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Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Preface to the online edition

E.H.Gifford published his massive edition and translation in 5 volumes in 1903. Vol. 1 and vol. 2 contained the Greek. Vol. 3 was split into two physical volumes -- part 1 and part 2. This contained the English translation that appears here. Vol. 4 was the last, and contained the notes, mainly philological. The English translation was also reprinted separately. This remains the only English translation.

His edition has been superceded by that of Karl Mras, Eusebius Werke 8, in the 'Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller' series 43 Berlin (1954-6). This text is reprinted by the French editors J. Sirinelli and Edouard des Places in the Sources Chrétiennes series. Sirinelli c. also included a French translation.

At the head of each book stands a summary, formatted in this edition as a table of contents. These are found in most of the manuscripts, and are generally considered to be authorial by editors such as K. Mras or J. Sirinelli. In the medieval manuscripts, the text is divided into chapters and excerpts from the summary placed at the head of each 'chapter' as a chapter title. It is very hard to find definite information, but the division into chapters is probably later than Eusebius, as is the creation of the chapter titles. The works of St. Augustine, for instance, were divided into chapters in the 6th century, and an early 5th century manuscript of his De Civitate Dei, from Africa, and quite likely from his own scriptorium, has none. (Augustine did however compose summaries of the contents, which circulated separately.) As may be seen from book 1, even in Gifford's version, the chapter divisions do not in fact match the numbered sentences in the summaries, again indicating that the division in chapters is later than the author of the summaries.

The Praeparatio is perhaps best known from a narrow-minded attempt by Edward Gibbon in his Vindication to use it to 'prove' that Eusebius advocated deceit. The smear needs little discussion here. While Gibbon would like us to believe that Eusebius is really saying in book 12, chapter 31 that the bible is a lie so deceit is fine, some will feel that instead that it is simply part of his theme that the bible contains narrative fiction in order to get conceptually difficult truths into the uneducated. The reader is invited to read all of book 12 and decide for themselves.

There is one problem with the translation, which is as annoying as unnecessary. For some reason, Gifford did not always translate the summaries literally, but felt free to add to them, combine, abbreviate or alter them, in order to use them as table of contents himself. Possibly this is because the Greek numbers in the summaries do not align with the chapter divisions. He did not however place them in the text as per the manuscripts, as is done in Mras and Sirinelli.

To illustrate the sort of changes Gifford made, I have rendered as literally as I can from Sirinelli's French translation the Greek summary of book 1 (which is divided into 10 chapters) as follows:

Gk. Number
Greek text
Mras' chapter no
Text chapter to which the contents relate
What the treatise on the Gospel promises
The charges usually brought against us by those who try to slander our doctrines
That we did not adopt the sentiments of the word of salvation without inquiry
Our adoption of belief in the greatest blessings is not uncritical as to time
We did not forsake the superstitious errors of our fathers without sound reason
What the Greeks have written on the subject of the first origins of the world, and how we have abandoned it for good reasons
On the disagreements between the philosophers on the system of the universe; we separate from them after a critical examination
The ancients worshipped no other gods than the stars visible in the sky
They knew nothing about the gods or about setting up carved images
The stories about the gods among other nations are of later introduction
Summary of the theology of the ancient Phoenicians. Some authors who wrote about them. That we have reason to reject them.

It would be useful if someone with more Greek than myself would translate these again, to replace the defective versions in Gifford, particularly since both Mras and Sirinelli suggest that they may be by Eusebius himself.

Gifford also used Gibbon's mistranslation of pseudos as 'falsehood' in the entry and text of book 12, chapter 31. The word is rendered 'fiction' in R.G. Bury's Loeb edition (1967, book 2, 663D-E, p.125) of Plato's Laws, which seems to fit the sense better, unless we are to suppose Eusebius to mean that the Hebrew scriptures contain intentional falsehoods! Modern readers will be aware of the difference between a lie and a piece of educational fiction, but the confusion is not uncommon among uneducated people, even today.

The manuscripts are discussed in detail by Mras. These are the extant manuscripts.



Shelfmark Notes

Date /

1st Family
Books 1-5 only
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Français
Codex Parisinus Graecus 451. Parchment. The "Arethas" codex.
Written by Baanes for Arethas, then Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.
Contains books 1-5 on ff. 188r-322r. A quaternion is missing, so the PE starts at I, 3, 5, and the end of Justin' Cohortatio and Tatian Discourse to the Greeks are missing. A second quaternion has dropped out, creating another lacuna at II, 3, 12-6, 21. PE. bk. 2 starts on f. 213v; 3 on 231v; 4 on 259v; 5 on 289r.

Written in minuscule, very clear and beautifully. The running titles in uncial or semi-uncial. The MS was copied from an exemplar in uncials.

Arethas, the proprietor and corrector of the MS (A 2), covered it with notes. It also contains notes from many hands of the XIV and XVth centuries (A 3).

Originally in the royal collection at Fontainbleu in the 16th century. There are two old numbers on f.1r - 1169 and 2271. On the last page is the numeral '403'. It consists of 59 quaternions and two extra leaves. 10 quaternions and a leaf have fallen out and been lost. Cover: 25cm x 19 cm. Pages: 24.5cm x 18.5 cm. Written area: 14.5 cm ('bis' 15) x 11 cm. Margins: top=4cm, bottom=6cm, sides 6.5-7cm. 26 lines per page, 40 characters a line.

Contents: 1. Clement of Alexandria, Protrepicus; 2. Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus; 3. Justini epistulam ad Zenam; 4. Justin, Cohortatio ad gentiles; 5. Eusebius, P.E. bks 1-5; 6. Athenagoras, Apology for the Christians; 7. Athenagoras on the Resurrection; 8. Eusebius, Against Hierocles.

Subscriptio on f.401v in semi-uncial: ἐγράφη χειρὶ Βαάνους νοταρίον Ἀρέθα ἀρχιεπισκόπου Καισαρείας Καππαδοκίας· ἔτει κόσμου SYKB. (=6422, i.e. 914AD). and then underneath a price of 20 gold solidi (nomismata) for the writing of the codex, and 6 for the parchment. The subscriptio is in the hand of Arethas himself.

Venice, San Marco Library.
Codex Marcianus Graecus 341. Parchment. Contains books 1-5 on ff. 6-204r. A copy of of A made before that MS' missing quaternions were lost, and so supplies the text of the lacunae in books 1 and 2. Once the property of Cardinal Bessarion. Also contains Eusebius, Against Hierocles; and Tatian, Discourse to the Greeks (the latter was on the missing quaternion at the start of the PE in A). 280 folios. On f.280v is the name Petros Karnabakas. Boards: 26cm x 19 cm. Pages: 19.5cm x 12 cm. 28 (sometimes 29) lines per page. 27-30 characters a line. Written in minuscule by a single scribe, but the summaries at the start of each book are in semi-uncial.

2nd Family
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Français
Codex Parisinus Graecus 465. Paper. 207 leaves. Written by a monk, Longinus, who gives his name in the subscriptio on f.207r (and who also, in 1272, wrote Cod. Par. Grae. 443, of Dionysius the Areopagite). On fol. 207v is a notice which tells us that a certain Kaludas was in Constantinople in 1453, and transferred the MS to his brother-in-law when he died at 7am on the 5th October 1454 in the district of Ainos.

Soon afterwards it came to Italy. It was prepared for sale in the 16th century by the addition of a paper double-sheet glued on the front (since become detached), and a majuscule title added. In the 17th century, the MS belonged to the orientalist A. Galland, who gave it to the royal library ("olim Gallandianus" in the 1740 catalogue, t. 2, p. 65).

This MS is missing book 12, but full of errors. Belongs to the group O(G)NDV.

Venice, San Marco Library.
Codex Marcianus Graecus 341. Paper. Contains book 12. 299 folios. Given to the monastery of St. Mark by Bessarion. Two hands, both of the second-half of the 15th century. The first two leaves are copied from B. Based on a manuscript of the first family, but influenced by the second.

Size; Leaves: 28.5 x 20cm; written area 21 x 12.5 cm. Scribe I a wrote ff.1-265v, and 295-300; scribe I b wrote ff.266-294.

This MS has a distinctive feature in ff.295-300: an extract of the table of contents of book 15, followed by chapters 3, 16, 17, and 18, and then others in further disarray.

Bologna, University Library
Codex Bononiensis University 3643. Bombazin paper. Contains book 12. 244 folios. Written by two different hands at the end of the 13th century. I and O are the most important representatives of the second family. The last page has the numeral '244' on it. Boards: 34cm x 25 cm; leaves: 33cm x 24 cm; writing area: 26 bis 27 cm x 18 bis 20 cm. One of the writers was a monk named Nicephorus (mentioned on fol. 244v). The old top and bottom margins have been cut off. Given to the library in the 18th century (an inventory of 1720 lists 3643 and 3644 - the DE - on p.16 no. XIV) as part of a collection by Count Aloysius Ferdinandus Marsilius (Count Alois Ferdinand Marsigli), who was a general of Emperor Leopold I and had campaigned against the Turks in Hungary and Turkey, and, according to a letter preserved at the library, acquired the MSS as booty whenever a town was sacked. MS belongs with BN(D)V .
13 (end)
Naples, Bibliotheca Nazionale
Codex Neapolitanus graecus II A 16. Paper. Contains book 12. 401 folios. 17/18 century binding of the Farnese, so the MS came to Naples from Rome. Binding: 31cm x 23 cm; Pages: 29cm x 21 cm; Written area: 20 cm x 14.5 cm, 30 lines per page ff.1-338r, on from there 31 per page, 45-52 letters per line. Written by a single scribe. Red running titles and initials. No scholia, only some brief notes in the margins. Corrections by the original scribe, and a second writer. A third hand is visible at a few places. Not directly related to any other MS - rather an independent member of the BOV-class. Text is closer to O in books 1-9, 14-15. Closer to B for the rest.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Français
Codex Parisinus Graecus 467. Paper. Contains book 12. Written by the Cretan, Michael Damascene; part written by a second hand. 386 folios. Related to N. Original binding of the period of king Francis II. The 9th book - by the other hand - is a copy of I or j. The rest is a brother of N. There are no scholia.
Florence, Medicean-Laurentian library
Codex Laurentianus VI 9. Paper. A copy of O, for which it can supplement passages unreadable or lost. Listed in Bandini's catalogue of the library in 1764. 329 folios. Boards (s.XVI): 31.5 cm x 22 cm; pages: 30.5cm x 22 cm; written area: 21.5 cm x 15 cm. 30 lines a page, around 50 letters per line. Written by a single scribe. Date appears on f.328v, 6852 of the world (=1344AD).
Mount Athos, Vatopedi Monastery
Codex Batopedianus 180. Illustrated MS. 382 folios. A good representative of the second family ( BON), but has only one good reading itself. MRAS had only photographs. Supposedly 382 pages, 28cm x 21 cm. 31 lines per page, 47-52 letters per line. No scholia. Belonged to the imperial library in Constantinople, according to the catalogue of the MSS at Vatopedi. Very ornamented in a way unlike the other MSS.
Venice, San Marco Library
Codex Marcianus 342. Parchment. Copy of I. Fol. 242v says it was finished on 1st December 1470. Written by the monk Kosmas in Rome. Contains the same excerpt as in I from the table of contents of book 15 and the same chapters in the same sequence as in I.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Français
Codex Parisinus Graecus 468. Paper. Copied from j. Likewise has the same chapter orders and excerpt from the summary as I.
Florence, Medicean-Laurentian library
Codex Laurentianus Plut. VI 6. Parchment. Direct copy of G.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Français
Codex Parisinus Graecus 466. Parchment. Direct copy of G. Once known as the Codex. Rich. Montacutii, used by Vigerus.
Naples, Bibliotheca Nazionale
Codex Neapolitanus II AA 15. Books 1-8 copied from N. Books 9-15 from I or j.
Rome, Vatican Library
Codex Ottobonianus 265. Copied from the above, with readings from I or j in the margin.
Rome, Vatican Library
Codex Ottobonianus 366. Copied from I or j.
Oxford, St. John's College
[Shelfmark unknown]. A late copy of D.
Rome, Vatican Library
Codex Urbinas 6. A copy of N.
Rome, Vatican Library
Codex Vaticanus 1303. An apograph of N.
15, second half
Leiden, Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit
Codex Vossianus 197. Contains only book 9. Related to EI and corrected from the Stephanus edition.

There are thus two classes of manuscript: A, supplemented by H; and on the other hand BOVND, with B transitional.

There are also substantial citations in Theodoret, Græcarum affectionum curatio (Remedy for the diseases of the Greeks). These vary between the two families. George Trapezuntios made a Latin translation. The earliest known edition is from Venice in 1470 via Nicolaus Jenson. This seems to be based on I or j. D and E were the basis of the Robert Stephanus edition of 1544.

The process of converting the printed text to HTML was somewhat awkward. Gifford used the format favoured by the Oxford Movement translations of the 1840's, with much use of the margin, and introduced some innovations himself.

The page numbers of vols. 3 and 4 are very small, and Gifford himself ignores them. Instead he placed the page numbers of the Greek in the margin, together with the division of the page into four sections, labelled a, b, c and d, also in the margin. The footnotes appear at the bottom of the page, and use the Greek page number, section, and line number of the printed text. Thus 123 c 11 would be the 11th line after the marginal 'c' following the 'p.123' in the margin.

For an online edition, these reference points would be almost impossible to transcribe. They have been omitted. Instead convention footnote numbers have been created, and linked to the notes which have been necessarily moved to the end. Usually Gifford's ref. is preserved, however.

The majority of the work consists of large near-verbatim chunks copied from pagan philosophers. Often these are now lost, which gives the work its value. Gifford set these in a slightly smaller font-size, so that Eusebius' comments stood out. The citations also are in single quotes. I have been unable to find a format which works online as well, so the citations are in the same size font.

Gifford also placed at the head of each page, in the margin the name of the current philosopher in capitals, and often when a new one was introduced. This has been represented by using [PLATO] etc at the start of a new chunk of text, as seemed appropriate.

The edition is around 1000 pages, and has been very hard to scan. Peter Kirby and I have been discussing the idea for a couple of years, without result. My own attempt to scan book 12 ground to a halt, as the format chosen was too difficult for the time available. The project got off the ground a few months ago when Peter scanned the introduction, and then book 1 with selected embedded footnotes, then 3, 5, and 6. In response I started to work on scanning other books, starting with 2 and 4, evolving a format as we went, and reformatted or added footnotes to his books. Unfortunately we had neglected to keep in touch as closely as we might, and both of us did book 5.

In most books, every footnote has been included. In some of those books done first, some biblical references have been omitted, and this is indicated by the legend 'selected footnotes.' The order of scanning was 1-6, then 15 down to 7. I entered Greek text using the SPIonic font with polytonic accents *; Peter in unicode without accents.

19th July 2003

* Note: all the SpIonic has been converted to unicode with accents. RP. 14th November 2005.


K. MRAS, Eusebius Werke: Achter Band. Die Praeparatio Evangelica. Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 21. Berlin (1954). Very detailed lists of MSS, including lists of books containing facsimiles of the pages.
J. SIRINELLI and É. des PLACES, Eusèbe du Césarée: La Préparation Évangélique. Sources Chrétiennes 206. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, (1974).

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.

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