Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius in a modern imagining
|Died||339/340 (aged 74–79)|
|Occupation||Bishop, historian, theologian|
|Notable works||Ecclesiastical History , On the Life of Pamphilus, Chronicle, On the Martyrs|
Eusebius of Caesarea ( // ; Greek : Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, Eusébios tés Kaisareías; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the Greek : Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely learned Christian of his time. He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History" (not to be confused with the title of Church Father), he produced the Ecclesiastical History , On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs. He also produced a biographical work on the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, who ruled between 306 and 337 AD.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.
During the Council of Antioch, which was convened in 325 and held shortly before the First Ecumenical Council in the Bythnian city of Nicaea, he was excommunicated for subscribing to the heresy of Arius.
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, and lends the modern city its name.
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine Sea. It bordered Mysia to the southwest, Paphlagonia to the northeast along the Pontic coast, and Phrygia to the southeast towards the interior of Asia Minor.
The debate raged over whether Christ is of the "same substance" (homoousion), or "similar substance" (homoiousian) to the Father. This was no exercise in semantics, for if Christ is of the 'same substance', or 'essence' as the Father, then this testifies to His divinity. On the other hand, if Christ is of 'similar substance' to the Father – as Arius believed, then this testifies that Christ had a beginning in time, is therefore subordinate to the Father and is little more than a created being. While the Greek fathers of the church applied the Aristotelian term ousia to the divine essence of God, it translated into Latin as essentia, or substantia (substance). The Greek term homoousios was consequently translated into Latin as coessentialis or consubstantialis, which in English translates as coessential and consubstantial. Thus the test for heresy at Nicaea was based upon what eventually became the orthodox confession that the Father and Son are consubstantial (homoousios); which is to say that they are of identical substance, or, as the Greeks would say, essence with each other – which then professed the emerging Trinitarian faith, as the object of Nicaea was to preserve the divinity of Christ, by stating that the divinity of the Son is consubstantial with the Father.
Homoousion is a Christian theological term, most notably used in the Nicene Creed for describing Jesus as "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father. The same term was later also applied to the Holy Spirit in order to designate him as being "same in essence" with the Father and the Son. Those notions became cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity, and also represent one of the most important theological concepts within the Trinitarian doctrinal understanding of God.
Homoiousios is a Christian theological term, coined in the 4th-century by a distinctive group of Christian theologians who held the belief that God the Son was of a similar, but not identical, essence with God the Father. Homoiousianism arose as an attempt to reconcile two opposite teachings, homoousianism and homoianism. Following Trinitarian doctrines of the First Council of Nicaea (325), homoousians believed that God the Son was of the same essence with God the Father. On the other hand, homoians refused to use the term οὐσία, believing that God the Father is "incomparable" and therefore the Son of God can not be described in any sense as "equal" or "same" but only as "like" or "similar" to the Father, in some subordinate sense of the term. In order to find a theological solution that would reconcile those opposite teachings, homoiousians tried to compromise between the essence-language of homoousians and the notion of similarity, held by homoians. Their attempt failed, and by the First Council of Constantinople (381) homoiousianism was already marginalized.
Semantics is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. It is concerned with the relationship between signifiers—like words, phrases, signs, and symbols—and what they stand for in reality, their denotation.
As the dogma of the Trinity came to be refined in the succeeding centuries, this led to ongoing problems associated with Arius' original accusation of modalism, which he had leveled at Alexander; for prominent 19th century church historian Adolf von Harnack says of Latin theologian Augustine (354–430), celebrated "Doctor" of the Catholic Church, and who has been called the most significant Christian theologian “since New Testament times,"that "Augustine only gets beyond modalism by the mere assertion that he does not wish to be a Modalist.'" Drawing upon previous theologians, such as Tertullian and Ambrose of Milan (who baptized him in 387), Augustine was instrumental in describing the Filioqe (the procession of the Holy Spirit) in De Trinitate (the Trinity), which saw some Latin churches begin to adopt the term in the 6th century, which began a schism between the Latin and Greek churches.
Dogma is an official system of principles or doctrines of a religion, such as Roman Catholicism, or the positions of a philosopher or of a philosophical school such as Stoicism.
Carl Gustav Adolf von Harnack was a Baltic German Lutheran theologian and prominent church historian. He produced many religious publications from 1873 to 1912. He was ennobled in 1914.
Doctor of the Church is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints recognized as having made significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing.
The main contenders for the faith at Nicaea were Athanasius of Alexandria, and Arius, who vehemently opposed each other. Drawing from " ... the language and thoughts of Hellenistic [Greek] metaphysics",and " ... employing the terms substance in the Nicene Creed and consubsantial in the Chalcedonian Creed, the church fathers were tapping into Neoplatonism." Arius was no exception, for according to Baptist theolgian Roger Olssen:
Athanasius of Alexandria, also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.
Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonic philosophy that emerged in the third century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and religion. The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as it encapsulates a chain of thinkers which began with Ammonius Saccas and his student Plotinus and which stretches to the sixth century AD. Even though neoplatonism primarily circumscribes the thinkers who are now labeled Neoplatonists and not their ideas, there are some ideas that are common to neoplatonic systems, for example, the monistic idea that all of reality can be derived from a single principle, "the One".
"In the deep background of the clash between Arius and Alexander over the nature of the Logos lay Greek philosophy. It is something both had in common, even if they interpreted and applied it differently. Both sides of the conflict simply assumed that divinity is ontologically perfect in such a way that any change at all is impossible for and improper to attribute to it. Thus God, being divine and therefore absolutely perfect, cannot experience change because change is always to change either for the better or for the worse, and in either case God would not be God if he could change. Absolute static perfection – including apatheia, or impassibility (passionlessness) – is the nature of God according to Greek thought, and nearly all Christian theologians came to agree with this . . . God's immutability and impassibility, then, became chief attributes of God in Christian theology, and Arius and his followers exploited the argument that if Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the Logos and if the Logos is divine in the same sense that God the Father is divine, then God's nature would be changed by the human life of Jesus in time and God would have suffered with him. But that is impossible. Therefore the Logos who became incarnate in Jesus Christ must not be fully divine but rather must [according to Arius] be a great and exalted creature."
The first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, had converted to Christianity directly after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D, after reputedly seeing a flaming cross in the sky which was emblazoned with the words "In Hoc Signo Vinces"; which translates to "In this Sign Conquer." According to Eusebius, in the evening before the battle Constantine went to sleep unsure what this sign could mean, but then had a dream in which Christ appeared to him, and commanded him to make a likeness of the sign which he had seen in the heavens, as it would protect him in all future engagements with his enemies.The next day, Constantine promised the Christian god that if his army were to win the battle, he would adopt the Christian religion - which is precisely what happened. In the June, 2002 edition of the 'Church History' journal, Pier Beatrice reports that Eusebius testified that the word homoousios (consubstantial) " ... was inserted in the Nicene Creed solely by the personal order of Constantine."
"According to Eusebius of Caesarea, the word homoousios was inserted in the Nicene Creed solely by the personal order of Constantine. But this statement is highly problematic. It is very difficult to explain the seeming paradoxical fact that this word, along with the explanation given by Constantine, was accepted by the "Arian" Eusebius, wheras it has left no traces at all in the works of his opponents, the leaders of the anti-Arian party such as Alexander of Alexandria, Ossius of Cordova, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Eustathius of Antioch, who are usually considered Constantine's theological advisers and the strongest supporters of the council. Neither before nor during Constantine's time is there any evidence of a normal, well-established Christian use of the term homoousios in its strictly Trinitarian meaning. Having once excluded any relationship of the Nicene homoousios with the Christian tradition, it becomes legitimate to propose a new explanation, based on an analysis of two pagan documents which have so far never been taken into account. The main theses of this paper is that homoousios came straight from Constantine's Hermetic background. As can be clearly seen in the Poimandres, and even more clearly in an inscription mentioned exclusively in the Theosophia, in the theological language of Egyptian paganism the word homoousios meant that the Nous-Father and the Logos-Son, who are two distinct beings, share the same perfection of the divine nature."
Although Eusebius' works are regarded as giving insight into the history of the early church, he was not without prejudice, especially in regard to the Jews, for while "Eusebius indeed blames the Jews for the crucifxion of Jesus, but he nevertheless also states that forgiveness can be granted even for this sin and that the Jews can receive salvation."Nor can his works be trusted to be from subjectivism, for some scholars believe that "Eusebius is a notoriously unreliable historian, and so anything he reports should be critically scrutinized." This is especially true of his 'Life of Constantine' , which he wrote as an eulogy shortly after the emperor's death in 337 A.D, and which is "Often maligned for perceived factual errors, deemed by some so hopelessly flawed that it cannot be the work of Eusebius at all." Yet others see him as a "Constantinian flunky," for as a trusted adviser to Constantine, it was politically expedient for him to present Constantine in the best light as possible. Never recognized as a saint, the likely reason for this is that traditional sources view Arius finding support " ... from Eusebius of Nicomedia, and our Eusebius, who by that time was bishop of Caesarea."
Little is known about the life of Eusebius. His successor at the See of Caesarea, Acacius, wrote a Life of Eusebius, a work that has since been lost. Eusebius' own surviving works probably only represent a small portion of his total output. Beyond notices in his extant writings, the major sources are the 5th-century ecclesiastical historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, and the 4th-century Christian author Jerome. There are assorted notices of his activities in the writings of his contemporaries Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Alexander of Alexandria. Eusebius' pupil, Eusebius of Emesa, provides some incidental information.
In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius writes of Dionysius of Alexandria as his contemporary. If this is true, Eusebius' birth must have been before Dionysius' death in autumn 264; most modern scholars date the birth to some point in the five years between 260 and 265.He was presumably born in the town in which he lived for most of his adult life, Caesarea Maritima. He was baptized and instructed in the city, and lived in Syria Palaestina in 296, when Diocletian's army passed through the region (in the Life of Constantine, Eusebius recalls seeing Constantine traveling with the army). Eusebius was made presbyter by Agapius of Caesarea. Some, like theologian and ecclesiastical historian John Henry Newman, understand Eusebius' statement that he had heard Dorotheus of Tyre "expound the Scriptures wisely in the Church" to indicate that Eusebius was Dorotheus' pupil while the priest was resident in Antioch; others, like the scholar D. S. Wallace-Hadrill, deem the phrase too ambiguous to support the contention.
By the 3rd century, Caesarea had a population of about 100,000. It had been a pagan city since Pompey had given control of the city to the gentiles during his command of the eastern provinces in the 60s BC. The gentiles retained control of the city for the three centuries to follow, despite Jewish petitions for joint governorship. Gentile government was strengthened by the city's refoundation under Herod the Great (r. 37–4 BC), when it had taken on the name of Augustus Caesar. In addition to the gentile settlers, Caesarea had large Jewish and Samaritan minorities. Eusebius was probably born into the Christian contingent of the city. Caesarea's Christian community presumably had a history reaching back to apostolic times, but it is a common claim that no bishops are attested for the town before about 190, even though the Apostolic Constitutions 7.46 states that Zacchaeus was the first bishop.
Through the activities of the theologian Origen (185/6–254) and the school of his follower Pamphilus (later 3rd century – 309), Caesarea became a center of Christian learning. Origen was largely responsible for the collection of usage information, or which churches were using which gospels, regarding the texts which became the New Testament. The information used to create the late-fourth-century Easter Letter, which declared accepted Christian writings, was probably based on the Ecclesiastical History [HE] of Eusebius of Caesarea, wherein he uses the information passed on to him by Origen to create both his list at HE 3:25 and Origen's list at HE 6:25. Eusebius got his information about what texts were accepted by the third-century churches throughout the known world, a great deal of which Origen knew of firsthand from his extensive travels, from the library and writings of Origen.
On his deathbed, Origen had made a bequest of his private library to the Christian community in the city.Together with the books of his patron Ambrosius, Origen's library (including the original manuscripts of his works ) formed the core of the collection that Pamphilus established. Pamphilus also managed a school that was similar to (or perhaps a re-establishment of ) that of Origen. Pamphilus was compared to Demetrius of Phalerum and Pisistratus, for he had gathered Bibles "from all parts of the world". Like his model Origen, Pamphilus maintained close contact with his students. Eusebius, in his history of the persecutions, alludes to the fact that many of the Caesarean martyrs lived together, presumably under Pamphilus.
Soon after Pamphilus settled in Caesarea (ca. 280s), he began teaching Eusebius, who was then somewhere between twenty and twenty-five.Because of his close relationship with his schoolmaster, Eusebius was sometimes called Eusebius Pamphili: "Eusebius, son of Pamphilus". The name may also indicate that Eusebius was made Pamphilus' heir. Pamphilus gave Eusebius a strong admiration for the thought of Origen. Neither Pamphilus nor Eusebius knew Origen personally; Pamphilus probably picked up Origenist ideas during his studies under Pierius (nicknamed "Origen Junior" ) in Alexandria. In Caesarea, Origenist thought was continued in the generation after his death by Theotecnus, bishop of the city for much of the late 3rd century and an alumnus of Origen's school.
Eusebius' Preparation for the Gospel bears witness to the literary tastes of Origen: Eusebius quotes no comedy, tragedy, or lyric poetry, but makes reference to all the works of Plato and to an extensive range of later philosophic works, largely from Middle Platonists from Philo to the late 2nd century.Whatever its secular contents, the primary aim of Origen and Pamphilus' school was to promote sacred learning. The library's biblical and theological contents were more impressive: Origen's Hexapla and Tetrapla; a copy of the original Aramaic version of the Gospel of Matthew; and many of Origen's own writings. Marginal comments in extant manuscripts note that Pamphilus and his friends and pupils, including Eusebius, corrected and revised much of the biblical text in their library. Their efforts made the hexaplaric Septuagint text increasingly popular in Syria and Palestine. Soon after joining Pamphilus' school, Eusebius started helping his master expand the library's collections and broaden access to its resources. At about this time Eusebius compiled a Collection of Ancient Martyrdoms, presumably for use as a general reference tool.
In the 290s, Eusebius began work on his magnum opus, the Ecclesiastical History, a narrative history of the Church and Christian community from the Apostolic Age to Eusebius' own time. At about the same time, he worked on his Chronicle, a universal calendar of events from the Creation to, again, Eusebius' own time. He completed the first editions of the Ecclesiastical History and Chronicle before 300.
Eusebius succeeded Agapius as Bishop of Caesarea soon after 313 and was called on by Arius who had been excommunicated by his bishop Alexander of Alexandria. An episcopal council in Caesarea pronounced Arius blameless.Eusebius, a learned man and famous author, enjoyed the favour of the Emperor Constantine. Because of this he was called upon to present the creed of his own church to the 318 attendees of the Council of Nicaea in 325." However, the anti-Arian creed from Palestine prevailed becoming the basis for the Nicene Creed.
The theological views of Arius, that taught the subordination of the Son to the Father, continued to be a problem. Eustathius of Antioch strongly opposed the growing influence of Origen's theology as the root of Arianism. Eusebius, an admirer of Origen, was reproached by Eustathius for deviating from the Nicene faith. Eusebius prevailed and Eustathius was deposed at a synod in Antioch.
However, Athanasius of Alexandria became a more powerful opponent and in 334, he was summoned before a synod in Caesarea (which he refused to attend). In the following year, he was again summoned before a synod in Tyre at which Eusebius of Caesarea presided. Athanasius, foreseeing the result, went to Constantinople to bring his cause before the Emperor. Constantine called the bishops to his court, among them Eusebius. Athanasius was condemned and exiled at the end of 335. Eusebius remained in the Emperor's favour throughout this time and more than once was exonerated with the explicit approval of the Emperor Constantine. After the Emperor's death (c.337), Eusebius wrote the Life of Constantine,an important historical work because of eye witness accounts and the use of primary sources. Eusebius died c.339.
Much like his birth, the exact date of Eusebius' death is unknown. However, there is primary text evidence from a council held in Antioch that by the year 341, his successor Acacius had already filled the seat as Bishop. Socrates and Sozomen write about Eusebius' death, and place it just before Constantine's son Constantine II died, which was in early 340. They also say that it was after the second banishment of Athanasius, which began in mid 339. This means that his death occurred some time between the second half of 339 and early 340.
Of the extensive literary activity of Eusebius, a relatively large portion has been preserved. Although posterity suspected him of Arianism, Eusebius had made himself indispensable by his method of authorship; his comprehensive and careful excerpts from original sources saved his successors the painstaking labor of original research. Hence, much has been preserved, quoted by Eusebius, which otherwise would have been lost.
The literary productions of Eusebius reflect on the whole the course of his life. At first, he occupied himself with works on Biblical criticism under the influence of Pamphilus and probably of Dorotheus of Tyre of the School of Antioch. Afterward, the persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius directed his attention to the martyrs of his own time and the past, and this led him to the history of the whole Church and finally to the history of the world, which, to him, was only a preparation for ecclesiastical history.
Then followed the time of the Arian controversies, and dogmatic questions came into the foreground. Christianity at last found recognition by the State; and this brought new problems—apologies of a different sort had to be prepared. Lastly, Eusebius wrote eulogies in praise of Constantine. To all this activity must be added numerous writings of a miscellaneous nature, addresses, letters, and the like, and exegetical works that extended over the whole of his life and that include both commentaries and treatises on Biblical archaeology.
Pamphilus and Eusebius occupied themselves with the textual criticism of the Septuagint text of the Old Testament and especially of the New Testament. An edition of the Septuagint seems to have been already prepared by Origen, which, according to Jerome, was revised and circulated by Eusebius and Pamphilus. For an easier survey of the material of the four Evangelists, Eusebius divided his edition of the New Testament into paragraphs and provided it with a synoptical table so that it might be easier to find the pericopes that belong together. These canon tables or "Eusebian canons" remained in use throughout the Middle Ages, and illuminated manuscript versions are important for the study of early medieval art, as they are the most elaborately decorated pages of many Gospel books. Eusebius detailed in Epistula ad Carpianum how to use his canons.
The Chronicle (Παντοδαπὴ Ἱστορία (Pantodape historia)) is divided into two parts. The first part, the Chronography (Χρονογραφία (Chronographia)), gives an epitome of universal history from the sources, arranged according to nations. The second part, the Canons (Χρονικοὶ Κανόνες (Chronikoi kanones)), furnishes a synchronism of the historical material in parallel columns, the equivalent of a parallel timeline.
The work as a whole has been lost in the original Greek, but it may be reconstructed from later chronographists of the Byzantine school who made excerpts from the work, especially George Syncellus. The tables of the second part have been completely preserved in a Latin translation by Jerome, and both parts are still extant in an Armenian translation. The loss of the Greek originals has given the Armenian translation a special importance; thus, the first part of Eusebius' Chronicle, of which only a few fragments exist in the Greek, has been preserved entirely in Armenian, though with lacunae. The Chronicle as preserved extends to the year 325.
In his Church History or Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius wrote the first surviving history of the Christian Church as a chronologically-ordered account, based on earlier sources, complete from the period of the Apostles to his own epoch.The time scheme correlated the history with the reigns of the Roman Emperors, and the scope was broad. Included were the bishops and other teachers of the Church, Christian relations with the Jews and those deemed heretical, and the Christian martyrs through 324. Although its accuracy and biases have been questioned, it remains an important source on the early church due to Eusebius's access to materials now lost.
Eusebius' Life of Constantine (Vita Constantini) is a eulogy or panegyric, and therefore its style and selection of facts are affected by its purpose, rendering it inadequate as a continuation of the Church History. As the historian Socrates Scholasticus said, at the opening of his history which was designed as a continuation of Eusebius, "Also in writing the life of Constantine, this same author has but slightly treated of matters regarding Arius, being more intent on the rhetorical finish of his composition and the praises of the emperor, than on an accurate statement of facts." The work was unfinished at Eusebius' death. Some scholars have questioned the Eusebian authorship of this work.
Before he compiled his church history, Eusebius edited a collection of martyrdoms of the earlier period and a biography of Pamphilus. The martyrology has not survived as a whole, but it has been preserved almost completely in parts. It contained:
Of the life of Pamphilus, only a fragment survives. A work on the martyrs of Palestine in the time of Diocletian was composed after 311; numerous fragments are scattered in legendaries which have yet to be collected. The life of Constantine was compiled after the death of the emperor and the election of his sons as Augusti (337). It is more a rhetorical eulogy on the emperor than a history but is of great value on account of numerous documents incorporated in it.
To the class of apologetic and dogmatic works belong:
A number of writings, belonging in this category, have been entirely lost.
All of the exegetical works of Eusebius have suffered damage in transmission. The majority of them are known to us only from long portions quoted in Byzantine catena-commentaries. However these portions are very extensive. Extant are:
Eusebius also wrote a work Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum, "On the Differences of the Gospels" (including solutions). This was written for the purpose of harmonizing the contradictions in the reports of the different Evangelists. This work was recently (2011) translated into the English language by David J. Miller and Adam C. McCollum (edited by Roger Pearse) and was published under the name "Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions."The original work was also translated into Syriac, and lengthy quotations exist in a catena in that language, and also in Coptic and Arabic catenas.
Eusebius also wrote treatises on Biblical archaeology:
These three treatises have been lost.
The addresses and sermons of Eusebius are mostly lost, but some have been preserved, e.g., a sermon on the consecration of the church in Tyre and an address on the thirtieth anniversary of the reign of Constantine (336).
Most of Eusebius' letters are lost. His letters to Carpianus and Flacillus exist complete. Fragments of a letter to the empress Constantia also exists.
Eusebius is fairly unusual in his preterist, or fulfilled eschatological view. Saying "The Holy Scriptures foretell that there will be unmistakable signs of the Coming of Christ. Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies...The holy oracles foretold that all these changes, which had not been made in the days of the prophets of old, would take place at the coming of the Christ, which I will presently shew to have been fulfilled as never before in accordance with the predictions." (Demonstratio Evangelica VIII)
From a dogmatic point of view, Eusebius stands entirely upon the shoulders of Origen. Like Origen, he started from the fundamental thought of the absolute sovereignty (monarchia) of God. God is the cause of all beings. But he is not merely a cause; in him everything good is included, from him all life originates, and he is the source of all virtue. God sent Christ into the world that it may partake of the blessings included in the essence of God. Christ is God and is a ray of the eternal light; but the figure of the ray is so limited by Eusebius that he expressly distinguishes the Son as distinct from Father as a ray is also distinct from its source the sun.[ citation needed ]
Eusebius was intent upon emphasizing the difference of the persons of the Trinity and maintaining the subordination of the Son (Logos, or Word) to God. The Logos, the Son (Jesus) is an hypostasis of God the Father whose generation, for Eusebius, took place before time. The Logos acts as the organ or instrument of God, the creator of life, the principle of every revelation of God, who in his absoluteness and transcendence is enthroned above and isolated from all the world. Eusebius, with most of the Christian tradition, assumed God was immutable. Therefore, to Eusebius's mind, the Logos must possess divinity by participation (and not originally like the Father), so that he can change, unlike God the Father. Thus he assumed a human body without altering the immutable divine Father. Eusebius never calls Jesus o theós, but theós because in all contrary attempts he suspected either polytheism (three distinct gods) or Sabellianism (three modes of one divine person).
Likewise, Eusebius described the relation of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity to that of the Son to the Father. No point of this doctrine is original with Eusebius, all is traceable to his teacher Origen.[ citation needed ] The lack of originality in his thinking shows itself in the fact that he never presented his thoughts in a system. After nearly being excommunicated due to charges of heresy by Alexander of Alexandria, Eusebius submitted and agreed to the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Nicea in 325.[ citation needed ]
Eusebius held that men were sinners by their own free choice and not by the necessity of their natures. Eusebius said, "The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature".
By the time of the Byzantine Iconoclasm several centuries later, Eusebius had unfairly gained the reputation of having been an Arian, and was roundly condemned as such by Patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople. A letter Eusebius is supposed to have written to Constantine's daughter Constantia, refusing to fulfill her request for images of Christ, was quoted in the decrees (now lost) of the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in 754, and later quoted in part in the rebuttal of the Hieria decrees in the Second Council of Nicaea of 787, now the only source from which some of the text is known. The authenticity, or authorship of the letter remain uncertain.
Alternate views have suggested that Gibbon's dismissal of Eusebius is inappropriate:
While many have shared Burckhardt's assessment, particularly with reference to the Life of Constantine, others, while not pretending to extol his merits, have acknowledged the irreplaceable value of his works which may principally reside in the copious quotations that they contain from other sources, often lost.
Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christological doctrine which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, a creature distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to him, but the Son is also God. Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius, a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt. The term "Arian" is derived from the name Arius; it was not a self-chosen designation but bestowed by hostile opponents—and never accepted by those on whom it had been imposed. The nature of Arius's teaching and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father.
Constantine the Great, also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, city now known as Niš, he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer of Illyrian origins. His mother Helena was Greek. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.
Arius was a Libyan presbyter and ascetic, and priest in Baucalis in Alexandria, Egypt. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead in Christianity, which emphasized God the Father's uniqueness and Christ's subordination under the Father, and his opposition to what would become the dominant Christology, Homoousian Christology, made him a primary topic of the First Council of Nicaea, which was convened by Emperor Constantine the Great in 325.
Belus or Belos in classical Greek or classical Latin texts in a Babylonian context refers to the Babylonian god Bel Marduk. Though often identified with Greek Zeus and Latin Jupiter as Zeus Belos or Jupiter Belus, in other cases Belus is euhemerized as an ancient king who founded Babylon and built the ziggurat. He is recognized and worshipped as the God of war.
Saint Lucian of Antioch, known as Lucian the Martyr, was a Christian presbyter, theologian and martyr. He was noted for both his scholarship and ascetic piety.
Saint Pamphilus, was a presbyter of Caesarea and chief among biblical scholars of his generation. He was the friend and teacher of Eusebius of Caesarea, who recorded details of his career in a three-book Vita that has been lost.
Marcellus of Ancyra was a Bishop of Ancyra and one of the bishops present at the Council of Ancyra and the First Council of Nicaea. He was a strong opponent of Arianism, but was accused of adopting the opposite extreme of modified Sabellianism. He was condemned by a council of his enemies and expelled from his see, though he was able to return there to live quietly with a small congregation in the last years of his life.
The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.
Subordinationism is a belief that began within early Christianity that asserts that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being. Various forms of subordinationism were believed or condemned until the mid-4th century, when the debate was decided against subordinationism as an element of the Arian controversy. In 381, after many decades of formulating the doctrine of the Trinity, the First Council of Constantinople condemned Arianism.
The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
Whether the earliest Church Fathers believed in the Trinity is a subject for debate. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are triadic statements from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the substance of the Father, God of God...very God of very God' was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople, where the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified.
The Church History of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts.
Preparation for the Gospel, commonly known by its Latin title Praeparatio evangelica, was a work of Christian apologetics written by Eusebius in the early part of the fourth century AD. It was begun about the year 313, and attempts to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies.
Christianity in the 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325.
The Prayer of Joseph is a pseudepigraphic writing of the Old Testament. It was composed either in Aramaic or in Greek in the 1st century AD. The text is almost lost and only a few fragments have survived in ancient quotations concerning the Biblical patriarch Jacob. The Prayer of Joseph narrates that Jacob was the incarnation of the angel Israel who competed with Uriel over their rank in heaven.
Philip the Arab was one of the few 3rd-century Roman emperors sympathetic to Christians, although his relationship with Christianity is obscure and controversial. Philip was born in Auranitis, an Arab district east of the Sea of Galilee. The urban and Hellenized centers of the region were Christianized in the early years of the 3rd century via major Christian centers at Bosra and Edessa; there is little evidence of Christian presence in the small villages of the region in this period, such as Philip's birthplace at Philippopolis. Philip served as praetorian prefect, commander of the Praetorian Guard, from 242; he was made emperor in 244. In 249, after a brief civil war, he was killed at the hands of his successor, Decius.
The Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima, or simply the Library of Caesarea, was the library of the Christians of Caesarea Maritima in Palestine in ancient times.
Arian Creeds are the creeds of Arian Christians, developed mostly in the fourth century when Arianism was one of the main varieties of Christianity. A creed is a brief summary of the beliefs of a group of religious practitioners, expressed in a more or less standardized format. Arian creeds are a subset of Christian Creeds.
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Agapius of Caesarea
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