A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Eusebius Emesenus, Bishop of Emesa
Eusebius (35) Emesenus , bp. of Emesa, now Hems, in Syria, c. 341-359. He was born at Edessa, of a noble family, of Christian parents, and from his earliest years was taught the Holy Scriptures. His education was continued in Palestine and subsequently at Alexandria. In Palestine he studied theology under Eusebius of Caesarea and Patrophilus of Scythopolis, from whom he contracted the Arian leanings which distinguished him to the end of his life. Jerome terms him "signifer Arianae factionis" ( Chron. sub. ann. x. Constantii), and his Arian tenets are spoken of by Theodoret as too well known to admit question (Theod. Eranist. Dial. iii. p. 257, ed. Schulze). About a.d. 331 he visited Antioch. Eustathius had been recently banished, and the see was occupied by one of the short-lived Arian intruders, Euphronius, with whom Eusebius lived on terms of intimacy. Eusebius's high personal character and reputation for learning marked him out for the episcopate, and to avoid the office he repaired to Alexandria, where he devoted himself to philosophy. Returning to Antioch, Flaccillus (otherwise Placillus), the Arian bishop, received him into his episcopal residence and admitted him to his confidence. The Arian synod which met at Antioch a.d. 340, under the predominant influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia, to nominate a successor to the newly deposed Athanasius, offered the vacant throne to Eusebius, who, well knowing how Athanasius was beloved by the Alexandrians, resolutely declined, and Gregory was chosen in his stead. Eusebius, however, allowed himself to be created bp. of Emesa. This city, on the Orontes to the N.E. of the Libanus range, some distance N. of Laodicea, was famous for its magnificent temple of Elagabalus, the Syrophoenician sun-god. A report, based on Eusebius's astronomical studies, had reached the excitable inhabitants that their new bishop was a sorcerer, addicted to judicial astrology. His approach aroused a violent popular commotion, before which he fled to his friend and future panegyrist, George, bp. of Laodicea. By George's exertions, and the influence of Flaccillus of Antioch and Narcissus of Neronias, the Emesenes were convinced of the groundlessness of their suspicions, and Eusebius obtained quiet possession. He was a great favourite with Constantius, who took him on several expeditions, especially those against Sapor II., king of Persia. It is singular that the charge, which Sozomen attributes to mere malevolence, of Sabellianism was brought against one whose Arian leanings were so pronounced. Eusebius died before the end of a.d. 359. He was buried at Antioch (Hieron. de Vir. Ill. 101), and his funeral oration by George of Laodicea ascribed to him miraculous powers.
He was a very copious writer. Jerome, who speaks somewhat contemptuously of his productions, particularizes treatises against the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Novatianists, an exposition of Galatians in ten books, and a large number of very brief homilies on the Gospels. The greater part of his works is lost. Theodoret quotes with high commendation in his Eranistes (Dial. iii. p. 258, ed. Schulze) two passages on the impassibility of the Son of God, a truth for which he says Eusebius endured many and severe struggles. Theodoret also speaks of works of his against Apelles ( Haer. Fab. i. 25) and Manes ( ib. 26). All the extant remains of Eusebius are printed by Migne, Patr. t. lxxxvi. i. pp. 461 ff. Socr. H. E. ii. 9; Soz. H. E. iii. 6; Niceph. H. E. ix. 5; Tillem. Mém. Eccl. t. vi. p. 313; Cave, Hist. Lit. vol. i. p. 207; Oudin, t. i. p. 389.)
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