, as part of the Empire.

The Empire approved the ‘Barbarian’ Rule.

It has been traditional to refer to the year 476, when Odoacer—a ‘barbarian’ soldier and statesman—deposed the last western emperor, conquered Italy, and proclaimed himself ruler of Italy, as the Fall of Rome.  However, the following indicates that this is not an appropriate view of history:

After Odoacer conquered Italy, the Eastern Emperor Zeno granted Odoacer the title of patrician, effectively recognizing his rule as King of Italy in the name of the Eastern Empire.

Odoacer issued coins with both his image and that of the Eastern Emperor Zeno. 

In 484 Zeno appointed the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great to be king of Italy.  Zeno, thereby, turned one troublesome, nominal vassal against another. Theodoric invaded Italy in 489 and by August 490 had captured almost the entire peninsula.

Peter Brown concluded that the Ostrogothic rulers of Italy considered themselves upholders of the Roman tradition.

JB Bury (see Odoacer) wrote that 476 stands out prominently as an important stage in the process of the division of the Empire into different parts, but that it is not more important than other similar events, such as:

The largely powerless but still influential Western Roman Senate continued to exist in the city of Rome under the rule of the Ostrogothic kingdom.

The Goths did not drive the Graeco-Roman people out from their territories.  Not did they persecute the previous citizens: The two groups existed fairly peacefully on the areas conquered by the ‘barbarians’.

The Roman Empire did not Fall.

The Western Roman Empire, therefore, did not come to an end in 476, when Odoacer deposed the last emperor.  Deposing the emperor was simply a formality that aligned outward form to existing reality, namely that the ‘barbarians’ were already in control of the Western Empire since the beginning of the fifth century.  The ‘barbarians’ were no longer scared of the Eastern Roman Empire but still submitted to it.  Roman power, practices, economy, culture, and religion continued after the emperor was deposed.  

CHURCH IN ROME

There are at least two reasons why the ‘barbarians’ should have made an end to the Church in Rome. 

Firstly, the Church was part of the State. The separation of Church and State is a modern concept. After Christianity was legalized in 313, the emperors became the real heads of the church and the church became part of the Roman Government. Bishops received their appointment and duties from the emperors and were accountable to the emperors. 

Secondly, in those years, Christology was the main controversy in the church. The Church in Rome accepted Nicene Christology but the Goths were Arian Christians.  In the fourth century, the emperors persecuted people with opposing Christological views. 

Despite these factors, when the ‘barbarians’ took control of the Western Empire, they allowed the Nicene Church in Rome (the Papacy) to continue unhindered in their areas.  One may ask why, but it is at least an indication that the ‘barbarians’ did not intend to destroy or replace the Roman system.  Rather, they continued it, and the Church in Rome was part of the system which they continued.

ROMAN EMPIRE MORPHED INTO THE MIDDLE AGES

After the ‘barbarians’ assumed control of the Western Roman Empire, there always remained a desire and pressure to reunite the empire.

The Roman Church played a cohesive role.

In the fifth century, after the Western Roman Empire was divided into many fairly independent ‘nations’, the Roman Church played a cohesive role among the ‘barbarian’ nations.  The Church was better organized than the ‘barbarian’ nations and the bishops continued to play a political role, even though they now had to depend on the Arian ‘barbarian’ nations for military protection.

In the sixth century, to strengthen the Church in Rome, Justinian I neutralized some of the Arian ‘barbarian’ nations.  This resulting in the Byzantine Papacy; about two centuries during which the Church in Rome was both protected and controlled by the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire).  To some extent, Roman control was re-established in this period, namely that the Byzantine Empire ruled the nations in the West through the church.

The Frankish Empire continued the Western Empire.

The Pirenne thesis was published in the 1920s. It remains influential to this day and has been supported by recent historians such as François Masai, Karl Ferdinand Werner, and Peter Brown.  This thesis:

Regards the rise of the Kingdom of the Franks (481–843) as a continuation of the Roman Empire.  (This empire was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe and the predecessor of the modern states of France and Germany.  The greatest expansion of the Frankish empire was secured by the early 9th century.  By this point dubbed as the Carolingian Empire.)

Validates the crowning of Charlemagne (AD 800), one of the main kings of the Franks, as the first Holy Roman Emperor as a successor of the Roman Emperors. 

Morphed into the Middle Ages

The Pirenne thesis also concludes that the Roman world underwent a gradual (though often violent) series of transformations, morphing into the medieval world.  In other words, the transformed Roman Empire continued right into the Middle Ages.

The French historian Lucien Musset argued that the civilization of Medieval Europe emerged from a SYNTHESIS between the Graeco-Roman world and the Germanic civilizations penetrating the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire did not fall or decline; it just TRANSFORMED. The same applies to the Germanic populations which invaded it.

Late Antiquity – Period of Transition

Traditionally, historians spoke of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire as the marker of the end of the Ancient Era and the beginning of the European Middle Ages.  Since historians have largely turned away from the idea that the Roman Empire fell, accepting instead Pirenne’s thesis of the CONTINUITY of the Roman Empire before and after the Germanic invasion, more recently they have defined a period which they call Late Antiquity. This is the period of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, with the roots of MEDIEVAL culture contained in Roman culture.  They see a gradual process of TRANSFORMATION, with no clear breaks, occurring over centuries. 

Brown proposed that Late Antiquity stretches more or less from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. 

CONCLUSIONS

In summary, what happened, over centuries, is that ‘barbarians’ migrated into the Empire.  They were absorbed into the Empire and its culture and many were recruited into the Imperial Forces until, eventually, they controlled the military machinery, soon after Theodosius died in 395.  From that point forward, the ‘barbarians’ were the real rulers of the Western Empire.  They were still treated as second-class citizens; often without the assurance of permanent residency. But they continued to tolerate figurehead emperors for some centuries before they deposed the last emperor in 476.  They successfully rebelled against their Roman overlords and took by force what the Empire was not willing to award them voluntarily, namely permanent residency.  This was a gradual (though often violent) process of decline over centuries. 

The ‘barbarians’ did not intend to replace the Roman Empire with different political or legal structures and they did not drive the Graeco-Roman population or the Roman church out of their territories. Their purpose was to remain part of the Empire.  The nations into which the Roman Empire was divided, continued Roman culture and economy in most parts of the former Western provinces into the 6th century and beyond (Historiography). 

The Western Roman Empire, therefore, did not fall.  What really happened was that the ‘barbarian’ immigrants wrestled control of the Empire from the original Graeco-Roman population.

Observing the cultural and archaeological continuities between the Roman Empire and the post-Roman Germanic kingdoms, Fustel de Coulanges (1875–89) argued that the ‘barbarians’ simply contributed to an ongoing process of transforming Roman institutions. (Histoire des institutions politiques de l’ancienne France)

Bowersock (2001), similarly, described the process as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall. (Bowersock 2001, pp. 87–122)

CONFIRM DANIEL’S PROPHECIES

Daniel describes the fourth beast as “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong.” “It devoured and crushed and trampled down” (Dan 7:7).  The Roman Empire was a unity of many nations, held together by violence; by military force.

In Daniel 2, the fourth “iron”-empire goes over into the “divided kingdom” of the feet.  In Daniel 7, eleven horns (kings – Dan 7:24) come out of the fourth empire.  “Horns” in Daniel do not represent individual kings, but empires, each consisting of a series of kings (Dan 8:20-22). (For a detailed discussion, see the article series on the prophecies of Daniel, including Daniel 2, Daniel 7, and the Evil Horn.)  The fourth empire in Daniel, therefore, subdivides into ten + one kingdoms.  (The number “ten” should be understood as “many;” not as exactly ten (cf. Dan 1:20).  The Roman Empire did divide into many different empires.  The exact number varied continually.  Since previous empires were conquered by a new empire, it remains amazing that Daniel could predict, centuries before it happened, that the fourth empire would not be conquered by another mighty empire, but that it would subdivide.

Since the eleven horns grow out of the fourth beast, they are a continuation of that beast.  Historians confirm that the Roman Empire, in reality, did not fall or decline, but continued right into the Middle Ages.  This was particularly in the form of The Evil Eleventh Horn. In Revelation that horn is the Sea Beast (Rev 13:1).  It received a deadly wound (Rev 13:3), but in the end-time, an image to the beast will be made and come alive (Rev 13:14-15).  In other words, the culture of the Roman Empire will be revived, and it will again devour and crush and trample down (Dan 7:7). 

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