Eusebius : biography

– 339


Eusebius’ Onomasticon (more properly On the Place-Names in the Holy Scripture, the name Eusebius gives to it) is a work that moderns would recognize as a gazetteer, a directory of place names, but which ancients had no category for. It sits uneasily between the ancient genres of geography and lexicography, taking elements from both but a member of neither.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 106. Eusebius’ description of his own method—"I shall collect the entries from the whole of the divinely inspired Scriptures, and I shall set them out grouped by their initial letters so that one may easily perceive what lies scattered throughout the text"Onomasticon p. 2.14ff., qtd. and tr. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 107.—implies that he had no similar type of book to work from; his work was entirely original, based only on the text of the Bible.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 106–7. As he describes, Eusebius organizes his entries into separate categories according to their first letters. Under each letter, the entries are organized first by the book they are found in, and then by their place in that book. The entries for Joshua under Tau, for example, read as follows:Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 107. Tina (15:22): of the tribe of Judah. Telem (15:24): of the tribe of Judah. Tessam (15:29): of the tribe of Judah. Tyre (19:35): of the tribe of Naphthali. Where there is a contemporary town at the site or nearby, Eusebius notes it in the corresponding entry. "Terebinth", for example, describes Shechem as "near Neapolis", modern Nablus, and "Tophet" is located "in the suburbs of Jerusalem". The Onomasticon has traditionally been dated before 324, on the basis of its sparse references to Christianity, and complete absence of remarks on Constantine’s buildings in the Holy Land. The work also describes traditional religious practices at the oak of Mamre as though they were still happening, while they are known to have been suppressed soon after 325, when a church was built on the site.Barnes, "Onomasticon", 413. Eusebius references to the encampment of the Legio X Fretensis at Aila (in southern Israel, near modern Aqaba and Eilat); the X Fretensis was probably transferred from Jerusalem to Aila under Diocletian.Barnes, "Onomasticon", 413 n. 4.

Biblical text criticism

Eusebius’s [[canon tables were often included in Early Medieval Gospel books]] Pamphilus and Eusebius occupied themselves with the textual criticism of the Septuagint text of the Old Testament and especially of the New Testament. An edition of the Septuagint seems to have been already prepared by Origen, which, according to Jerome, was revised and circulated by Eusebius and Pamphilus. For an easier survey of the material of the four Evangelists, Eusebius divided his edition of the New Testament into paragraphs and provided it with a synoptical table so that it might be easier to find the pericopes that belong together. These canon tables or "Eusebian canons" remained in use throughout the Middle Ages, and illuminated manuscript versions are important for the study of early medieval art, as they are the most elaborately decorated pages of many Gospel books. Eusebius detailed in Epistula ad Carpianum how to use his canons.


The Chronicle ( (Pantodape historia)) is divided into two parts. The first part, the Chronography ( (Chronographia)), gives an epitome of universal history from the sources, arranged according to nations. The second part, the Canons ( (Chronikoi kanones)), furnishes a synchronism of the historical material in parallel columns, the equivalent of a parallel timeline.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 112.

The work as a whole has been lost in the original Greek, but it may be reconstructed from later chronographists of the Byzantine school who made excerpts from the work, especially George Syncellus. The tables of the second part have been completely preserved in a Latin translation by Jerome, and both parts are still extant in an Armenian translation. The loss of the Greek originals has given an Armenian translation a special importance; thus, the first part of Eusebius’ Chronicle, of which only a few fragments exist in the Greek, has been preserved entirely in Armenian, though with lacunae. The Chronicle as preserved extends to the year 325.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 112–13, 340 n. 58.