Title: Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History; Complete and Unabridged; Translated by C.F. Cruse
Biographical citation: Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History; Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody, Massachusetts; 1998.
Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is a historical record of the primitive Christian church for the first three centuries that began with the birth of Jesus Christ going through the time of Emperor Constantine taking power in the Roman world leading up to the Council of Nicea. Eusebius’ work was completed in A.D. 324. Part of this historical record included many of the Christian doctrines. Eusebius’ thesis statement could be stated in his purpose for writing the book that encompassed two parts: 1) Record the ecclesiastical history beginning with Jesus Christ through the apostles in the formulation of the church that focused on the writings and teachings of these apostles and other Christian leaders at that time in contrast to the heretics who were trying to corrupt the church by false teachings; 2) Record the historical devastation that took place in the Jewish nation following the death and resurrection of Christ followed by the martyrdom of Christians at the hands of those in opposition to Christianity. The author’s thesis, the book’s table of contents and my reading of the subsequent chapters lead to the conclusion that all three parts logically relate to one another as Eusebius begins his work starting in a chronological fashion giving much detail to each point.
This book was divided into ten books within the larger work itself numbering one through ten with an additional book before Book Nine entitled The Book of Martyrs. The entire work of Eusebius within the eleven books consisted of 264 chapters. In Book One, Eusebius gives the historical data in support of the birth of Christ quoting the Scriptures and secular authorities who affirm and attest to this historical fact. Jesus Christ’s trial and subsequent crucifixion were given. Interaction between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ was given by Eusebius. What I found most interesting in this book was a translation given by Eusebius from the records of Edessa in which Jesus and King Agbarus had written correspondence (chapter 13). I had never heard of this until I read this book. Eusebius seems convinced that this is authentic. Book Two gave the accounts of the early Christian martyrs (Stephen and James the Just – Jesus’ half-brother). The church is organized in Jerusalem and then dispersed due to persecutions. Eusebius heavily references the work of Philo. Eusebius presents good biographical information on James the Just (chapter 23). This book concludes with the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. Book Three gives the horrific account of the destruction of Jerusalem by heavily referencing and quoting Josephus. Eusebius comments on the heresies that are now starting to come into the church that needs to be refuted. Early church fathers Irenaeus, Clement, and others are referenced as they refute these heresies. Eusebius comments several times on the residence and place of death of the apostle John being at Ephesus (chapters 1, 20, 23, & 31). Papias is referenced (chapter 39) in which the millennium is discussed. Eusebius disagrees with Papias’ view on the millennium being a literal reign of Christ on the earth.
Book Four gives more reviews of heresies taking place; churches in Rome and Alexandria are established. Eusebius comments heavily on Dionysius of Corinth along with the writings of Theophilus and Philip of Gortyna. Chapters 14 and 15 are devoted to the life and martyrdom of Polycarp. In chapter 26 there is a listing of the Old Testament books. Book Five is a detailed account of Christians persecuted for their faith. The historical account of Blandina’s martyrdom was particularly moving due to her being a young female (chapter 1). Eusebius provides the succession of Roman bishops that...