Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

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Constantine, The Emperor (?288-337).

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

The glorification of Constantine "the Great" in popular literature, which is due to his establishment of Christianity in the Empire, is not sustained in modern history. He was most probably the illegitimate son of the Emperor Constantius - St. Ambrose says, in an important sermon (De obitu Theodosii, §42), that his mother was "a tavern-girl" - and his ambition for the monopoly of the throne, at a time when the imperial power was legally divided, cost the Empire hundreds of thousands of lives in an age when they could ill be spared. His division of the Empire and building of Constantinople further weakened it, and it is now generally agreed that he was compelled to leave Rome because in a fit of jealousy he had ordered the murder of his wife, his son, and a boy-nephew. So St. Jerome, in his Chronicle (year 326), and Eutropius (X, 6). It is impossible to determine in what sense he was really a Christian. Throughout life he bore pagan offices and titles, and he was baptized only in his last days; and his death was followed by an appalling massacre of relatives in his palace in the interest of his sons (Gibbon, Ch. XXIII), who proved to be a very degenerate brood. His legislation was of very mixed value, and his patronage of Christianity and rewards for baptism divided and weakened the Empire and led to a still more debilitating and truculent persecution. His later years were passed in an effeminate luxury which provoked the derision of the Romans. The chapter on him in the Cambridge Mediaeval History (Vol. I) is by an ecclesiastical writer, and uncritical, but the article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica is generally sound and has escaped the Catholic censors of the last edition. See also J. B. Firth's Constantine the Great (1905), but a critical biography is still to be written.


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