Eusebius

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Eusebius : biography

– 339

Soon after Pamphilus settled in Caesarea (ca. 280s), he began teaching Eusebius, who was then somewhere between twenty and twenty-five.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 94. Because of his close relationship with his schoolmaster, Eusebius was sometimes called Eusebius Pamphili: "Eusebius, son of Pamphilus". The name may also indicate that Eusebius was made Pamphilus’ heir.Wallace-Hadrill, 11–12. Pamphilus gave Eusebius a strong admiration for the thought of Origen.Quasten, 3.309–10. Neither Pamphilus nor Eusebius knew Origen personally;Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 93, 95; Louth, "Birth of church history", 266. Pamphilus probably picked up Origenist ideas during his studies under Pierius (nicknamed "Origen Junior"Jerome, de Viris Illustribus 76, qtd. and tr. Louth, "Birth of church history", 266.) in Alexandria.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 93, 95. In Caesarea, Origenist thought was continued in the generation after his death by Theotecnus, bishop of the city for much of the late 3rd century and an alumnus of Origen’s school.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 93.

Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel bears witness to the literary tastes of Origen: Eusebius quotes no comedy, tragedy, or lyric poetry, but makes reference to all the works of Plato and to an extensive range of later philosophic works, largely from Middle Platonists from Philo to the late 2nd century.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 93–94. Whatever its secular contents, the primary aim of Origen and Pamphilus’ school was to promote sacred learning. The library’s biblical and theological contents were more impressive: Origen’s Hexapla and Tetrapla, a copy of the original Hebrew Version of the Gospel of MattitYahu, and many of Origen’s own writings. Marginal comments in extant manuscripts note that Pamphilus and his friends and pupils, including Eusebius, corrected and revised much of the biblical text in their library. Their efforts made the hexaplaric Septuagint text increasingly popular in Syria and Palestine.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 95. Soon after joining Pamphilus’ school, Eusebius started helping his master expand the library’s collections and broaden access to its resources. At about this time Eusebius compiled a Collection of Ancient Martyrdoms, presumably for use as a general reference tool.

In the 290s, Eusebius began work on his magnum opus, the Ecclesiastical History, a narrative history of the Church and Christian community from the Apostolic Age to Eusebius’ own time. At about the same time, Eusebius worked on his Chronicle, a universal calendar of events from Creation to Eusebius’ own time. Eusebius completed the first editions of the Ecclesiastical History and Chronicle before 300.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 277; Wallace-Hadrill, 12–13.

Works

Of the extensive literary activity of Eusebius, a relatively large portion has been preserved. Although posterity suspected him of Arianism, Eusebius had made himself indispensable by his method of authorship; his comprehensive and careful excerpts from original sources saved his successors the painstaking labor of original research. Hence, much has been preserved, quoted by Eusebius, which otherwise would have been destroyed.

The literary productions of Eusebius reflect on the whole the course of his life. At first, he occupied himself with works on Biblical criticism under the influence of Pamphilus and probably of Dorotheus of Tyre of the School of Antioch. Afterward, the persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius directed his attention to the martyrs of his own time and the past, and this led him to the history of the whole Church and finally to the history of the world, which, to him, was only a preparation for ecclesiastical history.

Then followed the time of the Arian controversies, and dogmatic questions came into the foreground. Christianity at last found recognition by the State; and this brought new problems—apologies of a different sort had to be prepared. Lastly, Eusebius wrote eulogies in praise of Constantine. To all this activity must be added numerous writings of a miscellaneous nature, addresses, letters, and the like, and exegetical works that extended over the whole of his life and that include both commentaries and treatises on Biblical archaeology.