geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a central authority or a central figure.
An empire is an aggregate of nations or peoples ruled by a single sovereign government.
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- The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.
- Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), Volume 1, Chapter 2
- Christianity, with its strong emphasis on unity under one God (an emphasis that it shares with Islam), can seem an almost natural ally of empire—unless, of course, the prophetic-critical dimension of the biblical tradition, which the Jesus of the synoptics certainly represented, is allowed a hearing. But as the history of Christology in the West easily demonstrates, after the establishment of Christianity, the prophetic office of the Christ, based not only on Jesus’ teaching but (even more so) on his suffering at the hands of power, was definitely subdued in favor of his priestly and kingly offices. Triumphant peoples, successful peoples, possessing peoples—empires!—do not want crucified criminals as their chief cultic symbol, especially not when they themselves are the crucifiers ... as they regularly are!
- Cultural elites in countries that dominate peoples have adapted subject people’s religion for their own purposes.
- Richard A. Horsley, Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003), p. 12
- Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.