Making Christian History: Eusebius of Caesarea and His Readers 0520295366, 9780520295360

Known as the "Father of Church History," Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and the leading Christia

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Table of contents :
Making Christian History
1. Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History
Eusebius as Transitional Figure
Eusebius’s Historical Diptych: The Chronicle and the Ecclesiastical History
What Is “Ecclesiastical History,” and Why Did Eusebius Write One?
An Untrodden Path? Eusebius’s Predecessors
2. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in a Christian Empire
The Manuscript Tradition as Reception History
Translations and Continuations in Antiquity
Eusebius’s First Continuators: Rufinus of Aquileia and Gelasius of Caesarea
Eusebius’s Ancient Greek Continuators: An Ecclesiastical History Canon
3. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Non-Greek East
Syriac Christianity: Historiography, Doctrinal Conflict, and Regime Change
Armenia: Adapting Eusebius on the Borderland of Rome and Persia
Eusebius in the Coptic Tradition: From Ecumenical to Ethnic Ecclesiastical History
4. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Latin West
The Ancient Latin Tradition after Rufinus
“National” Ecclesiastical History in the Middle Ages
Bede and Ecclesiastical History in Anglo-Saxon England: Eusebius’s Heir and Critic
Eusebius and Frankish Identity: The Cult of the Book
A Norman Ecclesiastical History: Orderic Vitalis
Ecclesiastical History in a Corpus Christianum
5. Eusebius in Byzantium
John Malalas and His Chronicle
The Paschal Chronicle
George Synkellos and Theophanes: At the Summit of Byzantine Chronography
Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus and the Return of Ecclesiastical History
6. Eusebius Rediscovered in Early Modernity: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Republic of Letters
The Ecclesiastical History and Renaissance Humanism: Humanist Historiography and Sacred History
Eusebius in a Confessional Age: From Humanist Retrieval to the Weaponizing of Ecclesiastical History
Eusebius in the Republic of Letters
7. Reading Eusebius in Modernity and Postmodernity: The Ecclesiastical History in Modern Scholarship
In Search of Patrons: The Ecclesiastical History and Its Modern History of Publication
Critical Reception I: Secular
Critical Reception II: Religious and Theological
Ecclesiastical History and Its Future
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Making Christian History Eusebius of Caesarea and His Readers

Michael J. Hollerich


The publisher and the University of California Press Foundation gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Joan Palevsky Endowment Fund in Literature in Translation.

CHRISTIANIT Y IN LATE ANTIQUIT Y THE OFFICIAL B O OK SERIES OF THE NORTH AMERICAN PATRISTICS SO CIET Y Editor: Christopher A. Beeley, Duke University Associate Editors: David Brakke, Ohio State University Robin Darling Young, The Catholic University of America International Advisory Board: Lewis Ayres, Durham University • John Behr, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York • Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Hebrew University of Jerusalem • Marie-Odile Boulnois, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris • Kimberly D. Bowes, University of Pennsylvania and the American Academy in Rome • Virginia Burrus, Syracuse University • Stephen Davis, Yale University • Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, University of California Santa Barbara • Mark Edwards, University of Oxford • Susanna Elm, University of California Berkeley • Thomas Graumann, Cambridge University • Sidney H. Griffith, Catholic University of America • David G. Hunter, University of Kentucky • Andrew S. Jacobs, Harvard Divinity School • Robin M. Jensen, University of Notre Dame • AnneMarie Luijendijk, Princeton University • Christoph Markschies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin • Andrew B. McGowan, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale • Claudia Rapp, Universität Wien • Samuel Rubenson, Lunds Universitet • Rita Lizzi Testa, Università degli Studi di Perugia 1. Incorruptible Bodies: Christology, Society, and Authority in Late Antiquity, by Yonatan Moss 2. Epiphanius of Cyprus: A Cultural Biography of Late Antiquity, by Andrew S. Jacobs 3. Melania: Early Christianity through the Life of One Family, edited by Catherine M. Chin and Caroline T. Schroeder 4. The Body and Desire: Gregory of Nyssa’s Ascetical Theology, by Raphael A. Cadenhead 5. Bible and Poetry in Late Antique Mesopotamia: Ephrem’s Hymns on Faith, by Jeffrey Wickes 6. Self-Portrait in Three Colors: Gregory of Nazianzus’s Epistolary Autobiography, by Bradley K. Storin 7. Gregory of Nazianzus’s Letter Collection: The Complete Translation, translated by Bradley K. Storin 8. Jephthah’s Daughter, Sarah’s Son: The Death of Children in Late Antiquity, by Maria Doerfler 9. Constantinople: Ritual, Violence, and Memory in the Making of a Christian Imperial Capital, by Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos 10. The Narrative Shape of Emotion in the Preaching of John Chrysostom, by Blake Leyerle 11. Making Christian History: Eusebius of Caesarea and His Readers, by Michael J. Hollerich

Making Christian History

Dedication letter to Queen Elizabeth from the 1563 edition of John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, with woodcut showing Foxe in the middle of the three men to her right, with William Cecil, his patron, to his right, and John Day, his printer, to his left. By permission of the Huntington Library.

Making Christian History Eusebius of Caesarea and His Readers

Michael J. Hollerich


University of California Press Oakland, California © 2021 by Michael J. Hollerich

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Hollerich, Michael J., author. Title: Making Christian history : Eusebius of Caesarea and his readers / Michael J. Hollerich. Other titles: Christianity in late antiquity (North American Patristics Society) ; 11. Description: Oakland, California : University of California Press, [2021] | Series: Christianity in late antiquity ; 11 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: lccn 2020045108 (print) | lccn 2020045109 (ebook) | isbn 9780520295360 (hardback) | isbn 9780520968134 (ebook) Subjects: lcsh: Eusebius, of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea, approximately 260–approximately 340. Ecclesiastical history—Influence. | Church history. Classification: lcc br160.e55 h65 2021 (print) | lcc br160.e55 (ebook) | ddc 270.1—dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at

Manufactured in the United States of America 25 24 23 22 21 10 9 8 7 6 5 4


2 1

c ontents

Abbreviations Acknowledgments 1. Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History Eusebius as Transitional Figure Eusebius’s Historical Diptych: The Chronicle and the Ecclesiastical History What Is “Ecclesiastical History,” and Why Did Eusebius Write One? An Untrodden Path? Eusebius’s Predecessors

2. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in a Christian Empire The Manuscript Tradition as Reception History Translations and Continuations in Antiquity Eusebius’s First Continuators: Rufinus of Aquileia and Gelasius of Caesarea Eusebius’s Ancient Greek Continuators: An Ecclesiastical History Canon

3. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Non-Greek East Syriac Christianity: Historiography, Doctrinal Conflict, and Regime Change Armenia: Adapting Eusebius on the Borderland of Rome and Persia Eusebius in the Coptic Tradition: From Ecumenical to Ethnic Ecclesiastical History

4. The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Latin West The Ancient Latin Tradition after Rufinus “National” Ecclesiastical History in the Middle Ages Bede and Ecclesiastical History in Anglo-Saxon England: Eusebius’s Heir and Critic Eusebius and Frankish Identity: The Cult of the Book A Norman Ecclesiastical History: Orderic Vitalis Ecclesiastical History in a Corpus Christianum

vii ix 1 2 22 29 40 47 48 52 53 59 88 90 116 133 141 141 144 146 155 157 163

5. Eusebius in Byzantium John Malalas and His Chronicle The Paschal Chronicle George Synkellos and Theophanes: At the Summit of Byzantine Chronography Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus and the Return of Ecclesiastical History

6. Eusebius Rediscovered in Early Modernity: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Republic of Letters The Ecclesiastical History and Renaissance Humanism: Humanist Historiography and Sacred History Eusebius in a Confessional Age: From Humanist Retrieval to the Weaponizing of Ecclesiastical History Eusebius in the Republic of Letters

7. Reading Eusebius in Modernity and Postmodernity: The Ecclesiastical History in Modern Scholarship In Search of Patrons: The Ecclesiastical History and Its Modern History of Publication Critical Reception I: Secular Critical Reception II: Religious and Theological Ecclesiastical History and Its Future

Bibliography Index

171 173 176 177 186 191 192 197 217 238 239 250 258 268 275 301



Chronicle 1 Chronicle 2 CI DE HE LC MP PE SC VC

Die Chronik aus dem Armenischen Übersetzt, trans. Josef Karst Die Chronik des Hieronymus, Hieronymi Chronicon, ed. Rudolf Helm Commentary on Isaiah Demonstratio evangelica Historia ecclesiastica Laus Constantini, Oration in Praise of Constantine Martyrs of Palestine Praeparatio evangelica On the Sepulcher of Christ Vita Constantini P E R IO D IC A L S , R E F E R E N C E WO R K S , SE R I E S


Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina Church History Clavis Patrum Graecorum Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum Fathers of the Church Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte Harvard Theological Review Journal of Early Christian Studies vii




Journal of Roman Studies Journal of Theological Studies Loeb Classical Library A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Orientalia Christiana Analecta Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta Patrologia Graeca Patrologia Orientalis The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West Sources chrétiennes Studia Patristica Translated Texts for Historians Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum

acknowled gments

The reception history of a late ancient book that created an entire literary genre necessarily draws on the work of specialists in diverse periods and traditions. My first duty is to recognize my debt to the remarkable scholarship of the past two generations of historiographical research into how previous ages wrote about the past. It has been an immense pleasure to read so much fine work on a subject that barely existed until Arnaldo Momigliano more or less invented it over his long and productive career. I hope I have made due acknowledgment of that debt in my notes. The notes also express my gratitude to the scholars, many previously unknown to me, who generously answered specific queries and shared their unpublished work. Of others who read and commented on portions of the book, I must thank Patout Burns, Aaron Johnson, Billy Junker, Sergio La Porta, Jonathan Loopstra, Ray Mackenzie, Joseph Wilson Trigg, Robert Louis Wilken, and Robin Darling Young, and also the members of the Minnesota Association of Patristic Studies (MAPS) and the First Millennium Workshop in the History Department of the University of Minnesota. I thank as well the external readers who reviewed the manuscript for the University of California Press for their comments and suggestions for improvement. All mistakes of course are my responsibility. I am grateful too to Christopher Beeley and the editorial committee of the monograph series for the North American Patristics Society for approving my proposal for this book and thus giving an important vote of confidence in the project when I was just getting started. For three years of half-time teaching as a University Scholar (2013–2016), as well as a full year of sabbatical leave in 2017–2018, I thank the University of St. Thomas Center for Faculty Development. Those who know it prize the research collection at St. Thomas’s John Ireland Library, a small jewel of an institution, ix



whose staff, from Director Curt LeMay to Betsy Polakowski and Mason Mitchell, answered every request for book purchases and creature comforts in my fifthfloor carrel. Thanks to Faith Bonitz, Inter-Library Loan director at St. Thomas’s O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, for responding efficiently to several years of relentless requests for sometimes hard-to-get items. For Reformation materials, I profited from the fine collection in Luther Seminary Library in St. Paul. The superb resources of Wilson Library of the University of Minnesota, which gives borrowing privileges to area faculty, were invaluable on a project that was always moving from one historical period to another. At the University of California Press, I extend my gratitude to editor Eric Schmidt and his outstanding team: editorial assistant Austin Lim; project editor Cindy Fulton, who saw the book through the production process; and Marian Rogers, for her diligent and precise copy editing. Eric always said yes when I had to ask for another extension. I hope this book meets his and Christopher Beeley's expectations. Finally, here in Minnesota, I need to thank Erika Zabinski for her careful and efficient indexing of a book whose sprawling but interlocked contents would have tested anyone's patience. I also need to acknowledge the Getty Library in Los Angeles for permission to reproduce the icon of “Eusebius” on the cover of the book, and to thank the staff of the Huntington Library, San Marino, for providing on short notice a publication-quality image of the woodcut from John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments as the frontispiece, during a time when the institution was closed to the public. Writing this book has meant revisiting my entire education and upbringing in postwar American Catholicism, from elementary to high school through college, and then through two graduate programs. I have had to take stock of what “church” meant then and now, to me as a Catholic, as a citizen in a liberal democracy, and as a member of what Hannah Holborn Gray, past president of the University of Chicago, was accustomed to call the ancient and venerable company of scholars. It has been by turns a rewarding, enlightening, and sobering journey. Rewarding, for the satisfaction of discovering so much good scholarship on subjects that have long absorbed me. Enlightening, to realize concretely how ecclesiastical history is inevitably partial history, written by people trying to square the circle of fidelity to scholarly standards (differently understood in different times and places) and to their vision of the human and divine worlds. They have usually earned my sympathy. And sobering. I was raised in the last generation of a church truly catholic— universal in the sense of international, learned, polyglot but united in the Latin, Roman version of Eusebius’s similar understanding of a universal Christianity. Eusebius wrote the Ecclesiastical History as prospect, formed by Origen’s philosophical universalism (no Origen, no Eusebius, as Wilson Trigg and Robin Young have long reminded me). It is sobering to realize how quickly this universal church has, in the United States, made itself small by measuring itself against American Evangelical moralism and nationalism rather than, say, the Large Hadron Collider,



my favorite symbol for humanity’s forward movement into the unknown. In Rome in October of last year, on the Via della Conciliazione I saw a huge banner for the 2019 Synod on the Amazon embroidered with the motto Our Common Home, from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’. The history of that church may still be worth writing. This book is dedicated to the memory of my partner and former spouse, Jeanne Schnitter MacDonald, who passed away in our home on April 25, 2020. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine.


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History

Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History (HE) is the most important of his many books. It created a new literary genre that would have a long and influential history. In an often-quoted statement, F. C. Baur called Eusebius the father of ecclesiastical history, just as Herodotus was the father of historical writing in general.1 The Ecclesiastical History is our single most important source for recovering the history of the first three centuries of Christianity. And it is the centerpiece of a corpus of writings in which Eusebius created a distinctive vision of the place of the Christian church in world history and God’s providential plan. A book of such significance has attracted an enormous body of commentary and analysis driven by two rather different motives. One was the value of the HE as a documentary treasure trove of partially or completely lost works. For a long time, that was the primary driver of scholarly interest. The past two generations have seen the emergence of a second trend that focuses on Eusebius as a figure in his own right, a writer of exceptional range, creativity, and productivity, and an actor on the ecclesiastical and political stage.2 How, for example, did current events shape the way Eusebius thought and wrote about the church’s past? And what can his construction of the past tell us in turn about Christian consciousness and ambition during a time of enormous transition? Seen from that angle, the HE becomes not a source for history but itself an artifact of history, a hermeneutical redirection that will be applied to other works of Christian historiography in this book.3 1. Cited in Markus, “Church History and Early Church Historians,” 1. 2. Johnson and Schott, Eusebius of Caesarea; Inowlocki and Zamagni, Reconsidering Eusebius. 3. For a similar contemporary shift in the study of non-Christian ancient historians, see Marincola, “Introduction.”



Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History

The purpose of this book differs from both of those. It is concerned less with what Eusebius used than with how subsequent tradition used him over the very long period since he wrote his history. To do that we need a baseline of understanding. We can only appreciate the impact of his book—and, at times, its eclipse and obscurity—if there is clarity about what he intended to create and how it must be understood on its own terms. This first chapter, then, offers an introduction to Eusebius’s life; a selective review of his literary production; an account of his core theological and historical vision; and then a more focused examination of the HE, first in its relation to its companion work, the Chronological Canons, then in a description of its structure, composition, and purpose, and finally in a review of Eusebius’s predecessors. The chapter has two purposes: to provide a template for understanding Eusebius’s reception by later ecclesiastical historiography; and to give readers not well acquainted with Eusebius an introduction to him and to the rich and diverse contemporary scholarship on him.4 Subsequent chapters will carry the story forward from Eusebius’s first successors to contemporary interpretations and debates over Eusebius and his legacy. E U SE B I U S A S T R A N SI T IO NA L F IG U R E

Life Eusebius of Caesarea, or Eusebius Pamphili (b. ca. 260–264, d. 339 or 340) as he was known in antiquity,5 was born just as the “little peace of the Church,” the forty or so years of toleration following the rescript of the emperor Gallienus in 260, was beginning.6 He witnessed and survived the decade of intermittent persecution launched by Diocletian in 303. And he outlived the emperor who restored toleration and took the first steps toward religious establishment. Eusebius seems to have been a native of Caesarea Maritima in Palestine, the capital of the Roman province of Judea. He spent most of his life there and rarely left, apart from travels inside Palestine and, during the last two years of the persecution, to Phoenicia and Egypt, and possibly Arabia.7 In the era after persecution 4. Johnson, Eusebius, is an admirably complete, concise, and up-to-date introduction to Eusebius in all of his authorial versatility. 5. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, is still the landmark study, despite requiring revision of Barnes’s proposed early dating of both the HE and the Chronicle. His picture of Constantine as a convinced Christian has also met resistance, but my subject is Eusebius, not Constantine. See also Barnes’s more recent Constantine; Lenski, Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine; and the overview of Morlet, “Eusèbe de Césarée.” 6. On the importance of Gallienus’s rescript to Christian bishops (in Eus. HE 7.13) as a watershed in Roman recognition of Christianity, see Barnes, Early Christian Hagiography and Roman History, 100–105. 7. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 148.

Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History


ended, he occasionally traveled for church business. He adopted his surname (“son of Pamphilus”) out of respect for the scholarly presbyter Pamphilus, ho emos despotēs (my master8), in whose household he apparently lived from a young age. There he was educated and trained in copying manuscripts in the library for which Caesarea would become famous.9 The library was part of Pamphilus’s project of collecting and preserving the works of Origen of Alexandria (ca. 184–ca. 253), who had spent the last approximately twenty years of his life in Caesarea after being forced to leave Alexandria because of difficulties with his bishop, Demetrius.10 Eusebius became a valued collaborator of Pamphilus and worked with him on an apology for Origen after Pamphilus was arrested in 307 during the last persecution. Following Pamphilus’s martyrdom in 310, Eusebius wrote his Life in three books and assumed the role of his successor. There would always be a question about his success in surviving a persecution that took his master.11 The projects of copying and collating manuscripts, and curating Origen’s literary and theological legacy, under the sign of possible martyrdom, left a fundamental stamp on everything Eusebius did throughout a long and productive career. Not long after the end of persecution in 313, Eusebius was consecrated as bishop of Caesarea. His entry into the privileged fellowship of the Christian episcopacy cemented his standing among Eastern bishops who shared his Origenian theological orientation. For the next quarter century until his death, he would be a dominant figure in those circles and a major player in the clerical jockeying for position in relation to the newly sympathetic imperial government. He experienced a severe crisis when his association with the theology of Arius, an Alexandrian presbyter, put him on the temporarily losing side of the battle between Arius and Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. Forever after, the Arian tag would tarnish the reputation of his many books, and the Ecclesiastical History above all.12 In the winter of 324/325, he was provisionally excommunicated during a council of bishops in Antioch, held under the presidency of Bishop Hosius of Córdoba in Spain.13 He was thus under a cloud six months later when he attended the council convened in Nicaea by Constantine. In an awkward letter written afterward to his 8. Eus. Martyrs of Palestine 11.1 (GCS 2.2:932.8–9, ed. Schwartz). Unless otherwise stated, I will quote the translation of Oulton, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, revising as needed. Schott’s new translation, Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church, will become the de facto standard. 9. Grafton and Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book, 178–194. On the contents of the library, see Carriker, Library of Eusebius of Caesarea. 10. Nautin, Origène, esp. 166–168. 11. Ibid., 193–194; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 149. 12. See Beeley, “Eusebius’ Contra Marcellum”; and Parvis, Marcellus of Ancyra, esp. 128–131, on Eusebius’s “deeply contentious case” against Marcellus. 13. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 213–214, 378–379.


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History

church in Caesarea, he strove to rationalize his acceptance of the creed of the council, with its buzzword homoousios and its (to him) dubious associations.14 Subsequently he was an avid combatant in the dogmatic polemics sparked by the council. It was not until this last stage of his long life that Eusebius made the actual acquaintance of Constantine, after the final defeat of Constantine’s Eastern coruler Licinius in 323/324. Timothy Barnes suggested that the bishop and the emperor probably met in person on no more than four occasions.15 Eusebius made sure his readers were aware of those contacts in his writings, including two speeches and the Life of Constantine, written after the emperor’s death and not long before Eusebius himself passed away. So successful was his promotional effort that in modern times he has been reviled as a flatterer and a court theologian, famously denounced by Jacob Burckhardt as antiquity’s first thoroughly dishonest historian.16 Recent scholarship has done much to correct that picture with a more comprehensive understanding of Eusebius as scholar, apologist, and churchman. By bringing under scrutiny his entire oeuvre, in all its impressive variety, without letting our perspective be skewed by the Constantinian literature, we gain a more accurate grasp not only of Eusebius but of the Christian culture of his day during a time of unparalleled turbulence. Historians often talk of “periods of transition.” If ever the phrase applied, it fits the generation to which Eusebius belonged and to which he is our premier witness. On the other hand—and this is part of the gain of the rich trove of research that we will encounter in this book—we can also see how much continuity there was in the before-and-after of that era. We have become better at reading Eusebius as he was—already forty years old at the outbreak of the last persecution—without endowing him with a clear-eyed knowledge of the future that he could not have possessed, of the Christian Roman Empire as it would exist by the end of the fourth century under Theodosius. Peter Brown recently suggested that we might imagine Eusebius—and Constantine, and their generation—as limited by “horizons of the possible considerably more narrow than we might suppose,” and that we should perhaps credit Eusebius with no more than a “thin” universalist outlook, for which it was sufficient that Christianity’s victory took visible form in

14. Preserved in Socrates, HE 1.8.35–54. 15. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 266. 16. Burckhardt, Die Zeit Constantin’s des Großen, 375: “der erste durch und durch unredliche Geschichtsschreiber des Altertums,” the always quoted passage; elsewhere Burckhardt adds, “He [Constantine] alone fell into the hands of the most disgusting (widerlichsten) of all panegyrists, who completely falsified his image” (346). See Barnes’s contextualization of Burckhardt’s critique in nineteenth-century German and Swiss politico-ecclesiastical history, in Constantine, 10–11. It will be quoted again by Carl Schmitt in his defense of Eusebius in Politische Theologie II, 69–70.

Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History


buildings and laws and selective purging, without the expectation that the world would be made totally clean of idolatrous practices.17 Literary Production Only a brief and selective survey of Eusebius’s literary production is possible here, for the sake of illustrating its diversity and some of its underlying themes, as well as to give a sense of where the HE fits into the whole. An important circumstance for Eusebius’s work is its setting in Caesarea, with its vigorous commercial, religious, and intellectual life, and vibrant Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian communities coexisting with Greco-Roman paganism.18 Eusebius must certainly have interacted in some fashion or other with the Jewish community and its famous academy, founded about the same time as Origen’s arrival.19 Origen’s tenure there had dramatically raised Caesarea’s profile as a center of Christian intellectual activity. Major archaeological work at Caesarea Maritima has recovered remains of the great expansion since Herod the Great’s development of the place formerly known as Straton’s Tower.20 We must always keep in mind the presence of those religious and intellectual others in Caesarea, Jews above all, when we read Eusebius’s books. Eusebius’s writings can be organized into five broadly different groups. First, there is his biblical scholarship,21 for which he was prepared by his years copying and collating biblical manuscripts on the basis of the Hexapla, Origen’s great synopsis of Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament. Manuscripts still survive with his name and that of Pamphilus listed in the colophons.22 Then there are instruments for biblical study, such as the gazeteer of biblical placenames called the Onomasticon, an invaluable handbook with apposite annotation.23 Works like the Onomasticon played a role in promoting pilgrimage to Palestine once persecution ended and Constantine’s building program commenced.24 There is also Eusebius’s ingenious synoptic index of the contents of the four gospels, commonly called the Gospel Sections and Canons, which distinguished and numbered individual pericopes in the Gospels and organized them in tables, 17. Brown, “Constantine, Eusebius, and the Future of Christianity,” 131. 18. Donaldson, Religious Rivalries and the Struggle for Success. 19. On Eusebius’s familiarity with Jewish exegesis, see Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 143–153. 20. Cf. Patrich, “Caesarea in the Time of Eusebius”; Raban and Holum, Caesarea Maritima. 21. Overview in Hollerich, “Eusebius,” 629–652. 22. Examples in Grafton and Williams, Transformation of the Book, 340–342. 23. The surviving portion of what was a four-part work on biblical topography (CPG 3466). English trans.: Eusebius, Onomasticon: The Place-Names of Divine Scripture; Including the Latin Edition of Jerome, trans. R. Steven Notley and Zev Safrai, with commentary (Boston: Brill, 2005). 24. Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, 12, gives unique credit to Eusebius for promoting Roman Palestine as a pilgrimage site.


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History

facilitating quick identification of parallel passages.25 As commentators have noted,26 Eusebius’s fondness for tabular layouts is something that may have been nurtured by his intimate familiarity with the Hexapla. In addition he wrote treatises on controverted passages in the Bible, such as his Gospel Questions and Solutions, on the resurrection accounts and the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, in the literary genre known as problems and solutions.27 Finally, there are the two massive commentaries on the Psalter and on the book of Isaiah, both from soon after 325, and which Eusebius may have singled out for treatment because of his special interest in the fulfillment of prophecy, in debates with Jews and pagans. Both works show his attention to textual variations as documented in the Hexapla and demonstrate his characteristic blend of literal and spiritual interpretation, which tends to avoid Origenian theological speculation in favor of grounding the texts in a continuous, providential history.28 A second cluster consists of the apologetic works: the General Elementary Introduction, in its present form a collection of Old Testament prophetic extracts in four books out of an original nine, written while persecution was still underway; the massive twin apologies the Proof of the Gospel (DE) and the Preparation for the Gospel (PE) from the years after the end of persecution in 313, the former chiefly against the Jews and written to prove the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus and in Christianity, the latter chiefly to show the priority, and therefore the superiority, of Christianity to Hellenism and to Judaism as well; and the late work the Theophany, which survives only in a Syriac translation. All of these works illustrate Eusebius’s reliance on the piling up of quotations and extracts, a method made to order for one with the resources of Pamphilus’s library at his disposal. It was his intention, he says in the Preparation for the Gospel, “not [to] set down my own words, but those of the very persons who have taken the deepest interest in the worship of those whom they call gods, so that the argument may stand clear of all suspicion of being invented by us” (PE 1.5.14, trans. Gifford). The PE is especially notable for its articulation of a grand integrative vision of Christianity and the classical tradition. A third cluster we may loosely call historical works, though it includes the Apology for Origen and the Martyrs of Palestine as well. The universal history conven25. On the canon table of the Gospels, see Crawford, “Ammonius of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, and the Origins of Gospel Scholarship.” Martin Wallraff is preparing a critical edition and commentary:–2013/the-canontables-of-the-gospels-by-eusebius-of-caesarea-fourth-century-ad-critical-edition-and-commentary. Eusebius also composed a canon table on the Psalms; see Wallraff, “Canon Table of the Psalms.” 26. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 120. 27. Cf. also the lost treatise on the polygamy and large families of the biblical patriarchs, referred to in DE 1.9 and PE 7.8. 28. It is debated whether he ever wrote a commentary on a New Testament book. See Johnson, “Ends of Transfiguration.”

Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History


tionally called the Chronicle is rightly paired with the Ecclesiastical History, which took the Chronicle as its point of departure (HE 1.1.6). Both works are discussed in detail in the next two sections, so no more will be said about them here, except that they too rely on quotations from sources. The degree to which their apologetic agenda coexists with their scholarly ambitions is considered below. The dating of both works is similarly debated and cannot be treated here, except to say that in their finished form they both ended with Constantine’s unification of the empire after the defeat of Licinius, his last imperial rival. A special note is necessary here about the Martyrs of Palestine (MP), which has intimate but complex connections with the Ecclesiastical History. The MP exists in two different recensions, one of them longer than the other. The longer one (here L) survives complete only in a Syriac translation that was discovered and published in the nineteenth century. The shorter one (here S) exists in Greek and is found in some of the manuscripts of the HE.29 This book accepts the following reconstruction of the history and standing of the MP: that L is the older of the two recensions; that it preceded the composition of the HE as Eusebius’s report on the martyrdoms he himself witnessed in Palestine up to late 311 (MP Pref.8); that L was adapted to produce the shorter version, S, for book 8 of the HE;30 but that S was later removed, after persecution ended definitively in 313, and left to survive separately, being found in different locations in manuscripts of the HE.31 I decided at the beginning of my research for this book that the Martyrs of Palestine would not be considered, insofar as it seems essentially to constitute a separate work, albeit a very important one, both for its historical value and for its role in fostering a literary tradition of its own, what has been called “collective biography.”32 We will encounter literature of that type in chapter 3, in the East Syrian tradition. But it seems to be something qualitatively different from “ecclesiastical history.” In general, I agree with the opinion of Jörg Ulrich that “there must have been an awareness of the difference between historiography and hagiography.”33 29. On the Martyrs of Palestine, see CPG 3460. Greek text of the shorter recension (S): Eduard Schwartz, ed., Über die Märtyrer in Palaestina, in Eusebius Werke, GCS 2.2:907–950, with Greek fragments of L at the bottom of the page. English translation of both versions: Lawlor and Oulton, eds., Ecclesiastical History, 1:327–400, with explanation of their effort to reconstruct a reliable form of L, ibid., 2:46–50. 30. This view of S in relation to book 8 is contested by Neri, “Les éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 153–164. 31. Following Burgess, “The Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica, 502–503. 32. Thank you to Kyle Smith for sharing his paper, “An Atlas of Martyrdom: Eusebius, Syriac Christianity, and the Martyrdom Narrative as Genre,” delivered at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society in Chicago. 33. Ulrich, “Dimensions and Developments of Early Christian Historiography,” 169.


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In a fourth category are the late controversial tracts that Eusebius wrote as part of the dogmatic dueling in the wake of Nicaea, Against Marcellus and On Ecclesiastical Theology.34 They too use quotation and refutation, the former more than the latter. They will make only infrequent appearances in this book. Their relevance here is chiefly that they show Eusebius as wholly invested in a world of ecclesiastical and dogmatic conflict that he and his contemporaries certainly did not invent but that took on new intensity now that the Roman state had an investment in the outcome. I admit to sharing at times the impatience expressed by some of Eusebius’s continuators as they recount the perpetual fighting over doctrine. And yet identifying and vindicating orthodoxy is one of the central purposes of the HE. A fifth and final category consists of the very late works devoted to celebrating the new order coming into being under the sole reign of the first Christian emperor. The Treatise on the Holy Sepulcher (SC) (September 335), on Constantine’s church over the burial place of Christ, and the Oration in Praise of Constantine (LC) (July 336), on the occasion of the emperor’s thirtieth anniversary, have come down to us bundled in the manuscripts as a single address but now recognized as two distinct works.35 The Life of Constantine (VC), in four books, was written, it seems, rather hurriedly after the emperor’s death in 337 and perhaps left incomplete at the time of Eusebius’s own death two years later. The speeches and the Life, along with Constantine’s Oration to the Assembly of the Saints, were Eusebius’s bid “to make himself the authoritative interpreter of the Christian emperor Constantine.”36 Like some other works by Eusebius, the Life of Constantine is a bit of a genre buster, a “literary hybrid” 37 of biography, encomium, hagiography, and—with its reliance on documents—something of a work of history, as Eusebius notes in the VC in quoting a decree of Constantine to the provincials of Palestine, “both so that the actual text of this decree may survive through our history (tēs historias) and be preserved for those after us, and in order to confirm the truth of our narrative” (VC 2.23.2, trans. Cameron and Hall). It is this triad of works that is most often in question when people speak about Eusebius’s “political theology.” The term itself has a confusing plasticity, being applicable to all manner of political attitudes and policies, from right-wing legitimation to left-wing social and ideological critique. When the term first came into use after 34. New translation: Against Marcellus and On Ecclesiastical Theology, trans. Kelley McCarthy Spoerl and Markus Vinzent, Fathers of the Church (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2018). 35. See Drake, In Praise of Constantine; Greek texts of the speeches in Eusebius, Oratio de laudibus Constantini, ed. Heikel. 36. Barnes, Constantine, 11–13. 37. Cameron and Hall, “Introduction,” in Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 27, suggesting that the unique challenge of writing about a Christian emperor made experimentation unavoidable. Greek text: Eusebius, Über das Leben des Kaisers Konstantin, ed. Winkelmann.

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its modern retrieval by political theorist Carl Schmitt, it carried the conservative sense of a legitimation system for a political order. As we will see in the last chapter of this book, Schmitt gave it that connotation at the expense of the reputation of Eusebius himself. In Eusebius’s era the political order in question was the ecumenical monarchy of the Roman Empire, as opposed to other regime types with which ancient thinkers were familiar. The two orations and the Life of Constantine were scarcely the only works of Eusebius whose contents lent themselves to ideological service, as the Chronicle, the PE, the DE, and the HE all demonstrate. But the Constantinian writings display a political theology of an exceptionally developed kind. We will take up that subject in the next section. Here we are considering only what place the Life of Constantine in particular will have in this book. Eusebius’s continuators will sometimes treat the Life of Constantine as a virtual continuation of the Ecclesiastical History, an easy assumption to make, considering that the first two books of the VC deal in much greater detail with events and persons already encountered in the HE. One topic in particular that will intrigue later generations is not mentioned in the HE at all but only in the VC: the story of Constantine’s conversion and baptism. Popular interest in Constantine’s conversion and baptism will grow apace, even though the VC itself will experience relative eclipse not long after its composition, considered “nothing short of a publishing disaster,” “an outlier,” without discernible influence on fourth-century traditions about Constantine.38 The most plausible explanation for its unpopularity is the supposed Arian tinge of its theological orientation and its association of Constantine himself too closely with Arianism.39 It also had little to say about aspects of Constantine’s life that especially intrigued later generations of readers in the Greek Christian world, which much preferred the hagiographic lives of the first Christian emperor that became staple reading during the Byzantine period.40 Unlike the HE and the Chronicle, the VC would not be translated into Latin until the end of the Middle Ages. What does that mean for the place that the Life of Constantine will have in this book on the reception of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History? It can only play a supporting role, since the present book is primarily about “ecclesiastical history” and only secondarily about Constantine. But the VC can scarcely be avoided, given the 38. Lieu, “Constantine Byzantinus,” 99; Potter, “Writing Constantine, 92. 39. Winkelmann, “Einleitung: Testimonia veterum,” in Über das Leben des Kaisers Konsantin, XXVII–XXVIII. In his comments on the Life of Constantine in his Bibliotheca (cod. 127), the patriarch Photius will give special emphasis to the circumstances of Constantine’s deathbed baptism and will criticize Eusebius’s evasiveness about Arianism. 40. Kazhdan, “ ‘Constantin imaginaire,’ ” identifies four dominant themes in the legendary lives from the ninth and tenth centuries: the circumstances of Constantine’s conception and birth in humble circumstances, his youthful life in the court of Diocletian, legends about the cross, and Constantine’s escape from Persian captivity, to which he adds a fifth, legends concerning the divine founding of Constantinople; Lieu, “From History to Legend.”


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links between it and the HE, and the fact that the final form of the HE culminates in Constantine’s ascendancy to sole rule. A Christian emperor and a Christianizing empire will therefore be integral to what we are going to call Eusebius’s “theopolitical vision,” even if Christian emperor and empire do not dominate the HE as they do the Constantinian literature. The Life of Constantine will therefore become relevant when later Christian historiography writes about Constantine in ways that sound as though they derive from the HE but in fact do not. Eusebius’s Theo-political Vision The reception history of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History involves more than the formal study of “ecclesiastical history” as a historiographical genre. It also involves the substantive vision of God and history/God in history that animates the HE and with which future ecclesiastical historians will have to come to terms—whether to accept it, to criticize and revise it, or to ignore it altogether. A conventional theological vocabulary might call that vision salvation history, a category that certainly captures a feature of Eusebius’s thinking, especially of his biblical interpretation.41 It could also fairly be called a theology of history.42 I prefer to describe Eusebius’s fundamental orientation as a theo-political vision, a category admittedly more in vogue in contemporary theology than in scholarship on late antiquity.43 By it I mean that the vision is powerfully providentialist in its view of history, that it embraces the political realm as an essential and not merely incidental theater of divine action in the world, and that the two, the theological and the political, are grasped as intimately and inseparably connected—though the former claims superiority over the latter in the order of being. We could also call such a vision a political theology. While the Constantinian writings do embody a political theology, their encomiastic character makes them an inadequate optic for examining Eusebius’s thought as a whole, as we have already said. Because several of Eusebius’s other writings reveal politically resonant assumptions and aspirations without being true vehicles for political theology as such, I am therefore adopting the hyphenated term “theo-political” as a convenient rubric under which to consider ideas that are dear to Eusebius in many of his authorial endeavors, whether as scholar, apologist, or controversialist. There are four distinct but related elements that together make up Eusebius’s theo-political vision. They are not evident in equal measure in all of his writings, 41. E.g., Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 133–154; Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 67–74, 87–102; Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Césarée, while not about salvation history by that name, considers Eusebius’s effort to fashion a history of civilization under the pedagogy of the Logos, such that the history of civilization seems almost equated with the history of salvation. 42. Morlet, “Eusébe de Césarée,” 27–29; Winkelmann, “Eduard Schwartz, Eusebius Werke,” 74–76. 43. E.g., Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination.

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as our literary survey has already indicated. Nor do they exert comparable influence at each stage of Eusebius’s life and works.44 No one, I think, would dispute that they are fundamental to his thought. I will comment briefly on each. •

• •

The Bible, seen as a divinely revealed decoding key to history as the oikonomia of the Logos The participatory metaphysics of Origen and the Platonic tradition A historically based anti-Jewish apologetic well suited for a Christian church in a liminal state, uncertainly poised between persecution and patronage A conception of sacred kingship that was virtual Gemeingut in late antiquity

We have already emphasized that current research on Eusebius resists an anachronistic framing of him and his theology as political tools in the hands of a ruthless despot, once upon a time an easy enough caricature, as if he and Constantine were foreshadowing Talleyrand and Napoleon.45 But Eusebius was a bishop before he was a royal panegyrist, and a scholar-apologist before either. The church he served was front and center in his thinking, far ahead of the empire as such.46 In a brilliant essay entitled “Eusebius of Caesarea, Origenist,” Charles Kannengiesser showed how Eusebius’s literary production, even the works that seem soaked in political theology, were fundamentally animated not by politics but by Christian faith and by Platonic idealism.47 In Eusebius’s Commentary on Isaiah, written in the full glow of the unification of the empire under Constantine, he called the church “the godly polity” (to theosebes politeuma) or “city of God” (polis tou theou), a usage not different from Augustine’s civitas Dei, and like Augustine’s, an inclusive reality with a preexistence in Israel before its full disclosure after the Incarnation.48 In the peroration to his dedication address for the rebuilt cathedral at Tyre, found at the end of the HE, Eusebius hailed his friend Bishop Paulinus of Tyre as one in whom “the entire Christ himself has taken his seat (autos holos engkathētai Christos)” (HE 10.4.67), a theological validation of the highest kind. The speech also praises the emperors (plural) as “most dearly beloved of God,” but 44. I do not attach great importance to questions of development in Eusebius’s thinking. Too many of his works are hard to date with precision, a circumstance that invites circular arguments, and the diversity of genres in which he worked makes substantive comparison tricky. 45. Seeing Eusebius and his theo-political vision as a cipher for later subordination of Christianity to the state is a recurring move in modern Christian theology. See chapter 7 below. 46. Hollerich, “Religion and Politics in the Writings of Eusebius of Caesarea.” 47. Kannengiesser, “Eusebius of Caesarea, Origenist.” 48. When I was presenting the proposal for my dissertation on the Commentary on Isaiah to Arnaldo Momigliano, who had agreed to be a reader, he wondered what Eusebius would have to say about Constantine as a new Cyrus (cf. Isa 45:1). His question about Constantine in Eusebius’s exegesis became a foil of sorts against which I defined my thesis, since it was the church and its clergy rather than the empire per se that was the central focus of the commentary.


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their value is based on their brutal work as the instruments by which God purged and cleansed the world of the harm wrought by the persecuting tyrants (HE 10.4.60). This is no more than the Pauline vindication of the one who bears the sword as God’s avenging servant (Rom 13:4). It is true that Eusebius’s account of Constantine’s defeat of Maxentius in the victory of the Milvian Bridge is presented in terms of a typological comparison with the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea (HE 9.9.5–9), a comparison that will receive much fuller elaboration in the Life of Constantine. But the point of the typology in the HE is the emplotment of a military victory in a civil war into a biblically based narrative of divine deliverance. Contemporary history thus validates biblical prophecy in a kind of feedback loop, not primarily to glorify Constantine himself, but as a response to contemporary doubters who, Eusebius admits, regard the Exodus narrative as a “myth.”49 The fundamental source of Eusebius’s theo-political vision is the Bible, particularly those books with a broadly historical orientation: the Deuteronomic history; the major prophets; Daniel; the Gospels; Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians; and especially the Acts of the Apostles. Doubt has been raised as to the precise literary influence of Acts on the early books of the HE.50 Without wanting to proclaim Acts as the first church history, an honor that surely belongs to Eusebius, there are nevertheless clear thematic affinities between Acts and the HE, such as an openness to the positive role of the Roman Empire, a prudent reserve about apocalyptic eschatology (Jesus’s parting admonition to his disciples, “It is not for you to know the time or the hour” [Acts 1:6], is quoted approvingly by Eusebius in the preface to the Chronicle51), and universalism, as expressed in the Pentecost account, which Eusebius invokes to great effect in describing the Council of Nicaea—a “universal council” (synodon oikoumenikēn52), the first such use of that phrase—in the Life of Constantine (VC 3.6–8). Above all there is the shared commitment to salvation history:53 Richard Pervo noted that it is more or less universally accepted that “Luke’s principal theme is the continuity of salvation history.”54 So too with Eusebius, though Eusebius differs from Luke in his concern to backdate salvation history to Abraham rather than to make Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost the narrative point of departure.55 That history was under the dispensation of the Logos, who revealed its inner meaning by the prophets. In the 49. “To which as a myth very many gave no faith, yet were they worthy of faith to the faithful” (HE 9.9.4, trans. Oulton). See Hollerich, “Myth and History in Eusebius’ De Vita Constantini.” 50. Markschies, “Eusebius liest die Apostelgeschichte.” 51. Eusebius, Die Chronik aus dem armenischen Übersetzt, ed. Karst, 1.30–2.6, cited henceforth as Eusebius, Chronicle 1, ed. Karst, to distinguish it from Jerome’s Latin translation of the Chronicle. 52. Eus. VC 3.6.1 (83.18, ed. Winkelmann). 53. Bovon, “L’histoire ecclésiastique d’Eusèbe de Césarée et l’histoire du salut.” 54. Pervo, Acts: A Commentary, 22. 55. Markschies, “Eusebius liest die Apostelgeschichte,” 485–486.

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preface to the Proof of the Gospel, Eusebius credits biblical prophecy with a purview that embraces the whole sweep of human affairs, secular as well as religious. The passage bears quoting: What sort of [prophetic] fulfillment, do you ask? They are fulfilled in countless and all kinds of ways, and amid all circumstances, both generally and in minute detail, in the lives of individual people and in their corporate life, now nationally in the course of Hebrew history, and now in the lives of foreign nations. Such things as civic revolutions, changes of times, national vicissitudes, the coming of foretold prosperity, the assaults of adversity, the enslaving of races, the besieging of cities, the downfall and restoration of whole states, and countless other things that were to take place a long time after, were foretold by these writers.56

Eusebius’s Commentary on Isaiah is constantly taken up with finding the fulfillment of prophecy in “the course of events” (hē ekbasis tōn pragmatôn). “Literal” (kata/ pros lexin) interpretation of prophecy meant finding fulfillment in observable historical events. “Spiritual” (kata/pros dianoian) interpretation typically meant the meaning of those events, which for Eusebius could be grasped only transcendentally, in terms of the divine plan.57 Thus there was always an “inside” and an “outside” of events, the former of which was known only to faith, in what Peter Brown has recently called “the charged pairing of invisible and visible.”58 The second element in Eusebius’s theo-political vision consists of his immense debt to Origen, beginning with Eusebius’s appropriation of a theistic metaphysics derived most immediately from Middle Platonism, in which a secondary divine principle links the source of all being to the rest of reality.59 Eusebius routinely called the Logos such a secondary principle, at least until Nicaea disallowed it.60 Then there is Eusebius’s adoption of a spirituality that treated asceticism and intellectual inquiry as kindred enterprises—“the philosophical life” embraces both, as Eusebius saw modeled concretely in Pamphilus. Origen held to a doctrine of the church that recognized apostolic tradition as foundational, but according to which that tradition was preserved and protected by a hierarchy of talent and holiness which was by no means coterminous with ordination.61 Charles Kannengiesser has pointed out the proximity between what Eusebius says about apostolic tradition in the beginning of the HE and what Origen says about it in the celebrated preface to 56. Eus. DE 1.Pref., trans. Ferrar. 57. Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 67–74, 87–94. 58. Brown, “Constantine, Eusebius, and the Future of Christianity,” 124. 59. PE 11.14–19 is devoted to Greek philosophical sources on a second divine cause, esp. 11.18, consisting of fragments from Numenius. 60. DE 4.5.3, 4.7.2, 5.Pref.20, 23; HE 1.2.3, 5, 9. 61. Trigg, “Charismatic Intellectual,” 10, citing inter alia Origen’s reference in the opening of his Commentary on John 1.9–12 to the Levites, priests, and high priests devoted to the service of the Word, gradations that do not in Origen’s mind correspond to ecclesiastical offices.


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his treatise On First Principles.62 As Origen’s and Pamphilus’s heir, Eusebius can be seen as an exemplar in his own right of the scholar-bishop. We can leave to late medieval and Reformation-era polemics the concept of a “fall of the church” from its primal purity. But one unhappy effect of the bishops’ transformation into officials in a church of the empire may have been the loss of centers of study like the one inspired by Origen’s legacy in Caesarea. Eusebius straddled that transition. To Origen, furthermore, Eusebius also owed an understanding of the Roman Empire as a peacemaking pathway for the gospel, although here too Eusebius will take that openness much farther than Origen. Finally, it was from Origen that Eusebius received the philological and hermeneutical tools that Alexandrian scholarship provided for understanding divine revelation, which Origen had insisted was a single unified whole in both Old and New Testaments.63 Origen’s centrality in the HE is indisputable: he dominates book 6, just as Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria dominates book 7, they as a matched pair representing Eusebius’s ideal types of the charismatic teacher and exegete, and the scholarly bishop/pastor. As we noted, Eusebius assisted Pamphilus in the composition of an apology for Origen, adding a sixth book to the original five after his master’s death in 310. Eusebius’s and Pamphilus’s labors on behalf of Origen’s legacy, and Eusebius’s life of Origen in book 6 of the Ecclesiastical History, will constitute one of the most precious—and at times controversial—elements in the reception of the HE. Origen’s name will never cease to spark reaction. In sum: “There should be no doubt that Ecclesiastical History is the most Origenian of Eusebius’ apologetic works handed down to us.”64 All of that being said, anyone who comes to Eusebius after reading Origen will encounter a very different intellectual sensibility. Most obviously, Eusebius could not match Origen’s speculative abilities. It’s not that Eusebius wasn’t interested in the deep things of the spirit. As readers of the Preparation for the Gospel know, he was intensely engaged in issues of epistemology, ontology, ethics, and eschatology, as shown by his massive excerpting of texts by both Christians and Hellenists, Plato above all.65 But he preferred quotation to argument—more correctly, he treated quotation itself as a form of argument.66 As a rule, he avoided speculation over issues, especially involving eschatology, that were controversial among 62. Kannengiesser, “Eusebius of Caesarea, Origenist,” 447. Cf. Origen, On First Principles Pref. 2; and Eus. HE 1.1.1–2. 63. Cf. Origen, Commentary on John 1.32–45, in which Origen expounds the gradual revelation of Christ in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and in the eternal, spiritual gospel. 64. Kannengiesser, “Eusebius of Caesarea, Origenist,” 449. 65. Cf. PE 11–15, noting Eusebius’s summary of the structure of the whole massive work in PE 15.Pref. 66. Inowlocki, Eusebius and the Jewish Authors, examines how Eusebius’s manipulation of quotations of Jewish authors serves his theological and apologetic agenda.

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his fellow Christians.67 He does not, for example, endorse Origen’s speculations about universal salvation. His own declared beliefs appear to presume an irreversible posthumous divide between the saved and the damned.68 At times Origenist doctrines are introduced as alternative theories, via impersonal allusions like “some say” (phasin tines) or “another might say” (allos d’an eipoi), as in his Commentary on Isaiah, which Eusebius wrote with Origen’s own commentary at his side.69 But more than reluctance to touch hot-button topics is at work here. Eusebius was clearly more attuned to the historical and the concrete, and ultimately to the political, than Origen was.70 It is not easy to conceive of Origen creating works like the Onomasticon, the Chronicle, or the Ecclesiastical History. Lorenzo Perrone has suggested that their different orientations reflected Eusebius’s awareness of the new cultural situation created by the end of persecution, and hence he was more open to an engagement with classical culture, and also more attuned to strictly literary activity “as an ‘ecclesiastical writer’ and as a Christian philologos.”71 Did Eusebius’s lifelong residence in Palestine also dispose him to be more interested in the concrete evidences of Christianity’s origins, and of course of Judaism as well? (That interest had its dark side of course, as we will see.) Origen was not uninterested in empirical confirmations of biblical narratives when they came to his attention. But he didn’t design entire books around them. When Origen speculated at the end of Against Celsus about the possibility of a universal ethic (contrary to Celsus’s scorn), he projected it into a possibly very distant—even otherworldly?— future,72 whereas Eusebius was ever on the lookout for signs of world-historical convergence, in the records of the past or in anticipations of the future. Origen surely welcomed favorable signs of the times. It is probably the two letters that Eusebius says Origen wrote to the emperor Philip (244–249) and his consort that are the source of Eusebius’s description of Philip’s request to attend the prayers on

67. Cf. PE 11.33–38, 12.6, 13.11–17, and elsewhere on eschatological issues among the Greeks, especially Plato. Eusebius’s awareness that Origen’s eschatology was controversial is evident in Pamphilus’s Apology for Origen, which Eusebius completed after Pamphilus’s martyrdom in 310. See Pamphile et Eusèbe de Césarée: Apologie pour Origène, 150–158 (SC 464:236–244, ed. Amacker and Junod). 68. Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 196–201; cf. Eus. CI 410.28–32, 138.13–15, on Isa 66:24. Ramelli, “Origen, Eusebius, the Doctrine of Apokatastasis,” argues unconvincingly that Eusebius did share Origen’s universalism. 69. Eus. CI 222.19–25, ed. Ziegler. 70. But cf. Lorenzo Perrone, “Origen and His Legacy in the ‘Holy Land’,” the keynote address of the Twelfth International Origen Conference hosted by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, June 25–29, 2017. 71. Perrone, “Eusebius of Caesarea as a Christian Writer,” 528–530, offers a subtle revision of Kannengiesser’s portrait by noting that Eusebius departs from Origen’s devotion to the spoken word as a medium for approaching the Bible. 72. Origen, Contra Celsum 8.72.


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the last day of the Easter vigil (HE 6.34; cf. 6.36.3).73 But the historical fulfillment of prophecy in all manner of secular and ecclesiastical life became basic to Eusebius’s apologetics and exegesis to a degree far exceeding Origen’s interests. There seems to be no real precedent in Origen for another central motif of Eusebius’s theo-political vision, his highly original apologetic against Judaism.74 The challenge he faced was the familiar one of the contradiction between the Christian embrace of the Jewish scriptures and yet the selective abandonment of central Jewish practices. Versions of typological interpretation were the oldest tactic for having it both ways. Eusebius’s adaptation of typology built on the conventional notion that there had always been a true and a false Israel, but he historicized it in novel ways. Borrowing ultimately from Philo,75 he said that the patriarchal worthies of Genesis had practiced a pure form of religion that looked like a kind of ethical and rational monotheism, grounded in a single transcendent God and in a religious practice that was “in accordance with nature, so that they had no need of laws to rule them, because of the extreme freedom of their soul from passions, but had received true knowledge of the doctrines concerning God.”76 Eusebius called the practitioners of this superior religion Hebrews and distinguished them from those whom he called Jews, who followed the law of Moses with its cultic, dietary, and juridical prescriptions. The life of the latter group was a fall from the higher standard that had prevailed previously. It was introduced by Moses, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews and not a Jew, because the Jewish nation did not yet exist,” as a necessary accommodation to the debased condition of the people after their long tenure in Egypt.77 Henceforth, “Hebrews” and “Jews” would be intermingled and coexist within the one people of Israel, while making themselves known by their respective ways of life.78 The preface to the HE will claim that Christianity is in continuity with the higher way of life of the Hebrews (1.4.4–15). The distinction between Hebrews and Jews thus served Eusebius by grafting Christianity onto the longue durée of Jewish history. The powerful need to demonstrate Christian claims to be the true Israel did not become less important with the 73. Nautin, Origène, 172–173. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 138, 351 n. 95, doubts that Origen meant to imply that Philip had actually converted, as Jerome was to infer in his addition to Eusebius’s Chronicle (cf. Chronicle 2 [217c, ed. Helm]). 74. See in general Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden and at 269 on the contrast with Origen; Irshai, “Jews and Judaism in Early Church Historiography.” 75. Niehoff, “Eusebius as a Reader of Philo.” 76. PE 7.6.4 (trans. Gifford). 77. PE 7.8.36–37 (trans. Gifford). 78. Key texts for the Hebrews-Jews distinction are found in PE 7.1–9 and 8.1–8; see PE 7.6. Cf. Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 57–68, 79–88.

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end of persecution. Constantine’s Christian sympathies may have made it even more urgent to distance today’s Christians from today’s Jews now that the church had the prospect of the assistance of the state. We have already noted Eusebius’s proximity to a thriving and learned Jewish community in Caesarea. His respect for Jewish learning and his willingness to exploit it, just as Origen once had, cannot allow us to overlook a supersessionist attitude to contemporary Judaism, which has left its mark on the HE and on other works of his. He may or may not have been the source of the notorious language about Jewish “blindness,” “perjury,” and guilt for “murder of the Lord and patricide” in Constantine’s letter on the dating of Easter, but he nevertheless saw fit to quote the letter in the Life of Constantine.79 Passages in the partial remains of Eusebius’s treatise on Easter contain disturbing parallels to the same language of the Jews as those who killed the Savior.80 It is well known that the uneasy tolerance Jews had enjoyed under the pagan empire gradually eroded under its Christian successor. A Christian politics and a Christian state would not be a hospitable environment for Jews and Judaism until the advent of modern liberalism. But Eusebius’s distinction of Hebrews and Jews had an additional benefit by being mapped onto a similar fissure between two levels of participation in Christianity. The key text here is a complex typology in Eusebius’s Proof of the Gospel (DE 1.8), in which Christianity’s higher and lower way recapitulates Judaism’s.81 For one of Eusebius’s apologetic innovations was his principled defense of an emerging double standard in the Christian way of life, the Christian tropos tou biou. The radical ethic of the Sermon on the Mount, the transvaluation of earthly values by the pacifism, poverty, and celibacy of a virtuoso ascetical elite, was the fulfillment of the “Hebrew” way of life. It was “above nature and beyond ordinary human society (politeias),” given by “the perfect Teacher to those who were able to receive it” (cf. Matt 19:12). The mass of Christians followed a way of life that was “subordinate and more human.” It permitted them to marry and procreate, and to pursue the secular business of government, the military, agriculture, and commerce. Just as Moses had had to devise a “secondary degree of piety” for those who could no

79. “Blindness,” VC 3.18.2 (90.17, ed. Winkelmann); “murder of the Lord and patricide,” VC 3.18.4, 19.1 (90.27–28, 91.24, ed. Winkelmann); “perjury,” VC 3.19.1 (92.12, ed. Winkelmann). Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 239–245, argues that the diction is untypical of Eusebius and should not be attributed to him. 80. Eusebius, On the Feast of Pascha 14 (“slayers of the Lord”), 18 (“their murder of the Savior”), 19 (“Jewish blood-guilt”), trans. DelCogliano. See DelCogliano, “Promotion of the Constantinian Agenda in Eusebius of Caesarea’s On the Feast of Pascha,” 65–67. Text in PG 24.693–709 (CPG 3479). 81. Hollerich, “Eusebius’ Moses,” which builds on my earlier treatment of the typology in a Festschrift for Robert Wilken.


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longer adhere to the higher way of their ancestors, so too Jesus willed his disciples to grant a comparable concession to human weakness.82 The timeliness of this distinction is obvious, coming when a Roman emperor was sending signals of his Christian sympathies after the defeat of Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. Eusebius’s typology fitted smoothly with the third canon of the Council of Arles that Constantine had summoned in August 314, which appeared to deny communion to Christian soldiers who threw down their weapons in time of peace, though of course Arles was only a Western council in which Eusebius could not have taken part.83 On the fourth element in Eusebius’s theo-political vision: we have said enough already to discourage understanding Eusebius simply as a tool of Roman despotism. But the empire is an obvious presence in the narrative of the HE, even if the positive role the empire plays falls short of the political theology of the Constantine writings. How should that role be understood? It is a safe generalization that subjects of the later Roman Empire regarded the emperor as in some sense touched with sacrality. Court ceremonial, statuary, iconography, the diction of legislation and bureaucracy, and imperial panegyric had the effect of investing office and person with a numinous mystique.84 Neither Jews nor Christians could have remained completely immune to this, and Eusebius certainly was no exception. The one God—ho theos tōn holōn, the God of the universe, as Eusebius routinely calls him—had the emperor and the empire under his sway, as he had everything else.85 Abundant texts in the New Testament sanctioned the doctrine that the one who held the sword was God’s servant to execute wrath on the evildoer (cf. Rom 13:4). 82. Eusebius was of course aware that the way of life of the patriarchs diverged notably from the Christian way in several respects. The very next section after DE 1.8 tries gamely to explain away the contradiction of the patriarchs’ polygamy and large families and the Christian ascetical dispensation (DE 1.9). Perhaps recognizing the contradiction, Eusebius further refined his typology in PE 8.11–12 by incorporating the Essenes, as described by Philo. He equated their renunciatory practices with those of the Christian ascetical elite, to create a more precise Jewish mirror with the Christian double dispensation. And of course he had already claimed in the HE that Philo’s “Therapeutae” were, in his words, “Hebrew Christians” (HE 2.17), an error for which Joseph Scaliger would later savage him (see the section “Eusebius in the Republic of Letters” in chapter 6). 83. “De his, qui arma proiciunt in pace, placuit eos abstinueri a communione” (Acta et symbola conciliorum quae saeculo quarto habita sunt, 24, ed. Jonkers). Eusebius includes a letter of Constantine’s ordering (ekeleusamen) Western bishops to the council at Arles (HE 10.5.21–24). 84. It is sufficient here to cite the following fundamental works: Price, Rituals and Power, e.g., 245–248 on the inflation of diction: MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, 37–39, 115–116, 119–121, and 186–187 on Eusebius. On material and artistic remains, see Zanker, Die Apothese der römischen Kaiser; on sacred kingship in the late ancient and early medieval periods, see McCormick, Eternal Victory; Oakley, Kingship, is a vigorous exposition of the enduring actuality of sacred kingship, but his Eusebius (70–76) is very much the official court ideologist of older scholarship. 85. Philosophically oriented monotheism was in fashion. See Athanassiadi and Frede, Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity; and Fowden, Empire to Commonwealth, on the political implications.

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The exceptions to this generalization were those under the spell of apocalyptic hopes and fears. But even they, for whom Satan was the power behind the throne (Rev 13), took it as doctrine that Satan’s sway was only temporary and about to come to a definitive end—by a different sword, carried by the mounted Word of God (Rev 19:11–16). Eusebius’s basic perception of the empire as a preparer of the way for the gospel continues an apologetic line that begins with the Gospel of Luke and runs through the second- and third-century Greek Christian authors.86 Origen’s Against Celsus 2.30 contains the core of the argument: that Christ was born in the reign of Augustus; that Augustus had ended warfare between the nations; that all had gone well for the empire since the birth of Christ; and universal peace was a divinely intended development as a precondition for the spread of a religion whose message was about peace but which forbade vengeance against enemies. Eusebius quotes an extract from Melito of Sardis’s apology to Marcus Aurelius that makes the same points (HE 4.26.7–11). By its centralization of authority, Eusebius claims elsewhere, the empire was the restraint (to kōluon) against those whom the gods of polytheism were inspiring to thwart Christianity—an apologetic assertion that equates national diversity, what Eusebius calls “polyarchy,” with polytheism.87 “Together, at the same critical moment, as if from a single divine will, two beneficial shoots were produced for mankind: the empire of the Romans and the teaching of true worship.”88 The empire is God’s instrument for the chastisement of the Jews for the death of Jesus,89 not the instrument of Satan to persecute the saints. It seems clear that the book of Revelation’s portrayal of the empire as the beast from the sea and the agent of Satan is one reason for Eusebius’s reserve regarding its canonical status.90 Instances of Roman persecution of Christians are relativized as temporary coups rather than permanent satanic occupation.91 The emergence of an emperor with Christian sympathies deepened this line of argument. We have already noted Eusebius’s riff on the book of Exodus for his 86. Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Césarée, 387–407. 87. DE 3.2.37, 3.7.30–35, 8.Pref.3; PE 1.4.2; SC 16.2–7. 88. SC 16.4, trans. Drake. 89. Besides the events surrounding the crushing of the First Revolt in AD 70 (cf. esp. HE 3.5–7), Eusebius also instances the failed rebellion in Egypt and Cyrene under Trajan (HE 4.2) and the failed revolt of Bar Kokhba under Hadrian (HE 4.6). 90. HE 3.24.18, 3.25.4, as well as the long quotation from Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (HE 7.25). Another reason is its materialist eschatology (HE 7.25.3; cf. HE 3.39.11–15 on the millenarianism of Papias and others), though that did not keep Origen from treating it as canonical; cf. Commentary on John 5.3, which Eusebius himself quotes in HE 6.25.7. 91. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 136–138, reviews Eusebius’s efforts to minimize imperial responsibility for persecution. Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, is an innovative literary study of how Eusebius’s picture of Christianity approximates it to perceived Roman values in culture and society as well as government.


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account of the defeat of Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge (HE 9.9.4–8). At his first introduction of Constantine in book 8, when he was named emperor by his father’s troops after Constantius’s death in 306, Eusebius made sure to say that he had already been appointed emperor long before by God himself (HE 8.13.14). God fights on his side as his ally (HE 9.9.1) and, with the defeat of his last rival, Licinius, in 324, he is said to have had God as his friend and protector, who even exposed Licinius’s perfidy to him (HE 10.8.6). What can the later writings on Constantine add to this theo-political composite? Quite a lot, in fact. The Life of Constantine will build on the theme of Constantine as God’s friend to create a rich portrait of the Christian emperor. Constantine is a new Moses, a comparison that is more implicit than explicit in the HE but is worked out in remarkable detail in the first two books of the VC: “The whole of Constantine’s life is now to be read in the figure of Moses.”92 He is a universal conqueror to whom the world pays tribute (VC 4.5–13, 4.50), a repressor of idolatrous worship (2.44–45, 2.47–61.1, 3.54–58), a generous and humane ruler (1.41–43, 2.11, 4.1–4), God’s servant (therapōn),93 a builder of Christian churches in what would become the Holy Land (2.45–46, 3.25–53), and an orator on theological themes (4.32).94 He is a divinely appointed caretaker of the Christian church (3.59–66) and suppressor of heresy (3.63–66). In a much-debated analogy, he is even hailed as “a kind of universal bishop” and “a bishop of those outside [sc. the church]” (1.44.1–2, 4.24),95 who convenes councils in Nicaea (3.4–24) and in Jerusalem (4.43–48) to mark the twentieth and thirtieth anniversaries of his imperial accession. He participates at Nicaea even though an unbaptized layman, and Eusebius describes him entering to take his seat “like a heavenly messenger (angelos!) of God” (3.10.3).96 His reception of the bishops after the Council of Nicaea is portrayed hyperbolically as the kingdom of Christ come down to earth (3.15). He is a patron of the publication of new copies of the Bible, produced at government expense in Caesarea (4.37). He is the protector of Christians in Sasanian Persia (4.8–13) who, at the end of his life, was planning what Eusebius describes as a virtual Christian 92. Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 35–39, at 36. The subject is much studied, most recently by Damgaard, “Propaganda against Propaganda.” 93. VC 1.3.1, 1.5.2, and passim—another Mosaic motif. 94. Eusebius announces his intention to add a sample speech, and the address known as the Oration to the Assembly of the Saints appears in some manuscripts of the VC as book 5. See Barnes, “Constantine’s Speech to the Assembly of the Saints.” 95. Of many treatments of the two “episcopal” comparisons, see, e.g., Rapp, “Imperial Ideology in the Making.” 96. A comparison that recalls Origen’s teaching on guardian angels, as in the panegyric of Gregory Thaumaturgus to Origen, in which he expresses thanks to his own “holy angel of God” (hieros angelos theou) for bringing him to Origen to be his student: Grégoire le Thaumaturge, Remerciement à Origène, ed. Henri Crouzel, SC 148 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1969), 4.40–41 (SC 148:112.38–39). I owe this suggestion to Joseph Trigg; see Trigg, “God’s Marvelous Oikonomia.”

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holy war against Persia (4.56).97 And in death he styles himself the companion of the apostles, according to Eusebius’s account of the shrine in Constantinople dedicated to the apostles and his own mausoleum (4.58–60).98 The Tricennial Oration draws on motifs from Hellenistic royal ideology and Middle Platonic philosophy to give a cosmic dimension to Eusebius’s vision. Eusebius presents a carefully constructed set of parallels that establish a correlation between the metaphysical structure of being, in which the one God governs the universe through his lieutenant the Logos and through the monarchical political structure of the empire. Monarchy and monotheism thus reinforce one another. The Tricennial Oration goes beyond earlier Eusebian deployment of this legitimation scheme by plugging Constantine into it through the philosophical doctrine that a wise ruler learns how to imitate the divine governance of the world in his own reign, though Eusebius departs from Hellenistic versions of this by not regarding Constantine as himself “living law” (nomos empsychos).99 The chain of legitimation runs from God the Father through the Logos as intermediary to Constantine as his imitator: “And this selfsame One [the Logos] would be Governor of this entire cosmos, the One who is over all, through all, and in all, visible and invisible, the all-pervasive Logos of God, from whom and through whom bearing the image of the higher kingdom, the sovereign dear to God [Constantine], in imitation of the Higher Power, directs the helm and sets straight all things on earth.”100 The parallel between the Logos and Constantine is then worked out in terms of length of reign, divine and human kingship, spiritual and political combat against the powers of polytheism, divine and human pedagogy, divine and human judgment of the good and the wicked, and divine and human rational (nonbloody) sacrifice (LC 2.1–5). Thus outfitted in the likeness of the kingdom of heaven, he [Constantine] pilots affairs below with an upward gaze, to steer by the archetypal form. He grows strong in his model of monarchic rule, which the Ruler of All has given to the race of man alone of those on earth. For this is the law of royal authority, the law which decrees one rule over everybody. Monarchy excels all other kinds of constitution and 97. Scholars debate the purpose and even the factuality of such a proposed Persian invasion. Eusebius’s accuracy interests me less than his reasons for reporting it. See Barnes, “Constantine and the Christians of Persia”; Fowden, “Last Days of Constantine”; and most recently Smith, Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia, 17–64, who downplays the degree to which the Persian campaign carried a religious charge (57–64). 98. On the rather unclear account of the building(s), see Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 337–339. 99. Baynes, “Eusebius and the Christian Empire.” 100. LC 1.6, trans. Drake. It was the omission of the Word made flesh in this hierarchical sequence that antagonized Erik Peterson in his engagement with his friend Carl Schmitt’s political theology (see the section “Ecclesiastical History and Its Future” in chapter 7).


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History government. For rather do anarchy and civil war result from the alternative, a polyarchy based on equality. For which reason there is One God, not two or three or even more. For strictly speaking, belief in many gods is godless. There is one Sovereign [the supreme God], and His Logos and royal law is one.101

My concern here is not with the historical authenticity of Eusebius’s portrait of Constantine as Christian saint, ideal emperor, and imitator of the cosmic rule of the Logos, but with how it serves a comprehensive theo-political vision. He is writing panegyric, not history. But Averil Cameron has pointed out the social power of Christianity’s “rhetoric of empire,” of which Eusebius’s discourse is a prime example.102 In the Life of Constantine and the Tricennial Oration, we meet his political theology in its most fully developed form. It will become the template for a Christian monarchical ideology that would sustain Byzantium for another thousand years. It bears repeating that the various ingredients baked into this ideological soufflé go well beyond what is found in the HE. Not all of its elements will accompany the journey of the HE and its companion, the Chronicle, throughout the nonGreek instantiations of the Christian historiographical tradition. The “Constantine” who will become known throughout the East is essentially the product of hagiography and legend. Of course Eusebius too was purveying hagiography and legend after his own fashion. At the same time, he was aspiring to do more than that in his historical works, the HE and the Chronicle, to which we now turn. E U SE B I U S’ S H I S T O R IC A L D I P T YC H : T H E C H R ON I C L E A N D T H E E C C L E S IAST I C A L H I ST ORY

There is a large literature devoted to solving the puzzles behind the HE’s composition and purpose.103 A reader who comes to the book for the first time may be struck by Eusebius’s reliance on documents, by the chronological construction based on imperial reigns and episcopal tenures, and by the confusing account of events of Eusebius’s own lifetime, which occupies books 8–10. The document citation and the chronological construction on the basis of sequences of rulers are tools that Eusebius uses elsewhere in his writings. The jumble of events and texts

101. LC 3.5–6, trans. Drake. 102. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, 10–14, with 53–56, 61–64, and 132–145 bearing on Eusebius. For postcolonial critiques of Eusebius, see the section “Critical Reception I” in chapter 7. 103. On late antique historical writing in general, see Woods, “Late Antique Historiography.” The essential guide to research is now the commentary launched under the direction of Sébastien Morlet and Lorenzo Perrone and an outstanding équipe of collaborators. An introductory volume has appeared and the present book has learned much from it: Eusèbe de Césarée, Histoire ecclésiastique: Commentaire, vol. 1, Études d’introduction, ed. Morlet and Perrone; cited henceforth as Commentaire, 1. See review of David J. Devore, ZAC 17 (2014): 138–142.

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in those last three books, book 8 in particular, may reflect Eusebius’s responses to the rapidly changing circumstances in which he was writing.104 The peculiarities of the HE’s structure and composition also arise in part from its links with Eusebius’s equally original work, the universal history conventionally known as the Chronicle. The Chronicle laid the foundation for the chronological structure of the HE and provided the template for the HE’s vastly denser literary and historical annotation. It was an ambitious comparative chronology, a virtual “time map”105 of the dynasties of all the preceding civilizations of which Eusebius had knowledge, the first universal synchronism of world history ever written.106 To that comparative synthesis, he prefixed a dossier of narrative excerpts from Greek and “foreign” (barbaroi) historians, which he mined for data: “[We] composed ‘Chronological Tables,’ juxtaposing alongside these a summary of history of every kind, of Greeks and barbarians.”107 Eusebius called his book Chronikoi kanones, “Chronological Canons,” because of its tabular structure: it consisted of long tables or “canons” of national dynasties set in parallel columns that made possible comparative synchronic study. Such a tabular arrangement was a format Eusebius had made peculiarly his own,108 as we noted above. In this book, we will normally refer to the universal history as a whole simply as the Chronicle, the title that became standard in the Latin West, which knew it in the form of Jerome’s translation and continuation as the Chronica, “Chronicle.”109 But we are dealing with what amounts to two separate books: the tables on the one hand, and the dossier of extracts on the other. The tables alone (with their embedded notes) are properly called Chronological Canons. The prefatory collection of extracts and king lists has since come to be called the Chronography, to distinguish it from the Canons proper. We will follow that convention.110 104. On the chronological confusions in book 8, see Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 154–158. 105. Andrei, “Canons chronologiques et Histoire ecclésiastique,” 41. 106. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 124. They wish to correct misleading theories that chronicle writing in general was a Christian invention of late antiquity and the Middle Ages (ibid., 7). Brian Croke has long argued for the uniqueness of the Christian chronicle. Among many publications, see Croke, “Origins of the Christian World Chronicle.” 107. Eusebius, Prophetic Eclogues 1.1: “Chronikous suntaxantes Kanonas, epitomēn te toutois pantodapēs historias Hellēnōn te kai barbarōn antiparathentes” (1.27–2.1, ed. Gaisford). 108. Grafton and Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book, 133–177, on the tabular format of the Chronicle, crediting Barnes with the observation that a tabular format must owe something to his apprenticeship copying manuscripts for the Hexapla (142). 109. On the vexed question of terminology, see Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, Appendix 1: “The Origin of the Term Xronika/Chronica,” 278–287. 110. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 278–279 and n. 1, point out that Eusebius never names the first volume, and that the appearance of “Chronography” as a heading in the Armenian translation (Eusebius, Chronicle 1 [1.1, ed. Karst]) is simply a description. Chronographia will be rendered literally by Syriac writers as maktbānūt zabnē, “a writing/description of time” (see below, chapter 3).


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A work of such scope would be hard enough to understand just on its own terms. Getting a secure grasp is all the more difficult because, apart from excerpts in later Greek works, it survives only in translations, none of which are complete. Fortunately, the Chronicle has drawn the attention of a dedicated cohort of scholars, on whom the present summary will rely.111 Though the primary subject of the present book is the spread and influence of the HE on Christian historical writing, recovering that impact is impossible without bringing the Chronicle into the story. Indeed, for long periods of time it was primarily the Chronicle rather than the HE that did the cultural work of shaping and transmitting a Christian historical identity, outside of the Bible itself. We will comment on the reasons for that in due course. Certainly most of the Christian writers we will encounter were familiar with both works in some form or other. Their interest in both is unsurprising. Eusebius himself testifies to the intimate linkage in his introduction to the HE. Declaring that he has embarked on his project without the benefit of models, he nevertheless notes his dependence on his own previous endeavor in the Chronicle: I consider that my labors in this project are most urgently needed, for among the ecclesiastical writers, I know of none who has hitherto given his attention to this department of writing; and I trust that they will also prove of the greatest benefit to those who are eager for the useful learning afforded by history. Indeed, I have already made an epitome of these things on a former occasion in the Chronological Canons which I drew up; but nevertheless in this present work I have set out to supply the fullest account of them.112

The Chronological Canons was organized diachronically and synchronically. National dynasties were arranged in vertical columns by year, and synchronized horizontally, with terse historical notes inserted adjacent to the appropriate year, recording notable events, lengths of reigns, and births and deaths, or floruits, of rulers, eminent philosophers, poets, and other writers. The layout thus enabled readers to identify at a glance what was happening across several ancient states and thus to locate themselves geographically in space and chronologically in time. In Eusebius’s preface to the Canons, he lists fifteen nations whose rulers he has tabulated.113 If the layout preserved in a fifth-century manuscript of Jerome’s translation 111. The most usable guide to the complexities of the Chronicle is still Mosshammer, “Chronicle” of Eusebius and Greek Chronographic Tradition, 21–83. I also depend on Burgess, Studies in Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography, 19–103; Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Césarée, 31–134; Adler, “Eusebius’ Chronicle and Its Legacy”; Grafton and Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book, 133–177; and Andrei, “Canons chronologiques et Histoire ecclésiastique.” 112. Eus. HE 1.1.5–6 (trans. Oulton). 113. See CPG 3494, Die Chronik des Hieronymus, Hieronymi Chronicon, ed. Helm, Pref. (8.11–16, ed. Helm), cited henceforth as Chronicle 2, ed. Helm, in order to distinguish it from the Armenian translation of J. Karst, which contains the Chronography as well as the Chronological Canons, and which, as noted above, is cited here as Chronicle 1, ed. Karst.

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is correct, new nations come online on the right margin and older ones shift to the left in a steady progression. At the beginning there are four such national entities: Assyrians, Hebrews, “Sicyonians” (Greece), and Egyptians, arranged from left to right. New nations are added until a maximum of nine is displayed at one time, a number that gradually tapers off until only one remains: the Romans. The left margin is consistently reserved for the Assyrians and for successor imperial powers in the Middle East, with the Hebrews (Hebraeorum) always just to their right. The right margin is reserved for the Egyptians, until their final disappearance with the end of the Thirtieth Dynasty.114 Eusebius used two fixed chronologies to anchor his tables: years counting forward from Abraham and marked in decades, beginning from what we would consider 2016 BC (his skepticism about the reliability of preAbrahamic records will embarrass later Christian chronographers, who will begin with Creation itself); and years counted in four-year Olympiads, beginning in 776 BC. He thereby integrated both secular and sacred chronologies. According to the version preserved in Jerome’s translation, the Canons ended in AD 325, the twentieth year of the reign of Constantine. A peculiarity of the format was the placement of the historical notices. In Jerome’s version, the notices appeared in the middle of the page, between the constantly shifting columns of regnal dates on either side. This space has been known as the spatium historicum ever since Joseph Scaliger coined the term in his Thesaurus temporum of 1606.115 A further peculiarity is that Eusebius used two facing pages for his tables, with each page having its own spatium historicum in between the numerical columns, with the notices on the left page containing information mainly bearing on sacred history, and notices on the right page dedicated to secular history. The “Hebrews” column is always on the left page, second from the margin, until it disappears with the end of the Babylonian exile. At that point, beginning with the second year of the Persian king Darius (520 BC), the format changes from two facing pages to one single page.116 The change to a single page format presumably reflects Eusebius’s notion that sacred history in biblical terms ended with the exile, after which no separate record of sacred history was needed.117 When the Maccabean revolt restores national independence, the column Iudaeorum (now just “Jews,” note, no longer “Hebrews”) simply assumes its historical place in line after the Seleucids (Syriae et Asiae) and ends with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70.118 114. Eusebius, Chronicle 2 (121.19, ed. Helm). 115. Mosshammer, “Chronicle” of Eusebius, 39. On Scaliger’s engagement with Eusebius, see below, chapter 6, where we draw on Anthony Grafton’s monumental study. 116. Eusebius, Chronicle 2 (105a.4, ed. Helm). 117. Mosshammer, “Chronicle” of Eusebius, 71–72. 118. Eusebius, Chronicle 2 (141.2, 187.1, ed. Helm).


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What was the purpose of this complex construction? At the minimum, the format of the Canons was meant “to combine into one work the traditions of sacred and secular chronology.”119 In the longest explanation that we have in Eusebius’s own words, found in book 10 of the Preparation for the Gospel, the rationale is explicitly apologetic: to make the case for the antiquity of the Bible—and therefore of Christianity—over against all other traditions.120 In antiquity, age conferred authority. The honor of being the oldest was regarded as the best guarantor of truthfulness and cultural superiority. Later cultures were thought more likely to depend on earlier ones, rather than an older culture borrowing from a younger one.121 The crucial apologetic test case was the antiquity of Moses, whom Eusebius dates to the time of Cecrops, first king of Athens, 375 years before the capture of Troy in the Trojan War.122 The Chronicle was thus Eusebius’s entry in what Richard Burgess has called the Jewish tradition of apologetic chronography, on which Christian writers hitched a ride.123 But categorizing the Chronicle simply as apologetics is inadequate. The scale of the work and its vast inclusivity far exceeded what was necessary for apologetic purposes alone. His candid admission of the limitations even of biblical chronology (“Neither from the Greeks, nor from the barbarians, nor from any others, not even from the Hebrews, can one learn with security the general chronology of the world”124) shows that he was trying to meet scholarly standards as well as serving apologetic ends.125 Unsurprisingly, current scholarship has not reached agreement about the precise proportion of scholarship to apologetics. Burgess himself points out that Eusebius’s effort to write universal history puts him on a higher plane than mere apologetics.126 The balance of opinion praises the elements of genuine novelty in Eusebius’s achievement, while recognizing that what we consider strictly scientific goals coexist with a profoundly teleological and providentialist sense of where history was going, a frame that shaped selection, arrangement, and treatment of historical data.127 Of course that is only to say that 119. Adler, “Eusebius’ Chronicle and Its Legacy,” 474. 120. Eus. PE 10.9.1–11. See Mosshammer, “Chronicle” of Eusebius, 33–35. 121. As Eusebius points out (PE 10.8.18). 122. PE 10.9.10–11. The apologetic target is Porphyry (PE 10.9.12). Cf. also the Preface to the Chronicle 2 (7.18–8.7, ed. Helm). The figure of 375 years is from the Chronicle (41a.9–12, 61b.11–13, ed. Helm), but 350 years according to the Preface (10.2–4, ed. Helm). 123. Burgess, Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography, 79–82. 124. Eusebius, Chronicle 1 (2.10–16, ed. Karst). 125. Adler, “Eusebius’ Chronicle and Its Legacy,” 478–479, lists examples: the indeterminacy of the time spent by Adam and Eve in paradise; the unresolvable chronological contradictions between the Hebrew, the Samaritan, and the Septuagint versions of the Pentateuch; and the unreliability of all chronology, biblical included, before Abraham. 126. Burgess, “Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica,” 493 n. 57. 127. I recommend Burgess’s acute and carefully balanced analysis, in Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography, 66–84.

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Eusebius wrote as a believing Christian. And writing history as a constructed narrative is difficult without at least some implied sense of historical meaning and direction.128 Nevertheless, we grant that, not just in the Chronicle, but elsewhere in his historical writings, Eusebius reflects tendentious influences that modern historiography disallows on principle. Burgess’s assessment seems fair: Eusebius should not be condemned for this [i.e., for not composing a scientific history].129 What he was writing was “something new,”130 an expression that appears so often in recent analyses of Eusebius’ works. He was an innovator who expanded the classical repertoire of genres and embarked on new and bold directions. The Canones, the HE, and the V[ita]Const[antini] were unlike anything that had gone before. That one man was responsible for so much innovation is a testament to Eusebius’ genius. Just as Christian thinkers reinterpreted philosophy and science, for instance, in terms of their own theological and cosmological views, so they remodeled history. The problem is that their history is not our history, and it does not easily submit to the uses that we wish to make of written history.131

The date of the Chronicle is contested.132 Hypotheses vary between those who look to an early date prior to the persecution of Diocletian, around 290, and those who favor a later date, with Eusebius beginning the work during the persecution and completing it at the end of the persecution. The case for the later date has been made most influentially by Richard Burgess, who has argued that the Chronicle was begun in 306 and completed, in its first edition, by 313/314.133 But that was not its final form, since Jerome’s translation says that Eusebius ended the Chronicle in the twentieth year of Constantine’s reign (325).134 The date of the work may affect how one evaluates it. If indeed it was not completed until Galerius’s edict of 128. The witticism that teleology is biology’s dirty little secret may apply to history too. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 119, attributes to Michel de Certeau the view that all historiography presumes some theory or philosophy of history. See chapter 7 below. 129. Burgess is referring to the observation of Cameron, “Eusebius of Caesarea and the Rethinking of History,” 86. 130. This is Eusebius’s claim (PE 10.9.2). 131. Burgess, Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography, 73. 132. Andrei, “Canons chronologiques et Histoire ecclésiastique,” 41–59, esp. the comparative table of theories, 50–51. 133. Burgess, “Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica,” 486. Burgess’s proposed date of 313/314 as a terminus ante quem for the completion of the Chronicle is linked to his dating of the HE as well. 134. Eusebius, Chronicle 2 (231.13–14, ed. Helm). The Armenian translation is missing its final page or pages and ends abruptly in the sixteenth year of Diocletian (301; cf. Eusebius, Chronicle 1 [227, ed. Karst]). But Mosshammer (“Chronicle” of Eusebius, 75) notes that the Chronography, the first volume of the Chronicle, mentions Constantine’s twentieth anniversary (Eusebius, Chronicle 1 [62, ed. Karst]), and that the twelfth-century Armenian continuation of Eusebius by Samuel of Ani preserves the same notice as Jerome that Eusebius ended his work in the twentieth year of Constantine (PG 19.665).


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toleration in April 311 was in Eusebius’s rearview mirror, that suggests a more intimate linkage to the HE itself, with the two constituting different expressions of the same providentialist vision.135 The Chronicle survives in the form of ancient translations and excerpts preserved by later Greek chronographers. We have already referred to the Latin translation of Jerome, which included only the Chronological Canons. Jerome says in his introduction that from the Canons’ beginning with Abraham up to the fall of Troy, he did nothing more than simply translate the Greek. From the fall of Troy up to the twentieth anniversary of Constantine’s reign, he added some things that did not appear at all in Eusebius’s text and supplemented others that did appear, when they concerned Roman history in particular, with data that the learned Eusebius no doubt knew, he says diplomatically, but may have omitted as less interesting to his readers. From Constantine’s twentieth year up to the present (378), everything was his work entirely. He therefore claimed a dual status as both translator and writer.136 An ancient Armenian translation of the Chronicle was also made, probably directly from the Greek, in the fifth century.137 Unlike Jerome’s edition, the Armenian translation included the Chronography as well as the Canons. The format of the Canons differs from Jerome’s in several respects. It places the columns of regnal dates in the middle of the page, with the notes arranged on both sides, thus inverting Jerome’s format. It uses a single-page format throughout, unlike Jerome’s double-page format up to the end of the Babylonian captivity. And it puts the Hebrew column to the left of the Assyrian column, inside a column of the years of Abraham. The conventional view is that these are all changes from Eusebius’s format, and that Jerome is more faithful to the original.138 In addition to the Armenian translation, epitomes of a Syriac translation of the Chronicle have survived.139 If the existing Armenian translation rests for the most part on the Greek original, it seems also to have used a Syriac version during the course of its transmission.140

135. Andrei, “Canons chronologiques et Histoire ecclésiastique,” 52. 136. Chronicle 2 (6.8–7.9, ed. Helm). Jerome adds that he declined to get any closer to the immediate present (probably 381) because the emperor Valens’s disastrous defeat at the battle of Adrianople in 378 left nostra terra exposed to the barbarians. 137. Drost-Abgarjan, “Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik,” 256. Her article is the most recent account of the confusing story of the Armenian translation’s modern discovery, and a progress report on her revision of Karst’s 1911 German translation, which will appear in the GCS edition of Eusebius’s works (see the section “Armenia“ in chapter 3). 138. Mosshammer, “Chronicle” of Eusebius, 41–44, 58–60, 74–75. Greenwood, “ ‘New Light from the East,’ ” 198–207, suggests that the question is still open. 139. Burgess, Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography, 26; see now Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 303–310, 506–507. 140. Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 304. Dating of the Syriac translation is uncertain, but it is sometime in the latter seventh century (ibid., 308–309, 506).

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The HE is distinguished from the Chronicle in several respects: its point of departure in the birth of Jesus, rather than with the origins of history itself (book 1’s backstory in the Old Testament does perform an important prefatory function); the adjustment of the chronological structure from the succession of the Roman emperors, as in the Chronicle, to include also the succession of the bishops in the HE; and, as he himself notes, by an altogether greater scale of historical facts and documentary excerpts now organized in a grand if piecemeal narrative.141 A recent analysis of the HE describes it as a mélange of genres, part of a contemporary literary trend toward blurring boundaries that came easily to a writer who was “strongly given to experimentation.”142 Eusebius certainly thought he was doing something without precedent (HE 1.1.3). In the next section we will look at those whom he acknowledges at least as sources if not true predecessors. Here we will briefly describe the book’s structure, then its purpose, both as Eusebius himself describes it in his preface, and in terms of the new literary genre for which the HE will become the model. Structure and Composition In its current form, the HE consists of ten books that Eusebius divides into two parts: books 1–7 covering history from the time of Jesus up to late in the third century, perhaps 270–280; and books 8–10 covering Eusebius’s own lifetime—kath’ hēmas143—from before the Diocletianic persecution up to the death of Constantine’s rival Licinius in 325. Of the first seven books, the entirety of book 1 is a long preface that breaks down into three components: a statement of core topics (1.1), a theological propaedeutic on salvation history (1.2–4), and the earthly life of Christ, culminating in the beginning of the apostolic missions (1.5–13). Books 8–10 vary significantly from the preceding seven because of reduced reliance on ecclesiastical documents,144 and a greater preponderance of imperial documents and 141. Cf. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 89. See also Junod, “Description sommaire de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” which catalogues the contents of the HE, book by book (with reference to Eduard Schwartz’s own analysis, “Die Ökonomie der Kirchengeschichte” [GCS 2.3:11–45]); Neri, “Les éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique”; and Cassin, Perrin, and Traina, “La question des éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique et le livre X.” 142. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 83. 143. Junod, “Description sommaire,” 138, notes that the shift to the history of Eusebius’s own time really begins in the last part of book 7: after concluding his treatment of Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, Eusebius announces that he will now pass on to posterity “the time of my own generation” (tēn kath’ hēmas . . . genean) (HE 7.26.3 [GCS 2.2:700.26–27, ed. Schwartz]). 144. Just two: the writings of the Egyptian bishop Phileas to his congregation in Thmuis during the persecution (HE 8.10.2–10), and Eusebius’s long panegyric delivered at the dedication of the new basilica at Tyre after the persecution (HE 10.4); cf. Junod, “Description sommaire,” 143.


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political figures and actions. Each one of the ten books is preceded by a table of contents that lists chapters into which the book is subdivided, with brief headings indicating the topic of each chapter. The book and chapter divisions, and also the chapter headings, are the work of Eusebius himself, a compositional practice he used in other works of his, such as the Preparation for the Gospel, the Demonstration of the Gospel, and the Life of Constantine.145 A major question hovering over the existing form and content of the HE is the extent to which it conforms to Eusebius’s original design and production. There are substantial anomalies, for instance, among manuscripts of the last three books, having to do with such things as the shorter version of Eusebius’s Martyrs of Palestine, the “appendix” to book 8,146 six imperial documents in book 10, one of them the so-called Edict of Milan, and even a decree of Constantine’s to the provincials of Palestine that will end up in the Life of Constantine (VC 2.24–42). In his epochal critical edition of the HE, Eduard Schwartz proposed that differences in the manuscripts (and in the ancient Latin and Syriac translations) for the HE were evidence that Eusebius produced multiple reeditions of his book in response to changing circumstances in the years during and after the Great Persecution.147 Schwartz thought that the manuscripts that he had identified as the most authoritative derived from two distinct recensions. Manuscripts in one of those recensions contained material that was missing or altered in manuscripts of the other recension. Schwartz argued that the divergences were not the result of mere textual corruptions or scribal alterations but reflected changes made by Eusebius himself for distinctly political reasons, as shown most decisively by alterations to texts involving Licinius that reflected his damnatio memoriae after his defeat and execution. In addition to what Schwartz considered the last of four distinct editions, published after 324, he thought evidence of yet further intervention by Eusebius survived in the Syriac translation of the HE, which was made probably within a century of his death: at the very end of the HE, the Syriac translation omitted the name of Crispus, Constantine’s eldest son, who was executed under mysterious circumstances in 326.148 145. Junod, “Description sommaire,” 114. It is less certain whether Eusebius is also the source of the actual numbers. 146. HE 8.Appendix.1–6 (GCS 2.2:796.1–797.12, ed. Schwartz). 147. Schwartz, “Einleitung zum griechischen Text,” GCS 2.3: XLVII–LXI. Cf. the convenient table in Andrei, “Canons chronologiques et Histoire ecclésiastique,” 51. For a succinct presentation, see Winkelmann, “Eduard Schwartz, Eusebius Werke,” 63–72. 148. In the Greek manuscripts, Crispus is named twice in the concluding section of book 10 (HE 10.9.4, 6 [900.10, 902.1, ed. Schwartz]). The Syriac omits Crispus in 10.9.4, and in 10.9.6 has replaced “his most God-beloved son Crispus” with “his God-beloved sons” (unnamed). Rufinus’s Latin translation makes a similar substitution by replacing “with his son Crispus” with cum filiis (HE 10.9.6 [901.2– 3, ed. Mommsen]). On the death of Crispus, see Barnes, Constantine, 143–147.

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Schwartz’s sorting of the best manuscripts into two groups has basically held up to scrutiny.149 The same is not true of his reconstruction of four (or five?) distinct editions, even though it has proven a great stimulus for research.150 The MorletPerrone team has subjected Schwartz’s interpretation of what lay behind key manuscript readings to a close reexamination. They conclude that the alleged difference in the treatment accorded to Licinius in the two recensions is less consistent and systematic than Schwartz believed, though they concede that his case has not been fatally weakened. They also concede that the differences in the two recensions are probably—though not certainly—attributable to Eusebius himself.151 A larger problem, they say, has to do with the way in which Schwartz conceived of the publication of separate “editions.”152 They prefer to speak in terms of separate stages in the production of a single work. Unless there is explicit testimony within the work itself that it has appeared in more than one form, hypothesizing previous editions without overt testimony opens the door to speculation. Thinking of a single work undergoing frequent revision is consistent with what we know of Eusebius’s reliance on documentary extracts in other works as his very method of composition—note the occurrence of a formulaic phrase like “take up and read” at HE They suggest that we think of the HE and other works of Eusebius as collaborative enterprises in document collection and extraction, in which texts might be added with varying degrees of rhetorical integration or lack of it. They conclude, then, that while we may think of a first “edition” of the HE in eight books, the succeeding books and alterations indicate a “work in progress” or a continuation—as Emanuela Prinzivalli indicated when she proclaimed Eusebius as “his own first continuator.”154 The final form of ten books, coming after the defeat and death of Licinius, but before the execution of Crispus or even of the Council of Nicaea, must fall near the end of 324 and beginning of 325. Even that stage probably should not be thought of in the sense of a final and definitive

149. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 237–238. See chapter 2 below for what the individual manuscripts have to tell us about the reception of the HE. 150. The leading current interpretation is probably that of Burgess, “Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica,” 497–501, who proposes a first edition in nine books in 313 after persecution had ended. 151. Cassin, Perrin, and Traina, “La question des éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 194–196. They duly note that the actual term damnatio memoriae is a modern coinage (ibid., 194 n. 38). 152. For what follows, see Cassin, Perrin, and Traina, “La question des éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 196–206. 153. HE 3.8.1 (214.24, ed. Schwartz), cited ibid., 201, similarly HE 3.6.1 (198.18–20, ed. Schwartz), and HE 1.13.5 (84.23–24, ed. Schwartz). The same citation practice is found in Eusebius’s PE (ibid., 201 n. 60, citing Grafton and Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book, 212). Cf. also Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 183, on the transcriptional practice behind the PE. 154. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 84.


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edition, since it was still receiving tinkering that probably pointed the way to the Life of Constantine yet to come.155 Purpose and Genre Discussion of the HE often focuses on the question of the newness of the kind of literary production it represents. Most commentary has looked toward its novelty, such as the seminal 1963 paper of Arnaldo Momigliano, “Pagan and Christian Historiography in the Fourth Century A.D.” Christians, said Momigliano, did not retain the higher forms of classical historiography but invented new ones. And the innovations they introduced were, in his words, “the most important contributions made to historiography after the fifth century B.C. and before the sixteenth century.” What were those new forms? Two in number: ecclesiastical history and the biography of saints. “They did not try to Christianize ordinary political history; and they influenced ordinary biography less than we would expect. . . . A reinterpretation of ordinary military, political, or diplomatic history in Christian terms was neither achieved nor even attempted.” Eusebius, Momigliano says, was the decisive influence. Proper history was “a rhetorical work with a maximum of invented speeches and a minimum of authentic documents. Since [Eusebius] chose to give plenty of documents and refrained from inventing speeches, he must have intended to produce something different from ordinary history.”156 What he produced was a novel type of “national” history, based on his belief that Christians represented a nation with a transcendent identity that originated in heaven and appeared on earth in the time of Augustus, to begin its divinely mandated mission of struggle against the powers of evil. The chief forms those evils took were persecution and heresy, and so his history would be dominated by Christians’ relation with the Roman Empire and by the triumph of orthodoxy. In short, “Eusebius introduced a new type of historical exposition which was characterized by the importance attributed to the remote past, by the central position of doctrinal controversies, and by the lavish use of documents.”157 More recently, Friedhelm Winkelmann made essentially the same observations about the uniqueness of the HE as Momigliano: Eusebius minimized the place of political, military, and diplomatic events; instead, he gave central attention to disputes over religious doctrine and the battle for salvation; he held that no development in truth was possible, disagreements being explained by demonic subver155. Cassin, Perrin, and Traina, “La question des éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 206. 156. See HE 7.32.9 for the lone example of such an invented speech in the HE. 157. Momigliano, “Pagan and Christian Historiography in the Fourth Century A.D,” 88–91. Momigliano went on to ask, without venturing an answer, whether there was a “school” of ecclesiastical history that survived throughout the Middle Ages into the early modern period. He took up the challenge in his 1990 Sather lectures, on which I have also drawn here: Momigliano, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 132–152.

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sion; he avoided direct speeches while employing massive documentation; and the subject of church history was not a particular ethnos or nation with fixed borders but an ecumenical network of churches distributed all over the world.158 Without denying novelty to Eusebius’s history, recent scholarship has tried to give a fuller account of the literary and cultural context in which he was writing, and thereby to restore his book to its original time and place.159 Eusebius’s opening paragraph states that the purpose of his book is “to pass on in writing” the substance of the following subjects: The successions (diadochas) from the holy apostles, together with the times that have elapsed from our Savior’s day down to our own; the important affairs that are said to have been transacted in ecclesiastical history (ekklēsiastikēn historian), and those who took a prominent place in that history as leaders and presidents in such communities (paroikiais) as were especially famous; those who in each generation were ambassadors of the divine word, either orally or by means of treatises also; the names, numbers, and times of all those who through love of innovation fell into the most grievous error, and have proclaimed themselves as introducers of “knowledge falsely so-called” (1 Tim 6:20) unsparingly like “grievous wolves” ravaging “the flock” (Acts 20:29) of Christ; the disasters, moreover, that fell upon the whole Jewish nation immediately after their plot against our Savior; as also the extent, nature, and times of the war which has been waged by the pagans (ethnōn) against the divine word, and the noble ones who as occasion offered endured death and torture in the competition (agōna) on its behalf; and subsequent to these things, the martyrdoms of our own time (kath’ hēmas) as well, and at the end (epi pasin160) the gracious and kindly help of our Savior; these it is my purpose to pass on in writing, yet my starting point shall be none other than the beginning of the dispensation (oikonomia) of Jesus, our Savior and Lord, the Christ of God.161

A tabulation of the contents looks like this: 1. The apostolic succession from the time of Jesus to Eusebius’s time; the influential events and bishops of the most important churches 2. Teachers and authors competent to expound scripture 3. Heretical teachers and authors; calling heresies “innovations” (neōteropoiias) highlights Eusebius’s view that heresy is subsequent in time to orthodoxy162 158. Winkelmann, “Historiography in the Age of Constantine,” 24–27. 159. For what follows, see esp. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique; Morlet, “Écrire l’histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée”; and DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” an illuminating application of genre criticism to understanding the HE. 160. This problematic phrase is here taken temporally to mean the final defeat of the persecutors. Others read it as personal, the universal solicitude of Christ “over all” (Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 86 n. 10). 161. Eus. HE 1.1.1–2 (trans. modified). 162. Though not by any great interval! According to Eusebius’s own testimony, tradition had identified the Simon Magus of Acts 8:9–24 as “the prime author of every kind of heresy” (HE 2.13.6), and


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4. The sufferings of the Jews during failed revolts, above all the destruction of the Second Temple as divine reprisal for the “plot” against Jesus 5. Martyrdoms and persecutions, with separate reference to those in Eusebius’s own times, culminating in the final defeat of the persecutors To this list is sometimes added the constitution of the biblical canon, both Old and New Testaments.163 The order of the topics is indicative. As commentators have pointed out, it is highly significant that the first five words of the HE are tas tōn hierōn apostolōn diadochas (the successions of the holy apostles).164 The HE is thus first of all an expression of Eusebius’s conviction that the apostolic succession of the bishops is foundational in Christianity.165 As already noted, an innovative feature of the HE is its chronological structure on the basis of episcopal succession in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch, in addition to imperial successions. Of these four, it is Rome and Alexandria, with their specific terms of office, that provide the framework for Eusebius’s organizing of ecclesiastical events up to late in the third century.166 His ecclesiastical geography is emphatically Eastern and urban: Alexandria in Egypt; Antioch, Caesarea, and Jerusalem in Syria-Palestine; Asia Minor; and Corinth in Greece. Constantinople of course did not yet exist. Rome naturally figures in, but it and the Latin West, Carthage, for instance, matter far less than the Greek-speaking East, though Irenaeus offers him a window into Gaul. The Syriac-speaking world is surprisingly closed to him, apart from Edessa, an occlusion that has troubled his modern readers.167 Christianity beyond Roman borders gets short shrift, Persia being perhaps an especially sensitive territory, given the tense border history with Rome: Persia is only mentioned once—as the home of Mani, “that maniac.”168 had reported that Simon’s arrival in Rome was engineered by “the enemy of man’s salvation” (HE 2.13.1), “which lay there in wait” for Peter to come from the East (HE 2.13.5). 163. Grant, Eusebius as Church Historian, 126–141, though Grant’s theory of the editions of the HE has not won acceptance. 164. DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” 39, 42. 165. On the centrality of “succession” in Eusebius, see most recently Johnson, “Lists, Originality, and Christian Time.” While I agree that bishops are “the cognitive stones of the house of the universal Church which Eusebius erects” (207), Johnson drives too much of a wedge between the HE and the Chronicle. 166. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 130. 167. HE 1.13, 2.1.6–7 (Thaddeus and Abgar’s letters in Syriac), 4.30 (Bardesanes [Bardaisan], who wrote in Syriac). See chapter 3 below. 168. Persia as the home of Mani, “that maniac” (maniōdēs): HE 7.31 (716.5, 11, ed. Schwartz). Armenia is mentioned just twice—as the home of a bishop Meruzanes (HE 6.46.2 [628.7]), and as a Christian people and onetime ally of Rome with whom the emperor Maximin went to war (HE 9.8.2,4 [822.1, 12–13]). Also mentioned are Thomas’s mission to “Parthia” (HE 3.1.2 [188.4]) and the mission of Pantaenus to “India” (HE 5.10.2 [450.22]), which is further specified by Rufinus as “nearer India” (HE 5.10.2 [451.20, ed. Mommsen]), on which see below, chapter 2.

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Prinzivalli notes that the pairing of apostles-bishops is meant to displace the older pairing of master-disciple, a teaching diadochē that during the course of the second century proved too malleable in the hands of those judged unorthodox— the “innovators” of Eusebius’s preface, who “ravage the flock like wolves”—so that we are seeing the church after its institutional consolidation in the third century.169 More correctly, “churches,” not “church.” This book will follow Prinzivalli’s practice and render Eusebius’s title Ekklēsiastikē historia literally as “Ecclesiastical History,” not “Church History,” since Eusebius regularly uses churches in the plural, indicative of his conception of the individual communities of Christians—hierarchical to be sure, but not pyramidal. It has not escaped commentators that “not the least” of the reasons why Eusebius reported Irenaeus’s discomfiture over Victor of Rome (HE 5.23–24) is that he shows no interest in a primacy of honor accorded to the Roman see.170 Of course he also assumes “church” in the singular sense of a unified reality.171 The writers and teachers will be “ecclesiastical” in the sense that they espouse orthodox doctrine, not necessarily that they are ordained.172 And their writings in each generation dominate much of the content of the HE, so that it has rightly been compared to literary and intellectual histories that catalogued successions of philosophers in the schools and incorporated potted biographies, such as Diogenes Laertius’s Lives and Opinions of the Famous Philosophers, with anecdotes and catalogues of writings.173 Eusebius’s HE is replete with these. The third item on the list, heretical teachers and writers, is an extension of the same genre of intellectual historiography. The fourth and fifth topics, the sufferings of the Jews and the martyrdoms and persecutions, are martial in character174 and evoke associations with another historiographical genre, that of war history, with which classical history had been and would continue to be closely connected. The warfare here is both spiritual and military, a conjunction that has obvious biblical roots and that shows up in other works of Eusebius, such as the interpretation of earthly and heavenly combat in terms of the literal and spiritual fulfillment of prophecy in his Commentary on Isaiah.175 The Jews, who have plotted against Jesus, suffer just retribution at the hands of the Romans (HE 3.5–8). On the face of it, military history does not sit well 169. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 87. 170. Ibid., 110. 171. Ibid., 85. Momigliano, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 147–153, has rightly emphasized the unavoidably dual focus of all ecclesiastical historiography, which must swing between the local and the universal church, a dialectic that will recur throughout this book. 172. Trigg, “Origen, Man of the Church,” 51, notes Origen’s frequent reference to himself as anēr ekklēsiastikos. 173. DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” 41–43. 174. Ibid., 36, pointing out the occurrence of polemeō to introduce martyrdom and persecution. 175. Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 87–91.


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with Eusebius’s overall presentation of Christianity as the religion that brought peace to the world by pacifying the demons and renewing human beings.176 The introduction to book 5 of the HE, which begins with the lengthy document on the martyrs of Lyons (5.1–3), contains a vivid statement of this program: Other writers, indeed, of historical narratives would have transmitted in writing, to the exclusion of all else, victories won in war and conquests over enemies, the prowess of generals and brave deeds of warriors defiled with blood of myriads whom they slew for the sake of children and fatherland and other possessions; but our narrative of the godly commonwealth (tou kata theon politeumatos) will inscribe on everlasting monuments the record of most peaceful wars fought for the very peace of the soul, and of those who therein contended valiantly for truth rather than fatherland, for religion rather than their dearest; it will proclaim for everlasting remembrance the steadfastness of the champions of religion, their deeds of bravery and much endurance, the conquests, too, over devils, and victories won over invisible adversaries, and the crowns gained when all was done.177

But the corollary of that spiritual peace is an earthly peace that must first be won by arms (the traditional Christian apologetic synchronization of Christ and Augustus). It is noteworthy that almost immediately after the account of the martyrdoms at Lyons, Eusebius proudly reports the Christian soldiers’ intercessory prayer in the story of the rain miracle and the “Thundering Legion” (HE 5.5). And the triumphs of Constantine over Maxentius and Licinius in books 9 and 10 are a military bookend to the peaceful though bloody victories of the martyrs in the preceding books 2–8.178 Momigliano’s description of the HE as “a new kind of national history“ is relevant here.179 Greek historiography had long cultivated histories of nations as a rich and diversified field of literature. Think of Dionysius of Halicarnassus’s Roman Antiquities, the Persica of Ctesias, the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, the Babyloniaca of Berossus, and of course Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities, with all of which literature Eusebius was well acquainted.180 He had drawn on it for the Chronography, the first part of his Chronicle. But what kind of nation, what kind of ethnos, was Eusebius writing the history of? He describes it in the opening sections of book 1 (HE 1.2–4), a historical sketch that solves the old apologetic problem of the novelty of Christianity by taking it back to the 176. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 95–96. 177. HE 5.1.3–4, trans. Oulton (GCS 2.1:400.13–402.2, ed. Schwartz), cited and rightly highlighted for its importance by DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” 36, who calls this text “the second preface” of the HE. 178. A similar counterpoint would be the announcement of a nonmilitaristic eulogy of Constantine, the friend of God, in the preface to the Life of Constantine (VC 1.11.1), with the expanded account of the victories over Maxentius and Licinius in books 1 and 2. 179. Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 139–140. 180. DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” 29–41.

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origin of all things in the creation of the world through God’s Logos: “In this way the antiquity and divine character that surrounded the beginnings of Christianity will be manifest to those who conceive of it as newfangled and outlandish in its origin, a creature of no later date than yesterday.”181 In a very condensed historical dialectic that he uses elsewhere in his writings,182 Eusebius reviews the descent of humanity after its creation into a Hobbesian war of all against all, bereft of any civilized arts, “with no city or polity (politeias).” At the nadir, a reverse movement upward begins with the theophanic interventions of the Logos, who plants seeds of piety in a select nation (ethnos) sprung from the Hebrews. In a further stage, the legislation of Moses given to the Jews spreads abroad like a fragrant breeze, to reach the lawgivers and philosophers of other nations, until a swelling chorus of peace in the early Roman Empire eventuates in the full manifestation of the Logos himself in the flesh.183 Three aspects of this historical scheme need comment. First, the theology of the Logos that Eusebius expounds repeatedly emphasizes the secondary status of the Logos in relation to the Father.184 This is a Logos theology that will become unacceptable to later Nicene orthodoxy, and the imputation of Arianism will dog Eusebius and his book ever after.185 Second, Eusebius alludes to a difference between “Hebrews” and “Jews.” In the first section of this chapter, we indicated the centrality of this distinction in his anti-Jewish apologetics, in which the pure, nonritualistic, rational monotheism of the pre-Abrahamic patriarchs gives way to a lesser form of religious practice among those to whom the full Mosaic legislation is given and whom Eusebius calls “Jews.” In describing the pure religion of the patriarchal “Hebrews,” he names the Christians as their reconstitution after the coming of Jesus Christ: “It is acknowledged that a new nation (neon . . . ethnos) has all of a sudden appeared at a time fixed in the secret counsels of God, a nation neither small nor weak nor established in some corner of the earth, but the most populous and god-fearing of all nations, indestructible and invincible in that it forever receives the help that comes from God, a nation which has been honored by all with the name of Christ.”186 181. HE 1.2.1. Cf. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 89–93, who describes HE 1.2–4 as what rhetoricians called a prokataskeuē, an account of what preceded the narrative to follow—the prequel, as it were. 182. Among numerous treatments of this theme, see the classic work of Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Césarée, and now Johnson, Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius’ “Praeparatio evangelica,” which emphasizes Eusebius’s pluralistic and diverse cultural context, unlike Sirinelli’s stress on apologetics. 183. HE 1.2.17–23. 184. Cf. “second cause after the Father” (HE 1.2.3), “the divine Word, holding second place to [the Father]” (HE 1.2.5), and “second Lord after the Father” (HE 1.2.9). 185. Beeley, Unity of Christ, 49–104, argues that those who see this language first in terms of Middle Platonic metaphysics (70–72) fail to realize its roots in Eusebius’s exegesis (78–83). 186. HE 1.4.2.


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History

Third, and this is a crucial point, this new nation is presented as prominent and growing. A question that is much discussed in studies of Eusebius is the sense in which he envisioned this new-but-old nation as genuinely universal and ecumenical.187 The traditional perspective understood the HE in its current form as launching an apologetic production that would reach its triumphant climax in the Life of Constantine and the Tricennial Oration, and with it the full Eusebian political theology of a Christian empire. The Christian ethnos as imagined by Eusebius would thus be the fullest Christian fruition (to that point) of universalist projections that go back to the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles above all, and are thought of as theologically intrinsic to the gospel itself. As noted in the first section of this chapter, however, much of the current work on Eusebius has striven not to let the late writings on Constantine dominate the reading of his oeuvre as a whole, and to read his works in the first instance in terms of the contemporary cultural context. Aaron Johnson’s innovative study of Eusebius’s Preparation for the Gospel, for example, sees “ethnicity”—understood as a discursive construction based on common laws and other cultural unifiers—rather than “religion” as central to Eusebius’s apologetics, in which the Christian ethnos is more like than unlike its competitors in a diverse and pluralistic environment, declaring its universal claim to transcend existing human divisions, but in fact bringing along with it all manner of Greek exclusionary cultural baggage.188 As noted at the beginning of this chapter, this book recognizes the great value of work of this sort but proceeds in the opposite fashion. For our purposes, Eusebius as he is appropriated by future generations is the “real” Eusebius, the architect of a theo-political vision that will become inseparably associated with his books, including the ten-book version of the HE. That is the Eusebius whom future readers will expect to find when they read the HE, and who will not be deconstructed until historicism, modern theological critique, and postcolonialism subject that theo-political vision to unsparing revision. The HE is also, commentators agree, apologetic history. The “new nation” is divinely instituted, as proven by the dual nature, human and divine (“two modes of being,” Eusebius says [HE 1.2.1]), which is why he begins with a theological exposition: “And my book will begin with the dispensation and divinity (oikonomias te kai theologias) of Christ. . . . For he who would commit to writing the history of the ecclesiastical narrative, must first begin with the beginning of the dispensation of Christ himself ” (HE 1.1.7–8). It is certainly a history and not just “materials” for the

187. Kaldellis, “Did the Byzantine Empire Have ‘Ecumenical’ or ‘Universal’ Ambitions?,” interestingly qualifies the “domestic” reality of Byzantine ecumenicity. 188. Johnson, Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius’ “Praeparatio evangelica,” 22–24, 30–31, 53–54, and passim.

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history of the church,189 but a history that uses documents to press home a case on behalf of the divine plan for the salvation of the human race. The documents are weaponized, in the service of a spiritual war between God and the forces of evil. Truth on one side, error on the other.190 Eusebius certainly shared in the “powerful impulse toward totalization” that Averil Cameron has identified as a distinctive feature of Christian discourse.191 Serving that agenda is the overriding purpose of the HE, as commentators have long recognized. That is also the reason why there is no place for development and change, which could only be a falling off from the original. Because the truth is given in full at the beginning, its vindication required documentation to prove the point. At the same time, recognizing the apologetic program of the HE cannot be taken as a sufficient measure of its scholarly performance in general. Eusebius rightly has standing in the Greek historiographical tradition that construes historia as research, inquiry.192 The issue here is analogous to the debate over finding the balance of scholarship and apologetics in the Chronicle, as noted above. It has been said that for Eusebius good scholarship was good apologetics, but that we shouldn’t be surprised when the former succumbs to the pressures of the latter in ways that we must reject as tendentious. Emanuela Prinzivalli captured this tension well when she wrote, apropos of the famous double dictum of Cicero about the writing of history—that the historian should never dare to say what was false, nor to shrink from saying what was true— that Eusebius did not violate the first law but failed to honor the second, because of his highly selective approach to what he chose to tell, or not to tell.193 Her outstanding example is Eusebius’s avoidance of a concrete explanation of what precisely were the Christian vices for which, in his view, God allowed the persecution of Diocletian to take place. Eusebius speaks in generalities about how the freedom of the years after Gallienus had corrupted Christian leaders, whose “pride and sloth” led them into “envy and fierce railing against one another, warring upon ourselves, so to speak, as occasion offered, with weapons and spears formed of words; and rulers attacked rulers and laity formed factions against laity” (HE 8.1.7). But he doesn’t tell 189. As Schwartz famously held; among many who disagree, see Prinzivalli, “Le genre historiographique,” 84 n. 5. 190. Morlet, “Écrire l’histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée,” 14, rightly stresses the dualism in Eusebius’s basic posture, as does Prinzivalli, “Le genre historiographique,” 102 (“radicalement dualiste”); Momigliano, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 139–141. 191. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, 31. With due respect to Johnson’s enlightening analysis of the secular dimensions of Eusebian “ethnicity,” I think we need to give fuller credit to such totalizing implications. 192. Morlet, “Écrire l’histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée,” 10. A central theme in Momigliano’s Sather lectures is his tracing of the heritage of Greek historia, understood as inquiry (cf. Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 18–21, 29–53), into the modern period, and Eusebius is part of that trajectory. 193. For what follows, Prinzivalli, “Le genre historiographique de l’Historie ecclésiastique,” 107–110.


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us specifically what the bitter disagreements were about. Prinzivalli proposes that they had to do with the renewal of controversy over Origen and his legacy, which had already prompted Pamphilus, with Eusebius’s assistance, to write the Apology for Origen. Eusebius, who had devoted the brunt of books 6 and 7 to Origen and to Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, may not have wanted to rehash the views of Origen’s critics—but neither may he have wanted to publicize the views of Origen’s more zealous partisans. Positioning himself as the earnest mediator between the extremes, Eusebius preferred to let his praise of Origen in book 6 and of Dionysius, his beau ideal of a bishop, in book 7, speak for itself, rather than rekindle the fires of controversy at the churches’ moment of triumph. We conclude this section by suggesting that Eusebius gives us the following core elements that will define the genre of ecclesiastical history into the early modern period:194 the dualistic struggle of truth against error, the need for an enemy, a long time frame extending into the past, the providentialist conception of a universal salvation history based on a “new people,” the static and unchanging character of doctrine, a unified network of churches, and the habitual resort to documentation, creating a virtual “choral work” of witnesses in addition to the author.195 A further element, though, and a critical one, is the social location of the new ethnos. At least the last stage of his writing in the ten-book version occurred in the aftermath of Constantine’s victory over his last rival. With that transition, the people called after Christ were now going to assume a new status in the empire that they had successfully outlasted. As Richard Burgess observed of the demonstrative purpose of the HE, “It was thus the church’s past that had allowed it to survive the present.”196 Future ecclesiastical historians will have to come to terms in their different ways with what establishment in a Christianizing Roman Empire was going to mean. They will also have to position themselves in relation to other Christian churches, once the empire proves unable to prevent religious pluralism from once again becoming a fact of historical life. A N U N T R O D D E N PAT H ? E U SE B I U S’ S P R E D E C E S S O R S

Did Eusebius have models for this extraordinary project? In the HE he says he did not: “We are the first to undertake this present project and to attempt, as it were, to travel along a lonely and untrodden path” (1.1.3). He does acknowledge benefiting from certain predecessors who left “faint traces” of their tracks in the form of accounts of individual episodes. But he insists on the unique and unprecedented 194. Momigliano’s overview makes the case that will be the given in this book (Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 138–153). 195. Anthony Grafton’s metaphor: “Church History in Early Modern Europe,” 18. 196. Burgess, “Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica,” 499.

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nature of his book: “ For among the ecclesiastical writers, I know none who has hitherto given his attention to this department of writing; and I trust that they will also prove of the greatest benefit to those who are eager for the useful learning afforded by history (to chrēstomathes tēs historias)” (1.1.5). Hegesippus Nevertheless, we know at least two of his Christian predecessors, because he mentions them by name. The first is the second-century Christian writer Hegesippus,197 who wrote a work in five books that Eusebius calls Hypomnēmata,198 a word that is sometimes translated as “Memoirs” but properly speaking means a collection of materials for history rather than a historical work per se.199 Hegesippus is a shadowy figure about whom we would like to know more. He was acquainted with traditions about the first generations of the Christian community in Jerusalem, allegedly including descendants of Jesus’s relatives who governed the church (HE 3.11, 3.19, 3.20.1–6, and 32.1–6). Eusebius says he had materials from the noncanonical Gospel of the Hebrews and a gospel “in Syriac” (Aramaic?), from other Hebrew language sources that he had translated on his own, and from yet other things alleged to be from unwritten Jewish tradition (HE 4.22.1, 8), from which Eusebius concluded that he was originally Jewish. Hegesippus himself says that he traveled widely to meet with bishops in such places as Corinth and Rome, in order to ascertain the authentic tradition, and that his travels convinced him that heresy had crept into Christianity only after the death of the apostolic generation, before which the church had been a pure and spotless virgin (3.32.7–8, 4.22.4–6). Hegesippus is thus a support and possibly also a source for Eusebius’s basic themes in his book: apostolic succession, authentic tradition, the culpability of the Jews, and martyrdom. Most importantly, he documented Eusebius’s conviction that heresy was by definition postapostolic and a deformation of an aboriginal uniformity and purity—a conviction that would become axiomatic for church historians for centuries to come. Julius Africanus Equally important perhaps, though less quoted in the HE, was the early thirdcentury Christian polymath Julius Africanus.200 Africanus, who may have been a Roman citizen from Palestine, traveled and consulted widely, including Edessa (where he served in the court of King Abgar VIII of Osrhoene), Egypt, and Rome (where he worked under the emperor Alexander Severus in instituting the library 197. Cf. HE 2.23.3, 19; 3.11; 3.16; 3.19–20.1–7; 3.32; 4.8.1–2; 4.21–22. 198. HE 4.22.1 (368.18–19, ed. Schwartz); cf. also 4.8.2 (314.8) and 2.23.3 (166.7). 199. Eusebius uses the same word as the title of the fourth-century pagan forgery attributed to Pontius Pilate (HE 1.10.3 [72.8; also 810.8ff., 812.22]). The Latin equivalent is commentarii. See now the discussion of hypomnēmata/commentarii in Larsen and Letteney, “Christians and the Codex.” 200. Cf. HE 1.6.2; 1.7; 6.31.


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of the Pantheon). He knew Greek and Latin and in some measure Hebrew and possibly Syriac as well. Eusebius respected him (“no mean writer,” HE 1.6.2) and called his Chronographies “a monument of labor and accuracy” (HE 6.31.2). Recent scholarship has improved our understanding of this elusive figure.201 Africanus is now being recognized as “the father of scientific Christian chronography,” someone on whom Eusebius based his own chronographic work to a higher degree than previously believed.202 The substance of the first book of Eusebius’s Chronicle, with its national historical materials, lists of rulers, and chronological discussions, probably resembles the contents of Africanus’s work, though, in the current editors’ estimate, we may have only 10 to 20 percent of the content of the original.203 There appears to be a consensus, however, that despite what Eusebius owed to Africanus, the synchronized, tabular layout, the “canons,” is his invention.204 One strong contrast between them concerns Africanus’s adherence to a popular “millenarian” model that structured world history in six one-thousand-year periods corresponding to the six days of Creation.205 As a corollary to the millenarian model, the conventional reading of Africanus held that he constructed his chronography for the eschatological purpose of predicting the end of the world.206 Eusebius opposed such an effort everywhere he encountered it.207 But he does not attribute it to Africanus. Current scholarship therefore holds that eschatological calculations probably played no role in the Chronographies, and that Eusebius did not intend his own historical work in the Chronicle and the HE as a rebuttal of Africanus’s “soft millenialism.”208 Richard Burgess credits Africanus with an integration of Hellenistic and biblical history that paved the way for Eusebius and Christian historians who followed him: “He was forcing Christian historiography to adopt the secular structures and methods that he found in chronicles and universal history, and therefore stands at the point at which apologetic became truly Christian history for the first time. It was the fundamental first step that made pos-

201. See the papers in Wallraff, Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronik, prepared to accompany the new edition of Africanus: Iulius Africanus, Chronographiae: The Extant Fragments, ed. Wallraff et al. On his life and work, see Wallraff, “Introduction,” XIII–XVI, in Africanus, Chronographiae. 202. Wallraff, “Beginnings of Christian Universal History,” 553; and “Introduction,” xxi. 203. Wallraff, “Introduction,” xix. 204. Ibid., xxxi. 205. Ibid., xxiii–xxix. 206. Grafton and Williams, Transformation of the Book, 151–152; but cf. Wallraff, “Beginnings of Christian Universal History,” 551 n. 53. 207. HE 3.39.11–13 (the millenarianism of Papias), 6.7 (the apocalyptic work of a certain Jude), and 7.24.1–3 (the millenarianism of the Egyptian bishop Nepos); see also Chronicle 1, Pref. (1.30–2.6, ed. Karst). 208. William Adler’s phrase, in “Eusebius’ Critique of Africanus,” 154–155.

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sible not only Eusebius’ Chronici canones and Historia ecclesiastica and their followers, but also John Malalas’ Chronographia and its followers.”209 It seems safe to say, then, that Africanus exercised an important shaping influence on Eusebius’s historiographical work as a whole. But his substantive impact lay principally with the Chronicle rather than the HE. As a named source, Africanus makes only one appearance in the HE, in the form of a long excerpt from a letter of Africanus’s dealing with contradictions in the genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Eusebius was impressed with Africanus’s effort to harmonize the accounts by appealing to the law of levirate marriage. He quoted it again in his treatise Questions and Answers on the Gospels, which dealt with contradictions in the infancy and the resurrection narratives.210 Eusebius was anxious to resolve them at the literal level, with minimal resort to allegory, partly to parry criticisms like those of the pagan scholar Porphyry, but even more for didactic and learned purposes for Christian readers.211 Flavius Josephus These two Christian writers get much less space in the HE than the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, “one of the writers without whom Eusebius would not have been able to invent Ecclesiastical History,” in the words of Arnaldo Momigliano.212 Eusebius calls him “the most distinguished among the Hebrew historians” (HE 1.4.3, also 1.11.9), thus recognizing Josephus’s status as a “Hebrew” rather than a mere “Jew.”213 He had all of Josephus’s works in the library at Caesarea and used them extensively in several of his books, with the HE preserving perhaps a third of the total number of his many citations from Josephus.214 Following a common practice in ancient literary historiography, Eusebius followed his last citation of Josephus with a summary of Josephus’s literary corpus. He also validated Josephus’s credibility by citing Josephus’s claim to have been an eyewitness, indeed participant, in the great revolt against Rome, and noting the erection of his statue in Rome and the placement of his books in the library there.215 Josephus is both a 209. Burgess, “Apologetic and Chronography,” 37. 210. Eusebius, Questions to Stephanus 1.4 (SC 523:116.1–120.53). The quoted portion is shorter, probably because Eusebius’s Gospel Questions and Answers survives only in excerpted form. 211. Zamagni, in Eusebius, Questions évangéliques, 57. 212. Momigliano, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 27. 213. Noted by Morlet, “Écrire l’histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée,” 9 n. 101. 214. Carriker, Library of Eusebius of Caesarea, 157–161, at 157 n. 14. Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 101, notes that another third come from the PE and the remaining third from the DE, the Chronicle, the Onomasticon, and the Theophany. Ulrich protests against treating Eusebius’s rich and diverse appropriation of Josephus as nothing more than an exercise in anti-Judaism (108–109). 215. HE 3.9–10; cf. 3.9.1–2.


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major source of quotations in the first three books of the HE and a model for the kind of historiography in which Eusebius was engaged. So closely will they be associated that Cassiodorus, for instance, will group them together as “Christian historians” who had in common a providentialist view of history that separated them from non-Christian and non-Jewish historians who, in Cassiodorus’s opinion, relied on either chance or the weak powers of the gods to explain history.216 And they will consistently be bundled together in medieval libraries, in the form of Rufinus’s Latin translation of the HE.217 Christian readers are the reason we still have Josephus, whose work lent itself readily to apologetic exploitation. Josephus anticipated Eusebius in various ways, such as the use of anecdotal biography, the stress on religious doctrine, the providentialist orientation, and the use of documents, though this is less prominent in Josephus than in Eusebius. He offered Eusebius valuable testimony for the reliability of the New Testament,218 for discrediting anti-Christian literature such as the recently produced Acts of Pilate (HE 1.11.9; cf. 9.5.1, 9.7.1), and for confirming the number of books in the canon of the Hebrew Bible (HE 3.9.5, 10.1–5). The most disturbing service that Josephus provided to Eusebius was his account of the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem in the Jewish War, which Eusebius exploited at great length to document God’s chastisement of the Jews for the death of Jesus, and for the deaths of others of Jesus’s disciples (HE 3.5–8; see 3.5.2). The two most controverted quotations of Josephus are found at HE 2.23.20 and 1.11.7–8. The latter is the famous Testimonium Flavianum, universally regarded as inauthentic as it stands, not least because in it Josephus states baldly of Jesus, “This was the Christ” (ho Christos houtos ēn), even though, as Eusebius certainly knew, Origen had said explicitly that Josephus never acknowledged Jesus as Christ.219 The passage is found in all surviving manuscripts of Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities (18.63–64).220 It is beyond the scope of this book to review the controversy generated by this text, other than to say that the long history of its reception illustrates changing historiographical standards and also Christian anti-Judaism.221

216. See chapter 4, on Cassidorus and his library. 217. See chapter 4, on Eusebius among the Franks. 218. Eusebius’s confident citations of Josephus to verify Luke-Acts reminded me of conversations with the late Richard Pervo, whose Hermeneia commentary on Acts argues that the parallels are strong evidence for the late composition of Acts. 219. Cf. Origen, Contra Celsum 1.47. 220. Cited also by Eusebius in the DE 3.3.105–106 and his Theophany 5.44, which survives only in Syriac translation. 221. See Whealey, Josephus on Jesus, for which reference I thank Anthony Grafton; see also Carleton Paget, “Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity.”

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The other quotation, at HE 2.23.20, deserves attention because it attributes to Josephus himself one of Eusebius’s leitmotifs in the HE, that the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple were divine retribution for the death of Jesus.222 The quotation is brief: “These things [the siege of Jerusalem] happened to the Jews in vindication of James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus called Christ (Iēsou tou legomenou Christou), since the Jews killed this man, who was truly just.” These words are not found in the transmitted text of Josephus, but only in attributed speech in Origen’s Against Celsus 1.47.223 Eusebius quotes them as direct speech, specifies Josephus as the source but without an exact citation, and then follows in HE 2.23.21–24 with Josephus’s account of the death of James as found in Antiquities 20.197, 199–203—which account, however, says nothing about James’s death leading to the siege of Jerusalem. It is accepted practice to regard HE 2.23.20 as pseudoJosephan, with great uncertainty about exactly how it got into Origen’s hands and then into Eusebius’s. Of both this passage and the Testimonium Flavianum, we may note the judgment a century ago of Eduard Schwartz, who acquitted Eusebius of personal responsibility, holding that he was the deceived rather than the deceiver.224 Let us conclude this opening chapter on Eusebius and his book with two appreciations from his modern readers. The first is by Emanuela Prinzivalli, who acknowledges the limitations of the HE as a work of history but recognizes its irreplaceable value: To conclude, I would like to appeal to a truism that every specialist on Christian antiquity is eventually compelled to make: even if Eusebius’ deontological horizon (insofar as he picks in an intentional and partial manner the material to present to readers) is no longer ours, nevertheless we find it hard to imagine how western historiographical thought, and our knowledge of historical sources in Christianity’s first centuries, would have been possible without the Ecclesiastical History.225

The second is from Arnaldo Momigliano, whose historiographical papers were the point of departure for our discussion of the genre of the HE: In the simplicity of its structure and in the manner of its documentation the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius was one of the most authoritative prototypes ever created 222. Hata, “Abuse and Misuse of Josephus in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Books 2 and 3.” 223. Following here Carleton Paget, “Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity,” 546–554; and Carriker, Library of Eusebius, 159–160. 224. Schwartz, “Eusebios von Cäsarea,” 1399, cited in Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 101 n. 271. 225. Prinzivalli, “Le genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 111.


Eusebius and His Ecclesiastical History by ancient thought: indeed it was the last model elaborated by ancient historians for the benefit of later generations—if we except the Life of Antony by Athanasius, which became a model for later hagiography.226

The rest of this book will chart the impact of that prototype in its many appropriations, mutations, and dormancies in the ages that followed its creation.227

226. Momigliano, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 141. 227. Cf. Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, 141–153, for Momigliano’s overview of the whole subject, written with his characteristic elegance and lucidity.


The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in a Christian Empire

The impact of the HE may be measured by the richness of its manuscript tradition,1 by its quick translation into Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and perhaps Coptic, and by the way it dominated interpretations of early Christianity in both Eastern and Western Christianity for centuries to come. The next two chapters will examine the diverse indications of the book’s influence in Eastern Christianity. Chapter 2 is limited to the ancient Greek Christian tradition, beginning with what the manuscript tradition of Eusebius’s text can tell us about the book’s dissemination and readership. The chapter considers the complex story of Eusebius’s Greek continuators, though it must start with the possibility that his first serious continuator may have been Rufinus’s Latin version of the HE. Chapter 3 extends coverage to Eusebius’s reception elsewhere in the Christian East, in traditions that assume distinctive historiographical trajectories based on linguistic differences, ecclesiastical schism, and a changing late antique geopolitical landscape. For reasons that will become clear, chapter 3 extends beyond antiquity. Although we will treat these traditions separately, they were by no means separate in reality. We will see repeated instances of cross-fertilization—whether by borrowing, imitation, or competition—across linguistic, ecclesiastical, and political boundaries. Our concern will be with how “ecclesiastical history” was conceived and written, and with the “theo-political” vision or understanding that animates particular works of 1. Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 372–373, counts twenty-four extant copies or fragments of copies of the HE (in addition to Latin and Slavonic translations), making it second only to Procopius’s Wars in survival rate, and therefore presumably in popularity, among manuscripts of early Byzantine histories.



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Christian historiography—with form and substance, if you will, as indicated in chapter 1. T H E M A N U S C R I P T T R A D I T IO N A S R E C E P T IO N H I ST O RY

In the previous chapter we referred to Eduard Schwartz’s theory of multiple editions of the HE, based on his grouping of the most authoritative manuscripts, along with the Latin and Syriac translations. At that time we did not make specific reference to any particular manuscript. In this section we will introduce the manuscripts, using Schwartz’s sigla. Our purpose is to indicate, in the concrete way that manuscript history makes possible, some of the paths by which the HE made its way through the Greek-speaking world of the Byzantine Empire. We are fortunate to have as a guide the report on the present state of manuscript research that Matthieu Cassin prepared for the introductory volume of the new commentary by the Morlet-Perrone team.2 According to Cassin’s fresh appraisal, Schwartz’s theory of two distinct groups of the most ancient manuscripts basically remains valid, though with certain corrections.3 Schwartz had categorized manuscripts A, T, E, and R as those that best preserved what he believed was an earlier recension of the HE. B, D, and M derived from a later recension. But in the current assessment, the ATE grouping has lost R,4 which Schwartz misdated from before the twelfth century but is now placed in the fourteenth century and can therefore no longer be seen as the oldest of the so-called mixed texts—that is, those manuscripts that betray features from both groups. R was copied in 1337 for the future Byzantine emperor John VI Cantacuzenus and was in the possession of the Dionysiou monastery on Mt. Athos before ending up in Moscow in the seventeenth century. R is unique among the manuscripts central to Schwartz’s edition in having a complete text of the Life of Constantine joined to it.5 The BDM grouping has been expanded by the recent addition of the Princeton fragment, siglum P,6 as another ancient 2. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque de l’Histoire ecclésiastique.” See Schwartz’s full analysis in “Einleitung zum griechischen Text,” GCS 2.3:XVII–XLI, LXI–CXLVII. A list of all the manuscripts and their current locations may be found at, under author “Eusebius Caesariensis” and his work “Historia Ecclesiastica.” For a condensed presentation of the manuscripts and Schwartz’s editions hypothesis, see Winkelmann, “Eduard Schwartz, Eusebius Werke,” 67–72. 3. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 237–238. 4. Ibid., 231–232. R is now in Moscow’s Gosudarstvennyj Istoričeskij Musej as Sinod. gr. 050. 5. Schwartz, “Einleitung,” GCS 2.3:CXXIV. 6. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 212. P (Princeton Art Museum y1941–26) is very fragmentary, containing just HE 3.30–38, in four folios from the binding of a book of Gregory of Nazianzus’s discourses. Matthieu Cassin says P is from a copy of the HE possibly made by the same scribe who copied manuscript B (212 n. 16).

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witness (middle or second half of the tenth century) and a contemporary brother of B. And Schwartz’s incorporation of the groups into a hypothesis of two distinct editions of the HE has been complicated by a clearer recognition of the complex interplay between the two groups. In view of the cross-fertilization of the manuscripts and the possibility of distinct editions, Schwartz recognized the futility of classic Lachmannian methods for producing a critical edition. But the abundance of the manuscripts (the HE is “as well preserved as any book from antiquity”7) can also offer interesting testimony to the history of transmission of the HE from the ninth century forward, the age of the oldest manuscripts, into the early modern period and the first printed editions. The following summarizes the conclusions of Matthieu Cassin’s reappraisal of the manuscript history, and what it can tell us about where and when the HE was being copied and read, an adaptation of “reception history” to the individual manuscripts of a work as well as to its literary reception.8 In the BDM (now with the addition of P) grouping, B9 originated in the famous Studite monastery in Constantinople, where it remained until the fourteenth century. By an unknown route it eventually ended in the possession of JeanBaptiste Colbert (1619–1683), Louis XIV’s minister of finance. B also has the letter of Constantine to the provincials of Palestine now found in the Life of Constantine 2.24–42, as we noted in chapter 1, and Eusebius’s LC, the two Constantinian orations. D10 is known to have come from Cyprus, but whether it was copied there is uncertain. Like B, it too has Constantine’s letter from VC 2.24–42, along with Theodoret’s HE. D also ended up in Colbert’s library in 1677. The Studite monastery’s links with Greek communities in Italy may have something to do with the southern Italian provenance of M,11 the only one of the brace of the most ancient MSS to come from there. It is now in Venice, along with other Greek manuscripts that 7. Schwartz, “Einleitung,” GCS 2.3:CXLIV. He was quick to add that this is not to the credit of the copyists themselves, considering the errors, interpolations, etc., but reflects the sheer abundance of the manuscripts. 8. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 238–241. Butts, “Manuscript Transmission as Reception History,” applies this approach to the works of Ephrem the Syrian. In chapter 4 we will meet the work of medievalist Rosamond McKitterick, who has used this approach to great effect in Carolingian manuscripts. 9. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 211–212. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1431, middle or second half of the tenth century. 10. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 218. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1433, eleventh century. 11. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 218–219. Venice, Biblioteca nazionale Marciana, gr. 338, is the gift of Cardinal Bessarion. M has two separate parts: the first containing Eusebius’s HE (minus the final pages of book 10) and dating to the end of the tenth or beginning of the eleventh century; the second containing an epitome of the pseudo-Clementine homilies, Palladius’s Lausiac History, and the Historia monachorum in Aegypto and dating to the eleventh or twelfth century.


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once belonged to Cardinal Bessarion, the great Orthodox scholar and ecumenical theologian who became a cardinal after converting to Catholicism. Cassin suggests that M’s relative isolation bears out the dictum that manuscripts far away from the centers of manuscript production are less prone to reworking and therefore more likely to represent an older stream of transmission, considering that there is a “general harmony” between the BDM group and the Syriac and Latin translations of the HE, both of which were completed within less than a century after the HE’s composition. Finally, M’s antiquity is further suggested by its dependence on an ancestor that was quite close to that of two sixth- or seventhcentury papyrus fragments of book 4 of the HE.12 As for the ATE grouping, Cassin notes that they share certain features in common. All three have their origin in monastic scriptoria in Constantinople. They also produced offspring of greater importance than did the manuscripts in the BDM group.13 A14 is from the tenth century and contains the “appendix” to book 8 of the HE, along with the Martyrs of Palestine appended to book 8. Cassin notes disagreements over its origin but favors a Constantinopolitan provenance. It belonged to Cardinal Mazarin (1602–1661), chief minister to Louis XIII and Louis XIV, and entered the royal library in 1668 after Mazarin’s death. We will meet Cardinal Mazarin again because of his role in enabling the great early modern edition of Eusebius by Henri Valois (Valesius). T comes from the end of the ninth or beginning of the tenth century. It too contains the Martyrs of Palestine, as well as the HE of Socrates.15 It could have been copied for Archbishop Arethas of Caesarea in Cappadocia (b. mid-ninth century, d. after 932), the learned scholar, politician, and lover of antiquity, who commissioned the copying of manuscripts.16 T was certainly in Constantinople in the early fourteenth century when Nicephorus Callistus (ca. 1258–ca. 1335) was assembling his own Ecclesiastical History, because T was his principal source for Eusebius’s HE.17 T came to the Medici library in Florence at an uncertain date, perhaps between 1495 and 1508–1510. E18 is also a tenth-century manuscript that has the appendix to book 8, along with the letter of Constantine from the VC 2.24–42 and the Martyrs of Palestine. If it is true that it arrived in 1491–1492 at its present home in Florence in tandem with a manuscript of Socrates’s HE, Cassin suggests it could share the latter’s localization near 12. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 234, 239. 13. Ibid., 239. 14. Ibid., 219–220. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1430. 15. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 224–226. Now in Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 70.07. 16. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 225. 17. Ibid., 226. On Nicephorus’s use of T, see chapter 5. 18. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 227–228. Now in Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 70.20.

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Constantinople at the imperial monastery of St. Michael, the Auxentiou monastery in the hills around Chalcedon.19 Schwartz, who complains about the difficulty of working with T because of the number of scribal corrections, noted the similarities in the corrected text to E and suggested that the corrections were made on the basis of a common original with E.20 The six primary manuscripts had very different histories of diffusion in the centuries between their origin and the advent of printed editions. D and M, for example, have left no extant copies at all and were barely known until the third quarter of the eighteenth century. For their part, T and E (tenth century), both now in Florence, have also been relatively scanty in their legacy. T produced one offspring in the thirteenth century, which in its turn was partially copied.21 E was copied in the twelfth century, which copy eventually found its way to St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai. Before getting there, it in turn produced a further copy in the middle of the fifteenth century, probably in one of St. Catherine’s dependent communities on Crete.22 But T and E themselves had to wait for editors until the end of the eighteenth century. B proved somewhat more prolific.23 Two copies were made in the latter half of the thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth centuries, the former (β in Schwartz’s sigla) probably in Constantinople and the latter (b) in the Chora monastery in Constantinople, after which it found a home in the Great Lavra Monastery on Mt. Athos, before becoming the possession of Cardinal Bessarion. The former copy, β, was the model for another in 1330 or 1331 (also in Constantinople) that itself became the basis for an incomplete copy made in the sixteenth century.24 Because B’s descendants did not get into French royal collections until toward the end of the seventeenth century, “only a trace of this tradition is found in the edition of Valois”—and that through the very late and incomplete copy from the sixteenth century. The champion progenitor was A, the only one of the ancient manuscripts that Valois knew. A copy (a), made toward the end of the tenth century in the Peribleptos monastery in Constantinople, produced many direct and indirect offspring.25 The differing rate of diffusion of the six primary manuscripts has naturally influenced the history of printed editions of the HE as well, since the editions were necessarily shaped by the particular manuscripts available to an editor at a given time and place. As we will see in a later chapter, the editio princeps of the HE was published by Robert Étienne (Stephanus) in Paris in 1544 and was based on just 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 228. Schwartz, “Einleitung,” GCS 2.3:XXVIII. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 226–227. Ibid., 228–229. For the descendants of B, see Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 213–218. Paris gr. 414 (cf. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 215–216). Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 220–224.


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two manuscripts, both of Schwartz’s “mixed” type—that is to say, they exhibit features reflecting both of the two manuscript groupings.26 Valois also drew on these two for his edition of 1659, along with two other manuscripts, one of which was A.27 Cassin remarks that the subsequent dominance of the Parisian editions of Stephanus and Valois meant that “manuscripts in other countries were taken into account late and often partially.”28 The prestige of Valois’s edition would ensure the excessive influence of the Parisian manuscripts for another two and a half centuries, until Schwartz’s GCS edition. A final observation by Cassin has to do with the preponderance of manuscripts that during the Byzantine phase appear to belong to Constantinople, and how relatively weak is the number of those that passed through the monastic communities at Mt. Athos—a difference he attributes to the nature of the HE itself, which did not lend itself as readily to spiritual reading. T R A N SL AT IO N S A N D C O N T I N UAT IO N S I N A N T IQU I T Y

Literature on the HE routinely treats translations and continuations as distinct enterprises. That makes sense as a way to organize such a sprawling mass of material. It also lets scholars allot some of the work to those who are specialists in the relevant languages. As noted, the HE was rather quickly translated into the other primary languages of ancient Christianity. But distinguishing between a translation and a continuation does not hold up very well when we look at the actual literary history of the versions. Rufinus’s Latin translation and continuation, which was the HE’s conduit to all of Western Christianity for over a thousand years, is the clearest example. But the Syriac and Armenian versions also inspired further writing in ecclesiastical history. We have Coptic continuations too, although no complete Coptic translation of the HE seems to have survived. What we can say about these various translations—their provenance, their purpose, their accuracy, their dissemination—will perforce be limited. Here as elsewhere in this book, we will be dependent on the research of others. For the time being, we will put the oriental traditions aside and look first at Eusebius’s Greek continuators and the beginning of the Latin tradition that is so closely linked to it. But we should remember that in the Syriac-speaking East in particular the link to the Greek historiographical tradition is as close as is that of the Latin West. For an important early example, 26. Paris gr. 1434 and Paris gr. 1437, though Cassin believes that the latter, which Schwartz had regarded as a copy of B, corrected by a descendant of A, may need to be revaluated (Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 231–233; cf. n. 131). 27. On Valois’s edition and its setting in the Gallican Catholicism of seventeenth-century France, see the section “Eusebius in the Republic of Letters” in chapter 6. 28. Cassin, “Tradition manuscrite grecque,” 240.

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one may compare the sixth-century Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah of Mytilene, which draws heavily on the lost Greek Ecclesiastical History of Zachariah the Rhetor, later bishop of Mytilene, for its account of the half century after the Council of Chalcedon.29 E U SE B I U S’ S F I R S T C O N T I N UAT O R S : RU F I N U S O F AQ U I L E IA A N D G E L A SI U S O F C A E S A R E A

Eusebius of course inspired a wealth of imitators and continuators in Greek ecclesiastical historiography, including most famously the fifth-century “synoptic” troika of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. Nearly all his immediate continuators wrote in conscious awareness that they were taking up a thread and a genre he had started.30 Their scope, however, tends to be broader than Eusebius’s, in that they are more prone to introduce the doings of emperors in wars and government. With the prominent exception of the Arian historian Philostorgius, they stand in the tradition of orthodoxy as defined by the ecumenical councils. Like Eusebius, they emphasize the use of written documents and avoid using direct speech, though Theodoret’s fondness for invented dialogue is somewhat of an exception. Precisely because they write as continuators, they emphasize recent or even contemporary history. The first two of Eusebius’s diadochoi are the intertwined figures of Gelasius of Caesarea (d. in or before 401) and Rufinus of Aquileia (ca. 345–411/412). A cloud of uncertainty hangs over this Gelasius and the lost work of church history that has been attributed to him. If found, its value would presumably be great, since it would be the only major such work in the fourth century other than Eusebius’s own.31 The Gelasius in question was the nephew and protégé of Bishop Cyril of 29. Books 3–12 are now available in a new English translation with detailed introduction and commentary: The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor, ed. Greatrex, trans. from Syriac and Arabic by Phenix and Horn. 30. Van Hoof, Manafis, and Van Nuffelen, “Philo of Carpasia, Ecclesiastical History,” 38–39, point to authors of four possible post-Eusebian church histories who “either did not write continuations of [Eusebius] or did not conform to his model”; they suggest these authors may predate the familiar three authors—four, counting Philostorgius—who did write Greek continuations of Eusebius. The ecclesiastical history attributed to one Philo of Carpasia (on Cyprus) offers, they suggest, “unique confirmation” of a non-Eusebian format of fourth-century church history. Even if this claim is correct, such a nonEusebian format does not seem to have left much evidence of its impact. 31. There is general scholarly agreement that a late fourth-century account of developments after 325 once existed, but much uncertainty about its contents and chronological boundaries. The most ambitious attempt to reconstruct it are the forty-eight fragments collected by Joseph Bidez in Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte, ed. Bidez, 202–241; Philostorgius/Church History, trans. Amidon, 205–238. This “anonymous homoean historical writing,” as it is conventionally called because of its doctrinal Tendenz, was used by Philostorgius and others. Because it does not seem to have been an “ecclesiastical


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Jerusalem (ca. 315–387). He was briefly bishop of Caesarea between 365 and 367, was dismissed because of his opposition to the radical Arian Euzoius, and did not regain his see until sometime after 379, but in time to have attended the Council of Constantinople in 381. He is presumed to have died sometime before 401, when a successor was serving as bishop in Caesarea.32 A chief source of information about Gelasius are several entries in the work of the learned ninth-century patriarch Photius of Constantinople known as his Bibliotheca, a digest of his reading.33 Photius’s account is confusing, as he tries to distinguish between two or even three writers named Gelasius of Caesarea. In cod. 89 he describes a work of ecclesiastical history with the title or heading Preface of the Bishop of Caesarea on the Continuation of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphili, quotes an opening sentence that appears to link the book with other histories, and says that the author identified himself as the nephew on his mother’s side of Cyril of Jerusalem, who urged him to compose it.34 Photius also says that he has read in other sources (which he does not identify) that Cyril and his nephew did not write an actual history on their own but just translated into Greek the ecclesiastical history of “Rufinus the Roman,” an assertion that cannot be true, since Rufinus’s history was not written until 402 or 403, when Gelasius was already dead.35 In the preceding section of the Bibliotheca (cod. 88), Photius has described a separate historical work, in three books, dealing with events at the Council of Nicaea. He summarizes its contents at length but says no author was given. Then he says the same things (ta auta) were contained in what appears to be a second copy of that book. This second copy (if so it was), he says, bore the title Three Books of Ecclesiastical History of Gelasius Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. Photius quotes its opening sentence: “The things that occurred at the holy and great and ecumenical synod (oikoumenikēn . . . sunodon) of bishops gathered from almost all the provinces of the Roman world and of Persia,” and says that the history ended history” by that name, and uncertainty still surrounds its character, it is only mentioned here in passing. Richard Burgess demonstrated that frags. 3–24 for the years 325–350 come from an Antiochene chronicle (not a history) that was a continuation of Eusebius’s Chronicle from its conclusion in 325. He called it the Continuatio Antiochiensis Eusebii; see Burgess, Studies in Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Historiography, 110–305, esp. 122–128. See Reidy, “Eusebius of Emesa and the ‘Continuatio Antiochiensis Eusebii’ ”; and now Van Nuffelen, “Considérations sur l’anonyme homéen.” My thanks to Peter Van Nuffelen for sharing this prior to publication. 32. See the reconstruction of his life in the new edition of fragments of Gelasius: Gelasius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, ed. Wallraff, Stutz, and Marinides, XI–XVI. 33. The new Gelasius edition provides a revised text of the relevant testimonies in Photius (T5a-c, pp. 12–19; the most important being T5a = codd. 88–89). I cite Henry’s Greek text because of its availability but adopt the interpretation of the multiple Gelasii proposed by the WallraffStutz-Marinides team. 34. Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 89 (2:15, ed. Henry). 35. Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 89 (2:15.35–39, ed. Henry).

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with the death of Constantine. He quotes the author as stating that his homeland was Cyzicus, that he lived in the time of the usurper Basiliscus (r. 475–476), and that he wrote from old documents of the synod, from other writings, and from his memory. That would put the author much later, in the late fifth century, as Photius recognizes. He also criticizes the low quality of the history’s style. It is now recognized that behind Photius’s account there is just one writer actually named Gelasius, bishop of Caesarea, and that the ecclesiastical history described in Bibliotheca cod. 89 is his work, which Photius apparently had in complete form. The other ecclesiastical history described in cod. 88 is the existing church history of the Council of Nicaea written around 475 and long attributed to “Gelasius of Cyzicus,” but whose most recent editor, Günther Christian Hansen, considers to be anonymous.36 It is regarded as an important source of fragments of the lost ecclesiastical history of Gelasius.37 Above we described the status of Gelasius and his history as intertwined with Rufinus’s Latin translation and continuation of Eusebius. Chiefly thanks to the efforts of Friedhelm Winkelmann to reconstruct Gelasius’s history, a scholarly consensus has existed that Rufinus’s history used Gelasius as a source, though Rufinus never mentions him by name. That consensus has not gone without significant dissent.38 Now a new edition of Gelasius offers a fresh effort to identify fragments of his lost history preserved (almost always unnamed) in other sources. The editors believe that their reconstruction may give us perhaps two-thirds to three-fourths of the original work.39 They suggest in their conclusion that Gelasius’s ecclesiastical history was a self-conscious continuation of Eusebius, picking up where Eusebius left off in 324, though with some overlap, and covering perhaps the next two generations, though in diminishing detail. He intended “to write the things that came after Eusebius and that Eusebius did not write,” as a fragment quotes Cyril of Jerusalem writing to his nephew.40 He showed his continuity with “the Eusebian heritage” by his quotation of ten, possibly more, documents. His sympathy with his predecessor is indicated by a report that as bishop “he kept 36. Anonyme Kirchengeschichte (Gelasius Cyzicenus CPG 6034), ed. Hansen, IX–XII. For a summary of the contents of (now pseudo-) Gelasius of Cyzicus, see Marasco, “Church Historians (II),” 284–288. 37. Wallraff, Stutz, and Marinides, “Introduction,” in Gelasius, Ecclesiastical History, XLV–L. 38. Van Nuffelen, “Gélase de Césarée,” proposes that “Gelasius” was really the pseudonym of a fifth-century compiler who gathered material from earlier historians. 39. Wallraff, Stutz, and Marinides, “Introduction,” LXXXIII; also XIX–XXIII, for a description of their methodology for identifying and restoring fragments. Their chief sources are the Anonymous Church History once attributed to “Gelasius of Cyzicus,” book 10 of Rufinus’s HE (of which they estimate that the greater part, perhaps 80–90 percent, comes from Gelasius), and a Vita Metrophanis (BHG 1279) (ibid., LXXXIV). 40. Gelasius, Ecclesiastical History, F1b (22.5–6, ed. Wallraff, Stutz, and Marinides).


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Eusebian the Palestinian in the diptychs,” which the editors interpret to mean that he refused to treat him as an Arian.41 A parallel relationship to Eusebius—both continuation and supplement— marks the Latin work of Rufinus, which we will consider here rather than in chapter 4, given Rufinus’s intimate connection with the Greek historiographical trajectory stemming from Eusebius. A recent study has argued that Rufinus’s work needs to be read seamlessly rather than primarily as a translation with an appendix tacked on.42 It does seem as though Rufinus envisioned and produced his work as a single, integrated whole. He wrote it, he says in his preface, in response to the request of his patron, Bishop Chromatius of Aquileia, to compose a book to serve as a mental or spiritual “remedy” for the Christians of the diocese, disheartened by the threatened invasion of Alaric and his Goths. Chromatius suggested he translate into Latin “the church history by that most learned man Eusebius of Caesarea.”43 Rufinus explains in his preface that he condensed the tenth book, “[which] has very little history in it, all the rest of it being taken up with bishops’ panegyrics which add nothing to our knowledge of the facts,” and joined what was left of it to book 9. At the end of his translation of the nine books, he added two more books of his own to bring events up to his own time, ending with the death of the emperor Theodosius in 395. His sources for the additional material in books 10 and 11 were “writings of those before us” and his own remembrances. Rufinus’s translation freely abridged Eusebius and sometimes added details, for instance, regarding Clement and Origen. The appraisal of the translation’s quality has shifted somewhat over the years. Most patristics scholars have probably encountered the question of Rufinus’s reliability as a translator in connection with his translations of Origen’s writings, particularly On First Principles. An early and detailed study of Rufinus’s translation of the HE by J. E. L. Oulton was quite critical, saying that “he had exceeded the limits of the liberty that every translator has to respect.”44 Rufinus’s editor, Theodor Mommsen, was equally critical, as was Schwartz himself, who said that the Syriac translation showed a far superior understanding of Eusebius’s Greek.45 More recent scholarship has tended to see 41. Wallraff, Stutz, and Marinides, in Gelasius, Ecclesiasical History, 19 n. 5 (from F5c = Bibliotheca, cod. 227). 42. Humphries, “Rufinus’s Eusebius,” 146. Besides the magisterial work of Françoise Thelamon cited below, see Ciccolini and Morlet, “La version latine de l’Histoire ecclésiastique.” 43. Rufinus, HE.Pref. (trans. Amidon; for the Latin text to Rufinus’s separate prefaces, see GCS 2.2:951–952 and 957, ed. Mommsen). A new, annotated translation of Rufinus has been published by Philip Amidon: Rufinus of Aquileia, History of the Church, FOTC 133 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2016). 44. J. E. L. Oulton, “Rufinus’ Translation of the Church History of Eusebius,” JTS 30 (1929): 150–174, at 167 (cited by Ciccolini and Morlet, “La version latine de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 256). 45. Schwartz, GCS 2.1:CCLI, XLIII.

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his translating performance in the context of his own time, which did not expect total fidelity to the original,46 and to excuse some of his departures as motivated in part by the desire for greater clarity and, at times, to move Eusebius’s theology closer to post-Nicene norms.47 Rufinus may also have felt free to exercise a measure of freedom in keeping with his double role as a translator and an author in his own right. That is an interpretation recently advanced by Mark Humphries and others.48 Rufinus’s reputation as a historian was not helped by juxtaposing his work to Eusebius’s in Schwartz’s edition of the HE. That led to unflattering comparisons. Mommsen said its value was “slight” by comparison to “the incomparably important Greek original.”49 His dismissal notwithstanding, it is clear that Rufinus was deeply influenced by Eusebius. Françoise Thelamon, the preeminent student of Rufinus’s history, has emphasized how Rufinus presented his own version of Eusebius’s universalizing of ecclesiastical history, a process she saw deployed both temporally and spatially. Rufinus shared, for example, Eusebius’s concern to structure time in terms of both episcopal and imperial successions in order to coordinate the history of the church with the empire, but also as part of a “Christianizing of historical time” in the developing liturgical life of the church.50 Like Eusebius, Rufinus also saw the coordination of episcopal successions in the major sees as demonstrating the universal unity of the church—see, for example, his coordination of the episcopal successions in the decade of the 380s at Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch—though to Eusebius’s traditional quartet he must add Constantinople, as fifth in the list (Ruf. HE 11.21). Rufinus gives more attention than Eusebius to the spread of the Christian message beyond the Roman Empire. Thelamon has pointed out how Rufinus expanded Eusebius’s apostolic “geography of evangelization” in HE 3.1.1–3 to include Matthew’s mission to Ethiopia (a detail unmentioned by Eusebius) and Bartholomew’s mission to “nearer India” (Indiam citeriorem). The latter fact Rufinus knew from Eusebius’s report about the later preaching mission of the Alexandrian teacher Pantaenus to India (HE 5.10.3). But 46. Humphries, “Rufinus’s Eusebius,” 148. 47. See his changes in HE 1.2.23 and 1.3.12; cited in Humphries, “Rufinus’s Eusebius,” 153. 48. Humphries, “Rufinus’s Eusebius,” 151–157. Humphries refers especially to the work of Torben Christensen and his close readings of Rufinus’s handling of books 8 and 9: Rufinus of Aquileia and the “Historia Ecclesiastica,” Lib. VIII-IX, of Eusebius. Chin, “Rufinus of Aquileia and Alexandrian Afterlives,” interprets Rufinus’s translation projects as contributions to the idea of a Christian library, in which accumulating texts become part of an Origenist cosmology of fall and return, though Chin holds that Rufinus was anxious to present himself as “a writer [who quotes others] without being an author” (627). 49. Mommsen, GCS 2.3:CCLII. 50. Thelamon, “Écrire l’histoire de l’Église,” 219–229 (quotation at 223), on which the following analysis depends. For a contrary assessment, see Van Nuffelen, “Theology versus Genre?”


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he added the geographical specification of Bartholomew’s mission to “nearer” India because his continuation of Eusebius’s HE would report the Christian mission to “further India” (India ulterior) during the reign of Constantine. By “further India” Rufinus actually meant Ethiopia, as is clear from his account of the fourthcentury mission of Frumentius to evangelize Ethiopia (cf. Ruf. HE 10.9), which Rufinus wanted to present as the fulfillment of the apostolic initiative of Bartholomew and a particular instance of the broad continuity that linked apostolic evangelization with the prosperity of the church in the Constantinian epoch.51 “The world is the stage of God’s power. The history of the Church brings the people of God to the fore while building the kingdom of God.”52 But there are also notable differences.53 Rufinus has “miniaturized” post-Constantinian history as a compressed repetition of Eusebius’s narrative, with the triumph of Theodosius and orthodoxy complementing Constantine’s, though now the persecutors are chiefly Christian. Instead of Eusebian documentation, Rufinus prefers vivid stories that verge on hagiography; indeed his history is written in a style that Thelamon has described as the contemporary vogue for “hagiographic discourse.”54 Another analyst, Therese Fuhrer, has argued that Rufinus’s version of Christian triumphalism looks more like soft power: no account of Theodosius’s victory over the usurper Eugenius in 394 is as “pacifist and unheroic” as his.55 It is Theodosius, not Constantine, who represents the imperial culmination of Christianity’s history. Among the documents discarded when Rufinus jettisoned book 10 of Eusebius’s HE was the so-called Edict of Milan (HE 10.5). It has been pointed out that the results of imperial intervention in Christian dogmatic disputes, beginning with Constantine himself, were not always happy for orthodoxy, and Rufinus may have felt a measure of ambivalence about the interaction of church and empire on that score.56 Rufinus’s achievement as (apparently) Eusebius’s first continuator ensured his lasting popularity in both the Greek East and the Latin West.57 And both Sozomen and Socrates certainly used him, although Socrates later complained that he was burned by his reliance on Rufinus’s shaky chronology (Socrates HE 2.1.1–5). We

51. Thelamon, “Écrire l’histoire de l’Église,” 225–227. Thelamon also notes Rufinus’s interest in the spread of Christianity at the same time to Georgia, “at the other end of the world” (citing Ruf. HE 10.11). 52. Van Deun, “Church Historians after Eusebius,” 164, citing Thelamon’s monograph. 53. See Ciccolini and Morlet, “La version latine de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 256–260. 54. Cited in Fuhrer, “Rufins Historia Ecclesiastica,” 62. 55. Fuhrer, “Rufins Historia Ecclesiastica,” 69. 56. Humphries, “Rufinus’s Eusebius,” 155–156. 57. Mommsen listed ninety-two manuscripts in his edition, and a recent study of manuscripts up to the eleventh century has added twenty-two more (Ciccolini and Morlet, “La version latine de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 247).

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will now take up Eusebius’s Greek continuators, before returning to the medieval Latin afterlife of his surrogate Rufinus. E U SE B I U S’ S A N C I E N T G R E E K C O N T I N UAT O R S : A N E C C L E SIA S T IC A L H I ST O RY C A N O N

Eusebius was the explicit point of departure for his fifth-century continuators Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. Hartmut Leppin has explained their simultaneous emergence as “a symptom of the consolidation of Christian faith in Roman state and society.”58 Peter Van Nuffelen has suggested that during the decade of the 430s, when all three were at work in Constantinople, there was a perception of a bygone age that reached back to Constantine.59 At the same time, he says, there was a widely felt need to defend the orthodox interpretation of history against heretical concepts. They generally took the defeat of paganism for granted—the main enemy now was heterodoxy. Philostorgius: The Dissenter Before we can consider Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, however, we need to start with their older contemporary, the ecclesiastical historian Philostorgius, born around 368 in Cappadocia. Philostorgius, a layman, seems to have completed his book in the years between 425 and 433,60 therefore a bit in advance of the other three. His complete work has not survived because of his hostility to the Council of Nicaea. The patriarch Photius said that it consisted of twelve books published in two volumes.61 Besides his characterization in his Bibliotheca, Photius published separately an epitome of Philostorgius’s history that is the primary source for modern reconstructions.62 A recent interpreter has claimed that Philostorgius “used the same sources, methods, and historiographic orientations as the orthodox, whom he knew and replied to, [differing] from them only in his Arian faith.”63 Photius agreed emphatically about the Arian orientation, but he also acknowledged it too was an ekklēsiastikē historia.64 Philostorgius began where Eusebius 58. Leppin, “Church Historians (I),” 220. 59. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 216. 60. Prieur, in Philostorge, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 564:11. 61. Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 40. 62. Bidez, “Einleitung,” in Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte, XII–XVII. 63. Marasco, “Church Historians (II),” 259. English translation of Bidez’s edition in Amidon, Philostorgius/Church History. Bidez’s presentation of Philostorgius as a writer of history (Bidez, “Einleitung,” CVI–CXLIII) is still worth reading, according to Bleckmann, in Philostorge, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 564:14. See now Lankina, “Leadership for the Christian Empire,” who argues that Philostorgius has wrongly been marginalized as an ecclesiastical historian. 64. Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 40, in Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte, 2.1–2 (ed. Bidez).


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had ended, around 320, although in saying that Eusebius had ended with the succession of the sons of Constantine the Great, he shows he was thinking of the Life of Constantine together with the HE as a composite work. According to Photius’s epitome, Philostorgius praised Eusebius for his historical work while criticizing his theology, on the grounds that Eusebius had erred in saying that the divinity was unknowable (agnōston) and incomprehensible (akatalēpton),65 a doctrine that contradicted Philostorgius’s Eunomian theology. Despite that criticism, Philostorgius nevertheless claimed that Eusebius was among those at the Council of Nicaea who sympathized with Arius’s theses (Phil. HE 1.8a).66 Gabriele Marasco’s exposition of the fragmentary history concludes that Philostorgius shared the “providentialist” assumptions of orthodox church historians, but reversed their triumphalist reading of events in favor of a more apocalyptic outlook, especially where the church and the empire were concerned, inasmuch as the empire under Theodosius supported those whom Philostorgius regarded as heretics. The Eunomian movement was “the connective thread” that guided his history.67 Its destruction represented for him not merely a defeat on the political and ecclesiastical plane, but one with natural, cosmic, and even apocalyptic reverberations.68 An emperor like Constantius II, who in orthodox sources was criticized for his stance on Nicaea and on Athanasius, was also criticized by Philostorgius for letting advisers turn him against Aetius and Eunomius, and suffered defeat against the Persians as a result.69 The extant material shows scant sign that he imitated Eusebius’s reliance on documents, though Marasco suggests this may be because the unfriendly sources that preserved his history chose not to retain documents if they threatened to be embarrassing.70 A distinctive feature of Philostorgius’s history, in comparison to the usual practice of the other ecclesiastical historians, is the attention he gives to military and political history, so much so that the last two books treat almost exclusively of secular affairs, or so it seems in the evidence that is left to us.71 His interest in matters geographical is also evident, making one regret the loss of so much of the history.72

65. Philostorgius, HE 1.2 (ed. Bidez, 6.1–5). 66. “Eusebius of Caesarea, known as son of Pamphilus” is listed by Philostorgius among those who were Areiophrones (Philostorgius, HE 1.8a [ed. Bidez, 9.11, 15–16]). 67. Prieur, SC 564:26. 68. Bleckmann, SC 564:53; Bidez, “Einleitung,” CXIII–CXXI. 69. Philostorgius, HE 5.4; cf. Bidez, “Einleitung,” CXXVI–CXXVII. 70. Prieur, SC 564:49–50, agrees that Philostorgius did not rely on documents in Eusebius’s manner, in the sense of verbatim quotation of original documents, but suggests that the complete text of the history did make use of documents. 71. Bleckmann, SC 564:57. 72. Philostorgius, HE 3.5–11; cf. Bidez, “Einleitung,” CIX.

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Socrates: The Royalist We know little about Socrates.73 He was born sometime between 380 and 390 and died sometime between 439 and 450.74 Constantinople was his birthplace, and he may well have lived there his entire life. The Armenian translation of his work and one of the Greek manuscripts call him Socrates Scholasticus. The term scholasticus is often rendered as “lawyer,” though Socrates does not call himself one, and his work shows no special acquaintance with law.75 We do not even know for certain whether he was a cleric or a layperson; if a cleric, then probably a member of the lower clergy rather than a bishop. One distinctive feature of his narrative is the attention given to the schismatic Christian church known as Novatianists, whose roots were in the rigorist reaction to the forgiveness given to apostate Christians during the Decian persecution (250). Socrates is so knowledgeable about them and solicitous for their welfare that the ancient opinion that he himself was a Novatianist has been revived in current scholarship.76 His theological posture— like that of the Novatianists themselves—is thoroughly orthodox, as measured by the Trinitarian and christological dogmas of the fourth-and fifth-century councils, which he defends. A second aspect of Socrates’s theological orientation is his support for the Origenist tradition.77 In general he shows a measure of tolerance and an avoidance of divisive theological categories like “schismatic,” “catholic,” “orthodox,” and so on that has been described as unusual among the church historians.78 For Socrates, “heresy” is typically just a neutral designation for any particular current of thought in the church.79 And he has scant patience with the dogmatic bickering among the bishops. Socrates’s Ecclesiastical History is organized in seven books, covering events from Constantine to Theodosius II. In keeping with his intention to mix ecclesiastical and 73. Some recent scholarship on Socrates: Urbainczyk, “Observations on the Differences between the Church Histories of Socrates and Sozomenu”; Wallraff, Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates; Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété; Bäbler and Nesselrath, Die Welt des Sokrates von Konstantinopel. Citations are from Socrate de Constantinople, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 477, 493, 505, and 506, which incorporated the critical edition of G. C. Hansen: Socrates, Kirchengeschichte, GCS, n.s., 1 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). 74. The following two paragraphs depend on the introduction to the edition of Périchon and Maraval, SC 477:9–32. 75. Unlike his fellow church historians Sozomen and Evagrius, who really were lawyers, as editor Maraval points out (SC 477:10). 76. Wallraff, “Socrates Scholasticus on the History of Novatianism”; and Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 42–46. 77. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 37–41. 78. Maraval, “Introduction,” in Socrate, Histoire ecclésiastique, 13, citing Wallraff, Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates, 34–35. 79. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 45, citing Wallraff, Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates, 36.


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secular history (see below), the seven books are divided among the reigns of Constantine (306–337, book 1), Constantius II (337–361, book 2), Julian and Jovian (361–364, book 3), Valentinian I and Valens (364–378, book 4), Gratian and Theodosius I (378– 395, book 5), Arcadius (395–408, book 6), and Theodosius II (408-c. 439, book 7).80 Socrates says that he rewrote the first two books after he discovered significant chronological errors in Rufinus, whom he had used as a source (HE 2.1.1–5). He probably finished his work in 439 or 440. The secular inclusions can make his book resemble “more a history of Christianity under all its aspects than a history of the Church,” though such a characterization may not ultimately be adequate.81 Because he is explicitly continuing a narrative begun by Eusebius, he makes no effort to rehearse the beginnings of anything, whether the world or the church, in this respect resembling a classical historiographer.82 There is a notable deemphasis of the supernatural, especially in contrast to Rufinus, who is a major source.83 There is little sense of progress or of an eschatological horizon. In his joint study of Socrates and Sozomen, Peter Van Nuffelen proposed that the fundamental theme of Socrates’s history is “universal peace,” since Socrates recounts the time between two peaceful reigns, that of Constantine and that of Theodosius II. But peace is not the historical norm so much as the end toward which history tends: peace proves to be only fragile and episodic, and prone to interruption by wars. Van Nuffelen conceded that, given the actual prominence of war and controversy in Socrates’s history, “the motif of peace could be interpreted as a superficial Christianization of the Thucydidian model of history, according to which the preferred subject of historiography is war.”84 In a similar vein, he notes Socrates’s disavowal of an exploration of divine providence in history: But for what reason the goodness of God permits this to be done, whether he wishes thereby to bring into activity the excellence of the principles of the church, and to utterly break down the self-importance which is wont to attach itself to faith; or for what other cause is, at the same time, a difficult question, and not relevant to the present discussion. For our object is neither to examine the soundness of doctrinal views, nor to analyze the mysterious reasons for the providences and judgments of God; but to detail as faithfully as possible the history of transactions which have taken place in the churches.85 80. For the overall plan of the book, see the outline in Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 427–432. 81. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 15. Van Nuffelen’s monograph makes an important corrective by showing how Socrates remains an ecclesiastical historian, through a careful parsing of the differences in the genres of classical history and ecclesiastical history; see below. 82. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 18, citing Wallraff, 140–145. 83. Ibid. 84. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 124. 85. Soc. HE 1.22.14 (unless stated otherwise, translations are from Socrates, Church History, trans. Zenos, NPNF 2.1:1–178); see Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 161, 166–170.

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Socrates says that his purpose for writing is to give the educated the satisfaction of knowing the past, and to reassure them when they find themselves faced with novelties (HE 1.18.15–16); he also hopes to please the multitude as well as the cultivated (6.Pref.1–5)—in other words, as one of his modern editors has noted, to answer to the classical ideal that history should be useful.86 In general, Socrates seems to respect Eusebius, or it may be more correct to say that he seems protective of Eusebius’s reputation. He does disapprove of characteristic failures such as Eusebius’s taste for panegyric and his selective coverage of the Arian controversy.87 On the other hand, he shows a certain solicitude for Eusebius because he knew that Eusebius was carrying on the legacy of Origen, whom Socrates regularly praises in his history.88 And Socrates signaled his indebtedness to Eusebius by beginning his book with Eusebius’s name rather than with his own— indeed the very first words in his book89—unlike the practice of classical historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides:90 Eusebius, surnamed Pamphilus, writing the History of the Church in ten books, closed it with that period of the emperor Constantine, when the persecution which Diocletian had begun against the Christians came to an end. In writing the life of Constantine, this same author made only partial mention of the Arian controversy, since he had his mind on the praises of the emperor and on the inflated diction of panegyric, as in an encomium, rather than on an exact account of what happened. As we set out to record the affairs of the churches from his time to our own, our point of departure will begin where his left off. We are not concerned about a mass of verbiage, but only with what we found in writing, or with the accounts we heard from those who had made their own inquiries. (HE 1.1, trans. modified)

Like Eusebius, Socrates thus intends to use documents, a practice that, as we have noted, is regarded as a distinctive feature of ecclesiastical history as a genre. In reality, documentary citation is unevenly practiced by ecclesiastical historians—we have already seen that the extant fragments of Philostorgius lack documents. Socrates himself admits to ambivalence about quoting documents verbatim, because their number and length threaten to disrupt the narrative flow and make for tedious reading, especially in connection with the Arian controversy. His decision to quote them anyway is defended as his accommodation to the needs of a certain 86. Maraval, “Introduction,” 20. 87. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 236, holds that Socrates considered Eusebius “a bad historian,” though the example he cites, Socrates’s comment that Eusebius gave too brief an account of the origin of Manicheism (Soc. HE 1.22.2–3), doesn’t warrant such a severe reading. 88. E.g., Soc. HE 2.21.23, 35.10, 45.14; 3.7.10, 23.28. See Neuschäfer, “Zur Bewertung des Origenes bei Sokrates.” 89. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 99: “a uniquely telling fact.” 90. Hidber, “Eine Geschichte von Aufruhr und Streit,” 44.


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Theodore, so that he might have reliable testimony (autais lexesin) regarding what was said and done by rulers and by bishops (Soc. HE 2.1.6).91 Socrates says he will also draw on oral reports about past events when his written sources are inadequate, as they are, for example, in the early years of the Arian controversy, to which he complains that Eusebius has done scant justice. Note too that Socrates treats the VC as a virtual continuation of the HE, though he recognizes it is a work of panegyric more than of history. Nevertheless, he quotes it liberally (VC 3.7–9) in his account of the Council of Nicaea, saying, “Such is the testimony respecting these things which Eusebius has left us in his own words in writing. There is nothing inappropriate in our use of them, when we use as a witness what he has said in the composition of our own book” (Soc. HE 1.8.24). Socrates apparently felt he needed to defend his use of Eusebius. The reason may be that the account of Nicaea he found in the documentary dossier of a certain Sabinus of Heracleia in Thrace had also used Eusebius in order to criticize the Nicene council and its creed (1.8.24–28).92 Socrates returns to the subject of Eusebius’s reliability as a chronicler of Nicaea and its controversies at two later junctures in his book. In referring to disputes and divisions in the Egyptian churches after Nicaea, he reproaches Eusebius for saying only that such divisions occurred, without explaining why they happened (cf. Eus. VC 3.23): “For that reason he has won the reputation of being disingenuous (diglōssou), because he avoided mentioning the causes [of those divisions], lest he seem to agree with what was done at Nicaea” (Soc. HE 1.23.6). Socrates then appears to qualify the accusation of insincerity. He says that his own research into “various letters of the bishops written to one another after the Council” has shown that some of the bishops were genuinely troubled by the term homoousios. Their problem, he says, was not a lack of candor so much as a dubious precisionism and an obstinate refusal to accept their opponents’ goodwill: “The word homoousios disturbed some of them. While they exhausted themselves in quibbling over it, they stirred up a war amongst themselves, which resembled nothing so much as a battle at night. Failing to understand one another, they supposed those they disagreed with were blasphemers . . . Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, accuses Eusebius Pamphilus of perverting the creed of Nicaea; Eusebius in turn denies that he has violated the creed of Nicaea, and accuses Eustathius of introducing the opinion of Sabellius” (1.23.6–8).” The theme of bitter dogmatic divisiveness dominates Socrates’s narrative, a topic we will return to. 91. Soc. HE 2.1.6 (SC 493:20.26). Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 187–191, traces Socrates’s documentary habit to “the link made between the historical truthfulness and the doctrinal truthfulness of Christianity” rather than to imitation of Eusebius. This does not seem convincing. 92. Also Soc. HE 1.9.28. See Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 447–454, for a detailed examination of the dossier of Sabinus.

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In the middle of his coverage of the Council of Serdica, Socrates interrupts his discussion to offer a lengthy defense of Eusebius against the charge that he favored Arius’s views. Eusebius’s presence at the Council of Nicaea and his assent to the doctrine of the homoousios (Socrates is thinking of the letter to the church of Caesarea, which he had quoted in HE 1.8.35–54) are confirmed, he believes, by Eusebius’s celebration of the “unanimity” to which Constantine brought the various factions at Nicaea (Socrates quotes VC 3.13), a unanimity in which Eusebius implicitly included himself. The Arians are therefore wrong to claim him for their own. Socrates quotes what he describes as Eusebius’s Against Marcellus, though the quotations come from On the Ecclesiastical Theology (1.8.4–9.2 and 1.9.6–10.2), to show that Eusebius did not believe the Son had a beginning or was made from nothing, even though he called him a creature, on the basis of Proverbs 8:22: Such words Eusebius uses in his work Against Marcellus; we have quoted them on account of those who have attempted to slander and incriminate him. Nor are they able to show that Eusebius attributes a beginning of subsistence to the Son of God, although they may find him often using the expressions by accommodation; and especially so, because he was an advocate and admirer of the works of Origen, in which those who are able to comprehend the depth of Origen’s writings, will find that the statement that the Son is begotten of the Father is ubiquitous. I make these remarks in passing, in order to refute those who have tried to hurt Eusebius. (Soc. HE 2.21.22–24)

Despite Socrates’s admiration for Eusebius and his clear intention to follow in his footsteps, his history differed by design from Eusebius’s in two important ways: first, he was writing about events that were either contemporary or from the recent past, whereas Eusebius’s history had begun in the remote past because of the need to prove Christianity’s antiquity; and second, he gave unrelenting attention to struggles and disputes within the church, whereas Eusebius had tried to emphasize a linear progress in the history of the church, from external persecution to imperial acceptance, in which heresy and disagreements were regarded as demonic and alien intrusions. A corollary of this second feature is that Socrates perforce gave more attention to strictly political and military matters than Eusebius did in either the HE or the VC. Does that mean that Socrates was reverting to the classical historiography from which, in Momigliano’s account, Eusebius had made such a decisive break? Peter Van Nuffelen has argued that Socrates was fully aware of what types of subjects were appropriate to ecclesiastical history and what more properly belonged to history as it had traditionally been written. “Public” matters (ta dēmosia) can find a place in ecclesiastical historiography insofar as the deeds of emperors, battles, and so on impinge on the affairs of the church as well—a regular occurrence in the Christian Roman Empire.93 93. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 118–124; cf. Soc. HE 5.Pref.3–6 (SC 505:148.11–12, 150.16, 23).


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We can gain a sense of where Socrates saw the limits of “ecclesiastical history” versus some broader historical genre if we look at his digression on the lost historical work attributed to Philip of Side, a priest from Side in Pamphylia (ca. 380– after 431).94 The original work was massive. According to Socrates, who dismisses it in cutting terms, it consisted of thirty-six books, each one composed of many “volumes” (tomoi) that totaled close to a thousand in all, from the creation of the world to 426. He says its title, Historia Christianikē, “Christian History,” rather than “Ecclesiastical History,” was appropriate, because it contained a vast potpourri of materials from science, mathematics, music, and geography that, in Socrates’s view, were irrelevant to genuinely ecclesiastical history.95 Socrates’s sense of ecclesiastical history’s proper subject matter is clarified in this often-quoted passage from the preface to book 5: Before we begin the fifth book of our history, we ask those who are going to read this treatise not to criticize us for writing an ecclesiastical history in which the wars of the time are permitted to intrude, at least those whose historical actuality we have been able to determine. We have done this for a variety of reasons—not just for the sake of bringing events to light, but also so that we don’t test the patience of readers by fixing exclusively on the contentiousness of the bishops and their machinations against one another. Beyond that, however, we have been especially concerned with showing how, when secular affairs are disturbed, by a kind of affinity or kinship (sympatheia), so too is the life of the churches. Anyone who studies this will notice that turmoil in the state and in the church flourish in tandem: he will find that they either occur together or that one follows immediately upon the other. Sometimes the affairs of the Church come first and disturbances in the state follow, and sometimes the reverse. I don’t see how this sequence can be a coincidence. It happens, I think, as the result of our iniquities. The evils that befall us are punishments we deserve, if indeed as the apostle says, “The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later” (1 Tim 5:24). For this reason we have interwoven some secular and political developments (tina tōn dēmosiōn pragmatōn) with our ecclesiastical history. We have passed over the wars from the reign of Constantine, because we have been unable to find [reliable accounts] due to the distance in time; but of those that came afterwards, we have mentioned briefly as many as we could learn about from those who are still alive. We have constantly included the emperors in our history, because from the time they became Christian, the affairs of the Church have depended on them, and the most important councils have occurred and continue to occur at their will. We have even made mention of Julian, because of how he disturbed the churches. (HE 5.Pref.1–10)

He gives three reasons for his choice of subject matter: to give as accurate a picture of events as possible; to relieve readers’ impatience with the wrangling of 94. On Philip, see Heyden, “Die Christliche Geschichte des Philippos von Side.” 95. Soc. HE 7.27.3–5.

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the bishops; and—what mattered the most to him—to show how, by some kind of internal linkage or affinity, disturbances in one sphere, church or state, inevitably inspired comparable upheavals in the other sphere. The principle is biblical, insofar as faction and strife are sins that invite God’s punishment. But it is also philosophical, being grounded in the Stoic doctrine of sympatheia. Current scholarship on Socrates appears uncertain as to how seriously we should take the philosophical roots of the idea. Hartmut Leppin, for example, is a minimalist, but he concedes that we are dealing with widespread notions of a causal network that links the various dimensions of human affairs not just with each other but with the natural world in general.96 Socrates mentions the prominent role now allotted to Christian emperors in the life of the church. He resembles Eusebius much more than his fellow church historians in the degree of his deference to the status of the emperor in the church. His account of Constantine’s role at the Council of Nicaea follows Eusebius closely, at points almost word for word (Soc. HE 1.8; Eus. VC 3.5–14). More than Sozomen and certainly more than Theodoret, it has been suggested, Socrates grants the emperor a quasi-priestly status.97 In the middle of a panegyric on Theodosius II that he inserts in book 7, Socrates says that the emperor turned his palace into a virtual monastery, and discussed scripture with the bishops: “Thus he learned the Sacred Scriptures by heart, and when he met with the bishops, he discussed the Bible with them as if he had been a priest of long standing. He collected copies of the sacred texts and the commentaries written on them with a zeal that matched that of Ptolemy Philadelphus” (HE 7.22.5). Theodosius, he says, was “the equal of all true priests, and never approved of those who tried to persecute others. Just as the book of Numbers could say of Moses, ‘And the man Moses exceeded in gentleness every other person on earth’ (Num 12:3), so too it can now be said of the Emperor Theodosius that he exceeded in gentleness every other person on earth” (HE 7.42.2). Tellingly, Socrates omits any mention of Theodosius I’s repentance in front of Ambrose, whereas both Sozomen and Theodoret describe it in vivid terms. At the same time, he asks readers’ forbearance when he eschews honorific language such as “most divine” and “lords” in regard to the emperors, just as he avoids “most dear to God,” “most holy,” and the like in regard to bishops, since “the laws of history” (tois nomois tēs historias) obligate him to an honesty that may offend ecclesiastical “zealots” when he begins to discuss “the events of our own day” (HE 6.Pref.6–10). 96. Leppin, “Church Historians (I),” 237. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 120–123, deemphasizes a directly causal connection. 97. Cf. Leppin, “Church Historians (I),” 241–242. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 169 n. 23, disputes this Socratic attribution of priestly status to the emperor and says that Socrates was more careful of the distinction between church and empire.


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Sozomen: The Pietist We are not well informed about the life of the ecclesiastical historian Sozomen,98 whose full name was probably Salamanes Hermeias Sozomenos.99 Born around 380 to Christian parents in Bethelea near Gaza in Palestine, we know only that he managed to get a passable classical education of the standard secondary type,100 probably followed by a course of study at the well-known school of rhetoric in Gaza. Afterward he studied law, sometime around 400–402, presumably at the school of law in Beirut. The only firm date comes in 443, when he was present in Constantinople and working as a lawyer in the tribunals. We don’t know exactly when he settled there or what kind of law he practiced. His name does not show up on the list of the compilers of the Theodosian Code, which was promulgated in 438, so we do not know for sure if he worked on that project.101 His death date is uncertain, but the incomplete condition of the ninth and last book of his HE suggests he may have died before 448.102 In a dedication letter to the emperor Theodosius II (408–450), Sozomen says that those who wished to present themselves to a ruler chose for presentation some achievement of their own that was of special importance to the ruler. He contrasts his offering with those made by predecessors in that his deals with the excellence of piety (eusebeia), the virtue that was “the true ornament of the empire,” but which no one previously has chosen for its theme.103 Piety, then, will be his subject, as the foundation of imperial greatness and prosperity. To quote the opening of book 9, “It appears to me that it was the design of God to show by the events of this period [the reign of Theodosius II], that piety alone suffices for the salvation of princes; and that without piety, armies, a powerful empire, and every other resource, are to no avail.”104 Like Socrates, Sozomen organizes his history on the 98. Sozomen’s history is available, with the Greek text of J. Bidez and G. C. Hansen, in Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 306, 418, 495, 516. Unless indicated otherwise, English translations are taken from Sozomen, Church History, trans. Hartranft, NPNF 2.1:239–427. On Sozomen, see esp. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété; Argov, “Church Historian in Search of an Identity.” 99. So the patriarch Photius calls him (Bibliotheca, cod. 30), as cited in Grillet, “Introduction,” in Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 306:9–10, which defends this as the correct form. Fuller discussion of the name in Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 46–51. Biographical information that follows is taken from Grillet, SC 306:11–25. I note here the significantly later dating of Van Nuffelen, ibid., 51–53, who puts his birth in or shortly after 403, thus making him a full generation younger than Socrates, a difference Van Nuffelen sees as significant (ibid., 82). 100. Grillet, “Introduction,” SC 306:17. 101. Ibid., 22. 102. Ibid., 25. 103. Sozomen, Dedication Letter 2 (SC 306:92). 104. Soz. HE 9.2. Van Nuffelen’s monograph brilliantly elaborates the ways in which this theme plays out in Sozomen’s history. For the title of his study, he credits John Cassian, Institutes 2.5.3, who says that the first ascetics passed on a heritage of peace and piety (hereditatem pietatis ac pacis, cited in Un héritage de paix et de piété, 162 n. 366).

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basis of imperial reigns, though in nine books rather than seven: books 1 and 2 on ecclesiastical affairs under Constantine (324–337); books 3 and 4 on those under his sons (337–361); books 5 and 6 on those under Julian, Jovian, and Valentinian I and Valens (361–378); books 7 and 8 on those under Gratian and Valentinian II, Theodosius I, and Arcadius and Honorius (378–408); and the ninth and last book, on the affairs of the current emperor, Theodosius II.105 Though the structure is broadly chronological, Sozomen will adjust the order of events when it suits his purposes.106 According to the dedicatory letter, the intended date of conclusion is 439, though in fact the book ends in 425. He wrote his book sometime between 439–440 and 450, probably toward the middle of that ten-year period.107 By universal admission, Sozomen wrote after Socrates and had his work to hand when he wrote, even though he never mentions him by name.108 In the eyes of some critics, the linkage is close enough to charge Sozomen with plagiarism.109 In Van Nuffelen’s analysis, the two historians differ with respect to age and social location (Socrates being more at ease in the capital, with Sozomen an outsider from Palestine), as well as substantive differences, such as Socrates’s sympathy for the intellectual heritage of classical literature, Origenism, and the Novatianist church, while Sozomen is marked by a greater juridical precision, a much keener opposition to heresy (a word that for Socrates is merely a neutral designation for a school of thought or party orientation in the church, but for Sozomen is almost always an adversarial designation110), and a greater interest in monastic life and in Christianity’s existence beyond the empire, “among the Persians and barbarians.”111 There is also a contrast in the place they give to providentialism in their theologies of history. We have already noted Socrates’s disavowal of an effort to explain God’s

105. Sozomen, Dedication Letter 19–21. For the overall plan of the book, see the outline in Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 432–435. 106. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 279–290. 107. Ibid., 59–61. 108. Sabbah, “Introduction: Sozomène et Socrate,” in Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 306:59. Peter Van Nuffelen’s monograph, which we have cited often, offers the most sustained and discriminating comparison of Socrates and Sozomen; see summaries in Un héritage de paix et de piété, 82–85, 158–162, 214–218, 262–264, 290–291, 307–312, 403–405, 407–425. See also Urbainczyk, “Observations on the Differences between the Church Histories of Socrates and Sozomenus.” 109. Cf. examples in Argov, “Church Historian in Search of an Identity,” 370–371. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 244–245, speaks of “exaggeration” and even of “deception” in Sozomen’s account of his use of written sources. Sabbah, “Introduction,” SC 306: 67–69, defends Sozomen on the basis of what contemporary readers might have expected by way of originality. 110. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 78. He discounts countervailing usages such as Soz. HE 9.10.1 as due to Sozomen’s rewriting of the historian Olympiodorus. 111. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 82–84, citing Sozomen’s statement about embracing a wider ambit: Soz. HE 1.1.18–19.


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intentions (see Soc. HE 1.22.14), whereas Sozomen explicitly links piety with the designs of providence in history.112 On the other hand, the two shared in common their standing as laymen who were not directly connected to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, nor was either of them closely identified with the leading classes of the empire.113 And as Van Nuffelen’s study has shown so well, they shared a conception of what constituted “ecclesiastical history” and distinguished it from classicizing historiography: not a difference in method or form but a difference in subject matter, as ecclesiastical history dealt with the church and not with empire, save insofar as the affairs of the empire impinged on the affairs of the church.114 Van Neffelen’s brilliant characterization of how a Eusebian vision of a world-triumphant divine Logos was chastened and, so to speak, brought down to earth by a century of experience in a now Christian empire is too long to quote here. Essentially, he says that ecclesiastical historians had to learn to see the church more as a distinctive social space within the empire, rather than as in itself the end of divine action in the world, as it had once been for Eusebius. That status now attached to the whole of the Christian order, which could be imagined as having a spatial unity to match the temporal unity that marked Christian theology of history. Within such a shared understanding of ecclesiastical history, suggests Van Nuffelen, Socrates and Sozomen nevertheless presented distinctive pictures of where and how God was acting in the world. For Socrates, it was through the constant struggle on behalf of a universal peace, in both church and empire, a peace that was always at risk of being lost and needing to be restored. For Sozomen it was through the efforts of individuals, from ascetics to emperors, to embody true piety and adhere to true doctrine, and thereby advance the divine economy of history. Neither historian, however, conceived of a history of salvation moving toward a final eschatological goal. Neither presupposes a definitive end of history in the parousia. For both of them, history in that sense more or less seems to stop.115 Sozomen engaged with Eusebius much less than Socrates did. While professing to admire his learning, he considered Eusebius an Arian but never grapples with his theology.116 Unlike Socrates, he does not present himself as writing in direct 112. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 172, citing Soz. HE.dedication.21, 6.1–2, 6.39–40, 7.13–14, 7.22–24, 8.25, and 8.27 (in the last of these, at the end of book 8, disasters in Constantinople are blamed on divine wrath for the mistreatment of John Chrysostom). It would be misleading to exaggerate Socrates’s reticence regarding providence; cf. Soc. HE 4.36, where “divine Providence” is credited for restraining the damage done by revolting Saracens, though the episode is based on the account in Rufinus, HE 11.6. 113. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 83. 114. Ibid., 170–172. 115. Ibid., 158–162. 116. Ibid., 79 n. 442, citing Soz. HE 1.15.11 and 2.25.1.

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succession to Eusebius’s history. In fact, at the beginning of his book, Sozomen tells his readers that he initially toyed with the idea of starting his history with the very beginning of Christianity rather than with the termination of Eusebius’s history in Constantine’s unification of the empire—a do-over rather than a continuation. But after considering what earlier writers had done—among whom Eusebius is merely the last on the list—he says that he decided to limit himself to an epitome in two books: I at first felt strongly inclined to trace the course of events from the very commencement; but on reflecting that similar records of the past up to their own time had been compiled by those wisest of men, Clement117 and Hegesippus, who followed in the succession from the apostles, by Africanus the historian, and by Eusebius, surnamed Pamphilus, a most learned expert (polumathestatos istōr) in the sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Greek poets and historians, I merely drew up an epitome (epitemomenos) in two books of all that is recorded to have happened to the churches, from the ascension of Christ to the deposition of Licinius. Now, however, by the help of God, I will endeavor to relate the subsequent events as well.118

This epitome has not survived. But its very existence means that Sozomen thought it incumbent to begin with Christ—not, however, with the Incarnation itself (as Eusebius had done) but with the Ascension, a choice that Van Nuffelen correctly says reflects the influence of the Lucan structuration of historical time found in the Acts of the Apostles, which we pointed to in chapter 1.119 The opening section of book 1 in Sozomen’s HE contains echoes of Eusebius’s elaborate overture in book 1 of his own HE: the loss of native kingship when Herod the Great was appointed by the Romans, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Genesis 49:10; Josephus’s alleged witness to Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; and the unbelief of the Jews, though they had been given the gospel in advance in the Law and the Prophets.120 But in general he reveals little declared reliance on Eusebius’s HE, which he cites explicitly in just two instances. One is Eusebius’s testimony that he had seen a figure in relief of the woman with the flow of blood (cf. Matt 9:20–22) and a related figure of Jesus preserved in Caesarea Philippi. The other is Eusebius’s evidence that the ancient Hebrews observed Passover after the vernal equinox.121 Far 117. Sc. of Rome, as indicated by the chronological order (perhaps also the pseudo-Clementines, as per Sabbah, SC 306:116 n. 1). 118. Soz. HE 1.1.12 (trans. slightly modified). 119. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 134. 120. Soz. HE 1.1.3, 1.1.5, 1.1.10, and 1.1.12; cf. Eus. HE 1.6.1, 6–7, 1.11.1, 1.1.2, and 2.Pref.; Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 475–476. 121. Eus. HE 7.18 at Soz. HE 5.21.1–4, and Eus. HE 7.32 (from the “Canons of Anatolius”) at Soz. HE 7.18.7. Following Eusebius, Sozomen also considers the Egyptian contemplatives described by Philo in On the Contemplative Life as Christian monks and nuns, but he cites Philo as his source without mentioning Eusebius (Soz. HE 1.12.9–10; cf. Eus. HE 2.17).


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more frequent are instances in which Sozomen draws on material in Eusebius’s Life of Constantine.122 Only once though does he mention Eusebius by name as the source. That is in Sozomen’s account of the visionary experiences behind Constantine’s conversion (Soz. HE 1.3). In the Life of Constantine, Eusebius records a daytime vision of the cross over the sun, with the message “In this, conquer,” followed by a nighttime dream of Christ telling him to use the sign in the heavens as his talisman in battle (Eus. VC 1.28–29). Sozomen’s account actually conflates Eusebius’s narrative with an adaptation of Eusebius that Sozomen found in Rufinus’s translation of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History. Rufinus had taken Eusebius’s narrative from the Life of Constantine, embellished it, and inserted into his Latin version of the victory of the Milvian Bridge in Eusebius’s HE.123 Sozomen just slapped the two together, first (without acknowledgment) Rufinus’s embellished version, replete with angels who proclaim, “In this, conquer,” and then Eusebius’s own account, but probably from Socrates’s use of it (Soc. HE 1.2.3–6) rather than directly from the Life of Constantine. This kind of cutting and pasting of sources, usually unacknowledged, is typical of Sozomen’s practice and different from what he says in his preface about his sources and how he plans to use them: I shall record the transactions with which I have been connected, and also those concerning which I have heard from persons who knew or saw the affairs in our own day or before our own generation. But I have sought for records of events of earlier date, amongst the established laws appertaining to religion, amongst the proceedings of the synods of the period, amongst the innovations [ = heresies] that arose, and in the epistles of kings and priests. Some of these documents are dispersed and in the possession of the learned. I thought frequently of transcribing the whole, but on further reflection I deemed it better, on account of the mass of the documents, to give merely a brief synopsis of their contents; yet whenever controverted topics are introduced, I will readily transcribe freely from any work that may tend to the elucidation of truth.124

Van Nuffelen points out that the appeal to eyewitness testimony for the current or previous generation was an accepted dictum of classical historiography. But contrary to classical historiography and in keeping with Eusebius’s precedent, for recovering more distant events, Sozomen appeals to written documents (laws, synodal acts, heretical literature, and letters), whereas classical writers would have used written narratives. Sozomen invoked the use of documents as a way of strengthening his claim to direct knowledge rather than mediated knowledge of the past.125 122. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 475–480, reviews instances in the first two books of Sozomen’s history. Subsequent references to Eusebius himself are laconic and factual. 123. Cf. Rufinus, HE 9.9.1–3. 124. Soz. HE 1.1.13. 125. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 244. I depend here on Van Nuffelen’s careful critique of Sozomen’s use of sources, at 242–262; cf. the list at 475–497.

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The claim is disingenuous. In practice he depends most often not on documents per se but on Rufinus and Socrates as narrative sources, along with Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, for events in the decades after the termination of Eusebius’s HE.126 In claiming that his use of documents confirms his veracity as a historian, Sozomen has, says Van Nuffelen, “radicalized” traditional theory by extending direct characterization equally to documents.127 And more often than not, Sozomen concedes, he will only be summarizing the documents rather than quoting verbatim. Theodoret: The Bishop Where knowledge of Theodoret of Cyrus, the third orthodox historian among the famous troika, is concerned, we are in a vastly different situation than with either Socrates or Sozomen, thanks to his prolific literary production and prominent involvement in the ecclesiastical affairs of the first half of the fifth century.128 Born in Antioch probably in 393, he grew up speaking Syriac, his mother tongue, and Greek.129 His family were landed proprietors who could afford the rhetorical education that would stand him in good stead as a writer and would enable him to move with ease among his ecclesiastical and social peers. His mother, though married at thirteen, was drawn to the ascetical movement, and was twenty-six when Theodoret was born. Dedicated to God by his parents even before his conception,130 he was put in the service of the bishop as a youth and made a lector at seventeen or eighteen. After the death of his parents when he was twenty-three, Theodoret sold all his goods and became a monk in a community near Apamea, where he lived from 416 to 423. The bishop of Apamea, a certain Polychronius, was a brother of Theodore of Mopsuestia and a disciple of Diodore of Tarsus (d. 394), renowned theological voices in Antiochene Christianity who are celebrated in Theodoret’s history.131 He chose to end his history with Theodore’s death in 428 (and the death of Bishop Theodotus of Antioch a year later), in a passage we will quote and discuss below (Theod. HE 5.42.1–3). In 423 Theodoret’s reputation as a preacher and a monk led to his consecration as bishop of Cyrus, a small city about seventy-five miles northeast of Antioch.

126. Van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété, 245, also 254–255. 127. Ibid., 247. 128. See Théodoret, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 501, 530, using the Greek text of L. Parmentier and G. C. Hansen (GCS, n.s., 5, 1998). Translations are from Theodoret, Church History, trans. Jackson, NPNF 2.3. 129. See the biographical sketch in Martin, “Introduction,” in Théodoret, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 501:11–28, on which I depend. 130. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:12; see letter 81, in Théodoret de Cyr, Correspondance, vol. 2, SC 98:196.4–7. 131. On Diodore, see Theod. HE 2.24.7–11, 2.28.8, and 4.25.1–4.


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There he was a vigorous pastoral presence,132 as a builder of local monuments (including two bridges, porticoes, and an aqueduct and caring for the local baths), an advocate against the central government’s taxation policies, a represser of heresies, a mentor and model for his clergy, and the author of numerous books, among which the work called Philotheos historia (Religious History), a collection of short biographies of Syrian holy men and women, finished in 444, is most closely related to the Ecclesiastical History.133 He became a central protagonist on the Antiochene side in the christological wars ignited by the preaching of his friend Nestorius after the latter became patriarch of Constantinople in 428 and began preaching against the practice of calling Mary the theotokos, in order to protect the integrity of the two natures of Christ.134 The first round in the war produced the rancorous Council of Ephesus in 431 and a de facto schism between the Antiochenes and the party of Cyril of Alexandria, which was not healed until the reunion engineered two years later in 433. Despite his involvement in the drafting of the Formula of Reunion, Theodoret doubted the sincerity of Cyril, who in 438 published an attack on Diodore and Theodore of Mopsuestia to which Theodoret had to respond. Dioscorus, Cyril’s nephew and successor at Alexandria after his death in 444, renewed the controversy in alliance with the Constantinopolitan monk Eutyches, accusing Theodoret of teaching that there were two sons in the Incarnation. Theodoret vigorously protested the charge and in a letter to Dioscorus even embraced the theotokos.135 In March 449 Theodoret was confined to his diocese by an imperial order and prohibited from preaching in Antioch. In August of that year, he was condemned at a second council at Ephesus held under the presidency of Dioscorus in 449, later reviled as the “Robber Council.” He was given permission to leave his bishopric and retire in disgrace to his old monastery near Apamea. From this low point of his career, he was saved by the sudden turnabout in imperial religious policy a year later after the death of the emperor Theodosius II and the succession of Marcian, whose wife Pulcheria was the older sister of Theodosius but was hostile to his religious policy. Theodoret was allowed to attend the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which reversed Ephesus II and recognized his orthodoxy after he accepted the definition and condemned Nestorius. He returned to his see in Cyrus and passed away sometime between 457 and 466.136

132. See his pastoral accounting in letter 81 of 448, SC 98:192–198. 133. Théodoret de Cyr, Histoire des moines de Syrie, ed. Pierre Canivet and Alice Leroy-Molinghen, SC 234, 257 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1977, 1979). 134. See most recently Vranic, Constancy and Development in the Christology of Theodoret of Cyrrhus. 135. Theodoret, Ep. 83, to Dioscorus (SC 98:218.16–21). 136. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:27.

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The date of composition and even the structure of his Ecclesiastical History are linked to the turbulence created by the struggles over the person and nature of Christ, and its climax in the years 449–451. Current scholarship places Theodoret’s history late in the 440s, between 444 and the first half of 448.137 As noted, his narrative ends in 428 with the death of Theodore of Mopsuestia and the death one year later of Bishop Theodotus of Antioch. Here are the final paragraphs: At that time, when the divine Theodotus was governing the church of Antioch, Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia, who was a teacher of the whole Church, having excelled against every heretical phalanx, came to the end of his life. He had first enjoyed the teaching of the famous Diodore, and later was a companion and coworker of the most divine John [Chrysostom]. In common they enjoyed the spiritual outpourings of Diodore. He spent thirty-six years in the episcopate, taking a stand against the phalanx of Arius and Eunomius, contending against the platoon of the thieving Apollinarius, and offering the best provender for God’s sheep. And his brother Polychronius provided outstanding pastoring of the church of Apamea, and marked by the grace of his speech and the splendor of his life. As for me, I end my account here and ask my readers to pay for my labor with their prayers. This history covers a period of a hundred and five years, beginning with the Arian frenzy and reaching its end with the death of these outstanding men, Theodore and Theodotus. I will now list in their rank order those who led the great cities after the persecution.138

Then follow the bishops, the orthodox and also some heretical, as well as others merely schismatic (e.g., Paulinus and Evagrius of Antioch139), in Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. This conclusion is emphatic testimony to the dominant themes in Theodoret’s history. His is above all a history of dogmatic conflict, of creeds and councils, and of the episcopal protagonists in the conflict, whose essential qualities his modern editor identifies as, by turns, apologetic, polemical, and homiletic.140 The great struggle of the fourth century is Arianism’s threat to Trinitarian orthodoxy as defined at Nicaea and Chalcedon. But a secondary battle is signaled by the christological heresy of Apollinarius of Laodicea, whose denial of the human soul of Christ Theodoret sees as an anticipation of the christological errors of monophysitism and the dogmatic Sturm und Drang of the next century: “From this root would later grow the one nature of the flesh and of the divinity (mia tēs sarkos kai tēs thēotētos phusis), and the attribution of the passion to the divinity of the 137. Ibid., SC 501:36. 138. Theod. HE 5.42.1–3, my trans. 139. As holdouts on behalf of the party of the deposed Eustathius of Antioch (r. 325–328), their faction was reintegrated with the larger church in Antioch only very slowly, in 414 but not definitively until 482 (Theod. HE 5.37.3–5, see Martin, in Théodoret, Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 530:478–479 n. 1). 140. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:55.


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Only-begotten.”141 The cessation of his history in 428 with the death of the Antiochene paladin Theodore of Mopsuestia also means that Theodoret does not have to consider Nestorius, who became patriarch of Constantinople in the same year and whose condemnation three years later at Ephesus smeared Theodore with posthumous guilt by association. Dioscorus’s renewal of the anti-Nestorian campaign would also ensnare Theodoret himself within a very short time, if we accept the current dating of the HE. The untypical order of the episcopal lists with which Theodoret’s history ends is equally revealing: Antioch, not Alexandria or Constantinople, immediately follows Rome, reflecting Theodoret’s linkage of the two cities as Petrine sees—with Alexandria behind Antioch, since its founder, Mark, was Peter’s protégé (cf. 1 Pet 5:13). Constantinople is dead last among the five (HE 5.42.3–8), as it is also last in the catalogue of four churches at the beginning of the book (HE 1.3.3).142 It is telling that his account of the Council of Constantinople in 381 mentions the canons in passing but ignores the famous no. 3, which granted the bishop of Constantinople honorary status second after the bishop of Rome because Constantinople was the new Rome.143 In fact, the whole of Theodoret’s history is heavily oriented to Antioch and its complex ecclesiastical history.144 There does not seem to be an equivalent of the “Synoptic problem” in explaining the interrelationships of the quasi-canonical threesome of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. No one doubts that Sozomen used Socrates, to a degree that some regard as problematic. Traditionally, Theodoret’s history was treated as the third of the quasi-canonical three, not only in order of time but also of quality, interest, and length, coming in at only five books versus Socrates’s seven and Sozomen’s nine. But the revision of its dating now puts it before Sozomen.145 Theodoret’s use of Socrates, unlike Sozomen’s, does not take the form of close verbal parallels and may often reflect reliance on common sources, who are then used somewhat differently in a “re-reading” that yields a different narrative orientation.146 Theodoret mentions no other historians by name besides Eusebius himself. In his brief introduction, all he says of the history of “Eusebius of Palestine” (sic) is that it covered what happened in the churches from the apostles to the reign of Constantine, “the friend of God,” and that he intends to continue it from that point: “I will make the end of his history the beginning of mine” (Theod. HE 1.1.4). He makes the standard disclaimer of his unsuitability for the task but cites the pleas of unnamed friends “to record in writing 141. Theod. HE 5.3.3–8 (SC 530:338.42, my trans.), 11, 17; 5.8.4, 9; 5.9.19–20; and 5.10. 142. Cf. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:66. Note for comparative purposes that Rufinus also has Constantinople last but puts Alexandria second after Rome and makes Antioch fourth, after Jerusalem (Ruf. HE 11.21). 143. Theod. HE 5.8.10. 144. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:65–81; also Martin, “Introduction,” SC 530:46–64. 145. Ibid., SC 501:36–37. 146. Ibid., SC 501:82–87, for what follows.

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events in ecclesiastical history that have been left behind (ta leipomena), deeming it not right to look on without effort while noble deeds and useful stories (onēsiphorōn diēgēmatōn) are robbed by oblivion (hupo tēs lēthēs) of their due fame” (HE 1.1.2–3). We will come back to his relation to Eusebius in a moment. But first a comparison with Socrates, with whose history his own shows notable differences. An oft-mentioned contrast has to do with their approaches to chronology, for which Socrates professed a great concern—recall Socrates’s annoyance that his reliance on Rufinus’s faulty chronology required him to rewrite the first two books of his history once he had read Athanasius’s account (Soc. HE 2.1).147 Theodoret, on the other hand, shows almost no concern for precise chronology and is satisfied with vague indicators, such as “at this time,” “after this time,” “before this time,” and so on.148 His narrative is often disordered because of his habit of adverting to events yet to happen whenever a tangent seems relevant to his narrative. Editor Annick Martin notes that what dictated the often-confusing chronology is Theodoret’s powerful apologetic agenda: “Books 1 and 2 have already shown us that apologetics alone determines the work’s structure, constructed from more or less lengthy narrative sequences. Within this demonstrative logic are inscribed documents and dialogues, the latter meant to show an individual’s dark quality or, less often, to highlight the piety or parrhesia of a hero, bishop, monk, or simple lay person.”149 This “demonstrative logic” colors every page of Theodoret’s history. A second and significant point of difference concerns the relation between church and empire. Theodoret does not share Socrates’s concept of a sumpatheia between church and state, in which the well-being of one interacts with the other, at least insofar as that presumes some kind of parity between the two.150 Theodoret’s apologetic agenda reduces all political history, the typical subject matter along with war of classical historiography, to what serves the cause of piety and orthodoxy and the edification of the faithful. In his view, everything depends on piety and orthodoxy, and a “good” emperor is one who submits to piety, to God, and to the bishops—assuming they are orthodox. Theodoret saw the emperor Jovian (r. 363–364) as a supporter of Nicaea because he recalled bishops exiled by Julian. That meant that the thirty-year treaty Jovian was forced to make with the Persian king Shapur after Julian’s defeat and death was actually a sign of God’s providential care for the safe return of an army now commanded by a Christian, which required Theodoret to overlook the ignominious loss of half of Armenia, of 147. By contrast, Theodoret never mentions Rufinus’ history. Given his apparent ignorance of Latin, it seems unlikely that he could have read it (Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:83 n. 2). 148. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:45. Cf. Martin, SC 501:324 n. 1, on Theod. HE 1.31.5 and 32.1, for the only two precise chronological indicators in book 1, both taken from Socrates. 149. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 530:23, citing a detailed table of narrative sequences (cf. 28–36). 150. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 501:49. See Martin’s discussion of religion and politics in the HE, SC 501:42–50 and SC 530:13–21.


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the cities of Nisibis and Singara, and of land beyond the Tigris gained by Diocletian (HE 4.2.1–3).151 Similarly selective assessments can be found for all the other emperors. Constantine’s fourth-century successors are judged largely in terms of their support for or opposition to the Council of Nicaea and to Athanasius. Of the fifth-century heirs of Theodosius I, the Western emperor Honorius (r. 395–423) rates a single paragraph, and that for his supposed banning of gladiatorial combat, with no mention of the sack of Rome in 410 (HE 5.27). In the East his elder brother Arcadius (r. 395–408) is judged mainly in terms of his treatment of John Chrysostom, first being praised for appointing him as patriarch of Constantinople (HE 5.28.1), but then blamed for naively relying on his clergy when John was deposed and exiled in 403 (HE 5.35.3). Arcadius’s son Theodosius II (r. 408–450), who, though reigning in the East for almost all of Theodoret’s adult lifetime, receives just one chapter (HE 5.39) and is celebrated for repatriating the remains of Chrysostom in 438 to the capital (HE 5.39.1–2, also 5.39.15), for his piety, for his destruction of pagan shrines, and for defeating the “Scythians” (Huns) and the Persians through divine intervention more than through actual military defeat: “Thus the universal sovereign protects the faithful emperor, for he clearly acknowledges whose slave he is, and performs fitting service to his master” (HE 5.39.15). Nowhere is Theodoret’s clericalism more vividly portrayed than in his account of Bishop Ambrose of Milan’s disciplining of the emperor Theodosius I for a mass execution of people in reprisal for a riot in Thessalonica in 390. By the time the reader reaches this heavily dramatized account, he has already seen Ambrose praised by no less a person than the emperor himself (Valentinian I) for his free speech (parrhēsia152) in the emperor’s presence: Theodoret has Valentinian endorse the bishops’ selection of Ambrose as bishop of Milan, and praise “the divine law” that separates care of bodies (civil affairs) from care of souls (HE 4.7.8).153 The same division of labor is shown in the celebrated story of Theodosius’s penance. In an instance of what Annick Martin calls Theodoret’s “re-reading” of sources, Theodoret expands what is found in Rufinus’s and Sozomen’s reports (as noted, Socrates ignores the episode altogether)154 by creating dialogue and two personal encounters between Ambrose and Theodosius in the cathedral at Milan, set in “a drama of three acts of excommunication, penance, and reconciliation” (HE 5.17–18).155 151. Martin, SC 530:186 n. 1, notes that Socrates, while recognizing that the dire circumstances made an unfavorable peace treaty a necessity, admitted that it was “by no means honorable to the glory of the Roman name” (Soc. HE 3.22.6). 152. Theod. HE 5.7.8 (SC 530:204.47, 50). 153. Also cf. HE 5.13, which cites Ambrose’s refusal to give up a church in Milan to the Arians, despite imperial threats. 154. Rufinus, HE 11.18, much expanded in Soz. HE 7.25. 155. Excommunication (HE 5.18.1–4), penance (5.18.5–18), and reconciliation (5.18.19–25): Martin, SC 530:406–407 n. 1.

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During his reconciliation, Theodosius is reproved for presuming to take up his customary place in the sanctuary with the clergy, and Ambrose tells him that he belongs on the other side of the chancel with the rest of the laity, because “the purple makes emperors but not priests” (HE 5.18.21). Theodosius then apologizes and deferentially thanks Ambrose for being healed from his error (5.18.22). Theodoret concludes the account by congratulating the bishop for his parrhēsia and the emperor for his docility (eupeitheia).156 Theodoret’s free use of dialogue as shown here is a third difference between his history and that of Socrates. In books 3–5, his use of documents lessens while his reliance on dialogues grows.157 How authentic are these dialogues, which can be quite dramatic, such as the encounter between the emperor Constantius and Bishop Liberius of Rome already in book 2, which celebrates Liberius’s parrhēsia (HE 2.15.10 to 16.1–27)?158 Martin notes that sources for these could range from oral reports collected by Theodoret himself or another source to unacknowledged written sources that he then revises to suit his own purposes. The instances involving Ambrose are good test cases. The participation of Valentinian I in Ambrose’s election is fictional and is contradicted by all other sources, with the emperor not even being in Milan at the time of Ambrose’s selection.159 But Sozomen writes that Valentinian did endorse the election and expressed pleasure that a man whom he had appointed a civil governor was now a bishop (Soz. HE 6.24.4). Theodoret expanded that report to make the division of labor more explicit and dressed it up with direct speech. The whole vignette then sets up Theodoret’s elaborated version of the story of Theodosius’s submission to Ambrose’s authority.160 Ambrose’s rebuke of the emperor’s inappropriate entry into the sanctuary is another detail reported in other sources without being located at a particular moment in Ambrose’s episcopate, but which Theodoret folds into the specific episode of Theodosius’s penance.161 Theodoret has little good to say about Eusebius, whom he plainly considers an Arian (HE 1.5.5, on the basis of Arius’s letter, quoted in HE 1.5.1–4), even though he 156. Theod. HE 5.18.23 (SC 530:412.136). His docility is on display from his first introduction to readers in HE 5.6.1, when Theodosius dreams of meeting “the divine Meletius,” bishop of Antioch, at the Council of Constantinople in 381. In the dream Meletius invests him with imperial robe and crown. Upon meeting him in the flesh, Theodosius greets him “like a boy who loves his father,” and kisses “the hand that had given him the crown” in the dream (HE 5.8.1). 157. See the chart of narrative sequence, documents, and dialogues, with discussion, in Martin, “Introduction,” SC 530:28–46. 158. See Martin’s discussion, SC 501: 87–89. 159. Martin, SC 530:202–203 nn. 1–3, for documentation. 160. Martin, “Introduction,” SC 530:45, suggests that Theodoret’s elaborated version reflects his knowledge of Ambrose’s letter to Theodosius. 161. Compare Theod. HE 5.18.7–9 with Soz. HE 7.25.8–9.


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knows of Eusebius’s assent to the Council of Nicaea and to the homoousion. Normally he calls him Eusebius of Caesarea—occasionally Eusebius of Palestine (HE 1.1.4; 1.15.1, 3; 1.22.1)—to distinguish him from Eusebius of Nicomedia, whom he truly detests. The occurrences are most often in documents. He quotes Eusebius’s letter on Nicaea, which he knows both from Athanasius and from Socrates (Soc. HE 1.8.36–54), in order to turn Eusebius’s assent to the homoousion against those of his own party who refuse it (Theod. HE 1.11.7–8, quoted in full at 1.12). He also quotes from Eusebius’s Life of Constantine (VC 3.13–14, 21–22) on Constantine’s role in coaxing the bishops to homonoia and to an assent to the council (HE 1.13). In HE 1.21, Theodoret includes Eusebius among those who conspired with the other Eusebius, now of Constantinople, in securing the deposition of Eustathius of Antioch, an event that Theodoret resented as the beginning of trouble in the church of Antioch that would take decades to resolve. He does acknowledge Eusebius’s decline of the offer of the now vacant see of Antioch, though he is no doubt pleased to quote Constantine’s discouragement of such a move (HE 1.22.1). Annick Martin suggests that Theodoret also had an interest in emphasizing the primary responsibility of Eusebius of Constantinople in the deposition in order to avoid having to deal with Eusebius of Caesarea’s theological critique of Eustathius, a significant polemic-dogmatic confrontation that Theodoret knew from reading Socrates (cf. Soc. HE 1.23, discussed above).162 Martin describes Theodoret as “Eusebius’s most faithful continuator” among the ecclesiastical historians of the early period.163 She argues that he most closely resembles Eusebius in restricting his choice of topic to matters strictly ecclesiastical (councils, bishops, heretics) and treats political and imperial affairs largely in terms of whether they illustrate the piety or impiety of a given emperor and his policies. This is not convincing. I agree that Eusebius makes the history of heresy and orthodoxy central to his narrative. It is also true that he writes as a bishop— recall his panegyric of Bishop Paulinus of Tyre as “one in whom the entire Christ has taken his seat” (Eus. HE 10.4.67). Finally, it is correct to say that Eusebius is strongly providentialist in his reading of political history, more so perhaps than Socrates, but no more so than Sozomen. That is a central pillar in his theo-political vision. But Eusebius saw history in the round in a way that Theodoret did not. That is perhaps why he demonstrates far more care for chronology than Theodoret does. Eusebius wrote his Chronicle in order to place the Christian story in the context of universal history as he knew it, and there could be only one continuous narrative for that universal history, even if it was tabulated differently by different chronographers. We made a point of saying in chapter 1 that Eusebius’s HE grows almost organically out of his Chronicle. Eusebius makes no apology for breaking 162. Martin, SC 501:282 n. 1, 284–285 n. 1. 163. Martin, SC 501:39; also SC 501:43, 50, and SC 530: 64.

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into Roman history and politics in the final three books of his ecclesiastical history, since the Roman Empire is integral to the story he wants to tell, and his documentation suddenly ceases to be ecclesiastical in the broad sense and becomes political. And perhaps most importantly of all, Eusebius differs drastically from Theodoret in his deference to the special place of a Christian emperor in God’s plan. It is hard to imagine him sharing Theodoret’s pleasure in Ambrose’s humbling of Theodosius. Something quite new has emerged in Christian politics when bishops can excommunicate emperors and can condemn them as Antichrist, as Athanasius does with Constantius.164 Evagrius Scholasticus: The End of Ecclesiastical History? We turn now to the Ecclesiastical History written by Evagrius of Epiphaneia (present-day Hama in Syria) (ca. 535–after ca. 600), traditionally known as Evagrius Scholasticus because of his professional training as a lawyer.165 His book is commonly regarded as the last in the series of Eusebius’s continuators that began with Rufinus of Aquileia (or with Gelasius of Caesarea, depending on how one regards the problematic remains attributed to him). The notion that Eusebius and his successors up to Evagrius thus constituted a cohort, a historiographical canon, seems to have taken hold early and was to have a long life. The patriarch Photius, for example, listed Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius as a set right after his entry on Eusebius’s history.166 Mention must be made here of the Ecclesiastical History attributed to a certain Theodore, who, because he was a reader in Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, is known to history as Theodore Lector or Theodore the Reader, the designation by which we shall refer to him. He seems to have written his book while in exile at Gangra in Paphlagonia, where he had been sent because his Chalcedonian views were out of step with imperial policy under the emperor Anastasius. It exists now only in excerpts from an epitome, covering the period from the end of Eusebius’s history up to 518.167 Theodore’s history certainly played 164. On the limited capacity of the Christian emperors to manage the government of the church, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 165–179. 165. Whitby, The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus, xx–xxi. Quotations are taken from this edition unless otherwise indicated. The Greek text of Bidez and Parmentier is reproduced in Évagre le scholastique/Histoire ecclésiastique, SC 542, 566. See also Whitby, “Church Historians and Chalcedon”; and Leppin, “Roman Identity in a Border Region.” Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople, discusses Evagrius’s history and its relationship to the ecclesiastical histories of Zachariah and Theodore the Reader, whom Blaudeau treats as a triad of representative voices for their era, “the continuators of the continuators” (513); see esp. 12–15, 513–579, and for Evagrius in particular, 655–698. 166. Photius, Bibliotheca, codd. 27 (Eusebius), 28 (Socrates), 29 (Evagrius), 30 (Sozomen), and 31 (Theodoret). 167. Theodoros Anagnostes, Kirchengeschichte, ed. Hansen, GCS, n.s., 3. Theodore’s history will become an important contributor to the ninth-century Byzantine Chronicle of Theophanes (see chapter 5).


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its own part in this “canonization” process, because it treated Theodoret, Sozomen, and Socrates (in that order) as a privileged set: to cover the years between Constantine’s twentieth year and the reign of Theodosius II in 439, Theodore harmonized their separate histories into a single whole.168 That synthesis would have a lasting impact in the Latin world as well, since it inspired Cassiodorus’s decision to create a Latin version conventionally known as the Tripartite History (see chapter 4). Theodore himself composed the coverage of history from 439 to his book’s termination in 518.169 The concept of an historiographical canon of early Christianity will reappear in the early modern period with the recovery of the knowledge of Greek and the invention of printing (see chapter 6). Evagrius certainly saw himself standing in a chain of tradition that began with Eusebius, as he says in his preface: Eusebius son of Pamphilus—this was a man who was particularly erudite in various respects and especially in the ability to persuade his readers to practice our faith, even if he was not capable of making them absolutely correct. Now Eusebius son of Pamphilus, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Socrates have elaborated better than everyone else the arrival amongst us of the benevolent God, the ascent to heaven, all the accomplishments both of the venerable apostles as well as of the martyrs who contended to the end, or anything else indeed done by others which for us is praiseworthy, or indeed otherwise, up to a point in the reign of Theodosius [Theodosius II].170 Since subsequent events, which are not inferior to these, have not obtained any sort of sequential account, I decided, even though I am not expert at such matters, to undertake the labor for their sake and to make these into an account, putting full trust in Him who both gave wisdom to fishermen and changed an unreasoning tongue into articulate eloquence. I decided to resurrect deeds already deadened by oblivion, to bring them to life in word, and to make them immortal in memory, so that each of the readers may be able to know the what, when, where, how, to whom, and by whom things happened up to our time, so that nothing worthy of remembrance may escape notice through concealment under neglectful and slack indolence and its neighbor oblivion. I will begin with divine assistance in the lead, from the point where the aforementioned terminated their narrative. (Evag. HE 1.Pref., trans. Whitby)

168. He explains his procedure in his dedicatory letter to an unnamed cleric, written from his exile in Gangra, where he presumably had been sent because his Chalcedonian views were out of step with the policies of the emperor Anastasius: Theodore, HE, ed. Hansen, 1; cf. Hansen, “Einleitung,” X. 169. For a summary of the extant portions of the history that are Theodore’s own work, see Whitby, “Church Historians and Chalcedon,” 467–472. 170. Whitby, The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus, 5 n. 2, cites a similar allusion to the sequence of Eusebius, Socrates, and Theodoret in the sixth-century Chronicle attributed to PseudoZachariah (2.1).

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At the end of book 5, Evagrius repeats this assertion and names the same predecessors: Eusebius, Theodoret, Sozomen, and Socrates (in that order; HE 5.24). His book does represent a culmination of some kind, because no Greek writer for a long time afterward would write “ecclesiastical history” under that title—not until seven hundred years later, when the Byzantine writer Nicephorus Callistus (ca. 1256–ca. 1335) would produce one, though it takes history only as far as 610 and is largely based on the same authors we are reviewing here, who had long since become canonical.171 Evagrius’s history shows, however, that the genre as it had developed since Eusebius was becoming more diffuse and tending to revert to the type of general historical writing with which Eusebius had made a decisive break. We will discuss that question in a moment. But first something on Evagrius himself. Evagrius was born into a family of sufficient means to afford him an excellent education.172 At some point he moved to Antioch to study rhetoric and then, perhaps in the late 550s, to Constantinople to study law for four years. He returned to Antioch to practice law and spent the remainder of his life there, sharing in the rolling waves of war, plague, and earthquake that washed over the city in the second half of the sixth century. He himself suffered the plague as a boy of seven, and was later to lose a wife, daughter, grandson, and other relatives to subsequent sieges of illness. In the penultimate chapter of his history, Evagrius tells the story of how Simeon the Stylite the Younger intuited his anxiety over the loss of his children and his doubts why pagans “with many children” had not lost theirs, and counseled him to put his thoughts aside, for they were displeasing to God (HE 6.23). Resettled in Antioch after his legal studies, Evagrius prospered and became a prominent local citizen. When he remarried in 588, the wedding was a great public event, though it figures in his history because the festivities were interrupted by a great earthquake (HE 6.8). At some point he entered the service of Gregory, Patriarch of Antioch (r. 570–593), who is a central figure in the last two books of the HE, which ends with Gregory’s death in 593 (HE 6.24).173 Antioch and its Syrian environs thus dominate Evagrius’s history, which begins with the condemnation of Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and ends in the twelfth year of the emperor Maurice (August 593 or 594). We mentioned above that his book in some respects appears to revert to older traditions of historical 171. See chapter 5. Whitby, “Greek Historical Writing after Procopius,” 66, observes that Evagrius was conscious of a difference between ecclesiastical history (or any kind of history) and a chronicle: Evagrius used Malalas as a source but omitted him in his historiographical succession. 172. Whitby, “Introduction,” in Evagrius Scholasticus, xiii. I rely on Whitby for this biographical information. 173. Cf. the praise of Gregory’s character in HE 5.6, and the vivid account in HE 6.7 of the crisis of Gregory’s career in 588, when he faced a revolt in the city and was forced to travel to Constantinople to face charges of immorality before a court of his clerical peers, during which ordeal Evagrius served as his adviser.


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writing devoted to secular developments. There are differences of opinion about the fact that Evagrius gives more attention to secular concerns as he gets to his own time.174 In the first three books of the HE, he allots ecclesiastical and secular narratives into alternating sections, which allows him to exploit literary sources of different types without having to blend them into a single narrative, though at the cost of narrative coherence.175 Examples of such transitions from an ecclesiastical to a secular source are found in HE 3.1, 3.24, 3.35, among other passages. A shift in relative emphasis begins to be evident in book 4. Ecclesiastical affairs still dominate, but, relying on the historian Procopius as a source, Evagrius has a long section (HE 4.12–27) dealing mainly with secular affairs, while still giving events an explicitly providentialist interpretation.176 At the end of book 5, there is a significant discussion in which he lists his historian predecessors and groups them into what seem to be two categories, the sacred and the profane (cf. HE 5.24). He first lists historians who dealt with religious matters and distinguishes them from those who wrote about secular affairs. The former category begins with the church historians Eusebius, Theodoret, Sozomen, and Socrates (in that order), then moves to sacred history in the Bible, as narrated by Moses first of all, followed by other Old Testament authors and then by Josephus. In a second category are those who wrote about Greek, barbarian, or Roman events, “whether in legend or in fact,” going back to the beginning of human existence. In the same category, apparently, are historians who have written about history since the conversion of Constantine up to Evagrius’s own time, be they pagans like Zosimus or Christians like Procopius. The chronological, topical, and religious inclusivity/expansiveness of this list as a whole does suggest that Evagrius was consciously retrieving an older historiographical tradition.177 Nevertheless, it is telling that not once but twice he gives Eusebius primacy in the rank of historians. And he certainly follows him in his reliance on documents— consider the lengthy appendix to book 2, which contains an epitome of the acts of the Council of Chalcedon, the pivotal ecclesiastical event of the fifth and sixth centuries, and three conciliar documents (HE 2.18). He also seems to see Eusebius as a model for how someone can still earn respect even if his theological views are not entirely correct. Note how the praise of Eusebius that begins Evagrius’s history acknowledges that the value of Eusebius’s contributions was not lessened by his 174. Whitby, “Introduction,” xlvii, sees no difference here from earlier church historians, who, he says, likewise tended to deal with more secular topics as they approached their own lifetimes. 175. Whitby, “Introduction,” 179–180 n. 135. 176. Whitby, “Church Historians and Chalcedon,” 487–488. 177. Van Nuffelen, “Theology versus Genre?,” 168–170, construes this passage (Evagrius, HE 5.24) as evidence that Evagrius alone among early Christian writers was writing universal history rather than strictly ecclesiastical history.

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hesitant embrace of the Council of Nicaea: “This was a man who was particularly erudite in various respects and especially in the ability to persuade his readers to practice our faith, even if he was not capable of making them absolutely correct.”178 He may have wanted to recommend such tolerance, since Evagrius lived through the century that saw the beginning of the christological schisms that would permanently divide Eastern Christianity.179 Though a firm supporter of the Chalcedonian definition, he scorned the odium theologicum that pitted the defenders of “in (en) two natures” against those who insisted that Christ could only be said to be “out of (ek) two natures”—a quibble about a letter that reminded him painfully of the rigidity that kept homoousians and homoiousians from seeing the substantive agreement beneath the formulaic difference. He signaled this criticism already at HE 1.1 (with reference to Arius’s heresy) and took it up in detail in HE 2.5: “And nevertheless men consider these things to be so distinct from one another, whether just from habit concerning their opinion of God or from a prior decision to think thus, that they scorn every form of death rather than move to approval of the reality” (HE 2.5, trans. Whitby, slightly modified). Evagrius was willing to use historians as sources, even if he disagreed with their personal views or interpretations. For his account of ecclesiastical affairs in the forty years after Chalcedon, he relied heavily on the Ecclesiastical History written by Zachariah of Mytilene.180 We know this historical work only through a later Syriac epitome and will have more to say about it when we look at Eusebius’s impact on the Syriac tradition. Zachariah was firmly opposed to Chalcedon, but Evagrius used ecclesiastical documents to blunt what he saw as dogmatic bias.181 Zachariah’s anti-Chalcedonian sentiments disqualified him from membership in Evagrius’s approved list of church-historical predecessors.182 An important source for secular history was the pagan historian Zosimus, who, however, also preserved traditions that were hostile to Constantine, including the executions of Constantine’s son Crispus and his stepmother, the empress Fausta—an episode mentioned in other ancient sources, Christian as well.183 In an extended defense of 178. Whitby, “Church Historians and Chalcedon,” 481, emphasis added. 179. Whitby, “Introduction,” 80, notes the parallel too with Socrates’s disapproval of dogmatic squabbling, citing Soc. HE 1.23.6. 180. Whitby, “Introduction,” xxiii-xxv; Allen, “Zachariah Scholasticus and the Historia Ecclesiastica of Evagrius Scholasticus.” See now Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople, 655–668. 181. Whitby, “Church Historians and Chalcedon,” 484. 182. Allen, “Zachariah Scholasticus and the Historica Ecclesiastica of Evagrius,” 488; Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople, 656: “We have to analyze here the method that Evagrius used to take advantage of Zachariah’s work while at the same time discrediting it”; on Zachariah’s own work, see Blaudeau, 581–617 ; and Greatrex, The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor, 3–31. 183. Soz. HE 1.5; Philostorgius, HE 2.4 (cited in Whitby, “Introduction,” 186 n. 152).


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Constantine, Evagrius tries to discredit Zosimus by observing that Eusebius never speaks of it, even though “he was a contemporary of Constantine and Crispus and was an associate of theirs” (HE 3.41). Evagrius quotes Eusebius’s HE to show that Crispus was in good standing with his father, since at the end of his history, Eusebius describes Crispus as “an emperor beloved of God and like his father in all respects” (Eus. HE 10.9.6). And he adds that since Eusebius outlived Constantine, he would not have allowed such praise of Constantine’s son to stand if he had died in disgrace. Crispus’s name in fact is missing in the Syriac translation of this passage in Eusebius’s HE, an excision that probably reflects an early stage in the history of the manuscripts of the HE when there was an effort to delete the embarrassing memory of the execution.184 But Evagrius’s sensitivity to this particular black mark on Constantine’s reputation is something we’ve already seen in the church historians and will encounter again. It is part of the historians’ common commitment to the ideology of a Christian Roman Empire, as we can see from the vigor with which Evagrius rises to Constantine’s defense, and to the whole theme of the divine compatibility of church and empire: “And you [Zosimus] say, you most polluted and utterly wicked man, that from the time that Christianity was revealed the affairs of the Romans have waned and been altogether lost, either because you have read nothing of earlier writers or because you deliberately distort the truth. On the contrary, it is plainly revealed that Roman affairs have prospered together with our faith.” This launches Evagrius into a three-page review of Roman history to make his point, which he concludes a bit defensively by saying: “Let no one think that these things are irrelevant to the ecclesiastical history, but quite certainly necessary and essential, since the historians of the Hellenes deliberately distort precision” (Evag. HE 3.41). With Evagrius’s ecclesiastical history, a long chapter in Greek Christian historiography closes.185 A new one will not open until late in the Byzantine period. The question naturally arises why a vigorous genre went into such a prolonged hibernation. The answer must have something to do with the progressive integration of church and Christian society, which advanced to the point that a specifically ecclesiastical history seemed otiose. Martin Wallraff has recently argued that, besides the blurring of the church’s identity as a distinct object of study, the practice that began with Eusebius of setting the Incarnation as a chronological starting point lost its cogency, and that the genre of the universal chronicle, which marked time from Creation itself (anno mundi), was more useful because more inclusive.186 In 184. See the first section in chapter 3, on the Syriac translation of the HE. 185. Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 190, 209, says that Procopius apparently planned to write a church history but never did so. In his Secret History (1.14, 11.33, and 26.18) and in the eighth and final book of Wars (8.25.13), Procopius alludes to a later book of his on subjects that look ecclesiastical. 186. Wallraff, “Warum ist ‘Kirchengeschichte’ in der Antike ausgestorben?”

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addition, the church’s impregnable place in the social order removed the apologetic agenda against heresy and paganism that had been constitutive of the genre ever since Eusebius. Finally, it seems plausible that the Arab conquests of the seventh century dented the credibility and the relevance of Eusebius’s theo-political vision.187 In the next chapter, we will see that factor operative among other Eastern Christian writers.

187. Fowden, Before and after Muhammad, 75. Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople, 495, makes a similar point about the cessation of church-historical writing when he says that “the general principles” of Eusebius’s historical hermeneutic “remained valid until the Arab conquest.”


The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Non-Greek East

The HE (Historia ecclesiastica) left its mark in Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic historical literature as well as in Greek and Latin. Syriac and Armenian versions seem to have come into being almost as early as Rufinus’s Latin translation. Manuscript evidence for a Syriac translation of the HE goes back to the fifth and sixth centuries. The Armenian version is generally regarded as a translation of the Syriac, and it too appears to go back to within a century of Eusebius’s death.1 The Coptic tradition of the HE is the most poorly known of the three. A complete Coptic translation may once have existed, but nothing resembling the Syriac and Armenian versions has survived intact. Despite that, enough evidence survives to show us that in Egypt too Eusebius’s book stands at the headwaters of Coptic ecclesiastical history and its Arabic extension after the Arab conquests.2 In all of these non-Greek language traditions, historical writing took place in a political and religious environment that would undergo tumultuous change from the fifth century onward. A trend toward defining “community” in more narrowly religious terms was already underway from the fourth century, as Guy Stroumsa has observed with regard to Jewish as well as Christian communities.3 Christianity in Persia was organized, in the presence of Roman episcopal representatives from the Roman emperor Theodosius II, as the Church of the East at two founding councils in the Persian capital of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in 410 and

1. Mahé, “La version arménienne de l’Histoire ecclésiastique.” 2. Boud’hors and Morlet, “La version copte de l’Histoire ecclésiastique.” 3. Stroumsa, Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity, 109.


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420.4 Its full doctrinal separation came more slowly, as the dogmatic churn of the ecumenical councils led to the condemnation of the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia and the formation by the seventh and eighth centuries of a dyophysite Church of the East committed to the dogma of two “persons” (Syriac qnōmē).5 Further Eastern Christian rejections of the two-nature Christology of the Council of Chalcedon (451) would, within a century of Chalcedon, lead to the creation of separate miaphysite Christian churches in Egypt and Egypt’s ecclesiastical dependency in Ethiopia, in Syria, and in Armenia. All of these churches, along with Middle Eastern Christian communities still in communion with Constantinople and the Roman Empire, would then experience the Arab conquests of the seventh century and begin their long histories under Muslim governance, first Arab and then Turkish. Ecclesiastical schism, military defeat, and subservience to non-Christian overlords created new religio-political contexts that naturally shaped how those communities wrote and thought about their history. Although we cannot consider it, we must also mention here the beginning of Christian historiography written in Arabic, and the question of its relationship to Islamic historical writing. Such Christian Arabic historiography will play an important role in helping the several Christian communities understand their relation to one another and to “the increasingly Islamicized socities they lived in.”6 Over the course of time, the religious self-understanding of these communities would take on a defining character that was virtually ethnic. In the case of Syriacspeaking groups in particular, recent scholarship has paid close attention to what historians of early medieval western Europe have called “ethnogenesis.”7 Historical writing was an especially suitable vehicle for witnessing to, and constituting, this process. We will see how Eusebius—both the HE and equally the Chronicle— gave a template for such writing, but also a foil of sorts, because of his vision of 4. Smith, Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia, 128–129, 145–147. See Soc. HE 7.8 on the mission of Bishop Marutha of Maipherqat. My thanks to Kyle Smith for clarification on the founding of the Church of the East. 5. Reinink, “Tradition and the Formation of the ‘Nestorian’ Identity,” settles on East Syrian bishops’ confession of faith to Shah Khusrau II in 612 as the moment when the two-person Christology in the form of two qnōmē became “the formal principle of discrimination” over against West Syrian miaphysite and Byzantine dyophysite Christologies. 6. Conterno, “Christian Arabic Historiography at the Crossroads.” Maria Conterno, who kindly sent me a pre-publication copy of her paper, notes that some of these Christian communities took up writing in Arabic sooner than others—the West Syrians or Syriac Orthodox persisted in using Syriac four hundred years after Melkite and East Syrian Christians had switched to Arabic. 7. Romeny, “Ethnicity, Ethnogenesis, and the Identity of Syriac Orthodox Christians,” 197–201, says that the group now called the Syriac Orthodox began as a religious association inspired by the fifth-century christological controversies and became an ethnic community before 1300, with Islam’s arrival as the catalyst. On the same issue regarding the Church of the East, see Murre-van den Berg, “Church of the East.”


The Reception in the Non-Greek East

Christian history, so wedded to the empire of Constantine and his successors. The past generation of scholarship has seen a remarkable efflorescence in the study of that Eastern and non-Greek Christian historiography. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship treated it with orientalist condescension, alleging its uncritical methods and poor style, and saw its value chiefly in the lost sources it may have preserved. Today scholars realize these works are valuable in and of themselves for testifying to a community’s understanding of itself and its world— in Dorothea Weltecke’s fine phrasing, instead of a historiographical text being read as a source for past events, “the historical work itself becomes an event.”8 I have benefited from her work and that of Muriel Debié, Witold Witakowski, Robert Thomson, Tim Greenwood, and many others, in getting a purchase on texts that present formidable interpretive obstacles. SY R IAC C H R I S T IA N I T Y: H I ST O R IO G R A P H Y, D O C T R I NA L C O N F L IC T, A N D R E G I M E C HA N G E

Eusebius’s writings enjoyed wide popularity in the sectors of the Eastern Christian world where Syriac became the dominant language. They seem to have been translated from a very early date. The oldest dated Syriac manuscript, the celebrated BL Add. 12150, was copied in 411 and contains inter alia Eusebius’s apologetic work the Theophany and the longer version of the Martyrs of Palestine.9 We thus have translations of Eusebius’s works that must been completed within a couple of decades of his death. Besides the Ecclesiastical History itself, parts or all of the following works have survived in Syriac versions: the Letter to Carpianus, on Eusebius’s Gospel Canons; the handbook of biblical geography called the Onomasticon; the treatise commonly called the Gospel Questions, to Stephen and to Marinus; the Theophany; the longer version of the Martyrs of Palestine; and the Chronicle.10 The apparent omission of the Constantinian literature is noteworthy, although the late medieval Syriac catalogue of the East Syrian writer ‘Abdīšō (d. 1318) does mention a “history of Constantine” (taš’īthā d-Qust. ant. īnos).11 Is the low profile of the Constantinian literature possibly a reflection of Eastern anti-imperial sentiments? That seems unlikely, at least where 8. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 11–19, 256–257. On applying this approach to the history of the actual manuscripts, see now Butts, “Manuscript Transmission as Reception History.” 9. Cf. Brock, Introduction to Syriac Studies, 61. 10. Eusebius’s works in Syriac: CPG 3495, 3465, 3466, 3470, 3488, 3490, and 3494; and Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 505–507, specifically on the HE and the Chronicle. See the recent overview of Toda, “Miscellanea Syriaca,” 42–43. My thanks to Satoshi Toda, who is preparing a Japanese translation of the HE, for sharing this article. 11. Cf. Assemani, Bibliotheca orientalis 1.538, cited in Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius,” 427 n. 26. No trace of it appears to have survived.

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Constantine himself is concerned, since he is regarded favorably among Syriac historical writers, at least those writing in Roman territory. Persian Christians were more unwilling to attribute to Constantine a direct role as patron of Christians in the East, a reluctance not hard to understand.12 Also, translation of Eusebius’s writings began well before the rupture between the emperors and the dissenters from Chalcedon. We will start this section by reviewing the translation, noting its relation to the Greek original.13 Then we will look more broadly at how ecclesiastical historiography evolved in response to the changing relationship of the Western miaphysite Christians to the church of the empire and its Chalcedonian dogma of the two natures of Christ, followed by their subjection to a series of non-Christian rulers.14 The Church of the East of course was never under Christian rulers. The Syriac translation of the HE is preserved in two very ancient manuscripts. One of them is dated by the colophon to the year 462, and the other can be dated on paleographical grounds to the sixth century. The older of the two is preserved in St. Petersburg (A in the Wright-McLean edition), where it was copied by the British scholar William Wright in 1867, who later collated it with the other manuscript (B), kept in the British Museum.15 Neither is complete. A lacks all of book 6 12. See, e.g., Smith, Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia, 156–169, with special attention to the positive picture of Constantine in the sixth-century Syriac History of Mar Ma’in; but Persian Christian writers on martyrdom kept Constantine and other Christian emperors “at a distance” (173). Cf. McDonough, “Second Constantine?” Wood, “Constantine in the Chronicle of Seert,” notes that the author of the tenth-century Arabic Chronicle of Seert relied less on Eusebius’s HE for his knowledge of Constantine than on the later church historians Socrates and Sozomen, the Silvester legend, and the Syriac Romance of Julian. Conterno, “Culto e memoria di Costantino nelle tradizioni sire,” 426–427 and 436, finds that, while there was no individual cult of Constantine, among Syrian Orthodox he was venerated jointly with his mother Helen and with other “believing kings,” beginning with Abgar of Edessa, who exceeded him in prestige. My thanks to Maria Conterno for sending me a copy of her article. 13. See Debié, “La version syriaque de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 271–275; Toda, “Miscellanea Syriaca,” 43–49; Toda, “Syriac Version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Revisited”; Schwartz, GCS 2.3:XLI–XLIII and LXI–LXIX. 14. On historical writing in Syriac, see Debié, L’historiographie syriaque, and now her magisterial study, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, esp. 297–320, on Eusebius as a source of Syriac historiography. See also Wood, “Historiography in the Syriac-Speaking World.” On the role of historiography in “identity formation” in Syriac-speaking Christianity, see Morony, “History and Identity in the Syrian Churches”; Debié, “Syriac Historiography and Identity Formation”; and Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires.’ ” Wood, “We have no king but Christ,” studies the rise of a distinctive Suryaya identity centered on Edessa and, eventually, miaphysite Christianity, and proposes that a “miaphysite commonwealth” emerged by the sixth century among Christianized Arabs who mimicked the political sponsorship of the Byzantine emperors—but of miaphysite rather than Chalcedonian Christianity. 15. BL Add. 14639 in Wright, Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum, pt. 3, 1039; Wright and McLean, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, v–xii, with annotations by Adalbert Merx from an ancient Armenian translation (xiii–xvii). My thanks to Jonathan Loopstra for compiling a list of additional Syriac extracts from Eusebius’s HE and from the Chronicle in Wright’s catalogue, as evidence of the dissemination of both works.


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and large parts of books 5 and 7. B contains the first five books, of which book 1 is imperfect in the opening chapters. Errors in A suggest that a transmission history must already have taken place, and a date for the translation has therefore been pushed back to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century.16 The original site of the translation and the identity of the translator are unknown, though Satoshi Toda has shown that it cannot have been the same person who translated the Theophany.17 Editor Norman McLean credits the translator with a Syriac rendering that is “good and idiomatic, and in many cases he has rendered freely without altering the general sense. The involved syntax and cumbrous sentences of Eusebius give place to a more perspicuous arrangement of words. On the other hand, liberties have often been taken and misunderstandings are not uncommon, especially where unusual Greek words have to be rendered.”18 One notable alteration, or pattern of alterations, concerns passages in Eusebius’s introduction to book 1 of the HE, which contains a classic statement of the subordinationist theology that Eusebius had inherited and developed from his predecessors. Writing before the Council of Nicaea made such language provocative, Eusebius in several places describes the Logos as “second” in some fashion to the Father.19 This was language that by the end of the fourth century, after the Council of Constantinople had definitively canonized the Nicene dogma, was unacceptable, and both the Syriac translator and Rufinus in his Latin version typically avoided it, as the examples cited below demonstrate.20 Eduard Schwartz also noted that the Syriac version sometimes adapted or ignored rhetorical set pieces of Eusebius, such as the quotation of the speech of divine Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22– 31, which had become so problematic during the Arian controversy, and the elabo16. Wright and McLean, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, ix. 17. Toda, “Miscellanea Syriaca,” 43–48. 18. Wright and McLean, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, ix. For further examples of differences, see Toda, “Syriac Version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History,” 335. 19. E.g., HE 1.2.3, 5, 9, 11, and also 10.4.10. Subordinationist formulas are common in Eusebius’s apologetic works before Nicaea: DE 4.5.3, 4.7.2, 5.Proem.20, 23, 5.6.7; PE 11.14–19, which discusses the agreement between the Bible and the Middle Platonic concept of a second cause. 20. See HE 1.2.3, “the second cause after the Father” (GCS 2.1:12.1–2, ed. Schwartz; cf. 8.2–3, ed. Wright-McLean, who omitted it); HE 1.2.5, where the phrase ton de toutōi deuteronta theion logon, “the divine Word that is second to him,” is absent from the Syriac (GCS 2.1:12.19–20, ed. Schwartz; cf. 8.16– 17, ed. Wright-McLean); HE 1.2.9, where the phrase “the second Lord after the Father” is rendered by the Syriac as “true Lord with the Father” (mry’ dšrr’ ‘m ‘b’) (GCS 2.1:14.20, ed. Schwartz; cf. 9.16, ed. Wright-McLean); HE 1.2.11, “the second place of the kingdom and rule over all,” is simply omitted by the Syriac (GCS 2.1:16.13, ed. Schwartz; cf. 10.12–13, ed. Wright-McLean). A comparable instance is found in Eusebius’s dedication speech for the basilica of Tyre that takes up book 10.4 of the HE. At HE 10.4.10, he speaks of “him who is the second cause (deuteron aition) of good things for us” (GCS 2.2:865.23, ed. Schwartz). At just this point there is a lacuna in A, because a leaf has been lost, but the Armenian translation shows that deuteron had been omitted by the Syriac (GCS 2.2:865.23, ed. Schwartz; cf. 395.10, ed. Wright-McLean).

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rate allegory of the church as a spiritual temple in the dedication speech that Eusebius composed for the basilica of Tyre in HE 10.4.63–68, which the Syriac simply passed over, prompted no doubt by statements like this one: “And on either side of the Father’s greatness he provides the secondary beams of the light of Christ and of the Holy Spirit.”21 The antiquity of both the translation and of the two manuscripts that have preserved it (along with the Armenian translation of the Syriac, on which see below) raise the question of its value as a possible corrective of the Greek manuscript tradition, which only goes back to the ninth or tenth century. Schwartz considered both the Syriac and Rufinus’s Latin to belong, broadly speaking, with the BDM grouping.22 Satoshi Toda has pointed to the potential for textual-critical work, while recognizing that it would require being done jointly with the Latin.23 But work along these lines has yet to happen.24 Ecclesiastical History in Syriac: The History of the Church Becomes the Histories of the Churches As noted above, there is no doubt about Eusebius’s prestige and influence among Eastern Christians who wrote in Syriac.25 So it is with a certain poignancy that we begin with Sebastian Brock’s statement that the Ecclesiastical History “has had an insidious effect on almost all histories of the early church written down to modern times.”26 He criticized Eusebius’s nearly exclusive interest in Christianity’s progress in the Roman Empire, while virtually ignoring Christianity’s expansion to the empire’s eastern periphery and beyond, into Persia. A result of that bias was the historic occlusion of Christianity’s rich development in territories where Greek had not fully displaced Aramaic as the lingua franca.27 Brock of course has devoted a distinguished career to correcting that imbalance by his retrieval of the literary, 21. HE 10.4.65 (GCS 2.2:881.9–11, ed. Schwartz; cf. 403.13, ed. Wright-McLean); see Schwartz, GCS 2.3:XLII. 22. Schwartz, GCS 2.3:LXI–LXV. 23. Toda, “Syriac Version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Revisited,” 337. 24. Debié, “La version syriaque de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 274. 25. Debié, “L’héritage de l’historiographie grecque,” much of which deals with Eusebius; and Debié, “L’héritage de la chronique d’Eusèbe dans l’historiographie syriaque”; Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius”; and Witakowski, “Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Christian Epoch of the First Part of His Chronicle,” which is mainly about Eusebius. 26. Brock, “Eusebius and Syriac Christianity,” 212. 27. On the linguistic situation, see Brock, “Greek and Syriac in Late Antique Syria”; Millar, Religion, Language, and Community in the Roman Near East, 113–138. See now Butts, Language Change in the Wake of Empire, 25–40. Butts’s study in “contact linguistics” concludes that in Syriac’s heartland around Edessa in northern Mesopotamia “there must have been significant Syriac-Greek bilingualism among at least some speakers by at least the turn of the Common Era” (202). On modern Neo-Aramaic, see Murre-van den Berg, “Syrian Awakening.”


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cultural, and religious legacy of the Christian tradition refracted through the linguistic medium of Syriac, as the northern Mesopotamian dialect of Aramaic is known. The geographical parameters of Syriac have varied dramatically over time. The maximum expansion, as far east as western China and as far south as India, was reached already by the seventh century, followed by a drastic contraction after the thirteenth century.28 In the modern period, it survives in the Middle East as a liturgical and literary language and in spoken form as Neo-Aramaic, and wherever persecution, war, and want have forced a worldwide Syriac diaspora.29 For the late ancient period, the distribution of Greek and Syriac inscriptions marked the Euphrates River as a rough linguistic boundary. But Brock notes that the discovery of bilingual papyri and parchments in Greek and Syriac has complicated this picture. Spoken Syriac, he says, must also have dominated in western Syria in rural areas. Even in the cities it would have been more common as the mother tongue of the lower classes at least.30 The most prominent exception to Eusebius’s Roman orientation is the account at the end of book 1 of the conversion of King Abgar Uchama (“the Black”), “toparch” of Edessa, and the purported correspondence between Abgar and Jesus, which eventuated in the evangelizing mission of the disciple Thaddeus, sent, so Eusebius says, by the apostle Thomas after Jesus’s ascension (HE 1.13, 2.1.6–7). Which letters, and adjoining narrative, Eusebius says he secured from public archives in Edessa and had translated from Syriac into Greek.31 He appears to have taken this translated material to be genuine, though he no doubt used it for his own ends.32 While the narrative of a subapostolic mission to Edessa lacks a historical foundation, the source he cited did in fact exist in Syriac, since it sur28. See now Butts, “Classical Syriac Language,” 230–231, who calls the Christian Syriac spoken and written from the time of Aphrahat and Ephrem (fourth century) up to Jacob of Edessa (d. 708) “Classical Syriac,” and distinguishes it from subsequent written and probably also spoken “Post-Classical Syriac,” which includes the Syriac “renaissance” of the later medieval period that produced the work of Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus. 29. Butts, Language Change in the Wake of Empire, 2. 30. Ibid., 150–152. On the role of a common Syriac language in marking a distinctive ethnic identity, see Debié, “Syriac Historiography and Identity Formation,” 103–112; van Ginkel, “History and Community, Jacob of Edessa, and the West Syrian Identity,” 73–74. 31. Read carefully, Eusebius’s account (HE 1.13.5) does not claim that he himself translated the Syriac text into Greek. Contrast the passive voices (hēmin analēphtheisōn kai . . . metablētheisōn) with the first person active, when he says carefully that he himself translated Hadrian’s rescript to Minucius Fundanus from Latin into Greek, “according to our ability” (hēmeis d’epi to Hellēnikon autēn kata dunamin meteilēphamen, HE 4.8.8 [GCS 2.1:318.14–15, ed. Schwartz]). Lawlor and Oulton rightly read the dative pronoun in 1.13.5 as “for us,” not “by us” (2:57). On these “archives,” see Adler, “Kingdom of Edessa and the Creation of a Christian Aristocracy.” 32. Corke-Webster, “Man for the Times,” proposes that the Abgar correspondence is meant to show Jesus as literate and a correspondent of kings, thus as a frame for Eusebius’s construction of Rome’s relationship with Christianity.

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vived independently in a different form in the early fifth-century document known as the Doctrina Addai, “Teaching of Addai,” that being the name by which Thaddeus is known in the Syriac tradition.33 The existence of the correspondence must have been widely known already in the late fourth century, since the Western nun Egeria, on her pilgrimage to the East, tells of getting copies of Abgar’s letter to Jesus and Jesus’s reply from the bishop of Edessa on the occasion of her visit to Edessa in 384, though she already had copies of her own at home.34 In Brock’s reconstruction, both Eusebius’s account of Thaddeus’s mission and that in the Doctrina Addai must be regarded as “legend without historical basis” and “the products of tendentious propaganda.” Both are backdated stories of the conversion of Edessene royalty to Christianity, the one in the form preserved by Eusebius perhaps to justify the priority of “orthodox” Christians in Edessa over against competing groups, and the other in the Doctrina Addai perhaps the invention of fourth-century Edessene nobility to claim a more ancient Christian familial lineage.35 The popularity of the Abgar legend, which appears in almost all Syriac chronicles,36 and its prominence in Eusebius, point to one reason for the importance of his book: it was essential for filling in the narrative gap between the apostolic period and subsequent ages. That continuity became even more important when Syriac Christians began to divide into separate communions over dogmatic disagreements stemming from the fifth-century ecumenical councils. None of the competing communions ceased to believe that they were orthodox and apostolic, and Eusebius, along with his continuators,37 was crucial testimony for the continuity of scripture and tradition. At the same time, Eusebius’s theo-political vision of the providential compatibility of church and Roman Empire would become problematic for Christians who could not accept the definition of orthodoxy defended and coercively imposed by the emperor in Constantinople. By the mid-sixth century, Christian “miaphysite” (those who believe in one [divine and human] nature) dissenters against the Council of Chalcedon had organized as a separate communion after the emperor Justin and his 33. Lawlor and Oulton (2:57) note that the “untranslatable” phrase hōs logos (HE 1.13.6 [GCS 2.1:86.8–9, ed. Schwartz]) is evidence of the priority of a Syriac document, since the translator must have misread Syriac “beth” as “kaph,” thus misconstruing “by a word” as “as a word.” The Syriac translation of the HE has “for as it is said [‘yk d-mt’mr gyr], you made the blind to see and the lame to walk” (52.9, ed. Wright-McLean). The version of Abgar’s letter in the fifth-century Syriac text called the Doctrina Addai (see below) has “by your word” (b-mltk, ed. Phillips). 34. Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, §§17–19, at §19.19. 35. Brock, “Eusebius and Syriac Christianity,” 227–228. On the Doctrina Addai, see further Griffith, “Doctrina Addai as a Paradigm of Christian Thought in Fifth-Century Edessa”; and Wood, “We have no king but Christ,” 82–95. 36. Debié, “Syriac Historiography and Identity Formation,” 95–96. She mentions the Chronicle of Jacob of Edessa and the Chronicle to the Year 846 as exceptions. 37. On remains of Socrates’s and Theodoret’s ecclesiastical histories in Syriac, see Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 507–510. Sozomen does not seem to have been translated into Syriac.


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nephew Justinian definitively reaffirmed Chalcedon as the faith of the empire. The dissenters did not at first surrender imperial loyalty and considered themselves as “an orthodoxy in waiting.”38 Eventually, though, they would be forced to rethink their understanding of rulership in a nonorthodox, and eventually a non-Christian, polity. Christians in Persia would likewise have to develop an attitude to Roman rulership that differed from Eusebius’s, especially as the dyophysite Christology of the Church of the East became more hostile to both the Chalcedonian doctrine of the emperors and to Chalcedon’s miaphysite dissenters. At the same time, Eusebius’s fundamental assumption that God had given a positive role to all civil government, embodied in his Chronicle as well as in the HE, will provide historically minded Syriac writers of all communions with a point of reference for how they see their respective churches’ relationship to the civil power of the day—whether Byzantine basileus, Sasanian shah, or Arab caliph. The story of Abgar’s healing and conversion recalls the legendary account of Constantine’s healing of leprosy and baptism at the hands of Bishop Silvester of Rome, as reported in the apocryphal work known as the Actus Silvestri. Eusebius of course knows nothing of that, since the Life of Constantine says that Constantine was baptized in Constantinople just before his death in 337—a baptism performed, it seems certain (though Eusebius does not refer to him by name), at the hands of the Arianizing bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia.39 The circumstances of Constantine’s baptism eventually became problematic with the triumph of Nicene orthodoxy under the emperor Theodosius I. This ambivalence helped inspire the contrary tradition expressed by the Actus Silvestri. It may be evidence of the competition between these two traditions that a prologue found in many manuscripts of the Latin text of the Acts of Silvester asserts that it is a translation into Latin of a Greek original written by “our historian, Eusebius” (Historiographus noster Eusebius—there is no mention of the Life of Constantine).40 This prologue alleges that Eusebius composed a work on the deeds of bishops of major sees, consisting of material that he had passed over when he wrote his ecclesiastical history. One of those bishops was Silvester of Rome. In the version of the story that follows, a still pagan Constantine was afflicted with leprosy and was cured by Silvester while he was being baptized.41 Allusions to the 38. Wood, “We have no king but Christ,” 256. 39. Eus. VC 4.61–64; cf. 4.61.3. 40. Quoted in Pohlkamp, “Textfassungen, literarische Formen und geschichtlichen Funktionen der römischen Silvester-Akten,” 125–126 n. 41. Pohlkamp notes that according to the Decretum Gelasianum the author of the Acts is unknown—Eusebius’s potential as a pseudonymous authority could not match an apparent endorsement of the Acts by Pope Gelasius I (492–496). 41. Of the literature on the Actus Silvestri, I depend on Lieu, “From History to Legend”; Fowden, “Last Days of Constantine”; Pohlkamp, “Textfassungen, literarische Formen und geschichtlichen Funktionen der römischen Silvester-Akten”; Canella, Gli Actus Silvestri; Amerise, Il battesimo di Costantino il Grande, 103–112.

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legend and to the Acts of Silvester began to appear first in Rome, at the end of the fifth century (the Acts are mentioned in the list of acceptable books known as the Decretum Gelasianum, written at the beginning of the sixth century and attributed to Pope Gelasius I), then soon afterward in Constantinople and elsewhere in the East, even though the legend was clearly contradicted by Jerome in his continuation of Eusebius’s Chronicle, and by the fifth-century church historians.42 Syriac historiography preferred the legend. (We have already discussed in chapter 1 the obscurity that quickly descended on the Life of Constantine. If, as noted above, it was among works of Eusebius that were translated into Syriac, no trace of the translation has survived.) So great was Constantine’s prestige that even antiChalcedonian writers wanted to remember the first Christian emperor as impeccably orthodox—at least by the standard of the Council of Nicaea, which was universally accepted among the otherwise divided churches of the East. The earliest Syriac testimony to the legend is in a homily attributed to the miaphysite writer Jacob of Serugh (d. 521) and dated to sometime after 473. It tells of Constantine’s baptism in Rome and his cure from leprosy, although it does not name the person who baptized him.43 His mother (also unnamed) is already a Christian, but Constantine is not. In search of a cure for his illness, which he has suffered from since birth, he is advised by Babylonian magi to bathe in the blood of slaughtered infants. He is dissuaded from this atrocity by an angel, who orders him to seek baptism as a cure. Differing though it does in details, this fabulous account parallels the Acts of Silvester in its acceptance of a Roman locale for the baptism and in its association of the baptism with physical (and moral) leprosy.

42. Jerome’s addition to Eusebius’s Chronicle names Eusebius of Nicomedia as the baptizer and says bluntly that Constantine “fell into the Arian dogma”: ab Eusebio Nicomediensi episcopo baptizatus in Arrianum dogma declinat (Jerome, Chronicle 2 [234.4–5, ed. Helm]). Cf. Soc. HE 1.39.2, Soz. HE 2.34.1, Theod. HE 1.32.1, and Philostorgius, HE 2.16 and Appendix 7.13 (27.10–17, 209.29–34, ed. Bidez-Winkelmann), to which add later sources such as Evagr. HE 3.40–41 (see the section “Eusebius’s Ancient Greek Continuators” in chapter 2) and the synthesis of the fifth-century Greek historians by Theodore the Reader and conventionally known as the Historia tripartita, which was in turn translated into Latin and expanded by Epiphanius, at Cassiodorus’s behest; cf. Theodoros Anagnostes, Kirchengeschichte, 1.epitome.51 (27.15–16, ed. Hansen), and Cassiodorus-Epiphanius, Historia ecclesiastica tripartita, 3.12.4, 6 (154.15–24, ed. Hanslik). The popularity of the Latin Historia tripartita (see the section “The Ancient Latin Tradition after Rufinus” in chapter 4) ensured that Western Christians had available to them a counternarrative to the Actus Silvestri, if they cared to consult it—though the presence of Eusebius of Nicomedia is admitted (in an excerpt from Theodoret), he is not named specifically as the one who performed the baptism (Cassiodorus-Epiphanius, Historia ecclesiastica tripartita, 3.12.5 [154.20–21, ed. Hanslik]). The medieval Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine incorporates a version of the Acts of Silvester for the feast day of Silvester on December 31 and indicates its awareness of the Eastern tradition of a deathbed baptism (see the section “Eusebius and Frankish Identity” in chapter 4). 43. Details from summary in Canella, Gli Actus Silvestri, 26–27.


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What a recent study calls a “true and precise translation of the Actus in all of its fundamental elements”44 is first reported in Syriac in the anonymous mid-sixthcentury historical compilation wrongly attributed to Zachariah Rhetor. At the beginning of his book, the compiler explains that he has translated the tradition about Silvester’s baptism of Constantine in Rome and has inserted it in his history because “Eusebius and Socrates gave a less than accurate and truthful account: it was not the case that the emperor was baptized at the end of his life, as they wrote, for the history of his instruction at the hands of Silvester is preserved, both in writing and in depictions, in Rome, in specific locations: people who were there and have seen them have reached us and have related to us about them.”45 The anonymous compiler’s account presents Constantine as a persecutor of Christians who, afflicted with leprosy, is advised (this time by “pagan priests in the temple”) to bathe in the blood of sacrificed infants. Stricken by the wailing of the mothers of those about to be slain, he changes his mind. That night Peter and Paul appear to him in a dream and tell him to seek out Silvester, who is in hiding because of the persecution. He does so, becomes a catechumen under Silvester’s instruction, and during the course of his baptism is cured of his leprosy.46 An intermediate step in the displacement of the baptism from Nicomedia to Rome is the conversion of Eusebius of Nicomedia into Eusebius of Rome, as happened in the sixth-century Syriac Julian Romance.47 A further development in the Syriac tradition is the assertion in the twelfth-century chronicle of Michael the Syrian that it was not Constantine but his father, Constantius Chlorus, who was cured of leprosy by baptism.48 Michael explicitly disavows the application of the story to Constantine himself and attributes the mistake to the similarity of the names.49 I take this variation in the tradition to be yet another measure of the desire to protect Constantine’s sacrosanct image, in this case by deflecting opprobrious acts or reports onto a surrogate. The present form of the Doctrina Addai came into being slightly earlier than the Acts of Silvester (the early part rather than the end of the fifth century). In both 44. Canella, Gli Actus Silvestri, 27. Greatrex, Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor, 48 n. 47, argues, against both Canella and Amerise, that the long account of Silvester is the work of Zachariah Rhetor himself rather than the anonymous Syriac compiler writing in 569. 45. Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor 1.1.j (trans. Brock), 78–79; cf. 46–54, 76, 80–81. 46. The Latin translation of the Syriac of this narrative is in Historia ecclesiastica Zachariae Rhetori vulgo adscripta, trans. Brooks, CSCO 87:44.8–48.30; the whole chapter on Silvester is book 1.7 (CSCO 87:39.22–65.4). 47. On Eusebius of Rome and the Julian Romance, see Brock, “Saints in Syriac,” 183–184; Smith, Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia, 90–91; and Wood, “We have no king but Christ,” 133–136, 143–144. My thanks to Kyle Smith for reminding me of the role of the Julian Romance. 48. Witakowski, “Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre,” 357–359, notes an abridged version of the Silvester legend in the eighth-century chronicle wrongly attributed to Dionysius of Tel-Mahre. 49. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle 7.1 (1:241–242, trans. Chabot).

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cases we have the healing and conversion of a gravely ill king by an emissary sent by an apostle (Thomas, in the case of the Doctrina Addai, both Peter and Paul in the case of the Acts of Silvester), followed by mass conversions.50 We will encounter this theme yet again when we look at Armenian sources in the next section. The biblical precedent must be the prophet Elijah’s cure of Naaman the Syrian of leprosy, by bathing seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1–19). There has long been disagreement about whether the Christian adaptation to Constantine originated in Rome or whether Eastern sources also contributed, a hypothesis first advanced by Louis Duchesne in his great edition of the Liber Pontificalis.51 Whatever the precise role that Eastern sources may have played, their openness to the story testifies to an ongoing awareness of the special status of the bishop of Rome, and perhaps also to a felt need for the first Christian emperor to have an ecclesiastical counterpart52—though if so, the solution offered by the Acts of Silvester would have lost its cogency after the spread of Islam and the gradual alienation of the non-Chalcedonian Christian churches. Taking the measure of Eusebius’s impact is complicated by the diversity of Christian communions after the fifth- and sixth-century schisms. We will call the dissenters against Chalcedon either West Syrians or Syrian Orthodox,53 also at times “miaphysites” when their distinctive creedal identity is involved. The Christian church whose home was in Persia still calls itself the Church of the East and so shall we, or simply East Syrian (not “Nestorian”), or “dyophysite” if their Christology is pertinent. Besides being alienated from the imperial church in Constantinople, these two of course also strongly disagreed with one another. Christians in Syria who remained in communion with Constantinople would eventually be called “Melkites” (Royalists, Imperialists), from the Semitic root for “king.” They too made contributions to historical writing in Syriac and later in Arabic. When the crusading era began at the end of the eleventh century, in what is now Lebanon yet another Christian communion emerged among Christians who had lived under Muslim rule for four centuries. We know them as Maronites, and because it 50. Canella, Gli Actus Silvestri, 47–57, 261–262. 51. Pohlkamp, “Textfassungen, literarische Formen und geschichtlichen Funktionen der römischen Silvester-Akten,”137–138, bemoans the modern interest in Eastern origins and insists on a Roman context, arguing that the Greek text behind the Syriac version is itself based on a younger Latin recension. Canella, Gli Actus Silvestri, 47–57, 261–262 (her discussion of Duchesne is at 47–49), credits “a Middle Eastern, in particular Syro-Palestinian” context as a particularly fertile area for many of the common details in the legend. 52. Fowden, “Last Days of Constantine,” 167. 53. Known for most of its history as the Syrian Orthodox Church, in 2000 the church changed its name in English to the Syriac Orthodox Church in order to differentiate itself from the state of Syria. I will use the older designation as the more familiar one but will avoid “Jacobite” (for sixth-century bishop Jacob Baradaeus) or “Monophysite” (as an inaccurate and polemical distortion of the church’s official doctrine).


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was Catholic crusaders from the West with whom they came into contact, they entered into communion with the pope in Rome. Their historical literature would largely be composed in Arabic, not Syriac. Finally, we must remember that the West Syrians/Syrian Orthodox came to be on usually cordial terms with Armenians to the north of them and with Egyptian Christians to the southwest, on the basis of dogmatic affinity and shared antipathy toward the Byzantine Empire. All three of these dissenters against Chalcedon will share literary legacies via translation and manuscript transmission—as noted at the start of this chapter, Armenian in particular will receive its portion of Eusebius’s legacy via Syriac translations. As we will see, the historical literature created by these several communions reflected different senses of how they placed themselves historically, religiously, and politically, and therefore appropriated Eusebius’s legacy in correspondingly different terms. “The ecclesiastical histories that related the history of the Church became histories of the Churches.”54 Ecclesiastical History and Chronicles: Genres in Transition Another complicating factor is the question of literary genre and the difference between “histories” and “chronicles,” as to both form and content. Eusebius of course produced original works in both categories. As noted in chapter 1, besides having created the specific subcategory of ecclesiastical history, Eusebius’s related accomplishment was marrying the traditional genre of the chronicle (a precise chronological listing of events by years, often with terse annotation) with the Hellenistic tradition of historical apologetics, designed to boost the prestige of a given cultural tradition by demonstrating its antiquity. At the end of the previous chapter, we noted that Evagrius’s HE brought the evolution of ecclesiastical history to a culmination of sorts, and that it would not be recovered in Greek for another seven hundred years. Hypotheses were proposed to explain such a long hiatus. A partial answer was that the progressive merging of church and society in an integrated Christian empire erased the very possibility of a distinction between “secular” and “ecclesiastical” history, and at the same time eliminated any obvious need for an apologetic account of the church’s history in an era when its position in society seemed impregnable. A second factor that may have played a role is the Arab conquests and the theo-political challenge they represented to the Eusebian vision. What eventually took the place of history of either kind, secular or ecclesiastical, was the hitherto rather humble genre of the chronicle, following its dramatic upgrade in the Hellenistic period to embrace the history of the known world.

54. “Les histoires ecclésiastiques, qui racontaient l’histoire de l’Église, sont devenues des histoires des Églises” (Debié, “L’héritage de l’historiographie grecques,” 27).

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Syriac historical writing experienced a similar literary transformation over the seven-hundred-year arc from the sixth to the thirteenth century. But the development was complex and culminated in a blended genre that one commentator has described as a restored and renewed ecclesiastical history.55 The earliest known Syriac historical work is a chronicle wrongly attributed to Joshua the Stylite. Because it covers recent political history and treats in particular of Roman and Persian relations between 495 and 507, John Watt has argued its author still knew that political matters and natural causes were appropriate to the writing of history on a classical model, though he himself mixed in religious factors as well: “The one [motive] was to establish ‘memorials of the punishments inflicted in our times on account of our sins,’ so that others ‘may guard against [imitating] our sins and escape our punishments’; the other [motive] was to absolve the Roman emperor Anastasius from all blame for the war. In the author’s view, the natural disasters of 494–502 were a divine chastisement for the sinful celebration of the pagan May festival. The war, however, although ‘stirred up’ on account of sins, had its cause in Romano-Persian relationships.”56 Be that as it may, Pseudo-Joshua was something of an outlier.57 The table of West Syrian historical writing in Dorothea Weltecke’s study of the twelfth-century Syrian Orthodox scholar Michael the Syrian (d. 1199) suggests several observations:58 •

The composition of Syriac ecclesiastical histories by that title ends as quickly as it begins in the sixth century. Of the three listed, virtually nothing is known of the one attributed to Cyrus of Batna. Of the Ecclesiastical History by the miaphysite churchman John of Ephesus (also known as John of Asia)—not to be confused with his Lives of the Eastern Saints—we have only the third and final part, although the second part, from AD 450/451 to 571, survives indirectly in the late eighth-century Zuqnin Chronicle. Nothing survives of the first part, which went from Julius Caesar to Theodosius II.59 The ecclesiastical

55. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 197–204. 56. Watt, “Greek Historiography and the ‘Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite,’ ” 325. 57. From the eighth century, another example of a “classicizing” historian may be the intriguing character of Theophilus of Edessa (695–ca. 785), a Chalcedonian (Maronite) Christian layman and court astrologer (!) in Baghdad for the Abbasid caliph Mahdi (775–785). Theophilus’s lost chronicle has been claimed as a major source for what later chronicles say about the Arab conquests and the whole period from 630 to the 750s: see Hoyland, Theophilus of Edessa’s “Chronicle” and the Circulation of Historical Knowledge, 6–29. The case for Theophilus has recently been contested in the work of Maria Conterno. See below in chapter 5. 58. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mor Michael dem Grossen, 45–46. Her categories are based on a typology created by Witakowski, Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of, 83–89. 59. On John of Ephesus and his Ecclesiastical History, see Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 535–538.


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history in Syriac attributed to Zachariah Rhetor (also known as Zachariah of Mytilene) is an anonymous sixth-century Syriac historical compilation that incorporates in books 3 through 6 substantial parts of an ecclesiastical history in Greek by the actual Zachariah, who was “a moderate anti-Chalcedonian” [miaphysite] historian of events in the forty years after Chalcedon.60 We have already encountered Zachariah in our discussion of Evagrius Scholasticus, who used him liberally, despite his anti-Chalcedonian orientation. Probably not by coincidence, universal chronicles in Syriac begin to appear just as the writing of ecclesiastical histories ceases. “Universal” here means universal in time (from the Creation) and space (the known world). Since the large majority of these are fragmentary or were never long to begin with, Witold Witakowski labeled them collectively “short chronicles,” in order to distinguish them from what he called “developed chronicles.”61 Developed chronicles emerge as a sort of second phase of universal historical writing. They incorporate so much narrative material in the lemmata that they represent a new departure that calls for a separate category. We will look at two of these below, the ninth-century chronicle of Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re and the twelfth-century chronicle of Michael the Syrian.

Weltecke suggests that changing historical circumstances account for the trends: the ecclesiastical histories were most relevant during the period immediately after Chalcedon, when a separate Syrian Orthodox Church was coming into being, for purposes of self-definition and as a response to persecution. The universal chronicles predominate first in the seventh to ninth century, when the Syrian Orthodox were adjusting to Arab governance. They were superior to ecclesiastical histories in giving a more comprehensive framework for understanding the new situation. After a lull, universal chronicles, now of greatly expanded type, flower in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, amid fresh invasions and population movements and further reconfigurations of power and governance after the arrival of the Seljuk Turks—followed by the Crusaders.62

60. On the title of the Greek original as Ecclesiastical History, cf. editor Greatrex’s comments (20 n. 59, 34 nn. 7–8). He calls the Syriac epitome simply the “Miscellaneous History” because of its composite character (65). Cf. Debié, “L’histoire ecclésiastique du Pseudo-Zacharie (569),” in L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 529–534. 61. A survey of sixteen of these short chronicles is in Palmer, “Les chroniques brèves syriaques.” 62. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mor Michael dem Grossen, 47–48. She differs, however, from predecessors like Witakowski and Hoyland, who see the narrative expansion of the “developed chronicles” as a de facto return to older, “profane” models for history. Her study of Michael the Great makes a forceful case for seeing the great West Syrian chronicles of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in terms of intrinsic religious developments—symbolized by the decision to write in Syriac rather than Arabic, as “an important means of inclusion and differentiation” (52).

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Historiography among East Syrian Christians Among East Syrian Christians—the Church of the East—there may have been less historical writing in general than among West Syrians. Certainly less of it has survived—in the catalogue of ‘Abdīšō, only about a twentieth of the East Syrian historical works of which he had knowledge have come down to us.63 Eusebius’s impact here was less than among West Syrians.64 Muriel Debié has proposed that historical writing among the East Syrians followed its own distinctive course and was marked by a biographical approach, especially what she calls “collective biographies.”65 The template is the late ancient tradition of the lives of the philosophers, with special attention to the succession of teachers in the philosophical schools, such as Philostratus’s Lives of the Sophists or Eunapius’s Lives of the Sophists. Similar works were written by Christian writers in the West as well—think of Palladius’s Lausiac History or the Historia monachorum. But as Debié points out, in the West there was an awareness of the difference between ecclesiastical history and the genre of biographies of holy men—besides his Ecclesiastical History, Theodoret wrote a Religious History about Syrian ascetics near Antioch and Cyrrhus. And the West Syrian historian John of Ephesus wrote both an Ecclesiastical History and a Lives of the Eastern Saints.66 By contrast, among the East Syrians in Persia, the distinction disappeared. The historical work of the sixth-century writer Barh. adbešabba of Beth Arbaye in northern Mesopotamia is often referred to as his “Ecclesiastical History.” Its modern editor more correctly entitled it merely the History of Barh. adbešabba ‘Arbaye, since the literal meaning of Syriac taš’itā is simply “story” or “history.”67 In the catalogue of ‘Abdīšō, it is called an ‘eqlesīast. īqī,68 from Greek ekklēsiastikē. In Greek the modifying adjective would require the noun historia. But in Syriac the adjective routinely stands alone as a substantive. Debié says that in East Syrian usage, the word should not be taken as meaning what “ecclesiastical history” means elsewhere in Christian literature, but as the stories of important church leaders and the series of their successions.69 Thus 63. Cited in Debié, “L’héritage de l’historiographie grecque,” 15. On East Syrian historical writing, Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires’ ”; and now Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 599–628. 64. See the tables in Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 489–492. 65. Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires,’ ” 44–50. 66. Ibid., 51. Wood, Chronicle of Seert, 257, doesn’t share Debié’s distinctions and uses “ecclesiastical history” to embrace several genres, from hagiography to monastic history to episcopal biography, “in which we can see history-writing itself as a technology for articulating Christian identity and for defining the political stance of the catholicoi.” 67. Nau, La première partie de l’histoire de Barh.adbešabba ‘Arbaïa, PO 23:182.4. I depend here on Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires,’ ” 57–60. 68. Cited in Nau, La seconde partie de l’histoire de Barh.adbešabba ‘Arbaïa, PO 9:493. 69. Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires,’ ” 73–74. Her point stands, though one should remember how fundamental the succession of the bishops is to Eusebius’s HE.


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Barh. adbešabba’s history consists of thirty-two biographical entries not organized chronologically or geographically, and contains few dates at all. The same is true of works called “chronicles,” or maktbānūt zabnē (literally, “a writing of times,” a Syriac calque on Greek chronographia70), few of which fit the normal category of lemmata arranged on a chronological basis. The substantial eleventh-century Chronicle or Chronography of Elias of Nisibis is a notable exception to that generalization. Constructed on a Eusebian model, it consists of two parts: a first part of six chronological tables, followed by lists of events arranged chronologically from AD 25 to 1018; and a second part with calendrical computational tables.71 It quotes Eusebius more than any source and is notable for its bilingual edition, with Syriac and Arabic in columns across from one another.72 Another exception of a rather different sort is the world history of the seventh-century writer John bar Penkaye, whose oddly titled Ktābā d-rēš mellē, “Book of the Main Points,” covers the period from Creation to the author’s own day in 686–687, written, according to a recent study, as a Christian response to Islam.73 It ends on a fittingly apocalyptic note, concluding that, since God has withdrawn his providential hand, the end time must be underway. In an interpretation of the enigmatic apocalyptic text in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, John interprets the “restrainer” against the Antichrist as God himself, unlike the Greek patristic consensus that it was the Roman Empire. And his defection from the political reading of that verse separates him even from West Syrian apocalyptic texts of the same late seventh-century vintage, including the famous text of Pseudo-Methodius, which would enjoy wide circulation in medieval Christianity, both Greek and Latin.74 Debié stresses how relatively constricted the East Syrian historiographical tradition was in both its historical purview and its geopolitical horizon.75 It did not produce universal chronicles in the sense described above—chronicles that went back to Creation and embraced the history of the known world. And the geographical sphere was effectively limited to the western and most Christianized part of Persia. 70. Debié, “L’héritage de l’historiographie grecque,” 11. 71. Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 623–629. See too Borrut, “La circulation de l’information historique entre les sources arabo-musulmanes et syriaques.” 72. Borrut, “La circulation de l’information historique entre les sources arabo-musulmanes et syriaques,” 144–145. Conterno, “Christian Arabic Historiography at the Crossroads,” calls Elias’s Arabic version “the very first—and as far as I know, the only—example of a full Eusebian chronicle in Arabic,” including both the chronology and the canons. 73. Reinink, “East Syrian Historiography in Response to the Rise of Islam.” Brock, “Syriac Historical Writing,” 26 n. 40, sees in the title a possible calque on Greek archaiologia. 74. Reinink, “East Syrian Historiography in Response to the Rise of Islam,” 83–89, esp. 85 n. 55. 75. Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires,’ ” 71–75. Johnson, Literary Territories, 115–128, argues that ninth-century East Syrian writers Thomas of Marga and Isho’dnah of Basra show a Western geographical “directionality” (121) that was oriented to holy places in the Eastern Roman Empire (the Holy Land, Jerusalem, Sinai, Scetis, Syria, and Edessa) rather than to the far eastern expansion of their own Church of the East.

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Eusebius, by contrast, studiously avoided mentioning Persia in the HE, apart from blaming it as the source of Manicheism, “a death-dealing poison from the land of the Persians that has infected the world in our lifetime” (Eus. HE 7.31.2). In his Chronicle, Eusebius had listed the royal successions of the Achaemenids only until they were defeated by Alexander, after which their sequence disappears from the canon tables in the Chronicle.76 The East Syrians even lacked an absolute chronology, very rarely using the Seleucid era or era of Alexander that was standard among the West Syrian Orthodox into the modern era.77 “It was thus,” writes Debié, “impossible for it [the Church of the East] to write its history according to Eusebian models.” Instead, she says, since so much of its identity rested on the succession of authoritative teachers, chronology, like history itself, was ecclesiastical.78 While it may be true that “Eusebian models” weren’t suitable as such, Eusebius’s value as a narrative point of departure did not disappear. Philip Wood’s study of the Chronicle of Seert and of Christian historical writing in “the East” (i.e., Iraq) has argued that a “chronologically continuous” narrative was valuable in different ways and at different times for imaginatively linking the governing structure of the catholicosate, first in Sasanian Ctesiphon and then in Abbasid Baghdad, with the larger Christian world. Eusebius, along with his continuators Socrates and Theodoret, provided a “chain of orthodoxy” that connected dyophysite theological writers with apostolic continuity, Constantine, the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, and—when East Syrians were contesting claims of West Syrian miaphysites—at times even the Council of Chalcedon.79 This “orthodox” lineage of the catholicoi was also helpful when, as under the Abbasids, the Church of the East wanted to buff up its prestige with the caliphate by stressing “the greatness of the Christian past within an Islamic environment, especially through a memory of the Roman world before Islam,” even when this entailed, for example, thoroughly apocryphal inventions regarding Constantine, Rome, Nicaea, and the true cross.80 “The very idea,” he writes, “of a patriarchal history, linking the deeds of the catholicoi to the deeds of the martyrs, may itself show a debt to the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, with its

76. Noted already by Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius,” 425. 77. Brock, “Use of Hijra Dating in Syriac Manuscripts,” 276–277. Jonathan Loopstra reminds me of exceptions, such as the BL Add. 12138, the Syriac “Masora” (the eighth- or ninth-century compilation of philological and grammatical materials for regularizing orthography and pronunciation of texts in the Syriac language), which does use the Alexander-era dating system. See Jonathan Loopstra, ed., An East Syrian Manuscript of the Syriac “Masora” Dated to 899 CE, 2 vols. (Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2014). 78. Debié, “Writing History as ‘Histoires,’ ” 72–73. 79. Wood, Chronicle of Seert, 124–135. Wood, 124 n. 9, notes the importance for the chronicle of Eusebius’s treatment of the date of Easter. 80. Wood, Chronicle of Seert, 232–236, at 236.


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own striking record of the Diocletianic martyrs.”81 In his conclusion, Wood illustrates how a historical compilation like the Chronicle of Seert contains later sections that look beyond the fifth-century setting of its historiographical core in southern Iraq to broader horizons, including the Roman world and the great “Nestorian” missions of the late ancient and early medieval periods. Making an interesting comparison with the Coptic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, which we will discuss below, Wood says, “If the History of the Patriarchs represents a turning inwards of the Christian worldview of Eusebius, then the Chronicle of Seert demonstrates its adaptation and expansion.”82 West Syrian Historiography: The Return of Ecclesiastical History? We have already commented that Eusebius’s impact was greater among the West Syrian Orthodox than among the Church of the East. Of the Chronicle and his HE, it was the Chronicle that had the more direct influence.83 Unlike the HE, manuscripts of the Chronicle’s translation into Syriac have not survived, though Witold Witakowski estimates that as much as two-thirds of the mass of the text may have been preserved in the works of others.84 The Chronicle of Michael the Syrian credits the translation to the great West Syrian scholar Jacob of Edessa (d. 708), who is known to have written his own Chronicle as a continuation of Eusebius’s, beginning where Eusebius stopped in 325 during the reign of Constantine.85 Certainly the Syriac (and also the Armenian) version reproduced both parts of Eusebius’s original, the chronographic portion plus series of rulers, as well as the “canons,” the chronological tables of rulers, and its historical notes.86 But new Syriac chronicles changed Eusebius’s format in several ways.87 First, they felt the need to fill out Eusebius’s timeline in part 2 of his Chronicle. Eusebius had begun his synchronized canons with the birth of Abraham, which Eusebius calculated to have happened in what we would call 2016 BC. In his preface, he says that he did not want to deal with the time between Adam and Abraham, because of uncertainties both in the biblical data (disagreements among the Hebrew text of the Jews, the Hebrew text preserved by the Samaritans, and the Jewish Greek 81. Ibid., 258. 82. Ibid., 260–261. 83. Witakowski, “Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre,” 360–361, documents the predominance of Eusebius’s Chronicle over his HE in the lemmas of the Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of TelMahre (now called the Chronicle of Zuqnin). 84. Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius,” 427; list of Syriac chronicles that contained Eusebian material at 428. 85. Witakowski doubts that Jacob himself actually translated Eusebius’s work, but leaves the question open; cf. Witakowski, “Chronicle of Jacob of Edessa,” 32. 86. Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius,” 426–427. 87. Following Debié, “L’héritage de la chronique d’Eusèbe dans l’historiographie syriaque,” 18–28.

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translation of the Septuagint used by Christians) and in “Greek and barbarian” sources.88 Syriac chroniclers felt this to be inadequate and began their timelines from Creation onward. Debié points out that an early chronicle, now called the Composite Chronicle, in translating that portion of Eusebius’s preface, omitted the passage stating that Greek and “barbarian” histories lacked data on the time from Creation to Abraham.89 She also observes that the desire to fill the gap despite the inexact data represented a distinct lapse from Eusebius’s standard.90 A second change is a notable shrinking of geographical horizon for ancient history before the birth of Christ. From the first part of Eusebius’s Chronicle, the summaries of ancient histories called the “Chronography,” they took mainly the lists of kings at the end. Their interest was chiefly confined to information impinging on biblical history: “The Syriac chronicles no longer pretend to universality and show little interest in the history of nations that have no relationship with the Bible.”91 Michael the Syrian is a notable exception to this generalization. But a third and most important change has to do with the second part of the Chronicle, the tables of canons. Because of their complexity, they were difficult to replicate accurately, and a result was the collapse of Eusebius’s efforts to synchronize events in different national histories. But Debié argues that besides the sheer complexity of reproducing his work, there was little intrinsic reason to do so. Eusebius’s columnar tables had culminated in the single filum of Roman history, a Rome-centric perspective that had scant relevance to the political realities of Syrian Christians no longer ruled by Rome/Byzantium and subject to Persian, Arab, or Turkish governance. Furthermore, the accumulation of ever more historical information made the tabular canons even more unwieldy (Eusebius’s historical annotations in the canon tables had been generally quite terse). The early chronicle of Jacob of Edessa, which culminated in AD 710, was in two parts, like Eusebius’s, but apparently (the text is incomplete) with much less use of Eusebius’s historical summaries—though Jacob does include successions of kingdoms that Eusebius either omitted (notably Parthian and Sasanian Persian dynasties!) or could not have known, such as Arab

88. Eusebius, Chronicle 1 (2.7–3.2, ed. Karst). The Chronography portion of the Chronicle deals at length with the contradictions among the Hebrew text of the Jews, the Hebrew text of the Samaritans, and the Septuagint (Chronicle 1 [37.10–45.29, ed. Karst]). In the preface of Eusebius as Jerome translated it, Eusebius acknowledged the shorter number in the Hebrew, but adds that neither Greek nor barbarian histories have data on the years between Adam and Abraham (Chronicle 2, Pref. [14.18–15.7, ed. Helm]). 89. Debié, “L’héritage de la chronique d’Eusèbe dans l’historiographie syriaque,” 21. The Composite Chronicle has previously been called “The Chronicle extending to the year of the Lord 724” but actually reaches only as far as AD 640 (Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 543). 90. Debié, “L’héritage de la chronique d’Eusèbe dans l’historiographie syriaque,” 22. 91. Ibid., 20.


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caliphs.92 In the first part, he makes the argument that Eusebius had misdated the birth of Jesus by three years.93 In the second part of his chronicle, perhaps taking his cue from the Syriac translation of Eusebius, he constructed two columns, one for Roman emperors and the other for Persian shahs, to which a third column was added with the rise of the Arabs, only to return to two with the Arab conquest of Persia. To the right of these columns (and, as Witakowski reminds readers, that would mean in the order of reading in a Semitic text), he introduced his own system of dating, counting from where Eusebius left off, Constantine’s twenty-first year. He also arranged historical notes on both sides of the canon tables, with ecclesiastical affairs (chiefly successions of bishops and patriarchs) on the right—and therefore signaling priority—and secular affairs on the left. The significance of this partitioning will become clear in the longer works of chroniclers who succeeded Jacob. As for the HE, its influence was more formal and generic than substantive. West Syrian writers knew what “ecclesiastical history” was because they had read Eusebius and his continuators, either in Greek or in Syriac: it was a long, discursive narrative about the church, structured chronologically by episcopal and royal successions, employing documentary sources, and going far back in time. But they don’t quote or rely on it directly, in part because “ecclesiastical histories” by that name ceased to be written after the sixth century, for reasons we have already discussed. In this presentation, I will rely on the thesis of Dorothea Weltecke regarding the long medieval Syriac historical works that Witakowski called “developed chronicles.” Weltecke believes that the expanded narrative portions of these do not reflect a hearkening back to writing “profane” history, pace Robert Hoyland and others, but are more correctly seen as ecclesiastical histories, albeit in a new key developed to meet new circumstances. Of the ninth-century scholar Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re, who was Syrian Orthodox patriarch from 818 to 845, she says he wouldn’t have even known what “profane” historiography was.94 Dionysius, who has been claimed as the greatest Syriac historian,95 wrote an early version of these “developed chronicles.96 It covered the years from 582 to 842, 92. On Jacob, see Witakowski, “Chronicle of Eusebius,” 429–430. 93. Jacob of Edessa, Chronicon, CSCO 6:201.7–206.4 (Latin trans.); 5:288–327, for the canon tables in Syriac, and 6: 215–255, for Latin trans. See Witakowski, “Chronicle of Jacob of Edessa,” 33–34. 94. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 200. 95. Palmer, The Seventh Century in West-Syrian Chronicles, 85. On Dionysius, see Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 569–572. 96. As the first instance of such a “developed” chronicle, Witakowski would cite the anonymous late eighth-century work now called the Zuqnin Chronicle, named for the northern Mesopotamia monastery where it was probably composed, but wrongly attributed at first to our Dionysius, hence the conventional designation Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius. See Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 561–56; Witakowski’s several studies of this text; and Harrak, The Chronicle of Zuqnin, Parts III and IV, A.D. 488–775.

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the era that saw the Arab conquest and gradual consolidation of Muslim rule over Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. Even though little of it has survived, we know a good deal about its character and its impact, because it was a major source for the later Syriac writers Michael the Syrian and the unnamed author of the Chronicle of 1234. According to Michael, Dionysius’s work was divided into two portions in sixteen books, eight on the church and eight on the world, with each book subdivided further into chapters.97 The ecclesiastical portion came first, followed by the secular part, an ordering that presumably reflects its greater importance in Dionysius’s eyes.98 The following is a passage that Michael quoted from Dionysius’s preface. It is a valuable statement of how a sophisticated Syriac historiographer classified the literary productions of his predecessors: When many wise men have written about earlier ages, from the beginning of Creation until the time of the believing King Constantine, and have told about the fashioning of the world, the constructing of Creation, the succession of generations from Adam onwards, the reckoning of their years, about the kings who ruled and the length of their reign, we do not call their compositions Eqlēsiastiqos but Kronograpes, i.e., “Description/Writing of the Times” [maktbōnūt zabnē], like the ones that Eusebius,99 Andronicus, Africanus and Annianus, George [Syncellus?] and John of Antioch [Malalas] have created. Lastly, Eusebius Pamphilus prepared the Eqlēsiastiqi, i.e., “Ecclesiastical Histories.” Eusebius began as the first, Socrates and Zosimus [Sozomen] and Theodoret followed him, and Zachariah the Rhetor100 and John of Asia [Ephesus], and after all of these, Cyrus, the priest of Batna. And he also prepared a further “Succession of Years” [Yūbōlō da-šnayō], I mean Jacob of Edessa and John the Stylite from Litarba. Daniel bar Moses, from T.ūr ‘Abdīn, wrote narratives which resemble Eqlēsiastiqi, as well as another person named John bar Samuel, from the western region, and a further person named Theophilus101 as well as Theodosius, Metropolitan of Edessa. Yet those whom we have just enumerated, made their narratives brief and in partial form, while preserving neither exactitude in time nor in the sequence of events. One of these was Theophilus of Edessa, a Chalcedonian who regarded it as his birthright to loathe the Orthodox. His presentation of all events which involved one of our number is fraudulent. 97. Palmer has reconstituted sections of the “secular” portion of Dionysius’s history in The Seventh Century in West-Syrian Chronicles, 85–221. 98. So Palmer, West-Syrian Chronicles, 85–89, 142. 99. “Eusebius” is Weltecke’s reading, based on her emendation of the obscure YWSYKS as ‘WSYBYWS (Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 198 n. 6). Chabot himself emended it to YWSYPS and read “Josephus,” which reading was also adopted by Palmer, West-Syrian Chronicles, 91. 100. Note the uncertainty of Zachariah’s epithet in the Syriac manuscript; Palmer prefers to read it as an additional personal name, “Elijah” (West-Syrian Chronicles, 92 n. 222). 101. On the Maronite (Chalcedonian) historian Theophilus of Edessa, see above, n. 57.


The Reception in the Non-Greek East So, while we shall continue the procedure of predecessors and start where Cyrus of Batna left off, we shall take from the writings of this man (Theophilus) some details here and there from those parts which are reliable and do not deviate from the truth.102

Dionysius’s categorization shows his awareness of the difference between ecclesiastical histories and chronicles. By saying he will take up where Cyrus of Batna left off, he indicates his affinity with the ecclesiastical historians. But then he also lists previous Syriac historiographers whose works are said to “resemble” ecclesiastical histories, despite their brevity and fragmentary format and their chronological shortcomings, presumably because they contain narrative components. But he equally recognizes that these works are chronicles, because of their chronographical character (“successions of years”). It seems clear that he wants to distinguish his approach from theirs. Dorothea Weltecke argues persuasively that Dionysius is consciously shaping a historiography that is appropriate to the situation in which he and his fellow miaphysites in Armenia and Egypt find themselves, a social and political status quo unlike the ones that faced previous ecclesiastical historians.103 This is not, she points out, Eusebius’s nascent Christian empire, nor the Augustinian dualism of the two cities that will mark medieval Christendom in the West, nor the conversion story of a single people such as we have in the Venerable Bede. The situation facing Dionysius is the Muslim caliphate. And his approach is to accept that regime, for better or worse, as the current will of Providence. The historiographical solution he invents is a hybrid form of ecclesiastical history and chronicle that will embrace the totality of the sacred and the profane, as a fit expression of the encounter and cooperation between Christian patriarch and Muslim caliph.104 The chronological structure of episcopal succession on which Eusebian ecclesiastical history depended is maintained but significantly altered. Dionysius recognizes the traditional quartet of patriarchal sees—Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Antioch, in the order that he reports—but only up to 451. After the defection of “the Chalcedonians” from orthodoxy in 451, an error compounded by the seventh-century condemnations of monotheletism and monenergism, he acknowledges “only those Orthodox archbishops of our people and of the Copts at the two sees of Alexandria and Antioch,” who live under “the Arab empire [that] has obtained control of Syria and Egypt,” and are neither able nor interested in having contact with the Chalcedonians. 102. Adapted from Palmer, West-Syrian Chronicles, 91–92, with corrections from Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 198–199. 103. For what follows, see Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 200–201. 104. For a vivid account of Dionysius’s negotiations with the Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mūn (r. 813–833), see Harrak, “Dionysius of Tell-Mah.rē,” 216–220.

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Michael the Syrian and His Universal History Dionysius’s partitioned narrative provided a template for future Syriac historiographers, primarily the medieval “big three” of Michael the Syrian, the author of the Chronicle of 1234, and Bar Hebraeus, who wrote within a century of one another and whose works survive in semicomplete fashion.105 All three shared a commitment to the early Christian genre of the universal chronicle, which they all tried to renew by blending the chronicle’s historical lists and annotations with the narrative accounts of ecclesiastical history.106 Of course they also differed in precisely how they went about their work, depending on their particular circumstances, their anticipated readers, and their individual purposes. We will limit our discussion to the universal chronicle of Michael the Syrian, whose massive work, in twenty-one books and six appendices, covers the time from Creation until 1195.107 Besides being a prolific writer, Michael was an important churchman and a central witness to the diverse and rapidly changing religio-political world of the Middle East during the twelfth century.108 He was born in 1126 to a prominent family in Melitene (Turkish Malatya), north of Edessa and near the Euphrates, in what is now southeastern Turkey. Michael became a monk in the nearby monastery of Mōr Bar S.aumo, where he was elected archimandrite in 1156 and then ten years later elected as Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, a position he held until his death in 1199. He only went to Antioch occasionally—the first Syrian Orthodox patriarch to do so since the expulsion of Severus of Antioch in 518—and made the patriarchal residence the monastery of Mōr H . ananyō, near Mardin, in part because of the monastery’s claim to the possession of Saint Peter’s throne as the first bishop of Antioch.109 But Michael spent much of his time traveling because of pastoral duties and diplomatic and ecumenical relations. The first two Crusades had brought Frankish occupying armies and the Latin church to Syria and Palestine, to further complicate the existing Christian divisions and add to the ongoing tensions between Byzantine and Muslim states—Michael’s home area of Melitene was a borderland 105. For a comparative summary of these three, see Weltecke, “Les trois grandes chroniques syroorthodoxes des XIIe et XIIIe siècles.” 106. Weltecke, “Les trois grandes chroniques syro-orthodoxes des XIIe et XIIIe siècles,”109. 107. Besides Weltecke’s monograph, see her summary of Michael’s work and the unhappy story of its modern discovery and publication: “The World Chronicle by Patriarch Michael the Great.” 108. Adapting here the biographical summary in Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 577–579. Detailed treatment in Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 54–126, on which I have also drawn. For an accessible account of the general religio-political context that the Crusades created for the Syrian Orthodox and others, see Christopher MacEvitt, The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 167–171 on Michael. 109. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 89–90. The patriarchal seat remained there until the beginning of the twentieth century.


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between Byzantine, Frankish, and Turkish territories. He devoted much time and effort in balancing competing authorities against one another, seeking what was best for his own people. In 1156, while still a monk at Mōr Bar S.aumo, he took part, along with other Syrian and Armenian Orthodox clergy, in the consecration of a Latin church in Antioch, dedicated to the patron saint of his monastery and paid for by a Frankish noble family.110 In 1168, by then Syrian Orthodox patriarch, he would be greeted at Antioch by Bohemond III, Frankish prince of the city, and traveled from there to Jerusalem for Easter in the company of Latin patriarch Aimerich of Antioch (r. 1158–1180). On another trip to Jerusalem in 1178, he was received by the Crusader king Baldwin of Jerusalem at Acre. About that time he was also invited by Patriarch Aimerich to accompany him and the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem to attend a meeting in Rome that Michael himself described as an “ecumenical” council—the Third Lateran Council of 1179. It has been speculated that reunion was on the agenda. If so, says Weltecke, he could only have imagined it in terms of the four equal patriarchs, not in terms of subordination to the Roman primacy.111 In the event, he declined, but wrote a theological treatise for the benefit of those at the council. He was lukewarm in his relations with the Greek Orthodox, and turned down an invitation from the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus in 1169 to come to Constantinople to discuss reunion—receiving five such invitations in all from the emperor—though he used the occasion to compose a miaphysite credo for the emperor that is preserved in Greek and Arabic and that the emperor graciously acknowledged in a letter.112 He enjoyed good relations with the Coptic Orthodox in Egypt. But his relations with the Armenian Orthodox patriarchs were more variable, partly because the Armenians were susceptible to being wooed by the Greek Orthodox Byzantines, and also because of the support their catholicos Gregory IV gave to Michael’s renegade theological expert, Theodore bar Wahbun, who provoked a troublesome thirteen-year schism (1180–1193) when he was elected anti-patriarch by dissident clergy. In 1198 Michael assisted in the coronation of Levon I as Armenian king of Cilicia.113 With Muslim rulers, Michael had to deal with increased military activity and insecurity from the 1170s onward, as the Zengid and then the Ayyubid dynasties established their authority over areas where Syrian Orthodox Christians lived, apart from his home area in the north, where he enjoyed better relations with the Seljuk sultan Qiligˇ-Arslan II. He did succeed in 1184 in winning the temporary support of the famous Saladin, who would three years later recapture Jerusalem for Islam. 110. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 77–78. 111. Ibid., 95–96. 112. Quoted and discussed in Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 92–93. 113. On the schism among the Syrian Orthodox, see Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 109–116.

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In the midst of such turmoil, Michael met the normal pastoral duties of his office and composed various writings in the area of liturgy, church law, and homiletics. But his most important work is his universal chronicle. Michael adopted Dionysius’s parallel construction of ecclesiastical and worldly affairs but revised it in several ways. First, he added a third column to go alongside the two devoted to church and world. The third, as Dorothea Weltecke has noted, was long regarded as a miscellaneous catchall for superfluous items that did not fit smoothly into the other two columns—miracle stories, astronomical events such as eclipses, famines, and so on.114 She argues that it played an essential constitutive role: it contained events from both the ecclesiastical and secular spheres that were singled out in order to make the contrast between the two spheres clearer. It also allowed for adding ecclesiastical successions beyond those covered in the ecclesiastical column, such as those of the Latin patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, or of biblical prophets or the sequence of heresies. Beginning in the third book, chronological canons of royal successions taken from Eusebius115 start appearing in horizontal format mainly at the bottom of the page in the existing manuscript, though probably these were originally arranged vertically, in between the royal and the ecclesiastical histories. The vertical arrangement would thus have consisted of four parallel columns, respectively entitled “succession of the patriarchs,” “succession of the kings,” “calculation of years,” and the fourth, the mixed column, without a title.116 Michael’s second formal innovation was the use of detailed narrative material that sometimes covered the entire page, with book and chapter divisions and headings that mirrored the form of traditional ecclesiastical histories. And his substantive treatment of church material, while dogmatically determined, presented it in a way that stresses intramundane historical processes, the stimulus to development caused by new situations, in a way not different from how he presented secular political developments. A further novelty was the unique stress he placed on the Jewish high priesthood as the universal, preincarnational divine presence in the world, an uninterrupted succession that he traces back to include the biblical patriarchs as well, and ultimately back to a heavenly origin. The biblical patriarchs too are high priests. The apostolic succession of the Christian church is just the latest expression of this continuity, whose collective spiritual legitimacy far exceeds that of the earthly kings whose successions are listed. This is something Michael shares with Eusebius, who also regarded the Old Testament high priesthood as a connecting link in 114. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 202–208; with fuller attention to reconstruction of the actual layout of the text and the use of graphical aids, see 153–196, esp. 163–178. 115. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, 3.Pref. (4:18, trans. 1:34, ed. Chabot). 116. Weltecke, “Les grandes chroniques des XIIe et XIIIe siècles,” 114–115.


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sacred history.117 Though (unlike Eusebius) he adopts the chronological scheme of the seven-day millennial week, he avoids giving it any apocalyptic coloration. There is no room for such speculation about the end, other than it will come when God wills it—a disclaimer about knowing the future that Weltecke suggests is expressed in the abrupt ending of his chronicle, virtually in midsentence, in 1195, four years before he died.118 Various disasters and the deteriorating security situation of the Syrian Orthodox at this time provoked a new wave of preoccupation with theodicy. Middle Eastern Christians had been forced to think about God’s purposes ever since the first Arab conquests, in a competition between monotheistic religions that inevitably linked victory with God’s favor.119 In the second half of the twelfth century, Michael’s generation had further occasions to ask why God allowed his people to suffer. He himself oversaw such discussion among Syrian theologians and even composed a treatise on the book of Job, which has not survived. Theodicy, writes Weltecke, is at the heart of his historical writing.120 The unprecedented size of his chronicle was intended to embrace as much of the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires as possible, not seeing any of them as specially privileged, but regarding all of them as transitory theaters of war and suffering. There is no final empire that encapsulates the rest. The ray of light, if you will, comes not from any dynastic succession but from the priestly succession, which is God’s presence in the world. To the condescending accusation of both Byzantines and Muslims that the Syrian Orthodox had no king, Michael gave two answers. One was this “autarky” of the priestly office. The other was his assertion that the Syrians had had powerful empires in the past, until the Persian ascendancy under Cyrus, but knowledge of this history had been lost. According to Michael, the great “Chaldean” (Babylonian) and Assyrian empires of antiquity were also really Syrian in character, because they used the Aramaic language and the Aramaic script.121 When Greek historians recorded that ancient history, though, they changed the names of the kings to forms familiar to them, thus obscuring their identity, as we know from the historians Josephus, Eusebius, and Jacob of Edessa. The Syrians themselves, in a burst of religious zeal after their conversion to Christianity, burned the works in 117. Adler, “Eusebius’ Critique of Africanus,” 148, stresses how “completely novel” this exegesis was when Eusebius proposed it, first in the Chronicle and then in the Proof of the Gospel. 118. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 125–126, 205–208. 119. To quote words attributed to an unnamed Arab in a disputation with a Christian, “Is not our faith better than any faith that is on the earth? . . . And is this not a sign that God loves us and is pleased with our faith, namely, that he gives us dominion over all religions and all peoples?” Cited in Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It, 467. 120. Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 236–249, at 246. 121. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, Appendix 2 (4:748–751, trans. 3:442–447, ed. Chabot), discussed in Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 215–220, 227–232.

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their own language that testified to their ancient history, because they were infected with pagan errors and myths: Everywhere a text was found containing the memory of pagan histories, or accounts concerning their deities, it was cast into the fire. This is why remembrance of pagan kings disappeared from our literature, because our fathers utterly belonged to Christ and abjured all the errors of paganism. For this reason they proclaimed after Christ that king who believed and was baptized in the name of Christ, the victorious Constantine, and in the same fashion all believing and orthodox kings. As for those who subsequently abandoned the orthodox faith, they regarded them as enemies. And therefore we ought not to glory in any earthly kingdom but in Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.122

Michael’s solution for uniting secular and ecclesiastical affairs in a single composition was not followed by his two major successors, the anonymous author of the universal chronicle known as the Chronicle of the Year 1234, and the learned polymath Gregory Bar Hebraeus (1225/1226–1286), also known by his Arabic name, Gregory Abu’l Faraj.123 Although they both borrowed extensively from Michael, neither tried to integrate the two areas but treated them separately. Bar Hebraeus composed them virtually as separate books, a “Chronography” (maktbanut zabne), also known as the Chronicon Syriacum, that covered world history from Adam to 1285 in eleven “successions” and then eleven chapters or essays on biblical history and national histories, the longest dealing with the Arabs, from Muhammad to the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258; and an “Ecclesiastical History” (ktaba d’qlsist. iqi) or Chronicon ecclesiasticum, which was subdivided into two sections, the first an ecclesiastical history from the high priest Aaron up to the patriarchs of Antioch, beginning with Peter; and the second a history of the Eastern church from its foundation by the apostle Thomas through the schisms of the fifth century, including the succession of the catholicoi of the Church of the East, as well as the “maphrians,” as the hierarchical chiefs of the Syrian Orthodox in the East were known, an office held by Bar Hebraeus himself as “Maphrian of Tagrit and the East,” from 1264 until his death in 1286.124 A linguistic marvel, he knew “Syriac, Arabic, Persian, and Armenian, as well as being acquainted with the languages of Turkish and Mongol tribes.” He was able to prepare an Arabic version of the first part, the chronography, before he died. Both parts of his history were continued after his death, into the fifteenth century. Space limitations prevent giving Bar 122. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, Appendix 2 (3:447, ed. Chabot), cited in Weltecke, Die “Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mōr Michael dem Grossen, 230. 123. Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 585–594. 124. Now in a new English translation with facing Syriac text: Bar Hebraeus, The Ecclesiastical Chronicle, trans. and intro. David Wilmshurst, Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies 40 (Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2016).


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Hebraeus’s book the treatment it deserves, and it is with regret that we must bring this tour of the exceptionally rich Syriac historiographical tradition to a close, and turn now to Eusebius in the Armenian tradition.125 A R M E N IA : A DA P T I N G E U SE B I U S O N T H E B O R D E R L A N D O F R OM E A N D P E R SIA

Historiography as National Maintenance: The Received Tradition We noted above the recent assessment of the French Armenologist Jean-Pierre Mahé that the Armenian translation of Eusebius’s HE was made from a Syriac version rather than from Eusebius’s original Greek, but at a very early date—within a century of Eusebius’s death, perhaps prior to the Council of Ephesus (431).126 That would make it among the earliest literary works in Armenian, since there was no Armenian literature until the language acquired a script in which it could be written. That did not take place until the beginning of the fifth century, when an Armenian script adapted from a Greek model was introduced by scholar and holy man Mesrop Maštoc’ (d. 439), with royal and ecclesiastical support. His achievement was celebrated by his disciple Koriwn, who wrote the life of his teacher within a few years of his death.127 Maštoc’ organized a large scribal operation, sending students first to “the Syriac school” in Edessa and to Amida in order to learn Syriac, then to “the Greek school” in Samosata to learn Greek, for the purpose of translating the Bible into Armenian, followed by later trips to Edessa and to Constantinople, during which other Christian writings, especially biblical commentaries, were also translated.128 Though Koriwn does not specify exactly which Greek and Syriac works were favored, a later tradition names Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History as one of them.129 Original works in Armenian soon appeared as well, including works of history as early as the second half of the fifth century. Historical writing became a kind of national specialty over the next millennium and more. The work of

125. Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 594–595. 126. Mahé, “La version arménienne de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 280–284. For the most recent survey of Armenian historical writing, see Thomson, “Major Works of Armenian Historiography (Classical and Medieval);” also Mahé, “Entre Moïse et Mahomet.” For the late ancient and early medieval historical context, I have relied on Nina Garsoïan’s chapters in Hovannisian, Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 1:37–198. 127. Winkler, Koriwns Biographie des Mesrop Maštoc’. 128. Ibid., §§43–52, 133–144 (99–101, 111–112). 129. Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, trans. and comm. Thomson, 2.10. Moses, whom I will refer to henceforth by the Armenian form of his name as Movsēs Xorenac’i, refers to Eusebius’s HE simply as “the Ecclesiastical” (ibid., 144, trans. Thomson), following the Syriac convention of treating the modifier as a substantive.

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editing, translating, and studying these texts has occupied a dedicated group of modern scholars with the necessary linguistic and historical competence. Besides the specialized expertise required for such work, further challenges have been posed by the complexities of Armenia’s singular history. Armenia has chiefly existed either as a buffer state between superpowers or as the subject people of someone else’s empire.130 For most of that history, it was also religiously eccentric by the standards of its powerful neighbors: Christian when the Persian Empire of the Sasanians was Zoroastrian; confessionally heterodox by the standards of the Chalcedonian orthodoxy of the Byzantine Empire to the west; and Christian under a succession of Muslim regimes, culminating with the Ottoman Empire of the Turks. As a result, since the historiography created by Armenian writers was invariably written by churchmen with ecclesiastical agendas of one kind or another, study of their work has sometimes been cramped by the confessional pressures that for centuries have divided Eastern and Western Christians. Even more sensitive have been the exigencies created by modern ethnic nationalism. While the preoccupation with Armenian “identity” has certainly provided incentive and support for the study of Armenian historical literature, it has also raised the stakes of such scholarship, especially since the 1915 genocidal massacres at the hands of the Ottoman state.131 In the preceding section, we looked at how the “ethnic” turn in recent European and Middle Eastern historical scholarship has problematized the formation of a people’s identity as a distinct ethnie. The Armenians have naturally drawn considerable attention as a rich subject for such work, given “the continuous reference over two thousand five hundred years to an entity called Armenia.”132 It is striking how many of the historical works that have survived are simply called “History of Armenia,” or more literally “History of the Armenians” (Patmut’iwn Hayoc’),133 a national or ethnic self-referentiality that seems lacking in the Syriac historiographical tradition we have just reviewed. There we saw titles like “Ecclesiastical [sc. History],” “Universal History,” or commonly just “Chronicle,” sometimes identified by its presumed city of origin, sometimes attributed to an author, or simply identified by modern editors by its terminal date.134 By contrast, consider the titles in the most recent bibliographical review by Robert

130. For a rich evocation of what the buffer status has meant for Armenian “identity,” see Garsoïan, “Reality and Myth in Armenian History.” 131. Garsoïan, “Armenian Historiography in Crisis.” 132. van Lint, “Formation of Armenian Identity in the First Millenium,” 252. See also Garsoïan and Mahé, Des Parthes au Califat. 133. Thomson, “Introduction,” in The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos, 1:xliv. 134. See the list of Syriac (also Arabic) historical works in Debié, L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque, 489–492.


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Thomson of classical and medieval Armenian historiography.135 He lists twentyseven works in all, including several that are translations/adaptations of Greek, Syriac, or Georgian originals (Eusebius, both his HE and the Chronicle; the HE of Socrates; the Life of Silvester, appended to the Armenian version of Socrates’s HE; the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian; and the Georgian Chronicle), some that are histories of other peoples (the Caucasian Albanians; the Mongols), and some others that are not histories at all but legal or documentary collections. Of those that are called a “history” (patmut’iwn) of Armenians per se, eight have the title History of the Armenians, and another eleven are called “histories” of a particular event, person, family, or region in Armenia. Armenian historiography therefore has an unusually shared character—JeanPierre Mahé speaks of a tradition historiographique unitaire that is evident from the earliest stages of Armenian historical writing, in which writers from Koriwn onward see themselves as part of a continuous tradition.136 The late fifth-century History of Armenia by Łazar P’arpec’i already thinks of itself as the third in a historiographical series, and later historians continued to produce such ongoing, quasi-canonical lists.137 This makes it more difficult to isolate anything like a distinctive genre of ecclesiastical history whose development we traced in Syriac Christianity. The conversion in 314 of King Trdat and the kingdom of Greater Armenia to Christianity under the aegis of Gregory the Illuminator marked a decisive turning point in Armenian history.138 The vicissitudes of Armenia’s political history, and the fact that Armenia’s literary tradition had emerged full-blown as a cultural production of the church, meant that over time the church became the custodian and guarantor of national identity. Perhaps for that reason, “ecclesiastical history” as a distinct genre was otiose, since the history of the church and the history of the nation were inseparably joined, a conjunction that took on official dogmatic form in the Armenian church’s condemnation of Chalcedon in 607 and definitive separation from the imperial church in Constantinople.139 By the eleventh century, says Mahé, “national identity and religious adherence end up being confused. In the absence of any Armenian state, the Church became the sole 135. Thomson, “Major Works of Armenian Historiography (Classical and Medieval),” 312–319 (alphabetized list at 304 n. 4). 136. Mahé, “Entre Moïse et Mahomet,” 128–129. Mahé’s overview maps a trend to a more universalist horizon in historiography from the eighth century onward (138–143), while also pointing to divisive and particularizing impulses that continued to leave their mark on historical writing (143–144). 137. Thomson, “Introduction,” in The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos, 1: xxxvi-xxxvii. 138. Garsoïan, in Hovannisian, Armenian People, 1:81–84, 115, 171–176. 139. Ibid., 1:113. Cf. her major study, L’Église arménienne et le grand schisme d’Orient, and her overview in “L’Église arménienne aux Ve-VIe siècles,” in Des Parthes au Califat, 39–57. Garsoïan, 53–54, shows that the dogmatic resolution cannot be allowed to obscure the continued presence of dyophysite Chalcedonians and East Syrians (“Nestorians”) as well.

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judge of national legitimacy. Indeed, from the point of view of the hierarchy, whoever did not reject Chalcedon and the false faith of the Greeks no longer belonged to the nation.”140 The marriage was already a constitutive theme of the earliest Armenian histories, in which the Armenian people are described as having joined in a solemn covenant (uxt) with God and with one another.141 That is how the late fifth-century historian Ełišē describes the union of church, nobles, and common people in his History of Vardan and the Armenian War, one of our primary sources on the disastrous Armenian defeat at the battle of Awarayr in 451, after Armenian nobility had risen in revolt the year before against the Zoroastrian religious policies of the Sasanian shah Yazdgird II. Robert Thomson says that for Ełišē “loyalty to the covenant thus combines secular and spiritual virtue, and the lines between allegiance to lay authorities and ecclesiastical ones disappear.”142 Here is what another late fifth-century work now known as the Epic Histories has the “chief bishop” Vrtanēs say to king and people about an earlier Armenian defeat at the hands of the Persians, in which the Armenian commander was killed: Preserving in their death the steadfastness of their faith [and] surrendering themselves for the Divine truth, they sacrificed themselves for the churches, for the martyrs, for the holy covenant of the laws, for the precepts of the faith, for the priestly congregation, for the countless neophytes baptized in Christ, and for the true-lord of the realm. Those who did not spare themselves for the sake of all this [have] the same honor as the martyrs of Christ. . . . Let us set down in the realm a law for ever and ever, that everyone preserve continually the memory of their valor as martyrs of Christ. And we shall establish a feast day day and rejoice, for God shall be pleased with us because of them and hereafter grant us peace.143

As commentators have often noted, the allusions here to the biblical precedent of the Maccabees would mark Armenian self-awareness as defiant resisters and defenders of the faith for centuries to come.144 Nina Garsoïan, for example, has shown vividly how the “received tradition” of Armenian historiography is steeped in themes of a national covenant, martyrdom, and (eventually) apocalyptic prophecies of messianic redemption—even though, as she notes, historical reality, with 140. Mahé, “Confession religieuse et identité nationale dans l’Église arménienne du VIIe au XIe siècle,” in Des Parthes au Califat, 59–78, at 70. 141. Garsoïan, in Hovannisian, Armenian People, 1:98–101. 142. Thomson, “Writing of History,” 504. 143. The Epic Histories Attributed to P’awstos Buzand (Buzandaran Patmut’iwnk’) 3.11 (80–81, trans. Garsoïan). Garsoïan, 254, notes that this dedication is an anachronistic evocation of the much more renowned defeat at the just-mentioned battle of Awarayr in 451, which occurred scarcely more than a generation before the writing of the Epic Histories. 144. Garsoïan, The Epic Histories, 254; Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 18–19.


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its awkward evidence of the pragmatic accommodations that Armenians routinely made, contradicted such idealizations.145 What did Eusebius contribute to this rich historiographical tradition? As noted, the HE was probably one of the earliest Christian books translated into Armenian. Robert Thomson has written that of Greek Christian writers Eusebius “had by far the greatest influence on Armenian historiography.”146 And yet there seems to have been virtually no continuation of “ecclesiastical history” by that name, unlike what we have seen in the Greek, Latin, and Syriac traditions. A significant exception to that statement is the Armenian translation of the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, which exists in two distinct versions, a first that was a close translation of the whole of Socrates’s HE, and a second that was significantly shorter and was actually an adaptation rather than a simple translation.147 The first was translated sometime between the early fifth and late sixth centuries; the second, the adaptation, in 695/696. Socrates was appealing for two reasons: first, his history was explicitly linked to Eusebius’s work and offered further coverage of Constantine, a central figure in Armenian historiography and whose conversion story was a parallel to that of Trdat, his Armenian contemporary; and second, the period of history covered by Socrates ended in the reign of Theodosius II (408–450), before the divisive Council of Chalcedon in 451, and Armenian tradition regarded the era of the first three councils as an orthodox golden age.148 The interest in Constantine is also why the Armenian adaptation of Socrates incorporated a version of the Life of Silvester, which had been translated into Armenian seventeen years before the abbreviated adaptation.149 Eusebius and Socrates taken together thus offered a triumphant narrative of Christianity’s progress. Thomson argues that this Greek Christianoriented historiographical adaptation, with its concentration on the era of the undivided church (of course itself a dubious construct, given the fact already of the separation from the East Syrian Christians in Persia), expressed the Armenians’ “admiration for the common heritage of the great fathers of the patristic era, adherence to the first three ecumenical councils, and deference to those pious emperors who upheld Nicene orthodoxy,” and reflects the situation following the last, unsuccessful imperial effort to heal the schism with Armenia in 690.150

145. Garsoian, “Reality and Myth in Armenian History,” 125–126 and passim. 146. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 31. 147. Thomson, “Introduction,” in The Armenian Adaptation of the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus, from which the following discussion is taken. 148. Thomson, “Introduction,” 6. Note the list of testimonials to Eusebius and Socrates that Thomson assembles from Armenian historians from the eleventh century onward (32–33). 149. As chapters 1–13 of the adaptation of Socrates, though omitted from Thomson’s edition, which begins with chapter 14. See instead Thomson, “Armenian Version of the ‘Life of Silvester.’ ” 150. Thomson, “Introduction,” 37–40, at 39.

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Eusebius’s Chronicle, on the other hand, did have continuators. It too was translated into Armenian, though a recent study notes that “it has proved almost impossible to recover any information about the circumstances of its production. When and where the translation was made, by whom and for whom—all remain obscure.”151 As we discussed in chapter 1, the discovery of that Armenian translation was highly significant because the translator preserved both parts of the Chronicle, the Chronography (the summaries of the Greek historical works that were Eusebius’s narrative and chronological sources) as well as the Chronological Canons, whereas Jerome’s Latin translation and continuation consisted only of the Canons. Modern scholars know this work primarily through the German translation of Josef Karst, which has been cited often in this book. In his recent review of work on the Armenian translation, Tim Greenwood has argued that it is time to revisit some conventional assumptions about the Armenian version that have tended to downgrade its value as a witness to Eusebius’s lost original.152 There are two seventh- and eighth-century Syriac epitomes of Eusebius’s Chronological Canons, for example, that have been thought to have contaminated the integrity of the Armenian translation. Greenwood thinks there are several reasons why the priority of these Syriac epitomes is debatable, and suggests that the translation fits most plausibly in the same wave of fifth-century translations that produced the Armenian version of the HE, since the translator worked with the original Greek (which because of its complexity seems not to have survived intact anywhere for very long) rather than one of the later continuations that superseded Eusebius.153 He also offers the intriguing proposal that the Armenian tradition’s placement of the synchronized vertical tables of dates in the middle of the page, with annotations on the margins to the left and right, makes better sense than the configuration known from Jerome’s version, which splits the columns into two groups, with the annotations in the middle of the page. While it may be true that Eusebius’s Chronicle was not as influential in Armenian historical writing as it had been in Syriac historiography, Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan notes that the Armenian translation “served Armenian authors from the fifth to the seventeenth centuries as an original source.”154 Works that betray some dependence on Eusebius include the late seventh-century Anonymous Chronicle, the ninth- to

151. Greenwood, “ ‘New Light from the East,’ ” 200. See Drost-Abgarjan, “Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik,” for a summary of the complex history behind the modern recovery of the Armenian translation, and a report on her preparation of a new edition of the Armenian to replace Karst’s 1911 German translation in the GCS edition of Eusebius’s works. 152. Greenwood, “ ‘New Light from the East,’ ” 198–207. 153. Also the view of Drost-Abgarjan, “Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version des EusebiosChronik,” 256. 154. Ibid., 262.


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tenth-century History of the House of Artsrunik’ by Tovma (Thomas) Artsruni,155 the Universal History by Step’anos Tarōnec’i (also known as Ašołik156), an early eleventhcentury work, and the chronicle usually called the Historical Compilation, written by Samuel Anec’i at the end of the twelfth century, which had access to a complete text of Eusebius’s Chronicle.157 According to Greenwood, who is editor of a new translation and detailed study of Step’anos’s Universal History, the Chronicle had a very significant conceptual impact on the ideological framework used by Step’anos, though he also thinks that this influence was mediated indirectly rather than through direct contact with the Armenian version.158 Greenwood has shown that the Anonymous Chronicle borrowed in its first part from Eusebius’s Chronicle and in its second part from his HE.159 The first part is an Armenian adaptation of a Greek universal chronography, probably that of the fifth-century Alexandrian scholar Annianus, a continuator of Eusebius. The second part Greenwood describes as an actual ecclesiastical history up to the decade of the 680s, based on Eusebius’s HE for its narrative up to the time of Constantine. He says that this second part has a distinctively miaphysite perspective that oriented Armenia toward the church of Constantinople in the wake of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. It also “introduced Armenia into universal history,”160 thus paralleling themes we see elsewhere in this chapter on the nonGreek Christian East, which makes it doubly unfortunate that the work is as yet unavailable in translation. Rewriting Eusebius in the History of Armenia of Movsēs Xorenac’i The major work that shows Eusebius’s impact—both the Chronicle and the HE—is the History of Armenia attributed to Movsēs Xorenac’i. We turn now to a discussion of Movsēs and Eusebius’s place in his book, which is recognized as “le chef d’oeuvre absolu de l’historiographie arménienne,” the prime expression and shaper of the “received tradition” in Armenian historical writing.161 His is the first Armenian history that aspired to be universal in scope, by extending the narrative backward in time to the antediluvian patriarchs of Genesis. The first part, the “Genealogy of Greater Armenia,” basically extends from the flood and the tower of Babel to the era 155. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Thomas Artsruni, History of the House of Artsrunik’, 38, says Eusebius’s Chronicle is by far the most important source for the first part of Thomas’s history. 156. See Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 8–9, on the unusual double name. 157. Greenwood, “ ‘New Light from the East,’ ” 201 n. 6. 158. Personal communication (July 25, 2016) from Tim Greenwood, who kindly shared a prepublication judgment. See now Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’I, 54. 159. Greenwood, “ ‘New Light from the East,’ ” 216–231. 160. Ibid., 254. 161. Mahé, “Entre Moïse et Mahomet,” 139; Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 60.

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of Alexander and the rise of the Arsacid dynasties in Parthia and Armenia. The second part, “The Intermediate Period in the History of our Ancestors,” extends from Alexander the Great to “Trdat the Great,” who became Christian and brought his kingdom with him. The third part, “The Conclusion of [the History of] our Fatherland,” brings the story up to the end of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenian kings (AD 428) and of the patriarchal line of Gregory the Illuminator, in what the author alleges to be “our own times, or a little earlier.”162 The tripartite division of primeval history, “intermediate” distant past, and one’s own time, will be one of Movsēs’s influential contributions to later Armenian historiography.163 Though Movsēs asserts he was of the generation of Mesrop Maštoc’s students (3.61–62) and was writing sometime in the mid- to late fifth century, this claim is generally rejected.164 Robert Thomson places his history in the late eighth century in the turbulent period following the establishment of the Abbasid caliphate in Iraq, when, he notes, the Bagratuni clan was gaining the upper hand over its rivals among the Armenian nobility. Movsēs composed his history partly to boost the Bagratunis’ prestige and legitimacy. He did not invent the tradition of a Jewish ancestry for them, but “he certainly gave it classic expression,”165 in locating their origin among deportees brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and then transplanted to Armenia (1.22 [107–108]). He recorded their resistance, as observant Jews, to persecution by Parthian pagans for refusing to offer sacrifice to idols (2.14 [150]), and identified an alleged ancestor of theirs as the Tobias who was said to have hosted the disciple Thaddeus during his visit to Edessa in the time of King Abgar—thus claiming a Bagratid ancestor as the first Armenian convert to Christianity (2.33 [167]).166 Movsēs presents his work as the answer to a request from Sahak Bagratuni, to whom he dedicates it “as an immortal memorial to you and your descendants to come,” and while he promises to tell the genealogies of “all the Armenian noble families,” it is the Bagratuni clan who will receive preferential treatment (1.1 [64]). There is a need for such a history, since “our kings and other forefathers were negligent toward scholarship and unconcerned with the life of reason” (1.3 [66]), failing to follow the examples of other nations like the Persians, the Chaldeans, and the Greeks, who did take care to record their histories.167 And what references to Armenian history that might have been preserved (here Movsēs refers to the 162. Quotations and references will henceforth be by part and chapter number, plus page number, in the 2006 revised edition of Thomson’s translation. 163. Mahé, “Entre Moïse et Mahomet,” 140–142. 164. Mahé, “Introduction,” in Moïse de Khorène, Histoire de l’Arménie, 18–20, reviews the range of opinion in older dating efforts, and concludes with the arguments for dating the work between the late seventh to ninth century (88–91). 165. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 59. 166. Cf. Eus. HE 1.13.11–14; see below. 167. Similar comparison with Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Persians in 1.21 [109, 1978 ed.]).


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supposed exploits of Aram [Gen 10:22]: “By him all races call our land, like the Greeks, ‘Armenia,’ and the Persians and Syrians, ‘Armenik’ [1.12 (89)]”) were jealously destroyed by order of Ninos, king of Assyria (1.14 [92–93]). To fill the gap between the present and the Armenians’ ancient past, Movsēs relies on a mix of oral tradition (songs, tales, fables) and written sources from other nations who, he claims, did treat of Armenian affairs. Much work has been done on ferreting out Movsēs’s sources. Modern ethnographic and archaeological research has given some plausibility to his claim to have drawn on oral traditions.168 Evaluating his written sources has been fraught because of Movsēs’s prestige in the received tradition. Robert Thomson’s 1978 edition of the History contained a lengthy discussion of those sources.169 He concluded that Movsēs was a well-read scholar but “a mystifier of the first order”: “He quotes at second hand as if he had read the original; he invents archives to lend the credence of the written word to oral tradition or to his own inventions; he rewrites Armenian history in a completely fictitious manner, as in his adaptations of Josephus.”170 In a 2006 reissue of the History, Thomson admitted that such blunt language was criticized as “too negative.”171 Indelicate it may have been, though one wonders how much he has to apologize for when even a careful and cautious analyst such as Jean-Pierre Mahé could discuss Movsēs’s narrative techniques in terms of an elaborate paradoxe Borghésien.172 In such a situation, a nonspecialist cannot do more than pick a respected guide and hope to avoid the historiographical minefields.173 Leaving aside historical sources that Movsēs only knew at secondhand, his main non-Armenian primary sources were Josephus (the Jewish War, not the Antiquities), Eusebius, and Socrates.174 Even these he only knew in Armenian translations. Both Eusebius’s HE and his Chronicle certainly left their mark on Movsēs’s history, the Chronicle more pervasively than the HE.175 The Chronicle was by far Movsēs’s chief source for historical information, but also, Thomson notes, for commentary on the nature of historical writing, for citations and references to other ancient historians, and for chronology—about which Movsēs said, in one of 168. Moïse de Khorène, Histoire de l’Arménie, ed. Annie Mahé and Jean-Pierre Mahé, 20–24. 169. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 10–40. 170. Ibid., 55. 171. Ibid. ix. 172. Mahé, “Introduction,” in Moïse de Khorène, Histoire de l’Arménie, 39–59. 173. A recent defense of Movsēs is the work of Topchyan, Problem of the Greek Sources of Movsēs Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, on which see below. 174. Thomson distinguishes between sources used for historical purposes and those that provided only literary embellishments, a distinction also recognized by Mahé (“Introduction,” 60). Thus Movsēs draws often on the work known as the Alexander Romance, but only for literary purposes (22–23). Of course Movsēs also drew liberally—usually without acknowledgment—on the Armenian histories that actually did come from the mid-fifth or early sixth century (40–55). 175. Cf. Thomson’s tables, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 31–35.

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his most quoted lines, “There is no true history without chronology” (2.82 [228]). The predominance of the Chronicle, which by design embraced history in the round, not just ecclesiastical history, suited the decidedly secular tenor of Movsēs’s book. Befitting a book written to satisfy the needs of its noble patron, it celebrates “glorious deeds” and family lineage (1.1 [64]), though martyrdom and holy death of course are among those deeds. Thomson finds only fourteen direct quotations from the Bible, and only about twenty or so close allusions, though the Bible clearly influenced Movsēs deeply and provided him with “a wealth of unacknowledged material.”176 By way of contrast, note the observation of Nina Garsoïan in her comparison of Movsēs’s history with the Epic Histories (“the only two independent sources covering the history of fourth-century Armenia”): “The ecclesiastical history of the period, so dear to the heart of the author of the Epic Histories, seems to have held little interest for Movsēs Xorenac’i.”177 The most interesting feature of the use of Eusebius, especially of the HE, is Movsēs’s practice of rewriting Eusebius in order to create a fictive history more congenial to his purposes. This is a phenomenon we will encounter again when we look at how Eusebius was appropriated in the Coptic tradition, though not something we saw much evidence of in our review of Syriac historiography. Unsurprisingly, instances of this rewriting chiefly involve passages in the HE dealing with the eastern perimeter of the Roman Empire, and beyond. The best example is the Abgar episode in HE 1.13.178 We have already met the fifth-century Syriac version called the Teaching of Addai, which adapted the same source that Eusebius had excerpted for the HE, but with significant additions. The Abgar story was inviting fare for the Armenian tradition as well. The Teaching of Addai was translated from Syriac into Armenian sometime in the fifth century, and attributed to the same person named Labubna whom the Syriac Teaching of Addai claimed as its author and identified as the grandson of King Abgar’s scribe.179 In the Armenian version, which is actually named Labubna after its putative author, the evangelist sent by Thomas after Jesus’s ascension is called T’adēos (recall that “Addai” is just the Syriac equivalent of Thaddeus, with both forms of the name occurring in the Syriac translation of Eusebius180). But instead of dying a 176. Ibid., 16. Thomson’s own “Index of Scriptural Quotations and Allusions,” 409–412, contains many more references than suggested in his “Introduction,” a puzzling contradiction pointed out to me in correspondence from Sergio La Porta. 177. Garsoïan, “Introduction,” in The Epic Histories, 43. 178. The paragraph numbering of the Armenian edition of Eusebius’s HE differs in places from that which is standard in modern editions of the Greek text. Citations of the HE in this section will keep to the paragraph numbering of the Greek text. 179. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 39, 175 n. 267. 180. MS A has hdy, and MS. B has tdy (Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 39 n. 79; see The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, ed. Wright and McLean, 50).


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natural death in Edessa, T’adēos/Thaddeus leaves to do further evangelization somewhere in the East, eventually getting to Armenia, where, according to the late fifth-century Epic Histories, he was martyred by the Armenian “apostle-killer,” King Sanatruk.181 In her commentary on the Epic Histories, Garsoïan says that the tradition about Thaddeus, whose death is reported in the very first section of that work in its current form, is among the precious evidence preserved in the Epic Histories that Christianity came to Armenia from the south, via Syrian connections, in addition to the quite separate Greek tradition that it was brought from the west in the person of Gregory the Illuminator.182 Movsēs’s first reference to Eusebius’s version of the Abgar story is a passage we have already mentioned. Speaking of a supposed archive of Armenian history kept in Edessa, he writes, “And as a closer witness [to said archive], the Ecclesiastical [History] of Eusebius of Caesarea is a guarantee, which our blessed Maštoc’ had had translated into Armenian”; and proceeds to cite “book one, chapter thirteen” (2.10 [144]) of the HE, a fairly unusual precision for him.183 His rich elaboration of the Abgar story shows he had read Eusebius closely—and also, of course, the Armenian version of the Teaching of Addai (Thaddeus). To their accounts, he added many embellishments of his own (cf. 2.26–35 [160–174]).184 As Thomson summarizes them, they chiefly consist in “Armenianizing” the story, by injecting details, whether real or invented, into Eusebius’s narrative. Thus to Eusebius’s report of the war between Herod Antipas and Aretas, king of Petra (HE 1.11.1–2), Movsēs adds that Herod’s total defeat was achieved “with the help of the brave Armenians” (2.29 [165]). In keeping with his loyalty to his patron, Movsēs also highlighted the supposed Bagratuni ancestry of Tobias, Thaddeus’s host in Edessa: “When he [Thaddeus] arrived, he entered the house of Tobias, the Jewish prince who, they say, was of the Bagratuni family. He had fled from Arsham185 and had not renounced the Jewish faith with his other kinsmen but lived under the same law until his conversion to Christ” (2.33 [167]).

181. The Epic Histories 3.1. See Garsoïan, “Appendix 1, ‘T’adēos,’ ” in The Epic Histories, 411. 182. Garsoïan, “Introduction,” in The Epic Histories, 46–47. The Epic Histories equates the “apostolic patriarchal throne” on which Gregory had sat with “the throne of the apostle Thaddeus” (3.12 [89], 3.14 [89], 4.3 [110]; see 255 n. 7). 183. It is Movsēs’s naming of the inventor of the Armenian alphabet as “Maštoc’,” a version of his name that fell out of use by the eighth century in favor of “Mesrop,” which otherwise Movsēs always uses, that persuaded Jean-Pierre Mahé to believe that Movsēs had access to a manuscript of the HE that could have gone back to the fifth century (“La version arménienne de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 278). 184. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 38–39, and notes to the translation. 185. The fictional father of King Abgar, whose supposed persecution of the Jews (cf. 2.24 [157–159]), Movsēs says, brought Tobias to Edessa.

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Other details include the following: Movsēs follows the Teaching of Addai in reporting that Abgar’s messenger brought back a portrait of Jesus in addition to Jesus’s reply to Abgar’s petition (here dictated to Thomas, not written by Jesus [cf. Eus. HE 1.13.9]), and “the Savior’s portrait from life . . . has remained in the city of Edessa up to the present day” (2.32 [167]).186 The Syriac and Armenian versions of the Teaching of Addai both added an exchange of letters between Abgar and the emperor Tiberius, in which Abgar recommends to Tiberius that he should bring the world to believe in Christ as God. Movsēs adapts these and then adds three more letters apparently of his own invention: another to Tiberius; a letter to Nerseh, king of Assyria; and yet another to Artashes, king of Persia—all advocating conversion to Christianity (2.33 [169–171]). As Thomson points out, Movsēs shapes Abgar’s letter to Tiberius after the description that Eusebius gives of a supposed letter of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius (cf. Eus. HE 2.2).187 And as a coda to the extensive coverage Movsēs gives to Abgar, he reshapes the story of Queen Helen of Adiabene in northern Mesopotamia, who famously converted to Judaism and was buried in Jerusalem in a mausoleum whose site remains have been identified.188 Movsēs knew about Helen from Eusebius’s citation of Josephus at HE 2.12.1, 3.189 But in Movsēs’s telling, she was “the chief ” of Abgar’s wives, and she too became a Christian like her husband (2.35 [174]). After he died, she was sent by his murderous son and successor Sanatruk to pagan-dominated Harran. Since she “could not bear to live among idolators, [she] went to Jerusalem in the days of Claudius, during the famine that Agabus [Acts 11:28] had predicted,” to mitigate which she spent her wealth on imported grain from Egypt. There are further instances of Movsēs’s “Armenianizing” of elements in Eusebius that could plausibly bear on Armenia. Eusebius has a short report on the legacy of the third-century Christian philosopher Bardaisan of Edessa (154–222), who wrote in Syriac (see Eus. HE 4.30). Movsēs claims for him an otherwise unattested trip to Ani-Kamakh in Armenia,190 where he supposedly read a temple history (according to Thomson, likely not historical; cf. 2.48 [186 n. 34]) bearing on Armenia and translated it into Syriac, though from what language is not said, and 186. According to Robert Thomson, the first instance in Armenian of the imprint of Jesus’s face on a napkin is in Thomas Artsruni’s History of the House of Artsrunik’ (“Introduction,” 26, citing 1.46 [109–110]). 187. Thomson, in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 169 n. 236. 188. William Horbury, W. D. Davies, and John Sturdy, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 3, The Early Roman Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 11–12. 189. Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.5. Though Eusebius certainly knew from Josephus that Helen converted to Judaism, he apparently could not bring himself to say so explicitly. 190. According to Mahé, Moïse de Khorène, Histoire de l’Arménie, 372 n. 3, Bardaisan is said to have fled around 216 to Armenia after his excommunication, but Mahé gives no citation. He is correct that the Refutation of All Heresies attributed to Hippolytus calls Bardaisan “an Armenian” (7.31).


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which Movsēs claimed as one of his sources (2.66 [209]). Similarly, Movsēs attributes a work of history to the third-century bishop Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia (d. ca. 268), which allegedly recounts the persecutions in his church from “Maximian191 and Decius and last of all in the reign of Diocletian” (2.75 [218– 219]; cf. Eus. HE 6.27). Among the victims, says Movsēs, was Peter of Alexandria, who died in the ninth year of the persecution of Diocetian (311; cf. Eus. HE 7.32.31). The date span is impossible (235–305), considering that Firmilian died sometime after 268, as even Movsēs seems to hint he knows (“he [Firmilian] did not compose his history accurately or with details”).192 But Cappadocian Caesarea was a central place in Armenian Christian history, the home of Gregory the Illuminator and the place where his heirs and successors were consecrated until 373.193 In the case of both Bardaisan and Firmilian, perhaps Movsēs just needed prestigious hooks on which to hang his narrative. Oddly, Movsēs doesn’t mention the only named Armenian who does appear in Eusebius’s pages, a certain Meruzanes (Mehružan in Armenian194), of whom Eusebius says only that he was “bishop of those throughout Armenia” (Eus. HE 6.46.2) and the recipient of a letter from Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (d. ca. 264). The antiquity of this datum, the earliest reference in Greek sources to Christianity in Armenia, makes one wonder why Movsēs omitted it.195 Would the inclusion of Meruzanes/Mehružan have complicated Movsēs’s narrative of Armenia’s Christianization a few decades later under King Trdat and Gregory the Illuminator? The joint role of these two figures in bringing Armenia to Christianity is deeply embedded in the historiography of the “received tradition”:196 Gregory is the surviving son of a Parthian assassin of the Armenian king Khosrov, brought up by Christian parents in Caesarea in Cappadocia, who as an adult went in repentance to serve King Trdat, refused to obey the king’s demand that he offer sacrifice to the goddess Anahit, was tortured and imprisoned, but was saved when the king’s sister had a vision that Gregory was the one could cure her brother from the divinely 191. Sic; meant here is the emperor Maximin (235–238). 192. According to Mahé, in Moïse de Khorène, Histoire de l’Arménie, 375 n. 6, the supposed history is “peut-être fictive.” Eusebius (HE 7.30.5) reports contemporary documents saying that Firmilian died en route to the great synod in Antioch in ca. 268 that condemned Paul of Samosata, a datum Movsēs could not have missed. Topchyan, Greek Sources of Movsēs Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, 101–116, argues unconvincingly that Movsēs used an actual but otherwise unattested writing of Firmilian’s. 193. Garsoïan, in Hovannisian, The Armenian People, 1:83. 194. From Pahlavi Mihrōzan, “the pleasure/enjoyment of Mithra”; see Garsoïan, “Prosopography,” in The Epic Histories, 391. 195. Garsoïan, in her notes to The Epic Histories, 391, comments that Mehružan, who figures in both The Epic Histories and Movsēs (3.29 [281–282], 3.35–37 [288–294]) as an apostate and a traitor to Persia, is a very dubious character. Did Movsēs ignore his homonym for that reason? 196. Garsoïan, in Hovannisian, The Armenian People, 1:81.

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imposed punishment of having been turned into a wild boar.197 Gregory healed the king, traveled back to Caesarea to be consecrated at a church council, and upon his return to Armenia baptized the king and the nation in the Euphrates. That is the classic account as preserved in Agat’angełos’s History of the Armenians. Movsēs’s version of the conversion of Armenia depends on Agat’angełos, often explicitly, though differing in detail.198 Surprisingly, Movsēs omits altogether the story of Trdat’s healing and his actual baptism. He does report the conversion of Constantine, but according to the narrative we have already encountered in the Life of Silvester, which Movsēs knew in its Armenian translation: the Life of Silvester presented Constantine as a persecutor of Christians who, having been punished by God with leprosy, was healed and baptized by Bishop Silvester in Rome—though Movsēs cannot resist reading Trdat and Armenia into the narrative by having a desperate Constantine consult Trdat for magicians to be sent from Persia and India (2.83 [230–231]).199 Robert Thomson says that Movsēs “makes an unstated but unmistakable parallel with Trdat’s own conversion as described by Agat’angeghos.”200 Doubtless true. But why is it unstated? Because by the eighth century Trdat had already become sacrosanct? Thomson notes in his long article on the Life of Silvester that Constantine and Theodosius II eventually joined Abgar and Trdat in the Armenian liturgy as “the believing kings.”201 The pairing of Trdat and Constantine as the first Christian kings is an important theme in the received tradition. Movsēs certainly shows that, though he does seem concerned to stress Trdat’s autonomy—he says, for example, that Constantine issued a specific injunction to Trdat, as well as Gregory, to come to the Council of Nicaea, but Trdat declined, on the grounds that he did not want to appear faithless to his treaty obligations to the Sasanians (2.89 [241]).202 In general, Movsēs’s exalted picture of Trdat matches anything in Eusebius’s portrait of Constantine in the HE and the Life of Constantine. Book 2 of the History of Armenia ends with a eulogy to Trdat, who is celebrated as “the second father of our illumination,” after Gregory himself: When speaking of the saint and great man, the second hero and spiritual overseer of our illumination, the most truly king of all those made such by Christ, we must use 197. Cf. Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. See Garsoïan, “The Iranian Substratum of the ‘Agat’angełos’ Cycle.” 198. Thomson, “Introduction,” in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 40–45. 199. Thomson, in Moses Khorenats’i, History of the Armenians, 231 n. 609, argues for Movsēs’ direct reliance here on the Life of Silvester. 200. Thomson, “The Armenian Version of the ‘Life of Silvester,’ ” 55. 201. Ibid., 65. 202. Agat’angełos only mentions Constantine’s summons to all the bishops (History of the Armenians §884), with no specific reference to Trdat or to Gregory, though he does have an elaborate account of an earlier triumphant visit of both king and archbishop to Constantine (§§873–880).


The Reception in the Non-Greek East very glorious speech as of the coworker and equal in austerity of our first leader and author of our salvation. It has pleased the Holy Spirit to give precedence to my Illuminator [Gregory] by his rank as martyr alone, though I would also add, by reason of his virtue. But in other respects apart from that, [Trdat] was his equal in words and deeds And I would assign the superiority to the king, for the two were equal in the contemplation of God and the ascetic life, but the king’s merit was greater in subjecting [people to the faith] by persuasive or forceful words, for he never interrupted his efforts on behalf of the faith. (2.92 [246–247])

After Movsēs The canonical status that Movsēs came to enjoy in Armenian historiography did not mean the end of later writers’ interest in appropriating Eusebius for their own purposes. Although we cannot pursue that trajectory as it deserves, we will take advantage of Tim Greenwood’s new translation, introduction, and commentary on the Universal History203 of Step’anos Tarōnec’i as a conclusion to this foray into the dense forest of Armenian historiography. Step’anos, whose birth and death dates are unknown, completed his work in 1004 or early in 1005. His name suggests he was from the region of Tarōn to the west of Lake Van. He was educated in a monastic environment, the only place he was likely to encounter the hermits and scholars for whom he expresses profound admiration in his history. He says in the beginning of his work (1.1 [100]) that he dedicated it to the catholicos Sargis I Sewanc’i, “the world-shining and greatly favored chief shepherd” (3.48 [314]), who had commissioned it sometime during the last decade of the tenth century. Possibly Step’anos was working in the archives of the catholicosate in Argina when Sargis became catholicos in 992/993. The setting was a time of “political turbulence and religious anxiety,” not in itself a new state of affairs for Armenians, as Greenwood drily notes, but somewhat untypical in that the threat to Armenian identity came not from historic Persian or Muslim oppressors, but from a resurgent Byzantine Empire and its Chalcedonian faith to the west. The Universal History is organized in the three-book format that Movsēs had used, with book 1 extending from Creation (though actually from the seventy-fifth year of Abraham) to King Trdat, book 2 from Trdat and Gregory the Illuminator, “our second father and the first illuminator of we Armenians,” to the restoration of kingship in Armenia under Ašot I Bagratuni on August 26, 884, and book 3 from that point up to 1004/1005.204 The length of the books is in inverse proportion to the length of the time period covered: from one-sixth to one-third to one-half of the total. Since book 3 treats events of Step’anos’s own time and shortly before, that is 203. See Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 1 n. 1, from whose introduction the following information is taken. Step’anos’s history is cited according to the book and chapter numbers, with page citations, from the Greenwood edition. 204. Universal History 2.1 (132–133), trans. Greenwood, 3.2 (210–211).

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the part that has traditionally drawn the attention of historians. The first two books rely on extracts from earlier authors. At the beginning of book 1, Step’anos recites a catalogue of the authors whom he will favor. They include the early Armenian historians whom we mentioned above and who thus constitute a kind of canon.205 But Step’anos begins his list with “the true calculator of time, Eusebius Pamphili, who began from when the first man left the garden of delight and concluded in the Twentieth year of Constantine the Great, and after him Socrates. There are numerous other historians amongst the Greeks, but these two, like luminaries greater than stars, shine forth brilliantly.”206 Greenwood emphasizes just how influential Eusebius was in inspiring Step’anos’s commitment to a rigorous chronological precision: “This eulogy to Eusebius, therefore, is more than mere convention. It expresses an affinity on the part of Step’anos for a fellow calculator of time as well as generating the chronographical context in which Step’anos wished to situate his own composition. Time was central to Step’anos’ historical vision, as his Universal History demonstrates. This is one important dimension which sets him apart from earlier Armenian historians.”207 Greenwood says that the purpose behind that ambition was “to fuse Armenian historical time with world time,”208 to embed an Armenian history of kings, princes, catholicoi, holy men, and scholars in a larger world framed by Roman (Greek), Persian, and Arab empires, to help in other words to create an Armenian cultural memory. His attention to this larger frame is one reason why Step’anos’s construction of Armenia’s past in the first two books of the Universal History minimizes conflict, a simplified picture that breaks down in book 3 in the face of undeniable and irremediable conflict in both political and ecclesiastical life. The first four chapters of book 1 make extensive use of material from Eusebius’s Chronicle, mainly the first part, the Chronography, but using the Chronological Canons as well. Readers of book 1 will note the scrupulously detailed Eusebian citations in Greenwood’s commentary. But, as he notes in his introduction, the Eusebian material is often revised or expanded, and there are frequent disagreements in the chronological data. Nor is it always clear whether the material was taken directly from Eusebius or perhaps from an intermediary such as the late seventh-century Anonymous Chronicle mentioned above.209 This makes precise source criticism difficult, a problem we have already encountered and will meet again. The important fact is Step’anos’s earnest effort to match and to improve on 205. Universal History 1.1 (98–100). Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 10, points out that it would be a mistake to see this series of names as a historiographical relay team, one picking up where his predecessor left off. 206. Universal History 1.1 (98), trans. Greenwood. 207. Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 35. 208. Ibid., 68. 209. Ibid., 39.


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his exemplar’s data. He also may have taken from Eusebius his habit of adding comments on prominent writers and ascetics, as Eusebius does in the Chronological Canons, for the sake of creating a national cultural montage: Step’anos says that his narrative would include “whatever valiant deeds were accomplished by brave men in their days, all the ascetics, those who were glorified through God, and which vardapets [scholars] appeared in which times, as famous orators or poets.”210 Another affinity linking him to Eusebius is Step’anos’s apparent disinterest in millenarian chronology, at least insofar as end-time speculation is concerned. Step’anos ends the Universal History with the report that the Armenian king Gagik determined to build a church in the city of Ani in honor of Gregory the Illuminator, “when the year 1000 from the Incarnation or becoming man of our Lord was finally reached.”211 The millennial date is calculated from the Incarnation itself, a rare departure from Step’anos’s usual practice of dating from the Crucifixion, which he placed in the nineteenth year of Tiberius (AD 33).212 Was Step’anos signaling that this first passing of a thousand-year period without any apocalyptic fireworks was reason not to be anxious when the next one, counting from the Crucifixion, rolled around in 1033?213 Finally, we should note as an oddity Step’anos’s reference in two places to a chronological work of Origen’s, for which there is no evidence in antiquity.214 In discussing Step’anos’s own reception by later Armenian historians, Greenwood brings in the Chronicle of the twelfth-century writer Samuēl Anec’i, completed in 1163. Samuēl’s work at least deserves mention here as a coda to our treatment of Eusebius in the Armenian tradition, because it eventually found its way into the Patrologia Graeca’s volumes of the works of Eusebius!215 In 1818 Cardinal Angelo Mai published a Latin translation of Samuēl’s Chronicle that the abbé Migne later scooped up and reprinted in volume 19 of the Patrologia Graeca— perhaps fittingly so, given what Greenwood calls Samuēl’s “slavish imitation” of the Armenian translation of Eusebius’s Chronicle, including reproducing Eusebius’s tabular format in the Chronological Canons. Greenwood says that Samuēl, like Step’anos, “was similarly fired with a passion for chronology and universal history,” and similarly enthusiastic about Eusebius’s prowess as a model. He also says 210. Universal History 2.1 (133), cited in Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 44. 211. Universal History 3.47 (313), trans. Greenwood. 212. Universal History 1.2 (109); and Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 211 n. 13. 213. Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 72–74, discusses this possibility, notes that Step’anos’ “subdued millenarianism” set him apart from some later eleventh- and twelfthcentury writers, but withholds judgment that it was actually a factor in his writing. 214. Universal History 1.1 (101, 103). 215. PG 19.601–742.

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that Samuēl knew Step’anos’s work, and he believes he can show that several passages from the Universal History have left their mark on Samuēl’s book.216 E U SE B I U S I N T H E C O P T IC T R A D I T IO N : F R OM E C UM E N IC A L T O E T H N IC E C C L E SIA ST IC A L H I ST O RY

Eusebius’s legacy in Coptic is more elusive, since a complete translation analogous to the Latin, Syriac, and Armenian versions has not survived.217 A Coptic church history that used Eusebius once existed, however, because fragments of it have been found in two codices from the famous White Monastery of Shenoute of Atripe. There are also parallels between this Coptic church history and the later Arabic work known as the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria traditionally attributed to Severus, bishop of al-Ashmunein (tenth century), which itself shows the influence of Eusebius’s HE. In addition, notice must be taken here of the existence of an official history of the Alexandrian church thought to have been composed probably at the end of the fourth century. It is believed to have consisted of three elements: ecclesiastical and civil documents preserved in the Alexandrian archives; short polemical narratives by members of the Alexandrian clergy; and historical and chronological data such as bishop lists and information concerning buildings and natural events.218 Pieces of such a lost institutional history have long been known, most famously the detailed narrative of the later career of Athanasius that is commonly called the Historia acephala.219 Recent manuscript discoveries in Ethiopia have recovered further remains of this history, which Alessandro Bausi and Alberto Camplani have named the History of the Episcopate of Alexandria (HEpA).220 Charting and explaining the filiations that link these four sources—Eusebius’s HE in the original Greek and in Coptic translation; a late fourth-century Greek history of the Alexandrian church partially surviving in Latin and Ethiopic translations; the Coptic church history; and the Arabic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria—has exercised scholars for the past several decades.221 I will forego 216. Greenwood, The “Universal History” of Step’anos Tarōnec’i, 77–79. 217. See Wipszycka, The Alexandrian Church, 10–27, for an overview of ancient church historians on Christianity in Egypt. 218. Camplani, “Syriac Fragment from the Liber historiarum by Timothy Aelurus,” 207. 219. Histoire “acéphale” et index syriaque des lettres festales d’Athanase d’Alexandrie, ed. Annick Martin and Micheline Albert, SC 317 (Paris: Cerf, 1985). 220. Bausi and Camplani, “History of the Episcopate of Alexandria (HEpA).” Speaking at the 2019 Oxford International Patristics Conference, Camplani argued that canonical literature was an incipient form of ecclesiastical history and should be treated as such. 221. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History.” Other important reference points are Johnson, “Coptic Sources of the Arabic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria”; and den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr ibn


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reference to Bausi and Camplani’s History of the Episcopate of Alexandria because work on it is still underway,222 and also because the Ethiopic fragments on which they depend do not seem to owe anything to Eusebius’s HE. The following comments reflect what seems to be an emerging consensus of specialists in this rarified field of research, which spans the linguistic transition from Greek to Coptic to Arabic in Egyptian Christianity—from the second through the twelfth century and beyond. The goal here will be to show what impact Eusebius made in Coptic historiography. As with the Syriac and Armenian traditions, we are dealing with a branch of Christianity that became progressively more alienated from imperial Christianity after the Council of Chalcedon. The chief literary monument to the dissenting Christianity of Egypt is in fact the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (HPA). Even though it means reversing the historical order, we must introduce readers to that remarkable work first, and then show how the Coptic church history (CHC) and Eusebius’s HE are telescoped within it. In its present form, the sprawling collective history conventionally called the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, but whose actual title is Biographies of the Holy Church, consists of 113 “lives” of the patriarchs of the Coptic Orthodox Church, from Saint Mark the Evangelist all the way up to the twentieth century.223 The individual sections vary significantly in length, form, and substance. The biographical form for many entries is just a frame for a narrative dealing with topics of a more broadly historical nature. In the words of its foremost student, the HPA is not so much a single book as “a historiographic tradition,” a virtual national history of Coptic Christianity.224 One could perhaps compare it to a work like the Liber Pontificalis, the ongoing collection of lives of the popes, from Peter to the fifteenth century, though for the analogy to be exact we would have to imagine a Muslim conquest and permanent occupation of Rome and all Italy, to match the situation of the Copts after the seventh-century spread of Islam—and one in which the native language would gradually yield to Arabic. That is what happened in Muffarigˇ et l’historiographie copto-arabe. For the eventual separation of Egyptian Christianity from the rest of the Christian oikoumenē, the master work for the crucial half century after the Council of Chalcedon is now Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople; see the review by Wickham, JTS 58 (2007): 729–732. 222. Bausi and Camplani, “History of the Episcopate of Alexandria (HEpA),” 253. 223. Ecclesiological issues raised by traditions about Mark and Peter, as found in Eusebius, HE 2.15–16.1, are with us still: see the late Coptic Orthodox patriarch Shenouda III’s (r. 1971–2012) protest against alleged Roman Catholic appropriation of the Markan apostolicity of Christianity in Alexandria, as mentioned in Klug, “Die alexandrinische Markuslegende und die römische Kirchenpolitik im 4. und 5. Jahrhundert,” 206. 224. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 2. Overview in den Heijer, “History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria.” This discussion will refer to the sections as Lives and number them; History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, ed. and trans. Evetts, Part I, PO 1 (1904): 99–214; Part II, PO 1 (1904): 381–619. Not all of Evetts’s parallels with the HE are convincing.

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Egypt, where the linguistic transition from Coptic to Arabic is reflected in the HPA: though the entire work is now in Arabic, Lives 1–65 were originally written in Coptic and then translated into Arabic at the end of the eleventh century, with subsequent lives all being original compositions in Arabic. Multiple authors were naturally involved in the creation of the HPA. Many of them are known by name.225 The whole may be divided into three distinct portions: 1–65, first series; 65–74, second series; and 75–113, third series, consisting mostly of short, anonymous lives, and perhaps only by courtesy considered as part of the HPA. The crucial transition, as just mentioned, came in the last decade of the eleventh century, under the editorial hand of a wealthy layman named Mawhūb ibn Mans.ūr ibn Muffarigˇ, who oversaw the translation of earlier chapters from Coptic into Arabic and the beginning of new compositions in Arabic. It was he, not the traditional figure of Severus of al-Ashmunein—or Sawīrus ibn al-Muqaffa’, to use the Arabic form of his name—who was the prime mover behind the creation of the HPA.226 Mawhūb seems to have lived between 1025 and ca. 1100.227 He was born in Alexandria but at some point moved to Cairo, where he was a high official involved in financial and commercial affairs of the Muslim authorities. Johannes den Heijer makes a plausible case that he was a layman, although he apparently also at some point had the status of a deacon in his dealings with the church, on whose behalf he sometimes served as intermediary with the government. The circumstances behind the creation of the HPA are the following: Mawhūb says that in February or March 1088, a meeting took place in the monastery of St. Macarius, attended by himself; a certain deacon Abu H . abīb, who became his collaborator; the reigning patriarch, Kīrillus II (1078–1092); and three other bishops. At the meeting, Mawhūb explained his plan to collect all of the lives of the previous patriarchs of Alexandria.228 He carefully indicated as well the names of the current Fatimid caliph, Billāh (1035–1094), and the royal emir ˇ uyūs, perhaps because the project wanted to advertise that it had the sanction al-G of the government to create what was in effect a political as well as an ecclesiastical history of Coptic Christianity. In the following months, he reports, clusters of lives totaling sixty-five in all were found at three monasteries, along with additional sources that found their way into the HPA. These were translated and redacted in a process that took place between 1088 and 1094.229 Mawhūb himself then 225. Den Heijer, “History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria,” 1239–1241; den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 2–13. 226. A major purpose of den Heijer’s monograph on the HPA was to displace Severus completely and give full credit to Mawhūb and his associates for the work of collection, translation, and redaction that created the HPA (Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 14–80, 95, 115–116). 227. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 87–93, on his life, status, and family. 228. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 95–115, esp. 96–99. 229. Ibid., 155.


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composed two further lives in Arabic, for the patriarchs Ah. rist.ūdūlus (Christodoulos) and Kīrillus, his contemporaries, which thus became Lives 66 and 67.230 The fragmentary Coptic church history mentioned above was encapsulated in the redactional work that produced the HPA. It is the principal source for Lives 1–24, that is, up to and including Cyril of Alexandria (412–444). So too was Eusebius’s HE, whether directly from the Greek original or, more likely (see below), via the mediation of the CHC. Eusebius’s influence is evident mainly between Lives 12 and 16, that is, in the third-century Alexandrian succession from Bishop Demetrius (190–233)— Origen’s ordinary—through Bishop Theonas (282–300).231 The beginning of the Life of Theonas contains the last definite trace of a literary link between the HE and the HPA. Only the first seven books of the HE can thus be said with certainty to have been deployed by the redactors, since the transition from Maximus to Theonas is referred to in Eusebius’s HE Before we can comment on Eusebius’s impact, though, we need to explain the mediating role played by the CHC. The remains of that work are known, as I said earlier, from fragments of two codices from the White Monastery. These consist of about a hundred pages, in scattered portions, of what W. E. Crum first recognized to be a single text.233 That text, so Tito Orlandi has argued, was originally a work of church history written in Greek and commissioned by the Alexandrian patriarch Timothy Aelurus (r. 457– 477), who played such a significant role in organizing resistance to the Council of Chalcedon in the name of Cyril of Alexandria’s mia physis formula.234 Perhaps Timothy’s intention was to provide the anti-Chalcedonians with a narrative placement of themselves in relation to the larger Christian community after Chalcedon, tense years that saw Proterius, the incumbent patriarch, murdered in 457 by a mob for betraying Cyril’s teaching at the council. Timothy himself became patriarch just two weeks later. The Greek original of Timothy’s history is now lost, and all we have left are the fragments of its translation into Coptic. They suggest that it went 230. Ibid., 111–113. 231. Lives 2–11 are extremely brief and contain little more than the length of reign and date of death. 232. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 130–131 (see esp. nn. 47, 52, and 53). Den Heijer rejects Evetts’s claim that books 8 and 9 were also in use. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 10, is open to the use at least to book 8. 233. Crum, “Eusebius and Coptic Church Histories,” 70. For the most complete edition of manuscript witnesses, Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 8 n. 25, lists the website of the Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari, Since 2011, the Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari has been maintained as a research project of the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies at the University of Hamburg: 234. Spanel, “Timothy II Aelurus of Alexandria.” Also Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople, chap. 3, in which Timothy is the dominant figure. Note Blaudeau’s sympathetic discussion of Timothy’s sobriquet “Aelurus,” literally “cat” but also capable of meaning “weasel” (354–357), a protective reading of Timothy respectfully disputed by Wickham in his review of Blaudeau (730–731).

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from the beginnings of Christianity up to Timothy’s patriarchate and was based on the same kind of archival resources that produced other historical works from Alexandria, such as the Historia acephala and the Index to the “Festal Letters” of Athanasius, and that were used as well by Eusebius for the portions of his HE dealing with Alexandria. Scholars now agree that the text of the CHC was divided into two main parts. The first part, dependent very largely on the first seven books of Eusebius’s HE, along with certain supplementary non-Eusebian sources,235 extended up to the great persecution of Diocletian. The second part began most probably with the Diocletianic persecution and the episcopacy of Peter of Alexandria (300–311) and concluded with Timothy’s patriarchate.236 A monk of the White Monastery named Menas has been tentatively proposed as the scribe responsible for the second part. Whether he also was responsible for the rendering of the HE into Coptic in the first part is unclear—nothing requires us to imagine it as the work of a single person.237 The fragmentary state of the CHC imposes limits on what we can know of how it mediated Eusebius to the HPA and to Coptic tradition generally. One question has to do with whether the CHC functioned as a translation in the narrower sense, or as an adaptation and reworking of Eusebius’s history. The majority opinion is that the CHC intended to make a rather literal translation of the Greek but did a bad job of it.238 Tito Orlandi differs somewhat in conceiving the CHC to have been a reworking of Eusebius and the second part of the history as a conscious continuation. He asks whether we should not imagine the entire work as a continuation of Eusebius for Egyptian Christianity, in the manner of Rufinus’s continuation of the HE for Latin Christians: “Is it possible that the second part of the Coptic History of the Church was similarly conceived as an independent continuation of an existing ‘Egyptian’ edition of Eusebius?”239 He would explain the substantial semantic differences, which at times reduce the CHC to the point of unintelligibility, to a cumbersome translation technique that involved listing one Greek word per line on a manuscript page, with a Coptic equivalent written next to it, and the resulting tabulation then being recast into intelligible Coptic sentences. Be that as it may, the problems with the Coptic are patent. Johannes den Heijer demonstrates this through a synoptic comparison of HE 7.32.5–6, on the late third-century episcopal 235. See den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 5–7, including texts such as an encomium on Bishop Demetrius, a panegyric and a martyrdom of Bishop Peter, and a Coptic epitome of the Acts of Archelaus, which recounts a contestation between Mani and a Bishop Archelaus during the episcopacy of Maximus (264–282) (Life 15 of the HPA), and which must have been inserted into Eusebius’s narrative as a great expansion of Eusebius’s brief notice about Mani in HE 7.31. 236. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 8–10. 237. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 119–121. 238. For what follows, see den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 124–125, 166–171. 239. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 18.


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successions in Laodicea, in the HE’s Greek, the CHC’s Coptic, and the HPA’s Arabic. He shows how the Arabic version was repeatedly stymied by mistakes in the Coptic, and at times forced simply to pass over problematic passages.240 Besides faulty translation performance, the dilemma of the Arabic redactors may also be due to a defective manuscript tradition of the Coptic manuscripts in circulation when Mawhūb was overseeing the translation and redaction of the HPA, or problems on the Arabic end created by adapting texts in the genre of ecclesiastical history toward more biographical and hagiographic purposes.241 This leads us to a second question: What can material in Lives 1–17 in the HPA tell us about how the CHC may have exploited Eusebius’s HE in the portions of the Greek original for which we lack a Coptic version? That of course is by far the larger part of books 1–7 in the HE—what has survived is just portions of books 4 and 7.242 A condition for finding an answer would be our confidence that the HPA has fairly rendered the CHC, at least in those places where it could understand it. The judgment of the critics on this point is somewhat reassuring. In his review of portions of the non-Eusebian CHC (= Lives 18–23 of the HPA), den Heijer writes: “As for the section of the CHC that is an original composition in Coptic and independent of Eusebius, its Arabic translation in the HPA can perhaps be considered sufficiently faithful and almost complete.”243 With that encouragement, we note with interest that among the subjects where the testimony of the HPA differs conspicuously from Eusebius is the hostile account of Origen, who of course was Eusebius’s theological North Star.244 In the HPA, Origen is condemned as the author of heretical and magical books, and it is Origen’s adversary Bishop Demetrius who is portrayed in glowing colors. There are remarkable inversions of Eusebius’s narrative, such as the change of a letter written to Demetrius in support of Origen by Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, and Theoctistus, bishop of Caesarea, into a letter by Demetrius to the Palestinian bishops reproving them for their hospitality to Origen!245 There is also an accusation that Origen, having been excommunicated, went to the Jews and associated himself with the Jewish-Christian biblical translator Symmachus and his heretical denial of the virgin birth and the divinity of

240. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 166–171. 241. Ibid., 158, crediting David Johnson with the genre suggestion. 242. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 17, has a chart of all the known fragments of the CHC, along with the parallels in Eusebius’s HE and in the Arabic HPA. 243. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 160 (comparative analysis, 160–166). 244. For what follows, see den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 124–125, from which the examples are taken. 245. Cf. HE 6.19.17–18 and contrast with HPA, Life 12 (ed. Evetts, PO 1 [1904]: 171). See now the St. Louis University dissertation of Kostopoulos, “Constructing Origen,” 210–217, for a discussion of this passage. My thanks to Zachary Kostopoulos for sharing his work with me.

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Christ.246 While it is possible that such a systematic smearing of Origen occurred at the time of the redaction of the CHC into Arabic, it seems much more plausible that it occurred in the late fifth century during the composition of the CHC itself, since hostility to Origen had been Alexandrian policy since the campaign of Patriarch Theophilus (384–412) against Origenism.247 If we are correct in attributing such a naked rewriting of Eusebius to Timothy Aelurus’s time, it indicates that the CHC was expected to serve the theological and ecclesiastical program of the Egyptian church, at precisely the moment when its path began to separate from that of the church of the empire. At the same time, the work seems to have kept a partial grip on an ecumenical perspective, because it retained Eusebius’s chronological anchoring of his narrative in the successions of the bishops in the other major sees as well as in Alexandria. Orlandi contends that the CHC should thus be seen as a work that would treat “the Church as a whole” rather than a merely regional sphere of interest. He also thinks he can detect a documentary interest in the post-Eusebian second part that imitates the practice of the HE.248 It remains noteworthy, though, that there is no certain evidence that the CHC used books 8, 9, and 10 from the HE, that is, the books that describe contemporary history and culminate in the triumph of Constantine and his sponsorship of the Christian church. Nor did they leave their mark on the HPA, even though it shows a lively interest in Bishop Peter of Alexandria, and his successors up to Timothy Aelurus. Is Eusebius’s apparent eclipse as a source for his own time, when Christianity suddenly came into favor with the empire, due to imperial alienation on the part of Egyptian Christianity in the wake of Chalcedon? This is plausible on the face of it; a recent survey of Constantine’s place in Coptic Christianity has observed that Diocletian bulked larger in Coptic memory and literature than Constantine.249 On the other hand, Philippe Blaudeau, to whose study of the immediate post-Chalcedonian period we have made frequent reference, has argued forcefully that Alexandrian hostility to Chalcedon, far from promoting separatism, in the short run served to intensify the patriarchate’s ambitions to shape imperial Christianity as a whole: “In effect, for the Alexandrians, the 246. Cf. HE 6.17 and contrast with HPA, Life 12 (ed. Evetts, PO 1 [1904]: 169–170). 247. Den Heijer, Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr, 125 n. 26. 248. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 20. 249. Wilfong, “Constantine in Coptic,” 177–180, discusses the place of Constantine in the seventhcentury Chronicle of John of Nikiu, which survives only in an Ethiopic translation of a lost Arabic version of the (probably) Coptic original; see The Chronicle of John of Nikiu, ed. and trans. R. H. Charles (Oxford: William & Norgate, 1916), 58–70. Witakowski, “Ethiopic Universal Chronography,” 288–289, says that John used Eusebius, Socrates, and Evagrius as predecessors, but above all the Byzantine chronicler John Malalas. On the impact of Constantine’s example and Eusebius’s portrait of the first Christian emperor in shaping the self-image of the Christianized kingdom of Aksum (= Ethiopia), see Hatke, “Holy Land and Sacred History,” 264.


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ideological categories established by Eusebius of Caesarea did not lose their referential value. The Empire is [still] a political entity willed by Providence in order to spread the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.”250 For his part, Orlandi argues that Eusebius ceased to have value as a witness from the time that the persecutions ended and the Arian controversy had broken out, because he would have been reviled as the opponent of Athanasius and the Council of Nicaea.251 That, however, does not seem convincing, partly because frankly subordinationist assertions by Eusebius occur already at the very beginning of the HE, such as the description of the Son as “the second cause after the Father of the universe” (HE 1.2.3). Also, it presumes a first edition of the HE in just seven books prior to 300, a hypothesis that current scholarship has discarded, as we saw above in chapter 1 of this book.252 With this final exploration into the destiny of the HE in the non-Greek traditions of the Christian East, we must now return to the Latin Christian tradition and pick up the trail where we left it with Rufinus of Aquileia.

250. Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Contantinople, 277. And this, at 249: “Far from resolving to ratify a situation of ecclesial division, Dioscurus and his successors intend au contraire to affirm that the community they direct is the vera Ecclesia imperii [true Church of the empire].” 251. Orlandi, “Coptic Ecclesiastical History,” 13. 252. These points are made by Boud’hors and Morlet, “La version copte,” 269.


The Reception of the Ecclesiastical History in the Latin West


In the Latin West, Rufinus’s version was the medium through which Western Christians were going to know Eusebius’s HE for the next thousand years, until the original came back into circulation during the Renaissance.1 During all that time, there is no proven instance of the direct use of Eusebius’s Greek text, a fact that is sometimes obscured by the common practice of referring to Rufinus’s translation and continuation as the history of “Eusebius.”2 The first Latin author to use it seems to be none other than Augustine in his On the City of God, in the section praising the emperor Theodosius I (5.26), written perhaps in 415, and also for information on the persecutions of Julian and Valens (18.52).3 The long recitation of the history of the two cities in book 18 draws heavily on the Chronicle of “our Eusebius and Jerome” (nostri Eusebius et Hieronymus), sometimes to correct Varro, in Augustine’s labored synchronizations and apologetic defenses of Christian (Jewish!) priority over against Greek (and even Egyptian) philosophy and religion. 1. On late ancient Latin Christian historiography, see Zecchini, “Latin Historiography,” 317–345; and Croke, “Latin Historiography and the Barbarian Kingdoms,” 349–389. 2. See Beatrice, “De Rufin à Cassiodore,” 241. 3. Beatrice, “De Rufin à Cassiodore,” 242–245, on other instances of Augustine’s indebtedness, e.g., concerning the dispersal of the bodily remains of the Lyons martyrs, which Augustine says he read about in “the ecclesiastical history that Eusebius wrote in Greek and which Rufinus has translated into Latin” (Legimus in ecclesiastica historia, quam graece scripsit Eusebius et in latinam linguam vertit Rufinus [De cura pro mortuis gerenda/On Taking Care of the Dead 6.8 (CSEL 41:633.10–11); cf. Eus. HE 5.1.59–63]).



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A different sort of witness to the impact of Eusebius’s HE in Rufinus’s continuation is found in the library and reading program implemented by the sixth-century Christian aristocrat Cassiodorus for the monastery that he founded in his old age at Vivarium in Italy. In his Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, in the section “Christian Historians,” Cassiodorus explains that Christian historians (among whom he lists Josephus, whose Jewish Antiquities and Jewish War he had translated into Latin) differ from pagan historians in that they ascribe events “to the providential guidance of God” rather than to mere chance or to the weak powers of the gods. After Josephus he mentions Eusebius’s history, written in Greek in ten books, and its translation into Latin and continuation in two further books by Rufinus.4 Then he adds the fifth-century Greek threesome of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, who “wrote of the events in the Greek world in the period following the history of Eusebius.” These three, he says, he has had a certain Epiphanius synthesize as a single work in Latin translation “in a collection of twelve books so that eloquent Greece cannot boast that it possesses an indispensable work that has not been available to us.”5 Such a composite work already existed in Greek, and Cassiodorus had it in his library: the Ecclesiastical History of Theodore Lector (the Reader), a work we met above in chapter 2, on the Greek church historians. It consisted of a synthesis of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, along with Theodore’s continuation of events from 439 to 518. Cassiodorus commissioned this Latin companion to it sometime around 560. The Tripartite History, as it came to be called, would become a mainstay of medieval historiographical collections.6 In composing it, Epiphanius depended on Theodore’s work alone up to his book 2.4. From 2.4 to 2.12, Epiphanius went back and forth from Theodore to Theodoret and Socrates. From 2.12 onward to the end, with one brief exception (4.34–38), he continued with his own synthesis, chiefly drawing on Theodoret and Socrates, less so Sozomen, and for the last two books, 11 and 12, on Socrates alone, up to the year 439 (because Theodoret had ended his history in the year 428, Sozomen already in 425).7 Pier Franco Beatrice has argued that an important purpose of this project was to serve as a polemical brief on behalf of Pope Vigilius’s resistance to the emperor Justinian’s religious policies.8 The most relevant example of this cited by Beatrice is the defense made in the Latin West of the “Three Chapters,” that is, the three Antio4. Institutions 1.17.1, cited in Beatrice, “De Rufin à Cassiodore,” 248. Cassiodorus, Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, On the Soul, trans. Halporn, 149–150. 5. Inst. 1.17.1 (trans. Halporn, 150). On the impact of Cassiodorus’s synthesis, especially as measured by the number and locations of manuscript copies, see Laistner, “Value and Influence of Cassiodorus’ Ecclesiastical History.” 6. See below, in the section “Eusebius and Frankish Identity.” 7. Cassiodorus-Epiphanius, Historia ecclesiastica tripartita, ed. Hanslik, IX–XI. See now Scholten, “Cassiodorus’ Historia tripartita before the Earliest Extant Manuscripts.” 8. Beatrice, “De Rufin à Cassiodore,” 250.

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chene theologians condemned posthumously at the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 553. The Roman deacon Pelagius (the future pope Pelagius I), in the treatise Defense of the Three Chapters written while he was in captivity in Constantinople in 554, appealed to Eusebius’s HE (in Rufinus’s translation) to object to the posthumous condemnation of Theodore of Mopsuestia, on the grounds that such posthumous condemnations violated precedent.9 (The reference is to Eusebius, HE 7.24.4–5, where Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria rejected the millenarian doctrines of a certain Nepos but refused to speak ill of the man himself, since he had passed away.) If correct, that would be interesting testimony to the value, not just of the history of Eusebius and Rufinus, but of church histories more generally. But even apart from their pertinence to dogmatic controversy, their prominent position in book 1 of the Institutions, coming immediately after the sections on the Bible itself, testifies to their importance in the educational and cultural program Cassiodorus describes as his purpose at the beginning of his book.10 Prior to Cassiodorus’s program for the place of ancient church history in Latin Christian education, the Spanish priest Orosius produced his Seven Books of History against the Pagans, sometime between 416 and 418, according to Orosius, at the behest of Augustine himself (1.Pref.).11 But Orosius’s work differs from the genre of ecclesiastical history in which Eusebius’s continuators would write. He set about his task, he says, when Augustine was halfway through his great work—at the start of book 11 of On the City of God—and with the purpose of providing a historical complement to Augustine’s indictment of paganism. Just as Augustine changes the subject, so to speak, by pointing to paganism’s history of moral and political disasters, to counteract the charge that Christianity is responsible for the sack of Rome in 410, so Orosius tries to do the same with his polemical historical work. He makes a point of relying on sources that pagans were more likely to accept (note that he treats “pagan” as a usage that seems to need an explanation; cf. 1.Pref.9): “His technique therefore is to let secular history justify the ways of God to men and show how this fits the Christian message, rather than vice versa.”12 The resulting book is thus avowedly secular in much of its content, and Eusebius’s HE is nowhere in evidence.13 It is true, however, that Orosius enjoyed great popularity 9. Ibid., 252–253. 10. Cassiodorus, Institutions 1.Pref. On the long scholarly discussion of Cassiodorus’s program and of the Institutions, see Vessey, “Introduction,” in Cassiodorus, Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, 24–101. 11. Orosius, Seven Books of History against the Pagans, trans. and ed. Fear. 12. Fear, “Introduction,” in Orosius, Seven Books of History against the Pagans, 13–16. 13. For a comparison of Orosius with Eusebius where their views of Christianity and history are concerned, see Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History, 191–197, who qualifies the conventional equation of Orosius with “Eusebianism” and argues that Orosius’s historiography was shaped by ancient rhetoric rather than by a grandly conceived theology of history (4–15).


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in the Latin Middle Ages—that 245 manuscripts of his book survive suggests he may have been the most widely read ancient historian in the medieval period. His universal history14 was not an ecclesiastical history in the strict sense. But it may have had a shaping influence on how medieval Christians thought about church history, because of its linkage of Christianity with the history of Rome, both in terms of coordinating the birth of Christ with the Pax Augusta and of presenting the Roman Empire as the last stage of world history, on the basis of a common Christian reading of the four kingdoms alluded to in Daniel 2.15 “NAT IO NA L” E C C L E SIA ST IC A L H I ST O RY I N T H E M I D D L E AG E S

The collapse of Roman authority in the West in the late fifth century was only temporarily allayed by the wars of reconquest fought by Justinian and his generals. Not long after Justinian’s death in 565, Italy suffered invasions by the Germanic people who came to be called “Lombards.” The Franks had already settled in Gaul, and their king Clovis converted from Arian to Catholic Christianity in 495. Roman Britain had also been cut off during the fifth century, and the island would become a favored destination of Saxon settlers. And Spain was becoming a separate kingdom under the Visigoths. In such fragmented conditions, it is no surprise that the focus of such historical writing as we have was more regional than universal. Eusebius envisioned Christianity as a nation, an ethnos, of sorts, to be sure. But it was the redeemed human race in nuce, a universal scope that may have been a reach too far for Christians living in a world of new and more diverse identities. So we have instead histories of particular peoples and their conversion to Christianity by writers like Jordanes for the Goths, Gregory of Tours for the Franks, the Venerable Bede for the English, and Paul the Deacon for the Lombards.16 That at least has been the conventional picture of these “dark age” histories. The past generation of scholarship has taken a keen interest in gauging to what extent they really were fashioned to fit the history and identity of a particular ethnic group. What (if anything) are these writers and others like them able to tell us about the process of identity formation among the new groups that were moving into former Roman territory during this period? Interest in “ethnogenesis,” as it has been called, no doubt owes something to modern concerns about nationalism and ethnic identity, and argument over it has been 14. Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History, 170–176. 15. Orosius, 2.1–3 and 7.2 on Rome as the fourth kingdom in Daniel, and 6.22 for the synchronism of the Incarnation and the Pax Augusta. See Staats, “Orosius und das Ende der christlich-römischen Universalgeschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation,” 203, on Orosius’s impact on medieval churchhistorical thinking. 16. On this quartet, see the synthesis of Goffart, Narrators of Barbarian History.

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fierce.17 Historian Walter Goffart has been a leading skeptic as to whether Gregory, Bede, and company can be expected to answer the questions we may want to put to them. He practices instead what he describes as a more “literary” approach that will remind readers of the comparable shift to literary approaches to Eusebius and his history that are reviewed in this book. Goffart wants to know what was particular and immediate to their concerns and contexts as writers, concerns that may be quite different from ours: “Our four authors are less compelling for occasionally addressing themselves to the peoples whom we call Germanic barbarians than they are for being the leading practitioners of narrative history in Latin within the two hundred and fifty years that separate Justinian, for whom Jordanes may have worked, from Charlemagne, at whose court Paul the Deacon briefly sojourned.”18 In the case of Gregory of Tours, for example, Goffart denies that Gregory was writing ecclesiastical history at all, and argues that his book is not correctly seen even as a history of the Franks as such. The original title was simply Historiae, and Historia Francorum does not show up as a title until late Carolingian manuscripts, when political circumstances made it attractive to tie Gregory’s history overtly to the Franks as a people.19 Eusebius left only a limited mark on Gregory, chiefly in the ten-book structure, in “a concept of ecclesiastical history that presents itself in the form of a collection, or a continuous series, of passions of martyrs and accounts of confessors or of other saints,” and in Eusebius’s vision of a history of salvation extending backward in time to the theophanies of the Logos in the Old Testament.20 In his new book on historical writing and Frankish identity, Helmut Reimitz points out that Gregory, while plainly building his book on the historiographical framework first created by Eusebius, nevertheless departed from it significantly in leaving behind the political and social structures of the Roman Empire.21 This is vividly illustrated in Gregory’s account of the conversion of Clovis. While he calls Clovis “a new Constantine,” he emphasizes Clovis’s repentance and describes his baptism as a cleansing from the sores of the leprosy of his sins—a depiction that depends on the 17. In his new preface to the 2005 reprinting of Narrators of Barbarian History, ix–xxxiv, Goffart reviews the debate over national identity formation that was unleashed by the first edition of his book. For a defense of “ethnogenesis,” see the methodological discussion in Pohl and Heydemann, Strategies of Identification, 1–64. On the interpretive issues involving “tribal” or ethnic designations, see Geary, “Barbarians and Ethnicity,” and on the ongoing debate over “national” history and historiography, the overview of Lawrence, “Nationalism and Historical Writing.” 18. Goffart, Narrators of Barbarian History, 6. 19. Ibid., 119–120. See Reimitz, “Early Medieval Editions of the Histories,” on how Gregory’s history was revised and rewritten to accommodate later needs. 20. Heinzelmann, “Works of Gregory of Tours and Patristic Tradition,” 285–286. Heinzelmann believes Gregory owes a much larger debt to Augustine’s On the City of God (287–299). 21. Reimitz, History, Frankish Identity, and the Framing of Ethnicity, 44–47.


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legend of Constantine’s baptism and miraculous healing by Pope Silvester, not on any details found in the HE or the Life of Constantine, which of course was unknown in the West at that point.22 In Gregory’s only explicit reference to the HE, he repeats the story of Arius’s ignominious death in a privy just before what was to be his dramatic rehabilitation—a vindictive narrative that would have a long life in ecclesiastical literature—and although he attributes the information to “Eusebius,” he got it from Rufinus’s continuation of the HE.23 A frequent issue in the Latin tradition will be confusion between Eusebius’s HE and his Chronicle, both of which were used by both Gregory and Bede, and of course others—Gregory, for example, quotes Eusebius in other places in his Histories, but the references are all to Eusebius’s Chronicle (in Jerome’s translation) and not the HE.24 The preference for the Chronicle over the HE is a subject we will return to in a moment.25 Gregory’s Histories certainly echoed Eusebius in seeing a providential role for the kingdom ruled by Clovis. But Reimitz has shown how long it took for Gregory’s continuators and revisers, from the Chronicle of Fredegar of the 660s up through historical compendia made at Lorsch and then at Rheims in the late ninth century, to impose a distinctively Frankish identity—while still preserving Gregory’s original vision. Of the Rheims compendium, “the most radical rearrangement of Gregory’s Histories we know of,” he says, “The historical drama that it unfolded was still developed within the outlines defined by Gregory. The narrative of the Histories evolved into a church history, but was further transformed into a Historia ecclesiastica regni (or even imperii) Francorum.”26 B E D E A N D E C C L E SIA S T IC A L H I ST O RY I N A N G L O S A XO N E N G L A N D : E U SE B I U S’ S H E I R A N D C R I T IC

In tracing Eusebius’s trajectory through the “dark ages,” then, my chief concern is going to be with Bede. Bede deserves our attention because he alone among historical writers of the early medieval period can fairly be called an ecclesiastical historian and someone who actually named his book an ecclesiastical history. Robert Markus, in his 1975 Jarrow lecture on Bede, gave what still seems to me a 22. Ibid., 47, citing Gregory of Tours, Histories 2.31. 23. Gregory of Tours, Histories 9.15, citing Rufinus, HE 10.14. Beatrice, “De Rufin à Cassiodore,” 246, cites two other references to Eusebius’s history in other works of Gregory’s: the alleged statues of Jesus and the woman with the flow of blood (Eus. HE 7.18), and the name of one of the Lyons martyrs (Eus. HE 5.1.9). 24. See Gregory of Tours, Histories 1.Pref., 1.36, and 2.Pref. 25. On early medieval Latin chronicles, see Brincken, “Mittelalterliche Geschichtsschreibung”; Croke, Count Marcellinus and His Chronicle; and Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 173–221, 237–274. 26. Reimitz, “Providential Past,” 130.

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correct description of Bede’s relationship to his predecessor Eusebius, from whom, and only from whom, he could have taken the title of his book, since Bede apparently did not even know Cassiodorus’s and Epiphanius’s Latin synthesis of Eusebius’s Greek continuators, the Historia Tripartita, let alone those historians themselves.27 From Eusebius, Bede took key aspects of his own book, such things as the reliance on documentation, the long historical perspective, the attention to the succession of the bishops, the featuring of significant writers and preachers, and the struggle with heresy. He did not, however, conceive his work as a continuation of Eusebius, for, as Markus points out, the situation of Christianity had changed significantly from Eusebius’s time, not only from what it had been before the conversion of Constantine but from what it was after it as well. English Christianity was certainly not marked off from secular society, as Christianity had been in the era of the persecutions. But neither did it resemble the incipient establishment of the church under the patronage of a Christian emperor. Bede could not share Eusebius’s presumption that the Christianizing Roman Empire embraced at least potentially all of humanity: “Within the tradition of ecclesiastical history writing, [Bede’s] originality lay in focusing on the Christian destiny of one people and writing the first ‘national’ ecclesiastical history.”28 Bede’s Christian world also differed from Eusebius’s in that it was divided ethnically, politically, and religiously, so that the central dramatic thread of the Ecclesiastical History of the English People is the long effort to impose religious unity in the face of these other divisions.29 We are dependent for knowledge of Bede’s life on the brief autobiographical statement and list of his writings with which he ends his history (HE 5.24). He was born in 672 or 673 in the vicinity of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul at Wearmouth and Jarrow (though two separate locations, Wearmouth founded in 674 and Jarrow in 681, they were regarded as one monastery30), where he spent his entire life from the age of seven, educated in the monastery, ordained a deacon at nineteen and a priest at thirty, and fifty-nine years old when he wrote the

27. Markus, “Bede and the Tradition of Ecclesiastical Historiography,” 3 (note Markus’s annotation on the uses of historia ecclesiastica throughout Bede’s corpus). 28. Markus, “Bede and the Tradition of Ecclesiastical Historiography,” 4. 29. Ibid., 11. Walter Goffart’s very different approach to Bede nevertheless agrees that Bede thought of his book as a “national” history, but denies that Bede had no predecessors. He argues that Bede’s perspective was more narrowly regional—Northumbrian—than English per se (Narrators of Barbarian History, 245), a thesis that dominates his fresh and insightful treatment of Bede (235–328); cf. Goffart’s “literary” reading of Bede in his discussion of what he calls “Bede’s three models of the Ecclesiastical History” (296–307). 30. Colgrave, “Introduction,” xix-xxi, in Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, cited hereafter as HE. Bede was perhaps ten when he moved from Wearmouth to Jarrow (xx).


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conclusion to his history in 731.31 His life as a scholar, he says, began only after his priestly ordination, which would compress his many works of exegesis, chronology, hagiography, history, and literary criticism into just over three decades. He passed away on May 25, 735, and is honored today as a saint and doctor of the universal church. Despite Bede’s indebtedness to Eusebius, his name shows up only once in the entire length of the HE. That should not in itself be surprising, given the geographical and historical framework of Bede’s history. Of its five books, all but the first half of book 1 treat the history of the English after the coming of the papally sponsored mission of Augustine in 594.32 Prior to that, Bede gives an overview of the history of the island from the time of its first contact with Rome, when Julius Caesar visited Britain (55–54 BC).33 But Bede’s one explicit reference to Eusebius is noteworthy. It comes near the very end of the history in a letter that Bede quotes from his abbot Ceolfrith to Nechtan, king of the Picts, in 710, on the subject of the date of Easter (HE 5.21). As readers of Bede know, disagreement over Easter was a bitterly divisive factor in the Christian communities in Britain. English Christians adhered to Roman practices for identifying the date of the Paschal full moon, and for specifying dates within which Easter Sunday could be observed.34 On the latter point, for English Christians that meant limiting Easter Sunday within the fifteenth through the twenty-first days of the lunar month, whereas British and Irish Christians recognized only the fourteenth through the twentieth days as possibilities for Easter. They also used different systems for calculating the date of the Paschal full moon. Abbot Ceolfrith congratulated the Pictish king for choosing to observe Easter according to “the catholic time of keeping the Lord’s resurrection.”35 Bede quotes this long and detailed letter with great satisfaction. It documents the acquiescence of a significant Celtic holdout against the Roman observance, for previously, he writes elsewhere in his history, “the northern province of the Irish and the whole nation of the Picts” had been in dissent.36 The letter specifi31. See Brown, Companion to Bede, for an overview of Bede’s many writings on scripture, chronology, and history, and secondary bibliography. A valuable older resource is Hamilton Thompson, Bede: His Life, Times, and Writings, especially the papers of Wilhelm Levison, Claude Jenkins, and M. L. W. Laistner. 32. That is, from HE 1.23 forward. 33. For his overview, he drew on various sources, chiefly the Roman writer Pliny, the Christian historian Orosius, a life of Germanus of Auxerre, and the history of post-Roman Britain by the sixthcentury monk Gildas, De excidio Britanniae. 34. See Bede, HE 2.2, 4, 19; 3.3, 17, 25–26, 29; 5.15, 18, 21–23. The famous conference at Whitby in 664 is recounted in HE 3.25. See Jones’s survey, “Easter in the British Isles,” in his magisterial edition of Bede’s On the Reckoning of Time (chaps. 1–65) and related works: Bede, Opera de temporibus, 78–104. 35. Bede, HE 5.21 (533). 36. Bede, HE 3.3 (218). Bede likely had a hand in composing the letter. Editors Colgrave and Mynors express little doubt that it is “Bede’s free version of the original to which Bede probably also contributed” (534n).

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cally commends and justifies the king’s adoption throughout the kingdom of a nineteen-year cycle for calculating the date of Easter, and Bede records his total elimination of the “erroneous” eighty-four-year cycle underlying Celtic Easter observance.37 For the nineteen-year cycle, Ceolfrith claims “apostolic” justification and notes its use in Rome and Egypt. He credits refinements to that cycle to a number of scholars, beginning with Eusebius and ending with Dionysius Exiguus, the sixth-century Roman monk who is conventionally credited with inventing the system of reckoning time from the birth of Christ.38 Dionysius’s Easter tables, writes Ceolfrith, are about to reach their terminus, but he expresses confidence in the ability of contemporaries to compose an extension, even up to 532 years. It is not hard to imagine which of his contemporaries the abbot had in mind. Chronology and calendrical matters were a deep and lasting interest of Bede, who wrote two treatises on the calendar and the dating of Easter, a shorter one in 703 (one of his very first books) that he entitled De temporibus, and a longer one, De temporum ratione, in 725. Both works were written first of all for the instruction of his students in the monastery. The first one, he says, proved too condensed to be fully useful for his students, so he composed a much more detailed version over two decades later.39 The technical character of the subject and the style should not hide the fact that Bede was handling controversial material. To his indignation, five years after he wrote De temporibus, he found himself accused of heresy for including a chronology of the ages of the world that diverged considerably from inherited assumptions about the age of the world, from its creation to its end, and in particular about the placement of Christ’s birth in the sixth age. His open letter to a monk named Plegwin makes poignant reading and arouses our sympathy for the risks a scholar could take with what may seem innocuous material but most certainly was not.40 Bede is rightly celebrated for his incorporation into his history of a chronology based on the era of the Incarnation. Though the HE’s first dated reference, to Julius Caesar’s first consulate, places it in good Roman fashion 693 years ab urbe condita, Bede promptly adds, “but in the sixtieth year before the Lord’s incarnation,” and the

37. Bede, HE 5.21 (552). On this Celtic version of an eighty-four-year Paschal cycle, see Mosshammer, Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era, 204–205, 223–224, and his whole treatment of the eighty-four-year cycle (204–244). 38. On the origin of dating according to the Christian era, see now the thesis of Alden Mosshammer, who finds it in the work of third-century Christian chronographers like Julius Africanus and Anatolius of Laodicea (Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era, esp. chaps. 15–18). 39. For the purposes of both works, see Jones, Bedae Opera de temporibus, 130–139; and Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, lxiii–lxxi. 40. Discussion in Jones, 132–135; Latin text of the letter, 307–315; translation in Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 405–415.


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phrase anno ab incarnatione Domini will recur regularly for the rest of the book.41 Bede was not the first to count the time interval from the Incarnation. But according to Alden Mosshammer’s recent study, he was the first “to use the era of the Incarnation as a system for historical chronology.”42 Bede also deserves the credit for formulating the theory behind the fully repeating 532-year Easter cycle, “the Great Paschal Cycle,” as the crowning chapter in his treatise on the reckoning of time.43 In all of this work on chronography and the Easter computus, Bede recognized Eusebius’s importance as an authority in both areas. Eusebius, he knew, was our major source of information on the “Quartodeciman” controversy in the late second century, when disputes over keeping an annual remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection in conformity with the Jewish Passover first erupted (Eus. HE 5.23–25). Eusebius too was the major witness to the place that the dating of Easter took at the Council of Nicaea, as he relates in his Life of Constantine, notably in the long postconciliar letter of Constantine’s that he quoted.44 Some years after the council, Eusebius wrote a treatise on the meaning of Easter that he dedicated to Constantine and sent to him.45 A portion of this treatise has survived, but whether Bede knew it directly is doubtful.46 Above we noted that the only time Eusebius is named explicitly in Bede’s history is in Abbot Ceolfrith’s letter to the Pictish king Nechtan regarding the king’s adoption of the Roman observance of Easter and the nineteen-year Easter cycle. The abbot alleged that the nineteen-year cycle had been in use in Rome and Egypt since apostolic times, and had been rendered “into a clearer order through the industry of Eusebius, named Pamphilus from the

41. HE 1.2 (20); HE 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, etc. Note that ab urbe condita dating disappears, even for the Roman Republic, in the annalistic retrospective at the end of the book (HE 5.24). 42. Mosshammer, Easter Computus, 31–32, sharpening the judgment of Jones, Bedae Opera de temporibus, 69–70. Mosshammer notes that dating from the Incarnation did not become widespread in the West until the twelfth century and does not show up in a papal document until 1431 (Easter Computus, 31). Wallraff, “Warum ist ‘Kirchengeschichte’ in der Antike ausgestorben?,” 9, would emphasize that Bede was for a long time “singular” in his usage. Staats, “Orosius und das Ende der christlichrömischen Universalgeschichte,” 203–205, wants to give Orosius credit for giving broad currency to dating Christian world chronology “after the birth of Christ.” 43. De circulo magno Paschae, chap. 65 in De temporum ratione (ed. Jones, 290); translation and discussion in Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 155–156, 352–353. The treatise concludes with a universal chronology (chapters 66–71) that Theodor Mommsen had edited separately in 1898 for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. In his republication of the De temporum ratione in CCL, Jones was able to add Mommsen’s edition of these chapters, which he described as the “practical” chronology that accompanied the theoretical treatise in chapters 1–65 (ed. Jones, CCL 123B:241–242; text, 463–544; trans. Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 157–249). 44. Eus. VC 3.5, 17–19. 45. Eus. VC 4.34–35. 46. Eus. De solemnitate paschali (PG 24.693–706). See now DelCogliano, “Promotion of the Constantinian Agenda in Eusebius of Caesarea’s On the Feast of Pascha.”

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blessed martyr.”47 It is a matter of dispute whether Eusebius himself did in fact compose a nineteen-year Easter cycle—if so, it may have been appended to the tract on Easter that Eusebius dedicated to Constantine.48 Clearly Bede believed he did, for he says so in chapter 44 of De temporum ratione, and repeats the opinion in the chronicle appended to that treatise, under the year of the world 4175, according to which “Hippolytus invented a sixteen-year cycle and gave occasion to Eusebius, who composed a Paschal nineteen-year cycle on the same.”49 Presumably Bede would not wittingly have let the abbot speak in error on this point. But Bede also knew that Eusebius, in book 7 of his Ecclesiastical History (Eus. HE 7.32.14–19), had quoted a fragment of a work on “the canons [tables] of Easter” by the third-century Christian polymath Anatolius of Laodicea, and that this fragment spoke of a nineteen-year cycle that required Passover to come after the vernal equinox.50 Anatolius’s cycle was important to Bede, since both protagonists in the great set-piece Easter debate at Whitby in 664 appealed to Anatolius’s authority, Wilfrid advocating for the Roman observance, and Colman for the Celtic (Bede, HE 3.25). To speak more correctly, they appealed to what they thought was Anatolius. For the centerpiece of the Whitby discussion was actually a forged Irish Easter computus that purported to be a Latin translation of Anatolius’s work. This “pseudo-Anatolius” did in fact incorporate the genuine fragment preserved in Eusebius, except for one important difference: it changed the date March 22 to March 25, in order to make Anatolius a witness to the Celtic tradition that the equinox fell on March 25.51 Bede did accept this Latin forgery as Anatolius’s work and cited it half a dozen times in De temporum ratione.52 But he rejected the authenticity of the March 25 date. In his Letter to Wicthed, written between 725 and 731, he defended the correctness of Eusebius’s quotation, noted the implausibility 47. Bede, HE 5.21 (544). 48. Mosshammer, the most recent commentator, denies Eusebius composed such a cycle. See Mosshammer, Easter Computus, 147–148. Jones, Bedae Opera de temporibus, 24n, summarizes evidence in favor. 49. Bede, De temporum ratione 44, 66, ed. Jones (CCL 123B:418.1–6, 503.1224–1228). This statement derives from Jerome, De viris illustribus 61 (Jerome’s entry on Hippolytus), though Jerome’s entry on Eusebius (De viris illustribus 81) makes no mention of it. The same information about Hippolytus’s sixteen-year cycle is found in Rufinus’s translation of Eusebius (HE 6.22 [GCS 2.2:569, ed. Mommsen]). 50. Bede, De temporum ratione 14, and the Letter to Wicthed (translation in Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 417–424, and text in Jones, Bedae Opera de temporibus, 317–325). Despite Bede’s assertions, Anatolius’s specification of a date for the vernal equinox cannot be determined with certainty from the extant fragment, alternatives varying among March 18, March 21, and March 22, with Mosshammer, Easter Computus, 140–157, inclined to support March 21 (155). Happily, the uncertainty does not affect this presentation. 51. On the forged Liber Anatolii, see Jones, Bedae Opera de temporibus, 82–85; Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, lvi–lix; and Mosshammer, Easter Computus, 136–145. 52. Bede, De temporum ratione, chaps. 6, 14, 22, 30, 35, and 42. See Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 118.


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of a writer so “circumspect in word and meaning” as Eusebius having baldly falsified Anatolius, and pointed out how ineptly the persons responsible had inserted the March 25 date. Those guilty of the fraud changed only the date of the Roman month but forgot or did not know how to change the corresponding dates of the Greek and Egyptian months.53 This is why Bede in his own history could tartly dismiss the claim of Irish and Pictish dissenters to be “following the writings of the esteemed and holy father, Anatolius. Every expert (peritus) can very easily judge whether this is true or not.”54 Closely connected to the place of the Easter computus in Bede’s oeuvre are his forays into chronology. As with his Ecclesiastical History, here too Bede worked in a genre that Eusebius virtually invented, the universal chronicle of world history. As noted in chapter 1 in this book, Eusebius compiled a synchronized table of the history of the several states of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East, based on Greek historical sources. Among its unique features was its integration of biblical history into what was known of secular history as such, culminating in the providential merger of national histories into the world empire of Rome and the conversion of the empire to Christianity under Constantine. Eusebius based his chronology on the Bible and, after 776 BC, also on the Olympiads. He began with Abraham, rather than with Creation, because of the radical disagreement between the chronological data preserved in the Septuagint and that in the Hebrew Bible. His work was translated into Latin by Jerome, who continued the chronicle up to AD 378. Further Latin writers carried on the work, culminating in the Chronicles of Isidore of Seville (ca. 560–636). Bede thus had the whole Latin tradition, as well as the Liber Pontificalis and other sources, at his disposal and used them liberally in his own effort to create a universal chronology. He left two distinct versions of that effort in the writings on the calendar already mentioned: the De temporibus (703), which contains in chapters 16–22 a terse summary of history from Adam to the reign of the Byzantine emperor Tiberius III (698–705), structured according to the patristic scheme of the six ages of the world and dating time from the Creation;55 and the De temporum ratione (725), chapter 66 of which contains a much more detailed chronicle, also dating time from the Creation and coordinated with the six ages scheme.56 Bede also composed a brief overview of the historical events mentioned in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731) and which he appended at the end of that book (HE 5.24 [560–566]). Unlike the first two lists, it dates time according to the year of the Incarnation. 53. Bede, Letter to Wicthed 9 and 11. 54. Bede, HE 3.3 (218, trans. Colgrave and Mynors, modified). 55. Text in Jones, Bedae Venerabilis, Opera didascalia (CCL 123C:585–611, at 600–611); trans. in Kendall and Wallis, On the Nature of Things and On Times, 105–131, with intro. and comm. 56. Text in Jones, Bedae Venerabilis, Opera didascalia (CCL 123B:461–535); trans. in Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 157–237.

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Since Bede used years from the Incarnation in his history, why did he not do so in his chronicles?57 A partial answer is that he was just following Isidore, who had been the first to date events by years from the Creation.58 But there was another factor at work. Bede knew that the pre-Abrahamic biblical chronology of the Hebrew text and the Septuagint differed by almost thirteen hundred years, leading to a radically divergent dating of the birth of Christ: by his count, 3,952 years after Adam according to the Hebrew chronology, and 5,199 years, in some reckonings, according to the Septuagint.59 It was the latter of course that was the familiar datum in the tradition hitherto. Linked to it was the widespread conception of the six ages of the world, and as a corollary, the assumption that each age consisted of a thousand years, following the dictum of 2 Peter 3:8 (itself an allusion to Ps 90:4/89:4). The corollary inevitably entailed speculations about when the sixth age would end and the Second Coming take place. In his early work De temporibus, Bede had opted for the shorter chronology because he thought that the Hebraica Veritas, as he regularly called Jerome’s Latin translation of the Hebrew,60 was the more authoritative account. But the shorter dating antagonized conventional thinking by undermining all efforts at millennial extrapolation, which led to the heresy accusation mentioned earlier.61 A deeply irritated Bede forcefully defended himself in his Letter to Plegwin. Two decades later, when he made a second go at a universal chronicle in the De temporum ratione, he refused to abandon the Hebraica Veritas and its chronology: We have striven to the best of our ability to work out all these matters concerning the course of past time from the Hebrew Truth, in the conviction that it is reasonable that just as the Greeks, using the version of the Seventy Translators, compose books about time for themselves and their own people on the basis of [this translation], even so we, who drink from the pure fountain of Hebrew Truth, thanks to the industry of the holy translator Jerome, should also seek to understand the reckoning of time according to [this version]. Should anyone accuse this work of ours of being superfluous, let them, whoever they may be, accept this just response (without doing violence to brotherly love) which the aforementioned Jerome gave to those who criticized an ancient cosmography—that if they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t read it (ut, si displicet, non legant).62 57. I follow here the discussion in Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 353–366. 58. Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 357. 59. Bede cites this in several places; cf. De temporibus 22, Letter to Plegwin 5, and De temporum ratione 66, under the year 3952 (CCL 112B:495.971). 60. De temporum ratione 66 (CCL 123B:463.9 and passim). 61. Faith Wallis has made the attractive argument that Bede fully intended this result as a way of discrediting every type of chiliasm, not to mention the millenarianism once inspired by literal readings of Rev 20:1–7 (Wallis, The Reckoning of Time, 357–366). 62. Bede, De temporum ratione 67 (trans. Wallis, slightly modified; text in CCL 123B:535.2–536.11). See also the preface to the work. Apparently a favorite phrase of Jerome’s, who uses the same words (ut, si displicet, non legant) in complaining about critics in his introduction to his translation and continuation of Eusebius’s Chronicle (Jerome, Chronicle 2, Pref. [6.4, ed. Helm]).


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In this later work, with its vastly expanded chronicle, Bede made frequent reference to Eusebius, particularly when chronological deviations cropped up.63 Despite his overall respect for Eusebius, Bede gave him rather a hard time for seeming to waffle on which biblical version to follow. Eusebius had in fact tried to dodge the problem by beginning his chronicle with Abraham rather than Adam, pleading the difficulty of reaching certitude on pre-Abrahamic dates.64 In his preface to De temporum ratione, Bede lists Eusebius among those “foremost men of learning” who recognize the shorter span of time in “the Hebrew Truth,” the others being Jerome, Augustine, and Josephus. But he criticized Eusebius for being inconsistent with respect to the Hebrew chronology—while denying he was being critical: “For I do not blame old chronographers who sometimes followed the translation of the Seventy and sometimes held it in disdain, as it suited them,” by whom he means Eusebius.65 In the earlier Letter to Plegwin, he was blunter: “I advised . . . that credence be given to Holy Scripture as it is translated by our Christian interpreter [Jerome], rather than to Jewish translators [Bede means Aquila’s and Symmachus’s translations of the Hebrew Bible], or the ignorance of chronographers [Eusebius], and I pointed out that Eusebius in his designation of times followed neither the Hebrew Truth nor the version of the Seventy in every instance.”66 In a vivid example, he proposes that Eusebius, “dreading the rod of Origen’s Hexapla, removed the generation of Cainan” from among the sons of Shem, because Eusebius knew from the columns of the Hexapla that the Hebrew did not mention Cainan among Shem’s descendants—but at the same time he failed to make a corresponding correction of the Septuagint’s chronology.67 And Bede repeats the slight at the end of the letter: “For you know . . . by what authority I build the assertion of my computation: namely by the Hebrew Truth, recorded by Origen, published by Jerome, praised by Augustine, confirmed by Josephus. I have found none more learned than these. Nor is it to be wondered at that that praiseworthy man 63. See Bede, De temporum ratione 66, for the years 1693 (though anonymously), 2519, 2790, 3341, 3389, 3423, 3468, 3981 (year of the crucifixion of Jesus), 4175 (Eusebius’s alleged nineteen-year cycle), 4236, and 4258 (his biography of Pamphilus). 64. Eusebius, Chronography 1 (2.7–3.2, ed. Karst). The Chronography deals at length with the contradictions among the Hebrew text of the Jews, the Hebrew text of the Samaritans, and the Septuagint (37.10–45.29, ed. Karst). In the preface of Eusebius as Jerome translated it, Eusebius acknowledged the shorter number in the Hebrew, but adds that neither Greek nor barbarian histories have data on the years between Adam and Abraham (Chronicle 2 [14.18–15.7, ed. Helm]). 65. Bede, De temporum ratione, Pref. (trans. Wallis, modified; text in CCL 123B:264.22–25). 66. Bede, Letter to Plegwin 3 (trans. Wallis). 67. Bede, Letter to Plegwin, 6. The LXX genealogy inserts the generation of Cainan between Arphaxad and Sala (see Gen 10:21 and 11:12–13 LXX), whereas the Hebrew version omits any mention of Cainan in those verses. The issue is complicated, because Cainan shows up also in the antediluvian genealogy of Gen 5:9–14 in both Hebrew and Greek versions—as he does in Luke 3:36. Cf. too Bede’s allusion to this in the chronology for the years 1693 and 1723 (CCL 123B:465.85–90).

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Eusebius, although he was able, as they say, to bind iron and brick by his marvelous talent in speaking and thinking, nevertheless could not do what he had not learned to do, namely, to know the Hebrew language. By his justly respectful fear, he himself had no fear of corrupting what he knew, as we showed above.”68 Bede was certainly aware of the difference between “history” and “chronicle” as literary genres. The overlap in content did not prevent him from recognizing the formal difference in theory and practice. The recent study of Matthew Kempshall observes that in the case of both Eusebius and Bede the two genres functioned in complementary ways, and that later generations showed less interest in the terminological distinction precisely because they recognized the complementarity.69 Certainly the terminology proved fluid, as we will see in tracing Eusebius’s influence in the cultural revival sponsored by the court of Charlemagne and his Carolingian successors. E U SE B I U S A N D F R A N K I SH I D E N T I T Y: T H E C U LT O F T H E B O O K

The high-water mark of Islamic expansion into western Europe is traditionally seen as the victory won by the Franks at the battle of Tours in 73270—an event that may be alluded to in the closing pages of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History: “At that time [729], a terrible plague of Saracens ravaged Gaul with cruel bloodshed and not long afterwards they received the due reward of their treachery (perfidiam) in the same kingdom.”71 That makes for a nice transition to the next section of our treatment of Eusebius’s legacy in Latin Christendom. Frankish leadership at Tours was in the hands of Charles, mayor of the palace for the Merovingian kings, to whom later chroniclers gave the nickname Martellus, “the Hammer.” Two decades later, his son Pippin would seize royal power from the Merovingians, with papal approbation given under circumstances that have been debated ever since. A significant impetus to historical writing in the Carolingian period will thus be a deep need to explain and legitimate that transition.72 The Cambridge medieval historian Rosamond McKitterick has devoted many years of study to the place of written texts in Carolingian culture—with the production, transmission, and preservation of actual manuscripts of writings from Christian and classical antiquity, and what the history of the manuscripts themselves tells us about the self-understanding of that 68. Bede, Letter to Plegwin, 16 (trans. Wallis, slightly modified). 69. Kempshall, Rhetoric and the Writing of History, 81–91, esp. 85–86. 70. On the battle, see Hoyland, In God’s Path, 178–179. 71. HE 5.23 (trans. Colgrave). The battle occurred one year after Bede ended his account, so that the entry must be a later insertion (HE 557 n. 5). 72. See McKitterick, History and Memory in the Carolingian World, chap. 5, “Politics and History,” esp. 123ff.; Reimitz, History, Frankish Identity, and the Framing of Ethnicity.


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culture. Historical works of both Christian and pagan provenance have received particular attention in her research. Two of her more recent books deal directly with our project of recovering the history of Eusebius’s reception in the Latin West, so she will be our guide in what follows.73 McKitterick argues that the Franks under the Carolingians constituted a “textual community,” by which she means that the books that were collected and copied in Frankish libraries were not merely the preoccupation of scholars but were “part of a past which the Franks had assimilated to themselves, [and which] formed part of the Frankish sense of identity.”74 Writings of a distinctly historical character were naturally paramount, and her research offers rich and detailed documentation of how and where such works were preserved, read, and copied—and how they in turn inspired the writing of new historical works. Out of immediate, present concerns, the reading and writing of history constructed a sense of a longer past—one that fixated on three peoples in particular: the Trojans, the Romans, and the Jews, “whose history was seen to stand in direct continuity with the Franks.”75 In addition to pagan historical sources, she lists the principal works of Jewish and of Christian church historians that would have been known to the Franks by ca. 900: the Old and New Testaments, especially Kings, Chronicles, Maccabees, the Gospels, and Acts, usually copied as separate books; Josephus, both the Antiquities and the Jewish War; “Hegesippus,” by which is meant an anonymous late fourth- or fifth-century Christian free paraphrase in Latin of the Jewish War that reduced Josephus’s original from seven books to five, not the second-century Christian writer whom we profiled in chapter 1; Eusebius’s HE, in Rufinus’s Latin translation and continuation, as well as the Chronicle, in Jerome’s translation and continuation; Orosius’s Histories against the Pagans; Prosper of Aquitaine’s continuation of Eusebius’s and Jerome’s chronicle up to 455; and the Latin translation and synthesis of Socrates’s, Sozomen’s, and Theodoret’s ecclesiastical histories that Cassiodorus commissioned from Epiphanius, traditionally known as the Tripartite History.76 Three Christian works were especially influential: Eusebius’s HE, in Rufinus’s version; the Historia Tripartita; and Jerome’s De viris illustribus, his collection of 135 short literary biographies, composed in 392 or 393. It was known to the Carolingians in the continuation made by Gennadius of Marseilles, ca. 475, who added ninety-nine more chapters. McKitterick says their popularity rested in part in their emphasis on authors and specific books, such that they were instrumental in 73. McKitterick, History and Memory in the Carolingian World; McKitterick, Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages. See also earlier works by McKitterick, such as The Carolingians and the Written Word (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 74. McKitterick, History and Memory, 221. 75. Ibid., 59. 76. Ibid., 45–46; 39–45, for an overview of pagan historical sources; also 193–196.

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helping Carolingian librarians form “a canon of knowledge or literary Noah’s Ark.”77 She suggests that the two histories in particular were deliberately promoted at an early stage of the Carolingian reform movement, because they offered a distinctive perspective on Roman secular history that brought Roman history into alignment with Christian history.78 Eusebius’s history could claim the greatest eminence as the pioneer in “the way it constructed the Christian past in terms of books and authors.”79 But its influence lay chiefly in its specific emphases and methods (the stress on authorship and a history of books) and overall theme (the coordination of Roman and Christian history), rather than as a narrative model per se. Eusebius’s Chronicle, McKitterick says, was actually “a far more obvious model.”80 Above we noted that something similar seems to have been true in Bede’s literary production. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the Ecclesiastical History exerted its influence in the form of Rufinus’s version, which gave a distinctive twist to Eusebius’s treatment of books and authorship. There was Rufinus’s greater sensitivity to passages in Eusebius’s HE that seemed theologically ambiguous by the standards of Nicene orthodoxy. More pertinent, given Frankish interest in an authoritative textual history, may have been Rufinus’s smoothing of some rough edges in Eusebius’s account of the canon, such as blunting Eusebius’s reservations about Revelation.81 A N O R M A N E C C L E SIA ST IC A L H I ST O RY: O R D E R IC V I TA L I S

The Normans—once they settled permanently in northern France—quickly showed their own interest in linking up with a more distant past via the writing of history, including ecclesiastical history. That is evident in the work of another Benedictine historian, the Anglo-Norman monk Orderic Vitalis (1075–1143?), who lived in a sector of the Latin Christian world not far from Bede’s home, but in drastically changed circumstances.82 His was the age of the Gregorian Reform, the 77. Ibid., 192. 78. Ibid., 207. See McKitterick’s discussion of the large number of historical works in, e.g., the ninth-century catalogue of the monastery of Lorsch, under royal protection from 772 and closely connected with court circles (History and Memory, 196–210). 79. McKitterick, History and Memory, 226. 80. Ibid., 227. McKitterick, Perceptions of the Past in the Middle Ages, 7–33, treats the thematic impact of Eusebius’s Chronicle on early medieval chroniclers. 81. History and Memory, 231 (cf. Eus. HE 3.25.3–4 [250.24–252.6, ed. Schwartz]; and Rufinus, HE 3.25.3–4 [251.20–253.4, ed. Mommsen]). McKitterick appears to overstate the difference where the letter of James is concerned (cf. Eus. HE 2.25 [174.12–17], 3.25.3 [250.26–28]; Rufinus, HE 2.25 [175.12–17], 3.25.3 [251.20–253.1]). 82. Hingst, Written World, 22–30, sets Orderic and the story of his people in the context of other Christian ethnic historiography.


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schism between East and West, the birth of Crusading—and the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England. Orderic—his baptismal name, from the priest who baptized him and who was also his godfather, Vitalis being his name in religion—was the author of an Ecclesiastical History in thirteen books, composed largely between 1123 and 1137.83 He was born near Shrewsbury in England but spent most of his life in Normandy.84 His father, Odelerius, had come to England as a learned clerk in the household of a Norman nobleman, Roger of Montgomery, who became earl of Shrewsbury after the conquest. When Orderic was but ten years old, his father fulfilled a vow by giving him to the monastery of Saint-Évroul in Normandy, a Benedictine community that had been refounded in 1050. There he was educated, ordained a deacon at eighteen and a priest at thirty-two, and stayed until his death sometime after 1141, when he completed the historical work for which he is known. As a faithful monk, his life consisted of the regular round of prayer and work, in his case in the scriptorium and the study. Over a dozen manuscripts surviving from the monastic library have been identified as his handwriting, including one copy of a work by Eusebius, the work sometimes called De canonibus evangeliorum or the Letter to Carpianus, on the “canons” of the Gospels, containing Eusebius’s ingenious cross-referencing system of parallels in the four Gospels.85 Orderic seems to have come to the writing of history rather slowly, beginning with his involvement in a corporate work on the annals of the monastery of SaintÉvroul, and then with the interpolations he made in the recent Norman history of William of Jumièges, the Gesta Normannorum ducum.86 Rosamond McKitterick has pointed to the latter work as an example of fresh historical writing that strove to place “the Normans in a legitimate succession of authority.”87 Orderic was moved to write his own work of history at the request of his abbots, who seem to have wanted him to prepare “a modest account” of the abbey’s history of donations and benefactions from the time of its refoundation in 1050, as he says in a letter to Abbot Warin that is the prologue to book 5.88 The monastery’s history dominates the first two books he wrote. But broader subjects having to do first of all with the reign of William the Conqueror intruded from a fairly early point and eventually blossomed into a full-blown Norman history of the decades following William’s death in 1087. The first book of what would eventually be thirteen in all was begun 83. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed. and trans. Chibnall, 6 vols. Note that volume 1 was published last, along with comprehensive indexes. 84. On Orderic’s life, education, and historical writing, see Chibnall’s “General Introduction” (The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 1:1–39). Orderic reports on his own life in autobiographical sections of the history, in the Prologue (1:130–132) and in the preface to what is now book 5 (3:4–8). 85. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 1:23–24, 50. 86. Ibid., 1:29–31. 87. McKitterick, History and Memory, 57. 88. Chibnall, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 3:6.

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as early as 1114, though it would not be finished for another decade. After 1123, the remainder were substantially completed by 1137. Orderic decided toward the end of his project to insert two preliminary books consisting of a universal church history and chronicle, beginning with the life of Christ and covering Christianity’s spread from the apostolic age up to 1050, which required him to renumber all the preceding books. Marjorie Chibnall, Orderic’s modern editor, suggests that the completed work thus fell into three distinct units: the life of Christ and universal history in what are now the first two books; books 3–6, dominated by the local history of Saint-Évroul, but including a Norman history up to 1083; and books 7–13, intended for a wider readership, with a narrative from 1083 to his own time, and meant as material for some future historian.89 In his prologue to the complete work, Orderic dedicated it to his abbot Warin and summed up what he now saw as his purpose: like predecessors such as the ones named above, as well as “gentile” (pagan) historians, he intended his history as a cautionary moral instruction to future generations by telling of “the good and evil fortunes of human beings,” not merely of the past but also of the present: It is fitting that, since new events take place every day in this world, they should be systematically committed to writing to the glory of God, so that, just as past deeds have been handed down by our forebears, present happenings should be recorded now and passed on by the men of today to future generations. My purpose is to speak truthfully about ecclesiastical affairs as a simple son of the Church; eagerly striving to follow the early Fathers according to the small measure of my ability, I have set out to investigate and record the fortunes of the Christian people in this present time (modernos Christianorum eventus), and therefore I have ventured to call this work the Ecclesiastical History. For although I cannot explore Macedonian or Greek or Roman affairs and many other matters worthy of the telling, because as a cloister monk by my own free choice I am compelled to unremitting observance of my monastic duty, nevertheless I can strive with the help of God and for the consideration of posterity to explain truthfully and straightforwardly the things which I have seen in our own times, or know to have occurred in nearby provinces.90

We see that Orderic has come to understand “ecclesiastical history” in a capacious way that goes well beyond the confines of his monastery and its local affairs.91 He is acutely aware that this broadened and more inclusive account will entail his immersion in brutal mores that were not suitable material for monastic contemplation. As he says in his prologue, it is for no less a purpose than “the glory of God” that the vices as well as the virtues of the people of his own time be handed on to posterity. His master model was Bede, his fellow Benedictine, whose work he 89. Ibid., 1:34. 90. Ibid., Prologue (1:131–133, trans. Chibnall). 91. Hingst, Written World, 70–91.


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knew intimately, having copied out by hand Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People.92 After Bede, though, we must put Eusebius, both the HE and the Chronicle, in Rufinus’s and Jerome’s translations. I have already mentioned that a copy of Eusebius’s Letter to Carpianus survives in Orderic’s own hand. There seems also to have been a copy of the HE itself in the library of Saint-Évroul.93 Orderic’s history came to resemble Bede’s in its structuration around the history of the Normans, just as Bede’s had done with the English. But editor Chibnall sees in Orderic something new, or a return to an older tradition, in his consciousness of a larger, indeed universal frame for his narrative, in which secular and ecclesiastical subjects were thoroughly joined. This, she suggests, was evidently a contemporary trend of which Orderic was quite aware, since he draws attention to it and names examples whom he admires: “I am happy to mention these books in this record, so that readers may seek the manuscripts out for themselves, for they are the fruits of great learning, and are hard to come by. They have been written by men of this age and are not yet widely circulated.”94 The contents of the first two books of the completed history, dealing as they do with the life of Christ, the lives of the apostles, and the spread of Christianity in the subapostolic period, make several references to Eusebius.95 Orderic several times speaks of this first portion of his history as a cronographya, in the fashion of antiqui patres such as “Eusebius of Caesarea and trilingual Jerome, and the Spanish scholars Orosius and Isidore, and many others who have written on the course of the world, especially among us the presbyter Bede, with his book on time, who last of all of these wrote for the English people.”96 It is Eusebius who inspired him with the idea, rather late in the composition of the completed book, of reconceiving the scope of his history and beginning with Christ himself. When he says in his Prologue to what is now book 1 that he will “tell of the Beginning that has no beginning,” he is echoing Eusebius’s christological language, such as his citation of John 1:1–3 at the beginning of the HE.97 Orderic took particular notice of Eusebius’s 92. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 1:56, and 55–63 on the general subject of Orderic’s literary sources. Orderic also knew very well Bede’s De temporum ratione, since his hand dominates an extant manuscript of that work (Hingst, Written World, 78). 93. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 3:120 n. 2. 94. Ibid., 3:187 n. 3; see Orderic, HE, book 3 (3:186–188). 95. As well as the New Testament, particularly the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, writings of Bede, Jerome, Isidore of Seville, Augustine, Rhabanus Maurus, the Liber Pontificalis, and various apocryphal lives of saints (Chibnall, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 1:48–63), especially the collection of apostolic lives attributed to a certain Abdias, allegedly a bishop in Babylonia (1:54–55, 178); on the latter collection, see the section “Eusebius in a Confessional Age” in chapter 6. 96. Orderic, HE 1.22 (1:150); also 1.24 (1:152 and 162, with additional mention of Paul the Deacon and his History of the Lombards) and 2.18 (1:191, with mention of Rufinus of Aquileia’s hystoria of Clement of Rome, i.e., the apocryphal work known as the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions). 97. Eus. HE 1.2.3.

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typological exposition of the triplex munus of Christ, who was king, priest, and prophet: verus omnium rex seclorum, et verus pontifex futurorum bonorum, verusque propheta hominumque dominus et angelorum (“true King of the ages, and true Priest of the good things to come, and true Prophet and Lord of men and angels”).98 Not surprisingly, he looks to Eusebius for chronological data, such as the length of Christ’s public ministry as four years,99 or the interpretation of the sixty-nine weeks in Daniel (cf. Dan 9:25–26).100 He relies on Eusebius for his information on the succession of bishops in the Jerusalem church.101 The second book of the HE contains potted biographies of the apostles and the evangelists, and then in its last two sections draws on the Liber Pontificalis to give a brief overview of the successors of Peter in Rome. Eusebius is one of Orderic’s sources for traditions about the apostles and evangelists. He owes to Eusebius his overview of the career of Peter,102 and his reconciliation of the extracanonical tradition of Paul’s martyrdom with Luke’s testimony at the end of the Acts of the Apostles (according to which Paul in Rome preached the gospel “uninhibitedly,” despite being under house arrest).103 His account of James “the Less, son of Alphaeus, who is called brother of the Lord in the gospel, because Mary, wife of Alphaeus, was the sister of the mother of the Lord, whom John the evangelist calls Mary [wife of] Cleophas,” draws on Eusebius’s preservation of second-century traditions recorded by Hegesippus and Josephus.104 Special mention should be made of Orderic’s use of Eusebius’s treatment of Christianity’s spread to Edessa, in eastern Syria (Eus. HE 1.13). It gave him a valuable context for his account of the career of Baldwin of Boulogne at the time of the First Crusade. Orderic reports that Baldwin left the crusading host in Tarsus in Cilicia and traveled east to Edessa, where he became the protector of Edessa’s Christian population of Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians, and then their actual ruler in 1098.105 Orderic explains to his readers that Edessa had been Christian from the very beginning of Christianity. He knows this from having read Eusebius’s account of the conversion of Abgar of Edessa, the local ruler or “toparch,” 98. Orderic, HE 1.1 (1:134), see Eus. HE 1.3.1–20, esp. 1.3.7–8. 99. See Orderic, HE 1.4 (1:138) and Eus. HE 1.10.2–6, with repetition of the citation from Josephus. 100. See Orderic, HE 1.4 (1:139) and Eus. HE 1.6.1–11, though Bede’s influence may be more direct here. 101. Orderic, HE 1.23 (1:150–151), with data taken from Eus. HE 4.5.3, 5.12.2, 6.39.2–3, and 7.32.29. 102. Orderic, HE 2.2 (1:171–173), borrowing liberally from Eus. HE 2.14.2–16.1. Prior to that section, Orderic had relied mainly on Acts and the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions. 103. Orderic, HE 2.3 (1:175), drawing on Eus. HE 22.1, 7–8, though Orderic also draws from Gregory of Tours the apocryphal account of Paul’s sojourn in Narbonne. 104. Orderic, HE 2.6 (1:180); see Eus. HE 2.23 and 4.23. The conflation of James, son of Alphaeus, and James, the brother of the Lord, had long been the Western, Catholic resolution of the respective identities of the various persons named “James” in the New Testament. 105. Orderic, HE 9.11 (5:120).


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which we have already encountered in earlier chapters in this book (Eus. HE 1.13). Orderic’s short adaptation of Eusebius mentions the letter of Jesus but also a precious cloth on which Jesus had miraculously impressed his image when he wiped his brow.106 Eusebius’s account had said nothing about an image. The tradition of an image of Christ first appears in the other account of Edessa’s conversion that we have also met in the early fifth-century Syriac Doctrina Addai (Teaching of Addai the Apostle), according to which Abgar sent a painter from Edessa to paint Christ’s face. By the end of the sixth century, the church historian Evagrius Scholasticus was describing the origin of this image as miraculous, for “it was not made by human hands” but was the gift of Christ himself to Abgar.107 This was the famous Mandylion of Edessa, as this icon of Christ became known in Eastern Christianity.108 In the West, the prestige of the Mandylion eventually succumbed in the thirteenth century to the separate image of the cloth of Veronica.109 Orderic shows that he knows the story of the miraculous image of Christ, but makes no mention of Veronica by name, the link between her legend and the miraculous image not yet having gained widespread currency. The Baldwin and Edessa episode is found in book 9 of Orderic’s history, which is devoted largely to the First Crusade. Orderic admits that as his source for the crusade he has followed closely the narrative of his friend Baudry of Bourgueil, the Historia Ierosolimitana, and added such further information of his own where it seemed helpful.110 Eusebius was just such a supplementary resource, and it must have been satisfying even for a monkish historian to turn to a source that was the virtual template for a triumphalist Christian narrative, at a time when the crusading movement was still fresh and apparently victorious. Commenting on how novel the phenomenon still was, Marjorie Chibnall notes that even the vocabulary had yet to crystallize: a crusade was an Ierosolimitanum iter, a via Dei, an expeditio Dei.111 But its militant universalism was foreshadowed by a historian who had celebrated the first Christian emperor’s firm stance against Rome’s previous Eastern rival, the Persian Empire of the Sasanians.112 And, though Orderic does not speak of it directly, it is plausible that he knew of the apotropaic role attributed to both the letter of Jesus and the miraculous image in averting hostile attacks in the past. 106. Orderic, HE 9.11 (5:120). 107. Evagrius, HE 4.27. 108. Cameron, “History of the Image of Edessa.” 109. On the interplay between the Mandylion and the cloth of Veronica, see Belting, Likeness and Presence, 208–224. 110. Orderic, HE 9.18 (5:188); on his use of Baudry, see Chibnall, “Introduction,” in The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 5:xiii-xv; also 1:60. 111. Chibnall, “Introduction,” in The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 5:xiii-xv. 112. Orderic of course was unfamiliar with Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, which was never translated into Latin and would not become known in the West for another three centuries.

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The proliferation of Latin Christian historical writing in the high medieval period defeats any pretense of inclusivity in the further investigation of Eusebius’s medieval legacy. Works with titles like Historia ecclesiastica continue to be written.113 But “chronicles” of one kind or another, or works with titles like Gesta or Flores, are more prominent. The overview of medieval Latin ecclesiastical historiography in the final chapter of Momigliano’s Sather lectures, especially his comments on the eleventh and twelfth centuries, reaches a conclusion similar to the one we saw proposed for the attenuation and disappearance of ecclesiastical history in Greek after the sixth century: the integration of church and society made particularizing history seem redundant.114 Momigliano suggests that would-be church historians naturally began with local affairs and then moved, or were moved willy-nilly, to frame their narrative (of local abbey, diocese, etc.) in ever larger terms, from local to national units, with the universal (catholic) church never lost to view.115 That is very much the expanding horizon that we saw in Orderic’s history. A similar broadened scope is evident in the slightly earlier work of Adam of Bremen (d. between 1081 and 1085), who wrote a history of the archbishops of Hamburg and Bremen and whose geographical and ethnographic elaborations make him “the earliest German, if not also mediaeval, geographer.”116 Ecclesiastical history in Adam’s book naturally ranged beyond the archdiocese of Hamburg because of that church’s role in the missionizing of the Slavic and Scandinavian peoples from the North Atlantic to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. But that entailed collecting the histories and localities of those peoples themselves, so that his book quickly transcended ecclesiastical history per se. He wrote it between 1072 and 1075 or 1076. For five or more years afterward, he continued to revise and annotate it with at least 141 further scholia, 74 of them dealing with geography, ethnography, and history of the northern lands, from England to Russia, as well as Saxony and Germany.117

113. E.g., Hugh of Fleury’s (early twelfth-century) history of popes and Roman emperors, also called Historia ecclesiastica (Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle, 1: 816); the twelfth-century Historia ecclesie Abbendonensis (also tellingly called Chronicon monasterii de Abingdon; ibid., 1:793–794); and John of Salisbury’s (1115/1120–1180) Historia pontificalis, which has been described as a continuation of the Chronicle of Sigebert of Gembloux (ibid., 2:937–938). 114. Momigliano, Classical Tradition of Historiography, 145–151. 115. Ibid., 147. 116. Tschan, “Introduction,” in Adam of Bremen, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen, xx. Critical edition in MGH: (accessed March 4, 2019). 117. Tschan, “Introduction,” xviii–xix.


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Another Benedictine historian whose effort at writing national history shows the interpenetration of church and society is the intriguing figure of William of Malmesbury (ca. 1090–ca. 1142),118 who has been described as “surely the best read European of his day.”119 That remarkable plaudit is claimed for a monk at Malmesbury Abbey in southwestern England, where William was precentor or cantor, hence in charge of the monastery’s liturgical life, and also of its library, which he turned into his own scriptorium and whose holdings he strove constantly to increase through travel throughout the land. Recent decades have seen significant work done toward making all of his writings available in critical editions and translations.120 His great curiosity, erudition, and entrepreneurial energy secured him powerful lay patrons and a network of readers and friends who shared his learned interests—including Orderic Vitalis, whom he may well have met.121 Of half English and half Norman parentage, William lived in an English world turned upside down after the Norman Conquest, about which he seems to have become much less sanguine as he got older.122 William’s personal views are not easily summarized, and current scholarship celebrates his many-sidedness on numerous points of interest: English versus Norman, local versus national, history versus hagiography, and so on. “With William, any binary question ends up with an answer that far exceeds the question’s remit: such questions are really only rhetorical ways of getting at a man who was both individual and universal.”123 His premier works are the Gesta regum Anglorum, “Deeds of the Kings of the English,” and the Gesta pontificum Anglorum, “Deeds of the Bishops of the English.” He also compiled a unique edition of the papal history the Liber Pontificalis,124 saints’ lives, a history of Glastonbury Abbey, a contemporary history, a collection of miracle stories of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, late in his life, a commentary on the biblical book of Lamentations. Although a figure of this stature requires far more attention than we can give him, it seems worse to ignore him altogether. He himself, despite routine pleas of humility, aimed high: he would fill in the intervening four hundred years since Bede wrote with his own history of the Christian gens Anglorum: “I especially congratulate myself on being, through Christ’s assistance, the only person, or at least 118. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, 199–201. 119. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, 220, estimates he had read some four hundred works by a couple of hundred authors, classical as well as Christian; see his detailed review, ibid., 40–75, 202–214. 120. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, a landmark set of studies first published in 1987; Thomson, Dolmans, and Winkler, Discovering William of Malmesbury (2017), a synthesis of new work on William. 121. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, 75. 122. Thomson, “William of Malmesbury’s Historical Vision,” 166–167, 172–173. 123. Dolmans and Winkler, “The Man and His Works,” in Discovering William of Malmesbury, 4. 124. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, 119–136.

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the first, who, since Bede, have arranged a continued history of the English,” he wrote with satisfaction at the book’s end.125 William in turn would become a resource during the Reformation, when Archbishop Matthew Parker’s research team would use him as a witness to medieval English life under Catholicism.126 William was an ardent admirer of Bede, whom he hails in the preface to his history as “a man of singular learning and modesty,” “a true historian,” on whom he lavished attention.127 Admiration for Bede notwithstanding, William did not write a book entitled Ecclesiastical History. Rather than adopt Bede’s church-oriented and integral national history, he partitioned his task into two separate works, the first on the kings of the English and the second on their bishops. (In this respect he was imitating the parallel treatment that we saw adopted by medieval Syriac authors from Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re to Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus.) Both are in five books with much overlapping political and ecclesiastical subject matter and with back references from the later to the earlier work. They are structured differently, however, with the Gesta regum beginning with the arrival of the (still pagan) Anglo-Saxons in the fifth century, and continuing in a treatment segmented by the separate kingdoms (book 1), culminating in the ascendancy of the West Saxons (book 2), followed by the Norman Conquest and reigns of William the Conqueror and of his sons (books 3–5), ending in year 20 (1119) of King Henry I, though with ample asides to the rise of the Carolingians and the First Crusade. The Gesta pontificum does not begin until the mission of Augustine in 597 and proceeds geographically, beginning with the archbishopric of Canterbury and the kingdom of Kent and, in a conscious deviation from the Gesta regum,128 proceeding more or less counterclockwise through Sussex, East Anglia, and (mainly) Wessex (book 2), Northumbria (book 3), Mercia (book 4), and back down to William’s home at Malmesbury Abbey, whose history is the entirety of book 5. The geographical treatment made a continuous historical narrative impossible, whereas the securing of political unity under the West Saxons did enable a single narrative in the Gesta regum. The order of composition of the two works speaks for William’s priorities. He was in fact fascinated with ancient history in general and Rome in particular, even if he felt a certain ambivalence about this interest. Rodney Thomson’s account of his historical vision summarizes it under the three heads of God, empire, and the 125. Cited from Chronicle of the Kings of England, trans. John Sharpe, ed. J. A. Giles (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1847), through the Project Gutenberg ( 126. McMahon, “Matthew Parker and the Practice of Church History,” 130–138; e.g., the discovery from William that Bede had translated the Gospel of John into the vernacular language, English (137–138). 127. See his detailed account of Bede’s death: Chronicle of the Kings of England 1.3 (54–61). On William and Bede, see Emily Joan Ward, “Verax historicus Beda: William of Malmesbury, Bede, and historia.” 128. Deeds of the Bishops of England, 2.Prologue, trans. David Preest (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2002), 91.


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kingdom or nation of England.129 God’s providential dispensation comes first, naturally. But the historical narrative William cares about begins with the fall of Troy, the founding of Rome, and subsequent history up to the national Christian kingdoms of his own day, as recovered from classical, biblical, Jewish (Josephus), and Christian sources alike.130 National history is what the writers whom Williams explicitly calls “historians” (historici, as a noun) appropriately wrote about: Gildas, Bede, Paul the Deacon, Jordanes, and Josephus.131 But William was every bit a churchman as well. In the Gesta pontificum, he speaks at length and with great sympathy of the travails of Anselm after Anselm was made archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 and was caught in the rip tides of the investiture conflict between strong English kings (William Rufus, then Henry I) and intransigent popes (Urban II, then Paschal II).132 Did William thus register the tension between the local and the universal that Momigliano once said was the inevitable dilemma of the church historian? In fact William’s views may have shifted with time, so that, when he came to write his commentary on the book of Lamentations (!), he regretted his earlier attention to history and intended henceforth to limit himself to matters having to do with God.133 Emily Joan Ward has noted that in the Gesta pontificum William ceased to refer to Bede’s great book as Gesta Anglorum and called it a historia—as distinct from the names he chose for his own books—and that the change betokens a respectful awareness that the liturgical setting in which Bede was being read made William more cautious about claiming to be on the same par with his great exemplar.134 Even though it is not an ecclesiastical history, the celebrated universal history of Otto of Freising (ca. 1114–1158), known variously as the Chronicle and On the History of the Two Cities,135 at least must be named here because of its thorough conflation of church and society. Otto, a learned Cistercian bishop and German aristocrat, embodied the union in his own personal and familial history. His book reprised Augustine for a Latin Christendom transformed by the 1054 schism with the East, the Investiture Controversy between papacy and Holy Roman Empire (Emperor Henry IV, he of the snows of Canossa, was his grandfather), and the onset of the Crusades, in the second of which (1147–1149) Otto took part, in the company of his half brother, the emperor Conrad III, and his nephew, the future 129. Thomson, “William of Malmesbury’s Historical Vision,” 164. 130. Ibid., 170, on the assemblage of excerpted chronicles from the Trojan War onward, plus a shortened version of the Theodosian Code, composed by William and his assistants, that Thomson calls “the Selden Collection.” 131. Ward, “Verax historicus Beda,” 182–184. 132. Deeds of the Bishops of England 1.49–64. 133. Ward, “Verax historicus Beda,” 186–187. 134. Ibid., 184–186. 135. On the proper title, see Hofmeister, Chronica sive historia de duabus civitatibus, X–XI.

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emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Otto’s City of God simply is the Catholic Church,136 providentially headquartered in Rome, former mistress of world empire. Why was Jesus Christ born when Augustus reigned? Because Augustus’s reign was a prophecy of the reign of Christ, who is himself rightly called Augustus ac rex regum (Augustus and King of Kings), for Christ not only reigns in heaven but also governs all the kings of the earth.137 Second, because the rule of one man over all divinely foreshadowed and prepared for Saint Peter’s installation as head of the church universal—“Most fittingly . . . the head of the world . . . was afterwards to be the head of the Church”—which is an interesting variation on Eusebius’s old synchronism of monarchy and monotheism.138 The apostolic partitioning of the known world, another Eusebian theme, is thus given a papal twist that is completely alien to Eusebius’s ecclesiology.139 As the fourth and last empire, Rome itself yields to the City of God, that is, the Catholic Church, which so englobes the postRoman Christian world that Otto says he may as well be writing the history of just one city, not two.140 Otto does not hide his ambivalence about the conflict between papacy and empire and the startling enhancement of the church’s wealth and power. He accepts the historical legitimacy of the Donation of Constantine, while conceding its troubling aspects.141 He believes the Donation’s story of a Roman baptism of Constantine by Pope Silvester, though he rejects the leprosy cure as apocryphal and acknowledges that the Tripartite History preserves the tradition of a deathbed baptism in Nicomedia.142 Among his many historical sources, Otto knew and used both Eusebius’s HE and his Chronicle, in Latin translation of course, though he mistakenly credited Jerome rather than Rufinus with the translation and continuation of the HE.143 Interestingly, some manuscripts of Otto’s history

136. Otto of Freising, The Two Cities: A Chronicle of Universal History to the Year 146 A.D., ed. Mierow, 3.22 (251). 137. Ibid., 3.6 (Historia de duabus civitatibus, 142.14, ed. Hofmeister). 138. Ibid., 3.Prol., trans. Mierow (221–222). 139. Ibid., 3.14 (238–239). 140. Ibid., 5.Prol. The prologue to the fifth book is an interesting statement of Otto’s version of the Danielic theory of the four world empires, which he extends to include the Franks and eventually the Germans. 141. Ibid., 4.Prol (272–274). 142. Ibid., 4.1 (277). Otto is discrete about the Roman tradition: Constantine was converted by the angelic message in the dream before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, not because of a supposed cure: Ea, quae in Sylvestri Vita de lepra et conversione eius leguntur, apocrifa videntur (185.17–18, ed. Hofmeister). 143. Ibid., 4.5 (284), 4.6 (286), 4.14 (294), 4.18 (300), and 4.21 (306). Otto uses Eusebius’s HE, books 1–8, in his own book 3, which ends with the death of Constantius, father of Constantine, and HE, books 8–10, in Otto’s book 4. It is not always possible to know whether Otto was citing directly or via intermediaries; on Otto’s sources generally, see Hofmeister, “Praefatio,” in Chronica sive historia de duabus civitatibus, XCI–XCVIII.


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quote the angels’ message to Constantine, “In this, conquer,” in Greek, thanks to Rufinus’s inclusion of it.144 An appropriate way to bring this chapter on Eusebius in the medieval Latin West to a close is to mention his place in that most widely circulated of all medieval books apart from the Bible, the Golden Legend of the Italian Dominican hagiographer Jacobus de Voragine (ca. 1230–1298).145 The Golden Legend is a collection of saints’ lives and meditations thereon arranged according to the church year, beginning with Advent, and consisting of 182 chapters, drawn from about 130 sources.146 Its purposes included edification, teaching, and source material for sermons.147 It is admittedly not a work of ecclesiastical history in the senses we have recognized, though it certainly qualifies as historia sacra by late medieval and early modern Catholic standards, as seen by its inclusion among works categorized as historia ecclesiastica in the personal library of Lucas Holstenius (1596–1661), from 1653 to 1661 deputy to the cardinal librarian of the Vatican Library.148 Jacobus’s choice of items from Eusebius may tell us something about which aspects of his work were of most interest and value to the pastoral and cultic life of medieval Christians. Jacobus cites the Chronicle by name only rarely,149 more frequently the HE, in Rufinus’s version.150 Dealing with lively material whose validity he concedes 144. Historia de duabus civitatibus 4.1 (184.19, ed. Hofmeister); see Rufinus, HE 9.9.3 (829.2, ed. Mommsen). 145. On Jacobus, see most recently Le Goff, In Search of Sacred Time. On the sources of the Golden Legend, see Fleith, “Patristic Sources of the Legenda aurea.” All citations are taken from Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. Ryan. Alain Boureau and Jacques Le Goff, La légende dorée: Le système narratif de Jacques de Voragine (+1298) (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2007), and the critical edition of G. P. Maggioni, ed., Legenda aurea, 2 vols. (Tavarnuzze: Edizioni del Galluzzo, 1998), were unavailable to me. 146. Golden Legend, xiv, and the survey by Fleith cited above. 147. Fleith, “Patristic Sources of the Legenda aurea,” 234. 148. Ditchfield, “What Was Sacred History?,” 81. 149. Jacobus, Golden Legend, 1:37, for the birth of Christ in the year AM 5199, in preference to 5228 or 6000, the latter from “Methodius,” meaning the seventh-century Eastern apocalyptic work wrongly attributed to Eusebius’s contemporary Christian writer Methodius of Olympus; 1:40, for the dating of a solar miracle “after the death of Julius Caesar”; 1:272, a reference to the human decency of Titus (from Chronicle 2, 189.4–8, ed. Helm). 150. Jacobus, Golden Legend, 1:56 (feast of the Holy Innocents, on Herod the Great), 1:63 (feast of Pope Silvester), 1:141 (feast of Ignatius of Antioch, with citations of Ignatius’s letter to the Romans from Rufinus, HE 3.36.7–9 [277.12–279.3, ed. Mommsen] and HE 3.36.12 [279.16–17, ed. Mommsen], with an apocryphal dialogue between Ignatius and Trajan inserted), 1:214 (on the death of the Lord, a legend about Pilate), 1:271–272 (feast of James the Just, citing Eusebius for Josephus’s statement on the killing of James and its linkage to the siege of Vespasian and Titus), 1:279 (feast of the Finding of the True Cross), and 2:78 (feast of the Assumption of Mary, though he appeals to Eusebius only to support his dating of Mary’s death).

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may be dubious—such as the “small apocryphal151 work of John the Evangelist” (sic) that is a source for the Assumption of Mary into heaven—he is happy to bring in Eusebius to add a sober note of authority.152 Likewise, for his entry on the feast of the Passion of the Lord, Jacobus inserts a colorful but “admittedly apocryphal story” of Pilate’s career, including a miraculous cure of the emperor Tiberius’s illness by the image of Christ impressed on the cloth of Veronica.153 He ends this “apocryphal history” with a laconic appeal to Eusebius (and Bede) for the veracity at least of the story of Pilate’s suicide: “He suffered many calamities and died by his own hand,” a virtual quotation of Eusebius/Rufinus.154 Feast days with a connection to Constantine let Jacobus indulge his interest in the confused and conflicting traditions surrounding Constantine’s baptism. He names “Eusebius of Caesarea” as the author of the legend of Pope Silvester (!), which he rehearses at great length.155 For his entry on the finding of the true cross, Jacobus reports the prebattle nighttime (and angelic) vision of the cross and the message In hoc signo vinces, after which victory is won under the sign of the cross. Christians explain the vision, and Constantine agrees to be baptized by “Pope Eusebius, or, as some books have it, from the bishop of Caesarea.”156 But that account, Jacobus says, is contradicted by “the Tripartite History and the Ecclesiastical History, as well as the life of Saint Silvester and the Acts of the Roman pontiffs.” Other sources claim that this alleged baptism by Pope Eusebius is related about Constantine’s father, Constantius, and that Constantine himself was baptized by Silvester. For his account of the battle of the “Albine bridge” (sic), Jacobus adapts Rufinus’s version of the battle, which had blended Eusebius’s account in HE 9.9 with the one he later composed for the Life of Constantine (cf. Ruf. HE 9.9 [827.26– 831.17, ed. Mommsen]). Then Jacobus adduces “a fairly reliable chronicle” to summarize the Silvester legend of a cure of leprosy and subsequent baptism by Silvester—in the middle of which he interjects a contrasting testimony from Ambrose’s text on the death of Theodosius, and also from the Tripartite History, that reports a deathbed baptism, Constantine having delayed that step hoping to be baptized in the river Jordan: “There is doubt,” Jacobus hesitantly concludes, “about whether or not he delayed baptism, so that Saint Silvester’s legend is likewise questionable on more than one point. This account of the finding of the cross, 151. “Apocryphal” here chiefly means extracanonical, a usage endorsed in antiquity in the Decretum Gelasianum. 152. Jacobus, Golden Legend, 2:78. 153. Ibid., 1:211–214 (hand-delivered by Veronica herself). 154. Ibid., 1: 214. Cf. Ruf. HE 2.6.7 (123.23–24, ed. Mommsen). 155. Ibid., 1:63–71. See chapter 3 on Constantine’s baptism for the apocryphal Latin tradition that Eusebius was the author of the Acts of Silvester. 156. Ibid., 1:279–280.


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which we read in the Ecclesiastical History, seems more authentic than the story usually read in the churches. In the latter there are many things stated that are clearly not in accord with the truth,” unless one were to attribute the previously mentioned Roman baptism to his father, Constantius. But, he continues, “this does not seem very likely, though that is what we read in histories from overseas,” a teasing hint of Jacobus’s awareness of the world beyond Latin Christendom.


Eusebius in Byzantium

When we come to the medieval Greek tradition—I will use “Byzantine” here for developments after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, though that periodization has come in for understandable criticism1—we are confronted with a striking fact: there are no works called “ecclesiastical history” written in Greek from the time of Evagrius until the learned scholar Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus wrote one early in the fourteenth century, after a void of seven hundred years. The Byzantines certainly did not lack an interest in history, as a rich literary corpus demonstrates.2 But the interest apparently did not extend to historical writing devoted explicitly to the church. Instead, we find a literature whose qualities and ambitions seem to circle back to classical historiographical ideals.3 By the mid-eleventh century, the audience for secular literature started to grow. Among other things, that meant a greater prestige for contemporary histories than for universal histories that consisted mostly of derivative material from older sources: “For educated Byzantines, Thucydides was the greatest historian, the only one 1. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 221–222. 2. Blockley, “Development of Greek Historiography”; Cataudella, “Historiography in the East”; Angold and Whitby, “Historiography”; Scott, “Text and Context in Byzantine Historiography”; Kaldellis, “Corpus of Byzantine Historiography”; Whitby, “Greek Historical Writing after Procopius” (54–58 on ecclesiastical historiography); Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians; Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians. My thanks to George Demacopoulos for sharing with me a comprehensive table of Byzantine historical sources. 3. See, e.g., the sketch of such classicizing historiographical ideals in Blockley, “Development of Greek Historiography,” 289–293, 301–312, and the historiographical summaries in Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 368–379, and Middle Byzantine Historians, 478–487.



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taught at school, and in a different class from mere compilers like [classical authors] Diodorus Siculus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, or Dio Cassius. . . . Thus the most gifted Byzantine historians were almost always contemporary historians, like Ammianus and Procopius in the earlier period.”4 At the end of chapter 2 we summarized various hypotheses for the suspension of ecclesiastical history as a distinct genre. The cessation is all the more striking when we consider how popular ecclesiastical history had been. Warren Treadgold’s review of Greek historiography in what he calls the early Byzantine period counts as many as sixteen ecclesiastical histories known to have been written.5 Even Procopius apparently planned on writing something dealing with ecclesiastical affairs, since he refers several times to such a future book.6 What happened? Treadgold points out that few authors of surviving middle Byzantine contemporary histories were active churchmen.7 Michael Whitby suggested that it became more difficult for ecclesiastical writers to write frankly about controversial religious affairs in their own time, unlike secular historians, whose personal opinions were expected when writing about contemporary events.8 With the progressive integration of church and Christian society, a specifically ecclesiastical history came to seem otiose. As the church became more or less coterminous with the whole of Byzantine society, it may have lost some of its defining contours and therefore its rationale as a distinctive object of study. Martin Wallraff has recently argued that, besides the blurring of the church’s distinctive identity, the practice that began with Eusebius of setting the Incarnation as a chronological starting point for church history lost its cogency in favor of the universal chronicle, which marked time from Creation itself (anno mundi) and was therefore more inclusive. In addition, the church’s impregnable place in the social order removed the apologetic agenda against heresy and paganism that had been constitutive of the genre ever since Eusebius.9 We have noted Garth Fowden’s and Philippe Blaudeau’s observations regarding the eclipse of Eusebius’s optimistic theo-political vision after the Arab conquest. Eusebian-style universal chronicles that combined both sacred and secular materials do not fare much better, however. The editors of the great Chronicle of Theophanes, which ended in 813, describe it as “one of the numerous descendants of the Chronicon of Eusebios and . . ., in fact, as regards the Greek-speaking world, 4. Treadgold, Middle Byzantine Historians, 483. 5. Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 363; Treadgold, Middle Byzantine Historians, 469 n. 55, adds three more authors of church histories to the early period. 6. See Procopius, Secret History 1.14, 11.33, and 26.18, and Wars 8.25.13, cited in Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 191 n. 91; see also 209, 369. 7. Treadgold, Middle Byzantine Historians, 478. 8. Whitby, “Greek Historical Writing after Procopius,” 55, citing Sozomen, HE 3.15. 9. Wallraff, “Warum ist ‘Kirchengeschichte’ in der Antike ausgestorben?,” 9–12.

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the last in that tradition. . . . The Eusebian vision of a universal history, both sacred and secular, flowing in parallel columns over a horizontal grid of years, was thus abandoned. From the ninth century onwards, the Byzantines were interested only in their own affairs, which they saw no need to place in a wider contemporary context.”10 Theophanes’s huge work was thus “decidedly old-fashioned” in its overall conception. Even among Theophanes’s Byzantine predecessors, the editors of his Chronicle can cite only the work of the sixth-century chronicler John Malalas and the early seventh-century anonymous work called the Paschal Chronicle as exemplars of the Eusebian model. Large-scale universal histories continued to be written, as did shorter chronicles, epitomes, and continuations of earlier works.11 But they all represent new literary developments when compared to works in the Eusebian tradition. J O H N M A L A L A S A N D H I S C H R ON I C L E

We can review only briefly Eusebius’s place in the Byzantine chronicle tradition. For all practical purposes, we are speaking here about four works broadly considered “chronicles.” And the first of those, the work by the author called John Malalas, is not even regarded as a true chronicle by Richard Burgess and Michael Kulikowski, who have recently staked their claim to the definition.12 Their case against calling Malalas’s book a chronicle rests on its length, its discursive narrative form, and its scant attention to the chronological apparatus in his sources. They see his book as a shorter version of ancient Greek universal histories, an example of a common late ancient historiographical trend they prefer to call epitomes or breviaria. For clarity’s sake, we will retain the traditional designation of Malalas’s book as a chronicle, while acknowledging the issue. Its author lived in sixth-century Antioch and was a scholar of law or rhetoric working for the provincial administration or the patriarchate of Antioch.13 In its present form his book 10. Mango and Scott, “Introduction,” in The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, lii-liii, emphasis added. On the Byzantine chronicle tradition, see Croke, “Early Development of Byzantine Chronicles”; Scott, “Byzantine Chronicle after Malalas”; Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 221–236; Jankowiak and Montinaro, Studies in Theophanes. 11. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 231–236. 12. Burgess and Kulikowski, “The Historiographical Position of John Malalas,” in Meier, Radtki, and Schulz, Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas, 93–117, at 104–112. On Malalas, see Jeffreys et al., Studies in John Malalas; Jeffreys, “Beginnings of Byzantine Chronography”; and in general Meier et al., Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas. I have used the English translation and edition of the Australian team: Jeffreys et al., The Chronicle of John Malalas. 13. Meier, “Einleitung,” in Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas, 14; Croke, “Malalas, the Man and His Work.” In Greek sources he is called a rhetor, and “Malalas” is presumably from the Syriac morpheme mll, which produced derivatives meaning “learned,” “eloquent,” and then a substantive form to mean “rhetor,” “dialectician,” etc., according to Witakowski, “Malalas in Syriac,” 306 n. 108.


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consists of eighteen books, though this version is in some fashion a reworking of the original—current interpretation sees it more as a “living text” that underwent constant adaptation.14 The extant version goes from Creation to 563, near the end of Justinian’s reign. It treats both sacred and secular history, chiefly from Christian sources, but Malalas does not show a great deal of interest in theology per se. For much of the modern period it was given scant respect by scholars. But as the first extant universal history in Greek, it has won serious attention over the last few decades. In a very short preface, Malalas explains his purpose: I thought it right, after abbreviating some material from the Hebrew books written by Moses . . . [lacuna] in the narratives of the chroniclers Africanus, Eusebios Pamphilou, Pausanias, Didymos, Theophilos, Clement, Diodoros, Domninos, Eustathios and many other industrious chroniclers and poets and historians, and to relate as truthfully as possible a summary account of events of my own life-time which came to my hearing, I mean indeed from Adam to the reign of Zeno15 and those who ruled afterwards. My successors must complete the story relying on their own ability. Thus the majority of writers on world history have given an account like the following.16

Eusebius’s name is second on the list, after Africanus. Because John does not usually name his sources, identifying specific borrowings is laborious.17 Certainly Eusebius’s Chronicle has left its imprint. One recent study has tried to clarify and describe just how Malalas converted the columnar structure of Eusebius’s Chronological Canons into a linear narrative by a sequencing of thematically governed books in roughly chronological order,18 into which material is introduced from other sources in synchronic fashion.19 The computational inconsistencies and use of “flashbacks” justify the conclusion that Malalas “was not interested in writing a literal chronography.”20 Whether Malalas even had Eusebius’s complete work, however, is doubtful. More likely he had a fifth-century adaptation of Eusebius that was produced in Alexandria and that may have already dropped the columnar format in favor of a 14. Meier, “Einleitung,” 15; cf. Jeffreys, “Manuscript Transmission of Malalas’ Chronicle Reconsidered,” 148. 15. The mention of the emperor Zeno (r. 474–475, 476–491) probably signals a distinction between what Malalas took from older, written sources and what he knew from oral sources during his own lifetime (Chronicle of John Malalas, xxii). 16. Chronicle of John Malalas, Pref. (1, trans. Jeffreys et al.). “Relying on their own ability” (Greek aretēs charin) should probably be translated as “an example of good conduct,” as per Jeffreys, “Manuscript Tradition,” 142 n. 17. 17. See Jeffreys, “Malalas’ Sources.” 18. See Jeffreys, “Chronological Structures in Malalas’ Chronicle.” 19. Bernardi and Caire, “John Malalas.” 20. Ibid., 125.

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narrative form.21 Unlike Eusebius, for instance, Malalas follows what became the standard Byzantine practice of beginning with the creation of the world and of humanity (recall that Eusebius started with Abraham because of his doubts about the reliability of pre-Abrahamic biblical chronology).22 The precise points of contact often involve chronological data. Notably, Malalas twice compares Eusebius’s dating of the Incarnation unfavorably with other Christian authors such as Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus (probably but not necessarily of Antioch), and Timotheos, of whom little is known.23 Oddly, Malalas reports that Eusebius dated the Incarnation to the year 5500, which Eusebius certainly did not do, though 5500 is a commonly used date by other Christian authors.24 Malalas, also like many other Christian writers (but again, not like Eusebius), was firmly committed to the concept of a world-week based on the seven days of Creation and the saying in Psalm 90:4 that a day with the Lord is like a thousand years (cf. 2 Pet 3:8). History thus consisted of seven millennia. Malalas has Jesus born in 5967 and crucified in 6000. The best explanation for this “very radical thesis” and for his polemic against Eusebius’s alleged date of 5500 is that he wanted to avoid the end-time calculations that 5500 often entailed and that, it has been suggested, were current in Syria at this time.25 But if year 6000 and the end of the sixth millennium were already long past, millennial anxieties could not attach themselves to turmoil in Malalas’s own time. We can identify two further items from Malalas bearing on Eusebius: in a detailed passage in Chronicle 10.12 (126–127), he mentions that in the city of Paneas in Judea (ancient Caesarea Philippi), he had seen a statue of Jesus erected by a woman whom he calls Veronica and whom Malalas identifies as the woman whose hemorrhage Jesus had cured (Mark 5:25–34; Matt 9:20–22; Luke 8:43–48). In the house in Paneas owned by a Jewish convert to Christianity named Bassus, Malalas claims to have found, and quotes, a document purporting to be a petition from Veronica to “King Herod II” (Herod Antipas) requesting permission to erect the statue in gratitude for her cure. The report about the statue of Jesus comes from Eusebius, who says he saw the statue and describes it in his history (HE 7.18.1–4).26 He does not, however, mention a name. Malalas is thus the first person 21. Croke, “Early Development of Byzantine Chronicles,” 32–36. 22. I depend here on the discussion and list of passages compiled by Jeffreys, “Malalas’ Sources,” 180, and Jeffreys, “Chronological Structures in Malalas’ Chronicle,” 113, 116–120. 23. Croke, “Early Development of Byzantine Chronicles,” 30. 24. Chronicle of John Malalas 10.2, 18.8 (121–122, 247–248). 25. Croke, “Malalas, the Man and His Work,” 12; Jeffreys, “Chronological Structures in Malalas’ Chronicle,” 118–120. Note Jeffreys’s corrections to the dates in an important but obscure passage in Malalas’s Chronicle 10.2 (121) in the 1986 edition and translation. 26. Mentioned also by Philostorgius, HE 7.3, and Soz. HE 5.21, as cited by Moffatt, “Record of Public Buildings and Monuments,” 102.


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to introduce the name Veronica into the long chain of Eastern and Western traditions about a woman and likenesses of Jesus. The second reference has to do with the baptism of Constantine. Malalas accepted the legend of a baptism at the hands of Bishop Silvester of Rome, though there is no mention of a cure from illness. The baptism occurred immediately after a great victory over “the barbarians” (sic), fought under the sign of the cross. In a dream he had seen a cross in the sky with the message “In this sign, conquer,” a garbled hybrid of the accounts in Lactantius and Eusebius.27 This is the earliest surviving Greek report of the Roman baptismal legend, and the point of its entry into the general Byzantine tradition, the counter-testimony of Socrates and other sources notwithstanding.28 Roger Scott has noted Constantine’s importance to Malalas was less in specific episodes or paradigmatic acts than as constituting a normative turning point in world history, “the first Christian emperor, a bringer of victory and peace and especially as the founder of Constantinople,” befitting the overall intention of his universal chronicle.29 T H E PAS C HA L C H R ON I C L E

Unlike Malalas’s work, the Paschal Chronicle or, to cite its name in the oldest surviving manuscript, “Summary/Epitome of the Times from Adam,” is a true chronicle, meaning that each year is marked, even if no event of significance occurred, with interspersed narrative material from various sources, principally Malalas.30 The author may have been a cleric, given the interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and perhaps connected with Hagia Sophia.31 The work was compiled during the reign of the emperor Heraclius (610–641) and reached as far as the year 630, when, as Michael and Mary Whitby have suggested, Heraclius’s triumphant return of the true cross from the final victory over Persia would have been a suitable terminal date.32 Several dating schemes are used, but the basic chronology is the world year, annus mundi, with which other chronologies are synchronized. This became a distinguishing mark of Byzantine chronicles, as opposed to Western chronicles, where annus Domini was first used systematically by Bede, though it did not 27. Chronicle of John Malalas 13.2 (172). 28. Scott, “Image of Constantine in Malalas and Theophanes,” 59–60. See also Kazhdan, “ ‘Constantin imaginaire,’ ” 239–241. 29. Scott, “Image of Constantine in Malalas and Theophanes,” 61–62. 30. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 224–227. The most accessible version is the annotated translation of Michael Whitby and Mary Whitby, Chronicon Paschale 284–628 AD, which covers the years from the beginning of the reign of Diocletian in 284, or about 30 percent of the total text. 31. Whitby and Whitby, Chronicon Paschale, xxvii. 32. Whitby and Whitby, Chronicon Paschale, xi-xiii; cf. 190–191, for the controversy over the chronicle’s concluding date.

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become standard in the West until the twelfth century.33 As its given name now implies, there is a preoccupation with systems for computing the date of Easter, and the combination of 19-year lunar cycles with 28-year solar cycles that produced the familiar 532-year cycle is employed.34 Eusebius is one of the sources from which the Chronicle borrows. But the borrowing seems to have been limited to the HE, from which extensive passages were derived, though perhaps through an intermediary rather than directly.35 The Chronicle chiefly involves details from the persecution of Diocletian and the career of Constantine, though it shows no sign of familiarity with Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, a work that, as we have noted, was not widely circulated in Byzantium.36 Interestingly, the Chronicle accepts that Constantine was baptized in Constantinople at the end of his life by Bishop Eusebius, identified as “Eusebius of Constantinople,”37 whereas the Chronicle of Theophanes will deny that tradition in favor of the apocryphal story of a Roman baptism by Pope Silvester.38 Under the twentieth year of Constantine’s reign, his vicennalia, the Chronicle reports a calculation of years going back to Creation that links sacred and secular events, a synchronizing summation that may go back to Eusebius, whose HE and Chronicle both ended in 325.39 G E O R G E SY N K E L L O S A N D T H E O P HA N E S : AT T H E SUM M I T O F B Y Z A N T I N E C H R O N O G R A P H Y

More important than either Malalas or the Paschal Chronicle are the companion works by George Synkellos and Theophanes “the Confessor,” which together represent “the most ambitious effort of Byzantine historiography with a view to offering a systematic account of the human past.”40 Their size and importance make some account essential, and an indication of Eusebius’s place in them. Details of the life of George are scanty. A monk in Constantinople, he is often referred to in scholarship simply as Syncellus, and that is what we shall call him. The word means “cellmate,” but by the ninth century it had become the prestigious title of 33. Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, 226. See Mosshammer, Easter Computus, 31–32. 34. See the table in Whitby and Whitby, Chronicon Paschale, 23–26, with notes. 35. Whitby and Whitby, Chronicon Paschale, xv-xvi. 36. Ibid., 22 n. 72. 37. Ibid., 21. 38. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 31–32 nn. 1–2, 54; see below. Malalas too accepted the Silvester legend: Chronicle of John Malalas 13.2 (172). 39. Whitby and Whitby, Chronicon Paschale, 14–15 n. 48. 40. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lii. In addition to this magisterial edition, I also depend on Adler and Tuffin, The Chronography of George Synkellos. See also Treadgold, Middle Byzantine Historians, 38–77. See now the important set of papers in Jankowiak and Montinaro, Studies in Theophanes.


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imperially appointed advisers of the patriarch of Constantinople. George served as synkellos to Patriarch Tarasius (r. 784–806).41 His birth date is unknown. He was still writing in 810 but had passed away by the time his designated successor Theophanes wrote the preface to his own work, possibly in 814. He probably spent some time in Syria and Palestine and may have been a monk in the Palestinian monastery of St. Chariton.42 Syncellus’s chronicle is entitled in one of the manuscripts “A Selection of Chronography.” His twofold intention was to compile a mass of chronographic excerpts in order, first, to prove an elaborate chronological scheme based on March 25 as the day of Creation, the day of Christ’s Incarnation in 5501, and of his resurrection in 5534; and second, of chronicling events up to his own day, 810 in our era.43 When he became ill and was unable to go beyond the accession of Diocletian, he gave his “materials” (aphormai) over to “his close friend” Theophanes to finish his work, as Theophanes relates in the preface to his own book.44 Theophanes himself died not long afterward in 818. The coordination of the two projects has taxed scholars with clarifying the respective roles and responsibilities of the two men. What had until recently been the prevailing solution was arrived at almost forty years ago by Cyril Mango, who minimized Theophanes’s own contributions, partly on the grounds of the grave illness that he contracted as early as 809/810 and suffered from until his death in 818. A flurry of work in the past two decades has unsettled that conclusion, and one current commentator now declares that there “is no real consensus.”45 We will come back to Theophanes in a moment. But we must first deal with Syncellus, and in particular with his use of Eusebius.46 As we have already commented regarding Malalas’s chronicle, it is improbable that Eusebius’s chronicle was still available in its original Greek. More likely Syncel41. On what is known of his life and his relationship with Theophanes, see Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, xliii-lii; and Treadwell, “Life and Wider Significance of George Syncellus,” a synthesis criticized by Zuckerman, “Theophanes the Confessor and Theophanes the Chronicler,” 47 n. 51, for being “excessively hypothetical.” 42. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lx–lxi. 43. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, xxix; see 3 n. 3. 44. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 1–2. See below on aphormai. The Greek behind “close friend” is gnēsios philos, on which see Kompa, “In Search of Syncellus’ and Theophanes’ Own Words,” 87–90. 45. Kompa, “In Search of Syncellus’ and Theophanes’ Own Words,” 73. See the diversity of current opinions in the several papers of Treadgold, Zuckerman, Jankowiak, and Kompa, in Studies in Theophanes, 9–92. Mango and Scott concluded that the basic character of the whole work as a “scissors and paste job” (lv), involving as many as twenty different sources cobbled together as a file or dossier, diminished the importance of authorship in the conventional sense of the word. 46. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, lx–lxii; see also lxiii–lxix for the related topic of Syncellus’s and Eusebius’s fifth-century successors in Alexandria, the Christian monks Panodorus and Annianus.

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lus had Eusebius in the adaptations of his work by the fifth-century Alexandrian monks Panodorus and Annianus. Even if his source was indirect rather than direct, Syncellus was able to incorporate so much of Eusebius’s own words that in places his text reads “so much like transcripts of Eusebios that they may have adventitious value as a check on the Latin and Armenian translations of that work.”47 He did not, however, adopt Eusebius’s columnar structure, preferring instead the basically narrative construction of predecessors like Malalas, while retaining the same comparative data sets of reigns, events, notable persons, and so on that marked Eusebius’s Chronicle. A significant substantive difference is that, in keeping with what had already become Byzantine tradition, Syncellus started from Creation and made years of the world the basic chronological scheme, rather than counting years from Abraham. His debt to Eusebius did not keep him from making frequent and severe criticisms, inspired in part by Eusebius’s Alexandrian successors.48 His hostility was fundamentally based on Eusebius’s detachment from a preconceived chronographic scheme like the millenialist model that Syncellus was dedicated to proving: that Creation, Incarnation, and Resurrection had all occurred on the same date, March 25, and the Incarnation in AM 5501.49 At stake was the status of tradition, including the chronology rooted in the Septuagint, whose divergences from both the Hebrew text of the Jews and that of the Samaritans were well known to Eusebius. As William Adler and Paul Tuffin write, “There is probably no more pronounced difference in the chronographic approaches of Eusebios and Synkellos than in their respective views about the authority of tradition.” The parade example is Syncellus’s fierce effort to discredit Eusebius’s dating of Moses, which had deviated conspicuously from Christian predecessors like Tatian, Africanus, and Clement by giving Moses a date 350 years later than they had—a revisionism that provoked Syncellus to call him “deranged.”50 Among other telling differences is Eusebius’s agnosticism about the length of time Adam had spent in paradise. Eusebius denied that Adam’s prelapsarian life in 47. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, lxi. The editors are careful to point out instances where “the scope of Synkellos’ source material far exceeds that of Eusebios,” as evidence for his ability to work independently of Eusebius. 48. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, xxxvi. An exception is Syncellus’s crediting of Eusebius for refusing to try to salvage the chronological claims attributed to the Chaldeans by the Babylonian author Berossus through some sort of figurative explanation (ibid., 47–48). 49. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 1–2, 449–456, with appeals to the traditions handed down by Hippolytus, Annianus, and Maximus the Confessor (455). 50. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 222. For Syncellus’s effort to discredit Eusebius’s Moses dating, see 95–99, following a quotation from Eusebius’s preface to his Chronicle (Eus. Chronicle 2 [7.10–10.4, ed. Helm]); cf. Syncellus’s Greek version, 93–95. Discussion in Adler and Tuffin, xxxix–xlii.


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paradise was temporal at all. He seems to have followed Origen in regarding paradisiacal time as allegorical.51 Syncellus insists it is temporal but limits it to a single day, the very day of Adam’s creation.52 Syncellus also dislikes Eusebius’s frank admission that Paul’s 450-year period for the judges (according to Paul’s speech in Acts 13:19–20) was not to be taken literally, since the apostle wasn’t writing, as it were, a treatise on chronology.53 Syncellus’s reliance on Eusebius’s Chronicle is evident in his coverage of events after the Incarnation as well as before. For most of the Christian period, it is the Chronicle rather than Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History that serves as Syncellus’s source. The version of the Abgar story that Syncellus reports had incorporated the image of Jesus, a central detail that is absent from Eusebius.54 There are occasional quotations from the HE, usually of texts that Eusebius himself has cited, such as Hegesippus’s account of the death of James, the brother of the Lord (Eus. HE 2.23.1–18).55 Reliance on the HE becomes more thorough going when Syncellus gets to the third century and must deal with the towering figure of Origen, whom he detests: “wretched Origen,” “feeble-minded Origen,” “this god-accursed man.” Syncellus remarks, “Origen stumbled into the pit of Greek fantasy and taught about cyclic restoration and pre-existence, and other profane doctrines. And he was expelled thereby from the chorus of the saints.”56 Syncellus discounts Origen’s suffering during the Decian persecution because it did not eventuate in martyrdom, and quotes from book 6 of Eusebius’s HE in order to scorn Eusebius’s veneration of Origen over other third-century Christian worthies like Clement, Africanus, Hippolytus, and Dionysius of Alexandria.57 For the remainder of his chronicle, Syncellus relies mostly on long quotations from books 6 and 7 of Eusebius’s HE, mainly Eusebius’s own quotations from the letters of Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (r. 247–264), whom Syncellus holds in the highest regard.58 Eusebius himself Syncellus condemns for being infected with Arianism.59 Syncellus’s Chronography

51. Eusebius, Chronicle 1 (36.16–37.9, ed. Karst), cited in Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 5 n. 4. 52. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, xxxvii; cf. 5, where Syncellus cites the authority of Chrysostom. 53. Eusebius, Chronicle 1 (50.17–23, ed. Karst), cited in Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, li, 253 n. 5. 54. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 477–478; cf. Eus. HE 1.13. 55. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 488–490, followed immediately by Eusebius’s excerpt from Josephus’s Antiquities 20.199–203 on the death of James (Eus. HE 2.23.20–24). 56. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 516, 523, 525, 439; the last citation, for AM 5715 (AD 223). 57. Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, 446–447. 58. Ibid., 526–538, 541–545, 549–550. 59. Ibid., 540.

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ends abruptly with a long quotation consisting of Eusebius’s account of the heresy and deposition of Paul of Samosata (Eus. HE 7.27.1–30.19). Theophanes the Confessor (759/760–818), as he is known in the Orthodox tradition, came from a wealthy family in Constantinople.60 When Theophanes was a child, his father died while serving as a military commander in the Aegean Sea. Destined to a career in imperial service, probably the military, he was pushed by his mother and prospective father-in-law into an arranged marriage at the age of nineteen to a certain Megalo, also of aristocratic stock. Within two years (after his father-in-law was safely dead), he and his young wife had separated and taken up monastic life. He first joined a monastery on the island of Kalonymos in the Sea of Marmara, and then moved to a community on Mt. Sigriane on the Asian side. There he founded his own establishment, Megas Agros. He became well known in ecclesiastical circles and attended the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, which restored the veneration of icons. A crisis arose late in his life when the emperor Leo V the Armenian (r. 813–820) unexpectedly reinstituted iconoclastic policies at the end of 814 or early 815. By that time Theophanes was seriously ill with kidney stones. His public opposition to imperial iconoclasm landed him in confinement in Constantinople in 815. Two years later, still a resister, he was exiled to the island of Samothrace in February 818 and died a few weeks later. He was buried on the site of his monastery of Megas Agros in 822 and is honored as “Confessor” for his resistance to Leo’s iconoclasm. The intimate link between Theophanes’s work and that of Syncellus is reflected in the “fact that a majority of the medieval manuscripts are common to both texts.”61 He says in the preface to his own chronicle, entitled Chronographia of 528 Years,62 that “the most blessed Father George, who had also been synkellos of Tarasios, the most holy patriarch of Constantinople,” begged him to complete his chronicle when he realized that his illness would prevent him from doing so, and gave him his accumulated “materials” (aphormai), a word that other scholars prefer to translate as “starting point,” in the sense of point of departure or occasion for writing.63 Theophanes says he took up where “his close friend” Syncellus had left off, with the accession of Diocletian in AM 5777 (AD 284/285). Editors Cyril 60. On Theophanes’s life, see Adler and Tuffin, Chronography of George Synkellos, xliv–lii. 61. Torgerson, “From the Many, One?,” 96. 62. Full title: Chronographia of 528 Years beginning in the First Year of Diocletian, down to the second Year of Michael and the Latter’s Son Theophylaktos, i.e. from the Year 5777 of the World until the Year 6305 according to the Alexandrians or 6321 according to the Romans (Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 1). 63. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 1–2. Preference for one over the other depends in part on how much credit one wishes to give to Theophanes for independent work. Jankowiak, “Framing Universal History,” gives Theophanes partial credit for adapting the chronological canon that he thinks Syncellus initially developed.


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Mango and Roger Scott argue that he had to have essentially finished his work before the end of 813, since he only had a short time between Syncellus’s withdrawal and his own crises, and before Emperor Leo V revealed his iconoclast views, no hint of which is reflected in the Chronicle’s highly positive treatment of the emperor.64 The preface describes Syncellus’s project and gives him credit for designing the comparative chronological format: He had perused and thoroughly investigated many chronographers and historians, composed with all accuracy a succinct chronicle from Adam down to Diocletian. . . . He made a very exact study of the dates, reconciled their divergences, corrected them, and set them together in a manner surpassing all his predecessors. He recorded the lives and dates of the ancient kings of every nation and, as far as he was able, accurately inserted, with their dates, the bishops of the great ecumenical sees, I mean those of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, both those who had tended the Church in the right faith and those who, like robbers, had ruled in heresy.65

Theophanes goes on to tell how he obediently took up Syncellus’s unfinished work: For I, too, after seeking out to the best of my ability and examining many books, have written down accurately—as best I could—this chronicle [chronographeion] from Diocletian down to the reign of Michael and his son Theophylaktos, namely the reigns [of the emperors] and the patriarchs and their deeds, together with their dates. I did not set down anything of my own composition, but have made a selection from the ancient historians and prose-writers and have consigned to their proper places the events of every year, arranged without confusion. In this manner the readers may be able to know in which year of each emperor what events took place, be it military or ecclesiastical or civic or popular or of any other kind; for I believe that one who reads the actions of the ancients derives no small benefit from so doing.66

As Mango and Scott point out, what Theophanes is describing for both wings of this diptych is a comprehensive synchronic format that is really a throwback to the model that Eusebius himself had created. The format lacked a true Greek successor to Theophanes as well.67 The annalistic layout accounts for every year from AD 284/285 to 812/813, even when there is no entry besides the current rulers and leading bishops. In the fullest form, the rubrics list, in order, the year of the world and year of the Incarnation; the current Roman emperor, Persian shah, and Arab caliph, with length of reign and current year; and the bishops of Rome, Constanti64. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lvii. 65. Ibid., 1 (trans. Mango and Scott). Commentators have noted Theophanes’s adverts here to the classic order of patriarchal eminence, one that neither he nor Syncellus observed in practice, the latter putting Antioch before Alexandria, followed by Jerusalem. 66. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 2 (trans. Mango and Scott). 67. Ibid., lii–liii.

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nople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, with length of reign and current year.68 But the full form is by no means standard in the manuscripts, and an intelligible pattern to explain the variations is hard to discern.69 Although the world year is the main organizational principle of the whole construction, Marek Jankowiak has argued that regnal years of the Roman emperors were “the real chronological backbone of the Chronicle.”70 He goes on to suggest that behind the rubrical data was a canon (table) that Syncellus may have continued for the whole historical sweep up to Theophanes’s terminal date of 812/813, and that Theophanes’s contribution mainly consisted of several minor adjustments.71 Jankowiak also points out the similarity of the canon’s manner of construction with the approach of the Syriac chronographer Jacob of Edessa, who began his chronicle as a continuation of Eusebius’s from AD 325 onward. This is consistent with the thesis advanced by Mango and Scott, who sought to give Syncellus alone the credit for reimplementing a chronographic model that had become largely dormant in Byzantium. They noted the contrast with the Syriac tradition, where the Eusebian synchronic format survived and flourished, as we saw in chapter 3. Considering that Syncellus sojourned in Palestine and may even have come from there, they concluded that Syncellus himself “orginated the concept and plan of the Chronicle on the analogy of similar work done by contemporary Christian scholars under Arab rule.”72 Supporting this thesis is the presence in Theophanes of significant Eastern elements for the seventh and eighth centuries, a feature of his work that has long drawn scholarly interest and that in Mango and Scott’s view is easier to understand as coming from Syncellus than from Theophanes himself.73 The synchronic rubrics for each year typically include the reigning Persian ruler 68. E.g., for AM 5968 (AD 475/476), Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 189; see table 1 in Jankowiak, “Framing Universal History,” 55. Constantinople does not appear until AM 5810 (AD 317/318), initially as Byzantium and then as Constantinople after AM 5817 (AD 324/325): ibid., 27, 41. Antioch drops out after the murder of Patriarch Anastasius in AM 6101 (AD 608/609), ibid., 425; and Alexandria after the death of Patriarch Peter in AM 6145 (AD 652/653), ibid., 481. There is a long hiatus for Rome between Pope Benedict I (r. 575–579) and Pope Gregory III (r. 731–741). See the summary in Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lxxi–lxxiii. 69. In discussing the rubrics, I follow Jankowiak, “Framing Universal History,” 56, who notes the same irregularity in Syncellus as in Theophanes. 70. Jankowiak, “Framing Universal History,” 58. 71. Ibid., 61. 72. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lv. 73. Mango and Scott print in a distinctive font those parts of Theophanes that appear to come from this source, which Theophanes shares especially with the Syriac chroniclers Michael the Syrian and the author of the Chronicle to the Year 1234, and the Christian Arabic chronicle of Agapius of Mabbug (Chronicle of Theophanes, lxxxii–lxxxvii). Robert Hoyland has connected this source with the lost chronicle of Maronite Christian scholar Theophilus of Edessa, whom we met above in chapter 3: Hoyland, Theophilus of Edessa’s Chronicle. But see now the revisionist assessment in Conterno, “Theophilos, ‘The More Likely Candidate’?,” in Studies in Theophanes, 383–400.


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and subsequently the reigning Arab caliph, starting with Muhammad himself. Theophanes, or whoever we credit as author, “was deeply interested in the affairs of the Arabs and their Christian subjects and anxious to incorporate them in the summa of human history.”74 It is his explicit extension of coverage to the nonRoman/Byzantine world that most importantly separates him from Eusebius, even though, as a good Byzantine, he shares with Eusebius a theo-political vision of the empire and of orthodoxy as the guarantor of its well-being. Constantine, Theophanes writes, is “God’s partner.”75 In Theophanes’s own time, at the very end of his Chronicle, he credits the ascent to the imperial throne of Michael I (r. 811–813) to his devotion to the holy icons and to his protection of monasticism.76 Michael’s abdication in disgrace after suffering defeat against the Bulgars in 813 is attributed to the influence of “evil counselors” (AM 6305, AD 684). Theophanes describes his successor Leo V as “pious, extremely courageous, and in every respect fit for assuming the kingship” (AM 6305, AD 685). As noted above, the Chronicle ends abruptly with no indication of Leo’s adoption of iconoclastic views and Theophanes’s own suffering at his hands. If we ask more specifically about Theophanes’s debt to Eusebius, we find ourselves in a dense thicket of debate over “sources” for the Chronicle. The editors consider the work as a whole to be “a file of extracts borrowed from earlier sources,” and a “scissors and paste job” that makes source identification difficult but unavoidable, especially since Theophanes normally does not identify the provenance of his extracts.77 For the period up to the end of the sixth century, a major contribution comes from a compendium of writing on ecclesiastical history.78 Among its central components was an epitome of the Ecclesiastical History of Theodore the Reader, which we encountered above in chapter 2 and in our discussion of Cassiodorus in chapter 4. It consisted of a synthesis of the histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, followed by Theodore’s own narrative history up to the death of the emperor Anastasius in 518. A second component in the compendium of church-historical sources used by Theophanes is an anonymous set of excerpts from earlier ecclesiastical historians, starting with Eusebius, that goes up to the reign of the emperor Phocas (r. 602– 610).79 A third is the Ecclesiastical History attributed to Gelasius of Caesarea. 74. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lii. 75. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, AM 5815 (AD 322/323), 33. 76. Ibid., AM 6304 (AD 811/812), 679. 77. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lxxiv, lv; for the detailed summary of sources known or suspected to be in play, see lxxiv–xcv. 78. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, lxxv-lxxvi. 79. Edited in the nineteenth century by J. A. Cramer, Anecdota Graeca e codd. manuscriptis Bibliothecae Regiae Parisiensis, vol. 2, Excerpta historica et chronologica, 87–114. See the account in Hansen, “Einleitung,” in Theodoros Anagnostes, Kirchengeschichte, XXV–XXVI; and now Stevens, “Origin of the de Boor Fragments Ascribed to Philip of Side.”

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The apparatus of the Mango and Scott edition of Theophanes shows that for the pertinent time frame covered by Eusebius’s HE and also the VC (the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine), Theophanes did not consult Eusebius directly—neither the HE nor the VC—but only through the medium of the fifth-century continuators, and even then perhaps via Theodore the Reader’s synthesis, as well as other later sources. That applies even to entries in which Theophanes explicitly names Eusebius.80 Proof of this is found in Theophanes’s report of two conflicting accounts of the death of Diocletian—said by Eusebius to have been the result of a lingering illness after his abdication, but by Gelasius of Caesarea to have been by execution under senatorial order, after he and his co-Augustus Maximian jointly sought to regain power.81 This untypical instance of Theophanes naming his sources comes not directly from Eusebius but from the anonymous set of church-historical extracts mentioned above, which juxtaposes both Eusebius’s and Gelasius’s accounts.82 Of particular interest is Theophanes’s endorsement of the Silvester legend of Constantine’s baptism in Rome: In this year [AD 321/322], as some say, Constantine the Great together with his son Crispus was baptized in Rome by Silvester. The inhabitants of Old Rome preserve even today the baptismal font as evidence that he was baptized in Rome by Silvester after the removal of the tyrants. The easterners, on the other hand, claim that he was baptized on his death-bed in Nicomedia by the Arian Eusebios of Nicomedia, at which place he happened to die. They claim that he deferred baptism in the hope of being baptized in the river Jordan. In my view, it is more likely to be true that he was baptized by Silvester in Rome and that the decrees addressed to Miltiades83 that are ascribed to him are Arian forgeries, since they were eager to win some glory from this or else wanted to denigrate this completely pious emperor by revealing in this fashion that he was not baptized, which is absurd and false. For if he had not been baptized at the Council of Nicaea, he could not have taken the holy sacraments nor joined in the prayers of the holy Fathers, something that is most absurd both to say and to hold. Other Arians and pagans accuse Constantine the Great of being illegitimate, but they too are lying.84 80. E.g., Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, 17 (the death of Diocletian after his abdication), 35 (on the Council of Nicaea), 44 (Eusebius’s letter to the church of Caesarea after the council), 52 (the deposition of Eustathius of Antioch), and 56 (Eusebius’s critique in his Against Marcellus of those who would say the Son of God is a creature). 81. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, AM 5796 (AD 303/304), 17. 82. Cramer, Anecdota Graeca, 90.26–30, 91.8–18. 83. The reference is to Constantine’s letter to Pope Miltiades of Rome (r. 310–314) ordering him to convene a synod of bishops to adjudicate the emerging Donatist schism in Africa, preserved in Eusebius’s dossier of six Constantinian documents in book 10 of his HE (Eus. HE 10.5.18–20). As noted earlier in this study, the dossier is missing from MSS B and D of Eusebius’s HE and also from the ancient Syriac and Latin translations (GCS 2.2:883, ed. Schwartz). Did that make it easier for Theophanes to call them forgeries? 84. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes, AM 5814 (AD 321/322), 31 (trans. Mango and Scott).


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The argument from the impermissibility of even an emperor’s presence at the liturgy if he had not been baptized is notable. Eusebius of course has the deathbed baptism in Nicomedia, though the presiding bishops are not identified (Eus. VC 4.61–62). Theophanes does not name these “easterners,” perhaps out of discretion, though he surely knew who they were, because the Eusebian version was adopted in the epitome of Theodore the Reader.85 Roger Scott has suggested that Theophanes was partial to the Silvester legend because iconoclasts and iconodules both sought to claim Constantine as a patron, making it imperative to purge “the completely pious emperor” of any association with Arianism.86 The same Arian stain clung to Eusebius, but Theophanes felt no comparable need to scrub the record of his chronographic predecessor. Having attended the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 787, he would not have forgotten that Eusebius had also been condemned as an iconoclast, on the basis of his letter to Constantia, the sister of Constantine.87 Though he rarely introduces his own opinion, of Eusebius he writes: “Sokrates defends Eusebios by citing quotations in an attempt to show that he was not an Arian sympathizer. The truth shows him as being without a fixed view and varying his position according to different circumstances. Eusebios died soon after Constantine the Great, leaving his pupil Akakios as successor to his throne at Caesarea. Akakios was a distinguished man . . . but was closely associated with the Arians, and clearly of one mind with his teacher.”88 This perception of Eusebius as at bottom a politic temporizer was thus already conventional and will become normative for the Christian tradition—until succeeded by even stronger judgments. N IC E P HO RU S C A L L I S T U S X A N T HO P U LU S A N D T H E R E T U R N O F E C C L E SIA ST IC A L H I ST O RY

Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthopoulos, whom we will call by the more familiar Latinized form of his name, was born around the middle of the thirteenth century and died sometime before 1328.89 He was a priest and also at some point a monk, in residence at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, where he taught rhetoric, presumably in the patriarchal school, and where he says he had access to the resources of 85. Theod. Lect. HE 1.51 (27.15–16, ed. Hansen). 86. Scott, “Image of Constantine in Malalas and Theophanes.” 87. Eus. Ep. ad Constantiam Augustam (CPG 3503; fragments in PG 20.1545–1549), which fragments derive from the letter’s appearance in a patristic florilegium used at the iconoclastic council of Hieria in 754. 88. Mango and Scott, Chronicle of Theophanes AM 5829 (AD 336/337), 56 (trans. Mango and Scott), emphasis added. 89. Panteghini, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos,” 248. This article is the best short introduction to Nicephorus and his ecclesiastical history. See now Gastgeber and Panteghini, Ecclesiastical History and Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthopoulos.

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the patriarchal library.90 He was well aware that he was engaging in an enterprise that had stalled after three centuries of vigorous life and offered his own explanation: the natural sloth of human nature, which resisted the demands of such work and which only grew greater with the passage of time. He certainly pitched his ambition broadly: to write an ecclesiastical history that was also universal (kosmikē historia) in its scope, reaching from the time of Christ—a starting point that none of his predecessors had used and that he alone shared with Eusebius’s history—up to his own time. Or so he hoped. In the event, he only got as far as the death of the emperor Phocas in 610. The preface to the existing work of eighteen books adds projected summaries of another five books, from the reign of Heraclius (r. 610– 641) up to 922, that were apparently never written.91 Even so, the existing eighteen comprise the better part of three volumes of Migne.92 Nicephorus was quite explicit about standing in a tradition. In his preface he reviews his predecessors, starting with Eusebius, followed by Sozomen and Theodoret, then “the god-hating” Philostorgius, and finally Socrates (whom Nicephorus does not much like, because of his sympathy for the Novatianists), all of whom wrote from various chronological starting points into the reign of Theodosius II; then come Theodore the Reader, Basil of Cilicia, and Evagrius. Evagrius, he notes, was the last of all, taking the narrative to the reign of Justin II (r. 565–574), giving more attention to secular affairs than his predecessors, and making use of secular historians, including Procopius (PG 145.606C–608B). Nicephorus’s history is a massive synthesis based on all of the above, along with many other sources available to him in the patriarchal library at Hagia Sophia.93 He sought to improve on his predecessors’ work by presenting it in one book and in a uniform style, removing or correcting what was inappropriate and incompatible with orthodox teaching as he understood it, and adding material on subjects he thought were inadequately treated. At the end of book 6 of his history, when Nicephorus’s narrative reaches Eusebius’s own time, he includes an appreciation of Eusebius. He notes Eusebius’s tutelage under the learned and holy presbyter and martyr Pamphilus, who Nicephorus alleges was Eusebius’s uncle. Out of devotion to Pamphilus, Eusebius took his name and wrote about his life after his martyrdom. Nicephorus compliments Eusebius for his zeal and learning in divine matters, says that he survived into the reign of Constantius II, mentions as noteworthy 90. On his status at Hagia Sophia and his access to sources, see Panteghini, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos,” 249, 259, citing Nicephorus, HE 1.1 (PG 145.609C). 91. Nicephorus, HE 1.1 (PG 145.617.A-620B). 92. PG 145.558–147.418. On the conflicting data on the intended length of the HE, see Panteghini, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos,” 252–255. 93. The standard study of his sources is Gentz, Die Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus und ihre Quellen, rev. Winkelmann. See now Berger, “Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthapoulos und seine Quellen in den Büchern I bis VI.”


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Eusebius’s Preparation for the Gospel and Demonstration of the Gospel, and acknowledges that he was the first person to write ekklesiastikē historia by that name. In addition, he mentions the book called Canon (the Chronicle), the Life of Constantine in five books,94 as well as the Tricennial Oration, and another “To Stephen,” on controverted passages in the Gospels. He granted that Eusebius’s learning brought “much profit” to the church, but complained that his writings proved his partiality for Arius, inasmuch as he thought the Son a creature. And he was not impressed with Socrates’s defense of Eusebius’s conduct at Nicaea in his own ecclesiastical history.95 Despite his reservations, Nicephorus leaned heavily on Eusebius in the first seven books. He had at his disposal a manuscript copy of Eusebius’s HE that also contains the HE of Socrates.96 Among the things Nicephorus’s work shared in common with Eusebius’s book were an effort to write universal history, a reliance on quoted documents, and a return to Christ himself as a starting point.97 Though professing to write in his own style, Nicephorus imitates him so closely that “he sometimes seems more Eusebian than Eusebius himself.”98 It is now recognized that the importance of Nicephorus’s history is partly as a witness to its own time, a distinct moment in late Byzantine history. Friedhelm Winkelmann argued that its derivative nature is not a damning indictment of his work. Instead it should be seen as an effort at intelligible synthesis and inclusion, a faithful reflection of the needs of the Orthodox Church of his time: Nicephorus’s “universelle Zusammenschau” is testimony to a Greek church-historical tradition that disappeared in the West, where, as we saw in chapter 4, the history of the church easily became the history of particular Christian peoples.99 The contemporaneity and inclusive focus are vividly demonstrated in Nicephorus’s dedication of his history to the emperor Andronicus II (r. 1282–1328).100 Andronicus’s father, the emperor Michael VIII, had signed the unionist decrees of the Second Council of Lyons (1274) in the hope of staving off Western efforts to 94. Schneider, “Die Rezeption der Vita Constantini des Eusebios bei Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthopoulos.” 95. Nicephorus, HE 6.37 (PG 145.1204D-1205A-B). 96. Laur. plut. 70.07, T in Schwartz’s sigla (see chapter 2). See Gentz and Winkelmann, Die Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus und ihre Quellen, 182–183, though note is taken that for the middle books of Eusebius’s HE Nicephorus appears to have used another manuscript, since readings from the two different recensions tend to balance one another out. 97. Morlet, “La projet historiographique de Nicéphore Xanthopoulos face à celui d’Eusèbe de Césarée,” 43–44; discussion of what he chose to leave, what he kept, and what he added in comparison with Eusebius, 45–50. 98. Morlet, “La projet historiographique de Nicéphore Xanthopoulos,” 58: “se montre parfois plus eusèbien qu’Eusèbe lui-même.” 99. Gentz and Winkelmann, Die Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus und ihre Quellen, 194–196. 100. PG 145.560–601; discussion in Panteghini, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthapoulos,” 260–266, especially the rich comparison with Constantine.

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recapture Constantinople and reimpose Latin rule. After Michael’s death in 1282, his son Andronicus immediately repudiated the Lyons decrees. Nicephorus’s Historia ecclesiastica reflected this changed ecclesiastical situation, and his dedicatory letter to the emperor celebrates the beginning of a new era through the restoration of Orthodoxy. He compares the emperor’s achievement to Constantine’s. Just as Constantine had had to conquer enemies and tyrants in order to build his city, so Andronicus had freed that city from thieves.101 And as Constantine had saved the Orthodox faith from Arianism through the Council of Nicaea, so Andronicus saved it again by protecting the origin of the Spirit from the Father alone through his revocation of the Union of 1274—thereby equating the Council of Lyons with Arianism! Nicephorus, of course, didn’t accept Lyons or any other council after the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 787. Of the council held in Constantinople in 869–870, which met after the deposition of the patriarch Photius, Nicephorus says it is called (legomenēs, in the sense of so-called) “ecumenical,” though he does not regard it as such and refers to the skandala that came into being because of Photius.102 Since the eleventh century, the Catholic Church has regarded the council of 869–870 as the Eighth Ecumenical Council.103 Nicephorus’s history was completely unknown in the West until the early sixteenth century, when the sole existing manuscript made its way out of Constantinople and into Europe, ahead of the Turkish advance. A Latin translation appeared in 1553, but a printed Greek edition not until 1630. The Latin translation was approved for publication by Catholic authorities in Louvain in 1551, even though the inquisitor either overlooked or was not disturbed by Nicephorus’s hostility toward the Union of 1274 in his dedicatory letter to the emperor.104 Despite Nicephorus’s greater proximity to Catholic views on many of the hot-button issues of the Reformation, he appealed sufficiently to Protestants that his history was included in source material collected for the Magdeburg Centuries, and Matthias Flacius Illyricus listed him in his Catalogus testium veritatis (Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth) among the previous historians who denied the pope.105 Baronio quoted him just to point out his errors.106 In general, though, the common Catholic and Orthodox commitment to the postapostolic period explains why 101. This fudges the historical fact that it was his father, Michael, who had actually recaptured the city from the Latins (Panteghini, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthapoulos,” 264 n. 54). 102. PG 145.620A. The summaries of the unwritten nineteenth and twentieth books mention the sixth and seventh “holy and ecumenical councils” (PG 145.617.A-B). 103. Norman P. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Washington, D.C., 1990), 1:157. 104. Gastgeber, “Die Kirchengeschichte des Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos,” 243. 105. Ibid., 245–246. On Flacius and his Catalogus, see the section “Eusebius in a Confessional Age” in chapter 6. 106. Gentz and Aland, “Die Quellen der Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus und ihre Bedeutung für die Konstituierung des Textes der älteren Kirchenhistoriker,” 105.


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Western translations of Nicephorus’s history into Latin and the edition of the work were undertaken under Catholic auspices.107 Modern assessments for a long time were fixated on the question of whether he had in fact merely reworked an anonymous work of church history from the early tenth century and then passed it off as his own, but the groundbreaking work of Günter Gentz, as revised by Winkelmann, has answered that question in Nicephorus’s favor.108

107. Gentz and Winkelmann, Die Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus und ihre Quellen, 192. 108. On the plagiarism charge, see the rebuttal of nineteenth-century charges in Gentz and Winkelmann, Die Kirchengeschichte des Nicephorus und ihre Quellen, 193–196.


Eusebius Rediscovered in Early Modernity Renaissance, Reformation, and the Republic of Letters

In February 1424, the Camaldolese monk, theologian, and humanist scholar Ambrogio Traversari wrote to his fellow Florentine humanist Niccolò de’ Niccoli and explained why he had been out of touch. For the past ten days, he said, he had been immersed in reading Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History: It is hardly possible to believe how struck I have been with this work. Though I had seen it previously in Latin it brought less pleasure to me than now when I have read it in the original language. In many places the author appears to have followed the Arian heresy, but I am delighted in the greatest way both with the majesty of his words and the charm of his eloquence. Above all ecclesiastical authors, at least the ones I have read, he is the greatest innovator in use of language. He displays great erudition in all the liberal disciplines. I was struck by many, indeed nearly all, the men whom history judged worthy, but especially Justin Martyr, Malchion, Clement of Alexandria, Pierius, Origen, and his followers Dionysius of Alexandria and Pamphilus, who loved him greatly.1

Traversari (1386–1439), who has been called the first humanist to devote his career to patristic studies, apparently learned Greek largely on his own, though the Byzantine diplomat-scholar Manuel Chrysoloras had already introduced knowledge of Greek while teaching in Florence in 1396–1397.2 It was a special pleasure for him to read Eusebius’s history in the original Greek because it had all but disappeared in the Latin West for the preceding thousand years, when the HE was available only in 1. Dated February 27, 1424, and cited in Stinger, Humanism and the Church Fathers, 138–139 (trans. Charles Stinger). My thanks to St. Thomas colleague Billy Junker for alerting me to this letter. 2. Stinger, “Italian Renaissance Learning and the Church Fathers,” 485–486.



Eusebius Rediscovered in Early Modernity

Rufinus’s translation and continuation. In the fifteenth century, manuscripts of the Greek original began to circulate in the West through such mediators as the Byzantine émigré Cardinal Bessarion, who possessed no less than three manuscripts of the HE, including the late tenth- or early eleventh-century manuscript that Eduard Schwartz named M, and which seems to have originated in the Greek monastic communities of southern Italy.3 Traversari tells us that what he found most impressive in Eusebius was his language and his respect for Christian scholarship, an evaluation that marks him out as the humanist he was. The fracturing of Western Christianity in the next century will lead to rather different reasons for reading Eusebius. The present chapter discusses how Eusebius and his book became resources for competing interpretations of the continuity between scripture and tradition and between Christianity’s ancient past and its present. We will begin with a general description of how humanist historiography compared and contrasted with ecclesiastical history or “sacred history” (historia sacra), to use a broader and long-established category sanctioned in the medieval period. Then we will review Eusebius’s appropriation by competing narratives of Christian history. We will conclude by discussing Eusebius’s standing in the celebrated “Republic of Letters” that grew out of confessional conflict and in some measure transcended it. As elsewhere in this book, we must depend on expert guides like Anthony Grafton, Eric Cochrane, Irena Backus, Jean-Louis Quantin, Simon Ditchfield, Jean-Marie Le Gall, and others to help us understand the explosion of interest in history and historical writing, beginning in the fifteenth century with the recovery of classical literature and the historiographical innovations of Renaissance humanism, and followed in the sixteenth century by confessionally shaped historiography. T H E E C C L E S IAST I C A L H I ST ORY A N D R E NA I S S A N C E H UM A N I SM : H UM A N I ST H I ST O R IO G R A P H Y A N D S AC R E D H I ST O RY

Ever since Jacob Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, “Renaissance humanism” has been taken to mean a clean break from the “Middle Ages,” a category the Renaissance itself invented,4 to describe the sense that a return to some3. On M, see the section “The Manuscript Tradition as Reception History” in chapter 2. M is now in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, along with Bessarion’s other two copies of the HE (respectively they are Marciana gr. 338, Marciana gr. 339, and Marciana gr. 337). On Bessarion’s library of Greek manuscripts, see Lotte Labowsky, Bessarion’s Library and the Biblioteca Marciana: Six Early Inventories, Sussidi eruditi 31 (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1979). 4. Note humanist historian Flavio Biondo’s role in fostering this periodization in terms of both politics and literature, as discussed in Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 34–39.

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thing old and pre-Christian, had led to something new and distinctively modern, a fresh valuation of the “profane” world at the expense of the religious or sacred world. The thesis may apply with special force to the humanists’ innovative approach to historiography.5 (Recall Burckhardt’s censure of Eusebius as “the first thoroughly dishonest historian in antiquity.”) For all the exaggeration in Burckhardt’s overall interpretation, and the self-serving periodization claims of the humanists themselves, where the writing of history in the fifteenth to seventeenth century is concerned, it still seems broadly correct, albeit with qualifications. First, we cannot overlook the degree to which humanist historians might also see themselves as Christians who were putting their talents and methods to work in the reform of Christianity; second, religious material did in fact find a place in humanist history; and third, the writing of sacred history could incorporate some of those humanist methods for its own purposes, and therefore also constituted a break with medieval precedent.6 What was innovative about humanist historiography? In his powerful synthesis of historical writing in the Italian Renaissance, Eric Cochrane says, “Like Minerva, humanist historiography was born fully grown,” in the form of Leonardo Bruni’s History of the People of Florence (1449), which embodied the features that would typify humanist historiography for the next century and a half.7 It would be imitative of classical models such as the Roman historian Livy or the Greek historian Thucydides. It would include speeches reflective of the mind and motives of the protagonists and of the causes of events. It would aspire to be useful, as judged by its capacity to inculcate prudence in the conduct of affairs. To be useful, it therefore also needed to be truthful, to the degree that it was possible to check sources. It would be didactic, which for humanists meant it needed to be eloquent, in order to persuade and charm the reader. It would be monographic in form, meaning focused on a single theme, in Bruni’s case the rise of Florence to power and prominence. The preferred subject matter was thus the life of a community in its political and often its military vicissitudes, and the role of civic humanism in sustaining it. Summarized in this fashion, humanist historiography was an explicit return to the very classical model from which Eusebius had deviated when he wrote his Ecclesiastical History and thereby launched a whole new historical genre, beginning with 5. See most recently Albert Schirrmeister, “Historiography,” in Manfred Landfester, ed., Brill’s New Pauly: The Reception of Antiquity in Renaissance Humanism (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 219–225. 6. See the capsule generalizations in the preface to the recent collection Sacred History, ed. van Liere, Ditchfield, and Louthan, v–vii. This set of papers by leading authorities on their respective topics has shaped the approach of the present chapter. The important new collection Confessionalization and Erudition in Early Modern Europe, ed. Hardy and Levitin, appeared too late to fully benefit this book. But the present chapter draws on recent work by several of its contributors. 7. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 3. For what follows, see 3–9.


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his eschewal of invented speeches in favor of massive quotation. Typical features of “ecclesiastical history” seem almost diametrically opposed to some of the distinctive contributions to historical writing that Cochrane credited humanist historiography with making: an assumption of an unchanging doctrinal continuity from the apostolic period to the present, versus an informed awareness of the difference between past and present; a providentialist conception of a universal history of salvation from demonic powers of evil, versus the distinction between myth and fact and the elimination of the transcendent and the supernatural as active forces in human affairs; the history of a new people superseding all previous national distinctions, versus the monographic focus on a particular community.8 Humanist historiography called for a conception of causal change as well as mere chronological succession in time (recall Eusebius’s reliance on diachronic measures like dynastic and episcopal succession). Yet another contrast is the profound humanist commitment to eloquence, a quality that, Ambrogio Traversari’s praise notwithstanding, few would attribute to the HE and that sixteenth-century writers of ecclesiastical history, taking Eusebius as a model, would also (probably willfully) ignore.9 Nevertheless, as noted above, humanist historiography was by no means uninterested in subjects pertinent to ecclesiastical history.10 Humanist writers could be found even in the papal Curia in Rome, beginning with papal sponsors of humanism like Nicholas V (r. 1447–1455) and Pius II (r. 1458–1464), known prior to his election as Enea Silvio Piccolomini and an important humanist historian in his own right, and marked by works like Bartolomeo Platina’s Lives of the Popes (1479), which redid the Liber Pontificalis according to humanist principles.11 Lorenzo Valla (1407–1457) is famous for his exposé of the Donation of Constantine as a medieval forgery. Others had denied it before him, but Valla showed on philological grounds that the account of Constantine’s delegation of imperial authority to Pope Silvester was written in an anachronistic medieval Latin whose grammar, syntax, and diction did not reflect the literary and juridical language of the fourth century. Recent scholarship recognizes the importance that theological motives played in Valla’s critique.12 He wanted to criticize the entire imperial ideology of what modern critics of Eusebius will call “Constantinianism,” and the papal supremacy that was its (medieval Western) ecclesiological corollary, in order to return the church and the 8. See Cochrane’s summary at the end of his long study, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 493. 9. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 469–471. Eusebius was by no means unacquainted with the conventions of ancient rhetoric, as the panegyric literature on Constantine demonstrates. 10. Grafton, “Church History in Early Modern Europe, 8–15. 11. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 34–58 (53–56 on Platina’s Lives of the Popes). 12. Camporeale, “Lorenzo Valla’s Oratio on the Pseudo-Donation of Constantine.”

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pope as vicar of Christ to their true gospel mission: “But Christ’s message stated an unbridgeable opposition between evangelium and imperium,” as one commentator has written, noting the role that Eusebius and Rufinus’s Ecclesiastical History played in shaping Valla’s picture of the fourth century. Valla’s speech—the literary form in which he presented his critique of the Donation is a lengthy oration—is a “humanist’s counter-manifesto” that suggested “an internal reorientation of traditional ecclesiology about the history and nature of the church.”13 It is helpful to remember that this use of the apostolic period as a measure to criticize what came after Constantine appeared eighty years before Luther’s excommunication,14 though it did earn Valla a ban from Rome and in 1444 an inquisitorial trial in Naples where he lived, from which royal intervention saved him. Few went as far as Valla, who did make his peace with the pope in 1447 and eventually became a papal scribe and finally papal secretary. But humanist interest in early Christianity was certainly not limited to him or to well-known public intellectuals like Erasmus, who depended heavily on book 6 of Eusebius’s HE for his information on the life of Origen, which stood as a preface to Erasmus’s edition of Origen’s works.15 Anthony Grafton has observed that Valla’s contemporary Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459), friend of Leonardo Bruni and former student of Greek teacher Manuel Chrysoloras, cast his sympathetic description of Hussite heretic Jerome of Prague’s execution at the Council of Constance in 1416 in martyrological conventions made famous by Eusebius’s HE.16 The generalization that humanist historiography avoided ecclesiastical history must also recognize instances in which such historical writing did treat religious material, as David Collins has shown with respect to humanist histories in Germany. Reviewing the work of half a dozen authors of patriotic histories of Germany or German regions and localities, he argues that their use of religious historical source material and their coverage of religious artifacts and monuments point to a less rigid distinction between profane and sacred history.17 Sacred history itself could not be unaffected by the cultural and religious changes of the early modern period. Anthony Grafton mentions as innovations in ecclesiastical history such changes as collaborative research work on a much broader scale than was previously possible, book production possibilities enabled by the printing press, and a much deeper interest in the Jewish world of the time of Jesus marked by knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and other Semitic languages, all ways in which ecclesiastical history of the period went beyond Eusebius.18 The 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Ibid., 19–26, at 19 and 25. Grafton, “Church History in Early Modern Europe,” 8. Published posthumously in 1536: den Boeft, “Erasmus and the Church Fathers,” 568–569. Grafton, “Church History in Early Modern Europe,” 9–10. Collins, “Germania illustrata, Humanist History, and the Christianization of Germany.” Grafton, “Church History in Early Modern Europe,” 19–25.


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ambitious historiographical program undertaken by Cesare Baronio (1538–1607) in his Annales ecclesiastici (1588–1607) cast a very wide net in defining what should be included in sacred history. In so doing he aspired to a total history of the institutional church, for the sake of proving its strict continuity through time, and thus modeled (unwittingly) the inclusive history, historia integra, that a forward-looking theoretician of history like François Baudouin (1520–1573) was calling for.19 Recent trends in scholarship on historia sacra have made it more difficult to assess that impact than the stark contrast between humanist historiography and Eusebian ecclesiastical history with which we began may suggest. The interpretive approach that culminated in Cochrane’s synthesis treated sacred history as something quite distinct from humanist historical writing, but still as a form of history that adopted humanist methods for the new purposes of fighting heresy and offered a more authentic and accurate history, with the Jesuits giving it special favor in their educational program.20 But the work of contemporary scholars, such as Giuseppe Guazzelli, Simon Ditchfield, and others, has complicated this picture. They argue that it is a mistake to equate historia sacra with “ecclesiastical history” in the narrower sense in which we have used it in this book. Yes, it meant the church and its history. But, as it had throughout the medieval period, it also meant the Bible and biblical history, saints’ lives, episcopal lists, the history of religious orders, and so on, an inclusive breadth that is proven by the range of titles included in Catholic libraries and book collections under the catchall heading of “ecclesiastical history.”21 Simon Ditchfield has argued that such writing continued without significant change in genres inherited from the medieval period, and chiefly served purposes internal to the Catholic Church: the life of piety and spirituality, practical governance and clerical and lay discipline, local, regional, and national religious traditions, and so on, rather than polemical purposes ad extra.22 If humanist historiography appealed to Cicero’s much-quoted tag historia magistra vitae (history as the teacher of life), sacred history, Ditchfield points out, could reformulate that as historia magistra sanctitatis: the purpose of history must be the spiritual wellbeing of the soul.23 The failure of modern scholarship to see this has led to an anachronistic distinction between history and hagiography that Cesare Baronio and his contemporaries would not have recognized.24

19. As cited in Grafton, What Was History? 105–107. See also Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan of the Magdeburg Centuries,” 262–264, 269–270. 20. Cochrane, History and Historical Writing in the Italian Renaissance, 447–478. 21. See the terminological analysis in Ditchfield, “What Was Sacred History?,” 74–85. 22. Ibid. 23. Ditchfield, “ ‘Historia magistra sanctitatis’?” 24. Ibid., 172–173, 184 nn. 64–65, noting Cochrane’s work in particular, and citing the review of Cochrane by Sam Cohn in History and Theory 22 (1983): 222–227.

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Characterizing Protestant views on ecclesiastical history is not any easier. Euan Cameron has recently written that where Protestant historiography is concerned, there was no “sacred” history, insofar as Protestants denied that the sacred could be partitioned off from the rest of worldly experience, since God had already consecrated everything in Creation: “Protestant history was always ‘ecclesiastical history’, the history of the ecclesia, the congregation, the community living its religious life.”25 This seems to square with characterizations of the views of Philip Melanchthon, who distinguished between political and profane history, and sacred or ecclesiastical history, while seeing them as necessarily joined under God’s undivided providential sway; therefore in his view they should be studied together.26 It is less clear that it applies to Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520–1575) and his collaborators in the work commonly known as the Magdeburg Centuries but formally titled Ecclesiastical History, which drew a strict line between ecclesiastical history and anything else, since only ecclesiastical history was of real consequence.27 Protestant histories will look to early Christianity to find where the rot set in after the apostolic age (the pontificate of Gregory the Great, 590–604, will be a favorite target). Catholic histories will want to prove that the Catholic Church today is the same as it has always been. Eusebius’s ecclesiastical history and his theo-political vision will be a useful resource for both. A surprise for this writer was discovering the tremendous esteem in which Protestant authorities held Constantine, and Constantine as Eusebius had preserved him—consider Irena Backus’s remark that Melanchthon’s reverence for Constantine “is probably the single most revealing feature of his approach to Christian Antiquity.” He admired him because of Constantine’s vigor in repressing heresy and his precedent-setting calling of the Council of Nicaea, which Melanchthon celebrated over against Catholic efforts to interject the papacy into the history of the councils.28 E U SE B I U S I N A C O N F E S SIO NA L AG E : F R OM H UM A N I S T R E T R I EVA L T O T H E W E A P O N I Z I N G O F E C C L E SIA ST IC A L H I ST O RY

Hard on the heels of the Western Christian rediscovery of Eusebius’s Greek original came the invention of printing. Publishers were quick to produce printed versions of Rufinus’s ancient translation and continuation, several of which had 25. Cameron, “Primitivism, Patristics, and Polemic in Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 29. 26. See, e.g., Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity in the Era of the Reformation, 326–343, on Philip Melanchthon and his protégé David Chytraeus. 27. Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity in the Era of the Reformation, 343–345; and below. 28. Ibid., 334–335.


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already appeared by the end of the fifteenth century.29 Once they had access to the Greek original, new Latin and vernacular translations also began to appear.30 The first edition of the Greek text of the HE was published in 1544 by the Parisian publisher Robert Estienne (Stephanus), with financial support from the French king, Francis I. Besides the HE, this edition—a product of the printer’s art that “has never been equaled” for its magnificence31—included the Greek texts of the Life of Constantine and of the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Theodoret, Sozomen, and Evagrius, along with selections from Theodore the Reader. Recent studies have tracked the fitful process by which humanistic interest in philology and history gradually gave way to dogmatic and confessional motives in recovering ancient Greek ecclesiastical history.32 The preface to the Alsatian humanist Beatus Rhenanus’s 1523 edition of Latin translations of Greek church historians bears witness to its humanist orientation and to Beatus’s esteem for Eusebius.33 After paying respect to the unique appeal of the subject matter found in the pagan histories of Latin and Greek authors like Livy, Sallust, and Thucydides, Beatus expresses surprise that equal regard is not given to authors of ecclesiastical history, “of whom the first (princeps) is Eusebius of Caesarea, not only most learned but also most eloquent,” to read whom benefits anyone who would acquire competence in sacred literature and Christian history. “Is it not,” he asks, “of great importance to know what was done in the Church after Christ, by the Apostles and by apostolic men, whose deeds (gesta) he not only narrates for us, but whose written monuments (monimenta) he provides as well, sole survivals from their enormous volumes, though sufficient to show us the quality of what the negligence of our predecessors allowed to perish?”34 Martin Wallraff points out that there is a “nearly total lack of theological motifs” in this preface—Eusebius’s value in preserving so much of what would otherwise have been lost far outweighs what-

29. Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke im 16. Jahrhundert,” 226. 30. Ibid., with table of early translations and editions; 225–234 for discussion, on which I depend; 256–260, summary with full publication information for first editions and Latin translations of late ancient ecclesiastical histories from the sixteenth century. 31. Schwartz, “Einleitung,” GCS 2.3:XLIII. 32. See Backus, The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West, vol. 2, cited hereafter as RCFW 2. Papers in the new collection of Hardy and Levitin, Confessionalization and Erudition in Early Modern Europe, show where scholarship has moved since the landmark work of Backus. 33. Under the title of Autores historiae ecclesiasticae, it was frequently republished, expanded, and amended. 34. Cited in Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 227, my trans. On Rhenanus’s humanist approach to and use of ecclesiastical history, see John F. D’Amico, Theory and Practice in Renaissance Textual Criticism: Beatus Rhenanus between Conjecture and History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 143–172.

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ever opprobrium may be alleged against his Origenism and his dalliance with Arianism.35 As the sixteenth century progressed, a humanist orientation like that of Beatus Rhenanus became harder to maintain in the adversarial climate created by the Reformation. Humanist practices and principles, such as the historiographical privileging of a primitive, purer time, and the critical examination of sources, by no means disappeared. But they were increasingly overshadowed or even subverted by a conception of ecclesiastical history that was apocalyptic, doctrinal, providentialist, and polemical in its assumptions and point of view.36 One can see the difference in method and purpose between these two mentalities even when writers shared a common religious faith, as did Protestants François Baudouin and Flacius Illyricus.37 Flacius had consulted Baudouin when he was planning the Magdeburg Centuries and was grateful to get his expert advice. But as the massive book began to emerge from Flacius’s workshop, Baudouin distanced himself from it on methodological and ideological grounds: it contradicted his humanist understanding of historiography and undercut his irenic hopes for the ecumenical potential of ecclesiastical history.38 Eusebius was useful to writers of ecclesiastical history on grounds that both approaches, the humanist and the confessional, could share—all, that is, save an apocalyptic interpretation of church history that sees it as a perpetual battle with the enemy within, who is identified with the Antichrist. Unsurprisingly, both Catholic and Protestant writers will prize Eusebius in part for his preservation of early sources outside the Bible itself, when those sources bear on hot-button topics such as doctrine, church order, religious practice, or exegesis. Irenaeus, for example, had been virtually unknown in the Middle Ages. But once his book Against Heresies began to circulate (in its Latin translation), it quickly drew intense attention because of his witness to apostolic succession at Rome in particular, to the biblical canon, to the controversy over Easter, and to the Eucharist, interest that even the eventual discovery of the millenarian doctrine of the lost book 5 of Against Heresies did not diminish.39 (Eusebius of course had already noted—and 35. Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 228. Irena Backus, “Calvin’s Judgment of Eusebius of Caesarea,” 420, observes that Beatus was in no position to comment on Eusebius’s supposed eloquence, since he did not yet have the Greek original. 36. The thesis of Cameron regarding Protestant historiography; see his “Primitivism, Patristics, and Polemic in Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 45 and passim. 37. Despite his serious involvement in Protestantism—he was for a time Calvin’s secretary— Baudouin eventually returned to the Catholic Church before his death: Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan for the Magdeburg Centuries,” 255–256 n. 7. 38. Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan for the Magdeburg Centuries,” 268–270. 39. Discussion of Irenaeus as contested territory in Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 131–152, on which I depend.


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criticized—his millenarianism; see HE 3.39.13.) Irenaeus’s first editor was Erasmus, who (characteristically) prized Irenaeus for his role as a peacemaker in the second-century debates over the date of Easter, for which Eusebius’s dossier in HE 5.23–25 was essential testimony. Subsequent editions, however, “came to resemble arsenals of Catholic and Protestant propaganda.”40 Irenaeus’s rebuke (and Eusebius’s endorsement of that rebuke) of the high-handed policy of Bishop Victor of Rome in excommunicating churches of Asia (at Eus. HE 5.24.9–18) naturally appealed to Protestant critics of papal overreach—Flacius, for example, in his treatise the Catalogus testium veritatis (Catalogue of the Witnesses of the Truth), a sort of Protestant version of Jerome’s De viris illustribus.41 Eusebius offered important if problematic testimony for the biblical canon. While in general supporting both a Hebrew canon of the Old Testament and the Protestant tendency to find a canon within the New Testament canon, Eusebius also demonstrated the determinative role of human authority in the canonical process. Considering the importance Thomas More attached to the priority of the church in determining scripture, and what that implied about the relationship between scripture and tradition, I was surprised to find no mention in More’s works of Eusebius’s discussion of the canon.42 Eusebius’s inductive method— citing earlier church writers to prove which books were recognized and which were not—should have appealed to More the humanist. Perhaps More the defender of authority and tradition found Eusebius’s candid admission of fuzzy boundaries not helpful to his argument. Eusebius was also invoked as an authority in the burgeoning debates over apocryphal literature. The ongoing popularity of what we now call the New Testament Apocrypha ensured that both Lutherans and Catholics continued to publish editions that were marked by mixed levels of critical insight and gross credulity. Eusebius was useful as a witness to garnish editions that plumped for the credibility, or at least the pious acceptability, of such writings as the highly popular Lives of the Apostles, attributed in places to a supposed “Abdias, bishop of Babylonia”—for example, the appeal of a Catholic editor of said work, Friedrich Nausea (ca. 1490–1552), to the author’s 40. Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 134. 41. Cited by Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 348–349. Simon Goulart’s revision of the Catalogue drew similar attention to Victor’s action (ibid., 353), as did Calvinist Jean Crespin’s similarly designed Bibliotheca studii theologici (Library of Theological Study), a guide to reading the Fathers (ibid., 207). The episode was appealing in part because of its antiquity. Similarly John Foxe, starting with the 1570 edition of the Acts and Monuments (, accessed March 22, 2019). 42. See, for example, More’s argument for the historical priority of the church and Its tradition to the New Testament canon in his 1529 Dialogue Concerning Heresies 1.30–31, which reprises Augustine’s famous anti-Manichean dictum that he would not believe the gospel itself if the church hadn’t told him to. More would certainly have known Rufinus’s Latin version of the HE. I could see no evidence that he knew the Greek original or for that matter any other of Eusebius’s works.

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reliance for source material on Eusebius, gravissimus author.43 More critical Catholic voices, like that of Robert Bellarmine, in his own version of a reader’s guide called De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, rejected Pseudo-Abdias’s Lives as fabulous and unhistorical. But Bellarmine was pleased to use Eusebius in his defense, for example, of the authenticity of the seven letters of Ignatius of Antioch mentioned by Eusebius in HE 3.36.44 On doctrinal grounds, though, Bellarmine held Eusebius in scant regard and expressed his amazement for the respect he commanded among some contemporaries, in view of ancient testimonies to his Arian advocacy.45 Luther used Eusebius’s HE in Rufinus’s version (which included the Council of Nicaea) to argue that the council fathers had presumed the equality of the patriarchates, and that Roman supervision was meant to extend only to the Italian and suburbicarian churches (i.e., the seven dioceses near Rome).46 That testimony mattered to Luther early in his career, when he was defending the thirteenth of his Ninety-Five Theses. By the same token, he could blame Eusebius as a prime culprit in his attack on the fourfold meaning of scripture, which Luther opposed and thought originated in Alexandrian (Origenist) allegory.47 At Strasbourg shortly after 1536, Martin Bucer began assembling a patristic florilegium intended to close the gap between the Bible and the earliest centuries. In response to the accusation that the Reformers had introduced a canon within the canon, he appealed to Eusebius’s testimony in HE 3.26 (currently HE 3.25) regarding the secondary status of, for instance, the Letter of James, 2 Peter, and the book of Revelation, relative to the four Gospels and the fourteen letters of Paul.48 The florilegium was meant to be a guide, “a practical theology and canon law source-book,” for governance of reformed churches. Among the headings for the florilegium, no. 5, “Primacy of the Roman Church,” featured extracts from Eusebius-Rufinus, the Historia tripartita, and Cyprian. The Strasbourg church ordinances of 1534 “dictated that every parish library should contain a copy of Eusebius-Rufinus and the Tripartita . . . for the use of pastors,” a stipulation unique to Strasbourg.49 Calvin, while a trained humanist with access to Rufinus’s Latin translation and the Greek original of the HE, as well 43. Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 292–321 (citation from Nausea at 301 n. 136). 44. Ibid., 227–232. Bellarmine was willing to accept five other letters attributed to Ignatius that are now rejected as apocryphal, while recognizing the superior value of Eusebius’s evidence for the seven genuine letters (229). 45. De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, 104–105, based on Athanasius and Jerome (cited from the online edition, published originally in 1613 ( /philologic/DLCR/navigate/602/3/5/3/, accessed March 26, 2019). 46. Schulze, “Martin Luther and the Church Fathers,” 599. 47. Ibid., 616. 48. Backus, “Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, and the Church Fathers,” 646–647. 49. Ibid., 655.


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as to Jerome’s version of the Chronicle and the PE and the DE, did not share Beatus’s respect for Eusebius as a historical authority. As Irena Backus has shown in her study of Calvin’s mostly opportunistic approach to Eusebius, Calvin could hail him as “one of ours,” while savaging him as “worse than foolish” for offering not one but two Jewish interpretations of the historical identity of the “anointed one” prophesied in Daniel 9:25.50 John Foxe and the Acts and Monuments Reformation England proved to be fertile soil for planting new seedlings of ecclesiastical history, to serve contending religious programs in an England buffeted by rapid and jarring royally directed changes.51 John Jewel, bishop of London, preached a sermon in 1559 that appealed to historia sacra to argue that Protestants, not Catholics, had the better claim to antiquity.52 Meredith Hanmer, a Puritan translator of Eusebius’s HE, extended Eusebius’s narrative up to AD 600, that being a favorite date for marking when English Christianity took a fatal turn, thanks to the pontificate of Pope Gregory the Great (r. 590–604), blamed (wrongly) for mandating clerical celibacy and for the mission of Augustine of Canterbury, which imposed the papal incubus on English Christianity.53 Catholics answered with works like Catholic priest Thomas Stapleton’s English translation of Bede’s History of the English Church and People, published as The History of the Church of England in 1565.54 A crucial role was played by Matthew Parker, Elizabeth’s first archbishop of Canterbury, in collecting and preserving literary resources bearing on English history, including Anglo-Saxon literature. Charged with the duty of establishing an ecclesia anglicana on new—allegedly old—foundations, Parker “necessarily had both national and ecclesiastical motives” for his ambitious collection of medieval books. Whatever originally confessional intent inspired him, recent work shows how his historical project imitated “both ancient and contemporary historical methodologies” in the handling of sources.55 We noted in chapter 4 Parker’s interest in William of Malmesbury and Bede as historians of things English—including William’s allusion to Bede’s having translated the Gospel of John into the English language.56

50. Backus, “Calvin’s Judgment of Eusebius of Caesarea,” 430. 51. Oates, “Elizabethan Histories of English Christian Origins.” See now McMahon, “Matthew Parker and the Practice of Church History.” 52. Oates, “Elizabethan Histories of English Christian Origins,” 170. 53. Ibid., 169, 171, 181–182. 54. Ibid., 171–173. 55. McMahon, “Matthew Parker and the Practice of Church History,” 118–119. 56. Ibid., 137.

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The outstanding entry in England’s historiographical competition was John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. Foxe (1517–1587)57 was an Oxford graduate, forced, like many other Protestants, to leave England during the reign of the Catholic queen Mary (1553–1558). During his years of exile in Strasbourg, Frankfurt, and Basel, he made valuable contacts, most importantly a renewed connection with friend and fellow English Protestant John Bale, whose vision of church history influenced him deeply, imparting what would be Foxe’s lifelong interest in prophecy and the book of Revelation, and in martyrology (“Bale’s influence on Foxe was like a torch touched to dry kindling”).58 Through Bale, in Basel Foxe made the acquaintance of Matthias Flacius and the future creators of the Protestant ecclesiastical history known as the Magdeburg Centuries. At that time, Flacius was busy printing his influential treatise Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth, at the Basel press of Johannes Oporinus (1507–1568). Bale and Foxe were very likely employed in correcting Flacius’s text, which would become an essential resource for documenting medieval opposition to the papacy in Foxe’s own Acts and Monuments, as well as what has been called the “imperial theme” in Foxe, the glorification of royal power in the defense of the true church against clerical tyranny.59 Foxe began work on his book almost immediately after returning to England following the death of Queen Mary. Notable was the decision to write not in Latin but in English, partly to satisfy John Day, Foxe’s printer, but also at the instigation of Foxe’s new patron, William Cecil, chief adviser to Queen Elizabeth, who had an eye on the profit potential as well as the propaganda value of a new Protestant martyrology in English.60 The 1570 Convocation meeting of the bishops and higher clergy at Canterbury resolved that the 1570 edition should be placed in cathedral churches and in the houses of archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, and deacons.61 Eusebius’s HE, and also the Life of Constantine, were integral to the intent, the method, and the content of Foxe’s book, starting with Foxe’s massive deployment of documentation and his adoption of Eusebius’s grand narrative, “the replication of the Eusebian story in the entire history of the church.”62 The first edition in 1563 57. See Freeman, “John Foxe: a Biography,” section 1, in The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online (, accessed February 16, 2019). 58. Evenden and Freeman, Religion and the Book in Early Modern England, 38–39, 61–62, 73–79, 123–124. 59. Ibid., 76. The “imperial theme” reference is to Yates, Astraea, which considers Foxe at 42–50. 60. Evenden and Freeman, Religion and the Book in Early Modern England, 101–104; 102–134, on the making of the first edition. 61. Yates, Astraea, 43 n. 3. 62. Collinson, “John Foxe as Historian,” section 3.3, in The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online (, accessed February 19, 2019). On Eusebius’s influence, see Pucci, “Reforming Roman Emperors”; Minton, “ ‘The Same Cause and Like Quarell’ ”; and Collinson, “John Foxe as Historian.”


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conveyed a fulsome dedication to Queen Elizabeth, whom he compared to Constantine, of supposed English origin through his mother, Helena, and whose ending of Roman persecution of Christianity foreshadowed Elizabeth’s ending of the persecution of Protestants under Mary. A woodcut for the 1563 edition shows Elizabeth enthroned in the middle of a massive initial letter C that begins the name of Constantine, with three men to her right: William Cecil, Foxe himself, and his printer, John Day: he would be to Elizabeth what Eusebius was to Constantine, the emperor and the bishop-historian as models of royal beneficence and pastoral discretion (see the frontispiece of this book): Constantine the greate and mightie Emperour, the sonne of Helene an Englyshe woman of this youre Realme and countrie (moste Christian and renowmed Pryncesse Queene Elizabeth), after he had pacified and established the churche of Christ, being long before under persecution . . . and comming in his progresse at length to a citie called Caesaria, (where Eusebius wryter of the Ecclesiasticall story was then placed Byshop) required of the sayde Eusebius upon his owne free motion, to demaund and aske of him what so ever he thought expediēt or neceßary for the state and commoditie of his Churche. . . . But the good and godly Byshop, more nedy than gredy, more spiritually geven, then worldly minded, who had learned rather to take a little, thē to ask much . . . made this petition, onely to obtaine at his maiesties hande, under his seale and letters autentique, free leave and license through al the monarchie of Rome . . . to searche out the names, sufferings, and actes, of all such as suffered in al that time of persecution before, for the testimonie and faith of Christ Iesus. . . . In which Historie (most excellent and noble Queene), twoo thynges put me in a variable doubt, whether of these two rather to cōmend and extolle: the good Emperour for his rare and syngular affection in fauouring and furtherynge the Lordes churche, or the Byshoppe in zealyng the publique busines of the Lorde, before the priuate lucre of hym selfe. Certes in bothe together may to us appeare, what all maner estates may learne to knowe: not onelye what in those dayes was done, but also what ought nowe to be followed.63

In later editions of the Acts and Monuments (1570, 1576, 1583), many of the parallels between Elizabeth and Constantine were removed, as hopes for a fully reformed English church waned and with them Foxe’s enthusiasm for Elizabeth. But he retained his admiration for Constantine: he proudly presented “the narration of the noble actes and heauenlye vertues of this most famous Emperour Constātine the great: a singular spectacle for all christian Princes to beholde & immitate, and worthy of perpetual memory in al cōgregations of Christian 63. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online; Minton, “ ‘The Same Cause and Like Quarell,’ ” 737. Foxe is referring to Eusebius’s politic decline of the call by the church at Antioch to become its new bishop (Eus. VC 3.61–63).

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saynctes.”64 This “singular spectacle” was represented best of all for Foxe, as it had been for Eusebius, in the typological fulfillment of the death of Pharaoh in the book of Exodus through the drowning of Maxentius and his troops at the Milvian Bridge, to save God’s captive people: As it has now by the grace of God, comming out of this red sea of bloody persecution, leauing Pharao and his host behinde: let vs sing gloriously to þe worthy name of our God, who through the blood of the lambe, after long & tedious afflictiōs at length, hath visited his people with comfort, hath tyde vp Satan short, hath sent his meeke Moses (gentle Constantine I meane) by whom it hath so pleased the Lorde, to woorke deliuerance to his captiue people, to set his seruants at liberty, to turne theyr mourning into ioy, to magnify the church of his sonne, to destroy the idoles of all the world, to graunt life and liberty (and woulde God also not so muche riches) vnto them which before wer the abiectes of all the world: & al by the meanes of godlye Constātinus, the meeke & most Christian Emperour.65

Eusebius’s importance for Foxe only grew. The 1563 edition had begun with the year 1000. Later editions took the story back to the beginning of Christianity, and for those early centuries Eusebius was perforce his major source, often being used verbatim.66 But the disappointment with Elizabeth’s church program meant that Foxe could not adopt Eusebius’s fixation on the church of the bishops as the vehicle for continuity. He must instead frame his account as the struggle between the true church and the false church, the apocalyptic motif that, as we have seen, separated Protestant historiography from its humanistic origins:67 “Now for somuch as the true Church of God goeth not lightly alone, but is accōpanied with some other Church or Chappell of the deuill to deface and maligne the same, necessary it is therefore, the difference betwene them to be sene, and the descent of the right Church to be described from the Apostles time.”68 The preface to the 1570 edition is addressed now to “The True and Faithfull Congregation of Christes universall Church, with all and singular the members thereof, wheresoeuer congregated, or

64. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online; Pucci, “Reforming Roman Emperors,” 30, 50. 65. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online; Pucci, “Reforming Roman Emperors,” 32. Foxe refers to Eusebius, HE 9.9.4–8, reprised in VC 1.38–39. 66. Minton, “ ‘The Same Cause and Like Quarell,’ ” 717. The online edition of the Acts and Monuments lists eighty-one citations of Eusebius in the 1570 edition, mostly of the HE but also the VC and the Chronicle. 67. Minton, “ ‘The Same Cause and Like Quarell,’ ” 737–741; on the alternative between episcopal continuity and true church/false church discontinuity, see Collinson, “John Foxe as Historian,” section 3.3. 68. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online.


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dispersed through the Realme of England.”69 Book 1 of the 1570 edition ends with a meditation on the book of Revelation and the baptism and death of Constantine— and the binding of Satan for the next thousand years, until the time of John Wycliffe and John Hus: “At which tyme it so pleased the almighty, that the murdering malice of Satan should at length be restrayned, and he him selfe to bee tyed vp for a thousande yeares, through his great mercy in Christ, to whom therfore be thankes and prayse now and for euer. Amen.”70 The Magdeburg Centuries The honor of being the greatest exemplar of Protestant historiography belongs to the Magdeburg Centuries, the creation of “the implacable controversialist Matthias Flacius Illyricus . . . who provided Lutheran Christianity with its first confessional school of Church history.”71 Despite growing up in perpetual need of patrons, Flacius procured a fine linguistic training for himself, and by the age of twentyfour had already been made professor of Hebrew at Wittenberg in 1544, where Martin Luther presided at his wedding a year later. The humanist tool kit served the militant purposes of an inveterate controversialist in an age that had no lack of them. A Croatian by birth, hence “Illyricus,” Flacius was constantly on the move, to hunt up manuscripts to edit and books to collect, to seek refuge from wars, and to find a new home after his pugnacious style wore out his welcome at his old one. In the controversies that broke out among Lutherans after Luther’s death in 1546, he found it advisable in 1549 to vacate Wittenberg for Magdeburg, where he lived until 1557. There were subsequent residences in Jena, Regensburg, Strasbourg, Antwerp, and finally Frankfurt, where he died in 1575.

69. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online. An address to Elizabeth follows this call to the churches. 70. John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online. 71. Cameron, “Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 48. On Flacius and his team’s great work, I have consulted Norelli, “Authority Attributed to the Early Church in the Centuries of Magdeburg and in the Ecclesiastical Annals of Caesar Baronius”; Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 358–370 (also 343–358, on the earlier work, Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth); Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan of the Magdeburg Centuries,” 253–272; and Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 242–248. See now Bollbuck, Wahrheitszeugnis, Gottesauftrag, und Zeitkritik; and the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel project on “Historical Method and Working Techniques of the Magdeburg Centuries: Church History within an Erudite Network in the Sixteenth Century, with a Digitized Critical Edition of the Methodical Texts” ( /research/projects/historical-method-and-working-techniques-of-the-magdeburg-centuries.html, accessed January 26, 2019). I have consulted the 1562 edition of the Centuries, printed in Basel by the Johannes Oporinus press ( On Johannes Oporinus’s role in propagating the Centuries, see Hartmann, “Basler Drucker und Gelehrter in ihrer Bedeutung für Matthias Flacius Illyricus und für die Magdeburger Centuriatoren,” 238–243.

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But Magdeburg is where he became the initial organizer of the self-styled “Gnesio-Lutherans” (authentic Lutherans)72 over against the alleged compromisers in the camp of Philip Melanchthon, making the city celebrated as “Our Lord God’s chancellery” (Unseres Herrgotts Kanzlei).73 There he recruited a corps of collaborators who would be needed for the massive work of reading and excerpting documentation that he envisioned, his team being a signal instance of the large-scale collaborative system that Anthony Grafton pointed to as something new in ecclesiastical history, “the first expensive, grant-supported historical enterprise in modern times,”74 though the library and scriptorium75 at Caesarea had certainly enabled the collaborative compositional approach Eusebius himself had taken long before. Flacius can be called the “author” of the Centuries only in the very limited sense of his role as chief inspirer, initial organizer, and editor, though immediate authority was in the hands of a council of four or five governors (in which he seems to have had something like ex officio status), assisted by inspectors, under whom the readers and copyists worked to read and excerpt primary sources, assembled from what would become a European-wide network, with its chief nodal points in Magdeburg and Vienna.76 Between 1559 and 1574, fourteen volumes eventually emerged, organized by centuries, through the thirteenth century, after which point only drafts were completed. Within each century, pertinent documentation was transcribed under fifteen, eventually sixteen, separate headings of loci communes, “commonplaces,” subdivided into two further categories, “General” and “Special.” The difficulties this format presented both to readers and to compilers have been noted ever since. The use of the centuries scheme and the loci communes in lieu of a chronological structure and a factual narrative allowed Flacius and his collaborators to avoid a possibly embarrassing privileging of major church centers as narrative focal points, in the manner of Eusebius—as Catholic critic Conradus Brunus or Braun (1491–1563) observed.77 I will forbear listing the 72. According to Diener, “Magdeburg Centuries,” originally a pejorative term, probably coined in Wittenberg. 73. Hartmann, “Basler Drucker und Gelehrter,” 232; details on Flacius’s life from her article. The hostility of his fellow Lutherans is memorably portrayed in an altarpiece by Lucas Cranach the Younger in the Johanneskirche in Dessau: in the representation of the Last Supper, Luther and Melanchthon sit at the table, while the figure of Judas on the other side bears a resemblance to Flacius (ibid., 225–226, citing Oliver K. Olson, Matthias Flacius and the Survival of Luther’s Reform [Wiesbaden, 2002], 190f.). On the self-description of the operation at Magdeburg as “Our Lord God’s Chancellery,” see Bollbuck, Wahrheitszeugnis, Gottesauftrag, und Zeitkritik, 45. 74. Grafton, What Was History? 112. 75. Supplemented by imperial grant money for biblical book production (Eus. VC 4.36). 76. Discussion of the organizational structure and division of labor in Bollbuck, Wahrheitszeugnis, Gottesauftrag, und Zeitkritik, 105–124; the European-wide network, 150–195. Diener, “Zur Methodik der Magdeburger Centurien,” would severely limit Flacius’s involvement in writing and organizing. 77. On Brunus, see Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 370–374.


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categories here,78 since they are summarized in the full title page of the Centuries, to which I now turn. As mentioned above, the proper title of the work is “Ecclesiastica Historia, the integral image of the Church of Christ (integram Ecclesiae Christi ideam), insofar as it touches on the place, the propagation, the persecution, the tranquility, the doctrine, the heresies, the ceremonies, the governance, the schisms, the synods, the persons, the miracles, the martyrdoms, the religions outside the Church, and the political condition of the Empire, arranged according to individual centuries in a clear ordering, collected with exemplary care and faith, from the oldest and best historians, fathers, and other writers.” The title thus declares the writers’ explicit ambition to link up with the genre initiated by Eusebius and his successors. The subjects itemized in the title make emphatically clear that this is not profane history. The tail-end reference to the political condition of the empire appears to be an after-the-fact concession to François Baudouin’s urging for a historia integra of the kind he believed was most needed and most appropriate, with discussions of law and secular history to provide context for ecclesiastical history. In later editions of the Centuries, De mutationibus politicis in Imperiis (On Political Changes in Empires) was added as a sixteenth to the original list of fifteen loci communes and was treated in more perfunctory fashion.79 It was not high in their priorities and dealt mostly with the papacy and the empire. What mattered above all was underlined in the Preface: the forma doctrinae, which by right, they say, should enjoy the primary place in ecclesiastical history, it being the core of the true church. Commentators80 agree that this is the red thread that the Centuriators saw as the empirical test by which the church of succeeding ages after Christ would show itself to be either the true church or the church of the Antichrist—the apocalyptic preoccupation that shaped their whole historiography, and the tracing of which was their chief purpose. In that respect, like John Foxe they too departed decisively from the salvationhistorical perspective of Eusebius, for whom the church of the bishops, by apostolic succession, was the link between the city of God in its pre-incarnational life in Israel and its consummation in the heavenly city of God.81 The Centuriators were well aware of their difference on this, while holding that “in this earth the

78. A table is printed in Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan for the Magdeburg Centuries,” 261. 79. Chapter 16 in the Methodus (Contents) of the 1562 edition ( id=njp.32101037006754&view=1up&seq=39, accessed January 29, 2021). See Lyon, “Baudouin, Flacius, and the Plan for the Magdeburg Centuries,” 264–265. 80. Norelli, “Authority Attributed to the Early Church,” 748–751; Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 361–364. 81. A general dilemma for Protestant historiography, as noted by Cameron, “Primitivism, Patristics, and Polemic in Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 31.

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Church of God is a visible community.”82 Their Preface explains that no one should think it an act of excessive boldness to wish to add to the work begun by “Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Nicephorus, Vincent, Martin, Nauclerus, Sabellicus, and countless others.” What is missing in them—and they single out Eusebius by name, for all that he is deservedly hailed as princeps in the genre of sacred history—is an awareness of the doctrinal sine qua non, the doctrine of justification: in HE 1.4, Eusebius scandalously grants those who lived before Christ the name of Christian, as though the virtues of the pagans, the philosophical cardinal virtues of modestia, justicia, temperantia, and fortitudo, were sufficient to make someone a Christian—with no mention of regeneration from sin and the justice that comes from faith in Christ, “as it were the very form itself of the Christian man.” One would search Eusebius’s entire historical corpus in vain to find a clear understanding of the articulus justificationis, qui in doctrina Christiana summus est.83 The view of history that results from this can only be a history of those who held the right view on justification versus those who did not—a “community” in the sense of those who shared the true doctrine: “Anticipating the objection that their work is too long and resembles a commentary more than a work of history, which is meant to be succinct by its very nature, they reply that they see their task as that or providing a methodical account of the main articles of faith which is the chief purpose of historia sacra. Just as profane history describes the actions of people so sacred history describes the actions of the Church which are its doctrines.”84 The chronological grid by centuries, and the topical grid by category, constitute both a filing system for the excerptors and a retrieval system for readers.85 Linking the two grids is a classically Lutheran dialectical view of history, a perpetual tug-of-war between the devil and his insertion of false doctrines, and a countermovement under the Word of God, culminating in the apocalyptic tensions of the authors’ own time, in which past and present are rushing toward the last days.86 In their coverage of the fourth century, the Centuriators produced a retrospective on Eusebius’s life, works, and doctrines, as they do later for other historians, 82. Ecclesia Dei visibilis in hac terra coetus sit (Praefatio of 1562 edition). Commentators note that this stance intentionally differs from the historiographical vision of Philip Melanchthon, who recommended that ecclesiastical history be integrated into universal history. See Cameron, “Primitivism, Patristics, and Polemic in Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 41–48; Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 326–343. 83. Praefatio of 1562 edition. I accept Euan Cameron’s suggestion of rendering idea as “image” (Cameron, “Primitivism, Patristics, and Polemic in Protestant Visions of Early Christianity,” 48). Cf. Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 245. 84. Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 363. Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 245, remarks that the Centuriators’ precedent meant that Protestantism would ever after equate church history with the history of doctrine. 85. Bollbuck, Wahrheitszeugnis, Gottesauftrag, und Zeitkritik, 366–370. 86. Ibid., 370–383 (on “dialectic and decadence”).


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an indication that they regarded Eusebius and his continuators as historical subjects in their own right and not just sources of citations.87 In Eusebius’s case, the volumes on the first three centuries had naturally used Eusebius very extensively. Their assessment of Eusebius is based on the Latin translations of his works that were available to them at the time of writing, with the names of the translators being included if known to them. They mention the edition of Rufinus’s version of the HE (said to be in nine books, because Rufinus had collapsed book 10 into book 9) published by Beatus Rhenanus, which we have referred to above, and the recent Latin translation by Wolfgang Musculus. They sneer at the contradictory assessment of Eusebius in the late sixth-century catalogue of acceptable books wrongly attributed to Pope Gelasius I, which first extends grudging praise to the HE (despite the Christology of book 1 and his sympathy for Origen) only to list it later among the Apocrypha. Besides the HE, they included the Preparation for the Gospel (PE), in fourteen books (to which is added a separately published fifteenth volume), which work they concede “is not free from the Arian plague,” because it was written before the Council of Nicaea; the Demonstration of the Gospel (DE), in ten books; the Chronicle as translated by Jerome; “five books” on the life of Constantine, the fifth being the address to the assembly of the saints that Eusebius had said he would add to the VC, also translated by Musculus and earlier by one Johannes Poroesius (and omitted, they note, by Jerome in On Illustrious Men); and one book against Hierocles—all of which they possessed. Then they list books mentioned by Jerome in On Illustrious Men88 that are not currently available to them, including the commentaries on Isaiah and on the Psalter. Unsurprisingly, they quote Jerome’s disapproval of Eusebius’s (alleged) resort to allegory in his Isaiah commentary whenever a historical explanation failed him, reflecting the general Protestant objection to nonliteral interpretation.89 The list certainly impressed the Centuriators as evidence of Eusebius’s breadth and learning. What they cared about most of course was doctrine, and much the larger part of their retrospective subjects his writings to their doctrinal grid and adds specific citations and quotations. Despite the acuteness of their sensitivity to real or supposed Arianism in Eusebius, their overall assessment is strikingly sympathetic and positive, and they end with Jerome’s warm appreciation of the charitable bond that linked Eusebius with his beloved patron Pamphilus, “who enjoyed a concord so great that you might think them two men with a single soul.”90

87. Cent. IV, cap. 10 (903.55–914.8). Cf. Wallraff, “Die Rezeption der spätantiken Kirchengeschichtswerke,” 248. 88. Cf. Jerome, De viris illustribus 81.2. 89. Cent. IV, cap. 10 (905.56–906.10). 90. Cent. IV, cap. 10 (914.28–37).

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Cesare Baronio and the Annales ecclesiastici: “Semper eadem” The official Catholic rebuttal to the Magdeburg Centuries was long in gestation but weighed in at the same massive scale, twelve great volumes published over two decades, 1588–1607, beginning with Christ and ending in the year 1198 only because of the death of its author, Cardinal Cesare Baronio (1538–1607).91 Baronio was from Campania, south of Rome, and had come to Rome as a young man in 1557 to finish degrees in both civil and canon law. There he joined the circle of devout clerics and laypeople gathered around the charismatic preacher Philip Neri (1515– 1595), who would found the order of secular priests known as the Congregation of the Oratory.92 Baronio joined them and was ordained a priest in 1564, eventually rising to such prominence that he would be elected in 1593 as Neri’s successor as superior general of the congregation. Early on, in 1558, he was tabbed by Neri to give regular talks on church history at afternoon gatherings. The purpose of those presentations was probably pastoral and apologetic (to promote piety and devotion) rather than as a dry run at responding to the Magdeburg Centuries, which began appearing the following year.93 By 1577 if not earlier, however, Baronio had begun work on “what everyone on either side of the confessional iron curtain expected to be the definitive Catholic response.”94 The impetus to do so was the gathering momentum for reform in the wake of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), reform being taken in hand by the Roman Curia and advancing on several fronts: uniformity of instruction (the Index of Prohibited Books, 1559, and the Roman Catechism, 1566), reform of priestly life (the Roman Breviary, 1568), and liturgical reform and uniformity (the Missale Romanum, 1570), the last of which also involved a new edition of the Roman Martyrology, the calendar of the saints’ and martyrs’ feast days throughout the year. Toward the end of 1580, Baronio became heavily involved in the curial commission working on the Martyrology.95 After helping choose which saints and martyrs would be included and writing their eulogies, Baronio was later asked by Cardinal Sirleto, who chaired the commission, to compose a documentary apparatus as well. A revised form of 91. I have consulted Guazzelli, “Cesare Baronio and the Roman Catholic Vision of the Early Church”; Ditchfield, “What Was Sacred History?”; Ditchfield, “ ‘Historia magistra sanctitatis’?”; Norelli, “Authority Attributed to the Early Church”; Backus, Historical Method and Confessional Identity, 375– 382; Cochrane, History and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 457–471; Machielsen, “Aspiring Saint and His Work”; Pullapilly, Caesar Baronius; Jedin, Kardinal Caesar Baronius; Tutino, “ ‘For the Sake of the Truth of History and of the Catholic Doctrines’ ”; Tutino, Shadows of Doubt, 74–112. 92. Biographical details from Guazzelli, “Cesare Baronio and the Roman Catholic Vision of the Early Church,” 52–57. 93. Jedin, Kardinal Caesar Baronius, 35–36. 94. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 459. 95. Jedin, Kardinal Caesar Baronius, 46.


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the Martyrology that appeared in 1586 thus contained a prefatory treatise by Baronio and extensive notes, the Notationes, subsequently updated and reprinted several times. According to Giuseppe Guazzelli, the Annales ecclesiastici was being readied for publication at the same time and shows considerable overlap with the Notationes. Their interdependence is testimony to the kinship Baronio saw between ecclesiastical history and liturgical practice, such that “history was a form of prayer, an occasion for the devout to be reunited with the sources of their faith,” and the two thus need to be studied together.96 (We commented above on the tendency of modern scholarship, fascinated with the emergence of critical methods in Renaissance humanism, to divide history from hagiography.) They won Baronio great renown.97 He became confessor to Pope Clement VIII, was made a cardinal in 1596, became the secretary of the Vatican Library a year later, and at the conclave of 1605, after the death of Clement VIII, received thirty-two votes to become pope but was blocked by the Spanish party in the conclave.98 What did Baronio hope to accomplish with this project, and how did he go about executing it? And what role did Eusebius play in it? He prefaced the first volume with a letter to the reader that explains his intent.99 The subject matter of “ecclesiastical annals” is inherently valuable because of the dignity of the topic; it is highly useful for resolving disputes and clarifying events; and it is spiritually enriching to know the divine and miraculous events behind the founding of the Christian religion. It is also necessary in view of what those alienated from the Catholic Church have set about doing to tarnish that edifying picture, by smearing it with a false and mendacious history, the only remedy for which is to use the same historical weapons against them, as Aaron once triumphed in his competition with the Egyptian magicians, when his rod-turned-into-a-serpent devoured their magically produced serpents (Exod 7). Only accurate history will suffice to restore the pristine quality of the prototype. There have been many historians before him. He names Eusebius as first in rank (primas), though not without raising the Arian charge and accusing him in his Life of Constantine of distorting Constantine’s orthodox history in order to curry favor with Constantius, his Arianizing son and successor. The efforts of more recent authors, he says, failed to exploit fully the resources available to them or were insufficiently critical in what they did

96. Guazelli, “Cesare Baronio and the Roman Catholic Vision of the Early Church,” 62. This is also the approach of Simon Ditchfield, cited above, though his paper “Baronio storico nel suo tempo” was not available to me. See Machielsen, “Aspiring Saint and His Work,” 243–248, for more on this way of seeing Baronio. 97. Machielsen, “Aspiring Saint and His Work,” presents evidence for Catholic resistance to Baronio. 98. For the story of the conclave and the Spanish veto, see Pullapilly, Caesar Baronius, 103–116. 99. See Annales ecclesiastici, Praefatio ad Lectorem (vol. I, n.p.), citing the 1609 edition made available through Hathi Trust Digital Online (

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use, falling prey to “empty fables” (aniles fabulas). And no one has brought that history up to the present time, which will be his goal. Why as annals rather than as historia? The annalistic genre was probably unavoidable because of the Centuriators’ adoption of the century format, though Baronio does not say that. What he tells us is that historia, as the ancients understood it, was supposed to be contemporary with the time of the writer, who should write about what he knew or could have known directly, and who then decorated his account with artfully composed speeches appropriate to the speakers and circumstances. Annalists, on the other hand, often deal with ancient matters from long before their time, and that is what is needed in the current situation. And the subject matter in this case being religion, the obligation to tell the truth is paramount, and rhetorical eloquence and speeches can only obscure what must be pure and authentic. Therefore, he proposes “to treat ecclesiastical realities ecclesiastically” (ut ecclesiasticas ecclesiastice pertractemus), that is, by tracing ecclesiastical history back to its very beginnings. He will follow “the royal way” forged by the ancients for calculating chronology, relying on Olympiads and consulates, and beginning with the birth of Christ, each new year listing the current Roman pope and Roman emperor. Thus did the fathers in recording “public ecclesiastical history” in the same order of years as secular history. So too, as histories of a particular people recount their origin, laws, mores, magistracies, and so on, ecclesiastical history will go back to the foundations of the Christian religion, its “divine laws, pious offices, sacred councils, and promulgated canons.” His theme is the unchanging, universal, monarchical Catholic Church and its Petrine succession: We will demonstrate how, through each period of time, the visible monarchy of the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ the Lord and founded on Peter, has been kept inviolate, religiously guarded, and never broken or interrupted, but continued perpetually through his true and legitimate successors the Roman pontiffs, and that the one visible head of this mystical body of Christ that is the Church, to whom the other members are obedient, has always been acknowledged and evident. We will reveal in further installments how the Christian religion spread throughout the entire world and in the succession of the ages has been joined far and wide in union under a single visible head and propagated in one Spirit. We will add as well the wars, whether foreign or civil, that were started against the Catholic Church by tyrants and other enemies, or by heretics or schismatics, and how the same were defeated and extinguished by the truth of Christ.

Secular political history (“emperors and other princes”) will figure in the year-byyear account only insofar as it bears on ecclesiastical affairs, a restriction that recalls Socrates’s disclaimer about his inclusion of secular history (Soc. HE 5.Pref.1–10). The historiography will be firmly providentialist, of course, highlighting the divinely willed disasters suffered by the church’s enemies. The floruit of


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people distinguished for sanctity and erudition will be indicated, and the dates of their deaths, in keeping with the practice of ancient historians and authors of annals. And Baronio will take the liberty of explaining words, terms, places, and such in ancient sources that may be obscure to his contemporaries. Baronio promises that he has been scrupulous in his choice of sources, using only those that are “most approved” and “weightiest,” and rejecting “learned fables.” Even his approved authorities he does not take at face value, however learned and famous, but only insofar as they are tested and firmly grounded in the truth. Nor has he refused to take advantage even of sources whose pagan provenance otherwise makes them suspect—and proved his openness by citing pagan historians Zosimus’s and Eutropius’s reports of Constantine’s execution of his son Crispus and his wife Fausta in preference to the denials of Christian historians Sozomen and Evagrius.100 “For no book,” he says, quoting a maxim of Pliny’s, “is so bad that it can’t be of some profit,” and notes that Pliny agrees with Saint Paul and Pope Gelasius, for the decree attributed to Gelasius acknowledges that even the books of the heretics contain elements of truth. Thus he draws too on apocryphal and heretical sources— with the permission of his superiors, he is quick to add. His marginal citations, he rightly asserts, demonstrate how widely he has cast his net. This is a literary program that reflects the double impact of humanist philological principles and the forensic demands of confessional strife. It is beyond the purpose or capacity of the present book to assess how well Baronio balanced the two. We have indicated that scholarship on him has shifted somewhat in being more attentive to the setting of his work in the reform agendas of the Roman Curia after the Council of Trent. But no one disputes his unswerving commitment to the normative claims of the Tridentine papacy. That the Catholic Church of his own time—from clerical offices to liturgical practice to piety—was the same as it had been since the beginning was axiomatic: semper eadem.101 His view of the Donation of Constantine is a convenient measure of that balance: he accepted the critique of the authenticity of the Donation itself, but continued to uphold the tradition of a Roman baptism as recorded in the Acts of Silvester.102 As resources for his vast undertaking, he had personnel from his “religious family” among the Oratorians, who helped with proofreading and indexing and provided other forms of assistance, and material and moral support from the Curia, whose reform agendas he was expected to advance.103 He needed their help, 100. For Baronio’s appeal to pagan historians Zosimus (460–520) and Eutropius (late fourth century) over the denials of Sozomen (Soz. HE 1.5) and Evagrius (Evag. HE 3.40–41), see Annales ecclesiastici AD 324, §§7–10 (vol. III, pp. 255–256). 101. On semper eadem, see Guazzelli, “Cesare Baronio and the Roman Catholic Vision of the Early Church,” 58–63. 102. Cochrane, History and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 461–462. 103. Guazzelli, “Cesare Baronio and the Roman Catholic Vision of the Early Church,” 54–57.

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considering his poor grasp of Greek. For books, he had the collections of his friends in Rome and elsewhere, and of course the Vatican Library itself. He made increasing use of material remains in buildings and inscriptions, but in coins above all, with woodcuts of coins becoming more prominent as the volumes emerged.104 In defending the antiquity of the use of images, for example, Baronio noted ancient testimonies such as Eusebius’s report of the statue of Christ and the woman healed from the flow of blood that he had seen in Paneas, and the colored pictures of Saints Peter and Paul that he had also examined (Eus. HE 7.18), as well as Tertullian’s description of representations of Christ the shepherd with the lost lamb carried on his shoulders—and he confirmed Tertullian’s report by saying that in 1578 he himself had seen several images of similar nature in the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria in Rome.105 His debt to Eusebius is everywhere manifest—the massive use of quotation, the repudiation of eloquence and of speeches, and the pairing of ecclesiastical and imperial chronology, popes first, then emperors. And not just form but substance as well: Eric Cochrane estimates that “almost half the volume on the early fourth century of the Annales Ecclesiasticae [sic] is actually a transcription of the Historia Ecclesiastica, interrupted only by an occasional ‘This is what Eusebius says on this matter.’ ”106 Despite that reliance, he is not kind to Eusebius. Under “Eusebius Caesariensis” in the index to Baronio’s second volume, which covered the two centuries between Trajan’s reign and the death of Constantius Chlorus, Constantine’s father, we find little but references to Eusebius’s chronological errors and dogmatic bad faith. This is not always to Baronio’s credit. In trying to explain why Eusebius’s writing on Christian authors never mentions Dionysius the Areopagite (see Acts 17:34) and the writings attributed to him, Baronio explains his silence as intentional censorship (dolo malo): Eusebius omitted Dionysius’s writings lest he memorialize a witness to the consubstantiality of God the Word, for surely the library at Caesarea, “crammed with books” that had once been Origen’s, must have contained them.107 Eusebius’s acceptance of Nicaea’s creed and of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father were insincere. His letter to the church at Caesarea proves he was just versipellis, “changing his skin,” and Baronio quotes Athanasius to say of his Nicene submission, that what he denied the day before, he subscribed to the day after.108 Despite his dependence on Eusebius for the events of 104. Though commentators note his fudging of the archaeological evidence for Constantine’s sponsorship of the construction of the original basilica of St. Peter; see Bowersock, “Peter and Constantine.” 105. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 57, §§111–112 (vol. I, pp. 528–529). All citations of this work are by Baronio’s year and chapter number, with volume and page number in parentheses, of the 1609 edition, which has been made available through Hathi Trust Digital Online. 106. Cochrane, History and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance, 471. 107. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 109, §59 (vol. II, p. 48). 108. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 325, §§96–97, 100 (vol. III, pp. 342–343).


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Constantine’s reign and of Eusebius’s own lifetime, he regularly finds fault with his accuracy and almost as often his honesty: Eusebius is not just mendosus (erroneous) but mendax (mendacious). He criticizes the panegyrical features of the Life of Constantine. Eusebius’s omission of the deaths of Crispus and Fausta demonstrates that the Life of Constantine has more in common with Xenophon’s Life of Cyrus, which Cicero said failed the test of true history and was interested only in polishing Cyrus’s image. Eusebius knew better, Baronio tells readers, since the Chronicle did not pass over Constantine’s misdeeds.109 Eusebius’s greatest lapse in Baronio’s eyes was his complicity in craftily concocting the lie (mendacium) that Constantine had been baptized on his deathbed outside Nicomedia, and not—as Baronio strenuously insisted—by Pope Silvester in Rome, an event that Baronio dated to 324, splitting the difference between the emperor’s victory at the Milvian Bridge in 312 and his death in 337 as the most plausible time for the baptism. Eusebius’s alleged motive for lying? Animus against the first see of Rome, and a desire to ingratiate himself with Constantine’s Arian son Constantius by showing that the son was following faithfully in the steps of his father.110 Eusebius’s own words in the Life of Constantine show that the emperor attended the divine mysteries in the company of the bishops, though we know from contemporary canons that those stained by serious sin could not even stand with the catechumens.111 His baptism in 324 is the reason why he was able to join the bishops a year later in the sessions of the Council of Nicaea.112 The joint tradition of both Greek and Catholic Christianity that Constantine had died in the peace of the church could not be contradicted. As noted, Baronio accepted the basic historicity of the Acts of Silvester where Constantine’s baptism and miraculous cure are concerned, but not the Donation of Constantine, which became linked to it, and which he mischievously suggested was a Greek forgery to discredit the divine origin of the papacy’s claim to temporal and spiritual power.113 He may even have prompted Pope Clement VIII’s decision not to put Lorenzo Valla’s critique of the Donation in the Index of Prohibited Books.114 He also scornfully 109. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 324, §5 (vol. III, p. 255). The Chronicle records the killing of Crispus (Chron. 2 [231d.7–9, ed. Helm]), but the mention of Fausta’s killing four years later seems to be Jerome’s addition (Chron. 2 [232a.2–3, ed. Helm]). 110. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 324, §43 (vol. III, p. 268); §§42–49 are devoted to undermining Eusebius’s account in favor of the Acts of Silvester. 111. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 324, §49 (vol. III, p. 271). Baronio also commented sarcastically that Eusebius must have forgotten that in the HE he had preserved documentation that, a century before, Pope Fabian had denied the emperor Philip his request to take part in the Easter vigil, because he needed to enroll in the rank of the penitents and have his sins forgiven first (§46; cf. Eus. HE 6.34). 112. Annales ecclesiastici, AD 324, §50 (vol. III, p. 271). 113. On the nature of Baronio’s “lukewarm skepticism” of the Donation of Constantine, see Tutino, “ ‘For the Sake of the Truth of History and of the Catholic Doctrines,’ ” 140–151. 114. Tutino, “ ‘For the Sake of the Truth of History and of the Catholic Doctrines,’ ” 141.

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rejected the medieval superscription that we mentioned above in chapter 4, which claimed that the Acts had been written by Eusebius himself (!) in Greek and then translated into Latin.115 Baronio’s recurrent sniping at Eusebius does not contradict the former’s reliance on what Stefania Tutino has called a “neo-Eusebian historical methodology.”116 That entailed themes we have highlighted, such as providentialism, supernaturalism, heavy use of documentation, and minimal respect for eloquence. Antitheses to these marked humanist historiography. Tutino notes (uncontroversially) that Catholic and Protestant historical writing shared common assumptions about the role of theological truth in foregrounding ecclesiastical history. They just disagreed about the theological truth in play. She suggests that the real challenge to both was the emergence, in the wake of such theologically oriented historiography, of an epistemic skepticism about reaching historical certainty of any kind, ecclesiastical or otherwise. This skepticism was not just a variant of humanist historiography but something new, rooted in the kind of probabilistic moral reasoning that the Jesuits were making famous, and in reflections on the inseparability of rhetoric from history, and thus of rhetoric’s inherent uncertainty becoming part and parcel of history. Tutino illustrates the emergence of this challenge to ecclesiastical history with an instructive comparison between Baronio and his younger critic Paolo Beni (1552–1625), who she says proposed the de facto impossibility of ecclesiastical history, founded as it was in theology.117 That seems a good point of departure for moving now to the final section of this chapter, on Eusebius in the age of the Republic of Letters, when ecclesiastical history will be relieved of some of the theological burden created by Reformation and Counter-Reformation polemics. E U SE B I U S I N T H E R E P U B L IC O F L E T T E R S

The early modern period saw an astonishing proliferation of correspondence, learned associations and discussion clubs, travel for the sake of research, publication enterprises, and so forth, whose collective impact created something like a new intellectual civil society and a new social type, the public intellectual. Contemporaries who witnessed and took part in this new communication network called it a respublica litterarum or, more frequently, a respublica literaria,118 a “republic of letters,” a social imaginary if you will, with its own distinctive practices, values, and conditions of citizenship, which could not be equated with existing institutions of church, state, or university, even as it duplicated or mimicked 115. 116. 117. 118.

Annales ecclesiastici, AD 315, §14 (vol. III, p. 163). Tutino, Shadows of Doubt, 214 n. 44. Ibid., 102–112. Bots and Waquet, La république des lettres, 6.


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some of their functions. From it would ultimately come the scientific and scholarly associations and institutions whose demands for professional autonomy are part of what constitutes modernity.119 The previous section placed the reception of Eusebius and his history on a historiographical grid whose two poles were humanism and confessionalism. In that scheme, the data points clustered ever closer to the confessional pole throughout the sixteenth century. In the next century, confessional pressures begin to ebb somewhat. Historiography in turn subjects itself more consistently to recognized critical standards. The “Republic of Letters” is the literary context for these trends. It has naturally been tempting to look to it for signs of growing religious toleration and breaches in the walls of confessional division. The great Benedictine scholar Bernard de Montfaucon (1655–1741), for example, could look back a hundred years and see the mutually respectful cooperation between the Anglican Sir Henry Savile (1549–1622) and the French Jesuit Fronton du Duc (1558–1624) as a praiseworthy alternative to religious hostility and misrepresentation.120 Current scholarship on the Republic of Letters has tempered the inclination to exaggerate how typical such an ecumenical mentality really was. Jean-Louis Quantin has criticized “naively irenic” assessments, pointing instead to political and structural factors, as well as confessional prejudice, that burdened scholarly exchanges.121 In his assessment of the Republic of Letters and its efforts toward transparency and communication, Anthony Grafton concedes that the patrons of historical scholarship typically sponsored it for polemical purposes: “The large-scale research enterprises mentioned in this book—the teams of scholars assembled to study the history of the church— found patrons because they promised to supply weapons to be used in confessional strife.”122 Mixed motives notwithstanding, he credits the Republic with a moderating influence through its commitment to the “free communication of ideas, tolerance in principle if not always in practice, open contact with those of other faiths, and publication of results even when they raised theological difficulties.”123

119. The “Republic of Letters” has attracted a rich scholarship. An essential guide is Grafton, “Sketch Map of a Lost Continent.” For an attempt to define the Republic, see Bots and Waquet, La république des lettres, 11–27. Miller, Peiresc’s Europe, is a portrait of the Republic of Letters through the life and works of Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637), celebrated in his time as almost the ideal citizen of the Republic; see also Miller, Peiresc’s Mediterranean World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017), with Grafton’s review, “A Hero of the European Mind,” NYRB, November 19, 2015, 63–65. See now the measured reassessment of confessionalism’s staying power in Hardy and Levitin, Confessionalization and Erudition in Early Modern Europe, cited above. 120. Montfaucon’s characterization of their mutual admiration is cited in Sieben, “Von der Kontroverstheologie zur Zusammenarbeit in der Res publica literaria,” 197. 121. Quantin, “Les jésuites et l’érudition anglicane.” 122. Grafton, “Sketch Map of a Lost Continent,” 24. 123. Ibid., 27.

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For this next stage in our study, then, the Republic and its principles and practices will be the setting for changes and advances in how people read and used Eusebius’s history, and also his Chronicle, both of which received major critical attention during this period. We will begin with a summary of the standing of the Chronicle in the chronological scholarship of Joseph Scaliger, drawing on Anthony Grafton’s massive study of Scaliger. Our principal focus will be on France, where church and state both had reasons for being interested in historical scholarship on early Christianity. The edition of the HE published in 1659 by French classical scholar Henri Valois offers an inviting case study of the effects of this sponsorship on study of Eusebius’s book. We will close with an appreciation of Eusebius’s place in the work of the Pietist historian Gottfried Arnold (1666–1714). Joseph Scaliger and the Reconstruction of the Chronicle: Saving Eusebius from Eusebius The first chapter of this book described the interdependence between Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History and the Chronological Canons, his synchronized, tabular universal history. Eusebius announced that connection at the very beginning of the HE (1.1.5). For most of the periods we have covered, the two works continued to exert a joint impact, since they both served the need of Christians to place themselves in time and space amid changing political, religious, and cultural circumstances. The reception history of the HE thus had to include the Chronicle as well, especially because awareness of the difference in their literary genres dimmed over time. That blurring of boundaries ends and their differences reemerge in the early modern period, when they will be recognized as the distinctive works they actually are. The key factor in the differentiation will be the rediscovery in the sixteenth century of ancient chronology as a distinct branch of scientific learning, as a result of Renaissance humanism’s return to the sources. The ancients had left a corpus of chronographic materials—secular and ecclesiastical calendars, computation schemes, and astronomical lore. To that the antiquarian impulse of the Renaissance added material evidence in inscriptions, coins, and the like. Chronology became one of the passions of the age. Ancient time-reckoning answered modern curiosity not just about the past but about what the past might have to say, via prophetic foresight, about the present and the near future. It preserved a wealth of cultural knowledge. And it offered tempting support to those engaged in confessional controversy. “At once a hermeneutics of the past and a handbook of names and dates, a stimulus to thought and devotion and a source of fascinating trivia, chronology offered rich rewards to both its practitioners and its readers.”124 So wrote Anthony Grafton at the beginning of the second volume of his study of the immensely learned French classical scholar Joseph Scaliger (1540–1609), 124. Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 10.


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who became the undisputed master of the reinvention of chronology. Grafton’s book—a monument to historiographical retrieval in its own right—presented Scaliger’s grand effort to reconstruct the Greek original of Eusebius’s Chronicle as the apex of his scholarly career, culminating in the publication in 1606 of Scaliger’s Thesaurus temporum.125 At the risk of seeming impertinent, I cannot do more here than skim Grafton for illustrative evidence of Scaliger’s attitude toward Eusebius as a scholar and author. I will mention only one thing in any detail, and that is the question of Eusebius’s chronographic originality as compared to his predecessor Julius Africanus. My basic point will be that, by treating Eusebius first and foremost as a preserver of crucial sources for reconstructing the chronology of antiquity, Scaliger liberated him from his historic servitude to Christian apologetics and restored him in wholly instrumental ways as a tool, albeit a crucial one, for recovering the chronology of antiquity. As Scaliger said of the goal of his Thesaurus temporum in a letter written in 1602 to his scholar friend Isaac Casaubon, “We must save Eusebius from the errors of the scribes, and chronology from the errors of Eusebius.”126 In treating Eusebius once again as a means to an end, Scaliger will allow us to bring some closure to our retrieval of Eusebius as an author in his own right by putting paid to the place owed to the Chronicle in this account. Scaliger’s overall view of Eusebius as a historian was not complimentary. In his earlier work, De emendatione temporum (On the Correction of Times, 1583), he criticized Eusebius’s error in (supposedly) dating the fall of Jerusalem to the second year of Titus rather than the second year of Vespasian (AD 70). And he scorned Eusebius’s belief that the Jewish contemplative ascetics in Egypt whom Philo of Alexandria called the Therapeutai were actually Christians (cf. Eus. HE 2.17), as well as Eusebius’s understanding of the Essenes.127 When he was at work later on what became the Thesaurus temporum, he said in a December 1600 letter that he “had brought [Eusebius] back to life—though, given the conspicuous errors of which he is guilty, he was unworthy to be the recipient of all my work.”128 In time, he came to appreciate Eusebius’s preservation of classical sources on history and chronology, recognizing that contradictory repetitions in the Chronicle were often due to Eusebius’s habit of simply reporting the sources that happened

125. Ibid., 491–751, part 4 of his monograph, in which Grafton reviews the genesis of the Thesaurus temporum. A posthumous second edition in 1658 incorporated changes from Scaliger’s papers. 126. Cited in Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 501. 127. Cited in Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, with discussion, 299–301; 507–512, 579, for Scaliger’s critique of Eusebius’s understanding of the Essenes. Of the supposed misdating of the fall of Jerusalem to the second year of Titus, Scaliger says Jerome corrected Eusebius’s “error” in his Latin translation of the Chronicle. Grafton notes that Eusebius has the correct date in HE 3.7.3—as does the Armenian translation of the Chronicle (Eus. Chronicle 1: 216, ed. Karst). 128. Cited in Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 502.

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to come to his notice—what Grafton calls Eusebius’s bricolage construction. What Scaliger criticized was Eusebius’s failure to name those sources.129 A signal accomplishment of Scaliger’s reconstruction was his gradual realization that Eusebius’s Chronicle consisted of two parts, virtually two separate books: the Chronological Canons proper, along with the excerpted historical and chronographic sources that were the basis for assembling his synchronized dynastic tables. Scaliger would receive posthumous vindication long afterward when the Armenian version was discovered and proved to have both the tables and the collection of excerpts and discussion. Existing manuscripts of Jerome’s Latin translation had only the tables.130 But Scaliger was convinced there had once been a companion set of sources.131 He arrived at this conclusion by degrees, without ever actually laying eyes on such a collection. The breakthrough was his discovery of the eighth-century world chronicle of the Byzantine monk George, usually identified by his title Syncellus.132 We have met and discussed Syncellus’s work in chapter 5. With Syncellus’s help, Scaliger began collecting Greek excerpts with the intention of reconstructing the contents of Eusebius’s source book, which Jerome had failed to preserve. A second conclusion that he drew from studying Syncellus was that the real creator of the Chronicle—both the documentary collection and the tables—was not Eusebius but Julius Africanus! Indeed, Grafton remarked, “From now on he would regard Eusebius to be a mere epitomator of Africanus, just as he took Syncellus to be a mere epitomator of Eusebius.”133 That severe judgment has not held up, even though Africanus’s legacy, fragmentary though much of our knowledge of it is, has drawn respectful attention in recent years, thanks in part to the work of Martin Wallraff and an international team of scholars in retrieving and reevaluating Africanus’s Chronographiae. As noted in chapter 1, they concluded that Eusebius’s debt to his predecessors was greater than has been realized. The long list of Olympic victors preserved in Eusebius’s Chronicle and in two other places is probably Africanus’s contribution, as Scaliger insisted.134 But on one crucial point they conceded Eusebius’s originality: the construction of synchronized national histories in a tabular format.135 Scaliger had argued to the contrary that Africanus himself had constructed canon tables, and he thought he 129. Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 579–580. 130. As noted in chapter 1, we have cited the Armenian version as Chronicle 1 and Jerome’s version as Chronicle 2. 131. Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 534–535. 132. Ibid., 540–548, esp. 543. 133. Ibid., 544. 134. Wallraff et al., Julius Africanus, Chronographiae, XXXIII. See the text itself with notes, F65 (192–218). On Scaliger’s interpretation of Africanus and the Olympic list, see Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 587–588. 135. Wallraff et al., Julius Africanus, Chronographiae, XIX, XXXI.


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had a text that demonstrated it: a passage preserved in the seventh-century Byzantine Chronicon Paschale (discussed in chapter 5) in which Scaliger asserts that Africanus appears to speak of “our canon” (ho hēmeteros de kanōn), thus implying that he, not Eusebius, had invented the tabular format. But the passage in question does not say what Scaliger alleges, and it appears much more likely that the phrase is to be attributed to Eusebius himself, not to Africanus.136 Henri de Valois and His Edition of the Ecclesiastical History Henri de Valois (1603–1676), or Valesius, as he is known to classical scholars, was born to a family of Norman gentry settled around Bayeux.137 He received an excellent classical education with the Jesuits, first at Verdun and then at the Jesuits’ Collège de Clermont in Paris, where historical theologian and chronographer Denis Petau (Petavius) (1583–1652) and Jacques Sirmond (1559–1651) were among his Jesuit teachers and by whom he would eventually be accepted as a peer. After graduating at nineteen, he studied civil law for two years, more to please his father than anything else, and practiced law for seven years. Over his father’s protests, he quit the law and devoted himself full-time to study, becoming a true “glutton” for books (his brother Adrien’s phrase) and taking advantage of the libraries of his friends to find books he could not afford for himself. In 1634 he published an edition of excerpts of ancient historians that were preserved in the anthology known as De virtutibus et vitiis (On Virtues and Vices) attributed to the Byzantine emperor-scholar Constantine Porphyrogenitus (909–959). The work, Valois’s “first fruits of his studies,” as he liked to call it,138 included translation of and annotations on excerpts from Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Nicholas of Damascus, Appian, Dio Chrysostom, and John of Antioch. That was followed just two years later by an edition of the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, with annotations to explain variant readings, knotty passages, and technical Roman terminology of civil and military offices. The edition of Ammianus also included the anonymous fourth-century narrative of the career of Constantine preserved under the title Origo Constantini Imperatoris but since known, in Valois’s honor, as the Excerpta Valesiana or the Anonymus Valesianus.139 He was thirty-three when he finished it in just two years in 1636, an achievement that won him wide renown. But he was 136. See T64d, in Julius Africanus, Chronographiae, 188–189, with commentary; and the full discussion in Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, 581–587. 137. A rich source of information is the memoir by his brother Adrien: De vita Henrici Valesii, first published in the second edition of Valois’s Eusebius (Paris, 1677), and reprinted in William Reading’s 1720 edition, 3:615–622, from which I cite (see note 141 below). 138. Adrien Valois (Hadrianus Valesius), De vita Henrici Valesii, 3:617. 139. Text and translation: Excerpta Valesiana, trans. John C. Rolfe, in Ammianus Marcellinus, History, LCL 300, 315, 331 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950–1952); here LCL 331:508–531. More recently, see Lieu and Montserrat, From Constantine to Julian, 39–62.

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already suffering from the deteriorating eyesight that would plague him the rest of his life. Eventually he would require the services of paid readers and scribes. In 1662 he became temporarily blind when he lost the sight in his left eye, having lost use of the right eye years before, until an operation removed a cataract. His early publications earned him the respect of classical scholars and philologists throughout Europe. His brother’s memoir lists an impressive roster of foreign scholars with whom he would eventually correspond and collaborate, the whole constituting a vivid demonstration of the Republic of Letters in its heyday. Notable among these externi is the number who were not Catholic, such as the learned Anglican James Ussher (1581–1656), archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, and Protestant scholars in the Netherlands. In Italy he counted among his friends Holstenius (1596–1661), born Lukas Holstein in Hamburg and a convert to Catholicism, who entered the service of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in Rome and served as custodian of the Vatican Library from 1641 until his death;140 Cardinal Barberini himself; and Leo Allatius (Leone Allacci, 1586–1669), Greek by birth but raised in Italy by a maternal uncle. In France he knew the learned Benedictines at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Luc d’Achéry (1609–1685) and Jean Mabillon (1632–1707). His editions of Eusebius and his Greek continuators would be the summit of his career.141 Eduard Schwartz regarded the 1659 edition of Eusebius as the first genuinely scholarly edition of the HE. He singled out for special praise the annotation that Valois provided, along with a new Latin translation. Valois’s “sound judgment, concise precision, and antiquarian-historical knowledge of an exceptional breadth” produced a commentary that matches the best ever done on an ancient writer; read it, he said, and you can ignore everything else.142 Schwartz was also impressed with Valois’s anticipation of the solution to the history of the manuscripts that Schwartz would arrive at 250 years later: despite having access to only four MSS of the HE, Valois already recognized that there were two great groupings into which the manuscript tradition was divided.143 140. Hardy, “Roman Catholic Biblical Scholarship in the Age of Confessions,” emphasizes the burdens ecclesiastical patronage imposed on critical scholarship. 141. Eusebii Pamphili Ecclesiasticae historiae libri decem . . . (Paris: Antonius Vitré, 1659). Valois’s edition was frequently reprinted, notably in 1720 by an Anglican team in Cambridge, under the direction of William Reading, which republished the entire corpus of Valois’s editions of the Greek church historians in a three-volume set, to which they added their own annotations. Unless otherwise indicated, citations from Valois’s work are taken from the Cambridge edition of 1720. I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library at the University of St. Thomas for giving me unrestricted access to this edition, which is in Ireland Library’s rare books collection. 142. Schwartz, “Einleitung zum griechischen Text,” GCS 2.3:XLIV. 143. Ibid. One of the four was Paris gr. 1430, A in Schwartz’s sigla and one of the seven on which Schwartz chiefly based his own edition. Valois also had an incomplete collation of an Oxford manuscript, the codex Savilianus, now called Oxford, Bodleian Libr. Auct. E. 1. 9, which had been sent


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The whole volume consisted of a corrected Greek text of the HE itself, the Life of Constantine, the Oration in Praise of Constantine (which had yet to be identified as two distinct speeches preserved as one), and Constantine’s own Oration to the Saints; new Latin translations of all of these; detailed annotations; and four appendices on select subjects: the Donatist schism; the church of the Anastasis, which Constantine built in Jerusalem; the Septuagint and the Hexapla of Origen; and the Roman Martyrology. The 1659 edition turned out to be just the first installment of a publication effort that would continue for another fourteen years and would produce editions, Latin translations, and annotations of Eusebius’s major Greek continuators: Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Evagrius, Theodore the Reader, and Philostorgius—totum corpus Ecclesiasticae historiae, as he described it in his 1668 “Preface to Learned Readers.”144 What were Valois’s specific intentions in undertaking this project, and what external support did he receive? We have mentioned that patrons in the age of the Republic of Letters had practical reasons for investing in scholarship. Valois had to convince his two major funding sources that his scholarship could serve what mattered to them: the French hierarchy on the one hand, and the French monarchy on the other. As the dedicatory letters that accompanied the several editions of his work show, Valois recognized that Eusebius’s history lent itself both to the bishops’ ecclesiology and to the monarchy’s political theology. We will start with the hierarchy. The French hierarchy was always looking for justification for Catholic superiority to Protestantism, and history, as we have seen, had long been a polemical battlefield. In 1600 the Assembly of the clergy (the regular meetings of the clergy, which functioned somewhat like a national bishops’ conference) began negotiating with editors and printers to produce editions of patristic Greek sources.145 In 1650 the Assembly decided to make ecclesiastical history a publication priority. Valois would become a beneficiary of that initiative.146 The person initially charged with the editing responsibility was Charles de Montchal, the learned archbishop of Toulouse (b. 1589, r. 1628–1651).147 When Montchal realized his health would prevent him from completing the project, he recommended Valois as the right person to take it up. (His brother’s memoir says that Montchal had initially imagined he could rope Valois into the project without giving him proper recognition.) Valois jumped at the chance. He was given 600 pounds per annum, later increased to 800. A decto him by Archbishop Ussher. Valois recognized that A, which had been in the possession of Cardinal Mazarin, was by far the best witness of the four, but also had the scholarly tact (so Schwartz) not to rely on it uncritically. For the current state of research into the manuscript tradition, see the section “The Manuscript Tradition as Reception History” in chapter 2. 144. Ad studiosos lectores Prefatio (Preface to vol. 2 in the 1720 Cambridge edition). 145. Doutreleau, “L’Assemblée du clergé de France et l’édition patristique grecque au XVIIe siècle.” 146. Ibid., 112–113. 147. On Montchal, see the entry in Bergin, Making of the French Episcopate, 672–673.

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ade later, the government of Louis XIV would be even more generous. Under the stewardship of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis’s minister of finance from 1661 to 1683, the crown undertook a systematic campaign to sponsor sympathetic historical scholarship that would add luster to French cultural prestige.148 Henri and brother Adrien, a medievalist, were both named historiographes du roi, a status that brought Henri an annual stipend of 1,200 pounds. After Colbert began paying out this amount in 1663,149 Valois—at the age of sixty-two—finally felt financially secure enough to leave his family home and get married. Four years later, he produced an edition of Socrates and Sozomen on the same model as the Eusebius volume, and five years after that, the third and concluding volume of the set, on Theodoret, Evagrius, and excerpts of Theodore the Reader and Philostorgius. In his dedicatory letter to the Assembly of the clergy in the 1659 edition of Eusebius,150 Valois thanked them for their support and gave three reasons for the time and expense required to bring the project to completion, to which I have added a fourth: • •

The value that ecclesiastical history has in refuting heresy. The need for a reliable edition and translation for the benefit of the learned public. The value of Eusebius’s HE for appreciating the heritage of the Gallican Church in Christianity’s origins. The value of Eusebius’s HE and of ecclesiastical history generally for Christian kingship. Although Valois doesn’t mention this in the 1659 edition, he was careful to pay respect to royalist political theology in the flattering dedicatory letter to Louis XIV that prefaced the 1668 edition of the works of Socrates and Sozomen.

The first justification Valois offers for the new edition of the Ecclesiastical History is the utilitas of history for Catholic apologetics. “Utility” had always been a chief rationale for all historical writing. Valois found quite specific reasons for advocating its usefulness. He was doing his editing work during a critical decade in the Jansenist controversy in French Catholicism.151 In mid-1649, the theology faculty of the Sorbonne considered a proposal to condemn seven propositions, later reduced to five, having to do with the interpretation of Saint Augustine’s theology of grace in the form expounded by the Dutch theologian Cornelius Jansen 148. See Ranum, Artisans of Glory, esp. 162–176; Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis entre renaissance et révolution, 314–316. 149. According to Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 313, Colbert did not begin his support program to the Valois brothers and to others until 1664. 150. He also added a longer letter to one of his chief patrons, Cardinal Mazarin, in which he reviewed the same three goals at greater length. 151. See the account of these years in Bergin, Politics of Religion in Early Modern France, 185–196.


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(d. 1638). When the faculty was unable to reach a resolution, a politically fraught appeal process ensued. The dispute was eventually forwarded to Rome for a decision. In 1653, Pope Innocent X responded with the bull Cum occasione, which condemned the same five propositions. Roma locuta est! But the causa was hardly finita and would go on, in ever mutating form, to agitate French ecclesiastical and political life into the next century. One of the objections against the Jansenists had been their refusal to obey a papal prohibition against further writings on divine grace. It may be no surprise, then, that Valois stresses the unique value of history in theological disputation, as opposed to rational argument. Experience shows, he says, that rational argument, however grounded in the truth, mainly serves to inflame the argumentative spirit rather than to bring the argument to a successful conclusion. By contrast, the history of the church “insinuates itself more calmly in the minds of those who are reading it and brings a far easier victory.” The majority principle enshrined in the practice of the early church carries the day against those who are a mere factio. Just as the fact of the continuity of the apostolic succession in the bishops once condemned “the Novatianists and Donatists and sectaries of Artemon [a heterodox teacher at Rome, fl. ca. 230; Eus. HE 5.28.1],” so their latterday heirs, contemplating the history of the church “as in a mirror,” were reproved by their departure from antiquity. This appeal to history’s superiority over rational argument has been identified as a fundamental feature of French theology at this time, both “Gallican” in the broadly national sense and also of the distinctively Jansenist strain.152 The second half of the seventeenth century has been called “the golden age of French ecclesiastical scholarship.”153 It was the high-water mark of the prestige of philological and literary érudition, a word that had not yet taken on the pejorative connotation of dead learning that it would acquire a century later among the writers of the Enlightenment. The appeal to the facts of history constituted itself a kind of “positive theology” that seemed superior to Scholastic theology. Denis Petau, Valois’s teacher, has been called “more or less the founder” of positive theology.154 Though he defended the necessity of Scholastic theology, Petau much preferred historical method to the “quarrelsome and contentious theology” favored in controversy. In 152. For what follows, see Quantin, “Reason and Reasonableness in French Ecclesiastical Scholarship,” 401–408. 153. Quantin, “Reason and Reasonableness in French Ecclesiastical Scholarship,” 404. For a vivid picture of the learned ecclesiastical culture of mid-seventeenth-century Paris, see the chapter on Paris as the “capital of erudition” in Martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet, 154–174. The young Bossuet met Henri Valois, among other luminaries, in the regular evening gatherings at the “cabinet” (a kind of private academy) maintained by the brothers Jacques and Pierre Dupuy (166–167, 178). On Pierre Dupuy’s two-volume work on the rights and liberties of the Gallican church, see Bergin, Politics of Religion, 128–132. 154. Sieben, “Von der Kontroverstheologie zur Zusammenarbeit in der Res publica literaria,” 190.

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his three-volume work of 1644, Dogmata theologica, Petau praised exactly the same irenic potential of historical knowledge that I have just quoted from Valois: I have not followed, in this treatise on divine things, the path beaten by the old school: I have taken a new way, and I can say without pride, a way on which until now no one has yet set foot. Setting aside that subtle theology that marches in philosophical fashion through dark mazes, I’ve made one that is simple and pleasing, and that flows like a swift stream from its pure and native sources, which are Scripture, the Councils, and the Fathers; and instead of a bristling and barbarous face that inspires fear, I’ve given it a smooth and pleasing face that attracts.155

From later in the century, note this much-discussed definition of “positive theology,” from Bernard Lamy’s 1683 rhetorical treatise, Discussions on the Sciences: “Theology is only a history of what God revealed to humankind or of what has always been believed in the church. Therefore, ecclesiastical history is the chief part of it.”156 Accurate knowledge of antiquity thus became crucial if the authority of the church and theology were to be credible. Eusebius’s relevance, and that of the whole cohort who followed in his wake (totum corpus Ecclesiasticae historiae), are obvious. Valois notes that he gives us not only the facts of the apostolic succession but also the work of “learned teachers” and the powerful example of the martyrs as the tools by which the church defeated pagan hostility. The martyrs’ endurance in particular was decisive: “They . . . conquered by the power of their endurance” (hi . . . tolerantiae suae fortitudine superarunt), and one wonders whether the victorious tolerantia of the martyrs over against the coercive powers of emperors may be his message to the bishops that history shows a better way than persecution. Valois’s second justification was the one that mattered most to him: its value to the learned world of the eruditi. The bishops, he claims, cared about this too: he compliments them pro vestro in rempublicam literariam studio, “for your zeal on behalf of the republic of letters,” in having commissioned him with the task of preparing an edition that eliminated the errors and defects of earlier editions, and thus spreading firmer knowledge of ecclesiastical affairs. Previously, he says, discriminating readers who wanted to read Eusebius were deterred, partly because of their awareness of the defects of the Greek text and partly because of the errors of previous Latin translators. He writes at length about both of these problems in the dedicatory letter to Cardinal Mazarin that follows the one to the Assembly of the clergy (among other things, he needed to thank Cardinal Mazarin for giving him access to the manuscript of the HE that proved to be much the most valuable of the four MSS he used 155. Cited in Martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet, 157. 156. Bernard Lamy, Entretiens sur les sciences, cited in Quantin, “Reason and Reasonableness,” 404–405 n. 23. The subtitle’s phrase pour se rendre utile à l’Eglise echoes Valois’s appeal to utilitas.


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for his edition157). We can ignore here his details about the individual manuscripts he used, but his defense of offering a new translation is worth noting, since he appears to feel a need to justify what was now the fourth Latin version of Eusebius’s HE in circulation. There was of course that of Rufinus, to whom he pays respect for being the first to give the Christian West a Latin version of Eusebius that has lasted “even up to our own time.” But Rufinus “translated the sense of Eusebius rather than the words” and took inappropriate liberties with the text itself: paraphrasing at times, actually omitting significant material (Valois cites the excision of book 10 in particular), and adding material such as the miracles of Gregory Thaumaturgus in book 7 and the speech of the martyr Lucian in book 9, as well as changes in the order of books 6 and 7. Interestingly, he defends his decision to do a fourth version by appealing to the procedure Origen had used in creating the Hexapla, his synoptic presentation of multiple Greek translations of the Old Testament. If it had been permissible for the Jews to assemble various translations of the scriptures, what harm could there be in another version of Eusebius, the material in question being of less intrinsic gravity than the revealed scriptures? Valois’s juxtaposition of editing and translating ecclesiastical history to editing and translating the Bible suggests he was gesturing toward the current taste for seeing the two in tandem as “positive” theology. “Tot Ecclesiae Gallicanae laudes” The third justification for his project, Valois says, is the bishops’ desire to recognize appropriately the great service Eusebius has performed “for you and for the Gallican Church”: “Certainly none of the ancient writers of the Church has woven into his writings so many praises of the Gallican Church, so many splendors and ornaments.” He then offers a digest of Eusebius’s references to Christianity in Gaul, most but not all from the HE: •

Paul’s disciple Crescens is said to have been sent by Paul to Gaul to preach the gospel there (HE 3.4.8; on Crescens, see 2 Tim 4:10 and below). The holiness and teaching of bishops like Irenaeus of Lyons and his predecessor Pothinus, who died a martyr at the age of ninety (HE 5.1.29–31, 5.5.8). The letter of the martyrs of Vienne and Lyon, which has no equal in antiquity (HE 5.1). The more it is read, the more it is admired, and it is only thanks to Eusebius that we have it. The relatively scanty account of Diocletian’s persecution in the western part of the empire is evidence that God had exempted them because of the purity of their faith (!). In a special category is evidence regarding the status of the church in Gaul in relation to the Roman see. “Not least of all,” he writes, “is the praise of the 157. MS Paris gr. 1430, A in Schwartz’s sigla.

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Gallican Church because of its perpetual and from the earliest times consensus with the Roman see.” Here Valois rather slants the evidence. When the Asians wrote to the church in Lyon to ask what to do about the “new prophecy” [Montanism], the Gallican martyrs in Lyon referred the matter to Pope Eleutherus “so that, by the intervention of him in whose church was the highest authority, peace might be restored to the Asians.” (See HE 5.3.4, though Eusebius does not describe the Roman church as having “the highest authority.”) Another example of this concordia is supplied by the “Gallican synod, at which Irenaeus together with many bishops of the Gauls is said by Eusebius to have assented (subscripsisse) to an opinion of Pope Victor on the celebration of the feast of Easter.” (Valois exaggerates, for Eusebius merely documents the agreement of Gaul with churches elsewhere. Nor does he mention Irenaeus’s fraternal correction of Pope Victor’s zeal in trying to impose uniformity on the Asians [Eus. HE 5.23.3–4, 5.24.10–11]. Was it because that precedent had been so useful to Protestants?) There is also the support Irenaeus provided against the schism that Florinus stirred up in the Roman church (Eus. HE 5.20). Finally, there is the participation of Reticius, Maternus, and Marinus, “bishops of Gaul,” who sat together with Pope Miltiades in the Roman synod that delivered judgment against the Donatists (Eus. HE 10.5.19). There are several observations to make about this list. First, the claim that Christianity in Gaul had roots that went back to Paul’s supposed disciple Crescens, based on Eusebius’s reading of 2 Timothy 4:10, conflicts with the conventional understanding that Crescens was sent to Galatia in Asia Minor, not to Gaul in Europe. The European destination depends on a disputed manuscript witness to 2 Timothy 4:10, as Valois was well aware. Eusebius’s reading of Gallias is actually a minority witness best attested in Codex Sinaiticus and manuscripts categorized as “Alexandrian.” Modern textual scholarship considers the alternative reading of Galatian to be more authentic.158 Galatiam is also the reading found in the official Catholic edition of the Vulgate authorized by Pope Clement VIII in 1592 and reprinted in 1593 and 1598, the edition usually called the SixtoClementine edition. But Valois defended the legitimacy of Eusebius’s version of 2 Timothy 4:10. In his annotations on HE 3.4, he notes that at least one other early Christian writer, Epiphanius of Salamis, also has Gallias. He adds that Theodoret of Cyrus, the fifth-century bishop and church historian whom we met in chapter 2, who read Galatian, nevertheless also said that the name Galatian “signified the Gauls (Gallias), to which Crescens had been sent.”159 If Theodoret is correct, 158. Omanson, Textual Guide to the New Testament, 443. 159. Annotationes in Librum III.iv (p. 44 in the Annotations section of the 1672 edition, which printed them as an appendix rather than at the bottom of the page, as in the 1720 British reprint).


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Gallias may have been substituted for Galatian by ancient copyists who thought that the reference was to Gaul in Europe and not Galatia in Asia. That at least is how modern commentators have tried to account for it.160 It is to Valois’s credit that he long ago recognized this in his annotations on Eusebius.161 But he also had a vested interest in defending Eusebius’s reading, since the Pauline mission of Crescens gave Gallican Christianity virtually apostolic credentials, a traditional point of national pride that critical scholarship and superior chronology in Valois’s time were making increasingly dubious. That doubt explains the noteworthy absence of a more famous name that Valois’s readers might have expected to hear in any discussion of Christianity’s origins in Gaul: Dionysius “the Areopagite,” the Athenian citizen whom the Acts of the Apostles says was converted to Christianity after hearing the preaching of Saint Paul on the Areopagus (Acts 17:34). All that Eusebius reports about this shadowy figure is that he was said to be the first bishop of Athens, a tradition he credits to a letter of the second-century bishop Dionysius of Corinth (HE 3.4.10). Nor does Eusebius mention the martyrdom that another Dionysius, said to be bishop of Paris, allegedly suffered under the emperor Decius. This tradition of a martyrbishop of Paris named Dionysius is unattested until it appears in the sixth century, in a quotation embedded in Gregory of Tours’s Histories.162 Nor, finally, could Eusebius say anything about the corpus of mystical writings also attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, because of course they had not been written yet. Over the course of centuries, piety and legend would meld these three characters—the New Testament Athenian convert, the supposed third-century martyr-bishop of Paris, and the pseudonymous author of the mystical treatises—into the singular figure of Saint Denis, whose medieval shrine in Paris was the traditional burial place of French kings and the focus of a devotion with deep roots in French Catholicism.163 But trends in critical scholarship and expertise in chronology were starting to pare away the layers of tradition and imagination behind this astonishing figure of an apostolic martyr-bishop and mystical theologian. 160. Omanson, Textual Guide, 443, cites modern translations that choose to understand 2 Tim 4:10 as referring to Gaul. 161. The Lotharingian Jesuit Nikolaus Serarius (1555–1609) also argued for Crescens’s mission to Gaul: Louthan, “Imagining Christian Origins,” 146. 162. In Gregory of Tours, Histories 1.30, which reports the mission of seven bishops to several sites in Gaul, including Bishop Dionysius to Paris, and his martyrdom there during the persecution of Decius. 163. The initial amalgamation of the three personages occurred in the ninth century during the reign of Louis the Pious, probably at the Abbey of Saint-Denis in Paris. On the rich medieval formation of the tradition and its role in the legitimation of the Capetian dynasty, see Spiegel, Past as Text, 138– 162; on its gradual early modern deconstruction, see the brilliant account of Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis entre renaissance et révolution, chaps. 7, 8, and 9.

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In general, the separation of the mystical theologian from the apostolic martyrbishop was the work of sixteenth-century criticism. The further differentiation of the New Testament Athenian convert from the third-century martyr-bishop of Paris took place in the seventeenth century.164 As Valois was well aware, his own teacher Jacques Sirmond had already raised a storm of opposition by proposing that Dionysius of Athens and Bishop Dionysius of Paris were different persons. Sirmond and Denis Petau had also joined with other critics, both Catholic and Protestant, in rejecting the traditional authorship of the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus. In 1641 Jean de Launoy (1601–1678), Valois’s coeval and fellow protégé of Sirmond and Petau, had published several treatises defending Sirmond.165 Launoy, who would become notorious as le dénicheur de saints (perhaps “the saint-spotter”),166 went on to criticize other revered hagiographic legends, such as the one that held that Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene (the Magdalene had long been equated with the Mary who was Lazarus’s sister) had come to Provence. But Launoy was a dedicated Catholic and no closeted skeptic or a Voltaire before his time. He repudiated the dénicheur label and insisted that reason must be part of faith, not its enemy.167 As Jean-Marie Le Gall has written of his project and that of the other “anti-Areopagites,” “The critique of tradition was made in the name of tradition, which was not deprived of rationality and criticism.”168 Despite his later critique of Launoy’s assessment of the sixth canon of the Council of Nicaea (printed as one of the appendices of the 1668 edition of Socrates and Sozomen),169 Valois surely agreed with Launoy’s and Sirmond’s distinction between Dionysius of Athens and Saint Denis of Paris, even if that meant abandoning the legend of an apostolic foundation for Christianity in Paris. He must also have agreed with his teachers’ denial of the apostolic authorship of the PseudoDionysian corpus. That the antiquity of Christianity’s roots in France was a live issue at least in some quarters,170 we can see from another of Valois’s prefatory documents in the 164. Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 231. 165. Listed in Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 286–287, along with the writings to which Launoy was responding. On Launoy, see Grès-Gayer, “L’électron libre du gallicanisme”; Le Gall, “Lives of the Saints in the French Renaissance,” 225–229; and Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 307–310 and passim. Le Gall doubts that critical scholarship had a dampening effect on popular piety. 166. Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 290. My St. Thomas colleague Ray MacKenzie suggested this translation in the sense of a hunting dog flushing out prey. 167. Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 298. 168. Ibid., 294. 169. De sexto Canone Concilii Nicaeni (2:394–399 in the 1720 Cambridge edition). 170. Le Gall, “Lives of the Saints in the French Renaissance,” 226, says that by the seventeenth century the crown had become indifferent to the fate of Saint Denis. As Le Gall’s monograph demonstrates, that indifference was far from general and the controversy did not finally abate until the middle of the eighteenth century (Le mythe de Saint Denis, 232–240).


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1659 edition, a letter on the origins of Christianity in Gaul from Pierre de Marca,171 another learned archbishop of Toulouse (b. 1594, r. 1652–1662). Marca had pursued a distinguished career as a state counselor before joining the clergy a decade after the death of his wife in 1631. His clerical career was sponsored by Cardinal Mazarin, who had him appointed to succeed Montchal as archbishop of Toulouse. He rose to become, “after Mazarin, the most influential churchman in France until his death in mid-1662.”172 Marca’s letter was really a treatise that marshaled evidence from a host of sources to support Christianity’s apostolic origins in Gaul. The archbishop contends among other things that Dionysius of Paris and Dionysius the Aeropagite were indeed the same person, and that Pope Clement of Rome had sent Dionysius to Gaul. At the end of his letter, Marca says his concern is to protect the “majesty” of the Gallican Church from having its antiquity diminished, and he encourages Valois to match “the depraved diligence” by which unnamed enemies (the antiAreopagites?) are trying to co-opt for themselves the antiquity of the Christian religion. He urges his own research as a point of departure and hopes that Valois “will vindicate more forcefully (robustius) the dignity of the Gallican churches.” Considering his dependence on his episcopal patrons, it is no surprise that Valois paid due respect to a churchman and scholar of Marca’s stature. Even so, he adroitly avoided endorsing Marca’s defense of the Dionysian tradition in his commentary. His brief on behalf of Crescens’ Gallic mission may owe something to that dodge. Finally, note the importance Valois attaches to Eusebian evidence of the active collaboration between the bishops of Gaul and the see of Rome, a collaboration in his view marked by consensus, consultation, assent, and deference: “Not least of all is [Eusebius’s] praise of the Gallican Church because of its perpetual and from the earliest times consensus with the Roman see” (emphasis added). Eusebius’s history documented a decentralized and collaborative communion of the Christian churches of the second and third centuries that was very different from the papally centered governance of the Catholic Church since the Gregorian Reform and the schism with the East, lately reinforced by the Council of Trent. It was also an ecclesiology more congenial to the prevailing Gallicanism of the seventeenthcentury French hierarchy. It would be another couple of decades before the Gallican Articles of 1682 were drafted by Bossuet and adopted by the Assembly of the clergy and became the law of the land.173 But the Assembly that was supporting 171. Epistola ad clarissimum virum Henricum Valesium de tempore quo primum in Galliis suscepta est Christi fides, dated September 5, 1658. See Le Gall, Le mythe de Saint Denis, 303–306, for the aggressive lobbying efforts on the part of the “Areopagists.” On Marca, see the entry in Bergin, Making of the French Episcopate, 663–664. 172. Bergin, Politics of Religion, 131. 173. On the drafting and adoption of the Gallican Articles, see Martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet, 443–479. For a recent review of the circumstances and aftermath of the crisis of 1682, see Bergin, Politics of Religion, 206–229.

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Valois’s research and publication perhaps resonated to a church-historical narrative in which regional hierarchies were regularly consulted by Rome and acted in concert with it, such that their assent was presumed to be normal and integral to governance (see the fourth Gallican Article). The aforementioned Archbishop Marca, while still a layman and a member of the Parlement in Paris, had been commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu to write a treatise De concordia sacerdotii et imperii seu libertatibus ecclesiae gallicanae (On the Concord of Sacerdotium and Imperium, or The Liberties of the Gallican Church, 1641), which argued that the liberties of the Gallican Church, rightly understood, provided the best way to reconcile the powers of the papacy and the kingdom of France. Unfortunately for Marca, the work ended up on the Index of Prohibited Books one year later because of the various restrictions it put on the pope in relation to national church and king. Marca had to wait until 1648 for his episcopal consecration, which was granted by Rome only after he published two works that moderated his views. The Church-Historical Education of a Christian Prince Valois had one more constituency to which he felt he needed to give an account: the king himself, especially after he and his brother were named royal historiographers in 1660, with which would come the generous annual stipend of 1,200 pounds. That he did in a dedicatory letter to Louis XIV for the 1668 edition, a gracious acknowledgment that skillfully mixed flattery with reminders of the duties of a Christian monarch in a Christian kingdom.174 In dedicating his work to a king, he says he is following in the wake of distinguished predecessors like Sozomen, who dedicated his ecclesiastical history to the emperor Theodosius II, and the Byzantine historian Nicephorus Callistus, who did the same for the emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus, as we have noted in earlier chapters. This is appropriate, according to Valois, since nothing could be more useful to a king than to be thoroughly conversant with religious affairs, which come to his attention daily. That has been true ever since kings and emperors became members of the body of the church. Since then, their authority in administering church matters has been “very great.” Louis’s own predecessors provide worthy examples, supremely so Charles the Great and Louis the Pious, who joined the imperium Romanum to the kingdom of the Franks and were most assiduous in educating themselves to handle church affairs. They knew that if things went well in the church, the peace and tranquility of the empire would follow from the peace and tranquility of the church. (Here Valois is reprising the harmonial thesis about church and state that the fifth-century church historian Socrates expounded in his own Ecclesiastical 174. Epistola: Christianissimo Francorum et Navarrae Regi Ludovico a Deo Dato (Letter: To the Most Christian King Louis, Given by God as King of the Franks and of Navarre) (printed on unnumbered pages along with other prefatory material in volume 2 of the 1720 Cambridge edition).


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History [see Soc. HE 5.Pref.1–10].) Their laws and capitularies were most useful for ecclesiastical discipline. As a model example of royal and imperial direction of church affairs, Valois singles out the Libri Carolini (Caroline Books), the theological tracts that Charlemagne commissioned from his theologians as a Western verdict on the controverted question of images, and in stern opposition to what was believed to be the teaching on images at the council held at Nicaea in 787, now regarded as the Seventh Ecumenical Council. The tracts, which are now recognized as primarily the work of Theodulf of Orleans, have been described as “a polemic of white-hot intensity.”175 They refused to recognize that Nicaea should be regarded as a universal council. They also granted the council that Charlemagne convened at Frankfurt in 794 an exceptional measure of authority, even if they did not explicitly claim universality for it.176 It would be hard to think of a more arresting example to put before the Rex Christianissimus at the high noon of royal absolutism in the early modern West: the Caroline Books had hailed Charlemagne as “king and priest” (rex et sacerdos).177 Valois also probably knew that in the previous decade Archbishop Marca had pointed to the ancient councils convened by Frankish and Carolingian monarchs as justification for arguing that the contemporary Assembly of the clergy could play a comparable role as a national council.178 How fitting, then, to dedicate this new research on the antiquities of the church to “the most Christian prince and firstborn among the sons of the Church.” Valois then reverses direction and points to the corresponding duties of the Christian king’s exalted office: he must give due honor to the clergy and protect their privileges and immunities. He must also show himself a patron of letters—a necessary complement to his proven prowess on the field of battle. And when he triumphs in war, it is his further duty to be magnanimous in victory, as he demonstrated in the recently concluded peace treaty with Spain, for which Valois praises his “equity and moderation.”179 His refusal to succumb to greed speaks more for this peace than for all his victories and triumphs. No little fruit has come to religion as well in the renewal of the treaty. How bad it would be for the two most powerful Christian princes to exhaust their resources, at a time when the enemies of the Christian name (i.e., the Turks) were active on sea and land. In the Gallican Church as well, he has restored the ancient concord and tranquility by his own 175. Noble, Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians, 180. 176. Ibid., 178–180. 177. Libri Carolini, Pref., Book 1, cited in Judith Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 435. 178. Bergin, Politics of Religion, 194 (also 191). 179. The reference is probably to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (May 2, 1668) between France and the Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic.

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peaceful intervention, by which Valois is probably referring to the “Peace of the Church” arrived at with the Jansenists in the course of 1668–1669.180 The cause of letters is equally benefited, for they are “the products of peace, and the companions of quiet and leisure.” Gottfried Arnold and Unparteiische Church History It has been said that Gottfried Arnold’s Unparteyische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie (Impartial History of Churches and Heretics, 1699–1700) “is probably the last large work of church history to have a substantial impact on the educated general public.”181 It was also the first church history written in German, indeed “for its time the first German work of history” per se.182 That alone should make it worthy of inclusion in our survey. It also makes an excellent bridge from the early modern period to our seventh and last chapter, on Eusebius’s HE in modernity, because of Arnold’s celebrated intention to write ecclesiastical history free from the need to privilege the orthodox at the expense of the heretical. Arnold’s unparteiische stance was not, however, the secular neutrality that would become the default of modern historiography after the Enlightenment and the rise of historicism.183 He was anything but neutral in his detestation of the sins of historic institutionalized Christianity—he wrote his history only after resigning his professorial chair at Giessen in 1698, a practical expression of his alienation.184 Far from triumphing, the truth stood under the sign of the cross and was bound always to be rejected and persecuted. Deeply committed to the Pietist renewal of German Protestantism, Arnold believed fervently in the superiority of works over doctrine, of freedom over compulsion, and of inwardness over institutions.185 It has been pointed out, however, that defining true Christianity as piety and “inwardness” made writing ecclesiastical history rather problematic. It repudiated 180. Bergin, Politics of Religion, 196–205. 181. Ward, “Is Martyrdom Mandatory?,” 311, an opinion already expressed by Hermann Dörries: “the last church-historical work to make its way to the public at large,” cited in Berneburg, “Einige Gesichtspunkte und Fragen zur Wirkung der Unparteiischen Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie,” 29. On Arnold, I have also consulted Jürgen Büchsel, Gottfried Arnold: Sein Verständnis von Kirche und Wiedergeburt (Witten: Luther-Verlag, 1970), and Seeberg, Gottfried Arnold. 182. The judgment of Hermann Hettner, cited in Berneburg, “Einige Gesichtspunkte und Fragen zur Wirkung der Unparteiischen Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie,” 27–28. 183. I found Seeberg’s discussion of Arnold’s “impartiality” especially helpful: Seeberg, Gottfried Arnold, 227–233, along with the discussion that follows of how he treated primary sources from the early period. 184. That dramatic anachoresis did not last: the history was published in 1699 and 1700. One year later he married, and the year after that returned to church office, “thus accepting two of the main institutions of society” (Ward, “Is Martyrdom Mandatory?,” 316). 185. For this characterization, I rely on Ward, “Is Martyrdom Necessary?,” 312–316.


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the structural grid of apostolic succession and imperial chronology on which Eusebius had constructed his book. Successors tried to adjust or revise the grid to suit their special needs. But they could never jettison it entirely, as we have seen in Protestant historiography’s awkward negotiation of the problem of continuity/discontinuity. For Arnold, true Christianity had lapsed certainly by the start of the fourth century thanks to the collaboration with Constantine, if not already by the end of the apostolic age. A history of inwardness led necessarily to the doctrine of the invisibility of the true church: “Thus the Ketzerhistorie, which had begun with a description of the community of the primitive church and then fixated on institutions and persons, finally ends in an account of those individual Christians in the seventeenth century who were judged worthy of mention. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Arnold’s sympathy went towards those Christians who in his opinion had kept themselves free from all churches and sects.” They alone were “witnesses to the truth.”186 With such an outlook, it is unsurprising that he took a dim view of Eusebius, even though, like his predecessors, he had little choice but to make extensive use of the HE and also the Life of Constantine. (Each numbered section of the Impartial History of Churches and Heretics has extensive annotation referring both to ancient primary sources and to scholarly commentary by Arnold’s predecessors, e.g., Baronio’s Annales.) Arnold spared neither his orthodoxy (!), his moral character, nor his scholarly honesty. In a summary presentation of Eusebius’s life and works, Arnold pointed to gaps in Eusebius’s narrative to suggest he had passed over certain periods and episodes in order to avoid damning evidence about how he survived the persecutions unscathed and how he gained the episcopal appointment in Caesarea.187 By contrast, Eusebius lavished attention on Constantine’s regnal years in order to curry favor with the emperor. He invested Constantine with a sacred patina that concealed the emperor’s real political motives and ruthlessness and legitimated his desire “to unite two contradictory things, to bring together the Regiment of God and of the Devil, Christ and Belial were to become, as it were, good friends.”188 In the opinion of the ancients (here Arnold cited Socrates and Sozomen), Eusebius was, if not a true Arian, “at least a half-Arian,” whose writings leave no doubt that he could not have agreed with the orthodox about the equality of the Son with the Father. His theological prejudices explain his partisan hostility to Athanasius in his accounts of the councils at Caesarea, Tyre, and elsewhere. Of his scholarly diligence and learning Arnold granted grudging praise, noting 186. Büchsel, Gottfried Arnold, 95–99. 187. On the last point, citing Baronio, Annales ecclesiastici, AD 318, §79. 188. Arnold’s damning judgment on Constantine’s impact on Christianity, cited in Seeberg, Gottfried Arnold, 87. See Gottfried Arnold, Unparteyische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie, part 1, book 4, chap. 3, §2 (p. 141) (, accessed October 15, 2019). Arnold’s ferocious portrait of Constantine’s career is in part 1, book 4, chap. 2 (pp. 133–141).

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specifically his achievement in preserving so many writings of the ancients before his time—besides the HE and the Life of Constantine, Arnold listed the Preparation for the Gospel, the Proof of the Gospel, and especially the Chronicle. Ancient writers recognized that his flattery of Constantine was not the product of an authentic history but of a panegyric and an encomium. Nor did the moderns, he wrote, let him pass for a credible historian.189

189. Arnold’s assessment of Eusebius himself is found in Unparteyische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie, part I, book 4, chap. 4, §§45–48 (pp. 159–160).


Reading Eusebius in Modernity and Postmodernity The Ecclesiastical History in Modern Scholarship

Our treatment of Eusebius’s reception in the modern period will inevitably be selective, not least because of the diversification of approaches to his work and to early Christian literature generally, as the traditional understanding of what counts as “patristic” literature, who studies it, and for what reasons have all changed dramatically over the last half century.1 “Modern” will mean the period after the rise of history as a scholarly discipline and the adoption of “scientific” criteria for the writing of history in the seminars of nineteenth-century German universities. At that time the various themes and trends in historical study that we identified in chapter 6 come together and take on a newly systematic and self-conscious character. They include far more thorough and aggressive manuscript acquisition for preparing critical editions; the critical testing of documents and their sources for their reliability; the adoption of naturalistic canons of interpretation and the rigorous exclusion of the supernatural; the rise of historicism as a hermeneutical condition for reading texts, such that texts can only be understood within their own cultural horizon and without anachronistic bias; and (usually) the assumption of a developmental framework of some kind.2 But the proudly sovereign presumption of these practices and normative conditions will in turn invite genealogical unmasking of a sort pioneered by Nietzsche and carried forward by a host of late twentieth-century and contemporary critics 1. See Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Theodore de Bruyn, and Carol Harrison, eds., Patristics Studies in the Twenty-First Century (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015). 2. On the theoretical basis of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historicism, see Frederick C. Beiser, The German Historicist Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).


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who have subjected the “modern” itself to postmodern critique and subversion. As Michel de Certeau wrote of the passing of “objective” history once its relation to the historian as subject was recognized, “The happy days of this positivism are over. Since then an era of suspicion has reigned.”3 The practitioners of this suspicion will identify a disturbing farrago of prejudice, self-interest, and ignorance that can now be seen at work right alongside the methodological triumph of conscientious German Altertumswissenschaft and its equivalent in other Western nations. Scrupulous scholarship did not acknowledge the full reality of the social conditions that made its “scientific” work possible and that relativized its claims to its own privileged and neutral place. Observance of the highest positivist standards did not prevent the simultaneous influence of extraneous factors like orientalist4 condescension, nationalistic vaunting, imperialist greed and acquisitiveness, class presumption, racism, and dogmatic and confessional prejudice (in sectors where ecclesiastical authority still exercised cultural and/or legal power). For Eusebius and his book, the joint impact of both of these movements— modernist historical science and postmodern unmasking alike—amounts to a historiographical perfect storm. He will draw fire from all manner of critics standing behind a host of “posts”—postcolonial, postmodern, post-Constantinian, post-Christian, and so forth—each of whom will have their own objections to Eusebius’s historiography and against his theo-political vision. A lonely minority of defenders whom we may characterize as “postcritical” or “postliberal” will mount a spirited but futile resistance. The chapter will begin by examining publication venues in which Eusebius’s HE has been made available to modern readers. The character of each of these will tell us something about who was sponsoring work on his book and what motives seem to have been in play. Then we will turn to modern critiques, first secular, then religious. I N SE A R C H O F PAT R O N S : T H E E C C L E S IAST I C A L H I ST ORY A N D I T S M O D E R N H I ST O RY O F P U B L IC AT IO N

The publication history of the HE is a telling index of its modern reception. I offer here a selective review largely of English-language editions, along with a glance at Gustave Bardy’s French edition and a detour into the circumstances behind the publication of Eduard Schwartz’s critical edition of the HE, which has played such 3. Michel de Certeau, Writing of History, 58; see the long and sometimes opaque discussion of the “place” of historiographical work, 58–102, to which I was led by Clark’s introduction of Certeau in History, Theory, Text, 122–123. 4. Marchand, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire, brilliantly captures how the struggle of German scholarship on “the East” to secure professional standing and respect made it difficult to see its subject matter except through Western lenses.


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a large role in this book. Our interest is in the purposes, stated or only implied, behind a given publication, and not in the quality of the translation as such. We alluded in the previous chapter to early modern Latin translations of the HE, principally the one that accompanied Henri de Valois’s critical edition of 1659. English translations were not slow in appearing, the first one made by Meredith Hanmer (mentioned in chapter 6) and issued by Thomas Vautrollier in London in 1577. It went on to enjoy six revised editions over the next hundred years.5 The most widely circulated nineteenth-century English translation was the work of an American Episcopalian clergyman of German descent named C. F. Crusé. It was first published in Philadelphia in 1833 and subsequently reprinted many times, most recently in 1998, an inexplicably long afterlife considering its deficiencies.6 Eusebius did not make it into the ambitious translation series Library of the Fathers, launched as a by-product of the Oxford Movement—its full title, A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church: Anterior to the Division of the East and West, captures the confessional purpose.7 His omission is not terribly surprising, given the selectivity of the series (three-fourths of the existing forty-eight volumes come from just four authors). One wonders too whether the influence of John Henry Newman in the project may have blackballed Eusebius. In Newman’s great work, The Arians of the Fourth Century, Eusebius is treated condescendingly as an exemplar of the Erastian churchmen of Newman’s own day, whom he criticized for giving too much away to the authority of the state.8 Here is his cameo portrait of Eusebius: In supporting Arianism in its new direction, the other Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, was of singular service. This distinguished writer, to whom the Christian world has so great a debt at the present day, though not characterized by the unprincipled ambition of his namesake [of Nicomedia], is unhappily connected in history with the Arian party. He seems to have had the virtues of the mere man of letters: strongly excited neither to good nor to evil, and careless at once of the cause of truth and the prizes of secular greatness, in comparison of the comforts and decencies of literary 5. See the summary of early modern translations into Latin and vernacular European languages in A. C. McGiffert, “Prolegomena,” in Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, Oration in Praise of Constantine, NPNF 2.1:52–56. 6. C. F. Crusé, trans., Eusebius, An Ecclesiastical History . . ., 4th rev. ed. (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1847), also in Bohn’s Ecclesiastical Library (London: Henry George Bohn, 1851); reprinted most recently as Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1998). Cf. the dismissive judgment of McGiffert, Eusebius, NPNF 2.1: 56: “very faulty and unsatisfactory . . . marred by many serious omissions and interpolations which reveal an inexcusable degree of carelessness on his part.” 7. A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church: Anterior to the Division of the East and West, ed. E. B. Pusey et al. (London: J. G. & F. Rivington; Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1838–1881. See http://www 8. King, Newman and the Alexandrian Fathers, 68. King reframes Newman’s historiography of Arianism in this famous treatise from his Anglican days. My thanks to Christopher Beeley for bringing King’s work to my attention.

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ease. . . . In his own writings, numerous as they are, there is very little which fixes on Eusebius any charge, beyond that of an attachment to the Platonic phraseology. Had he not connected himself with the Arian party, it would have been unjust to have suspected him of heresy. But his acts are his confession. He openly sided with those whose blasphemies a true Christian would have abhorred. . . . But it is a different reason which has led to the mention of Eusebius in this connection. The grave accusation under which he lies, is not that of arianizing, but of corrupting the simplicity of the Gospel with an Eclectic spirit. While he held out the ambiguous language of the schools as a refuge, and the Alexandrian imitation of it as an argument, against the pursuit of the orthodox, his conduct gave countenance to the secular maxim, that difference in creeds is a matter of inferior moment, and that, provided we confess the terms of Scripture, we may speculate as philosophers, and live as the world. A more dangerous adviser Constantine could not have selected, than a man thus variously gifted, thus exalted in the Church, thus disposed towards the very errors against which he required especially to be guarded. The remark has been made that, throughout his Ecclesiastical History no instance occurs of his expressing abhorrence of the superstitions of paganism, and that his custom is either to praise, or not to blame, such heretical writers as fall under his notice.9

This arch dismissal (“the mere man of letters . . . strongly excited neither to good nor to evil”), heavy with Newman’s revulsion against ecclesiastical accommodation, perfectly encapsulates orthodox Christianity’s bill of attainder against Eusebius. It is also inaccurate—it would surprise most readers of the HE to hear that Eusebius neither praised nor blamed the heretical authors covered in his book! The Library of the Fathers was originally supposed to include historical sources, specifically the works of Eusebius and of Theodoret.10 But that did not happen, and Newman’s low estimate may have had something to do with it. Those who go online to find an English translation of the HE are likely to encounter first the version of A. C. McGiffert, originally published in 1890 as volume 1 in the second series of A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF), the ambitious program of patristic translations launched by church historian Philip Schaff (1819–1893).11 Schaff is well known to historians of American Christianity as a godfather of the Mercersburg Theology, an influential antebellum romanticizing Protestant renewal movement in the United States.12 Born in Switzerland and trained at German universities, Schaff came to America in 1844 to join 9. Newman, Arians of the Fourth Century (1897; originally published, 1833), 261–263. 10. Pfaff, “Library of the Fathers,” 343. 11. McGiffert, The Church History of Eusebius, trans., intro., and notes A. C. McGiffert, NPNF 2.1: v–404. The volume also included E. C. Richardson’s translations and annotations of Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, Constantine’s Oration to the Assembly of the Saints, and Eusebius’s Oration in Praise of Constantine. On Schaff and the NPNF, see Clark, Founding the Fathers, 47–49. 12. On the Mercersburg Theology, see Clark, Founding the Fathers, 244–246, and passim on Schaff and his long career.


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the faculty at the German Reformed Seminary in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. When the seminary closed during the Civil War (located not far from Gettysburg, it was pressed into service as a hospital for captured Confederate soldiers), Schaff moved to New York City and joined the staff of Union Theological Seminary, where he spent the rest of his career. In the words of Elizabeth Clark, Schaff “put Church History on the map as an academic field of study in America.” He envisioned his patristics translation series as being “historical, without any sectarian or partisan aim.”13 That was probably intended as a pointed contrast to the strongly apologetic and anti–Roman Catholic slant of the new American edition of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF).14 It would be published on a subscription basis by the Christian Literature Publishing Company of Buffalo, New York, which had just published the ANF. In the event, Schaff ’s subscription efforts weren’t initially successful, and he generously advanced $5000 of his own money to supplement the publisher’s anticipated losses.15 Schaff hoped to use some of the existing translations in the Oxford Library of the Fathers. He tried and failed to convince Newman to revise his Athanasius volume from that series, though NPNF eventually did secure rights to reprint, with some revisions, Newman’s edition, along with his notes.16 Augustine and Chrysostom dominated the NPNF’s first series, which appeared from 1886 to 1889. Schaff wanted the early church historians featured in the second series, beginning with Eusebius, and continuing with Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Rufinus, Jerome, and Gennadius.17 Schaff persuaded a young Union Theological student named Arthur Cushman McGiffert (1861–1933) to take on the Eusebius volume, while McGiffert was engaged in doctoral study with Adolf Harnack in Berlin and Marburg (his persuasiveness was strengthened by his sponsor13. Cited in Clark, Founding the Fathers, 47. 14. The ANF had originally been published in Edinburgh by T&T Clark as The Ante-Nicene Christian Library (1867–1873), then reprinted in America in 1885, apparently without due consent, edited in rearranged form and annotated, by Arthur Cleveland Coxe. An Episcopal priest and bishop of Western New York, Coxe never got over having his ardently high-church sentiments crushed by John Henry Newman’s Tract 90, which signaled Newman’s abandonment of the Oxford Movement for Roman Catholicism. See Clark, “Arthur Cleveland Coxe, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and Roman Catholicism,” which Clark published after reviewing new archival material on Coxe donated to General Theological Seminary in New York (170). Coxe’s advocacy in his production of the ANF was a deviation, Clark says, from the more scrupulously neutral annotations of its Scottish predecessor (168 n. 21). 15. Clark, Founding the Fathers, 48. 16. Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, ed. Archibald Robertson, NPNF 2.4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903). Writing in 1891, Robertson expressed his misgivings about certain of Newman’s judgments. Criticizing Newman’s certitude about the clear-cut boundaries between orthodox and heretical, Robertson said, “Such an assumption operates with special injustice against men like Eusebius, whose position does not fall in with so summary a classification” (vi). 17. Clark, Founding the Fathers, 390 n. 273. Translations of Cyril of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, and Photius were also envisioned, though these never appeared.

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ship of McGiffert’s more than two years of study in Germany, where he had brought his family).18 The Eusebius volume duly appeared in 1890, and McGiffert planned to make Eusebius’s HE the subject of a German university-style seminar at his first professional appointment at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. After much maneuvering, Schaff was able to ensure that McGiffert was in a position to succeed him when he retired from his chair in church history at Union in 1893. Clark quotes a grateful McGiffert as declaring Schaff to have been “my own particular patron saint.”19 McGiffert’s own career is familiar to American church historians because he became one of the leading targets of the sensational heresy trials that rent the Presbyterian Church in the United States in the 1890s.20 After the publication in 1897 of his History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age led to the prospect of a trial before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, McGiffert left the Presbyterians and joined the Congregational Church, and was able to retain his faculty position at Union. His Eusebius volume richly fulfilled Schaff ’s hopes. It contained substantial prolegomena (fifty double-columned pages on Eusebius’s life and writings, a summary of the publication history since the invention of printing, and a valuable translation of Valesius’s collection of ancient testimonials, pro and con, on Eusebius), a translation with highly detailed annotation that was a virtual commentary, and supplementary notes, episcopal lists, and calendar tables. The biography and the annotation are at a high scholarly level and show McGiffert’s German training to great advantage, even where his research has been superseded. As Schaff had predicted when he persuaded McGiffert to take on the Eusebius volume, the book laid the foundation for a successful professorial career and established McGiffert as the pioneer of the scholarly study of early Christianity in the United States.21 As for Eusebius himself, McGiffert thought him much superior to his successor historians’ addiction to miracle stories and legends and did not consider his Life of Constantine to be “dishonest,” while criticizing Eusebius’s focus on the supernatural conflict between God and Satan, his shortcomings in chronology and organization, and his failure to recognize development and change.22 In his introduction, McGiffert regretted that there was still no truly adequate critical edition of Eusebius. Just a few years later, Eduard Schwartz (1858–1940) decisively met that need with his monumental edition of the HE. Between 1903 and 1909, it appeared as volume 2, in three parts, of Eusebius Werke in the series 18. On A. C. McGiffert’s life and scholarship, see now Clark’s sequel to Founding the Fathers: The Fathers Refounded, 39–140. My thanks to Elizabeth Clark for sharing with me her address on McGiffert at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society. 19. Clark, Fathers Refounded, 51. 20. Ibid., 49–54. 21. Ibid., 42–43. 22. Ibid., 63–64, 93–94.


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Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte (GCS), the great publication project of critical editions of early Christian authors sponsored by the Royal Prussian Academy of the Sciences in Berlin.23 The GCS was the product of the fruitful collaboration of Roman historian and classical scholar Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903) and church historian and Lutheran theologian Adolf Harnack (1851–1930).24 Harnack’s initial admission into the Prussian Academy in 1890 had been on the strength of his work as a historian, not as a theologian.25 Mommsen, secretary of the Academy until 1895, had seen in Harnack a skilled advocate for the large-scale collaborative enterprises he believed were the appropriate scholarly and scientific analogue to the concentrated power of modern industrial states. The creation of the GCS, or Kirchenväterkommission (Church Fathers Commission) as it was usually called, has been described as the most successful of their joint efforts to shepherd a cluster of collective altertumskundlich (related to ancient sources) enterprises through the obstacle course of the Prussian Ministry of Education.26 Its mission was to publish editions of Greek literary sources regarding the origin of Christianity up to the age of the Reichskirche of Constantine, apart from the New Testament itself.27 The limitation to Greek texts was used as promotional leverage to vaunt the superiority of the German national enterprise to the (admittedly much larger) production of the Latin Fathers, the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL), begun in 1864 in Hapsburg Vienna by the Austrian Imperial Academy of the Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften). The GCS Church Fathers Commission pointed out that the Greek sources, though fewer in number, exceeded the Latin texts in historical importance, and declared that it was “a binding duty of German scholarship” (eine Ehrenpflicht der deutschen Wissenschaft) to bring these most important sources to bear on illuminating the origin of Christianity.28

23. Eusebius, Kirchengeschichte, ed. and intro. Eduard Schwartz, GCS 2.1–3. Editions of the Life of Constantine and the orations in praise of Constantine (1902), the Onomasticon (1904), the Theophany in a German translation of the Syriac version (1904), Against Marcellus and On the Ecclesiastical Theology (1906), a German rendering of the Armenian translation of the Chronicle (1911), and the Demonstratio evangelica (1913) also appeared in rapid succession, after which World War I and regime change temporarily interrupted the series. 24. See Rebenich, “Die Altertumswissenschaften und die Kirchenväterkommission an der Akademie,” esp. 213–220. 25. Ibid., 210. 26. Ibid., 213. 27. Since 1945 the GCS has dropped the restrictive phrase “of the first three centuries” from its formal title. It is now in the care of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of the Sciences, under the editorship of Christoph Markschies, and published by Walter de Gruyter ( /serial/16240). 28. Rebenich, “Die Altertumswissenschaften und die Kirchenväterkommission,” 214.

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The well-funded series was intended from the beginning to be interdisciplinary (though the philologists never quite trusted the competence of the theologians), interconfessional (a strategic decision was made to include some representatives of “reformed,” i.e., liberal, Catholicism), and international as well. Schwartz had been trained as a classical philologist but from early in his career showed an interest in patristic texts as well. His greatest project would be the critical edition of the acts of the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), the Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum (1914–1940). But Eusebius came first. By 1890 he was already sending Mommsen plans for an edition of the HE, and the newly formed Church Fathers Commission accepted his proposal a year later. He worked on it for almost twenty years, with the third and concluding volume of Prolegomena not coming until 1909, a full five years after the first two volumes of the critical edition proper (1903, 1904). Friedhelm Winkelmann, in an article published as he was preparing a new printing of the GCS edition, noted the weighty importance of the Prolegomena volume as a monograph in its own right, and a book that shows the elements that drew him to work on Eusebius’s book: the richness of the manuscript tradition, the evidence that the manuscripts betray recensions that may go back to Eusebius himself, and Eusebius’s preoccupation with problems of chronology and chronography.29 A recent conference on Schwartz’s scholarly legacy identified certain overriding features of his approach to Eusebius and to ecclesiastical history as a subject.30 Schwartz reproved existing church history as a discipline for its narrowness— reducing church history to the history of dogma, at the expense of political history; focusing on martyrdom narratives at the expense of the legal processes at work; and neglecting literary history in favor of theological history.31 At the same time, as Christoph Markschies has pointed out, Schwartz’s own fixation on documents— acta, episcopal lists, regnal lists, and the like—rather resembles Eusebius himself.32 His preoccupation with power relationships, criticized as excessive by theologically oriented critics, may not be as reductionist as it seems but reflects a very modern— even postmodern—awareness of the inextricably embedded nature of all knowledge in power relationships, as we have been taught to see them by Foucault.33 The twentieth century saw several noteworthy ventures that deserve mention here. The most impressive is the two-volume translation plus commentary published jointly by H. J. Lawlor and J. E. L. Oulton. Oulton’s translation appeared as 29. Winkelmann, “Eduard Schwartz, Eusebius Werke,” 61–62. 30. Heil and von Stockhausen, Crux Interpretum, esp. the contributions of Markschies, “Eduard Schwartz und die Kirchengeschichte,” 1–16, and Hartwig Brandt, “Eduard Schwartz und das Verhältnis zwischen Kirchen- und Reichsgeschichte,” 37–50. My thanks to Annette von Stockhausen for providing access to this collection. 31. Markschies, “Eduard Schwartz und die Kirchengeschichte,” 9. 32. Ibid., 10. 33. Markschies’s observation (“Eduard Schwartz und die Kirchengeschichte,” 12–14).


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volume 1 in 1927, followed a year later by Lawlor’s volume of explanatory notes.34 The translation is easily the most useful in print,35 especially because it keeps to the book, section, and paragraph numbering of the Schwartz edition, and because of its fidelity to the Greek. It also contains the editors’ adaptation of the Martyrs of Palestine in both the long version, extant fully only in an ancient Syriac translation, and the shorter version in Greek, with scrupulous efforts expended to indicate the relation of the excerpts to the manuscript remains from Latin fragments as well.36 The commentary, which includes a detailed assessment of Eusebius’s use of quotations, is still worth consulting nearly a century later.37 The Lawlor-Oulton edition is especially impressive in that it was a stand-alone offering and not part of a larger series. Oulton’s translation did, however, eventually get adopted by the Loeb Classical Library after that series passed to Harvard University Press following the death of its founder, James Loeb, in 1933.38 Born in New York in 1867 to German-Jewish parents, Loeb had joined the family banking business after graduating from Harvard in 1888. But business never agreed with him, and after a series of health crises, possibly involving depression, he retired permanently in 1902. Three years later he moved to Germany, where he stayed the rest of his life, apart from some time during the First World War. Always a dedicated patron of learning and the arts, especially music, in Germany he devoted further philanthropy to medical and psychiatric institutions. He also conceived the idea of a bilingual series of affordable pocket editions of the Greek and Latin classics, and discussed the project with the great classicist Ulrich von WilamowitzMoellendorff, who discouraged him from including the church fathers, as we know from letters between the two.39 Happily, Wilamowitz’s counsel at least on this point was partly ignored. In 1926 Kirsopp Lake published a translation of the first five books of the HE on the basis of Schwartz’s text, along with a fifty-six-page introduction that included comments on Eusebius’s major sources. As Lake was preparing to complete the remaining books, he learned of Oulton’s existing endeavor and persuaded him to take on the remainder of the Loeb edition using

34. Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, trans. with intro. and notes, H. J. Lawlor and J. E. L. Oulton, 2 vols. (London: S.P.C.K., 1927, 1928; repr. 1954). 35. No longer true since the publication of the new translation of Jeremy Schott (on which, see below). 36. The editors explain their layout rationale for the MP, Lawlor and Oulton, Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, 2:46–50. 37. Lawlor and Oulton, Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, 2:19–27. 38. On Loeb, see (accessed May 16, 2018). 39. Horsley, “One Hundred Years of the Loeb Classical Library,” citing (54) a 1910 letter of Wilamowitz to Loeb.

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his own work as a basis.40 For many years, the Loeb edition has been the most available printed medium for students and scholars who want quick access to the Greek original. Eusebius’s HE also was an early entry in the great French bilingual series Sources chrétiennes, begun in Lyon in 1942 as the joint venture of the Jesuit patristics scholars Jean Daniélou, Claude Mondésert, and Henri de Lubac, to promote the renewal of Catholic theology through a “return to the sources” (ressourcement) of Christianity. Eusebius must have been an easy choice, especially given his prominence in the theological trajectory stemming from Origen that was so central a feature of the ressourcement project. The task of translating Eusebius fell to Gustave Bardy (1881–1955), by then at the end of a long career as a scholar of early Christianity with a specialization in patristic exegesis. Like other learned priests of his generation, he had felt the sting of the anti-modernist reaction. In 1923 he was removed from his teaching position at the Institut Catholique in Lille, after his thèse de doctorat d’État on Paul of Samosata41 was condemned by the Vatican’s Holy Office—it was written under the direction of Charles Guignebert (1867– 1939), the lay historian of Christianity and professor at the Sorbonne, who professed to teach his subject no differently from the history of any religion. In 1928 Bardy revised the thesis so that it could be approved by the ecclesiastical authorities and then moved to Dijon, where in 1931 he got a position editing a diocesan publication. During the Second World War, he was eventually allowed to teach in the Dijon diocesan seminary.42 Bardy was given three volumes in which to provide his French translation with Schwartz’s facing Greek text on the left page.43 There was virtually no introductory material, however, and minimal annotation, mostly limited to cross-references, modest bibliography, and chronological notes. It is unclear whether this was caution borne of earlier entanglement with ecclesiastical authority or simply the rather spare annotation of Sources chrétiennes in its early years. (As users of Sources chrétiennes know well, the format has swollen with time, and the footnotes in this book bear witness to the rich annotation adorning the editions of late antique Greek Christian ecclesiastical historiography that the series has made available in recent years.) Bardy did plan a fourth volume of introductory material 40. Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1, trans. Kirsopp Lake, LCL (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: W. Heinemann, 1926); vol. 2, trans. J. E. L. Oulton, LCL (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: W. Heinemann, 1932), with Lake’s note in the preface to vol. 2 (vii). 41. See Eus. HE 7.27–30. Paul was bishop of Antioch in the mid-third century. He and his teaching were condemned by two synods in Antioch in 264 and ca. 268. The bishops were reduced to appealing to the Roman emperor Aurelian in their effort to remove him. 42. Laplanche, La crise de l’origine, 307 n. 2. 43. Eusèbe de Césarée, Histoire ecclésiastique, Greek text, trans., and notes, Gustave Bardy, SC 31, 41, and 55 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1952/1978, 1955, 1967).


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and relevant tables of information but died before he could complete it. That volume appeared posthumously in 1960 and then was reissued a decade later with addenda and corrigenda.44 It was never intended to be a true commentary, however, a task that has now been taken up by the Morlet-Perrone team whose work we relied on in chapter 1 of this book. The American Catholic venture into ressourcement included the long-runnning translation series Fathers of the Church (FOTC) by the Catholic University of America Press, though it began as a private venture and did not come under CUA Press management until 1961. According to Roy J. Deferrari, who was principal editor of the series during its early years (1949–1960), the suggestion of a new set of English translations of patristic authors was first made by James Cardinal Gibbons, the famous archbishop of Baltimore and primate of the American Catholic Church. The rationale, said Deferrari, was what he called the “nothing short of shocking” anti-Catholic bias of the existing Protestant-inspired translations in the ANF and Philip Schaff ’s NPNF.45 FOTC began publication in 1947 as the brainchild of Dr. Ludwig Schopp (d. 1949) of New York, with substantial financial support from the Dougherty family of Beeville, Texas. Dr. Schopp’s managerial abilities did not match his ambition, however, and following his death in 1949, Deferrari had to arrange a virtual restart of the series, serving as its chief editor until 1960. While editor, he took on the task of translating Eusebius’s HE, which appeared in two volumes in 1953 and 1955.46 His introduction is a competent overview of Eusebius’s intellectual and ecclesiastical career, and Deferrari is to be complimented for seeing the unique degree to which “literary-historical” values coexisted in his work with a pervasive and profoundly apologetic agenda.47 He noted shifts in Eusebius’s posthumous reputation that explain the ambiguities associated with his name, rightly pointing out the penalties Eusebius paid for the Arian association, his solicitude for the legacy of Origen, and his posthumous appropriation by the forces of iconoclasm in Byzantium. But the commentary is bland and overly conservative, a bias for which Deferrari seems a tad defensive. Justifying a new English translation alongside three already-existing modern translations (McGiffert/ NPNF, Lawlor-Oulton, and Lake-Oulton/Loeb), he says guardedly, “No one of these translations, however, has been done from a Catholic point of view, which in

44. Eusèbe de Césarée, Histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 4, intro. Gustave Bardy, index Pierre Périchon SJ, SC 73bis (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1960/1971). 45. Deferrari, Memoirs of the Catholic University of America, 372–381, at 372. My thanks to Carole Monica Burnett of the Catholic University of America Press for bringing Deferrari’s memoir to my attention. 46. Eusebius Pamphili, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Roy J. Deferrari, 2 vols., FOTC 19 and 29 (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1953, 1955). 47. Ibid., FOTC 19:29.

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the case of a writer such as Eusebius creates serious difficulties.”48 His assertion of the anti-Catholic bias in ANF and NPNF explains his concern, though the judgment is patently unfair if applied to McGiffert’s annotations in his NPNF Eusebius volume discussed above. Deferrari’s gingerly treatment of Eusebius’s discussion of the New Testament canon in HE 3.24–25 may be a telling indication of why he was so anxious that Eusebius be read “from a Catholic point of view.”49 The most widely used English translation has been the Penguin Classics edition of G. A. Williamson, whose price and availability explain its popularity, especially in the revision of Andrew Louth, with its invaluable hundred-page glossary of who’s who in Eusebius’s HE.50 This writer once reviewed the translation with an eye toward doing a new one and was struck at times by its closeness to the Oulton version. The layout is also frustrating in its inept effort to distinguish by typeface and indentation passages that are quotations made by Eusebius from passages in his own words. Considering how much of the HE consists of quotations— themselves often containing further embedded quotations—that is a disservice to the novice reader. But price and availability mean that Penguin translation has long dominated the English-language marketplace. It will soon lose its dominance, however, with the appearance of a completely new translation by Jeremy Schott that has just been published by the University of California Press.51 In keeping with current approaches to the study of Eusebius, Schott’s edition treats Eusebius’s history as a literary production, an approach that dominates his introduction and notes. It comes with valuable study aids, including helpful schematic maps drawn to fit the changing circumstances of Eusebius’s narrative, and an invaluable index locorum of sources quoted or mentioned by Eusebius.52 The numbering by book, chapter, and sentence of the Schwartz edition is also welcome. And the page layout addresses beautifully the objection raised above to the Penguin edition. Completeness obliges us to mention another contemporary English translation and commentary, by Paul L. Maier, with a Grand Rapids, Michigan, evangelical publisher. Its pictures and glossy layout are easy on the eye, but the pietistic commentary does not meet academic standards.53 The publisher’s investment in color 48. Ibid., FOTC 19:32. 49. Ibid., FOTC 19:173–180. 50. Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, trans. G. A. Williamson, rev. ed. with intro., Andrew Louth (London: Penguin Books, 1989). 51. Eusebius of Caesaea, The History of the Church, trans. Jeremy M. Schott (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019). A companion commentary is in the works. 52. See my review in Review of Biblical Literature, forthcoming. 53. Eusebius, History of the Church, trans. with commentary, Paul L. Maier (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1998). Critically reviewed by Sabrina Inowlocki, Review of Biblical Literature 7 (2008), (accessed May 31, 2018).


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reproductions suggests there is a market for such versions of the HE. American evangelical scholarship has recently produced its own serious version of ressourcement in the form of the series Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church’s Future, edited by Daniel H. Williams, which seeks to reacquaint evangelical readers with ancient postbiblical sources of the Christian tradition.54 But Maier’s edition of the HE is a disappointing contribution to that worthy goal. As a sort of appendix, I should also make reference to the valuable collection of papers on Eusebius’s HE and related matters edited by Harold Attridge and Gohei Hata, Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism.55 This 1992 publication was early evidence of the surge of scholarly interest in Eusebius as a figure in his own right that has grown so dramatically since then. The collection was accompanied by editor Gohei Hata’s Japanese translation of the HE and a Japanese translation of the collected essays, a production model that had already been employed in an earlier volume of papers on Josephus that was commissioned to accompany a Japanese translation of Josephus’s works.56 The Eusebius volume contains numerous substantive contributions, several of which have been cited in this book. C R I T IC A L R E C E P T IO N I : SE C U L A R

In theory we could group “secular” criticism into two distinct categories defined by the difference between modernist and postmodern approaches to historical texts, as described above. (I am calling them “secular” in the simple sense of what is not religious, since I think theologically motivated critiques of Eusebius are different enough that they must be considered in a separate section.) But “modernist” and “postmodern” often overlap in practice, and it would be misleading to imply that some sort of either-or is necessarily involved. The characterization of individual books or articles in what follows mainly has illustrative value and should not be taken as a comprehensive description of any of the scholars who wrote them. Both approaches share a critical awareness that the winners do indeed write history. Both would certainly agree that Eusebius’s book can fairly be credited—or blamed—for popularizing a narrative about apostolic succession and the priority of orthodoxy that would shape Christian historiography until the early modern period. No one today doubts that the HE needs thorough vetting to discover, to the degree possible, what Eusebius has not told us in his history, whether through

54. Laing, Retrieving History is a fine recent fruit of that project. 55. Attridge and Hata, Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism. Reviewed by H. A. Drake, Catholic Historical Review 79.3 (1993): 729–734. 56. Louis H. Feldman and Gohei Hata, eds., Josephus, Judaism, and Christianity (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987).

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conscious selectivity or involuntary ignorance. This has been recognized at least since the time of Gottfried Arnold, as we saw in the previous chapter. Nevertheless, it does seem that recent years have seen a discernible change in the meaning of what constitutes “critical” scholarship. Elizabeth Clark characterized the change in the subtitle of her 2004 book, History, Theory, Text, as “the linguistic turn.”57 Her book was a clear and instructive primer in how philosophy and literary criticism were changing our understanding of the slippery relationship between language and the world, a relationship that could no longer be understood naively as unmediated or direct. Instead that relationship was now to be decoded or unmasked through an ensemble of interpretive techniques sometimes called “literary theory,” “critical theory,” or just “theory” for short. Clark’s book was also an invitation directed specifically to her own sector of the historical guild, late ancient intellectual historians, whose research typically focused on “literary texts of a highly rhetorical and ideological nature,”58 a description that certainly applies to Eusebius’s oeuvre. Chapter 1 of this book, a survey of current work on Eusebius, sought to find the right interpretive balance between apologetics and scholarship in his writings, while also synthesizing the “theo-political vision” that informed them. The chapter’s analysis drew chiefly from the research of historians (Barnes, Momigliano, DeVore, etc.), chronographers (Burgess, Adler), and philologists (Morlet, Prinzivalli, Winkelmann, etc.), whose methods are by and large the traditional tools of modern historical scholarship. The work of scholars like Averil Cameron and Aaron Johnson, who experiment with methods more attuned to the linguistic turn described by Clark, also contributed to that analysis. But I generally avoided methodologically bolder readings, such as Clark herself has encouraged, or students of hers like Jeremy Schott and Andrew Jacobs, whose postcolonial insights we will review presently.59 But first we need to pay respects to an aspect of Eusebius’s modern reception that has thus far gone unmentioned. I refer here to Eusebius’s place in Walter Bauer’s 1934 book, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum (Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity), a classic exercise in modernist historical criticism.60 Bauer’s epochal study revolutionized understandings of unity and diversity in early Christianity by demonstrating the antiquity and geographical spread of “heretical” forms of Christianity and arguing that the distinction between “orthodoxy” and “heresy” was an invention of the second century, largely at the 57. Clark, History, Theory, Text. 58. Ibid., 161. 59. See, e.g., Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity; and Jacobs, Remains of the Jews. 60. This “modernist” feature of his book is well emphasized by Markschies, Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire, 331, who speaks of the “positivistic illusion” of an absolute model of development, free from ideology and presuppositions.


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behest of ecclesiastical authorities centered in Rome, who successfully propagated a false narrative about the priority of “orthodoxy” on the basis of episcopacy and apostolic succession.61 Bauer himself was a lexicographer and scholar of Christian origins more than a historian of early Christianity as such. But his powerfully argued thesis has ever since influenced the study not only of the New Testament but of early church history and theology in general. His impact in the English-speaking world was somewhat delayed until 1971, when a collaborative American project translated Bauer’s second edition into English. An assessment of “the Bauer thesis” is beyond the scope of this book.62 What does pertain is the centrality of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History in his argumentation. Even though Bauer located the nerve center of normative consolidation of primitive Christian pluralism in Rome, about which Eusebius was poorly informed, the HE’s array of quoted second-century documents, along with Eusebius’s assertion of apostolic succession and the priority and universality of orthodoxy, made his book at one and the same time an irreplaceable witness and a central suspect in Bauer’s indictment.63 The HE is the chief literary embodiment of the tendentious tradition that Bauer scorned as “ecclesiastical historiography.” He particularly attacked what he saw as Eusebius’s inflated claims about works he supposedly possessed and read, arguing that this was an important way in which Eusebius exaggerated the pervasiveness of orthodoxy. It is true that Eusebius has long been criticized for the shortcomings, selectivity, and outright confusion in his quotations.64 But here Bauer may have overreached. Andrew Carriker’s comprehensive study of Eusebius’s library in Caesarea comes to more generous conclusions than Bauer in assessing what books Eusebius actually owned and used, as, for instance, in Eusebius’s catalogue of the literary works of Melito of Sardis (Eus. HE 4.26).65 The prosecutorial zeal of Bauer’s book is a reminder that we did not need to wait for postmodern suspicion and ideology criticism to give us fierce critiques of Eusebius’s historiography. Bauer’s core thesis about the experimental diversity of primitive Christianity has in some form or other long been acknowledged and 61. Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 229–232. 62. Ibid., 286–316: initial reception in 1934 summarized. See now the retrospective of Markschies, Christian Theology and Its Institutions, 301–331. Paul A. Hartog, ed., Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis (Cambridge: James Clarke, 2015), is dominated by evangelical concerns with the coherence of the New Testament canon. Bingham, “Reading the Second Century,” makes Bauer a central figure. My thanks to Jeffrey Bingham for sharing his article, the presidential address of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society, prior to publication. 63. See esp. Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy, 147–194. 64. See already the unsparing analysis of Lawlor and Oulton, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, 2:19–27. 65. Cf. Carriker, Library of Eusebius of Caesarea, 269–275, with the skeptical account of Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy, 152–155.

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integrated, I may say almost domesticated, into otherwise friendly accounts of Christian development. A beautiful example of this is church historian Robert Wilken’s The Myth of Christian Beginnings, one of the earliest of his books.66 It is a literate and charming walk through Christian history and historiography with the goal of freeing Christian readers from fixating on a supposedly pure apostolic age in the past from which we have fallen and to which we are always trying to return, in favor instead of a comprehensive grasp of our entire history and a forwardlooking embrace of the future. Wilken’s stress on the original diversity of Christianity, and his insistence that there was never a “pure” and ideal time, depend on historical work like Walter Bauer’s—Wilken was in fact part of the American team that produced the English-language translation of Bauer, at the same time that he was writing The Myth of Christian Beginnings.67 The idealization of the apostolic period and the view of an unchanging, universal Christian faith are the heritage of what Wilken calls “the Eusebian view of history,” “the Eusebian construction of the past,” “the Eusebian model of history,” and so on.68 While complimenting Eusebius’s HE as “the most important historical work ever written on Christianity,” Wilken remarks that it is unfortunately “history without history” and he regrets some of its influence, which endures even in modern, historically sophisticated (and mostly Protestant-inspired) interpretations of Christian origins that still tend to presume a pure normative state of affairs from which subsequent events are a fall (a shortcoming that applies to Bauer’s work as well). In contrast, the proper perspective in his view is the ever-lengthening perspective of time, which alone can show what Christianity is becoming and therefore what it truly is.69 Here Wilken touches on a point that is both historical and theological, and to that extent he and his book may more properly belong to the next section of this chapter, which deals with theologically oriented criticism of Eusebius. When he says that Christianity can be understood fully only by what it has become, he identifies the current moment of its history, our own time, as “post-Constantinian.”70 Christianity’s identity cannot therefore somehow be severed or detached from the millennium and a half of religious establishment that preceded secularization. 66. Wilken, Myth of Christian Beginnings. 67. Ibid., 161–164, citing Bauer at 163 n. 3, and 184–185. The section of Orthodoxy and Heresy that Wilken worked on directly as a translator is the chapter “The Use of Literature in the Conflict” that we highlighted above because of its focus on Eusebius. 68. Wilken, Myth of Christian Beginnings, 53–76, 187–193. 69. See Wilken, Myth of Christian Beginnings, 193–194. This is argued most fully in Wilken’s critique of Adolf Harnack’s claim to have found “the essence of Christianity” through a search into origins (140–157). Here Wilken appears to channel Alfred Loisy’s response to Harnack’s Das Wesen des Christentums (1900; Eng. trans. 1904, What Is Christianity?) in L’Évangile et l’Église (1904; Eng. trans. 1976, The Gospel and the Church). 70. See Wilken, Myth of Christian Beginnings, 194–198, for what follows.


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That era, he says, grew out of Christians’ “dream of the unity of mankind in the worship of the one God,” an aspiration, we argued in chapter 1, Eusebius really did hold and advocate. But the era of establishment entailed grave dangers as well, and the example that Wilken specifically names is Christian anti-Semitism.71 We cannot pretend simply to dismiss anti-Semitism, he writes, as though it were an incidental falling off from pure Christianity. That would be to indulge in the kind of forgetfulness that “the Eusebian view of history” made too easy. We must come to grips with it instead. Wilken does not try to do this here, nor will we. But his reference to the history of Christian anti-Semitism and its roots in a Christian universalism for which Eusebius became a classic exponent makes a good transition to discussing historiography on Eusebius written from a distinctly postmodern perspective. His attitude toward Jews and Judaism will lend itself especially well to such an approach. In the last chapter of her book on “the linguistic turn,” Elizabeth Clark outlines what “a new intellectual history” of early Christian literature might look like if it were written along the lines she summarizes in her book.72 It should pay attention to “intertextuality” and to “the conditions of their [literary] production.” It should exercise skepticism about the ideological motives underlying “grand narratives” of the rise and triumph of Christianity. It should heed Hayden White’s dictum that “there is no politically innocent historiography,” and medievalist Gabrielle Spiegel’s call to ferret out “the political unconscious” of the text. Clark singles out Eusebius and his corpus of writings as prime candidates for such scrutiny.73 One may reply that much Eusebian scholarship of the past generation has been devoted to answering questions of just this kind. Our survey of that work in chapter 1 stressed how it focused on Eusebius’s history as a “text” (a literary product) more than as a mere “document” (a naively construed “source”), to use a distinction that gets considerable play in Clark’s analysis.74 Current scholarship is certainly aware that Eusebius’s history served “interests” as well as aspiring to meet ancient scholarly standards—he was quite frank about that himself, and those apologetic interests have received exhaustive attention. His failings—carelessness, ignorance, distortions—even in his most signal innovation, the stress on documents rather than on invented speeches, have received unsparingly critical

71. See, e.g., Robert L. Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). 72. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 156–185. See also Clark, “Rewriting the History of Early Christianity,” with particular reference to the study of Eusebius’s HE. Also Cameron, “History and the Individuality of the Historian,” 69–77. 73. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 157, 165, 169; Clark, “Rewriting the History of Early Christianity,” 64–67. 74. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 130–155.

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treatment, as Clark cites in her notes.75 Likewise, work on the library and “school” of Caesarea has shed light on the social “place” of the historian, whose importance in historiography has been highlighted by Michel de Certeau.76 And our description of the theo-political vision underlying Eusebius’s writings was in some ways an exercise in “ideology critique.” And yet to respond that way does not do justice to what may be new about bringing “theory” to bear on Eusebius. The continuing use of conventional modern historical tools, for example, has not produced unanimity as to how far we may trust Eusebius as a reliable source for the history of his own time, as shown by the ongoing critical discussion inspired by Timothy Barnes’s Constantine and Eusebius (1981) and his subsequent publications.77 That debate may owe some of its intensity to wider discussions among historians of the import of “theory” for historiography in general, which revealed anxiety over a supposed deterioration of scholarly standards and the inroads of relativism.78 The variant of postmodernism known as postcolonialism usefully demonstrates the novelty and challenge of theory where Eusebius is concerned.79 Edward Said’s landmark book, Orientalism (1978), had already stimulated vast interest in examining how Western scholarship’s study of “the East” mimicked and took advantage of the economic, political, and military power exercised by colonial regimes over the colonized. Averil Cameron has since written that “the end of empires and the painful emergence of new political systems” mark the context in which twenty-first century historians are practicing their craft, and it therefore behooves them to reconsider the events and processes of the imperial background that shaped the world of late antiquity.80 Recent monographs by Jeremy Schott and Andrew Jacobs are substantial and original responses to her call. Eusebius is a central figure in both books. Schott applied postcolonialism to study the production of “religion” in the context of the 75. See Clark, “Rewriting the History of Early Christianity,” 65–67 nn. 55–58. Add the mordant analysis of Grant, “Eusebius and Imperial Propaganda.” 76. Penland, “Eusebius Philosophus?”; Johnson, “Eusebius the Educator”; Carriker, Library of Eusebius of Caesarea; Grafton and Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book. Constantine’s order of Bibles for his new capital of Constantinople throws vivid light on the prestige and official support for the library (Eus. VC 4.36, discussed in Grafton and Williams, 215–221). 77. For current perspectives on Constantine and Christianity, see Siecienski, Constantine; Flower, “Visions of Constantine.” For Averil Cameron’s critique of Barnes’s version of positivist historiography, see her review of Barnes’s Ammianus Marcellinus and the Historical Representation of Reality (1998), in Phoenix 53.3–4 (1999): 353–356. 78. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 9–28, on the reactions to challenges from within the discipline. 79. For an instructive overview, see the forum discussion with Clark et al., “Postcolonial Theory and the Study of Christian History.” 80. Cameron, “History and the Individuality of the Historian,” 76. Her Sather lectures on Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire were an ambitious effort to do this; on Eusebius, 53–56, 61–64, and 131–135.


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Roman Empire.81 Just as empire entailed the creation and then the control of “difference,” in the form of the colonizer/metropole versus the colonized/province, so discourse among writers treated intellectual disagreement and “difference” in ways that mimicked empire. Eusebius’s apologetic strategy of isolating a supposedly pure and universal rational religion (recall his Hebrew-Jew dichotomy), over against the particularistic idolatrous cults of the nations, affected a “panoptic” vantage point that mirrored the universal claim of empire over the differences of the peoples whom it ruled. Eusebius’s self-serving apologetic positioning thus anticipates the modern Western scholar’s claim to a higher viewpoint, because universalizing and objective, that Said exposed in Orientalism.82 Jacobs focused on Christian writing and thinking about Jews, in particular about Jewish history and the physical space and sites of Palestine, and showed how postcolonial criticism sheds light on the construction of a Christian Holy Land during the Constantinian and post-Constantinian period.83 Postcolonialism’s stress on “materiality” (actual land, buildings, and communities) and “instability” (the constant need to renegotiate the imperial relationship) speaks in especially apt ways to fourth-century Christian appropriation (expropriation) of Palestine, seen as a “contact zone” or “frontier zone.”84 Jacobs emphasizes the “totalizing” nature of Christian discourse, a theme already highlighted by Averil Cameron and that we addressed in chapter 1.85 For Jacobs, it means the aspiration to total knowledge of, and therefore control of, the “other,” here the Jews and their land, and the attendant anxiety that such knowledge be secured against challenge. Eusebius is a central suspect in this process, especially because of the sheer variety of his writings that bear directly on the Jews and the land, from the Onomasticon, his gazetteer of biblical names and sites, through the historical and apologetic writings, his exegesis of Isaiah and the Psalter, and the Constantinian panegyrics.86 What Jacobs says here about Eusebius’s favorite anti-Jewish trope, the distinction between “Hebrews” and “Jews,” deserves our attention, since we identified it as a key element in his theo-political vision. Jacobs notes the “fuzziness” of the “Hebrews” label, which for Eusebius embraced not only the pre-Mosaic worthies of Genesis and the subsequent righteous in biblical Israel, but also Jewish translators of the Hebrew Bible, Philo and Josephus, Justin’s apologetic opponent Trypho 81. Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, 136–165, on Eusebius. His application of postcolonial methods is displayed more floridly in Schott, “Textuality and Territorialization.” 82. Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, 142. 83. Cf. Clark, History, Theory, Text, 184–185. 84. Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 9–10. 85. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, 11–12, 31–32, 58, 120–123, 220–222. 86. See esp. Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 23–36, 53–55. Other fourth-century figures to receive attention include Cyril of Jerusalem, the pilgrim Egeria, Jerome, and Epiphanius of Salamis.

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in the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew,87 Jewish-Christian bishops in Jerusalem prior to the Jewish revolt of 132–135, and even perhaps Caesarean Jews of Eusebius’s own time, insofar as he appeals to traditions of “the children of the Hebrews” (rabbinic lore) for his exegesis of the Christianized Old Testament.88 That terminological variability goes far beyond the apologetic program we described in chapter 1. What consistency might account for such “slippage”? Jacobs suggests that Eusebius’s purpose is to treat everything and everyone Jewish as “Hebrew” if it can be seen as somehow supporting Christianity’s own claims. His “historically totalizing vision” thus extends throughout all of Jewish history and into its present as well, co-opting Jews of any time and place insofar as they relate to Christianity. It not only sanctions the physical Christianizing of Palestine as a “Holy Land”; it actually begins that work by treating Jewish history and tradition as raw material to be extracted for manufacture and consumption, and then erased from the very landscape—his Onomasticon overwrote Jewish place-names currently in use with names from the canonical biblical texts, now expropriated as Christian scripture.89 Does Jacobs’s postcolonial reading tell us anything about Eusebius that we did not already know? A skeptic might say it is a gratuitous importation of contemporary theory to understand what is already well-enough understood.90 I partially agree. But I do think Jacobs has shed light on Eusebius’s rather profligate application of “Hebrew” as a term of approbation. (Is that a reflection of the “anxiety” that postcolonialism says empires always experience in their effort to maintain control of the colonial other?) He has also added an important new dimension to the moral critique of Eusebius. Though his imperial sympathies have hardly lacked for critics, applying the postcolonial blowtorch gives the critique a passionately contemporary resonance of the kind Averil Cameron has called for.91

87. The traditional title of Justin’s work notwithstanding, Eusebius calls Trypho “one of the most eminent Hebrews of his day” (Eus. HE 4.18.6), cited in Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 30. 88. Examples from Eusebius’s Isaiah commentary in Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 143–153. 89. Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 35–36; cf. also Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion, 11. Such a postcolonial critique of Eusebius’s mapping project has a suggestive parallel in the modern state of Israel’s rewriting of the map of Palestine; see Meron Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land since 1948 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). 90. So Matthew Kraus suggests in his review of Jacobs (– 09–03.html, accessed July 23, 2018). 91. The punctuation of his translation of a passage in Eusebius’s panegyric on the Holy Sepulcher (SC 16.5) gives the misleading impression that Eusebius thought the “madness” of pre-Augustan war and social conflict was distinctively Jewish and not universal (see Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 33, and compare with the translation of Drake, In Praise of Constantine, 120; Greek text in Eusebius Werke, GCS 1:249.19–25, ed. Heikel).


The Ecclesiastical History in Modern Scholarship C R I T IC A L R E C E P T IO N I I : R E L IG IOU S A N D T H E O L O G IC A L

Eusebius wrote a book about ecclesiastical history. As we saw in the previous chapter, the fact that his book had been for over a millennium the privileged narrative of Christianity’s origins—and more importantly Christianity’s origins as a church or federation of churches—inevitably made it contested territory when Western Christianity’s institutional unity fractured permanently in the Reformation. In the modern period, criticism will shift in fundamental ways, some already anticipated by innovative voices like Gottfried Arnold’s. Eusebius will still be contested territory, but not in the same documentary or forensic fashion. The stakes will change in two significant and related ways. By the turn of the last century, Christians will largely cease to use Eusebius as a proxy for promoting their particular church’s vision of Christian origins over against someone else’s. A measure of that change might be the shift in how patristic literature was used in more polemically oriented projects, like the Library of the Fathers, with its Anglo-Catholic dedication, or the diametrically opposed Protestant bias of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, compared with the professedly more historical intent of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Today one is more likely to find Eusebius’s history being read ecumenically as a shared legacy of a common Christian tradition than as forensic fodder. That this too has an apologetic dimension (broadening Christian unity and grounding it historically—a motif of Schaff ’s Mercersburg Theology) no doubt has helped sustain interest in Eusebius and his book, while giving credence to his skeptical critics. A second shift has to do with modern Christian misgivings about the theopolitical vision underlying his work. Once secularization has done its work, first by the political and legal disestablishment of Christianity in formerly Christian states, and then by its extension to culture and mores more generally, Eusebius will become a convenient reference point (or piñata) for Christian critics of establishment. His construction of ecclesiastical history on the apostolic succession of the bishops will run counter to the trend to see “the church” as the whole people of God and not just the ordained clergy, a major aspect of Roman Catholic ecclesiology—and therefore church history—after the Second Vatican Council.92 The critical chorus will be so forceful and across the board that a backlash of sorts 92. Note the lay and populist trend in histories of Catholicism over the past two generations, replacing institutional histories dominated by bishops and religious orders: John Bossy, The English Catholic Community, 1570–1850 (1976); Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present (1992); James Hennesey, American Catholics: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States (1983); Heinz Hürten, Deutsche Katholiken, 1918–1945 (1992); James J. Kenneally, The History of American Catholic Women (1990); R. Scott Appleby and Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Catholics in the American Century: Recasting Narratives of U.S. History (2012); Charles Morris, American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America’s Most Powerful Church (1998); James M. O’Toole, The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America (2008).

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will emerge that, while not advocating actual establishment, argues on behalf of an updated defense of a legal and social order with a Christian stamp. Here we need to note that the modern theological reception of Eusebius typically means treating Eusebius as a symbol or shorthand for “Constantinian Christianity” rather than scrutinizing his actual writings, and of those only the HE and the Constantinian literature attract serious interest. Critiques like Robert Wilken’s (cited in the previous section), both theologically informed and attuned to current historical scholarship, are not common. People will find it more useful to think with Eusebius than about him, that is, to turn him into an instrument in an argument about Christianity’s place in the world. That has frequently led to the anachronistic readings we noted in chapter 1, which treat Eusebius univocally as the conscious architect of a full-blown, opportunistic Christian imperialism. His theology of the Logos as an intermediary figure made him a tempting target for theological critics of liberalism as different from one another as John Henry Newman and Karl Barth.93 Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Eusebius frequently appeared as the high priest of Caesaropapism, to retrieve a religio-political characterization once favored by invidious Western views of Byzantium and the Orthodox tradition. Sophisticated versions of this can be found across the confessional spectrum. Among Reformed theologians, Hendrik Berkhof ’s books are a good example, borne of Berkhof ’s hostility to Christian approximations to National Socialism.94 Catholic theologian Joseph Ratzinger—the future Pope Benedict XVI—wrote of the “political-theocratic lines” along which Eusebius identified the eschatological unification of languages with “the unity of the imperial language of New Rome.”95 Catholic historian Gerhart Ladner’s immensely learned book The Idea of Reform recognized that “Caesaropapism” wasn’t quite apt but settled on “theocracy” for the Byzantine picture of the emperor’s place in the church that begins with Eusebius.96 Even contemporary Orthodox theologians, who may no longer be wedded to Byzantine and Justinianic symphonia as a realizable ideal, can paint Eusebius in Caesaropapist colors and set him over against Western developments.97

93. See Rowan Williams on Barth’s fight with the “Deutsche Christen” in the Confessing Church’s struggle under Nazism, in Arius, 233–245. 94. Hendrik Berkhoff, Kirche und Kaiser: Eine Untersuchung der byzantinischen and der theokratischen Staatsauffassung im vierten Jahrhundert (Zurich: Evangelischer Verlag, 1947), 100–104; Berkhoff, Die Theologie des Eusebius von Caesarea (Amsterdam: Uitgeversmaatschappij Holland, 1939), 53–59. 95. Ratzinger, The Unity of the Nations: A Vision of the Fathers, 111. First published in German in 2005 as Die Einheit der Nationen: Eine Vision der Kirchenväter, based on lectures originally given in Salzburg in 1962. 96. Ladner, Idea of Reform, 124 n. 45. His picture of Eusebius relies mainly on book 10 of the HE and the Tricennial Oration (119–124). 97. Makrides, “Political Theology in Orthodox Christian Contexts,” 30, 49.


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A related move that has not lost its appeal is to compare Eusebius with Augustine on Christianity’s relationship to the world and to history. Since the appearance in 1970 of Robert Markus’s landmark study, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine, commentary on Augustine has rightly recognized the profoundly eschatological shape of his thinking about what moderns treat as the problem of “church and state,” institutionally focused language that Markus undermined.98 Eusebius’s theo-political vision was a natural foil for Markus’s thesis on Augustine’s secularization of Roman history.99 He was hardly the first to make the comparison, but the brilliance of his interpretation turned it into a virtual trope.100 Several reservations are in order here. First, while valid in its core elements, the comparison too often fails to appreciate the different historical circumstances under which they worked and the diversity of literary genres that they employed, leaving us with the one-dimensional picture of Eusebius that current Eusebian scholarship has complicated. Second, it privileges Augustine’s vivid fixation on the human soul weighed down by the effects of sin, and the tremendous rhetorical and analytical powers that he lavished on it, which can make Eusebius’s picture of the human situation look pallid and complacent by comparison.101 Even those who respect Eusebius’s literary accomplishments would not claim this is a contest between rhetorical and conceptual equals. Finally, and most fundamentally, Augustine’s agnosticism about any knowable divine telos within human history (apart from the sphere illuminated by inspired prophecy102) forces a truly basic question into the open: Is there or is there not some intelligible direction or meaning to human affairs? Is there some coherence or plan by which we can orient ourselves historically? Monotheists have generally found this a difficult question to avoid. Our investigation has shown how it could figure in past Christian historiographical endeavors. Eusebius himself stood firmly in the apologetic stream of Christian writers who tried to respond to it, however inadequate we may judge their efforts. Modern Christianity feels the question with special force, having been long put on the defensive by critics ranging from Nietzsche to Marx to Kantian liberalism, who all accused it of irresponsibility and human immaturity.

98. Markus, Saeculum. See Bruno, Political Augustinianism, esp. 119–159 on Markus’s reception; Williams’s perceptive critique in his “Politics and the Soul”; and Griffiths, “Secularity and the Saeculum.” 99. Markus, Saeculum, 45–71, on Augustinian “secularization,” with Eusebius as the chief Christian exponent of an integrated reading of Roman and salvation history at 48–50. 100. Examples abound: Džalto, “Orthodox Political Theology,” 113; Charles Mathewes, The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2010), 78. 101. Johannessen, Demonic in the Political Thought of Eusebius of Caesarea, departs from the normal view of Eusebius’s optimism by focusing on his fears about demonic derailment of the divine plan. 102. Markus, Saeculum, 187–196.

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Eusebius and the Modern Rebirth of Political Theology: Carl Schmitt and Erik Peterson as Godparents Answering that challenge is one of the motives behind the twentieth-century rebranding of political theology as a respectable Christian enterprise, centuries after Augustine rejected it as irredeemably pagan. The term itself originated as a Stoic coinage: the tripartite division of theology into mythical or narrative (the stories about the gods told by the poets), physical or natural (the rational understanding of the physical world taught by the philosophers), and political or civil (the official cults and gods of the city and the state). Augustine knew it from the Roman antiquarian Varro.103 Eusebius knew the same tripartite scheme, the third type, politikon, being enforced by the laws because of its antiquity and efficacy.104 It was the Catholic legal scholar and political theorist—and sometime National Socialist— Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) who reintroduced “political theology” into discourse in 1922 with his little treatise Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.105 Schmitt famously claimed that “all significant modern statements about the political theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development . . . but also because of their systematic structure.”106 He argued that there was an elective affinity between the leading metaphysical principles of an age and its dominant political form. Demonstrating the correlation was the work of what he called “a sociology of juridical concepts,” but which has come to be known as political theology after the title of his book.107 Though he insisted his was a purely scholarly enterprise, it served normative motives as well, the chief of which was Schmitt’s deep fear of political collapse and disorder, a danger he believed to be all the greater since secularization had eroded the modern sovereign state’s religious sources of legitimation (Political Theology originated in a Festschrift for Max Weber!). The celebrated opening sentence of Political Theology—“Sovereign is he who decides on the exception”—signaled the book’s preoccupation with the weakness of the modern state’s reliance on a merely formal legal proceduralism, which left it exposed to the divisive forces of society (labor, capital, the professions . . .), all striving to monopolize the state for their own purposes. Schmitt’s “sociology of juridical concepts”—political theology—served as a conceptual covert operation, so to speak, to preserve a public role for Christianity, even if in secular guise. Political theology was quickly embraced in Germany 103. See Augustine’s discussion in On the City of God 6.5–10, 12. 104. Eus. PE 4.1.2. See Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Césarée, 199–204, on Eusebius’s critique of political theology, which focuses on divination and oracles. 105. Schmitt, Political Theology. A lightly revised second edition appeared in 1934. 106. Schmitt, Political Theology, 36. 107. Schmitt seems to have taken the term from the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, according to Moltmann, “Political Theology in Ecumenical Contexts,” 3.


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by both Protestant and Catholic writers until its service in support of National Socialism temporarily discredited it.108 It was rehabilitated in the 1960s, this time as left-wing critique of the postwar bourgeois liberal democratic order rather than right-wing endorsement of fascist dictatorship.109 Since then it has flourished in endless variety, in avowedly secular precincts110 as well as theological sectors of the academy.111 Eusebius is implicated in political theology’s modern recovery because of the role he came to play in Carl Schmitt’s work.112 Schmitt found it useful to “think with” Eusebius in his protracted and bitter disagreement with his erstwhile friend Erik Peterson (1890–1960), the patristics scholar, Catholic convert, and author of Monotheism as a Political Problem, the 1935 tract in which Peterson grandly concluded that no such thing as a Christian political theology was possible.113 The two men had bonded when both were colleagues at Bonn in the late twenties. Peterson’s intellectual biographer Barbara Nichtweiß speaks of a “transparent intellectual membrane,”114 based on mutual admiration, Peterson for Schmitt’s stress on the juridical and public character of Catholicism,115 Schmitt for Peterson’s work

108. Klaus Scholder, The Churches and the Third Reich, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), vol. 1, Preliminary History and the Time of Illusions, 1918–1934, 414–440, on the vogue of political theology in the early days of the Third Reich. 109. On the post-1968 transformation of political theology, see Schüssler Fiorenza et al., eds., Political Theology: Contemporary Challenges and Future Directions (2013), originally published as Politische Theologie: Theologische Anstöße (2011). 110. E.g., international relations and law: Vassilios Paipais, ed., Theology and World Politics: Metaphysics, Genealogies, Political Theologies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020); Paul Kahn, Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012). 111. Among many publications, see Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullilvan, eds., Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006). Editor de Vries’s introduction (1–88) sets the theoretical and political context for political theology’s reemergence. 112. On Schmitt’s political theology, see Hollerich, “Carl Schmitt” (overview); Mehring, “Nemo contra theologum nisi theologus ipse”; Meier, Lesson of Carl Schmitt; Geréby, “Political Theology versus Theological Politics.” Schmitt scholarship is divided on how much religious issues mattered to him: pro, Meier, Lesson of Carl Schmitt; contra, Aaron Roberts, “Carl Schmitt—Political Theologian?,” Review of Politics 77 (2015): 449–474; and Brian Fox, “Schmitt’s Use and Abuse of Donoso Cortés on Dictatorship,” Intellectual History Review 23.2 (2013): 159–185, at 160–163. 113. Erik Peterson, Monotheismus als politisches Problem: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der politischen Theologie im Imperium Romanum (Leipzig: Jakob Hegner, 1935); Eng. trans. as “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” in Peterson, Theological Tractates, 68–105, 203–234, from which I quote. 114. Nichtweiß, “Apokalyptische Verfassungslehren,” 42; Nichtweiß, Erik Peterson, 722–830. 115. See Carl Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, trans. and annotated G. L. Ulmen (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996), first published in 1923 as a companion piece to Political Theology.

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on ancient acclamations in assemblies and liturgies,116 because it anticipated the role of popular consent in modern mass regimes. Schmitt’s complicity in legitimating the Nazi seizure of power, along with the speedy Catholic rapprochement with the new regime, prompted Peterson to revise some earlier work of his to create Monotheism as a Political Problem. In that book Peterson claimed that antiquity knew political theology in the form of an ideological correlation of one God in heaven with one ruler on earth. Hellenistic Judaism adapted it for monotheistic apologetics, and Christian writers did the same. Peterson considered its Christian expression a heresy and put primary responsibility for it on Eusebius and his subordinationist Christology, which Peterson thought the equivalent of Arianism.117 The eventual acceptance of Trinitarian orthodoxy after Nicaea, along with Augustine’s denial that the Pax Romana heralded the peace of Christ’s eschatological kingdom (another error Peterson blamed on Eusebius), accomplished two things, in his view. It theologically refuted monotheism as a political problem. And it freed the Christian faith from bondage to the Roman Empire, thus making “a break with every ‘political theology’ that misuses the Christian faith for the justification of a political situation.”118 Nothing in Peterson’s monograph referred explicitly to current church-state relations, but the parallel was not lost on contemporaries. Nothing, that is, except for the last footnote: “The concept of ‘political theology’ has to my knowledge been introduced into literature by Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (Munich, 1922). His brief exposition was not at that time presented systematically. Here we have tried to demonstrate by a concrete example the theological impossibility of a ‘political theology.’ ”119 Schmitt’s miserable service to the Nazis and Peterson’s oblique repudiation of his work meant the eventual end of the friendship. Schmitt never responded directly until the political upheavals of 1968 saw the revival of political theology, now in social-critical mode. In 1970, ten years after Peterson’s death, he published what would be his last book, Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of Any Political Theology,120 a bitter riposte to Peterson’s book in which Eusebius becomes a proxy battlefield between political and antipolitical theology.121

116. Erik Peterson, HEIS THEOS: Epigraphische, formgeschichtliche und religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, a revision of Peterson’s Habilitationsschrift (1926), reprinted and supplemented by Christoph Markschies et al., vol. 8 of Erik Peterson, Ausgewählte Schriften (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 2012). HEIS THEOS studied the use of the “One God” formula in acclamations, inscriptions, amulets, exorcisms, liturgies, etc., chiefly in Christian remains in fourth- and fifth-century Syria. 117. Critique of Eusebius: Peterson, “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” 92–97, 103–104, 224–226. 118. Peterson, “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” 104. 119. Ibid., 233–234 n. 168. 120. Schmitt, Political Theology II, from which I quote. 121. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 79–102 and passim.


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Schmitt’s critique of Peterson comes down to three fundamental points, each of which has considerable validity. The first is that Peterson’s thesis about the closure (so the translators render Erledigung) of any Christian political theology is a claim whose apodictic scope far outruns the empirical evidence to justify it.122 The second is that Peterson’s effort to preserve a domain for theology that is above and other than politics fails both on substantive (history shows that theology and church are incorrigibly polemical in the conduct of their business) and conceptual grounds, since any effort to decide what is and what is not political is—in Schmitt’s thinking—always and inevitably a political decision.123 The extreme case of theological assertiveness, though not raised by name in Political Theology II, is Peterson’s later insistence that the Catholic Church rightfully possessed a potestas indirecta (indirect power) in temporal affairs, the denial of which Peterson said was a return to paganism.124 Third, and this brings us back to our initial point about political theology’s role in identifying meaning and purpose in history, to deny Christians political theology of some kind leaves them adrift without a rudder, whereas it is right and proper for believers to determine where they think the hand of God is operating in their time: “A church is not composed only of theologians.”125 Eusebius figures in all of these points but especially in the last one. Schmitt, who was a very clever writer, shifts skillfully from treating Eusebius as a figure of his own time to identifying with him personally, a literary trope of which he was quite fond, as in his self-identification with Machiavelli or Hobbes. Eusebius’s character may not have won him many admirers, but Schmitt did not shrink from saying he considered it “an undeserved honor” to be named alongside Eusebius.126 How so? Some might say it was a case of mutually weak characters drawn to one another. And there is no doubt that his defense of Eusebius was significantly self-serving and prompted by the selfpity that marked his entire life.127 More importantly, Schmitt was saying that both he and Eusebius had been forced by necessity to read what the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council will call “the signs of the times” and to respond accordingly—or else to opt out of history altogether as a meaningless biding of time until death: “It seems 122. Ibid., 54–55, 60–79. Still useful is the critical assessment of Peterson’s thesis in Alfred Schindler, ed., Monotheismus als politisches Problem? Erik Peterson und die Kritik der politischen Theologie (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn, 1978). 123. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 105–115. 124. Schmitt endorsed Thomas Hobbes’s repudiation of the potestas indirecta in his 1938 book on Hobbes: Carl Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, trans. George Schwab and Irma Hilfstein (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996), 71–74, 83, 86. The theory of an ecclesiastical “indirect power,” as opposed to a papal “plenitude of power” in temporal affairs, was developed by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine: Tutino, Empire of Souls, 159–210. 125. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 87. 126. Ibid., 47. 127. Mehring, Carl Schmitt, 446.

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to me not un-Christian to see in historico-political events the finger of God and his providence.”128 Schmitt himself makes an indirect dig at Vatican II (which he deeply opposed129), quoting with mordant pleasure the euphoria of Angelo Roncalli—the future Pope John XXIII, who would convene Vatican II—over Benito Mussolini’s 1929 treaties with the Vatican. Wrote Roncalli to his sister, “Praise the Lord! Everything the Freemasons and the Devil have done against the church and the pope in Italy over the last sixty years has been destroyed.”130 Exactly the same, said Schmitt, as Eusebius’s jubilant response to Constantine and the end of persecution. Schmitt’s case against Peterson culminates in a critique of Peterson’s comparison of Eusebius and Augustine on the question of Eusebius’s apologetic legitimation of the Pax Romana and the continuity between Augustus and Constantine. Peterson had scorned Eusebius’s “striking lack of exegetical tact” in applying biblical prophecy to the Pax Romana. For Peterson, Augustine rightly saw the futility of attributing eschatological finality to any historical moment, since here below we live in ignorance of the future, which is utterly in God’s hands, not ours.131 Augustine had underlined his thesis by castigating the Roman statesman Cicero for foolishly throwing in his lot with Octavian—Julius Caesar’s adopted son and the future emperor Augustus—in Octavian’s civil war with Mark Antony, only to have Octavian betray him by forming an alliance with Antony, leading to Cicero’s suicide.132 Carl Schmitt protested that the respective situations of Eusebius and Augustine— the latter living after the fall of Rome to Alaric in 411—made comparison inappropriate, that it was self-evident that wars, even civil wars, would not cease because Constantine was now a Christian, and that Eusebius knew this perfectly well.133 But his real grievance was that Peterson intended Cicero as a cipher for Schmitt himself and the whole passage as a covert condemnation of National Socialist fellow travelers in 1935. An incensed Schmitt rejected the imputation that, like Cicero, he too was caecus atque improvidus futurorum (blind and heedless about what was to come). What other choice did Cicero have? In retrospect, naturally, we will agree with Peterson about Schmitt’s sellout to the Nazis. But that does not remove the fundamental problem, which is necessarily ours as well as theirs: How should we read the signs of our times? Political theology is still engaged in that task, and Eusebius’s legacy continues to stand as an exemplar—by turns creative and disturbing—for the legitimist way of going about it. 128. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 92. 129. Editors Hoelzl and Ward argue that Political Theology II is part of the conservative resistance to Vatican II’s call for dialogue with the modern world, as shown by Schmitt’s dedication of the book to the reactionary canonist Hans Barion (Political Theology II, 15–18). 130. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 89. 131. Peterson, “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” 93–96, 103–104, 224–226, 233–234. 132. Augustine, On the City of God 3.30. 133. Schmitt, Political Theology II, 98–102. I suspect Schmitt was right to say that about Eusebius.


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Contemporary Political Theology: Eusebius and the Questionable Testimony of Christendom Contemporary political theology typically treats Eusebius as the architect of “Constantinianism,” a catchall term for everything negative stemming from the fourthcentury establishment of Christianity and for which he is made to bear major blame. That is not surprising. Political theology since 1968 is far more likely to be of the critical than the constructive type. The consensus on this is exceedingly broad, embracing pacifist theologians, liberation theologians sympathetic to Marx, advocates of “radical orthodoxy,” and even an antiliberal, antipolitical theology defender of the potestas indirecta of the Catholic Church like Erik Peterson.134 But the consensus is not absolute. Dissenters do not (at least openly) oppose disestablishment in the full constitutional sense. What they resist is the erosion (subversion?) of the moral and cultural prestige of Christianity and the churches, and their influence on law and politics. This was already a trend in the United States beginning with the culture wars of the 1970s. It has intensified here since the attacks of 2001 and now in Europe as well because of growing immigration, often of Islamic refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Thoroughly interwoven with those trends is the ongoing division within the Catholic world over the reception of the Second Vatican Council. Those who are alarmed by secularization and pluralism may find conceptual cover in the “postliberal” or “postcritical” trend in theology going back to the 1980s, which took advantage of fashionable intellectual attacks on “foundationalism” to declare independence from the rationalist liberalism of the Enlightenment.135 That has enabled newfound respect for Eusebius and his Constantinian advocacy among people who think that “post-Constantinian” is just a euphemism for post-Christian and a warrant for a repressive tolerance that penalizes political action based on orthodox religious belief. Such is the case with Peter Leithart’s truculent and polemical Defending Constantine (2010), a counterrevolutionary rebuttal of the critique of “Constantinianism” espoused by Mennonite pacifist

134. It is enough to list well-known names as diverse as John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, William Cavanaugh, Jürgen Moltmann, Johann Baptist Metz, Leonardo Boff, Gustavo Gutierrez, John Milbank, and Giorgio Agamben. As just indicated, recent Orthodox theology also shares in the consensus, e.g., Aristotle Papanikolaou, The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). 135. See the well-informed report of John Allan Knight, Liberalism versus Postliberalism: The Great Divide in Twentieth-Century Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Postliberalism is by no means necessarily conservative: cf. John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, The Politics of Virtue: Post-Liberalism and the Human Future (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016); and Daniel M. Bell Jr., “Postliberalism and Radical Orthodoxy,” in Craig Hovey and Elizabeth Phillips, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 110–132.

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theologian John Howard Yoder.136 Leithart’s book serves the double goal of rehabilitating Constantine from unhistorical debunking and redeeming the theological rightness of accepting the emperor, and his empire, into the Christian church. Eusebius is naturally a rich resource for both purposes. Defending Constantine does not pretend to original scholarship. Leithart has read widely but relies chiefly on the scholarly approach to Eusebius and Constantine pioneered by historians like Timothy Barnes, who grant broad plausibility to Eusebius’s picture of a Christian Constantine. A book like his—which made a splash in conservative church circles and was virtually invisible elsewhere—is a useful barometer of cultural and political ressentiment on the educated religious right.137 A different and intellectually more ambitious book is Oliver O’Donovan’s The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology.138 O’Donovan demonstrates how a sophisticated rethinking of what a Christian has to learn from the legacy of “Christendom” may entail a reevaluation even of Eusebius’s most overtly political theological exercises, his speeches in praise of Constantine. O’Donovan defines “Christendom” not in the medieval territorial sense as the Christian equivalent of the dar al-Islam, but in the temporal sense as the era marked by a Christian secular order, that is, an order that has accepted the truth of Christianity and that can be said to have come to an end in 1791 with the passage of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. O’Donovan proposes that the basic Christian takeaway from that now past era is that it has always been the church’s mission to proclaim the reign of Christ, of Christ’s victory, to the powers that be. At times the powers that be will accept that proclamation, and Constantine’s decision to do so (as reported by Eusebius, of course—the factuality of his reporting has not been our subject) thus inaugurated the era of Christendom. The Christian core of Eusebius’s panegyric, he says, is the appropriately joyful gratitude that the demons have been routed and the persecution ended. In the bargain, of course, Eusebius’s rhetoric foreshortened the eschatological horizon of Christ’s victory by treating it as a historical fait accompli, an unacceptable theological error. But at least we can recognize the fittingness of celebrating the coming of peace to the nations, however provisional and time-bound it proves to be. 136. Leithart, Defending Constantine, 252–254. 137. Leithart’s brutal prosecutorial tone mars what is otherwise a competent if partial work of haute vulgarisation, though Yoder’s own censoriousness and rather slack scholarship make inviting targets. A significant recent contribution to Mennonite historiography on “Constantinianism” is Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2016). For informed responses to Leithart, see John D. Roth, ed., Constantine Revisited: Leithart, Yoder, and the Constantinian Debate (Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications, 2013). 138. O’Donovan, Desire of the Nations, esp. 193–242, with 197–199 on Eusebius. Leithart signs on to O’Donovan’s outlook in his “Good Rule,” 269.


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Or so Oliver O’Donovan sees it. He is dealing ultimately with the same question that divided former friends Carl Schmitt and Erik Peterson: What criteria— if any—are there from a Christian perspective for discerning meaning in and making decisions about history? A theological question, certainly, but a pertinent topic in a book about the reception of Eusebius’s historiographical work, and a major reason why—for religious people at least, all across the spectrum—his name is still relevant and his legacy controversial. E C C L E SIA S T IC A L H I ST O RY A N D I T S F U T U R E

What, on balance, can we say about that legacy? As a work of history, Eusebius’s HE has inherent limitations and defects that modern scholarship has subjected to remorseless criticism that we will not rehearse here. Its lasting positive contribution would seem to be, as Momigliano emphasized, its reliance on original documents (however tendentious and partial in selection), and also its devotion to matters of chronology (however defective in its actual performance). Perhaps too Eusebius’s creative flair for layout and book production, as a study like Grafton and Williams’s has shown. We quoted Emanuela Prinzivalli’s summary judgment on the HE as a work of history at the end of chapter 1, and it can serve as a valedictory here as well: for all its time-bound shortcomings, “we find it hard to imagine how western historiographical thought, and our knowledge of historical sources in Christianity’s first centuries, would have been possible without the Ecclesiastical History.”139 As a work of ecclesiastical history, the HE became a victim of its own success. Precisely to the degree that it showcased the double triumph of apostolic succession and orthodoxy, and thereby shaped Christian historiography for another millennium and a half, it made itself vulnerable to historicist and postmodern/postcolonial dissections of that triumphal narrative, and also to modern Christian embrace of more democratic polities in church and state, and more experiential and developmental approaches to doctrine. I concur in much of that historicist critique. I do not understand how anyone can write history today, ecclesiastical or otherwise, who does not share it. I am also theologically on board with revision of Eusebius’s clericalized hierarchy140 and of 139. Prinzivalli, “La genre historiographique de l’Histoire ecclésiastique,” 111. 140. Eusebius’s “ecclesiology” is more complex than rote invocation of apostolic succession may suggest. A function of his Origenism is his reluctance to conceive of the office of bishop without intellectual acumen being an integral part of it—cf. the apotheosis of Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria in the HE. The Commentary on Isaiah leaves no doubt about the supremacy of the bishops among the orders (tagmata) of the church, but their teaching role is essential to that status (Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 170–172, citing, e.g., CI 247.13–248.17, 404.13–31, ed. Ziegler). The Commentary on the Psalms actually makes the ascetic virtuosi (monachoi) the first tagma (gloss on Ps 67:7 [PG 23.689C]); see Hollerich, “Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on the Psalms,” 158–159.

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his assumption that orthodoxy was original, universal, and unchanging.141 And yet it is difficult for this writer at least to imagine historic Christianity without some version of “apostolicity” as a guarantor of continuity across time (and some claim to “catholicity” across space), and for that continuity to be linked in some way with church structure, whether we think it originated in Jewish synagogal practice, Greek municipal assemblies, household governance, or a combination of all three. A purely charismatic Christianity never existed. I write as an ecclesiastical historian who is also a Catholic, so I hope that is not mere denominational chauvinism speaking. I say it in the interest of full disclosure, not as a thesis for debate. What about the theo-political vision that animated Eusebius’s historiography? What is to be said about that today? Certainly in need of revision is his anti-Jewish apologetic. In its time it may have allowed more comparative theological room for Christianity’s roots in Judaism than less historically conscious versions of Christianity.142 But in the wake of the general Christian reassessment of “the teaching of contempt” that helped to enable the Holocaust, his version of supersessionism may look no better than anyone else’s. Especially in the HE, the centrality of the events of AD 70, supplemented by the Bar Kokhba revolt, sends a powerful message of divine retribution and rejection of existing Judaism. That message is hardly unique to Eusebius. But insofar as the HE became the most widely circulated of his books in East and West, its contribution to the doctrine of inherited Jewish guilt is as undeniable as it is deplorable. Scholarly honesty requires candid and unsparing recognition of this, such as we saw, for example, in the postcolonial critique of Andrew Jacobs. But some recognition of substantive difference must always inhere in Christianity, insofar as Christians have to give an intelligible account of why they are not Jews. However this be done, it cannot reflect Eusebian triumphalism, though it may take inspiration from the fact of his long intellectual engagement with Judaism and Jewish tradition, in Caesarea itself and in Jewish literature and apologetics. And there is something intriguing about his grounding of Christianity’s developing double standard in Judaism’s own differentiated membership, reflecting certain similarities in how both traditions adjusted to changing actualities in the real world. Eusebian nomism did not lack a Jewish cognate.143 Eusebius’s Origenism is a different matter. Unlike his anti-Jewish supersessionism, here he was decidedly on the wrong side of later Christian history. As we have 141. Though he was well aware of conflict, such as the strong resistance to Origen’s thought, and also aware of the prevalence of a (to him) false doctrine like millennarianism even among favorite orthodox writers like Irenaeus and Justin (see HE 3.39.11–13). 142. See Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on Isaiah,” 133–164; and the carefully differentiated concluding assessment in Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 271–276. 143. Hardly an original observation: see the classic work of Marcel Simon, Verus Israel: Étude sur les relations entre les chrétiens et Juifs dans l’empire romain (133–425), 2nd ed. (Paris: Éditions E. de Boccard, 1964), 93–99.


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seen, the history of reception almost uniformly vilified his apotheosis of Origen, for subsequent Christian tradition saw Origen largely in light of the posthumous condemnations that culminated in the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 553. That is, until now. As we mentioned above, mid-twentieth-century Catholic ressourcement made retrieval and rehabilitation of Origen a major cause,144 and the HE was its beneficiary. Christian Platonism has had its own complex history, but some current philosophical and theological trends are looking favorably on its transcendental openness, mysticism, and implicit universalism. While I do not believe Eusebius was a universalist in the salvational sense often attributed to Origen, he explicitly stood in the Alexandrian tradition of the universal pedagogy of the Logos. And he equally represented the scholarly side of the Alexandrian tradition in biblical studies, where grammar and philology were prerequisites to exegesis. “Eusebius of Caesarea, Origenist” (Charles Kannengiesser’s description) may represent Eusebius’s most attractive contemporary face. If the supersessionism is to be rejected and the Origenism embraced, what are we to say about the providentialist view of history, with its biblical foundation and its religio-political consequences? As we indicated in chapter 1, at the very core of Eusebius’s thought is a biblically inspired, comprehensive vision that virtually equates history as such with salvation history, all of it revealed through prophecy on the one hand and the universal dispensation of the Logos on the other. We have already recognized that, as historical method, that is obviously incompatible with modern understanding of the writing of history. Not only does it contradict historicist hermeneutics; it runs afoul of the postmodern skepticism of grand narratives of any kind, whereas Eusebian historiography became a virtual template for Christian grand narratives. In addition to its inability to account for contingency in doctrinal development, it ill served Christianity’s catholicity by its Western and Roman orientation, to the neglect of Christianity’s propagation eastward, as far as China and the south of India (Sebastian Brock’s lament). On the other hand, as a Christian grand narrative, it was at least not locked into the western European orientation that came to dominate Latin Christianity, and it relied not a whit on the pope of Rome as the anchor of world Christianity, as I commented at the beginning of this chapter with reference to the ecumenical potential of Eusebius’s HE. In at least aspiring to be universal, Eusebius saw himself in continuity with the evangelical thrust of the New Testament, in particular with the narrative line of Luke-Acts and the Matthean commission of the risen 144. An ongoing project: see the program for a recent conference in Milan, “La riscoperta di Origene nella teologia del XX cento: Un’eredità per il nuovo millennio?/The Rediscovery of Origen in the Theology of the Twentieth Century: A Legacy for the New Millennium?,” October 17–19, 2018, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan ( Origene_nella_teologia_del_XX_secolo.pdf, accessed March 30, 2019).

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Jesus to teach and baptize “all the nations” (panta ta ethnē, Matt 28:19). The limitations in how he conceived this should not blind us to the impulse behind it. In particular, I think we should distinguish this universalizing impulse from the imperial political instrument that he regrettably came to see as a means of its realization, especially in the Constantinian literature. From our vantage point in time, we can see how the one did not necessarily entail the other, even though their patent affinity has been evident throughout Christian history. Christian apologists did not fail to notice that the same Matthean commission to all the nations has Jesus begin by saying, “All power (exousia) in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But the convergence of the two—the universal commission to teach and baptize all nations, and the coercive power of the Roman Empire and its successor Christian states—has proven a trap for the church and the gospel it proclaims. Christianity is still trying to free itself from the harm done by legal establishment and colonial occupation. In terms of the gospel, perhaps we can say that Eusebius was (imperfectly) right about universalism but wrong about empire. A church that claims, as the Catholic Church does, to be “the sacrament of the unity of the human race” (Lumen Gentium §1) is still trying to figure out how to honor the first of those desiderata while jettisoning the second. At the same time, while Christians embrace religious freedom and renounce “Constantinianism,” the renewed political vigor of Islam especially in the Middle East, where Christians are a declining and threatened minority, suggests that the renunciation of the power of the state has been a fraught decision. On the one hand, we hear impassioned calls for the Western (read: Christian or formerly Christian) powers to intervene to protect imperiled Christian communities. On the other hand, honesty compels us to recognize that first European and now American intervention has done tremendous harm in stoking Muslim resentment of the colonialist legacy and in destabilizing brokered arrangements that at least allowed these communities to survive in places like Iraq and Syria, where they have existed from very ancient times. I bring up this very contemporary issue at the end of a book on the writing of ecclesiastical history because it highlights from a rather different angle the two themes we have followed here: ecclesiastical history as a genre, and Eusebius’s theo-political vision. On the first: Eusebius wrote about the church as though it were the leading edge of world history, a “nation” of a new kind that would bring all nations into its orbit. I noted in chapter 1 that current scholarship on Eusebius is wary of anachronistic projections that credit him with knowing and anticipating more than is plausible for a man whose outlook was shaped in the previous century. But I also argued that he really did harbor great hopes for the future. The contrast I would now draw is with the dramatically reduced frame that predominates in the church today, in which the church appears as a sadly shrunken entity with a narrow purview of what really matters to the proclamation of the gospel. I


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make that statement primarily with my own Catholic Church in mind, which has been entangled in a myopic identity crisis since the Second Vatican Council, though the current pope appears aware of this and is seeking to redirect the church’s attention outward, to the world, where it belongs. Failing that, “ecclesiastical history” is and will remain small beer on the larger stage of world history, a very un-Eusebian perspective: the history of a self-protective entity anxiously preoccupied with the custody of its diminishing moral, political, demographic, and social capital. In other words, an enterprise doubtfully worth the doing, whatever the insistence of the church’s dogmatic claims. Speaking as a Catholic scholar, I hope for the day when this will change. But it will take more than one pontificate for that to happen. And who wants to bank on another Francis? On the second, the theo-political vision: historiographical renewal might take a cue from those Middle Eastern Christianities we discussed in chapter 3, churches that on the one hand had to concentrate their shrinking resources on building an identity as a distinct people (ethnogenesis), while also creating a plausible picture of where they belonged in a more universal frame. They could not write credibly about themselves and prescind from the larger forces swirling around them, though sometimes, as happened with some dyophysite and miaphysite Christians in the seventh century, that meant retreating into apocalyptic projections. Christian historiography will have to recover Eusebius’s cultural expansiveness without putting another halo on another Constantine. It will have to do so in dialogue with other religiously shaped historiographies—Muslim, for instance. A gap in our narrative was the absence of the place of Muslim historiography in relation to contemporary Christian writing. Work on that has begun among scholars with the requisite linguistic and historical training. We look forward to seeing more of it. It may inspire efforts by historians of other Christian churches who are writing in a “diasporic” situation as minorities in highly pluralistic societies in East and South Asia, or in Africa, where the history of colonialism is so lethal—and so recent. The situation is quite different in Latin America, of course, where the reconstituted Constantinianism bequeathed by the Spanish and the Portuguese has created a historiographical challenge of its own kind, and where the Eusebian theo-political vision is still being deconstructed and its sequel will have to harness the social potential of liberation theology while providing a plausible alternative to the Latin American version of evangelicalism. A distinctly Catholic ecclesiastical historiography contemplating Eusebius’s theo-political vision may wish to consider the possibilities that the cunning of history, or the Holy Spirit if you will, has produced by leaving the Catholic Church’s historic claim to be a state as well as a church in the paradoxical position of being a sovereign state relying exclusively on soft power and owning a diplomatic perch in the closest thing we have to a world government: the United Nations. If Muslim historiography is one important lacuna in this account, readers will no doubt have identified an even greater one: ecclesiastical history, if it continues, will

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have to devote major attention to Christian women and wrestle with the issues of how to write such a history in periods when sources are obscure, refractory, or virtually nonexistent. The issues will be especially challenging in the measure that the churches involved are male-dominated. Which is to say, all of them, one assumes, but in ways determined by the particular evolution taken by the history of Christian asceticism and the status given both to families and to vowed singleness—yet another area where Eusebius’s history is in play, considering his sanctioning of the double standard in the church and his attention to martyrdom. Recognizing that is an aporia in the story I have told, I nevertheless must bring it now to a close and invite others to fill the gap.

biblio graphy


Note: This list is limited to translations and editions quoted and used in this book. For ease of reference, they are listed in most instances by the common name of the presumed author. Acta et symbola conciliorum quae saeculo quarto habita sunt. E. J. Jonkers, ed. Leiden: Brill, 1954. Adam of Bremen. History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. Francis J. Tschan, trans., intro., and notes. Records of Civilization 53. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. Anecdota Graeca e codd. manuscriptis Bibliothecae Regiae Parisiensis. Vol. 2, Excerpta historica et chronologica. J. A. Cramer, ed. Oxford, 1839. Reprint, Hildesheim: Olms, 1967. The Armenian Adaptation of the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus. Robert W. Thomson, trans. and comm. Hebrew University Armenian Studies 3. Leuven: Peeters, 2001. The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos. R. W. Thomson, trans. and notes. James HowardJohnston, with Tim Greenwood, historical comm. 2 vols. TTH 31. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999. Barh.adbešabba ‘Arbaye. La seconde partie de l’histoire de Barh. adbešabba ‘Arbaïa. F. Nau, ed. PO 9 (1913): 489–632. La première partie de l’histoire de Barh. adbešabba ‘Arbaïa. F. Nau, ed. PO 23 (1932): 77–343. Baronio, Cardinal Cesare. Annales ecclesiastici/auctore Caesare Baronio Sorano . . . ; tomus secundus incipiens ab exordio Traiani Imperatoris, perducitur usque ad Imperium Constantini Complectitur annos CCV sextum ex parte tantum attingit . . . https://catalog Bede. Bedae Venerabilis Opera. Pt. 6, Opera didascalia. C. W. Jones, ed. CCL 123B and 123C. Turnhout: Brepols, 1977, 1980. . Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors, eds. 1969. Reprint, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. 275



. On the Nature of Things and On Times. Calvin B. Kendall and Faith Wallis, trans., intro., notes, and comm. TTH 56. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010. . Opera de temporibus. Charles W. Jones, ed., intro., and notes. Cambridge, Mass.: Medieval Academy of America, 1943. . The Reckoning of Time. Faith Wallis, trans., intro., and notes. TTH 29. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999. Cassiodorus. Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, On the Soul. James W. Halporn, trans. Mark Vessey, intro. TTH 42. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004. Cassiodorus-Epiphanius. Historia ecclesiastica tripartita. Rudolf Hanslik, ed. CSEL 71. Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1952. The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite. Frank R. Trombley and John W. Watt, trans., notes, and intro. TTH 32. Liverpool: University of Liverpool, 2000. The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor: Church and War in Late Antiquity. Geoffrey Greatrex, ed. Robert R. Phenix and Cornelia B. Horn, trans. from Syriac and Arabic, with contributions from Sebastian P. Brock and Witold Witakowski. TTH 55. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011. The Chronicle of Zuqnin, Parts III and IV, A.D. 488–775. Amir Harrak, trans., intro., and notes. Medieval Sources in Translation 36. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1999. Chronicon Paschale 284–628 AD. Michael Whitby and Mary Whitby, trans., notes, and intro. TTH 7. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac. William Wright and Norman McLean, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1898. The Epic Histories Attributed to P’awstos Buzand (Buzandaran Patmut’iwnk’). Nina Garsoïan, trans. and comm. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989. Eusebii Pamphili, Socratis Scholastici, Hermiae Sozomeni, Theodoriti et Evagrii, item Philostorgii et Theodori lectoris quae extant historiae ecclesiasticae Graece & Latine; in tres tomos distributae. Henricus Valesius Graecum textum ex mss. codicibus emendavit, Latine vertit & annotationibus illustravit. Gulielmus Reading novas elucidationes, praesertim chronologicas, in hac editione adjecit. 3 vols. Cambridge, 1720. Eusebius. Die Chronik aus dem armenischen Übersetzt. Josef Karst, trans. In Eusebius Werke. GCS 5. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1911. . Die Chronik des Hieronymus, Hieronymi Chronicon. Ed. Rudolf Helm. In Eusebius Werke. 2nd ed. GCS 7. Berlin: Akademie, 1956. . Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, Oration in Praise of Constantine. A. C. McGiffert and E. C. Richardson, trans., intro., and notes. NPNF 2.1. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904. . The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine. J. E. L. Oulton and H. J. Lawlor, trans. and intro. 2 vols. London: S.P.C.K., 1954. . Eclogae Propheticae. Thomas Gaisford, ed. Oxford: E typographeo academico, 1842. . The History of the Church: A New Translation. Jeremy M. Schott, trans. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019. . Der Jesajakommentar. Josef Ziegler, ed. In Eusebius Werke. GCS 9. Berlin: Akademie, 1975.



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In dex

Modern scholars are included in the index when their work is discussed substantially in the text or is noted for a particular contribution in the footnotes. Aaron, 115, 212 Abbasids, 105, 123 Abdias, 160n95, 200–201 ‘Abdīšō, 90, 103 Abgar VIII (king), 41 Abgar Uchama (king), 94–95, 123, 125–127, 161–162 Abraham, 12, 25, 26n125, 106, 152 Abu H. abib, 135 Achaemenids, 105 Acts of Silvester: apocryphal tradition of Eusebius’s authorship, 96, 169, 217; Armenian translation (Life of Silvester), 120, 129; on Constantine’s conversion and baptism, 96–99, 129, 145–146, 167, 169–170, 176, 177, 185, 216–217; Syriac translation, 98 Acts of the Apostles, 38, 44n218, 71 Adam, 125n26, 179–180 Adam of Bremen, 163 Adler, William, 42n208, 179, 251 Adrianople, battle of, 28n136 Aetius, 60 Africanus. See Julius Africanus Agamben, Giorgio, 266n134 Agapius of Mabbug, 183n73 Agat’angełos, 129

Ah. rist.udulus (patriarch), 136 Aimerich (patriarch), 112 Alaric, 56, 265 Alexander Romance, 124n174 Alexander Severus (emperor), 41 Alexander the Great, 105, 123 Alexandria: episcopal succession at, 34, 57, 76; History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, 106, 133–136, 138–139; site of Coptic historiography, 133–140; tradition of biblical studies, 270 Allatius, Leo, 223 allegory, 43, 93, 180, 201, 210 Altertumswissenschaft, 239 Ambrose of Milan, 67, 78–79, 81 Ammianus Marcellinus, 222 Anastasius (emperor), 81, 101 Anatolius of Laodicea, 151–152 Andronicus II Palaeologus (emperor), 188–189 ANF (Ante-Nicene Fathers), 242, 248, 249, 258 angels, 20n96, 72, 168. See also demons Annales ecclesiastici. See Baronio, Cesare (cardinal) annals/annalistic, 150n41, 158, 182, 212–213 Annianus, 122, 179 annus mundi, 176–177, 182–184 Anselm, 166




Antichrist, 81, 104, 199, 208 Antioch: central to Evagrius’s HE, 83; controversies related to episcopal see, 80; episcopal succession at, 34, 57, 76; home of John Malalas, 173; patriarchate of, 111; as Petrine see, 76, 111, 115 antiquity, 26, 36–37, 65 anti-Semitism, 254. See also Judaism Apamea, 73 apocalyptic eschatology: Eusebius’s caution towards, 12, 42; in fourth century, 19, 60; of John bar Penkaye, 104; in Reformation-era historiography, 199, 205–206, 209. See also millenarianism Apollinarius, 75–76 apologetics: apologetic chronography, 26; central to confessional historiography, 208–209, 213, 217; central to HE, 38–40; determines content of Theodoret’s history, 77; in early modern patristic translations, 242, 248–249; relationship between apologetic and scholarly aims in Eusebius’s writings, 26–27, 39–40; Valois on value of ecclesiastical history for, 225–227 apostolic tradition: episcopal succession at major sees as chronological device, 34, 57, 75, 76, 110, 139, 206–208; Eusebius as link to apostolic continuity for East Syrians, 105–106; and future of ecclesiastical history, 269; not limited to ordained clergy for Eusebius and Origen, 13–14, 35n172 Arab conquests, 87, 89, 109, 114, 172 Arabic: Christian Arabic historiography, 89, 100, 104; History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, 106, 133–136, 138–139; replaced Coptic language in Egypt, 134–135 Aram, 124 Aramaic, 93–94, 114 Arcadius (emperor), 78 Arethas of Caesarea (archbishop), 50 Arianism: associated with Constantine in Life of Constantine, 9; imputed to Eusebius by later writers, 60, 65, 70, 79–80, 180, 188, 215, 236, 240–241; of Philostorgius, 59; Socrates dissatisfied with Eusebius’s account of, 62, 64; subordinationist theology in the HE, 37, 57, 92–93, 140. See also Nicaea, Council of (325) Arius, 146. See also Arianism Arles, Council of (314), 18 Armenian genocide, 117

Armenian historiography: Eusebius’s impact on, 120–122; Movsēs Xorenac’i, 116n129, 122–130; role of church in Armenian national identity, 116–120; Samuēl Anec’i, 122, 132–133; Step’anos Taronec’i, 121, 130–132; unitary character of the received tradition, 116–120 Arnold, Gottfried, 235–237, 251, 256 Arsacids, 122 Artemon, 226 asceticism, 13, 17–18, 268n140 Ašołik. See Step’anos Tarōnec’i Assumption of Mary, 169 Assyrian empire, 25, 114 Athanasius: as described in Historia acephala, 133, 137; Eusebius accused of hostility to, 236; excommunication of Constantius, 81; Festal Letters, 137; Life of Antony, 46; as marker of orthodoxy, 60, 78, 140 Athens, 26 Athos, Mount, 49, 51, 52 Attridge, Harold, 250 Augustine: cited by Bede on chronology, 154; On the City of God, 11, 110, 141; compared favorably with Eusebius by modern theologians, 260; critique of Cicero rejected by Carl Schmitt, 265; denial that the Pax Romana heralded the peace of Christ’s kingdom, 263; on Eusebius’s evidence of care for the dead, 141n3; and Eusebius’s synchronizations, 141; on grace, 225; in NPNF, 242; polemic against paganism, 143; and political theology, 261; reprised by Otto of Freising, 166 Augustine of Canterbury, 148, 202 Augustus (emperor), 19, 36, 144, 167, 263, 265 Auxentiou monastery, 50 Awarayr, battle of, 119 Ayyubids, 112 Babylonian empire, 114, 123 Babylonian exile, 25, 123 Backus, Irena, 197, 202 Baghdad, 105 Bagratunis, 123, 126 Baldwin of Boulogne, 161–162 Bale, John, 203 Barberini, Francesco (cardinal), 223 Bardaisan of Edessa, 127 Bardy, Gustave, 247–248 Barh. adbešabba of Beth Arbaye, 103–104 Bar Hebraeus, 115–116

Index Bar Kokhba, 19n89 Barnes, Timothy, 2n5, 4, 251, 255, 267 Baronio, Cesare (cardinal), 211–217; accuses Eusebius of dishonesty, 215–216; on annals compared to historia, 213; on Catholic Church and papacy as proper subject matter of ecclesiastical history, 196, 213–214; clerical life and work with the Roman Curia, 211–212; criticism of Eusebius’s panegyric on Constantine, 212, 216; criticism of Nicephorus, 189; goals of Annales ecclesiastici, 212–213; providentialist view of history, 213; reliance on Eusebius’s historical methodology, 217 Barth, Karl, 259 Bartholomew (apostle), 57–58 Basiliscus, 55 Basil of Cilicia, 187 Baudouin, François, 196, 198, 208 Baudry of Bourgueil, 162 Bauer, Walter, 251–253 Baur, F. C., 1 Bausi, Alessandro, 133 Beatrice, Pier Franco, 142 Beatus Rhenanus, 198–199, 210 Bede, 146–155; chronologies based on Incarnation and Creation, 149–153; compared to Eusebius, 146–147; criticism of Eusebius’s chronology, 154–155; on date of Easter, 148–152; De temporibus, 149, 152, 153; De temporum ratione, 149, 151–155; Ecclesiastical History of the English People, 148, 152, 160, 164–165, 202; Letter to Plegwin, 149, 153, 154; Letter to Wicthed, 151–152; life, 147–148; model for Orderic Vitalis, 159–160; and national history, 144–146 Beirut, 68 Bellarmine, Robert (cardinal), 200, 264n124 Beni, Paolo, 217 Berkhof, Hendrik, 259 Berossus, 36, 179n48 Bessarion (cardinal), 49n11, 50, 51, 192 Bible, 106; allegory, 43, 93, 180, 201, 210; antiquity of, 26, 36–37, 65; chronology between Adam and Abraham, 26, 106–107, 152–155, 179; Constantine patronized production of, 20, 255n76; disputes over canon, 19, 34, 44, 200, 201; Eusebius’s intepretative methods, 14, 43, 210; fundamental for Eusebius’s theo-political vision, 12–13; problems and solutions writings, 6, 43; prophecy, 12–13, 35–36, 270.


See also Acts of the Apostles; Daniel, Book of; Revelation, Book of Bill of Rights, 267 Bingham, Jeffrey, 252n62 biography, 32, 103–104 bishops: Constantine portrayed as bishop, 20; Dionysius of Alexandria as Eusebius’s ideal bishop, 14, 40, 268n140; disputes among, 64, 66–67; episcopal succession at major sees, 34, 57, 75, 76, 110, 139, 206–207, 208; Eusebius’s and Origen’s view of clerical hierarchy, 13–14, 35, 268; Jewish priesthood linked to apostolic succession, 113–114; as officials in newly Christian empire, 14. See also Alexandria; Antioch; apostolic tradition; Constantinople; Jerusalem; papacy; Rome Blaudeau, Philippe, 139, 172 Boff, Leonardo, 266n134 Bohemond III (king), 112 Bossuet, Jacques-Bénigne (archbishop), 232 Bracciolini, Poggio, 195 breviaria, 173 Brock, Sebastian, 93, 270 Brown, Peter, 4–5, 13 Bruni, Leonardo, 193, 195 Bucer, Martin, 201 Burckhardt, Jacob, 4, 192–193 Burgess, Richard, 26–27, 31n150, 40, 42, 173, 251 Burnett, Carole Monica, 248n45 Caesarea: context for Eusebius’s writings, 5; Eusebius as bishop of, 3–4; Jewish academy and community, 5, 17, 269; library, 3, 6, 43, 207, 215, 252, 255; Origen’s time in, 3, 5; produced copies of the Bible, 20; significance for Armenian Christianity, 128 Caesarea Maritima, 2, 5 Caesarea Philippi, 71, 174, 175, 215 Caesaropapism, 259 Cainan, 154 Calvin, John, 201–202 Cameron, Averil, 22, 39, 251, 256–257 Cameron, Euan, 197, 199n36 Camplani, Alberto, 133 Canossa, 166 Cappadocia, 59 Caroline Books (Libri Carolini), 234 Carolingians, 154–157 Carriker, Andrew, 252 Carthage, 34 Cassin, Matthieu, 48–52



Cassiodorus, 44, 142–143; Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning, 142, 143; Tripartite History (Historia tripartita), 82, 97n42, 142–143, 147, 156, 201 Catholic Church. See Roman Catholicism Cavanaugh, William, 266n134 Cecil, William, 203 Cecrops, 26 Ceolfrith (abbot), 148–149, 150–151 Certeau, Michel de, 239, 255 Chalcedon, Council of (451): Christological definition, 74, 85; and Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re’s episcopal chronology, 110; in Evagrius’s HE, 84; rejected by Eastern churches, 89, 95–96, 118, 120; resisted by Timothy Aelurus, 136 Chaldeans, 114 Charlemagne, 154, 233, 234 Charles Martel, 154 CHC (Coptic church history), 133–134, 136–139 Chibnall, Marjorie, 159–160, 162 Chora monastery, 51 Christ. See Jesus Christ Christendom, 267–268 Chromatius of Aquileia (bishop), 56 Chronicle (Eusebius), 22–28; Armenian translation of, 28, 120, 221; column format, 6, 23n108, 42, 107, 221–222; date of, 27–28; differences from HE, 29; influence on Armenian historiography, 120, 122, 124–125, 131, 132; influence on West Syrian historiography, 106–108; Jerome’s translation and continuation (Chronica), 23, 24–25, 27, 28, 156, 221; Karst edition, 24n113, 28n137; known in medieval Europe, 167, 168; manuscript history, 27n134, 28; purpose, 26–27; relationship with HE, 23–28, 29, 219; Scaliger believed Julius Africanus was author, 221–222; sources for, 36, 42; structure, 23–25, 221; Syncellus’s reliance on, 180; Syriac translation, 90, 106; as universal history, 80–81; valued by Gottfried Arnold, 237 chronicle (genre): blended with ecclesiastical history in Syrian historiography, 100–102, 113–115; characteristics in Eusebius’s Chronicle, 22–28; column format, 6, 23n108, 25–28, 42, 107–108, 113, 120, 174, 221–222; “developed chronicles” in West Syrian historiography, 108–110, 113; distinct from ecclesiastical history, 100, 110, 155, 171n83, 173, 176. See also Chronicle (Eusebius); chronology; Malalas, John; Michael the Syrian; Paschal Chronicle; universal chronicle

Chronicle of 1234, 109, 111, 115, 183n73 Chronicle of Seert, 91n12, 105–106 Chronicle to the Year 846, 95n36 chronography (genre): in Bede’s writings, 149–155; Julius Africanus and Christian chronography, 41–44; as late ancient apologetics, 26–30; maktbānūt zabnē as Syriac calque of chronographia, 104, 115 Chronography/Chronographies (title): Bar Hebraeus, 115; Elias of Nisibis, 104; Eusebius, 27n34, 28, 36, 107, 121, 154n64; Julius Africanus, 41; Syncellus, 179 chronology: Abraham as starting point, 12, 25, 26n125, 106, 152; in Annales ecclesiastici, 213; and apologetics, 26; in Armenian historiography, 124–125, 131; of Bede, 149–150, 152–155; creation as starting point, 86, 152–153, 174, 179; discrepancies between Septuagint and Hebrew Bible, 26n125, 107, 152–155, 179; episcopal succession at major sees, 34, 57, 75, 76, 110, 139, 206–207, 208; and Eusebius’s view of universal history, 80–81; imperial succession, 61–62, 69, 182–184; Incarnation as starting point, 149–150, 152–153; lacking in East Syrian historiography, 105; millenarian, 42, 114, 132, 174, 179; rediscovered during Renaissance, 219–222; structure of Chronicle, 23–27; structure of HE, 22–23, 29–30; uncertainty of quantifying time in Paradise, 125n26, 179–180; world year (annus mundi) typical of Byzantine chronicles, 176–177, 182–184. See also column format; millenarianism Chrysostom, John, 70n112, 78 church: as a Christian nation, 32, 36–38, 144; “church” vs. “churches,” 35; as “city of God,” 11; fragmentation after Chalcedon, 89, 95–96, 118; institutional consolidation in the third century, 35; interrelatedness with empire (sumpatheia), 66–67, 77, 233; merges into empire in Byzantium, 70, 86, 172; situation in the modern day, 271–272; sumpatheia, 66–67, 77, 233; sumphonia, 259; true and false church in Protestant historiography, 205–206, 235; universalism of, 4–5, 12, 38, 162, 254, 270–271; Vatican II ecclesiology, 258–259, 271 church and state. See emperor/empire; Eusebius, theo-political vision of; political theology Church Fathers Commission, 244, 245 Church of the East, 88–89, 96, 99, 105–106, 115 Cicero, 39, 196, 216, 265 Clark, Elizabeth, 242–243, 251, 254–255

Index classical historiography: ancient Greek, 36, 39, 52; contrasted with historia sacra, 192–196; conventions, 63, 72; historia, 39; imitated during Renaissance, 193–194; invented dialogue and speeches, 32, 53, 78–79, 193, 213 Clement VIII (pope), 212, 216 Clement of Alexandria, 56, 174, 179 Clement of Rome, 232 clergy: Ambrose on superiority of clergy over emperor, 78–79; Eusebius’s and Origen’s view of clerical hierarchy, 13–14, 35, 268; Jewish high priesthood linked to apostolic succession, 113–114; Socrates on quasi-priestly status of emperor, 67; and Vatican II ecclesiology, 258–259. See also bishops Clovis (king), 144, 145–146 Cochrane, Eric, 193, 194, 196, 215 Colbert, Jean-Baptiste, 49, 225 Collins, David, 195 colonialism. See postcolonialism column format: adapted by later writers, 28, 107–108, 113, 120, 174; difficulty of reproducing, 107; and Eusebius’s familiarity with the Hexapla, 6, 23n108; original to Eusebius, 42, 221–222 confessional historiography: Catholic, 211–217, 224, 225–226; contrasted with humanism, 197–202, 217; Protestant, 203–210, 235–237; replaced by modern criticism, 256; in Republic of Letters, 218 Conrad III (emperor), 166 Conradus Brunus (Braun), 207 Constance, Council of (1416), 195 Constantine (emperor): in Armenian historiography, 120; associated with Arianism, 9; baptism, 96–99, 129, 145–146, 167, 169–170, 176, 177, 185, 216–217; and battle of the Milvian Bridge, 12, 18, 36, 169–170, 205; comparisons with later Christian rulers, 129, 189; esteemed by Protestants, 197; Eusebius criticized for flattering, 4, 193, 212, 216, 236–237; Eusebius’s writings on, 8–10; executions of Crispus and Fausta, 30, 85–86, 214, 216; in Golden Legend, 168–170; and iconoclasm controversy, 186; legends about, 9n40; letter to the provincials of Palestine, 8, 30, 49, 50; mausoleum, 21; patronized production of Bibles, 20, 255n76; portrayed by Eusebius as ideal ruler, 19–22; in Syriac historiography, 90–91, 97–98; as type of Moses, 12, 20; viewed by non-Chalcedonian churches, 91, 139; vision of the cross,


72, 169–170, 176. See also Acts of Silvester; Donation of Constantine; Life of Constantine Constantine Porphyrogenitus (emperor), 222 Constantinianism, 194, 253–254, 258–259, 266–267 Constantinople: Constantine’s shrine and mausoleum, 21; episcopal succession at, 34, 57, 76; HE manuscripts produced in, 49–52; home of Socrates and Sozomen, 59, 61; as new Rome, 76. See also Syncellus; Theophanes the Confessor Constantinople, Council of (381), 54, 76, 79n146 Constantinople, Council of (553), 143, 270 Constantinople, Council of (869–870), 189 Constantius Chlorus (emperor), 98, 169–170 Constantius II (emperor), 60, 79, 81, 212, 216 Conterno, Maria, 89n6, 91n12 Coptic historiography, 106, 133–140 Corinth, 34 Coxe, Arthur Cleveland, 242n14 Creation: and Logos, 37; starting point for chronology, 86, 152–153, 174, 179 Crescens, 228–230 Crete, 51 Crispus, 30, 85–86, 214, 216 Croke, Brian, 23n106 cross: Constantine’s vision of, 72, 169–170, 176; finding of true cross, 105, 169 Crucifixion, 132 Crum, W. E., 136 Crusades, 102, 111–112, 161, 162, 166–167 Crusé, C. F., 240 CSEL (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum), 244 Ctesias, 36 Ctesiphon, 105 Cyprus, 53n30 Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch), 74, 136 Cyril of Jerusalem (bishop), 54, 55 Cyrus (city), 73 Cyrus (king), 11n48 Cyrus of Batna, 101, 110 Cyzicus, 55 Daniel, Book of, 12, 144, 161, 167 Daniélou, Jean, 247 Darius, 25 Day, John, 203 Debié, Muriel, 103–105, 107 Decretum Gelasianum, 97, 210, 214 Deferrari, Roy J., 248 Demacopoulos, George, 171



demons, 19, 32–33 Denis, Saint, 230–232 Deuteronomic history, 12 DeVore, David, 251 dialogue, invented, 53, 78–79 Diocletian (emperor): in Coptic literature, 139; death, 185; persecution of, 2–3, 7, 27, 30, 39–40 Diodore of Tarsus, 73, 74, 75 Diogenes Laertius, 35 Dionysiou monastery, 48 Dionysius Exiguus, 149 Dionysius of Alexandria (bishop), 14, 40, 138, 143, 180, 268n140 Dionysius of Corinth (bishop), 230 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 36 Dionysius of Paris (bishop), 230–232 Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re, 108–110, 165. See also Zuqnin Chronicle Dionysius the Areopagite, 215, 230–232 Dioscorus (patriarch/bishop), 74, 76 Ditchfield, Simon, 196 docility (eupeitheia), 79 doctrine: central to confessional historiography, 208–209, 213, 217; emperor’s role in resolving controversies, 20, 58, 185–186, 216; Eusebius’s participation in disputes, 3–4, 8; Eusebius views as unchangeable, 32–33, 39, 270; theme of early Byzantine historiographers, 64, 65, 75, 85; theme of HE, 32–35, 65. See also Arianism; Chalcedon, Council of (451); Nicaea, Council of (325) Doctrine of Addai. See Teaching of Addai documents, citation of: in Byzantine historians, 63, 72–73, 84; Eusebius’s preferred form of argument, 6, 14–15, 31; innovation of Eusebius, 32, 254; modernist criticism of Eusebius’s method, 252 Donation of Constantine: and baptism of Constantine, 167, 214, 216–217; forgery of, 194–195 Donatism, 229 Drost-Abgarjan, Armenuhi, 121 Duc, Fronton du, 218 Duchesne, Louis, 99 dyophysite, 89, 96, 105 Easter: date of, 105n79, 148–149, 150, 177, 199–200; Eusebius’s treatise on, 17 ecclesiastical history (genre): and biblical prophecy, 12–13, 35–36; core elements found in HE, 32–40; distinct from chronicle, 100–102, 110, 155, 171n83, 173, 176; document

citation method, 6, 14–15, 31–32, 63, 72–73, 84, 252, 254; future of, 268–273; “history of the church” vs. “history of Christianity,” 62; “history of the church” vs. “history of the churches,” 35, 144–146, 188; originality of Eusebius, 27, 29, 32–33, 40–41; providentialist view of history, 10, 26, 44, 60, 62, 69–70, 84, 213, 270; role of secular history, 62, 65–67, 70, 83–84, 208–209; Valois’s justification of, 224–235. See also chronicle; chronology; sacred history; universal history Ecclesiastical History (HE) (Eusebius) —composition and structure: composition, 30–32, 137; originality, 27, 29, 32–33, 40–41; precedents and models for, 40–45; relationship with Chronicle, 23–28, 29, 219; relationship with Life of Constantine, 9; structure, 22–23, 29–30; title, 35 —genres: apologetic history, 26–27, 38–40; distinct from hagiography, 7; literary and intellectual history, 35; national history, 32, 36–38, 144; war and military history, 35–36 —key themes and purpose, 33–40; anti-Jewish apologetic, 16–18, 34, 35, 37, 44–45, 256–257, 269; apostolic succession, 33–34; heresy and true doctrine, 33–35, 65; martyrdom and persecution, 32, 34, 35–36, 195; teachers and writers, 33, 35 —manuscripts and publication: first printed editions, 197–198; GCS edition, 52, 57, 243–245; manuscript history, 30–31, 48–52, 93, 160, 191–192, 223; modern publication history, 239–250; Stephanus edition, 51–52, 198; Valois edition, 51–52, 223–224 —modern scholarship: future legacy, 268–273; motives for study, 1; religious and theological critical reception, 258–268; secular critical reception, 250–257 —translations: into Armenian, 116; into Coptic, 137–138; early English, 240; into French, 247; into Japanese, 90n10, 250; Latin translations in sixteenth century, 198; modern English, 240–250; of Rufinus, 53–59, 72–73; scholarly treatment of, 52–53; Syriac, 30, 91–93; of Valois, 228 Edessa: King Abgar VIII, 41; King Abgar Uchama, 94–95, 123, 125–127, 161–162; Mandylion, 162; Syriac school, 116 Edict of Milan, 30, 58 Egeria, 95 Egypt, 25. See also Alexandria Eleutherus (pope/bishop), 229

Index Elias of Nisibis, 104 Elijah, 99 Ełišē, 119 Elizabeth I (queen), 204 emperor/empire: Ambrose on superiority of clergy over emperor, 78–79, 81; Byzantine monarchical ideology, 19, 22, 194; Christendom, 267–268; Constantine as model for later Christian rulers, 129, 189; Constantinianism, 194, 253–254, 258–259, 266–267; and divine punishment of the Jews, 19; emperors judged by piety and orthodoxy, 77, 184; emperor’s role in dogmatic disputes, 20, 58, 185–186, 216; Eusebius criticized for flattering emperors, 4, 193, 212, 216, 236–237; Eusebius’s positive view of Roman Empire, 12, 14, 19, 36, 87, 144, 167, 263, 265; Foxe’s praise of royal power, 203–205; fundamental to Eusebius’s theo-political vision, 18–22; parallel between imperial monarchy and Logos, 21–22; sacralization of emperor in late Roman Empire, 18; Socrates on quasi-priestly status of emperor, 67; sumpatheia, 66–67, 77, 233; sumphonia, 259; transitory nature of all empires for Michael the Syrian, 113–115; Valois on duties of a Christian king, 233–235. See also Augustus; Constantine; Eusebius, theo-political vision of Enlightenment, 226, 235, 266 Ephesus, Council of (431), 74 Ephesus, Council of (449) (“Robber Council”), 74 Ephrem the Syrian, 49n8 Epic Histories, 119 Epiphanius (compiler of Tripartite History), 142 Epiphanius of Salamis, 229 epitome, 173 Erasmus, 195 eschatology. See apocalyptic eschatology; millenarianism Essenes, 220 Ethiopia, 57–58 ethnie, 117 ethnogenesis, 89, 144, 272 ethnos, 33, 36, 38, 144 Étienne, Robert. See Stephanus (Robert Étienne) Eugenius, 58 Eunapius, 103 Eunomius, 60 Eusebius of Caesarea —life: biography, 2–5; as bishop, 3–4, 11; participation in Council of Nicaea, 3–4, 60, 64, 65


—theo-political vision, 10–22; accused of Arianism by later writers, 60, 65, 70, 79–80, 180, 188, 215, 236, 240–241; apologetic against Judaism, 16–18, 34, 35, 44–45, 269; biblical interpretation, 12–13, 35–36; Constantine and Christian empire, 4, 8–10, 11, 18–22, 32, 36–38, 144; contrasted with Augustine, 263, 265; influenced by Origen, 13–16, 269–270; less cogent after Arab conquests, 87, 89, 172; modern criticism of, 38, 258–259; modern legacy of, 269, 272; motivated by faith and philosophy, 11; positive view of Roman Empire, 12, 14, 18–19, 36, 87, 144, 167, 263, 265; providentialist view of history, 10, 26, 270; triumphalist view of history, 58, 70; universalism of Christianity, 4–5, 12, 38, 162, 254, 270–271 —works, 5–10; Apology for Origen (with Pamphilus), 3, 6, 14, 15n67, 40; Chronicle (See Chronicle); Commentary on Isaiah, 6, 11, 13, 15, 35–36, 210, 268n140; Commentary on the Psalms, 6, 268n140; Ecclesiastical History (See Ecclesiastical History); On Ecclesiastical Theology, 8, 65; General Elementary Introduction, 6; Gospel Questions and Solutions, 6, 90; Gospel Sections and Canons (Letter to Carpianus), 5–6, 90, 158; letter on Nicaea to the church at Caesarea, 80, 215; Life of Constantine (See Life of Constantine); Life of Pamphilus, 3; Against Marcellus, 8, 65; Martyrs of Palestine, 6–7, 30, 50, 90, 246; Onomasticon, 5, 15, 90, 256–257; Oration in Praise of Constantine, 8–9, 224; Oration to the Assembly of the Saints, 8–9, 20n94, 224; Preparation for the Gospel, 6, 14, 26, 30, 31n153, 38, 39n191; Proof of the Gospel, 6, 30; On the Sepulcher of Christ, 8; Theophany, 6, 90; treatise on Easter, 17; Tricennial Oration, 21–22, 38 Eusebius of Nicomedia, 80, 96, 97n42, 98, 185 Eustathius of Antioch, 64, 75n139, 80 Eutropius, 214 Eutyches, 74 Euzoius, 54 Evagrius Scholasticus, 81–86; chain of historical tradition, 81–83; defense of Constantine, 85–86; in edition of Stephanus, 198; focus on church of Antioch, 83–84; on Mandylion, 162; Nicephorus’s use of, 187; reversion to older ways of writing history, 83–84; scorn for doctrinal hair-splitting, 85; used heterodox and pagan sources but criticized them, 85–86



Fabian (pope/bishop), 216n111 Fathers of the Church series (FOTC), 248–249 Fausta (empress), 85, 214, 216 Firmilian of Caesarea, 128 Flacius Illyricus, Matthias: career, 206–207; Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth, 200, 203; Magdeburg Centuries, 189, 197, 198, 199, 203, 206–210, 211 Flavio Biondo, 192n4 Flavius Josephus. See Josephus Florence, 50, 51 Florinus, 229 Foucault, Michel, 245 Fowden, Garth, 172 Foxe, John, 203–206; on Bishop Victor of Rome, 200n41; compared himself and Queen Elizabeth to Eusebius and Constantine, 203–204; exile and acquaintance with Matthias Flacius, 203; praise of Constantine, 204–205; on struggle between the “true” and “false” church, 205–206 Francis (pope), 272 Francis I (king), 198 Franks, 154–157 Frederick Barbarossa (emperor), 167 free speech. See parrhesia Frumentius, 58 Fuhrer, Therese, 58 Galatians, Letter to the, 12 Galerius (emperor), 27–28 Gallicanism, 228–233 Gallienus (emperor), 2, 39 Garsoïan, Nina, 118n139, 119–120, 125, 126 Gaul, 34, 228–233 Gaza, 68 GCS (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller), 52, 57, 243–245 Gelasius I (pope), 97, 210, 214 Gelasius of Caesarea, 53–59, 184–185 Gennadius of Marseilles, 156, 242 genre criticism, 33n159 Gentz, Günter, 190 George Synkellos. See Syncellus Georgia, 58n51 Germanus of Auxerre, 148n33 Gibbons, James (cardinal), 248 Gildas, 148n33, 165 God the Father, 21–22 God the Son, 65. See also Logos Goffart, Walter, 145, 147n29 Golden Legend, 168–170

grace. See Jansenism; justification Grafton, Anthony, 40n195, 44n221, 195, 207, 218, 219–222 Grant, Robert M., 34n163 Great Lavra Monastery, 51 Greenwood, Tim, 121, 122, 122n158, 130, 131 Gregorian Reform, 232 Gregory Abu’l Faraj. See Bar Hebraeus Gregory Bar Hebraeus. See Bar Hebraeus Gregory of Antioch (patriarch), 83 Gregory of Tours, 144–146, 230 Gregory Thaumaturgus, 20n96, 227 Gregory the Great (pope), 197, 202 Gregory the Illuminator, 118, 123, 126, 128–130 Guazzelli, Giuseppe, 196 Guignebert, Charles, 247 Gutierrez, Gustavo, 266n134 Hadrian (emperor), 19n89 Hagia Sophia, 81, 176, 186–187 hagiography, 7, 32, 46, 58 Hanmer, Meredith, 202, 240 Hansen, Günther Christian, 55 Harnack, Adolf, 242, 244, 253n69 Hata, Gohei, 250 Hauerwas, Stanley, 266n134 Hebraica Veritas, 153 Hebrews-Jews distinction, 16–18, 25, 37, 43, 256–257 Hegesippus, 41, 161 Heijer, Johannes den, 134–138 Helena, empress, 204 Helen of Adiabene, 127 Henry IV (emperor), 166 Heraclius (emperor), 176 heresy: and demons, 32–33; Eusebius views as postapostolic innovation, 33, 35, 41; neutral term for Socrates, 61, 69; role of Rome in development of heresy/orthodoxy distinction, 251–252; theme of early Byzantine historiographers, 64, 65, 75, 85; theme of HE, 32–35, 65; Valois on value of ecclesiastical history for refuting, 224–227. See also Arianism; doctrine; Nicaea, Council of (325) Herodotus, 1, 63 Herod the Great, 71 Hierocles, 210 historia, 39 historia integra, 196, 208 Historia monachorum in Aegypto, 49n11, 103 historia sacra. See sacred history historicism, 235, 238, 268, 270

Index History of Mar Ma’in, 91n12 History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, 106, 133–136, 138–139 Hobbes, Thomas, 264n124 Holstenius (Lukas Holstein), 168, 223 homoousios, 4, 64–65, 80 Honorius (emperor), 78 Hosius of Córdoba (bishop), 3 Hoyland, Robert, 102n62, 108 humanist historiography: contrasted with confessionalism, 198–202, 217; development of, 191–193; relationship to ecclesiastical history, 193–197 Humphries, Mark, 57 iconoclasm, 181, 184, 186, 234 Ignatius of Antioch, 201 Incarnation, 37, 132, 168n149, 174. See also Jesus Christ Index of Prohibited Books, 211, 216, 233 India, 34n168, 57–58 Innocent X (pope), 226 investiture controversy, 166 Irenaeus of Lyon, 34, 35, 198–200, 228, 229 Isho’dnah of Basra, 208n75 Isidore of Seville, 152, 153 Islam, 95, 96, 104, 271. See also Arab conquests; Muslim historiography Jacob of Edessa, 106–108, 183 Jacob of Serugh, 97 Jacobs, Andrew, 251, 255–257 Jacobus de Voragine, 168–170 James (apostle), 45, 161 Jankowiak, Marek, 183 Jansenism, 225–226, 235 Jerome: Chronica (translation of Eusebius’s Chronicle), 23, 24–25, 27, 28, 156, 221; On Illustrious Men, 156, 210; in NPNF, 242; translation of Bible, 153–154 Jerome of Prague, 195 Jerusalem: during Crusades, 112; early Christian community in, 41; episcopal succession at, 34, 57; First Revolt and destruction of Temple, 25, 34, 45, 220; Helen of Adiabene’s residence and burial in, 127 Jesuits, 196, 217 Jesus Christ: Bede’s Christology, 160–161; birth during reign of Augustus, 19, 36, 144, 167, 263, 265; Chalcedonian definition, 74, 85; as foundation of sacred history, 38; Incarnation as starting point for chronology, 149–150,


152–153; Jews’ sufferings seen as punishment for Crucifixion, 34, 35, 44–45, 269; moral teachings of, 17–18; tradition of correspondence with King Abgar, 94–95, 127, 161–162; in writings of Josephus, 44. See also Logos Jewel, John (bishop), 202 John bar Penkaye, 104 John Malalas. See Malalas, John John of Ephesus (John of Asia), 101, 103 Johnson, Aaron, 2n4, 38, 39n191, 251 Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald, 34n165 John VI Cantacuzenus (emperor), 48 John XXIII (pope) (Angelo Roncalli), 265 Jordanes, 144–145, 165 Josephus, 43–45, 71, 124, 142, 154; Jewish Antiquities, 36, 44, 142, 156; Jewish War, 44, 124, 142, 156 Joshua the Stylite, 101 Jovian (emperor), 77 Judaism: Eusebius viewed their suffering as punishment for death of Christ, 34, 35, 44–45, 269; Hebrews-Jews distinction, 16–18, 25, 37, 43, 256–257; Jewish community in Caesarea, 5, 17, 269; Jewish high priesthood linked to apostolic succession, 113–114; political status in fourth century, 17; postmodern criticism of Eusebius, 254, 256–257, 269; Sozomen on, 71; tradition of Jewish ancestry of Armenian nobility, 123, 126 Julian (emperor), 66, 77, 141 Julian Romance, 91n12, 98 Julius Africanus, 41–43, 174, 179, 221–222 Junker, Billy, 191n1 justification, 209 Justinian (emperor), 96, 142, 144 Justin Martyr, 256, 269n141 Kannengiesser, Charles, 11, 13, 270 Kantianism, 260 Karst, Joseph, 24n113, 121 Kempshall, Matthew, 155 Kīrillus II (patriarch), 135–136 Koriwn, 116, 118 Kostopoulos, Zachary, 138n245 Kreider, Alan, 267n137 Kulikowski, Michael, 173 Labubna, 125 Ladner, Gerhart, 259 Laing, Stefana Dan, 250n54 Lake, Kirsopp, 246–247 Lamy, Bernard, 227



La Porta, Sergio, 125n176 Lateran III, Council of (1179), 112 Launoy, Jean de, 231 Lawlor, H. J., 245–246 Łazar P’arpec’i, 118 Lazarus, Saint, 231 Le Gall, Jean-Marie, 231 Leithart, Peter, 266–267 Leo V (emperor), 181, 182, 184 Leppin, Hartmut, 59, 67 Levon I (king), 112 Liberius of Rome (pope/bishop), 79 Liber Pontificalis, 99, 134, 152, 161, 164, 194 Library of the Fathers, 240–241, 258 Licinius, 4, 7, 20, 30–31, 36 Life of Constantine (Eusebius): appended to manuscripts of HE, 48, 60; associates Constantine with Arianism, 9; Baronio’s criticism of, 212, 216; on Constantine’s baptism, 9, 96, 146; on date of Easter, 150; early printed editions, 198, 224; and Eusebius’s personal interactions with Constantine, 4; and Eusebius’s theo-political vision, 8–10, 12, 38; Exodus typology, 12; key source for Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, 203–206; letter to the provincials of Palestine, 8, 30, 49, 50; portrays Constantine as ideal ruler, 20–21, 129; source for Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, 64, 72, 80; structure, 30; unpopularity compared to HE and Chronicle, 9, 97, 177 Life of Silvester. See Acts of Silvester literary criticism, 251, 254 Loeb Classical Library, 246–247 Loeb, James, 246–247 Logos: and antiquity of Christianity, 37; compared to Constantine, 21–22; and Eusebius’s theology of history, 12, 70, 270; Middle Platonism, 13, 37; subordinationist theology in HE, 37, 57, 92–93, 140. See also Arianism Loisy, Alfred, 253n69 Lombards, 144 Loopstra, Jonathan, 91n15, 105n77 Louis the Pious, 233 Louis XIV (king), 225, 233 Louth, Andrew, 249 Lubac, Henri de, 247 Luke, Gospel of, 6, 19, 44n218, 270 Lutheranism, 206–207, 209 Luther, Martin, 201, 206 Lyons, Council of (1274), 188–189 Lyons, martyrs of, 36, 228, 229

Mabillon, Jean, 223 Maccabean revolt, 25, 119 MacKenzie, Ray, 231n166 Magdeburg Centuries, 206–210; Annales ecclesiastici as Catholic rebuttal of, 211; Baudouin distanced himself from, 199; centrality of justification, 209; inclusion of Nicephorus, 189; produced in Magdeburg under Flacius’s direction, 199, 203, 207; on proper subject matter of ecclesiastical history, 197, 208; reliance on and assessment of Eusebius, 209–210; structure, 207 Mahé, Jean-Pierre, 116, 118, 124, 126n183 Mai, Angelo (cardinal), 132 Maier, Paul L., 249–250 Malalas, John, 43, 83n171, 173–176 Malmesbury Abbey, 164 Mandylion, 162 Manetho, 36 Mango, Cyril, 178, 182–186 Mani, 34, 137n235 Manicheism, 63n87, 105 Manuel Chrysoloras, 191, 195 Manuel I Comnenus (emperor), 112 Marasco, Gabriele, 60 Marca, Pierre de, 231–233, 234 Marcian (emperor), 74 Marcus Aurelius (emperor), 19 Mark (evangelist), 76, 134 Markschies, Christoph, 244n27, 245 Markus, Robert, 146–147, 260 Maronites, 99–100 Martha, 231 Martin, Annick, 73–81 martyrs: in Armenian historiography, 119; Eusebius’s Martyrs of Palestine, 6–7, 30, 50, 90, 246; HE as model for Poggio Bracciolini, 195; of Lyons and Vienne, 36, 228–229; theme of HE, 34, 35–36; Valois on value of Eusebius’s accounts, 227–228 Marx, Karl, 260, 266 Mary (queen of England), 203 Mary Magdalene, 231 Matthew (apostle), 57 Matthew, Gospel of, 6, 270–271 Mawhūb ibn Mans. ūr ibn Muffarigˇ, 135 Maxentius, 12, 20, 36, 205 Maximin (emperor), 34n168 Mazarin, Jules (cardinal), 50, 227, 232 McGiffert, Arthur Cushman, 241, 242–243, 249 McKitterick, Rosamond, 155–158

Index McLean, Norman, 92 Medicis, 50 Megas Agros, 181 Mehružan (bishop). See Meruzanes (bishop) Melanchthon, Philip, 197, 207 Meletius (bishop), 79n146 Melitene, 111 Melito of Sardis, 19, 252 Melkites, 99 Mercersburg Theology, 241, 258 Meruzanes (bishop), 34n168, 128 Mesrop Maštoc’, 116, 123 Methodius (Pseudo-Methodius), 104, 168n149 Methodius of Olympus, 168n149 Metz, Johann Baptist, 266n134 miaphysitism, 91n14, 95–96 Michael I (emperor), 184 Michael VIII (emperor), 188–189 Michael the Syrian, 111–115; on antiquity of Syrian empires, 114–115; on Constantine baptism legend, 98; on continuity of Jewish priesthood and apostolic succession, 113, 114; diplomatic and ecumenical activity as patriarch of Antioch, 111–112; influenced by Dionysius of Tel-Mah. re, 109, 113; on theodicy, 114; on transitory nature of all empires, 114–115; uses millennial chronology but avoids end-times speculation, 114; variations on column structure, 113 Middle Platonism, 13, 21–22 Migne, Jacques-Paul, 132 Milbank, John, 266n134 military history, 35–36 millenarian chronology, 42, 114, 132, 174, 179. See also millenarianism millenarianism: Bede opposed to, 153; Eusebius opposed to, 19n90, 42, 132; Eusebius’s criticism of Irenaeus, 199–200, 269n141; Step’anos’ subdued version of, 132n213 Miltiades (pope/bishop), 185n83, 229 Milvian Bridge, 12, 18, 36, 169–170, 205 Missale Romanum, 211 modernist criticism of HE, 238–239, 250–254 Moltmann, Jürgen, 266n134 Momigliano, Arnaldo: on Cyrus, 11n48; on genre of ecclesiastical history, 32, 40n194, 163, 166, 251, 268; on historia, 39n192; on value of HE, 45–46 Mommsen, Theodor, 56–57, 244 Mondésert, Claude, 247 monophysitism, 75–76


Montchal, Charles de, 224 Montfaucon, Bernard de, 218 Mōr Bar S. aumo monastery, 111, 112 More, Thomas, 200 Mōr H. ananyō monastery, 111 Morlet, Sébastien, 22n103, 31, 48, 251 Moscow, 48 Moses, 16, 17, 20, 26, 37, 67, 179 Mosshammer, Alden A., 21n111, 150 Movsēs Xorenac’i, 122–130; adapted traditions about Abgar, 125–127; appeal to written and oral sources, 124–125; name, 116n129; pairing of Trdat and Constantine as first Christian kings, 129; prime shaper of the received tradition in Armenian history, 122; supposed historical writing of Firmilian of