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Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius (23) of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili. Of extant sources of our knowledge of Eusebius the most important are the scattered notices in writers of the same or immediately succeeding ages, e.g. Athanasius, Jerome, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. At a later date some valuable information is contained in the proceedings of the second council of Nicaea (Labbe, Conc. viii. 1144 seq. ed. Colet.), and in the Antirrhetica of the patriarch Nicephorus (Spicil. Solesm. i. pp. 371 seq.) likewise connected with the Iconoclastic controversy. The primary sources of information, however, for the career of one who was above all a literary man must be sought in his own works. The only edition of them which aims at completeness is in Migne's Patr. Gk. vols. xix.–xxiv. See also the standard works of Cave (Hist. Lit. i. pp. 175 seq.), Tillemont (Hist. Eccl. vii. pp. 39 seq., 659 seq., together with scattered notices in his account of the Arians and of the Nicene council in vol. vi.), and Fabricius (Bibl. Graec. vii. pp. 335 seq. ed. Harles). The most complete monograph is Stein's Eusebius Bischof Von Cäsarea (Würzburg, 1852). There is a useful English trans. of the History in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, by Mr. Giffert; cf. A. C. Headlam, The Editions or MSS. of Eusebius, in Journal of Theol. Studies, 1902, iii. 93-102.
The references in his own works will hardly allow us to place his birth much later than a.d. 260, so that he would be nearly 80 at his death. All notices of his early life are connected with Caesarea; and as it was then usual to prefer a native as bishop, everything favours this as the city of his birth.
Of his parentage and relationships absolutely nothing is known, but here, as a child, he was catechized in that declaration of belief which years afterwards was laid by him before the great council of Nicaea, and adopted by the assembled Fathers as a basis for the creed of the universal church. Here he listened to the Biblical expositions of the learned Dorotheus, thoroughly versed in the Hebrew Scriptures and not unacquainted with Greek literature and philosophy, once the superintendent of the emperor's purple factory at Tyre, but now a presbyter in the church of Caesarea (H. E. vii. 32). Here, in due time, he was himself ordained a presbyter, probably by that bp. Agapius whose wise forethought and untiring assiduity and openhanded benevolence he himself has recorded (ib.). Here, above all, he contracted with the saintly student Pamphilus that friendship which was the crown and glory of his life, and which martyrdom itself could not sever. Eusebius owed far more to Pamphilus than the impulse and direction given to his studies. Pamphilus, no mere student recluse, was a man of large heart and bountiful hand, above all things helpful to his friends (Mart. Pal. 11), giving freely to all in want; he multiplied copies of the Scriptures, which he distributed gratuitously (Eus. in Hieron. c. Rufin. i. 9, Op. ii. 465); and to the sympathy of the friend he united the courage of the hero. He had also the power of impressing his own strong convictions on others. Hence, when the great trial of faith came, his house was found to be not only the home of students but the nursery of martyrs. To one like Eusebius, who owed his strength and his weakness alike to a ready susceptibility of impression from those about him, such a friendship was an inestimable blessing. He expressed the strength of his devotion to this friend by adopting his name, being known as "Eusebius of Pamphilus."
Eusebius was in middle life when the last and fiercest persecution broke out. For nearly half a century—a longer period than at any other time since its foundation—the church had enjoyed uninterrupted peace as regards attacks from without. Suddenly and unexpectedly all was changed. The city of Caesarea became a chief centre of persecution. Eusebius tells how he saw the houses of prayer razed to the ground, the holy Scriptures committed to the flames in the market-places, the pastors hiding themselves, and shamefully jeered at when caught by their persecutors (H. E. viii. 2). For seven years the attacks continued. At Tyre also Eusebius saw several Christians torn by wild beasts in the amphitheatre (ib. 7, 8). Leaving Palestine, he visited Egypt. In no country did the persecution rage more fiercely. Here, in the Thebaid, they perished, ten, twenty, even sixty or a hundred at a time. Eusebius tells how he in these parts witnessed numerous martyrdoms in a single day, some by beheading, others by fire; the executioners relieving each other by relays and the victims eagerly pressing forward to be tortured, clamouring for the honour of martyrdom, and receiving their sentence with joy and laughter (ib. 9). This visit to Egypt was apparently after the imprisonment and martyrdom of Pamphilus, in the latest and fiercest days of the persecution. It was probably now that Eusebius was imprisoned for his faith. If so, we have the less difficulty in explaining his release, without any stain left on his integrity or his courage.
Not long after the restoration of peace (a.d. 313) Eusebius was unanimously elected to the vacant see of Caesarea. Among the earliest results of the peace was the erection of a magnificent basilica at Tyre under the direction of his friend Paulinus, the bishop. Eusebius was invited to deliver the inaugural address. This address he has preserved and inserted in his History, where, though not mentioned, the orator's name is but thinly concealed (H. E. ix. 4). This oration is a paean of thanksgiving over the restitution of the Church, of which the splendid building at Tyre was at once the firstfruit and the type. The incident must have taken place not later than a.d. 315. For more than 25 years he presided over the church of Caesarea, winning the respect and affection of all. He died bp. of Caesarea.
When the Arian controversy broke out, the sympathies of Eusebius were early enlisted on 319the side of Arius. If his namesake of Nicomedia may be trusted, he was especially zealous on behalf of the Arian doctrine at this time (Eus. Nicom. in Theod. H. E. i. 5, ἡ τοῦ δεσπότου μου Εὐσεβίου σπουδὴ ἡ ὑπὲρ ἀληθοῦς λόγου. But the testimony of this strong partisan may well be suspected; and the attitude of Eusebius of Caesarea throughout suggests that he was influenced rather by personal associations and the desire to secure liberal treatment for the heresiarch than by any real accordance with his views. Whatever his motives, he wrote to Alexander, bp. of Alexandria, remonstrating with him for deposing Arius and urging that he had misrepresented the opinions of the latter (Labbe, Conc. viii. 1148, ed. Colet). The cause of Arius was taken up also by two neighbouring bishops, Theodotus of Laodicea and Paulinus of Tyre. In a letter addressed to his namesake of Constantinople, Alexander complains of three Syrian bishops, "appointed he knows not how," as having fanned the flame of sedition (Theod. H. E. i. 3); while Arius himself claims "all the bishops in the East," mentioning by name Eusebius of Caesarea with others, as on his side (ib. i. 4). Accordingly, when he was deposed by a synod convened at Alexandria by Alexander, Arius appealed to Eusebius and others to interpose. A meeting of Syrian bishops decided for his restoration, though wording the decision cautiously. The synod thought that Arius should be allowed to gather his congregation about him as heretofore, but added that he must render obedience to Alexander and entreat to be admitted to communion with him (Soz. H. E. i. 15).
At the council of Nicaea (a.d. 325) Eusebius took a leading part. This prominence he cannot have owed to his bishopric, which, though important, did not rank with the great sees, "the apostolic thrones" (ib. 17) of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria. But that he was beyond question the most learned man and most famous living writer in the church at this time would suffice to secure him a hearing. Probably, however, his importance was due even more to his close relations with the great emperor, whose entire confidence he enjoyed. He occupied the first seat to the emperor's right (V. C. iii. 11), and delivered the opening address to Constantine when he took his seat in the council-chamber (ib. i. prooem., iii. 11; Soz. H. E. i. 19). The speech is unfortunately not preserved.
Eusebius himself has left us an account of his doings with regard to the main object of the council in a letter of explanation to his church at Caesarea. He laid before the council the creed in use in the Caesarean church, which had been handed down from the bishops who preceded him, which he himself had been taught at his baptism, and in which, both as a presbyter and bishop, he had instructed others. The emperor was satisfied with the orthodoxy of this creed, inserting however the single word ὁμοούσιον and giving explanations as to its meaning which set the scruples of Eusebius at rest. The assembled Fathers, taking this as their starting-point, made other important insertions and alterations. Moreover, an anathema was appended directly condemning Arian doctrines. Eusebius took time to consider before subscribing to this revised formula. The three expressions which caused difficulty were: (1) "of the substance of the Father" (ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός); (2) "begotten, not made" (γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα); (3) "of the same substance" (ὁμοούσιον); and of these he demanded explanations. The explanations were so far satisfactory that for the sake of peace he subscribed to the creed. He had the less scruple in assenting to the final anathema, because the Arian expressions which it condemned were not scriptural, and he considered that "almost all the confusion and disturbance of the churches" had arisen from the use of unscriptural phrases. This letter, he concludes, is written to the Caesareans to explain that he would resist to the last any vital change in the traditional creed of his church, but had subscribed to these alterations, when assured of their innocence, to avoid appearing contentious (ἀφιλονείκως). See Hort's Two Dissertations, pp. 55 seq.
The settlement of the dispute respecting the time of observing Easter was another important work undertaken by the council. In this also a leading part has been assigned to Eusebius by some modern writers (e.g. Stanley, Eastern Church, p. 182, following Tillemont, H. E. vi. p. 668).
The hopes which Eusebius with others had built upon the decisions of the Nicene council were soon dashed. The final peace of the church seemed as far distant as ever. In three controversies with three distinguished antagonists, Eusebius took a more or less prominent part; and his reputation, whether justly or not, has suffered greatly in consequence.
(i) Synod of Antioch.—Eustathius, bp. of Antioch, was a staunch advocate of the Nicene doctrine and a determined foe of the Arians. He had assailed the tenets of Origen (Socr. H. E. vi. 13), of whom Eusebius was an ardent champion, and had charged Eusebius himself with faithlessness to the doctrines of Nicaea. He was accused in turn of Sabellianism by Eusebius (ib. i. 23; Soz. H. E. ii. 19). To the historian Socrates the doctrines of the two antagonists seemed practically identical. Nevertheless they were regarded as the two principals in the quarrel (Soz. H. E. ii. 18). A synod, mainly composed of bishops with Arian or semi-Arian sympathies, was assembled at Antioch, a.d. 330 to consider the charge of Sabellianism brought against Eustathius, who was deposed. The see of Antioch thus became vacant. The assembled bishops proposed Eusebius of Caesarea as his successor, and wrote to the emperor on his behalf, but Eusebius declined the honour, alleging the rule of the Church, regarded as an "apostolic tradition," which forbade translations from one see to another; and Euphronius was elected.
(ii) Synods of Caesarea, Tyre, and Jerusalem.—The next stage of the Arian controversy exhibits Eusebius in conflict with a greater than Eustathius. The disgraceful intrigues of the Arians and Meletians against Athanasius, which led to his first exile, are related in our art. Athanasius. It is sufficient to say here that the emperor summoned Athanasius to appear before a gathering of bishops at Caesarea, to meet the charges brought against 320him. It is stated by Theodoret (H. E. i. 26) that Constantine was induced to name Caesarea by the Arian party, who selected it because the enemies of Athanasius were in a majority there (ἔνθα δὴ πλείους ἦσαν οἰ δυσμενεῖς), but the emperor may have given the preference to Caesarea because he reposed the greatest confidence in the moderation (ἐπιείκεια) of its bishop. Athanasius excused himself from attending, believing that there was a conspiracy against him, and that he would not have fair play there (Festal Letters, p. xvii, Oxf. trans.; Theod. H. E. i. 26; Soz. H. E. ii. 25). This was in 334. Athanasius does not mention this synod in his Apology.
The next year (a.d. 335) Athanasius received a peremptory and angry summons from Constantine to appear before a synod of bishops at Tyre. Theodoret (l.c.) conjectures (ὡς οἶμαι) that the place of meeting was changed by the emperor out of deference to the fears of Athanasius, who "looked with suspicion on Caesarea on account of its ruler." Athanasius, or his friends, may indeed have objected to Eusebius as a partisan; for the Egyptian bishops who espoused the cause of Athanasius, addressing the synod of Tyre, allege "the law of God" as forbidding "an enemy to be witness or judge," and shortly afterwards add mysteriously, "ye know why Eusebius of Caesarea has become an enemy since last year" (Athan. Ap. c. Arian. 77, Op. i. p. 153). The scenes at the synod of Tyre form the most picturesque and the most shameful chapter in the Arian controversy. After all allowance for the exaggerations of the Athanasian party, from whom our knowledge is chiefly derived, the proceedings will still remain an undying shame to Eusebius of Nicomedia and his fellow-intriguers. But there is no reason for supposing that Eusebius of Caesarea took any active part in these plots. Athanasius mentions him rarely, and then without any special bitterness. The "Eusebians" (οἱ περὶ Εὐσέβιον) are always the adherents of his Nicomedian namesake. But, though probably not participating in, and possibly ignorant of their plots, Eusebius of Caesarea was certainly used as a tool by the more unscrupulous and violent partisan of Arius, and must bear the reproach of a too easy compliance with their actions. The proceedings were cut short by the withdrawal of Athanasius, who suddenly sailed to Constantinople, and appealed in person to the emperor. The synod condemned him by default.
While the bishops at Tyre were in the midst of their session, an urgent summons from the emperor called them to take part in the approaching festival at Jerusalem (Eus. V. C. iv. 41 seq.; Socr. H. E. i. 33 seq.; Soz. H. E. ii. 26; Theod. H. E. i. 29). It was the tricennalia of Constantine. No previous sovereign after Augustus, the founder of the empire, had reigned for thirty years. Constantine had a fondness for magnificent ceremonial, and here was a noble opportunity (V. C. iv. 40, καιρὸς εὔκαιρος). The occasion was marked by the dedication of Constantine's new and splendid basilica, built on the site of Calvary. The festival was graced by a series of orations from the principal persons present. In these Eusebius bore a conspicuous part, finding in this dedication festival a far more congenial atmosphere than in the intrigues of the synod at Tyre. He speaks of the assemblage at Tyre as a mere episode of the festival at Jerusalem (ὁδοῦ δὴ πάρεργον). The emperor, he says, preparing for the celebration of this festival, was anxious to end the quarrels which rent the church. In doing so he was obeying the Lord's injunction, "Be reconciled to thy brother, and then go and offer thy gift" (cf. Soz. i. 26). This view of the emperor's motive is entirely borne out by Constantine's own letter to the synod at Tyre. Eusebius was greatly impressed by the celebration; but Tillemont, who shews strong prejudice against Eusebius throughout, altogether misstates the case in saying that he "compares or even prefers this assembly to the council of Nicaea, striving to exalt it as much as he can, for the sake of effacing the glory of that great council," etc. (vi. p. 284). But Eusebius says distinctly that "after that first council" this was the greatest synod assembled by Constantine (V. C. iv. 47); and so far from shewing any desire to depreciate the council of Nicaea, he cannot find language magnificent enough to sing its glories (iii. 6 seq.).
Arius and Euzoius had presented a confession of faith to the emperor, seeking readmission to the church. The emperor was satisfied that this document was in harmony with the faith of Nicaea, and sent Arius and Euzoius to Jerusalem, requesting the synod to consider their confession of faith and restore them to communion. Arius and his followers were accordingly readmitted at Jerusalem. Of the bishops responsible for this act, some were hostile to Athanasius, others would regard it as an act of pacification. The stress which Eusebius lays on Constantine's desire to secure peace on this, as on all other occasions, suggests that that was a predominant idea in the writer's own mind, though perhaps not unmixed with other influences.
(iii) Synod of Constantinople.—Athanasius had not fled to Constantinople in vain. Constantine desired pacification but was not insensible to justice; and the personal pleadings of Athanasius convinced him that justice had been outraged (Ap. c. Arian. 86). The bishops at the dedication festival had scarcely executed the request, or command, of the emperor's first letter, when they received another written in a very different temper (ib.; Socr. H. E. i. 34; Soz. H. E. ii. 27). It was addressed "to the bishops that had assembled at Tyre"; described their proceedings as "tumultuous and stormy"; and summoned them without delay to Constantinople. The leaders of the Eusebian party alone obeyed; the rest retired to their homes. Among those who obeyed was Eusebius of Caesarea. Of the principal events which occurred at Constantinople, the banishment of Athanasius and the death of Arius, we need not speak here. But the proceedings of the synod then held there (a.d. 336) have an important bearing on the literary history of Eusebius. The chief work of the synod was the condemnation of MARCELLUS, bp. of Ancyra, an uncompromising opponent of the Arians. He had written a book in reply to 321the Arian Asterius "the sophist," in which his zeal against Arian tenets goaded him into expressions that had a rank savour of Sabellianism. The proceedings against him had commenced at Jerusalem and were continued at Constantinople, where he was condemned of Sabellianism, and deposed from his bishopric (Socr. H. E. i. 36; Soz. H. E. ii. 33). Eusebius is especially mentioned as taking part in this synod (Athan. Ap. c. Arian. 87; cf. Eus. c. Marc. ii. 4, p. 115). Not satisfied with this, the dominant party urged Eusebius to undertake a refutation of the heretic. Two works against Marcellus were his response. Eusebius found also more congenial employment during his sojourn at Constantinople. The celebration of the emperor's tricennalia had not yet ended, and Eusebius delivered a panegyric which he afterwards appended to his Life of Constantine. The delivery of this oration may have been the chief motive which induced Eusebius to accompany the Arian bishops to Constantinople. It must have been during this same visit, though on an earlier day, that he delivered before the emperor his discourse on the church of the Holy Sepulchre, probably previously spoken also at the dedication itself. This oration has unfortunately not survived. It does not appear that Eusebius had any personal interview with Constantine before the council of Nicaea. Here, however, he stood high in the emperor's favour, as the prominent position assigned to him shews; and there seems thenceforward no interruption in their cordial relations. The emperor used to enter into familiar conversation with him, relating the most remarkable incidents in his career, such as the miraculous appearance of the cross in the skies (V. C. i. 28), and the protection afforded by that emblem in battle (ii. 9). He corresponded with him on various subjects, on one occasion asking him to see to the execution of fifty copies of the Scriptures for his new capital, and supplying him with the necessary means (iv. 36); and he listened with patience, and even with delight, to the lengthy and elaborate orations which Eusebius delivered from time to time in his presence. Constantine praises his eulogist's gentleness or moderation (iii. 60). Nor was Constantine the only member of the imperial family with whom Eusebius had friendly relations. The empress Constantia, the sister of Constantine and wife of Licinius, wrote to him on a matter of religious interest. In his reply we are especially struck with the frankness of expostulation, almost of rebuke, with which he addresses her (Spicil. Solesm. i. 383).
The great emperor breathed his last on May 22, a.d. 337; and Eusebius died not later than the close of 339 or the beginning of 340. In Wright's Ancient Syrian Martyrology, which cannot date later than half a century after the event, "the commemoration of Eusebius bp. of Palestine" is placed on May 30. If this represents the day of his death, as probably it does, he must have died in 339, for the notices will hardly allow so late a date in the following year. His literary activity was unabated to the end. Four years at most can have elapsed between his last visit to Constantinople and his death. He must have been nearly 80 years old when the end came. Yet at this advanced age, and within this short period, he composed the Panegyric, the Life of Constantine, the treatise Against Marcellus, and the companion treatise On the Theology of the Church; probably he had in hand at the same time other unfinished works, such as the Theophania. There are no signs of failing mental vigour in these works. The two doctrinal treatises are perhaps his most forcible and lucid writings. The Panegyric and the Life of Constantine are disfigured by a too luxuriant rhetoric, but in vigour equal any of his earlier works. Of his death itself no record is left. Acacius, his successor, had been his pupil. Though more decidedly Arian in bias, he was a devoted admirer of his master (Soz. H. E. iii. 2). He wrote a Life of Eusebius, and apparently edited some of his works.
Literary Works.—The literary remains of Eusebius are a rich and, excepting the Chronicle and the Ecclesiastical History, a comparatively unexplored mine of study. They may be classed as: A. Historical; B. Apologetic; C. Critical and Exegetical; D. Doctrinal; E. Orations; F. Letters.
A. Historical.—(1) Life of Pamphilus.—Eusebius (Mart. Pal. 11), speaking of his friend's martyrdom, refers to this work as follows: "The rest of the triumphs of his virtue, requiring a longer narration, we have already before this given to the world in a separate work in three books, of which his life is the subject." He also refers to it 3 times in his History (H. E. i. 32, vii. 32, viii. 13). The Life of Pamphilus was thus written before the History, and before the shorter ed. of—
(2) The Martyrs of Palestine.—This work is extant in two forms, a shorter and a longer. The shorter is attached to the History, commonly between the 8th and 9th books.
The longer form is not extant entire in the original Greek. In the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum (Jun. t. i. p. 64) Papebroch pub. for the first time in Greek, from a Paris MS. of the Metaphrast, an account of the martyrdom of Pamphilus and others, professedly "composed by Eusebius Pamphili." It had appeared in a Latin version before. The Greek was reprinted by Fabricius, Hippolytus, ii. p. 217. This is a fuller account of the incidents related in the Mart. Pal. 11 attached to the History. Their common matter is expressed in the same words, or nearly so. Hence one must have been an enlargement or an abridgment of the other.
Nor can it reasonably be doubted that the shorter form of the Palestinian Martyrs is Eusebius's own. It retains those notices of the longer form in which Eusebius speaks in his own person; and, moreover, in the passages peculiar to this shorter form, Eusebius is evidently the speaker. Thus (c. 11) he mentions having already written a special work in three books on the life of Pamphilus; and when recording the death of Silvanus, who had had his eyes put cut (c. 13), mentions his own astonishment when he once heard him reading the Scriptures, as he supposed, from a book in church, but was told that he was blind and was repeating them by heart. Moreover, other incidental notices, inserted from time to time and having no place in the longer form, shew the knowledge of a contemporary and eyewitness.
The longer edition seems to be the original 322form. It is an independent work, apparently written not very long after the events. It betrays no other motive than to inform and edify the readers, more especially the Christians of Caesarea and Palestine, to whom it is immediately addressed. "our city of Caesarea" is an expression occurring several times (pp. 4. twice, 25, 30). "This our country," "this our city," are analogous phrases (pp. 8, 13).
In the shorter form the case is different. The writer does not localize himself in the same way. It is always "the city," never "this city," of Caesarea. The appeal to the Caesareans in recounting the miracle is left out (c. 4). The hortatory beginning and ending are omitted, and the didactic portions abridged or excised. The shorter form thus appears to be part of a larger work, in which the sufferings of the martyrs were set off against the deaths of the persecutors. The object would thus be the vindication of God's righteousness. This idea appears several times elsewhere in Eusebius, and he may have desired to embody it in a separate treatise.
(3) Collection of Ancient Martyrdoms.—Of this work Eusebius was not the author, but merely, as the title suggests and as the notices require, the compiler and editor. The narratives of martyrdoms were, in the eyes of Eusebius, not only valuable as history but instructive as lessons (H. E. v. praef.). Hence he took pains to preserve authentic records of them, himself undertaking to record those of his own country, Palestine, at this time; while he left to others in different parts of the world to relate those "quae ipsi miserrima viderunt," declaring that only thus could strict accuracy be attained (H. E. viii. 13, with the whole context). But he was anxious also to preserve the records of past persecutions. Hence this collection of Maytyrologies. The epithet "ancient" (ἀρχαῖα) must be regarded as relative, applying to all prior to the "persecution of his own time" (ὁ καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς διωγμός, according to his favourite expression). He himself refers to this collection for the martyrdom of Polycarp and others at Smyrna under Antoninus Pius A.D. 155 or 156 (iv. 15), for the documents relating to the sufferers in Gaul under M. Aurelius A.D. 177 (v. 1, seq.), and for the defence of Apollonius under Commodus A.D. 180-185 (v. 21). But it would probably comprise any martyrdoms which occurred before the long peace that preceded the outbreak of the last persecution under Diocletian.
[(4.) Chronicle.—This work may be described in words suggested by the author's own account of it at the beginning of his Eclogae Propheticae, as "chronological tables, to which is prefixed an epitome of universal history drawn from various sources." The epitome occupies the first book, the tables the second. The tables exhibit in parallel columns the successions of the rulers of different nations, so that contemporary monarchs can be seen at a glance. Notes mark the years of the more remarkable historical events, these notes constituting an epitome of history. The interest which Christians felt in the study of comparative chronology arose from heathen opponents contrasting the antiquity of their rites with the novelty of the Christian religion. Christian apologists retorted by proving that the Grecian legislators and philosophers were very much later than the Hebrew legislator and later than the prophets who had testified of Christ and taught a religion of which Christianity was the legitimate continuation. In the Praeparatio Evangelica (x. 9) Eusebius urges this, quoting largely from preceding writers who had proved the antiquity of the Jews, e.g. Josephus, Tatian, Clement of Alexandria, and especially Africanus. This last writer had made the synchronisms between sacred and profane history his special study, and his chronological work, now lost, gave Eusebius the model and, to a great extent, the materials for his own Chronicle.
The Greek of Eusebius's own work has been lost, and until recent times it was only known through the use made of it by successors, particularly Jerome, who translated it into Latin, enlarging the notices of Roman history and continuing it to his own time. In 1606 Scaliger published an edition of the Chronicle, in which he attempted to restore the Greek of Eusebius, collecting from Syncellus, Cedrenus, and other Greek chronologers, notices which he believed himself able, mainly by the help of Jerome's translation, to identify as copied from Eusebius; but his restoration of the first book, where he had but little guidance from Jerome, did not inspire confidence, and has been proved untrustworthy. An Armenian trans. of the Chronicle, pub. in 1818, enables us now to state the contents of bk. i.
After pleading that early Greek and even Hebrew chronology present many difficulties, Eusebius, in the first section, gives a sketch of Chaldee and Assyrian history, subjoining a table of Assyrian, Median, Lydian, and Persian kings, ending with the Darius conquered by Alexander. The authors he uses are Alexander Polyhistor, and, as known through him, Berosus; Abydenus, Josephus, Castor, Diodorus, and Cephalion. He notes the coincidences of these writers with Hebrew history and suggests that the incredible lengths assigned to reigns in the early Chaldee history may be reduced if the "sari," said to be periods of 3,600 years, were in reality far shorter periods, and in like manner, following Africanus, that the Egyptian years may be in reality but months. An alternative suggestion in this first book is that some Egyptian dynasties may have been, not consecutive, but synchronous. The second section treats of Hebrew chronology, the secular authorities used being Josephus and Africanus. Eusebius notices the chronological difference between the Heb., LXX., and Samaritan texts, and conjectures that the Hebrews, to justify by patriarchal example their love of early marriages, systematically shortened the intervals between the birth of each patriarch and that of his first son. He gives other arguments which decide him in favour of the LXX, especially as it was the version used by our Lord and the apostles. In the period from the Deluge to the birth of Abraham, which Eusebius makes the initial point of his own tables, he follows the LXX, except that he omits the second Cainan, making 942 years; and thus placing the birth of Abraham in the year from the Creation 3184. He reckons 480 323years between the Exodus and Solomon's temple, as in I. Kings. In the preface to his second book, he states that his predecessors had made Moses contemporary with Inachus, and 700 years earlier than the Trojan War. His own computation made Inachus contemporary with Jacob, and Moses with Cecrops, but he contends that this leaves Moses still nearly 400 years older than the capture of Troy, and older than Deucalion's Deluge, Phaethon's Conflagration, Bacchus, Aesculapius, Castor and Pollux, Hercules, Homer and the Seven Wise Men of Greece, and Pythagoras the first philosopher. Eusebius counts 442 years from the foundation of Solomon's temple to its destruction under Zedekiah. He reckons two prophetic periods of 70 years of captivity. One begins with the destruction of the temple, and ends with the 2nd year of Darius Hystaspis and the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel. The other is from the first prophesying of Jeremiah in the 15th year of Josiah to the 1st year of Cyrus, when an altar was set up at Jerusalem and the foundations of the temple laid. In the tables Eusebius gives an alternative for this period, viz. from the 3rd year of Jehoiakim to the 19th of Cyrus. From the 2nd year of Darius, which he counts as the 1st year of the 65th olympiad, Eusebius counts 548 years to the preaching of our Lord and the 15th year of Tiberius, which he reckons as the 4th year of the 201st olympiad, and as the year 5228 from the creation of the world. There is every reason for thinking that more editions of the Chronicle than one were published by Eusebius in his lifetime. In its latest form it terminates with the Vicennalia of Constantine. Jerome says in his preface that as far as the taking of Troy his work was a mere translation of that of Eusebius; that from that date to the point at which the work of Eusebius closes, he added notices, from Suetonius and others, relating to Roman history; and that the conclusion from where Eusebius breaks off to his own time was entirely his own.
(5) Ecclesiastical History.—From many considerations it seems clear that the History was finished some time in a.d. 324 or 325—before midsummer in the latter year, and probably some months earlier; and the earlier books even some years before this.
The work contains no indications that it was due to any suggestion from without, as some have supposed. If the author had been prompted to it by Constantine, he would hardly have been silent about the fact, for he is only too ready elsewhere to parade the flatteries of his imperial patron. Moreover, it was probably written in great measure, or at least the materials for it collected, before his relations with Constantine began. His own language rather suggests that it grew out of a previous work, the Chronicle.
He begins by enumerating the topics with which it is intended to deal: (1) the successions of the apostles with continuous chronological data from the Christian era to his own time; (2) the events of ecclesiastical history; (3) the most distinguished rulers, preachers, and writers in the church; (4) the teachers of heresy who, like "grievous wolves," have ravaged the flock of Christ; (5) the retribution which had befallen the Jewish race; (6) the persecutions of the church and the victories of the martyrs and confessors, concluding with the great and final deliverance wrought by the Saviour in the author's own day. He prays for guidance, since he is entering upon an untrodden way, where he will find no footprints, though the works of predecessors may serve as beacon-lights here and there through the waste. He considers it absolutely necessary (ἀναγκαιότατα) to undertake the task, because no one else before him had done so. The work, he concludes, must of necessity commence with the Incarnation and Divinity (οἰκονομίας τε καὶ θεολογίας) of Christ, because from Him we all derive our name. Accordingly he proceeds to shew that Christianity is no new thing, but has its roots in the eternal past. The Word was with God before the beginning of creation. He was recognized and known by righteous men in all ages, especially among the Hebrews; His advent, even His very names, were foretold and glorified; His society—the Christian church—was the subject of prophecy, while the Christian type of life was never without examples since the race began (i. 4, cf. ii. 1). "After this necessary preparation" (μετὰ τὴν δέουσαν προκατασκευήν, i. 5), he proceeds to speak of the Incarnation, its chronology and synchronisms in external history, the Herodian kingdom, the Roman empire, the Jewish priesthood, including a discussion of the Saviour's genealogy; thus shewing that it came in the fulness of time as a realization of prophecy (cc. 5-10). A chapter is devoted to the Baptist as the first herald (c. 11), another to the appointment of the Twelve and the Seventy (c. 12); a third to the mission sent by Christ Himself to Edessa, as recorded in the archives of that city (c. 13). We are thus brought to the time of the Ascension, and the first book ends. The second comprises the preaching of the apostles to the destruction of Jerusalem, the writer's aim being not to repeat the accounts in the N.T., but to supplement them from external sources. The third book extends to the reign of Trajan, and covers the sub-apostolic age, ending with notices of Ignatius, Clement, and Papias. The fourth and fifth carry us to the close of the 2nd cent., including the Montanist, Quartodeciman, and Monarchian disputes. The sixth contains the period from the persecution of Severus (a.d. 203) to that of Decius (a.d. 250), the central figure being Origen, of whom a full account is given. The seventh continues the narrative to the outbreak of the great persecution under Diocletian, and is largely composed of quotations from Dionysius of Alexandria, as the preface states. It is significant that the last forty years of this period, though contemporary with the historian, are dismissed in a single long chapter. It was a period of very rapid but silent progress, when the church for the first time was in the happy condition of having no history. The eighth book gives the history of the persecution of Diocletian till the "palinode," the edict of Galerius (a.d. 311). The ninth relates the sufferings of the Eastern Christians until the victory over Maxentius at the Milvian bridge in the West, and the death of Maximin in the East, left Constantine and 324Licinius sole emperors. The tenth and last book, dedicated to Paulinus, gives an account of the rebuilding of the churches, the imperial decrees favourable to the Christians, the subsequent rebellion of Licinius, and the victory of Constantine by which he was left sole master of the Roman world. A panegyric of Constantine closes the whole.
Eusebius thus had a truly noble conception of the work which he had undertaken. It was nothing less than the history of a society which stood in an intimate relation to the Divine Logos Himself, a society whose roots struck down into the remotest past and whose destinies soared into the eternal future. He felt, moreover, that he himself lived at the great crisis in its history. Now at length it seemed to have conquered the powers of this world. This was the very time, therefore, to place on record the incidents of its past career. Moreover, he had great opportunities, such as were not likely to fall to another. In his own episcopal city, perhaps in his own official residence, Pamphilus had got together the largest Christian library yet collected. Not far off, at Jerusalem, was another valuable library, collected a century earlier by the bp. Alexander, and especially rich in the correspondence of men of letters and rulers in the church, "from which library," writes Eusebius, "we too have been able to collect together the materials for this undertaking which we have in hand" (H. E. vi. 20). Moreover, he had been trained in a highly efficient school of literary industry under Pamphilus, while his passion for learning has rarely been equalled, perhaps never surpassed.
The execution of his work, however, falls far short of the conception. The faults indeed are so patent as to have unjustly obscured the merits, for it is withal a noble monument of literary labour. We must remember his plea for indulgence, as one setting foot upon new ground, "nullius ante trita solo"; and as he had no predecessor, so he had no successor. Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, all commenced where he ended. The most bitter of his theological adversaries were forced to confess their obligations to him, and to speak of his work with respect. If we reflect what a blank would be left in our knowledge of this important chapter in history if the narrative of Eusebius were blotted out, we shall appreciate our enormous debt of gratitude to him.
Two points require consideration: (1) the range and adequacy of his materials, and (2) the use made of them.
(1) The range of materials is astonishing when we consider that Eusebius was a pioneer. Some hundred works, several of them very lengthy, are either directly cited or referred to as read. In many instances he would read an entire treatise for the sake of one or two historical notices, and must have searched many others without finding anything to serve his purpose, thus involving enormous labour. This then is his strongest point. Yet even here deficiencies may be noted. He very rarely quotes the works of heresiarchs themselves, being content to give their opinions through the medium of their opponents' refutations. A still greater defect is his considerable ignorance of Latin literature and of Latin Christendom generally. Thus he knows nothing of Tertullian's works, except the Apologeticum, which he quotes (ii. 2, 25, iii. 20, 33, v. 5) from a bad Greek translation (e.g. ii. 25, where the translator, being ignorant of the Latin idiom cum maxime, destroys the sense). Of Tertullian himself he gives no account, but calls him a "Roman." Pliny's letter he only knows through Tertullian (iii. 33) and he is unacquainted with the name of the province which Pliny governed. Of Hippolytus again he has very little information to communicate, and cannot even tell the name of his see (vi. 20, 22). His account of Cyprian, too, is extremely meagre (vi. 43, vii. 3), though Cyprian was for some years the most conspicuous figure in Western Christendom, and died (a.d. 258) not very long before his own birth. He betrays the same ignorance with regard to the bps. of Rome. His dates here, strangely enough, are widest of the mark when close upon his own time. Thus he assigns to Xystus II. (†a.d. 258) eleven years (vii. 27) instead of months; to Eutychianus (†a.d.283) ten months (vii. 32) instead of nearly nine years; to Gaius, whom he calls his own contemporary, and who died long after he had arrived at manhood (a.d. 296), "about fifteen years" (vii. 32) instead of twelve. He seems to have had a corrupt list and did not possess the knowledge necessary to correct it. With the Latin language he appears to have had no thorough acquaintance, though he sometimes ventured to translate Latin documents (iv. 8, 9; cf. viii. 27). But he must not be held responsible for the blunders in the versions of others, e.g. of Tertullian's Apologeticum. The translations of state documents in the later books may be the semi-official Greek versions such as Constantine was in the habit of employing persons to make (V. C. iv. 32). See on this subject Heinichen's note on H. E. iv. 8.
(2) Under the second head the most vital question is the sincerity of Eusebius. Did he tamper with his materials or not? The sarcasm of Gibbon (Decline and Fall, c. xvi.) is well known: "The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion." The passages to which he refers (H. E. viii. 2; Mart. Pal. 12) do not bear out this imputation. There is no indirectness about them, but on the contrary they deplore, in the most emphatic terms, the evils which disgraced the church, and they represent the persecution under Diocletian as a just retribution for these wrongdoings. The ambitions, intriguing for office, factious quarrels, cowardly denials and shipwrecks of the faith—"evil piled upon evil" (κακὰ κακοῖς ἐπιτειχίζοντες)—are denounced in no measured language. Eusebius contents himself with condemning these sins and shortcomings in general terms, without entering into details; declaring his intention of confining himself to topics profitable (πρὸς ὠφελείας) to his own and future generations. This treatment may be regarded as too great a sacrifice to edification; but it leaves no imputation on his honesty. Nor again can the special 325charges against his honour as a narrator be sustained. There is no ground whatever for the surmise that Eusebius forged or interpolated the passage from Josephus relating to our Lord, quoted in H. E. i. 11, though Heinichen (iii. pp. 623 seq., Melet. ii.) is disposed to entertain the charge. The passage is contained in all our extant MSS., and there is sufficient evidence that other interpolations (though not this) were introduced into the text of Josephus long before this time (see Orig. c. Cels. i. 47, Delarue's note). Another interpolation in Josephus which Eusebius quotes (ii. 23) was certainly known to Origen (l.c.). Doubtless also the omission of the owl in the account of Herod Agrippa's death (H. E. ii. 10) was already in some texts of Josephus (Ant. xix. 8, 2). The manner in which Eusebius deals with his very numerous quotations elsewhere, where we can test his honesty, sufficiently vindicates him from this unjust charge.
Moreover, Eusebius is generally careful to collect the best evidence accessible, and also to distinguish between different kinds of evidence. "Almost every page witnesses to the zeal with which he collected testimonies from writers who lived at the time of the events which he describes. For the sixth and seventh books he evidently rejoices to be able to use for the foundation of his narrative the contemporary letters of Dionysius; 'Dionysius, our great bp. of Alexandria,' he writes, 'will again help me by his own words in the composition of my seventh book of the history, since he relates in order the events of his own time in the letters which he has left' (vii. praef.). . . . In accordance with this instinctive desire for original testimony, Eusebius scrupulously distinguishes facts which rest on documentary from those which rest on oral evidence. Some things he relates on the authority of a 'general' (iii. 11, 36) or 'old report' (iii. 19, 20) or from tradition (i. 7, ii. 9, vi. 2, etc.). In the lists of successions he is careful to notice where written records failed him. 'I could not,' he says, 'by any means find the chronology of the bps. of Jerusalem preserved in writing; thus much only I received from written sources, that there were fifteen bishops in succession up to the date of the siege under Hadrian, etc.' (iv. 5)." [W.] "There is nothing like hearing the actual words" of the writer, he says again and again (i. 23, iii. 32, vii. 23; cf. iv. 23), when introducing a quotation. His general sincerity and good faith seem, therefore, clear. But his intellectual qualifications were in many respects defective. His credulity, indeed, has frequently been much exaggerated. "Undoubtedly he relates many incidents which may seem to us incredible, but, when he does so, he gives the evidence on which they are recommended to him. At one time it is the express testimony of some well-known writer, at another a general belief, at another an old tradition, at another his own observation (v. 7, vi. 9, vii. 17, 18)." [W.] In the most remarkable passage bearing on the question he recounts his own experience during the last persecution in Palestine (Mart. Pal. 9). "There can be no doubt about the occurrence which Eusebius here describes, and it does not appear that he can be reproached for adding the interpretation which his countrymen placed upon it. What he vouches for we can accept as truth; what he records as a popular comment leaves his historical veracity and judgment unimpaired." [W.] Even Gibbon (c. xvi.) describes the character of Eusebius as "less tinctured with credulity, and more practised in the arts of courts, than that of almost any of his contemporaries." A far more serious drawback is the loose and uncritical spirit in which he sometimes deals with his materials. This shews itself in diverse ways. (a) He is not always to be trusted in his discrimination of genuine and spurious documents. As regards the canon of Scripture indeed he takes special pains; lays down certain principles which shall guide him in the production of testimonies; and on the whole adheres to these principles with fidelity (see Contemp. Rev. Jan. 1875, pp. 169 seq.). Yet elsewhere he adduces as genuine the correspondence of Christ and Abgarus (i. 13), though never treating it as canonical Scripture. The unworthy suspicion that Eusebius forged this correspondence which he asserted to be a translation of a Syriac original found in the archives of Edessa has been refuted by the discovery and publication of the original Syriac (The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle with an English Translation and Notes by G. Phillips, Lond. 1876; see Zahn, Götting. Gel. Anz. Feb. 6, 1877, pp. 161 seq.; Contemp. Rev. May 1877, p. 1137; a portion of this work had been published some time before in Cureton's Ancient Syriac Documents, pp. 6 seq., Lond. 1864). Not his honesty, but his critical discernment was at fault. Yet we cannot be severe upon him for maintaining a position which, however untenable, has commended itself to Cave (H. L. i. p. 2), Grabe (Spic. Patr. i. pp. 1 seq.), and other writers of this stamp, as defensible. This, moreover, is the most flagrant instance of misappreciation. On the whole, considering the great mass of spurious documents current in his age, we may well admire his discrimination, as e.g. in the case of the numerous Clementine writings (iii. 16, 38), alleging the presence or absence of external testimony for his decisions. Pearson's eulogy (Vind. Ign. i. 8) on Eusebius, though exaggerated, is not undeserved. He is generally a safe guide in discriminating between the genuine and the spurious. (b) He is often careless in his manner of quoting. His quotations from Irenaeus, for instance, lose much of their significance, even for his own purpose, by abstraction from their context (v. 8). His quotations from Papias (iii. 39) and from Hegesippus (iii. 32, iv. 22) are tantalizing by their brevity, for the exact bearing of the words could only have been learnt from their context. But, except in the passages from Josephus (where the blame, as we have seen, belongs elsewhere), the quotations themselves are given with fair accuracy. (c) He draws hasty and unwarranted inferences from his authorities, and is loose in interpreting their bearing. This is his weakest point as a critical historian. Thus he quotes Josephus respecting the census of Quirinus and the insurrections of Theudas and of Judas the Galilean, as if he agreed in all respects with the accounts in St. Luke, and does not notice 326the chronological difficulties (i. 5, 9; ii. 11). He adduces the Jewish historian as a witness to the assignment of a tetrarchy to Lysanias (i. 9), though in fact Josephus says nothing about this Lysanias in the passage in question, but elsewhere mentions an earlier person bearing the name as ruler of Abilene (Ant. xx. 7. 1; B. J. ii. 11. 5). He represents this same writer as stating that Herod Antipas was banished to Vienne (i. 11), whereas Josephus sends Archelaus to Vienne (B. J. ii. 7. 3) and Herod Antipas to Lyons (Ant. xviii. 7. 2) or Spain (B. J. ii. 9. 6). He quotes Philo's description of the Jewish Therapeutae, as if it related to Christian ascetics (ii. 17). He gives, side by side, the contradictory accounts of the death of James the Just in Josephus and Hegesippus, as if they tallied (ii. 23). He hopelessly confuses the brothers M. Aurelius and L. Verus (v. prooem., 4, 5) from a misunderstanding of his documents, though in the Chronicle (ii. p. 170) he is substantially correct with regard to these emperors. Many other examples of such carelessness might be produced. (d) He is very desultory in his treatment, placing in different parts of his work notices bearing on the same subject. He relates a fact, or quotes an authority bearing upon it, in season or out of season, according as it is recalled to his memory by some accidental connexion. "Nothing can illustrate this characteristic better than the manner in which he deals with the canon of the N.T. After mentioning the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, he proceeds at once (iii. 3) without any further preface to enumerate the writings attributed to them respectively, distinguishing those which were generally received by ancient tradition from those which were disputed. At the same time he adds a notice of the Shepherd, because it had been attributed by some to the Hermas mentioned by St. Paul. After this he resumes his narrative, and then having related the last labours of St. John, he gives an account of the writings attributed to him (iii. 24), promising a further discussion of the Apocalypse, which, however, does not appear. This catalogue is followed by some fragmentary discussions on the Gospels, to which a general classification of all the books claiming to have apostolic authority is added. When this is ended, the history suddenly goes back to a point in the middle of the former book (ii. 15). Elsewhere he repeats the notice of an incident for the sake of adding some new detail, yet so as to mar the symmetry of his work." [W.] Examples of this fault occur in the accounts of the first preaching at Edessa (i. 13, ii. 1), of the writings of Clement of Rome (iii. 16, 38; iv. 22, 23, etc.), of the daughters of Philip (iii. 30, 39; cf. v. 17, 24), etc.
(6) Life of Constantine, in four books.—The date of this work is fixed within narrow limits. It was written after the death of the great emperor (May 337) and after his three sons had been declared Augusti (Sept. 337)—see iv. 68; and Eusebius himself died not later than A.D. 340. Though not professing to be such, it is to some extent a continuation of the Ecclesiastical History. As such it is mentioned by Socrates (H. E. i. 1), to whom, as to other historians, it furnishes important materials for the period. For the council of Nicaea especially, and for some portions of the Arian controversy, it is a primary source of information of the highest value. As regards the emperor himself, it is notoriously one-sided. The verdict of Socrates will not be disputed. The author, he says, "has devoted more thought to the praises of the emperor and to the grandiloquence of language befitting a panegyric, as if he were pronouncing an encomium, than to the accurate narrative of the events which took place." But there is no ground for suspecting him of misrepresenting the facts given, and with the qualification stated above, his biography has the highest value. It is a vivid picture of certain aspects of a great personality, painted by one familiarly acquainted with him, who had access to important documents. It may even be set down to the credit of Eusebius that his praises of Constantine are much louder after his death than during his lifetime. In this respect he contrasts favourably with Seneca. Nor shall we do justice to Eusebius unless we bear in mind the extravagant praises which even heathen panegyrists lavished on the great Christian emperor before his face, as an indication of the spirit of the age. But after all excuses made, this indiscriminate praise of Constantine is a reproach from which we should gladly have held Eusebius free.
B. Apologetic.—(7) Against Hierocles.—Hierocles was governor in Bithynia, and used his power ruthlessly to embitter the persecution which he is thought to have instigated (Lactant. Div. Inst. v. 2; Mort. Pers. 16; see Mason, Persecution of Diocletian, pp. 58, 108). Not satisfied with assailing the Christians from the tribunal, he attacked them also with his pen. The title of his work seems to have been ὁ Φιλαλήθης, The Lover of Truth. It was a ruthless assault on Christianity, written in a biting style. Its main object was to expose the contradictions of the Christian records. Eusebius, however, confines himself to one point—the comparison of Apollonius, as described in his Life by Philostratus, with our Saviour, to the disparagement of the latter. There is much difference of opinion whether Philostratus himself intended to set up Apollonius as a rival to the Christ of the Gospels [Apollonius of Tyana], but Hierocles at all events turned his romance to this use.
Eusebius refutes his opponent with great moderation, and generally with good effect. He allows that Apollonius was a wise and virtuous man, but refuses to concede the higher claims advanced on his behalf. He shews that the work of Philostratus was not based on satisfactory evidence; that the narrative is full of absurdities and contradictions; and that the moral character of Apollonius as therein portrayed is far from perfect. He maintains that the supernatural incidents, if they actually occurred, might have been the work of demons. In conclusion (§§ 46-48) he refutes and denounces the fatalism of Apollonius, as alone sufficient to discredit his wisdom.
(8) Against Porphyry, an elaborate work in 25 books: Hieron. Ep. 70 ad Magn. § 3 (i. p. 427, Vallarsi); Vir. Ill. 81.—No part of this elaborate refutation has survived. Yet 327we may form some notion of its contents from the Praeparatio and Demonstratio Evangelica, in considerable portions of which Eusebius obviously has Porphyry in view, even where he does not name him. To Jerome and Socrates the refutation seemed satisfactory. Philostorgius (H. E. viii. 14) preferred the similar work of Apollinaris to it, as also to the earlier refutation of Methodius, but himself added another reply to Porphyry (H. E. x. 10). All the four refutations have alike perished, with the work which gave rise to them.
(9) Praeparatio Evangelica.—So Eusebius himself calls a treatise, which more strictly ought to have been called Praeparatio Demonstrationis Evangelicae, for it is an introductory treatise leading up to—
(10) The Demonstratio Evangelica.—These two treatises, in fact, are parts of one great work. They are both dedicated to Theodotus, an adherent of the Arian party, who was bp. of Laodicea for some thirty years.
In the absence of more direct testimony, we may infer that these works were begun during the persecution, but not concluded till some time after. The Preparation is extant entire, and comprises 15 books. The Demonstration, on the other hand, is incomplete. It consisted of 20 books, of which only the first ten are extant in the MSS. The Preparation sketches briefly what the Gospel is, and then adverts to the common taunt that the Christians accept their religion by faith without investigation. The whole work is an answer to this taunt. The object of the Preparation is to justify the Christians in transferring their allegiance from the religion and philosophy of the Greeks to the sacred books of the Hebrews. The object of the Demonstration is to shew from those sacred books themselves that Christians did right in not stopping short at the religious practices and beliefs of the Jews, but in adopting a different mode of life. Thus the Preparation is an apology for Christianity as against the Gentiles, while the Demonstration defends it as against the Jews, and "yet not," he adds, "against the Jews, nay, far from it, but rather for the Jews, if they would learn wisdom."
In the first three books of the Preparation he attacks the mythology of the heathen, exposing its absurdity, and refutes the physiological interpretations put upon the myths; in the next three he discusses the oracles, and as connected therewith the sacrifices to demons and the doctrine of fate; in the third three explains the bearing of "the Hebrew Oracles," and adduces the testimony of heathen writers in their favour; in bks. x. xi. xii, and xiii. he remarks on the plagiarisms of the Greek philosophers from the Hebrews, dwelling on the priority of the Hebrew Scriptures, and shews how all that is best in Greek teaching and speculation agrees with them; in bk. xiv. he points to the contradictions among Greek philosophers, shewing how the systems opposed to Christian belief have been condemned by the wisest Gentile philosophers themselves; and lastly, in bk. xv., he exposes the falsehoods and errors of the Greek systems of philosophy, more especially of the Peripatetics, Stoics, and materialists of all schools. He claims to have thus given a complete answer to those who charge Christians with transferring their allegiance from Hellenism to Hebraism blindly and without knowledge. In the Demonstration, bks. i. and ii. are introductory (iii. 1. 1, τῶν προλεγομένων). In bk. i. a sketch is given of the Gospel teaching and reasons alleged why Christians, while adopting the Hebrew Oracles, should depart from the Jewish mode of life; a distinction being drawn between Hebraism, the religion of all godly men from the beginning, and Judaism, the temporary and special system of the Jews, so that Christianity is a continuation of the former, but a departure from the latter. In bk. ii. testimonies from the prophets shew that the two great phenomena of the Christian Church had been long foretold—the general ingathering of the Gentiles and the general falling away of the Jews—so that the Christians "were only laying claim to their own" (iii. 1. 1). Bk. iii. begins the main subject of the treatise. He promises to speak of the humanity of Christ, as corresponding to the predictions of the prophets; but the topics are introduced in a desultory way (e.g. that Christ was not a sorcerer, that the Apostles were not deceivers, etc.) without any very obvious connexion with the main theme. Bks. iv. and v. pass on to the divinity of Christ, both as the Son and as the Logos (see v. prooem. 1. 2), this likewise having been announced by the prophets. From bk. vi. onward to the end he treats of the Incarnation and life (ἐπιδημία) of our Lord as a fulfilment of prophecy, and of the manner of Christ's appearing, the place of His birth, His parentage and genealogy, the time of His advent and His works as in like manner foretold. In bk. x., the last which is extant, he reaches the Passion, treating of the traitor Judas and the incidents of the Crucifixion. What were the topics of the remaining ten books we have no data for determining, but may conjecture with Stein (p. 102) that they dealt with the burial, resurrection, and ascension, and perhaps also with the foundation of the Christian church and the Second Advent. The extant fragment of bk. xv. relates to the four kingdoms of Daniel ii. Jerome (Comm. in Hos. Praef. Op. vi. p. 18) speaks of Eusebius as "discussing some matters respecting the prophet Hosea" in bk. xviii. This great apologetic work exhibits the merits and defects which we find elsewhere in Eusebius; the same greatness of conception marred by inadequacy of execution, the same profusion of learning combined with inability to control his materials, which we have seen in his History. The topics are not kept distinct; yet this is probably the most important apologetic work of the early church. Its frequent, forcible, and true conceptions, more especially on the theme of "God in history," arrest our attention now, and must have impressed his contemporaries still more strongly; while in learning and comprehensiveness it is without a rival. It exhibits the same wide acquaintance with Greek profane writers which the History exhibits with Christian literature. The number of writers quoted or referred to is astonishing (see Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vii. p. 346), the names of some being 328only known to us through Eusebius, while of several others he has preserved large portions not otherwise extant. He quotes not less than 21 works of Plato, and gives more than 50 quotations from the Laws alone. The impression produced by this mass of learning led Scaliger to call the work "divini commentarii," and Cave "opus profecto nobilissimum" (H. L. i. p. 178). An admirable ed. of the Preparatio was pub. in 1903 at the Oxford Press under the learned and accurate editorship of the late Dr. Gifford, with trans. and notes.
(11) The Praeparatio Ecclesiastica (Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Προπαρασκευή) is not extant, nor is (12) the Demonstratio Ecclesiastica (Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Ἀπόδειξις), but both are mentioned by Photius (Bibl. 11, 12.) The names suggest that these two works aimed at doing for the society what the Praeparatio and Demonstratio Evangelica do for the doctrines of which the society is the depositary.
(13) Two Books of Objection and Defence only known from Photius (Bibl. 13).
(14) The Divine Manifestation (Θεοφάνεια), in five books, was long supposed to be lost, but fragments of the Greek original were published by Mai from Vatican MSS. in his Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. i. (1831), viii. (1833), and in 1842 the work was printed entire in a Syriac version by Dr. S. Lee, who in 1843 pub. an Eng. trans. with intro and notes (Eusebius, bp. of Caesarea, on the Theophania, etc., Camb. 1843). By the aid of this version Mai (a.d. 1847) in his Bibl. Nov. Patr. iv. p. 310 (cf. p. 110) rearranged his Greek fragments.
The subject is, as the name Theophania suggests, the manifestation of God in the Incarnation of the Divine Word. The contents are: (i) An account of the subject and the recipients of the revelation. The doctrine of the Word of God is insisted upon, His person and working set forth. Polytheist and pantheist are alike at fault. The Word is essentially one. His relation to creation, and especially to man, and the pre-eminence, characteristics, destiny, and fall of man are dealt with. (ii) The necessity of the revelation. The human race was degraded by gross idolatry with its accompanying immoralities. The philosophers could not rescue it. Plato had the clearest sense of the truth, yet even he was greatly at fault. Meanwhile the demons of polytheism had maddened mankind, as shewn by human sacrifices and the prevalence of wars. The demons, too, had shewn their powerlessness; they could not defend their temples or foresee their overthrow. (iii) The proof of the revelation. Its excellency and power is seen in its effects. For this it was necessary that the Word should be incarnate, put to death, and rise again. The change which has come over mankind in consequence is set forth. (iv) The proof of the revelation, from the fulfilment of Christ's words—His prophecies respecting the extension of His kingdom, the trials of His church, the destinies of His servants, and the fate of the Jews. (v) The common heathen objection that Christ was a sorcerer and a deceiver, achieving His results by magic, is answered.
The place of writing of the Theophania is Caesarea (iv. 6), and it was plainly written after the triumph of Constantine and the restoration of peace to the church. The persecution is over, and the persecutors have met with their punishment (iii. 20, v. 52). Polytheism is fast waning, and Christianity is spreading everywhere (ii. 76, iii. 79).
(15) On the Numerous Progeny of the Ancients.—This lost treatise is mentioned in Praep. Ev. vii. 8. 29. It is doubtless the same work to which St. Basil refers (de Spir. Sanct. 29, Op. iii. p. 61) as Difficulties respecting the Polygamy of the Ancients. It would seem to have been an apologetic work, as it seems to have aimed at accounting for the polygamy of the patriarchs and the Jews generally, and reconciling it with the ascetic life, which in his own time was regarded as the true ideal of Christian teaching. This problem occurs again and again in his extant apologetic writings. In the reference in the Praeparatio Eusebius speaks of having discussed in this work the notices of the lives of the patriarchs and "their philosophic endurance and self-discipline," whether by way of direct narrative or of allegorical suggestion.
C. Critical and Exegetical—i.e. all works directed primarily to the criticism and elucidation of the Scriptures.
(16) Biblical Texts.—In his earlier years Eusebius was occupied in conjunction with Pamphilus in the production of correct Greek texts of the O.T. A notice of his later years shews him engaged in a similar work (V. C. iv. 36, 37). The emperor writes to Eusebius, asking him to provide 50 copies of the Scriptures for use in the churches of Constantinople, where the Christian population had largely multiplied. The manuscripts must be easily legible and handy for use, written on carefully prepared parchment, and transcribed by skilful caligraphers. He has already written, he adds, to the procurator-general (καθολικός) of the district (τῆς διοικήσεως), charging him to furnish Eusebius with the necessary appliances and has placed at his disposal two public waggons to convey the manuscripts, when complete, to the new metropolis. Eusebius executes the commission. The manuscripts were arranged, he tells us, in ternions and quaternions (τρισσὰ καὶ τετρασσά), and carefully prepared at great cost. The emperor wrote expressing his satisfaction with them.
(17) Sections and Canons, with the Letter to Carpianus Prefixed.—Eusebius explains the origin and method of these sections and canons in the prefatory letter. Ammonius of Alexandria (c. 220) had constructed a Harmony or Diatessaron of the Gospels. He took St. Matthew as his standard, and placed side by side with it the parallel passages from the other three. The work of Ammonius suggested to Eusebius the plan which he adopted, but Eusebius desired to preserve the continuity of all the narratives. He therefore divided each gospel separately into sections, which he numbered continuously, and constructed a table of ten canons, containing lists of passages: canon i, common to all the four evangelists; canon ii, common to Matthew, Mark, Luke; canon iii, common to Matthew, Luke, John; canon iv, common to Matthew, Mark, John; canon v, common to Matthew and Luke; canon vi, common to Matthew and Mark; canon vii, common to 329Matthew and John; canon viii, common to Luke and Mark; canon ix, common to Luke and John; canon x, passages peculiar to a single evangelist, so that this last canon contains four separate lists. The sections of the several gospels were numbered in black, and beneath each such number was a second number in vermilion, specifying the canon to which the section belonged. By turning to the canon so specified, the reader would see the numbers of the parallel sections in the other evangelists. For the history of the sections and canons in the MSS. see Scrivener's Introd. to the Criticism of the N. T., pp. 54 seq. and passim. The sections and canons are marked in many editions of the Gk. Test., e.g. those of Tischendorf and Tregelles.
(18) Under the head of Biblical exegesis may be ranged several togographical works undertaken at the instance of Paulinus, bp. of Tyre.—(a) Interpretation of the Ethnological Terms in the Hebrew Scriptures; (b) Chorography of Ancient Judaea, with the Inheritances of the Ten Tribes; (c) A Plan of Jerusalem and of the Temple. This was accompanied with memoirs relating to the different localities. (d) On the Names of Places in Holy Scripture, entitled in the head of Jerome's version de Situ et Nominibus Locorum Hebraicorum, but elsewhere (Vir. Ill. 81) Topica. The first three, which perhaps should be regarded as parts of the same work, are mentioned in the preface to the fourth, which alone is extant. All were written at the instance of Paulinus, to whom (d) is dedicated. This last professes to give alphabetically "the designations of the cities and villages mentioned in Holy Scripture in their original language," with a description of the locality and the modern names. The names are transliterated with various success from the Hebrew. The value of this treatise arises from the close acquaintance which Eusebius had with the geography of Palestine in his own day. The work had already been translated into Latin by some unskilful hand before Jerome's time, but so unsatisfactorily that he undertook a new version. He omitted some important notices and made several changes, justified by his personal knowledge of Palestine.
(19) On the Nomenclature of the Book of the Prophets.—This work contains a brief account of the several prophets and the subjects of their prophecies, beginning with the minor prophets and following the order of the LXX.
(20) In Psalmos, a continuous commentary on the Psalms, which stands in antiquity and intrinsic merit in the first rank of patristic commentaries. The historical bearing of the several psalms is generally treated sensibly; the theological and mystical interpretations betray the extravagance common to patristic exegesis. The value of the work is largely increased by frequent extracts from the Hexaplaric versions and by notices respecting the text and history of the Psalter. The author possessed some acquaintance with Hebrew, though not always sufficient to prevent mistakes. This commentary had a great reputation, and was translated into Latin within a very few years of its publication by Eusebius of Vercellae.
(21) Commentary on Isaiah.—This work exhibits the same characteristics as the Commentary on the Psalms. Jerome is largely indebted to Eusebius, whom he sometimes translates almost word for word without acknowledgment. Eusebius occasionally inserts interesting traditions on the authority of a Hebrew teacher: e.g. that Shebna became high-priest and betrayed the people to Sennacherib; that Hezekiah was seized with sickness for not singing God's praises, like Moses and Deborah, after his victory. Sometimes he gives Christian traditions: e.g. that Judas Iscariot was of the tribe of Ephraim. This commentary is mentioned by Procopius in his preface, and is freely used by him and by later Greek commentators.
(22) Commentary on St. Luke's Gospel.—Not mentioned by Jerome or Photius. Some extracts remain.
(23) Commentary on I. Corinthians.—Such a work seems to be implied by Jerome's language, Ep. xlix., though he does not mention it in his Catalogue.
(24) Commentaries on other Books of Scripture.—Extracts are given from, or mention is made of, commentaries on Proverbs, Song of Songs, Daniel, Hebrews, and several other books (see Fabric. op. cit. p. 399). It is doubtful, however, whether such extracts (even when genuine) are from continuous commentaries or from exegetical or dogmatical works.
(25) On the Discrepancies of the Gospels.—This work consists of two parts, really separate works, and quoted as such: (i) Questions and Solutions on the Genealogy of the Saviour, addressed to Stephanus; (ii) Questions and Solutions concerning the Passion and Resurrection of the Saviour, addressed to Marinus. The difficulties do not always turn upon discrepancies—e.g. he discusses the question why Thamar is mentioned, and difficulties with respect to Bathsheba and Ruth. But the discrepancies occupy a sufficiently large space to give the name to the whole. The work exhibits the characteristic hesitation of Eusebius in a somewhat aggravated form. Alternative solutions are frequently offered, and he does not decide between them. But it is suggestive and full of interest. It is valuable also as preserving large fragments of Africanus, besides some important notices, such as the absence of Mark xvi. 9-16 from the most numerous and best MSS. From this storehouse of information later harmonists plundered freely, often without acknowledgment.
D. Doctrinal.—(26) General Elementary Introduction.—Five fragments of this work have been published by Mai. All deal with analogous topics, having reference to general principles of ethics, etc. It seems to have been a general introduction to theology, and its contents were very miscellaneous, as the extant remains shew.
(27) Prophetical Extracts.—This work contains prophetical passages from O.T. relating to our Lord's person and work, with explanatory comments, and comprises four books, of which the first is devoted to the historical books, the second to the Psalms, the third to the remaining poetical books and the other prophets, the fourth to Isaiah. The author explains that his main object is to shew that the prophets spoke of Jesus Christ as the pre-existent 330Word, Who is "a second cause of the universe and God and Lord," and that they predicted His two advents. Thus the personality of the Logos is here the leading idea in his treatment of the prophecies.
(28) Defence of Origen.—This was the joint work of Pamphilus and Eusebius. The original has perished, but the first book survives in the translation of Rufinus (printed in Origen, Op. iv. App. pp. 17 seq. Delarue). Eusebius (H. E. vi. 3) says that the work was undertaken to refute "captious detractors"; probably referring especially to Methodius, who had written two works against Origen (Hieron. Vir. Ill. 93; Socr. H. E. vi. 13) and was attacked by name in the sixth book (Hieron. c. Rufin. i. 11). It was dedicated to the confessors of Palestine, especially Patermuthius (Phot. Bibl. 118), who was martyred the year after Pamphilus (Eus. Mart. Pal. 13). The first book contains an exposition of Origen's principles, especially of his doctrines respecting the Trinity and the Incarnation; then nine special charges against him are refuted, relating to the nature of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, metempsychosis, etc. In one of the later books the doctrine of fatalism was discussed (Rufin. Apol. i. ii, in Hieron. Op. ii. p. 582). Elsewhere also it was shewn that Origen in his mystical explanation of Adam and Eve, as referring to Christ and the church, only followed the traditional interpretation (Socr. H. E. iii. 7). In the same spirit precedents were quoted for his doctrines of the pre-existence of the soul and the restitution of all things (Anon. Synod. Ep. 198). The Apology also contained a full account of the life of Origen (Phot. Bibl. 118). Eusebius himself refers to bk. ii. for accounts of the controversy about Origen's ordination to the priesthood and his contributions to sacred letters (H. E. vi. 23), and to bk. vi. for the letters which Origen wrote to Fabianus and others in defence of his orthodoxy (ib. 36), and to the work generally for the part taken by Origen in theological controversy (ib. 33). Socrates (H. E. iv. 27) states that the panegyric of Gregory Thaumaturgus on Origen was given in this Apology.
(29) Against Marcellus, bp. of Ancyra, in two books.—The occasion of writing is explained by Eusebius himself (c. Marc. ii. 4, pp. 55 seq.). Marcellus had been condemned for Sabellianism, and deposed by a synod of Constantinople (a.d. 336), composed chiefly of the Arian friends of Eusebius. This work was undertaken at the wish of these friends to justify the decision. Certain persons considered that Marcellus had been unfairly treated, and Eusebius, being partly responsible for the decision, felt bound to uphold its justice. The work aims simply at exposing the views of Marcellus. [Marcellus (4).]
(30) On the Theology of the Church, a Refutation of Marcellus, in three books.—Eusebius had at first thought it sufficient merely to expose the opinions of Marcellus, leaving them to condemn themselves. But on reflection, fearing lest some might be drawn away "from the theology of the church" by their very length and pretentiousness, he undertook to refute them, and to shew that no single Scripture favours the view of Marcellus, but that, according to the approved interpretations, all Scripture is against him. Having done this, he will expound the true theology respecting our Saviour, as it has been handed down in the church from the beginning. Thus, as explained by its author, the aim of this second treatise is refutation, as that of the first was exposure. The first was mainly personal, the second is chiefly dogmatical.
The two treatises were first edited by bp. R. Montague (Montacutius) with trans. and notes (Paris, 1628) at the end of the Demonstratio, and this ed. was reprinted (Lips. 1688). The best ed. is that of Gaisford (Oxf. 1852), where they are in the same vol. with the work Against Hierocles. He revised the text and reprinted the trans. and notes of Montague. The fragments of Marcellus are collected by Rettberg (Marcelliana, Götting. 1794). The monographs on Marcellus, especially Zahn's M. von Ancyra (Gotha, 1867), are useful aids.
(31) On the Paschal Festival.—Eusebius (Vit. Const. iv. 35, 36) states that he addressed to Constantine "a mystical explanation of the significance of the festival," upon which the emperor wrote (c. 335) expressing himself greatly delighted, and saying that it was a difficult undertaking "to expound in a becoming way the reason and origin of the Paschal festival, as well as its profitable and painful consummation." A long fragment of this treatise was discovered and published by Mai. The recovered fragment contains: (1) A declaration of the figurative character of the Jewish Passover. (2) An account of its institution and of the ceremonial itself. (3) An explanation of the typical significance of the different parts of the ceremonial, with reference to their Christian counterparts. (4) A brief statement of the settlement of the question at Nicaea. (5) An argument that Christians are not bound to observe the time of the Jewish festival, mainly because it was not the Jewish Passover which our Lord Himself kept.
E. Orations and SERMONS.—(32) At the Dedication of the Church in Tyre.—This oration is inserted by Eusebius in his History (x. 4.) The new basilica at Tyre was a splendid building, and Eusebius addresses Paulinus, the bishop, as a Bezaleel, a Solomon, a Zerubbabel, a new Aaron or Melchizedek. He applies to the occasion the predictions of the Jewish prophets foretelling the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the polity. He gives thanks for the triumph of Christ, the Word of God, Who has proved mightier than the mightiest of kings. This magnificent temple, which has arisen from the ruins of its predecessor, is a token of His power. Then follows an elaborate description of the building, which, continues the orator, is a symbol of the spiritual church of Tyre, of the spiritual church throughout the world, in its history, its overthrow, its desolation, its re-erection on a more splendid scale, and in the arrangement of its several parts. But the spiritual church on earth is itself only a faint image of the heavenly Zion, where adoring hosts unceasingly sing the praises of their King.
(33) At the Vicennalia of Constantine, a.d. 325. This oration, which is not extant, is mentioned Vit. Const. prooem. iii. 11. It seems to have been the opening address at the council of Nicaea, see supra.331
(34) On the Sepulchre of the Saviour, a.d. 335.—This is mentioned Vit. Const. iv. 33, 46 seq. The circumstances of its delivery have been already described. It has been lost.
(35) At the Tricennalia of Constantine, a.d. 335 or 336.—This oration is commonly called de Laudibus Constantini. The orator, taking occasion from the festival, speaks of the Almighty Sovereign, and the Divine Word through Whom He administers the universe (§ 1). The emperor is a sort of reflection of the Supreme Word. The monarchy on earth is the counterpart of that in heaven (§§ 2, 3). The Word is the interpreter of the Invisible God in all things (§ 4). An emperor who, like Constantine, is sensible of his dependence on God, is alone fit to rule (§ 5). Periods and divisions of time are from God, as is all order throughout the universe. The number thirty (3 x 10) has a special symbolic significance, reminding us of the kingdom of glory (§ 6). The powers of wickedness and the sufferings of the saints were ended by Constantine, the champion and representative of God (§ 7). He waged war against idolatry, profligacy, and superstition (§ 8). What a change has been suddenly wrought! The false gods did not foresee their fate. The emperor, armed with piety, overthrew them. Churches rise from the ground everywhere (§ 8). The truth is proclaimed far and wide (§ 9). "Come now, most mighty victor Constantine," says the orator, "let me lay before thee the mysteries of sacred doctrines in this royal discourse concerning the Supreme King of the Universe." Accordingly he speaks of the person and working of the Divine Word, as mediator in the creation and government of the universe. Polytheism is condemned. As God is one, so His Word is one (§§ 11, 12). Humanity, led astray by demons and steeped in ignorance and sin, needed the advent of the Word (§ 13). It was necessary too that He should come clothed in a body (§ 14). His death and resurrection also were indispensable for the redemption of men (§ 15). The power of the Divine Word was evinced by the establishment of the church and the spread of the gospel (§ 16). It was manifested in our own time by the faith of the martyrs, by the triumph of the church over oppression, and by the punishment of the persecutors (§ 17). We have evidence of the divine origin of our faith in the prophetic announcements of Christ's coming, and in the fulfilment of His own predictions; more especially in the coincidence in time between the establishment of the Roman empire and the publication of the Gospel (§ 18).
(36) In Praise of the Martyrs.—This discourse is short and of little value; but the orator mentions, among those whom he invites his hearers to commemorate, almost every bishop of Antioch from the end of the 2nd cent. to his own time, so that it would seem to have been delivered at Antioch.
(37) On the Failure of Rain, mentioned by Ebedjesu, but apparently not elsewhere.
F. Letters.—(38) To Alexander, bp. of Alexandria, on behalf of Arius and his friends, complaining that they have been misrepresented.
(39) To Euphration (sometimes written incorrectly Euphrasion), bp. of Balanea in Syria, a strong opponent of the Arians (Athan. de Fug. 3, Op. i. p. 254; Hist. Ar. ad Mon. 5, ib. p. 274), who was present at the council of Nicaea. Athanasius refers to this letter as declaring plainly that Christ is not true God (de Synod. 17, Op. i. p. 584). An extract (containing the passage to which doubtless Athanasius refers) is quoted at the second council of Nicaea (l.c.). It insists strongly on the subordination of the Son.
(40) To Constantia Augusta (Op. ii. 1545), the sister of Constantine and wife of Licinius, who was closely allied with the Arians. Constantia had asked Eusebius to send her a certain likeness of Christ, of which she had heard. He rebukes her for the request, saying that such representations are inadequate in themselves and tend to idolatry. He states that a foolish woman had brought him two likenesses, which might be philosophers, but were alleged by her to represent St. Paul and the Saviour. He had detained them lest they should prove a stumbling-block to her or to others. He reminds Constantia that St. Paul declares his intention of "knowing Christ no longer after the flesh." This letter was quoted by the Iconoclasts, and this led their opponents to rake up all the questionable expressions in his writings, that they might blacken his character for orthodoxy.
(41) To the Church of Caesarea, written from Nicaea (a.d. 325) during or immediately after the council to vindicate his conduct. This letter is preserved by Athanasius as an appendix to the de Decret. Syn. Nic. (Op. i. p. 187; cf. § 3, ib. p. 166); in Socr. H. E. i. 8; in Theod. H. E. i. 11; in Gelasius Cyz. Hist. Conc. Nic. ii. 34 seq. (Labbe, Conc. ii. 264 seq. ed. Colet.); in the Historia Tripartita, ii. 11; and in Niceph. H. E. viii. 22. A passage towards the end (§§ 9, 10) which savours strongly of Arianism is wanting in Socrates and in the Historia Tripartita, but appears in the other authorities, and seems certainly to be referred to by Athanasius in two places (de Decr. Syn. Nic. 3, l.c.; de Synod. 13, Op. i. p. 581). It is condemned, however, by Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. iii. 9. 3) and Cave (Diss. Tert. in Joh. Cleric. p. 58, printed at the end of his Hist. Lit. vol. ii.) as a spurious addition, probably inserted by some Arian. The letter is translated and annotated by Newman in Select Treatises of St. Athanasius, pp. 59 seq. (Oxf. 1853).
In reviewing the literary history of Eusebius, we are struck first of all with the range and extent of his labours. His extant works, voluminous as they are, must have formed somewhat less than half his actual writings. No field of theological learning is untouched. He is historian, apologist, topographer, exegete, critic, preacher, dogmatic writer, in turn, and, if permanent utility may be taken as a test of literary excellence, Eusebius will hold a very high place indeed. The Ecclesiastical History is absolutely unique and indispensable. The Chronicle is a vast storehouse of information as to ancient monarchies. The Preparation and Demonstration are the most important contributions to theology in their own province. Even minor works, such as the Martyrs of Palestine, the Life of Constantine, 332the Questions addressed to Stephanus and to Marinus, and others, would leave an irreparable blank if they were obliterated. His more technical treatises have the same permanent value. The Canons and Sections have not been superseded for their particular purpose. The Topography of Palestine is the most important contribution to our knowledge in its own department. In short, no ancient ecclesiastical writer has laid posterity under heavier obligations than has Eusebius by his great erudition. In the History, Chronicle, and Preparation, he has preserved a vast amount of early literature in three several spheres, which would otherwise have been irrecoverably lost. Moreover, he deserves the highest credit for his keen insight as to what would have permanent interest. He, and he only, has preserved the past in all its phases, in history, in doctrine, in criticism, even in topography, for the instruction of the future.
This is his real title to greatness. As an expositor of facts, an abstract thinker, or a master of style, it would be absurd to compare him with the great names of classical antiquity. His merits and his faults have been already indicated. His gigantic learning was his master rather than his slave. He had great conceptions, which he was unable adequately to carry out. He had valuable detached thoughts, but fails in continuity of argument. He was most laborious, yet most desultory. He accumulated materials with great diligence; but was loose, perfunctory, and uncritical in their use. His style is especially vicious. When his theme seems to him to demand a lofty flight of rhetoric, as in his Life of Constantine, his language becomes turgid and unnatural.
He is before all things an apologist. His great services in this respect are emphasized by Evagrius (H. E. i. 1, πείθειν οἷός το εἶναι τοὺς ἐντυγχάνοντας θρησκεύειν τὰ ἡμέτερα); and doubtless his directly apologetic writings were much more effective than at this distance of time we can realize. Whatever subject he touches, his thoughts seem to pour instinctively into this same channel. If he treats of chronology, a main purpose is to shew the superior antiquity of the Hebrew oracles to the wisdom of the Greeks. If he writes a history of the church, it is because he sees in the course of events a vindication of the Divine Word. Even in an encomium of a sovereign, he soars aloft at once into the region of theology, for he sees in the subject of his panegyric the instrument of a higher power for the fulfilment of a divine economy. In so essentially technical a task as the division of the Gospels into sections, his underlying desire is to vindicate the essential unity of the evangelical narratives against gainsayers. This character as an apologist was due partly to the epoch in which he lived, and partly to his individual temper and circumstances. He stood, as it were, on the frontier line between two ages, with one foot in the Hellenism of the past and the other in the Christianity of the future, and by his very position was constrained to discuss their mutual relations. He was equally learned in the wisdom of the Greeks and in the Scriptures, while his breadth of sympathy and moderation of temper fitted him beyond most of his contemporaries for tracing their conflicts and coincidences. Like St. Paul on Mars' Hill, he sought the elements of truth in pre-existing philosophical systems or popular religious; and thus obtaining a foothold, worked onward in his assault upon paganism. The Greek apologists of the 2nd and 3rd cents. all, without exception, took up this position. Eusebius, through his illustrious spiritual ancestors, Origen and Pamphilus, had inherited this tradition from Alexandria. It was the only method which could achieve success in apologetics while Christianity stood face to face with still powerful forms of heathen worship. It is the only method which can hope for victory now, when once again the Gospel is confronted with the widespread religions of India and the farther East.
If we may judge from the silence of his contemporaries—and silence in this case is an important witness—Eusebius commanded general respect by his personal character. With the single exception of the taunt of Potammon, mentioned already, not a word of accusation is levelled against him in an age when theological controversy was peculiarly reckless and acrimonious. His relations to Pamphilus shew a strongly affectionate disposition; and it is more than probable that he was drawn into those public acts from which his reputation has suffered most by the loyalty of private friendship. His moderation is especially praised by the emperor Constantine; and his speculative opinions, as well as his personal acts, bear out this commendation. His was a life which was before all things laborious and self-denying. He was not only the most learned and prolific writer of his age; but he administered the affairs of an important diocese, and took an active part in all great questions which agitated the church.
His admiration for Constantine may be excessive, but is not difficult to understand. Constantine was unquestionably one of the very greatest emperors of Rome. His commanding personality must have been irresistible; and is enhanced by his deference towards the leading Christian bishops. He carried out a change in the relations between the church and the state incomparably greater than any before or after. Eusebius delighted to place Augustus and Constantine in juxtaposition. During the one reign the Word had appeared in the flesh; during the other He had triumphed over the world. The one reign was the counterpart and complement of the other.
A discussion of the theological opinions of Eusebius is impossible within our
limits. Readers are referred to Baronius (ad ann. 340, c. 38 seq.), Petavius
(Dogm. Theol. de Trin. lib. i. cap. xi. seq.), Montfaucon (Praelim.
in Comm. ad Psalm. c. vi.), and Tillemont (H. E. vii. pp. 67 seq.)
among those who have assailed, and Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. ii. 9. 20, iii.
9. 3, 11), Cave (Hist. Lit. ii. app. pp. 42 seq.), and Lee (Theophania,
pp. xxiv. seq.) among those who have defended his opinions, from the orthodox
point of view. A convenient summary of the controversy will be found in Stein,
pp. 117 seq. His orthodoxy cannot be hastily denied. Dr. Newman, who cannot be
accused of unduly
333favouring Eusebius, says that "in his own writings,
numerous as they are, there is very little which fixes on Eusebius any charge,
beyond that of attachment to the Platonic phraseology. Had he not connected himself
with the Arian party, it would have been unjust to have suspected him of heresy"
(Arians, p. 262). If we except the works written before the council of
Nicaea, in which there is occasionally much looseness of expression, his language
is for the most part strictly orthodox, or at least capable of explanation in
an orthodox sense. Against the two main theses of Arius, (1) that the Word was
a creature (κτίσμα) like other creatures,
and (2) that there was a time when He was not, Eusebius is explicit on the orthodox
side (e.g. c. Marc. i. 4, p. 22, de Eccl. Theol. i. 2, 3, pp. 61
seq., ib. i. 8, 9, 10, pp. 66 seq.). He states in direct language that
the Word had no beginning (Theoph. ii. 3, cf. de Laud. Const. 2).
If elsewhere he represents the Father as prior to the Son (e.g. Dem. Ev.
iv. 3, 5, ὁ δὲ πατὴρ
προϋπάρχει τοῦ υἱοῦ
προϋφέστηκεν), this priority is not necessarily intended
to be temporal, and his meaning must be interpreted by his language in other passages.
Nor, again, do such expressions as "second existence," "second cause," necessarily
bear an Arian sense; for they may be taken to imply that subordination which has
ever been recognized by the orthodox. But though his language might pass muster,
"his acts," it is said, "are his confession." This is the strongest point in the
indictment. His alliance with the Arian party is indisputable; but the inference
drawn from it may be questioned. He may have made too great concessions to friendship.
His natural temper suggested toleration, and the cause of the Arians was, or seemed
to be, the cause of comprehension, and he had a profound and rooted aversion to
the Sabellianism of Marcellus and others, who were acting with Athanasius. Where
we have no certain information as to motives, it seems only fair to accept his
own statements with respect to his opinions.7777 "The remark has been made," writes Dr. Newman (Arians, p. 263), "that
throughout his Ecclesiastical History, no instance occurs of his expressing
abhorrence of the superstitions of Paganism," and that his custom is either to
praise, or not to blame, such heretical writers as fall under his notice.
Nothing could be more erroneous as a statement of facts than Dr. Newman's language here. Even if it had been true, that there is no abhorrence of of paganism expressed in the History, great parts of the Praeparatio and Theophania, the Tricennial Oration and the Life of Constantine, are an elaborate indictment of the superstitions and horrors of heathendom; so that the comparative silence in the History must be explained by the fact that this was not, except incidentally, his theme. On the attitude of Eusebius towards heresies, Newman's statement is still wider of the mark. It is difficult to see how language could surpass such expressions as, e.g. i. 1; ii. 1, 13; iii. 26, 27, 28, 29, 32; iv. 7, 29, 30; v. 13, 14, 16-20, etc., "grievous wolves," "most abominable heresy," "like a pestilent and scabby disease," "incurable and dangerous poison," "most foul heresy, overshooting anything that could exist or be conceived, more abominable than all shame," "double-mouthed and two-headed serpent," "like venomous reptiles," "loathsome evil-deeds": these and similar expressions form the staple of his language when he comes athwart a heresy.
While the Arian controversy was still fresh the part taken by Eusebius was remembered against him in the Greek church, and the orthodox Fathers are generally depreciatory. But as the direct interest of the dispute wore out, the tide turned and set in his favour. Hence from the 5th cent. onwards we find a disposition to clear him of any complicity in Arian doctrine. Thus Socrates (H. E. ii. 21) is at some pains to prove him orthodox; and Gelasius of Cyzicus (H. S. N. ii. 1) stoutly defends this "most noble tiller of ecclesiastical husbandry," this "strict lover of truth" (ὁ φιλαληθέστατος), and says that if there be any suggestion, however faint, of Arian heresy (μικρόν τι τὰ Ἀρείου ὑπονούμενα) in his sayings or writings, it was due to "the inadvertence of simplicity," and that Eusebius himself pleaded this excuse in self-defence. Accordingly he represents him as a champion of orthodoxy against Arian opponents. The tide turned again at the second council of Nicaea. As the Iconoclasts alleged his authority for their views, the opposite party sought to disparage him. "His own books," says Photius, "cry aloud that he is convicted of Arianism " (Ep. 73). A lasting injury was inflicted on his reputation by dragging him into the Iconoclastic dispute. In the Latin church he fared somewhat better. Jerome indeed stigmatizes the teacher to whom he was more largely indebted than perhaps to any other as "the chief of the Arians," "the standard-bearer of the Arian faction," "the most flagrant champion of the impiety of Arius." But the eminent services of Eusebius to Christian literature carried the day in the western church. Two popes successively vindicated his reputation. Gelasius declined to place his History and Chronicle on the list of proscribed works (Decret. de Libr. Apocr. 4). Pelagius II., when defending him, says: "Holy Church weigheth the hearts of her faithful ones with kindliness rather than their words with rigour" (Ep. 5. 921). Neither Gelasius nor Pelagius refers directly to the charge of Arianism. The offence which seemed to them to require apology was his defence of the heretic Origen.
A more remarkable fact still is the canonization of Eusebius, notwithstanding his real or supposed Arian opinions. In an ancient Syrian Martyrology, translated from the Greek, and already referred to, he takes his rank among the honoured martyrs and confessors of the church. Nor was it only in the East that this honour awaited him. In the Martyrologium Hieronymianum for xi. Kal. Jul. we find the entry "In Caesarea Cappadociae depositio sancti Eusebii" (Hieron. Op. xi. 578). The person intended was Eusebius, the predecessor of St. Basil [Eusebius (24)], as the addition "Cappadociae" shews, but the transcendent fame of the Eusebius of the other Caesarea eclipsed this comparatively obscure person and finally obliterated his name from the Latin calendars. The word "Cappadociae" disappeared. In Usuard the notice becomes "In Caesarea Palestinae sancti Eusebii historiographi" (with a v. l.); and in old Latin martyrologies, where he is not distinctly specified, the historian Eusebius is doubtless understood. Accordingly, in several 334Gallican service-books the historian is commemorated as a saint (see Valois, Testimonia pro Eusebio); and in the Martyrologium Romanum itself he held his place for many centuries. In the revision of this Martyrology under Gregory XIII. his name was struck out, and Eusebius of Samosata substituted, under the mistaken idea that Caesarea had been substituted for Samosata by a mistake. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which contained the true key to the error, had not then been discovered. The Eccl. Hist., according to the text of Burton, with intro. by Dr. Bright, is pub. by Oxf. Univ. Press, and a valuable Eng. trans. both of the History and of the Life of Constantine by Dr. McGiffert is in the Post-Nicene Lib. of the Fathers. A cheap trans. with life, notes, chronol. table, etc., is in Bohn's Library (Bell). The works of Eusebius have been ed. by T. Gaisford (Clar. Press, 9 vols.); and a revised text of the Evang. Prep. with notes and Eng. trans. by E. H. Gifford (Clar. Press, 4 vols.). The Bodleian MS. of Jerome's version of the Chronicle of Eusebius has been reproduced in collotype with intro. by J. K. Fotheringham (Clar. Press).
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