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Eusebius of Caesarea
Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
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.â€“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 CÃ¤sarea (WÃ¼rzburg, 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 centuryâ€”a longer period than at any other time since its foundationâ€”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 the 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. â€”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. â€”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 him. 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 100 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. â€”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 100 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 the 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 100 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. â€”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.â€”(1) Life of Pamphilus. â€”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. ofâ€”
(2) The Martyrs of Palestine. â€”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 form. 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. â€”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. â€”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 years 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. â€”From many considerations it seems clear that the History was finished some time in a.d. 324 or 325â€”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 societyâ€”the Christian churchâ€”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 Licinius 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. (â€ a.d. 258) eleven years (vii. 27) instead of months; to Eutychianus (â€ 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 faithâ€”"evil piled upon evil" ( κακὰ κακοῖς ἐπιτειχίζοντες )â€”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 charges 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, GÃ¶tting. 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 the 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.â€”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)â€”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.â€”(7) Against Hierocles. â€”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 pointâ€”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 [See 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 (Â§Â§ 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. Â§ 3 (i. p. 427, Vallarsi); Vir. Ill. 81.â€”No part of this elaborate refutation has survived. Yet we 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. â€”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 toâ€”
(10) The Demonstratio Evangelica .â€”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
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Eusebius of Caesarea'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​e/eusebius-of-caesarea.html. 1911.