Click on the footnote number and you will jump down to that note. Once there and enlightened, then click on that number and you will return to where you were in the text.


From An Introduction to the History of History, by James T. Shotwell; Columbia University Press; New York; 1922; pp. 300-313.




THE history of History repeats itself. Tradition and myth, epic and genealogy, priestly lore of world eras and the marking of time, criticism and history follow each other or fuse in the long evolution of that rational self-consciousness which projects itself into the past as it builds up the synthesis of the present. Similar pathways lie behind all developed historiographies. Indeed, the parallel between the histories of the History of different nations is so close as to rob the successive chapters of much of the charm of novelty. When we have reviewed the historiography of Greece, that of Rome strikes us as familiar. The same likeness lies already in the less developed historiographies of Oriental cultures. They all emerge from a common base; and, to use a biological expression, ontogeny repeats phylogeny — the individual repeats the species. The law of growth seems to apply to history as though it were an organism with an independent evolution, instead of what it really is, a mere reflection of changing societies.

The explanation apparently lies at hand, in the similar evolution of the societies which produce the history. But, from such premises one would hardly expect the historiography of a religion to exhibit the same general lines of development. Yet in the history of Christian History we have much the same evolution of material as in that of Greece or Rome. Naturally, the priestly element is stronger, and the attempts at rationalizing the narratives more in evidence. But it is the absence rather than the presence of sophistication which strikes one most. The genealogies play their rôle for the kingdom of the Messiah as for the cities of Hellas,1 Hesiods of Jewish and Christian theology present their schemes of divinely appointed eras, 301 and through the whole heroic period of the Church, legends of saints and martyrs furnish the unending epic of the unending war, where the hosts of heaven fought with men, not for a vanished Troy but for an eternal city. Finally, the work of Christian logographers in the apologists — and every theologian was an apologist — reduced the scheme to prose. The parallel would not hold, however, beyond the merest externals if it had not been for the development of Christian chronology; for the thought of writing history was but little in the minds of theologians, and hardly more in those of martyrologists. From the apologists, face to face with the criticism of the unbelieving world, came the demand for more rigid methods of comparative chronology, by which they could prove the real antiquity and direct descent of Christianity. The same kind of practical need had produced similar, if more trivial, documentation by pagan priests and was later to repeat itself in mediæval monasteries. So that in the Christian Church, as in the antique world generally, history proper was born of the application of research and chronology to meet the exacting demands of skepticism, as well as of the desire to set forth great deeds.

The path to Christian historiography lies, therefore, through a study of Christian chronology. The basis for this was the work of the Jewish scholars of the Diaspora. When the Christian apologists of the second and third centuries attempted to synchronize the Old Testament history with that of the gentiles, they could fall back upon the work of a Jewish scribe, Justus of Tiberius, who wrote in the reign of Hadrian.2 He prepared a chronicle of Jewish kings, working along the same uncertain basis of “generations” as had been used in gentile chronicles, and so claiming for Moses an antiquity greater than that of the oldest figures in Greek legend. The difficulties in the way of any counter proof lent this statement great value in argument, especially since it was merely a mathematical formulation of a belief already established in the Church. But, although the argument of priority was familiar from early days, the first formally prepared Christian chronology did not appear until the middle of the third century when Julius Africanus wrote his Chronographia. It was a work of five books, drawing upon the 302 writings of Josephus, Manetho and pagan scholars, and arranging the eras of the old dispensation in a series symbolical of creation itself. The duration of the world is to reach six thousand years, after which is to come a thousand-year Sabbath. The birth of Christ is put five thousand five hundred years from Adam, which leaves five hundred more before the end. Halfway along this stretch of centuries, three thousand years from the creation, we come upon the death of Palek, under whom the world was parcelled out, as is recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis.3

A scheme like this is a chronology only by courtesy; and yet a glance at the dating along the pages of the authorized edition of the Bible will show how relatively close to it has been the accepted dating of the world’s history down to our own time. Critically considered, it was merely a variation of the symbolism of Origen — an allegory of the general scheme of history instead of an allegory of details. It was symbolism on a bolder and larger scale, all the more convincing because, while it supplied the framework for events it did not have to harmonize or explain them away. Three main influences made for its success. The absence of any continuous Jewish chronology offered it open field; theology demanded that the world’s history should centre upon the life of Christ and the coming of the kingdom; and the idea of world eras was just in line with the idea of pagan savants who had attained a rude conception of natural law in the movement of history. A treatment of history which could appeal to the great name of Varro for its pagan counterpart was not lightly to be rejected. The best minds of antiquity saw — though dimly — the outer world as a reflection of the human reason; but what Platonic idea ever mastered recalcitrant phenomena so beautifully as this scheme of Christian history with its symmetry established by a divine mathematics?

One is tempted to turn aside to the absorbing problems of philosophy which these crude solutions of world history open up. But before us stands a great figure, a Herodotus among the logographers of the early Church. Eusebius of Cæsarea, the Father of Church History, worked out from materials like these the chronology of the world which was to be substantially that of all the subsequent history 303 of Europe to our own time, and preserved the precious fragments of his predecessors in the first history of Christianity.4

Eusebius meets the two qualifications which Polybius prescribed as indispensable for the historian. He was a man of affairs, of wide knowledge of the world, and held high office in the state whose fortunes he described. He it was who at the great council of Nicæa (325 A.D.) sat at the right hand of Constantine and delivered the opening oration in honor of the emperor.5 Few historians of either church or state have ever had more spectacular tribute paid to their learning and judicial temper. For it was apparently these two qualities which especially equipped Eusebius for so distinguished an honor. At least one likes to think so; but perhaps the distinction fell to him because he was as well an accomplished courtier and as much the apologist of Constantine as of the Christian faith.

This incident fixes for us the life of Eusebius. Born about 260 A.D., he was at the fulness of his powers when the Church gained its freedom, and he lived on until 339 or 340. He had studied in the learned circle of Pamphilus of Cæsarea, whose great library was to furnish him with many of his materials,6 and there came under the spell of Origen, whose influence was supreme in the circle of Pamphilus. Nothing is more difficult in criticism than the estimate of one man’s influence upon another — and nothing more light-heartedly hazarded. It would be hard to say what Eusebius would have been without the works of Origen to inspire him, but that they did influence him is beyond question. Eusebius was not an original thinker. He lacked the boldness of genius; but to witness that boldness in Origen must have been an inspiration toward freedom from ecclesiasticism and traditionalism.7 His history is no mere bishop’s 304 history, it is the record of a religion as well as of a church. Its scholarship is critical, not credulous. From Origen, too, may have come the general conception which makes the first church history a chapter in the working out of a vast world-scheme, the “economy” of God.8 But the time had now come for such a conception to be commonplace. It was no longer a speculation; the recognition by the empire was making it a fact.

If one were to search for influences moulding the character of Eusebius’ history this triumph of the Church would necessarily come first. No history of Christianity worthy of the name could well appear during the era of persecution. Not that the persecutions were so severe or continuous as has been commonly believed. Eusebius himself, for instance, lived safely through the most severe persecution, and visiting Pamphilus in prison — for Pamphilus suffered martyrdom — carried on his theological works in personal touch with his master. But though the persecutions have been exaggerated, the situation of the Church was not one to invite the historian. Constantine was its deliverer; in a few years it passed from oppression to power. And in the hour of its triumph Christian scholarship was to find, in a bishop high at court, a historian worthy not only of the great deeds of the saints and martyrs, but of the new imperial position of the Church.

Eusebius was a voluminous writer, “historian, apologist, topographer, exegete, critic, preacher, dogmatic writer.”9 But his fame as a historian rests upon two works, the Church History and the Chronicle. Both were epoch-making. The one has earned for the author the title of Father of Church History; the other set for Christendom its framework in the history of the world.

The Chronicle was written first.10 It is composed of two parts, the Chronographia and the Chronological Canons. The first of 305 these is an epitome of universal history in the form of excerpts from the sources, arranged nation by nation, along with an argument for the priority of Moses and the Bible. It is a source-book on the epochs of history, much like those in use today as manuals in our colleges. The second part consists of chronological tables with marginal comments. The various systems of chronology, Chaldæan, Greek, Roman, etc., are set side by side with a biblical chronology which carries one back to the creation, although the detailed and positive annals begin only with the birth of Abraham. The Canons therefore presents in a single, composite form the annals of all antiquity — at least all that was of interest to Christendom. It presented them in simplest mathematical form. Rows of figures marked the dates down the centre of the page; on the right hand side was the column of profane history; on the left hand the column of sacred history.11

The fate of this work is of peculiar interest. It is doubtful if any other history has ever exercised an influence comparable to that which it has had upon the western world; yet not a single copy of the original text has survived; the Latin west knew only the second part, and that in the hasty translation of Jerome. Modern research has unearthed a solitary Armenian translation of the work as a whole, and modern scholars have compared this with the fragments preserved by Byzantine chronographers12 until finally, in the opening 306 of the twentieth century the work is again accessible — if only to the learned. If, however, recovery of the chronicle is a work of archæological philology, like the recovery of an ancient ruin, yet all the time that it had lain buried this little book of dates and comments had been determining the historical outlook of Europe.13 For the next thousand years most histories were chronicles, and they were built after the model of Jerome’s translation of Eusebius’ Canons. Every mediæval monastery that boasted of enough culture to have a scriptorium and a few literate monks, was connecting its own rather fabulous but fairly recent antiquity with the great antiquity of Rome and Judæa through the tables of Eusebius’ arithmetic.

This anonymous immortality of the great Chronicle is easily accounted for. It was not a work of literature, but of mathematics. Now mathematics is as genuine art as is literature, art of the most perfect type; but its expression, for that very reason, is not in the variable terms of individual appreciations. It is not personal but universal. It does not deal with qualities but with numbers; or at best it deals with qualities merely as the distinguishing elements in numbers. The structure is the thing, not the meaning nor character of the details. And the structure depends upon the materials. Hence there is little that is Eusebian about Eusebius’ Chronicle, except the chronicle itself. It has no earmarks of authorship like the style of a Herodotus or a Thucydides. But all the same its content was the universal possession of the succeeding centuries.

There is, however, a simpler reason for the fate of Eusebius’ Chronicle. It has a forbidding exterior. It had even too much mathematics and too much history for the Middle Ages; they were satisfied with the results of the problem. But behind this forbidding exterior the modern scholar finds a synthesis of alluring charm. Parallel columns of all known eras extend up and down the pages; eras of Abraham, David, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc. It is interesting to see this tangle of columns simplify as the diverse nations come and go; and finally all sink into the great unity of Rome. At last the modern world of Eusebius’ own time was left 307 but four columns, the years of Rome (A. U. C.), of Olympiads, of Roman Consuls, and of Christ. The rest was already ancient history. As one follows the sweep of these figures and watches the sturdy line of those events where the Providence of God bore down the forces of the unbeliever, one realizes that in this convincing statement lay the strongest of all defences of the faith. Here, compressed into a few pages, lies the evidence of history for the Christian world-view. Origen’s great conception that pagan history was as much decreed by Jehovah as sacred history finds in the Chronicle its most perfect expression; the facts speak for themselves.14 No fickle Fortuna could ever have arranged with such deliberate aim the rise and fall of empires. History is the reservoir not of argument but of proof, and the proof is mathematical.15

The human element of humor, however, comes into the situation when one turns back to the opening paragraph and learns the attitude of Eusebius himself. “Now at the very beginning, I make this declaration before all the world: let no one ever arrogantly contend that a sure and thorough knowledge of chronology is attainable. This every one will readily believe who ponders on the incontrovertible words of the Master to his disciples: ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power’ [Acts I7]. For it seems to me that he, as Lord God, uttered that decisive word with reference not merely to the day of judgment, but with reference to all times, to the end that he might restrain those who devote themselves too boldly to such vain investigations.”16

We have left ourselves little space for the work by which Eusebius 308 is chiefly known, the Ecclesiastical History. So far as students of theology and church history are concerned, little space is needed, for the work itself is readily accessible, and that, too, in an English edition, and magnificently translated.17 But the general student of history seldom reads church history now, and the achievement of Eusebius shares the common fate. Yet it is a great achievement, and a genuine surprise awaits the reader who turns to it. One might expect that the age of Constantine would produce a history of the obscure, unstoried institution which had suddenly risen to the splendor of an imperial church, but one could hardly expect to find out of that arena of fierce theological conflict the calm and lofty attitude of generous reserve and the sense of dominating scholarly obligation for accuracy which characterize the first church historian. The judgment of Gibbon, that the Ecclesiastical History was grossly unfair,18 is itself a prejudiced verdict. To be sure it lacks the purely scientific aim, it is apologetic. But Eusebius is not to be blamed for that; the wonder is that he preserved so just a poise and so exacting a standard in view of the universal demands on his time. We should not forget that the apologetic tone of Christian historiography was also sanctioned by the pagan classics. Even Polybius had demanded that history be regarded as a thing of use, and Cicero, Sallust, Livy and Tacitus had applied the maxim generously. Christian historiography should not bear the brunt of our dissatisfaction with what was the attitude of nearly all antiquity.19


The task of Eusebius was a difficult one. Only those who have tried themselves to extract historical data from theological writings can appreciate how difficult it was; but even they have an advantage over the Father of Church History. For now the principles of scientific, objective criticism of sources are well understood, and the historian can stand apart from the data aware that his criticism may be frankly skeptical without injury to his standards of religion. But Eusebius could not go far upon that path without arousing more serious doubts as to his general canons of belief. His history was, after all, intended to contribute proof of the truth of the central doctrines in the literature it used. He had to combine discriminating judgment with the “will to believe.” There is therefore more than rhetoric, though it is not lacking, in the apology with which he enters upon his narrative:

“But at the outset I must crave for my work the indulgence of the wise, for I confess that it is beyond my power to produce a perfect and complete history, and since I am the first to enter upon the subject, I am attempting to traverse as it were a lonely and untrodden path. I pray that I may have God as my guide and the power of the Lord as my aid, since I am unable to find even the bare footsteps of those who have traveled the way before me, except in brief fragments, in which some in one way, others in another, have transmitted to us particular accounts of the times in which they lived. From afar they raise their voices like torches, and they cry out, as from some lofty and conspicuous watch-tower, admonishing us where to walk and how to direct the course of our work steadily and safely. Having gathered therefore from the matters mentioned here and there by them, whatever we consider important for the present work, and having plucked like flowers from a meadow the appropriate passages from ancient writers, we shall endeavor to embody the whole in an historical narrative, content if we preserve the memory of the successions of the apostles of our Saviour; if not indeed of all, yet of the most renowned of them in those churches which are the most noted, and which even to the present time are held in honor.

“This work seems to me of especial importance because I know of no ecclesiastical writer who has devoted himself to this subject; and I hope that 310 it will appear most useful to those who are fond of historical research. I have already given an epitome of these things in the Chronological Canons which I have composed, but notwithstanding that, I have undertaken in the present work to write as full an account of them as I am able. My work will begin, as I have said, with the dispensation of the Saviour Christ — which is loftier and greater than human conception,  — and with a discussion of His divinity; for it is necessary, inasmuch as we derive even our name from Christ, for one who proposes to write a history of the Church to begin with the very origin of Christ’s dispensation, a dispensation more divine than many think.”20

In spite of the touch of rhetoric in such passages as this, the Ecclesiastical History does not live by grace of its style. Eusebius had no refined literary taste; he wrote, as he thought, in rambling and desultory fashion. But he combined with vast erudition a “sterling sense,” and a true “historical instinct” in choosing the selections from his store of facts and documents.21 Conscious of the value of the sources themselves, he weaves into his narrative large blocks of the originals, and in this way has preserved many a precious text which would otherwise be lost. The Ecclesiastical History is less a narrative than a collection of documents, for which every student of Christianity is devoutly thankful, and more thankful yet that the author was so keenly conscious of his responsibility. Wherever his references can be verified they prove correct, which gives a presumption of accuracy for those found in his work alone.

Such instances of scholarly caution occur time and again in the Ecclesiastical History, in some cases revealing a discriminating use of sources in the effort to get to originals. This is especially the case where the incident narrated may seem in itself improbable, or where the skeptic is likely to challenge the evidence. For example, he narrates a story of Marcus Aurelius as follows:

“It is reported that Marcus Aurelius Cæsar, brother of Antoninus, being about to engage in battle with the Germans and Sarmatians, was in great trouble on account of his army suffering from thirst. But the soldiers of the so-called Melitene legion, through the faith which has given strength from that time to the present, when they were drawn up before the enemy, kneeled on the ground, as is our custom in prayer, and engaged in supplications to God. This was indeed a strange sight to the enemy, but it is reported that a stranger 311 thing immediately followed. The lightning drove the enemy to flight and destruction, but a shower refreshed the army of those who had called on God, all of whom had been on the point of perishing with thirst.

“This story is related by non-Christian writers who have been pleased to treat the times referred to, and it has also been recorded by our own people. By those historians who were strangers to the faith, the marvel is mentioned, but it is not acknowledged as an answer to our prayers. But by our own people, as friends of the truth, the occurrence is related in a simple and artless manner. Among these is Apolinarius, who says that from that time the legion through whose prayers the wonder took place received from the Emperor a title appropriate to the event, being called in the language of the Romans the Thundering Legion. Tertullian is a trustworthy witness of these things. In the Apology for the Faith, which he addressed to the Roman Senate, and which we have already mentioned, he confirms the history with greater and stronger proofs. He writes that there are still extant letters of the most intelligent Emperor Marcus in which he testifies that his army, being on the point of perishing from thirst in Germany, was saved by the prayers of the Christians. And he says also that this emperor threatened death to those who brought accusations against us.”22

This scholarly accuracy was combined with a vast learning. Eusebius had enjoyed the freedom of the great library of Pamphilus at Antioch, in his earlier days. He tells us that he gathered materials as well in the library at Jerusalem founded by Bishop Alexander,23 and Constantine seems to have opened his archives to him.24 But he learned not less from the busy world in which he lived. He was no recluse; he lived at the centre of things, both politically and ecclesiastically. His genial nature blinded him to men’s faults, and his judgments on contemporaries — particularly on Constantine — are of little value.25 But even at his worst he seldom recorded any marvellous event without the Herodotean caution of throwing the responsibility back upon the original narrative. There is no better example of this than the account in the Life of Constantine of the emperor’s vision of the cross. It was an incident all too likely to find ready that credence in Christian circles which it found in subsequent ages. But, however much a courtly panegyrist Eusebius could be, in matters of fact he is on his guard. 312 His account runs soberly enough: “And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person. But since the victorious Emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history, when he was honored with his acquaintance and society, and confirmed his statement by an oath, who could hesitate to accredit the relation, especially since the testimony of after-time has established its truth?”26

For two centuries Christian worship had lain hidden behind the “Discipline of the Secret.” The uninitiated knew little of what was held or done by the adherents of this intolerant mystery, “after the doors were shut.” Constantine brought the new régime, when persecution and secrecy ceased. Eusebius had lived through the dark days of Diocletian, and although he himself had escaped — a fact sometimes held up against him — his dearest friends, and above all this great teacher Pamphilus, had been martyred. Free now to speak, therefore, he turns back from the “peace of the church” to the years of persecution with a feeling for martyrs like that of Homer for heroes, of the Middle Ages for wonder-working saints.27 He depicts their sufferings, however, not simply as the material for heroic biography, but as forming the subject of a glorious page of history, that of the great “peaceful struggle” by which the Kingdom of the Messiah was to take its place among and above the powers of this world. The martyrs of Palestine are fighting the Punic wars for the kingdom of Christ:

“Other writers of history record the victories of war and trophies won from enemies, the skill of generals, and the manly bravery of soldiers, defiled with blood and with innumerable slaughters for the sake of children and country and other possessions. But our narrative of the government of God will record in ineffaceable letters the most peaceful wars waged in behalf of the peace of the soul, and will tell of men doing brave deeds for truth rather than country, and for piety rather than dearest friends. It will hand down to imperishable remembrance the discipline and the much-tried fortitude of the athletes of religion, the trophies won from demons, the victories over invisible enemies, and the crowns placed upon their heads.”28


It was reserved for a greater intellect — that of Augustine — to carry this conception of the Church as the realization of the temporal Kingdom of Christ to its final form. But the outlines of Augustine’s City of God are already visible in the opening chapters of the Ecclesiastical History, as its foundations were placed by Eusebius’ master, Origen. The Messiah is not a recent Christ, but comes to us from the beginning of the world, witnessed to by Moses and the prophets. And when “in recent times” Jesus came, the new nation which appeared was not new but old, the Nation of God’s own Providence — Christian and universal. The pæan of the victorious Church is sounded at the opening of its first history; “A nation confessedly not small and not dwelling in some corner of the earth, but the most numerous and pious of all nations, indestructible and unconquerable, because it always receives assistance from God.”29 This is the historical prologue to the City of God.


1  Cf. Julius Africanus’ pioneer work in this direction, in harmonizing the variant genealogies of Christ in the Gospel, quoted by Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk. I, Chap. VII.

2  The connection of Christian chronology with that of the Greeks, e.g. Castor, has been referred to above. Vide Eusebius, Chronicorum Liber Primus.

3  See the monumental study of H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus . . . , which has disentangled the fragile threads of his chronology as preserved in various ways.

4  The name Eusebius was a very common one in the records of the early Church. There are forty Eusebiuses, contemporaries of the historian, noted in Smith and Wace’s Dictionary of Christian Biography, and, in all, one hundred thirty-seven from the first eight centuries. Eusebius of Cæsarea took the surname Pamphilus after the death of his master Pamphilus, out of respect for him.

5  Cf. Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk. I, Chap. XIX.

6  Cf. Eusebius, De Martyribus Palæstinae, Chap. IV; Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, Chaps. LXXV, LXXXI.

7  These at least are the two main influences of Origen upon Eusebius according to McGiffert and Henrici. See A. C. McGiffert’s edition of the Church History, p. 7, and C. F. G. Heinrici, Das Urchristentum in der Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius (1894). Heinrici here presents the case against F. Overlock’s view (Über die Anfange der Kirchengeschichtsschreibung, 1892), that Eusebius follows the hierarchical, episcopal thread in a sort of constitutional history of the church.

8  Cf. C. F. G. Heinrici, op. cit., pp. 13.

9  See Eusebius of Cæsarea by J. B. Lightfoot in Smith and Wace’s Dictionary of Christian Biography. A brilliant article.

10  He already refers to it in the opening of his Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk. I, Chap. I, also in the Eclogae Propheticae, Bk. I, Chap. I, and in the Praeparatio Evangelica, Bk. X, Chap. IX, which were both written before 313. As the Chronicle, when it reached Jerome, was carried down to 325, it is conjectured that there may have been a second edition.

11  In the present text some profane history notes are on the left side, but this was due to the fact that the comments on profane history were fuller than those on sacred history, and were crowded over for reasons of space.

Eusebius was largely indebted for his plan to Castor, whom he invokes at the beginning and end of the lists of Sicyon, Argos and Athens. Cf. H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus . . . , Part II, pp. 63 sq.

On the relations between Eusebius and Julius Africanus see H. Gelzer, op. cit., pp. 23-107.

12  Especially Georgius Syncellus. These chronographers preserved such large extracts that Joseph Scaliger was able to risk a reconstruction of the text from them alone. Scaliger’s first edition was published in 1606, the second edition in 1658. The Armenian version, with a Latin translation, was published at Venice in 1818 by J. B. Aucher. The text in Migne, that by Cardinal Mai (1833), is based upon this; but the classic work on the Chronicle is that of A. Schoene, Eusebi Chronicorum Libri Duo (Vol. I, 1875, Vol. II, 1866), while the Armenian text has recently been published with parallel German translation, by J. Karst in the great edition of Eusebius’ works now appearing in the series, Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte. It has also the version of Jerome, edited by R. Helm.

13  Joseph Scaliger refers thus to the influence of Eusebius. “Qui post Eusebium scripserunt, omne scriptum de temporibus aridum esse censuerunt, quod non hujus fontibus irrigatum esset.” (Quoted in J. P. Migne, Patrologiae Græcae, Vol. XIX, p. 14.)

14  This view of universal history places Eusebius on a distinctly higher plane than that of a mere apologist. It enabled him to have somewhat of the Herodotean sweep and breadth. Cf. C. F. G. Heinrici, op. cit., pp. 13 sqq. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk. I, Chap. VII.

15  The translation of the Canons by Jerome, while apparently superior to the Armenian version, bears the marks of careless haste. He tells us himself (Preface, ll. 13 sqq.) that it is an opus tumultuarium, and adds that he dictated it most hurriedly to a scribe. He must have meant, so A. Schoene thinks (Die Weltchronik des Eusebius, 1900, p. 77), that he dictated the marginal comments, not the rows of figures. Likely a notarius translated the figures into Latin, and Jerome added the notes.

A great deal of discussion has arisen over the fact that in the Ecclesiastical History Eusebius differs decidedly from the chronology of the Chronicle.

16  Eusebius, Chronicorum Liber Primus, Preface.

17  The Church History of Eusebius by A. C. McGiffert, in the Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. I, pp. 81-403. The same volume contains a translation of the Life of Constantine by E. C. Richardson, and an exhaustive bibliography.

18  The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (J. B. Bury’s edition), Vol. II, p. 135: “Eusebius, himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of religion;” adding in a footnote, “Such is the fair deduction from I : 82, and De Mart. Palast. c. 12.”

19  This point is well made by H. O. Taylor in The Mediælval Mind, Vol. I, pp. 78-81.

At the same time Eusebius advances principles of historical composition against which it is well to be on one’s guard, as for instance in the following extract, with reference to the divisions among the Churches:

“But it is not our place to describe the sad misfortunes which finally came upon them, as we do not think it proper, moreover, to record their divisions and unnatural conduct to each other before the persecution. Wherefore we have decided to relate nothing concerning them except the things in which we can vindicate the Divine judgment. Hence we shall not mention those who were shaken by the persecution, nor those who in everything pertaining to salvation were shipwrecked, and by their own will were sunk in the depths of the flood. But we shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity.” The Church History of Eusebius [A. C. McGiffert’s edition], Bk. VIII, Chap. II.)

20  The Church History of Eusebius (A. C. McGiffert’s edition), Bk. I, Chap. I.

21  See the fine characterization by A. C. McGiffert, in the Prolegomena to his edition of the The Church History of Eusebius, pp. 46 sqq.

22  The Church History of Eusebius (A. C. McGiffert’s edition), Bk. V, Chap. V.

23  Cf. Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk. VI, Chap. XX.

24  Cf. ibid., Bk. V, Chap. XVIII.

25  The Life of Constantine is a panegyric rather than a biography; and it is unreliable even in questions of fact.

26  The Life of Constantine (E. C. Richardson’s edition), Bk. I, Chap. XXVIII.

27  Cf. C. F. G. Heinrici, op. cit., p. 3.

28  The Church History of Eusebius (A. C. McGiffert’s edition), Bk. V, Introduction, Sects. 3, 4.

29  The Church History of Eusebius (A. C. McGiffert’s edition), Bk. I, Chap. IV.


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