Eusebius : biography

– 339

Eusebius held that men were sinners by their own free choice and not by the necessity of their natures. Eusebius said, "The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature".The Christian Examiner, Volume One, published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66

By the time of the Byzantine Iconoclasm several centuries later, Eusebius had unfairly gained the reputation of having been an Arian, and was roundly condemned as such by Patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople. A letter Eusebius is supposed to have written to Constantine’s daughter Constanza, refusing to fulfill her request for images of Christ, was quoted in the decrees (now lost) of the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in 754, and later quoted in part in the rebuttal of the Hieria decrees in the Second Council of Nicaea of 787, now the only source from which some of the text is known. The authenticity, or authorship of the letter remain uncertain.David M. Gwynn, "From Iconoclasm to Arianism: The Construction of Christian Tradition in the Iconoclast Controversy" [Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007) 225–251], p. 227-245.


Little is known about the life of Eusebius. His successor at the see of Caesarea, Acacius, wrote a Life of Eusebius, a work that has since been lost. Eusebius’ own surviving works probably only represent a small portion of his total output. Beyond notices in his extant writings, the major sources are the 5th-century ecclesiastical historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, and the 4th-century Christian author Jerome. There are assorted notices of his activities in the writings of his contemporaries Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Alexander of Alexandria. Eusebius’ pupil, Eusebius of Emesa, provides some incidental information.Wallace-Hadrill, 11.

Bishop of Caesarea

Eusebius succeeded Agapius, as Bishop of Caesarea soon after 313 and played a prominent role at the Council of Nicaea in 325. Eusebius, a learned man and famous author, enjoyed the favour of the Emperor Constantine. Because of this he was called upon to present the creed of his own church to the 318 attendees." However, the anti-Arian creed from Palestine prevailed becoming the basis for the Nicene Creed.Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, (2nd ed. Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1995.), p.102.

The theological views of Arius, that taught the subordination of the Son to the Father, continued to be a problem. Eustathius of Antioch strongly opposed the growing influence of Origen’s theology as the root of Arianism. Eusebius, an admirer of Origen, was reproached by Eustathius for deviating from the Nicene faith. Eusebius prevailed and Eustathius was deposed at a synod in Antioch.

However, Athanasius of Alexandria became a more powerful opponent and in 334, he was summoned before a synod in Caesarea (which he refused to attend). In the following year, he was again summoned before a synod in Tyre at which Eusebius of Caesarea presided. Athanasius, foreseeing the result, went to Constantinople to bring his cause before the Emperor. Constantine called the bishops to his court, among them Eusebius. Athanasius was condemned and exiled at the end of 335. Eusebius remained in the Emperor’s favour throughout this time and more than once was exonerated with the explicit approval of the Emperor Constantine. After the Emperor’s death (c.337), Eusebius wrote the , an important historical work because of eye witness accounts and the use of primary sources. Eusebius died c.339.Colm Luibheid, The Essential Eusebius : The Story of the First Centuries of the Christian Church in the Words of Its Greatest Historian, Mentor-Omega Press, 1966, p 31.