Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2021
This chapter traces the deveopment of Christianity within the late Roman empire, opening with an imperial decree that institutionalized Christianity as the official law of the empire. We examine the close counterparts to intellectual property that existed in the Roman law of late antiquity. With Christianization, however, we also see how semantic formalities and substantive rationalities in Roman law were culturally transformed. Empirical formalities from Roman law persisted, but these were sacramentalized in accordance with Christian understandings. The emphasis on God's creation within Christianity was combined with Hellenistic Roman traditions celebrating wondrous discoveries. Instruments of legal power from the Roman empire were carried forward, but the transformations that took place with Christianization would mean that these instruments of legal power could be deployed in newly intentional ways. In this chapter, we witness the rise of a distinctive order of obligation, one involving faith in legality. This is an order of obligation that combines a deep confidence in the ordering powers of law with tendencies toward acquisitiveness in matters of property and wealth.