One of the best known and most accessible of the ancient preterists is Eusebius, the “father of church history”.
Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine
When, then, we see what was of old foretold for the nations fulfilled in our day, and when the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled.
- Prophetic Interpretations of Constantine’s Labarum Coin – This remarkable event (the Edict of Milan) was regarded by Christians of that time, and by Constantine himself, as the fulfillment of the very prophecy before us. (Revelation 20:2)
- 0310: Eusebius, Περι Θεοφανια, “The Divine Sunrise”, or, The Theophany – Eusebius never allows the doctrine of Christ’s second coming any importance in his historical scheme. There is no sense of a new kingdom which will at some future date break in upon the existing historical structure, righting what is wrong and establishing justice
- 0312: Eusebius,, The Proof of the Gospel, Being the Demonstratio Evangelica, 1690 | 1722 (Latin) | Digital Edition | 1920 Ferrar
- 0312: Eusebius, On the Divine Theophany of the Lord
- 0320: Eusebius, History of the Martyrs in Palestine
- 0325: Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History
- 0325: Eusebius, The Martyrdom of James, who was Called the Brother of the Lord
- July 25, 335: Eusebius, De Laudibus Constantini, Oration in Praise of Constantine – I am filled with wonder at the intellectual greatness of the emperor, who as if by divine inspiration thus expressed what the prophets had foretold concerning this monster
- 0340: Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History (1874 ed. pdf)
SAMUEL LEE DISCOVERS, TRANSLATES. AND PUBLISHES LONG-LOST WORK BY EUSEBIUS. STUNS THE WORLD BY EXPLAINING EUSEBIUS’ PRETERISM (PDF Files)
- 1842: Samuel Lee, The Theophany of Eusebius in Original Syriac
- 1843: Samuel Lee, Preliminary Dissertation to the Theophany by Eusebius
- 1843: Samuel Lee, The Theophania of Eusebius in English
- 1830: Samuel Lee, Six Sermons on the Apocalypse
- 1834: National Gallery, Adam Clarke, Samuel Lee
- 1849: Samuel Lee, Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and End of Prophecy
- 1851: Samuel Lee, Events and Times of the Visions of Daniel and John
- 1864: Cureton-Eusebius, Curious Case – On the Martyrs of Eusebius (pdf)
- 1866: William Wright, Eusebius on the Star (pdf)
- 1969: Neil Hamilton, Jesus for a No-God World (pdf) – In Eusebius’ mind, the providential function of the action of the Roman forces was to blot out all the non-Christian Jews of Judea, and, since Roman soldiers could not be expected to know the difference, Christian Jews had logically to be separated before the Romans came. There was precedent for Eusebius in Josephus’ account of an oracular warning to Jews of the coming destruction. A certain Jesus, the son of Ananias, had predicted the destruction of the city throughout the four years preceding it.
- 2012: Benjamin Brandon, Eusebius of Caesarea, Oration in Praise of Constantine and Christian Empire (pdf)
- 2012: Roger Pearse, Gospel Problems and Solutions – Ever since the four gospels were first collected together, Christians have asked why they diverge in some respects. Why is the genealogy in Matthew different to that in Luke? Why is there more than one ending for Mark? In 320 AD Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, wrote one of the first collections of such ‘questions’ and gave scholarly answers to them. Because of his early date, his answers are of great interest to scholars and general readers alike. A few snippets of the work have been translated into English in the past, but this volume is the first ever translation into English of all the material that has reached us today.
- 2015: Roman Piso, Origen, Eusebius, Constantine, and St. Jerome (pdf)
PROVIDENTIAL TRANSMISSION RESULTS IN EARLIEST KNOWN PRETERIST BOOK
Lost Work By Eusebius Discovered and Translated by Professor Samuel Lee
SAMUEL LEE AND EUSEBIUS LINKED BY THE DISCOVERY OF A LONG-LOST PRETERIST WORK | STORY AT BOTTOM
- 1842: Samuel Lee, The Theophany of Eusebius in Original Syriac
- 1843: Samuel Lee, The Theophania of Eusebius in English
- 1843: Samuel Lee: Preliminary Dissertation On the Theophania, or Divine Manifestation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Eusebius – the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem–all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth ; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations
Teaching: “all prophecy had already had its fulfilment; that the Book of Revelation is rather confirmatory of old than a record of new predictions–that the believing remnant of the Jews have become the heirs of the world, and that to them have been already fulfilled all the promises made to their fathers–that there exist no promises in Scripture of the restoration of their brethren on their acceptance of the promised Saviour, to the earthly Canaan and Jerusalem– that the fulness of the Gentiles has arrived in the Scriptural sense of the term, and that the Gospel has in that sense been preached to every creature under heaven — and that the Jews, at whatever time converted, will, on their conversion, lose all their distinctive characteristics as a nation, and will become, with the Gentiles, one body in Christ.” (Rev. William Paul)
- 2007: Todd Dennis, The History of Samuel Lee and the Theophany of Eusebius (Video, with PDF guides) “EVER since his translation of Eusebius’s ‘Theophania,’ my father’s mind had been more or less occupied on the subject of Prophecy, and he became convinced that the views which he entertained, known as the Preterist, were those held by the early Church. The subject was one of absorbing interest to him during the few last years of his life, and as a child I can remember the animated conversations between him and my mother on Prophecy in their walks about our beautiful garden, or in the leisure of meal times, she holding the more general and popular opinions of the restoration of the Jews to their own land, etc.”
- 2007: Todd Dennis, Carlsbad Prophecy Conference PDF Files:
“But the things which took place afterwards, did our Saviour, from his foreknowledge as THE WORD or GOD, foretel should come to pass, by means of those which are (now) before us. For He named the whole Jewish people, the children of the City; and the Temple, He styled their House. And thus He testified, that they should, on their own wicked account, bear the vengeance thus to be inflicted. And, it is right we should wonder at the fulfilment of this prediction, since at no time did this place undergo such an entire desolation as this was. He pointed out moreover, the cause of their desolation when He said, “If thou hadst known, even in this day, the things of thy peace:” intimating too His own coming, which should be for the peace of the whole world. But, when ye shall see it reduced by armies, know ye that which comes upon it, to be a final and full desolation and destruction. He designates the desolation of Jerusalem, by the destruction of the Temple, and the laying aside of those services which were, according to the law of Moses, formerly performed within it. The manner moreover of the captivity, points out the war. of which He spoke; “For (said He) there shall be (great) tribulation upon the land, and great wrath upon this people : and they shall fall by the edge of the sword.” We can learn too, from the writings of Flavius Josephus, how these things took place in their localities, and how those, which had been foretold by our Saviour, were, in fact, fulfilled. On this account He said, “Let those who are in its borders not enter into it, since these are the days of vengeance, that all may be fulfilled which has been written.” Any one therefore, who desires it, may learn the results of these things from the writings of Josephus.
“Since, then, it is evident that our Saviour was anointed uniquely beyond all that ever were with the excellent spiritual, or rather divine unction, He is rightly called “Holy of holies,” as one might say, “High Priest of high priests,” and “Sanctified of the sanctified” according to the oracle of Gabriel.”
“And from that time a succession of all kinds of troubles afflicted the whole nation and their city until the last war against them, and the final siege, in which destruction rushed on them like a flood [Dan. 9:26] with all kinds of misery of famine [Matt. 24:7], plague [Luke 21:21] and sword [Luke 21:24], and all who had conspired against the Saviour in their youth were cut off; then, too, the abomination of desolation stood in the Temple [Matt. 24:15], and it has remained there even till to-day, while they [i.e., the Jews] have daily reached deeper depths of desolation.” (The Proof of the Gospel, trans. W. J. Ferrar, 2 vols. in 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1981), 2:138, (403: b-c).)
“The Holy Scriptures foretell that there will be unmistakable signs of the Coming of Christ. Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies…The holy oracles foretold that all these changes, which had not been made in the days of the prophets of old, would take place at the coming of the Christ, which I will presently shew to have been fulfilled as never before in accordance with the predictions.” (Demonstratio Evangelica VIII)
You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Demonstratio Evangelica; Book VI – Chapter 13)
“I have already considered this prophecy among the passages. And I have pointed out that only from the date of our Saviour Jesus Christ’s Coming among men have the objects of Jewish reverence, the hill called Zion and Jerusalem, the buildings there, that is to say, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else was there dedicated to the glory of God, been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfilment of the Word which said: “Behold the Lord, the Lord comes forth from his place, and he shall descend on the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be shaken under him.” (Demonstratio Evangelica ; Book VIII – Chapter 3)
“When, then, we see what was of old foretold for the nations fulfilled in our own day, and when the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled.” (Demonstratio Evangelica; Book VIII)
(On Acts 1:11)
“But if, on the other hand, we can see the people of Egypt far more patently in actual fact than in mere description, some of them acknowledging the God of the prophets, and for His sake renouncing their ancestral gods, some of them raising political dissension against the converts, some of them even now calling upon their gods and images and them that speak from the ground, who no longer can effect aught, and some throughout all Egypt raising an altar to the Lord of the prophets for each local Church, calling no (d) longer in their troubles and persecutions on beasts or reptiles as their gods, nor on wild animals and unreasoning brutes as their fathers did, but on the Supreme God, retaining Him only and the fear of Him in their minds, praying to Him, and not to the daemons, and promising what men should promise God—how can we deny that the prophecies of long ago have at last been fulfilled? And these foretold that the Lord would come to Egypt not in an unembodied state, but in a light cloud, or better “in light thickness,” for such is the meaning of the Hebrew, shewing figuratively His Incarnate state. Therefore the prophecy goes on to call Him a man that is a Saviour, saying, “And (415) the Lord shall send to them a man that is a Saviour.” Here again the Hebrew is, “And He shall send to them a Saviour, who shall save them.” As the proof is now so clear from this, I consider that there is no question of the time at which the prophecies foretold the Lord’s Coming.”
(On Fulfillment of Prophecies)
“For as it establishes Christianity on the basis of antecedent prophecies, so it establishes Judaism from the complete fulfillment of its prophecies.” (Proof of the Gospel, Twin Brooks Series, I, p.5)
(On the Seventy Weeks)
“And all these things were fulfilled when the seventy weeks were completed at the date of our Saviour’s Coming.”
“I think that the fact that the intermediate period of their primacy, during which they governed, is meant, is shewn by the words, “From the going forth of the answering and the building of Jerusalem, until Christ the governor, is seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” And the weeks of years make 483 years added together from the reign of Cyrus up to the Roman Empire, when Pompeius (392) the Roman general attacked Jerusalem and took the city by siege, and the whole city became subject to Rome, so that thenceforward it paid taxes, and obeyed the Roman enactments.”
(c) “20. AND while I yet spake and prayed and confessed my sins and the sins of my people Israel, and casting my misery before the holy Mount of my God, 21. and while I yet spake in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen at the beginning came flying, and he touched me about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22. And he instructed me and spake with me, saying, O (d) Daniel, 23. I am now come forth to impart to thee understanding. At the beginning of thy supplication the word came forth, and I am come to tell thee, for thou art a man greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, understand the vision, for thou art a man greatly beloved. 24. Seventy weeks have been decided on for thy people, and for the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25. And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the Prince shall be seven (382) weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then it shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. 26. And after the sixty-two weeks, the Anointing shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him, and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary together with the coming prince; they shall be cut off in a flood, and, to the end of the war which is rapidly completed, in desolations. 27. And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be an (b) abomination of desolations: and at the end of time shall an end be put to the desolation.
When the captivity of the Jewish people at Babylon was near its end, the Archangel Gabriel, one of the holy ministers of God, appeared to Daniel as he prayed, and told him that the restoration of Jerusalem was to follow without the slightest delay, and he defines the period after the restoration by numbering the years, and foretells that after the predetermined time it will again be destroyed, and that after the second capture and siege it will no longer have (c) God for its guardian, but will remain desolate, with the worship of the Mosaic Law taken away from it, and another new Covenant with humanity introduced in its place. This was what the Angel Gabriel revealed to the prophet as by secret oracles.”
“But after the prophecy of the events that happened to the Jewish nation in the intermediate period between the seven and sixty-two weeks, there follows the prophecy of the new Covenant announced by our Saviour. So when all the intermediate matter between the seven and the sixty-two weeks is finished, there is added, “And he will confirm (b) a Covenant with many one week,” and in half the week the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and on the Holy Place shall come the abomination of desolation, and until the fullness of time fullness shall be given to the desolation. Let us consider how this was fulfilled.” ( Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) ; BOOK VIII)
“Who shall have this peace, but the earth, in which the flocks of the Lord shall be glorified? And it is plain to all that this was fulfilled after the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Proof, VII)
(On the Significance of A.D.70)
“If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange.” (Book III, Ch. VII)
“The lamentation and wailing was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction.” (The Proof of the Gospel, Bk. VIII, Ch.4, sect.412.)
“It is fitting to add to these accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events. His words are as follows: “Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” The historian, reckoning the whole number of the slain, says that eleven hundred thousand persons perished by famine and sword, and that the rest of the rioters and robbers, being betrayed by each other after the taking of the city, were slain. But the tallest of the youths and those that were distinguished for beauty were preserved for the triumph. Of the rest of the multitude, those that were over seventeen years of age were sent as prisoners to labor in the works of Egypt, while still more were scattered through the provinces to meet their death in the theaters by the sword and by beasts. Those under seventeen years of age were carried away to be sold as slaves, and of these alone the number reached ninety thousand. These things took place in this manner in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, in accordance with the prophecies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by divine power saw them beforehand as if they were already present, and wept and mourned according to the statement of the holy evangelists, who give the very words which be uttered, when, as if addressing Jerusalem herself, he said: “If thou hadst known, even thou, in this day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a rampart about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee and thy children even with the ground.” And then, as if speaking concerning the people, he says, “For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” And again: “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” (Book III, Ch. VII)
(On Matthew 24:7)
“Caius had held the power not quite four years, when he was succeeded by the emperor Claudius. Under him the world was visited with a famine, which writers that are entire strangers to our religion have recorded in their histories. And thus the prediction of Agabus recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, according to which the whole world was to be visited by a famine, received its fulfillment. And Luke, in the Acts, after mentioning the famine in the time of Claudius, and stating that the brethren of Antioch, each according to his ability, sent to the brethren of Judea by the hands of Paul and Barnabas, adds the following account.” (Book II, Ch. VIII)
(On Matthew 24:14)
“THUS, under the influence of heavenly power, and with the divine co-operation, the doctrine of the Saviour, like the rays of the sun, quickly illumined the whole world; and straightway, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, the voice of the inspired evangelists and apostles went forth through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Book II, Ch.III.)
“The same historian records another fact still more wonderful than this. He says that a certain oracle was found in their sacred writings which declared that at that time a certain person should go forth from their country to rule the world. He himself understood that this was fulfilled in Vespasian. But Vespasian did not rule the whole world, but only that part of it which was subject to the Romans. With better right could it be applied to Christ; to whom it was said by the Father, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.” At that very time, indeed, the voice of his holy apostles “went throughout all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Book III, Ch. 8)
(On Matthew 24:15)
“–all these things, as well as the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive. sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire,– all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus.” (Book III, Ch. 5)
(On Matthew 24:21 | Pella Flight Tradition)
“But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella.” (Book III, Ch. 5)
(On Matthew 24:34)
“And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” (Book III, Ch. 5)
(On the ‘Millennial Reign’ of Christ)
“This same historian (Papias) also gives other accounts, which he says he adds as received by him from unwritten tradition, likewise certain strange parables of our Lord, and of His doctrine and some other matters rather too fabulous. In these he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations. For he was very limited in his comprehension, as is evident from his discourses; yet he was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of man, were carried away by a similar opinion; as, for instance, Irenaeus, or any other that adopted such sentiments. (Book III, Ch. 39)
(On James, the Lord’s Brother)
Says James: “Why do ye ask me respecting Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens, on the right hand of great Power, and is about to come on the clouds of heaven.” (Book 2, chapter XXIII)
(On Nero and Domition)
“Tertullian also has mentioned Domition in the following words: ‘Domition also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished” (vol. 1, pp. 148-149)
(On the Number of the Beast)
“5 He states these things in the third book of his above-mentioned work. In the fifth book he speaks as follows concerning the Apocalypse of John, and the number of the name of Antichrist:
“As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ancient copies,130 and those who saw John face to face confirm it, and reason teaches us that the number of the name of the beast, according to the mode of calculation among the Greeks, appears in its letters. …”
6 And farther on he says concerning the same:
“We are not bold enough to speak confidently of the name of Antichrist. For if it were necessary that his name should be declared clearly at the present time, it would have been announced by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen, not long ago, but almost in our generation, toward the end of the reign of Domitian.”
Eusebius on Rome as “Babylon” “Clement in the eighth book of his Hypotyposes gives this account, and with him agrees the bishop of Hierapolis named Papias. And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon, as he does in the following words: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.” Ecclesiastical History 2.15.1-2)
(On Why Second Temple Was Destroyed)
“that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ. ” (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History: Book II, Chapter 6)
“I think it must be clear to all that this was the fulfilment of the oracle, which said, “And after the seven and sixty-two weeks the Unction shall be cast out, and there is no judgment in it.”
And you may see better the meaning of the words, “And there is no judgment in it,” if you consider the haphazard appointments of the high-priests after Herod’s time and in the time of our Saviour. For whereas by the divine Law (d) it was ordained that a high-priest should hold office all his life and be succeeded by his legitimate son, in the period in question, when the Unction had been cast out as the prophecy foretold, Herod first, and after him the Romans, appointed what high-priests they liked haphazard or not according to the Law, bestowing the dignity on common and unknown men, selling and peddling the office, giving it now to one now to another for a year. And the Evangelist St. Luke seems to imply this, where he says, “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod, Philip and Lysanias being tetrarchs, Annas and Caiaphas being high-priests.” For how could they both be high-priest at the same time unless the rules of the high-priesthood were disregarded? ” (Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) ; BOOK VIII)
“71. But, if any unnatural contortion should happen to that which is conceived in the womb, so that it affect such an one at his coming forth in birth; What need can there be for my saying, that the infant was distorted within (the womb)? and refused to come forth to the light? and that it must suffer,—-by the iron instruments prepared for parturition, which shall violently and painfully be placed upon it,—-the revulsion which is also unnatural? Nor would it be worthy even of the one birth,—-even of the life of man,—-or of the things belonging to this: but, on the contrary, that it should go forth from darkness to darkness, and not only be deprived of the life of man, but also of the name.” (Theophany)
On the Resurrection:
“69…. Thus therefore has man, of necessity, put on a corruptible and dissoluble body, (and this) through the mercy of his Father, that calamity may not be his permanent lot, and that he may not be tied interminably to corruption. Soon therefore, shall this corruptible be |52 dissolved, and shall receive a participation with those who are incorruptible. For, just as that which is conceived in the womb, puts on the clothing of its locality; and the infant to be born, when the period of its destined months has arrived, casts this off, and accordingly comes forth into the light, inhales the purer air, and henceforward is considered as of the nature of man; so also is this perfectible species, (as) believed to be among men, (and as) opposed to the (still) superior one,—-a mere infant, and as yet a foetus (only) conceived on earth,—- clothed in this corruptible skin; which, by the mercy of the great gift of God, it is necessary it should cast off, in order that it should not be for ever harassed with these defective things, but should, in due time, go forth into the light, and pass on to the life, which is impervious to corruption. On this account, well have the companies of the wise, the attached to God, pressed (as) they have been by a participation in these corruptible bodies, desired their change for the better, and followed after their equals, the children of their city which is above, even as he was (circumstanced) who said in the divine word, “Wretched58 man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Theophany)
“72……well shall such an one, when he shall depart this mortal life, and shall put off the body, have the Angels of God for his obstetricators;—-when he is to be born to the life to come, then shall both the good Powers receive him as the nurse, and the Divine assemblies teach him; that WORD OF GOD too, that teacher of the conversation which is in heaven, shall lead him on, as a dear child, to the completion of every thing that is good, and shall instruct him in the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. And, when He shall have made him complete and wise, He shall give him up to His Father, the King of all: and shall clothe him, both in body and soul which are (now) incorruptible, with a vesture of light exceeding description.”
On Sunday worship: “Wherefore, being rejected of them [the Jews], the Word [Christ] by the new covenant translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the dawn of light, and handed down to us a likeness of the true rest: the saving and Lord’s and first day of light.” (Commentary on the Psalms, Ps. 91 (Ps. 92 in A. V.), in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 23, col. 1169, author’s translation.)
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority” [Acts 1:7]. It seems to me that [Jesus], as God and Lord, delivered this succinct verdict not solely regarding the end of the world but about all times, in order to discourage those who would dare attempt such a futile undertaking.” Eusebius, Introduction to the Chronicle, AD 325
(On Psalm 45:6/xlvi. 5) “I think that the Psalmist describes the morning assemblies in which we are accustomed to convene throughout the world;”
(On Psalm 58:17/lix. 16) “By this is prophetically signified the service which is performed very early and every morning of the resurrection-day throughout the whole world.” (Comm., in Montfaucon’s Collectio Nova Patrum, pp. 85, 195, 272.)
Editor of Eusebius
Rev. xiii. 18. Already in Irenaeus’ time there was a variation in the copies of the Apocalypse. This is interesting as showing the existence of old copies of the Apocalypse even in his time, and also as showing how early works became corrupted in the course of transmission. We learn from his words, too, that textual criticism had already begun.
The sentence as Eusebius quotes it here is incomplete; he repeats only so much of it as suits his purpose. Irenaeus completes his sentence, after a few more dependent clauses, by saying, “I do not know how it is that some have erred, following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number in the name,” &c. This shows that even in Irenaeus’ time there was as much controversy about the interpretation of the Apocalypse as there has always been, and that at that day exegetes were as a rule in no better position than we are. Irenaeus refers in this sentence to the fact that the Greek numerals were indicated by the letters of the alphabet: Alpha, “one,” Beta, “two,” &c. (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Book 5)
“We learn from Tacitus, Ann. XV. 39, that Nero was suspected to be the author of the great Roman conflagration, which took place in 64 a.d. (Pliny, H. N. XVII. I, Suetonius, 38, and Dion Cassius LXII. 18, state directly that he was the author of it), and that to avert this suspicion from himself he accused the Christians of the deed, and the terrible Neronian persecution which Tacitus describes so fully was the result. Gibbon, and in recent times especially Schiller (Geschichte der Römischen Kaiserzeit unter der Regierung des Nero, p. 584 sqq.), have maintained that Tacitus was mistaken in calling this a persecution of Christians, which was rather a persecution of the Jews as a whole. But we have no reason for impeaching Tacitus’ accuracy in this case, especially since we remember that the Jews enjoyed favor with Nero through his wife Poppaea. What is very significant, Josephus is entirely silent in regard to a persecution of his countrymen under Nero. We may assume as probable (with Ewald and Renan) that it was through the suggestion of the Jews that Nero’s attention was drawn to the Christians, and he was led to throw the guilt upon them, as a people whose habits would best give countenance to such a suspicion, and most easily excite the rage of the populace against them. This was not a persecution of the Christians in the strict sense, that is, it was not aimed against their religion as such; and yet it assumed such proportions and was attended with such horrors that it always lived in the memory of the Church as the first and one of the most awful of a long line of persecutions instituted against them by imperial Rome, and it revealed to them the essential conflict which existed between Rome as it then was and Christianity.” (Footnote, II,1,3)
Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr
“One of the best known and most accessible of the ancient preterists is Eusebius (A.D. 260-340), the “father of church history.” In his classic Ecclesiastical History he details Jerusalem’s woes in A.D. 70. After a lengthy citation from Josephus’s Wars of the Jews, Eusebius writes that “it is fitting to add to his accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events” (3:7:1-2.)” (Back to the Future – The Preterist Perspective)
Neil Hamilton (1969)
“We may conclude then that, shortly before the rebellion against Rome, the Jerusalem church was an integral part of Judaism. The next notice of the activity of the Jerusalem church was intended by its author to indicate that separation had begun. This event is the flight of the Jerusalem church to Pella reported by Eusebius in connection with the rebellion against Rome that began in AD. 66. This is obviously a climactic moment in Eusebius’ historiography of vengeance. As such it assumes the complete separation of Christians from Jews. In Eusebius’ mind, the providential function of the action of the Roman forces was to blot out all the non-Christian Jews of Judea, and, since Roman soldiers could not be expected to know the difference, Christian Jews had logically to be separated before the Romans came. There was precedent for Eusebius in Josephus’ account of an oracular warning to Jews of the coming destruction. A certain Jesus, the son of Ananias, had predicted the destruction of the city throughout the four years preceding it.” (Jesus for a No-God World)
C. Jonathan Seraiah
“It is true that the “eschatology” of the New Testament is predominantly preterist. For those unfamiliar with the preterist perspective, it is the ancient view that many of the eschatological passages of the New Testament were fulfilled (completely) in the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This view may sound novel, but in reality there have been orthodox adherents to it throughout church history (e.g., Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, John Lightfoot, John Owen, Milton Terry, Jay Adams). This interpretation does not deny the Final Coming of Christ; it merely finds that not all “coming” passages refer to that event. The preterist interpretation is actually the most faithful to the biblical text because it recognizes that Old Testament prophetic terminology was used by the New Testament authors. This recognition is helpful in distinguishing the prophecies of Christ’s coming that were near, in the first century (Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 24:30; 26:64; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 1:7; James 5:7-9; 1 Pet. 4:7; Rev. 1:3, 7; etc.) and thus fulfilled in a.d. 70, from those that were far (John 5:28-29; Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Cor. 15:23-24; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Jn. 3:2; etc.) and thus not yet fulfilled even in our day. It also helps to distinguish between a spiritual “coming” (invisible for temporal judgment, as in a.d. 70) and a physical coming (visible for eternal judgment).” (End of All Things)
FROM PROOF OF THE GOSPEL
Lightfoot “probably the most important apologetic work of the Early Church.” (D.C.B. ii.331.)
“As, therefore, the expectation of the call of the Gentiles, prophesied long (d) before to Abraham, was “laid up,” until the rulers and governors of the Jewish race should have ceased, and their independent government should have been changed to submission to Rome, and to the Gentile Herod, the Evangelist Luke, noting the date of the cessation of Jewish rulers, tells us that the teaching of Christ began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea; and Matthew says the same |109 in a disguised form. For having described the birth of our Lord and Saviour, he adds: “And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judrea, in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is that which is born king of the Jews?” wherein he shews clearly enough both that they were under (375) foreign rule, and also the calling of the foreign nations from the East by God. For foreigners ruled over the Jews, and foreigners coming from the East recognized and worshipped the Christ of God, Who had been prophesied of old. The prophecy of Jacob is thus seen clearly to have been fulfilled, being brought to pass at the end of the national existence of the Jews, even as he predicted to his sons, saying: “Come together, that I may announce to you, what shall happen to you at the end of the days.” (b) For we must understand by the end of the days the end of the national existence of the Jews. What, then, did he say they must look for? The cessation of the rule of Judah, the destruction of their whole race, the failing and ceasing of their governors, and the abolition of the dominant kingly position of the tribe of Judah, and the rule and kingdom of Christ, not over Israel but over all nations, according to the words, “This is the expectation of the nations.”
Thus then, His brethren at first praised Him only as a remarkable man because of His miracles, believing Him most likely to be one of the prophets; but when meanwhile they saw His wonderful miracles, and how He destroyed the enemy and the avenger, and death the prince of this world, together with the other unseen hostile powers, thenceforth they (b) believed Him to be God and worshipped Him. And the hands of our Saviour were upon the back of His enemies, when He directed all His deeds and powers and miracles to the destruction of the daemons and evil spirits. Yea, when too He spread out His hands on the Cross, even then His hands were on the back of His enemies, since they fled and turned their backs on Him, and even more, when yielding up His spirit to the Father, disembodied and (c) stripped of that flesh, which He had assumed, He went to the place of His enemies, having life in Himself, to loose death, and the powers arrayed against Him, which perhaps at first conceived that He was an ordinary man and like all men, and so encircled Him and attacked Him as they would any one else, but when they knew that He was superhuman and divine, they turned their backs and fled from Him, so that He laid His hands on them, and drave them on with His divine and sharpened arrows, as is here said, “Thy hands shall be on the backs of thy enemies.”
And if to-day many enemies of our Saviour attempt from (d) time to time to war against His Church, these too He routs with invisible hand and divine power, even as it is said of them, “His hands shall be on the back of his enemies.” And since also He has received the trophies of victory over His enemies, the words, “The sons of thy father shall worship thee,” are also fulfilled: that is to say, all the angels of heaven, and the ministering spirits, and the divine powers, and on earth the apostles and evangelists, and after them those of all nations who through Him are enrolled under the one and only true God and Father, have learned that Christ is God the Word, and have consented to worship (378) Him as God. ” ( Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) ; BOOK VIII)
(On Fulfillment of Prophecy)
“But if the fulfilment of the prophecies is. as the saying is, clear to a blind man, as only brought to pass from the period of His coming, why need we any longer be in doubt about the Virgin Birth, or refuse by wise reasoning to base our belief in that which was the beginning of this matter, on the evidence of what we can even now see? And what do we even now see, but the Jews’ disbelief in Him, so clearly fulfilling the oracle, which said: “Hearing ye shall hear and not understand, and seeing ye shall see and not perceive, for the heart of this people is waxed hard,” and the siege of Jerusalem, and the total desolation of their ancient Temple, and the settling of foreign races on their land, enslaving them with stings, that is to say with harsh enactments—for this is meant by the figures of the flies and bees—and above all the transformation of the heathen world from its former desolation into the field of God. Who would not be struck with astonishment at these spectacles? And who would not agree that the prediction is truly inspired, when he heard that these words were consigned to books and taken care of by our ancestors a thousand years ago, and only brought to a fulfilment after our Saviour’s coming?” ( Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) ; BOOK VII)
“I HAVE already considered this prophecy among the passages. And I have pointed out that only from the date of our Saviour Jesus Christ’s Coming among men have the objects of Jewish reverence, the hill called Zion and Jerusalem, the buildings there, that is to say, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else was there dedicated to the glory of God, been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfilment of the Word which said: “Behold the Lord, the Lord comes forth from his place, and he shall descend on the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be shaken under him.” ( Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) ; BOOK VIII)
(On the Temple “Libanus”)
“In his days righteousness shall arise, and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth, and he shall (c) rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the world.” |145
For these words about the son of Solomon are as exalted as those in the prophet. When, then, this took place and in what way, and in what period, let him that can, inform me. And when did Jerusalem after its siege by the Babylonians undergo a second burning, and have its Temple thrown to the ground?
And the figure used by the prophet is also exceedingly (d) strange when he says, “O Libanus, open thy gates, and let fire devour thy cedars.” For he calls the Temple here, as was not unusual, by the name of Libanus (it is so called in other prophecies). To this the Jews themselves now assent, since Isaiah, too, has a similar prophecy to the one before us, namely:
“Behold, the Lord of Sabaoth shall disturb the noble with might, and the lofty shall be crushed in their pride.” And Libanus shall fall with its lofty ones, and there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall spring up from his roots, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.” (VIII)
“And it is quite clear how after His resurrection from the dead immediate judgment, that did not tarry, fell on the conspirators, so that death who was the enemy of His return to life was made ashamed, and they that mocked (b) Him said, “O death, where is thy sting? O death, where is thy victory? “And those who have read the history of the times after our Saviour’s resurrection, in Josephus, will remember what troubles fell on the Jews and their rulers, involved in which they received the right reward for what they did to Him. All this, then, that fell upon them was the fulfilment of the prophecy: but our Saviour’s Resurrection from the dead proved to all that in Him the Father was well pleased, as He tells us when He says..” (X)
“For from that day the multitude of the nation was cut away from God’s ancient providential guardianship. And I suppose the second rod to mean the whole Jewish nation. It is therefore called a Rope in the words, “The one I called Beauty, and the other I called a Rope.” And he (482) proceeds to speak clearly of the second: “And I cast away the second rod, the Rope, to break my covenant between Judah and Israel.” For they were the Rope and the second rod. But the first rod, called Beauty, was Jerusalem itself, and the Mosaic Worship, and the whole of the old covenant. This is shewn by the prophecy, saying, “And I will take my rod of beauty, and I will cast it away, to break my covenant.” You sec that it says that the first rod was the (b) Covenant, and the second rod the Rope, but He threatens to cast them both away, first saying, “And I will take for myself two rods, the one I called Beauty, and the other I called a Rope”; or with Symmachus, “The one I called (c) glory, and the other I called a Rope.” For thus he rightly |210 styled the glory and beauty of the whole nation the divine Law, and the Covenant, which it included. For the solemnities of Jerusalem, and the high-priestly ritual, and all the ancient observances of the divine Law and old Covenant, were a fair glory to them that lived under their order. And the multitude of the nation is called a Rope by Moses, (d) when he says: “The portion of the Lord is His people Jacob, and Israel is the Rope of His inheritance. But here it is prophesied that there will be a complete change of the two rods at the time named, so that the ancient Covenant that was therein of old, and its ancient beauty being destroyed, and the Rope and the whole nation broken through, when they had valued for thirty pieces of silver Him that was valued, they should bear the fit dishonour for their impiety. It therefore says, “And I will take my rod of Beauty, and cast it away, and break my covenant.” And also, “And I cast away the second rod, the Rope.” (483) And when the prophecy goes on to say, “And I will take away three shepherds in one month,” I think that it refers to the three divisions of the ancient leaders of the people of God—the King, the Prophet, and the High-Priest—for by those three shepherds all the affairs of the ancients were managed. But since those three offices were destroyed together in our Saviour’s time—(for their king reigned not in accordance with the Law, being a foreigner and not a member of the Jewish race; their high-priest was appointed to his office by the Romans, and did not attain his rank by the order of succession of the tribe, nor according to lawful (b) custom; and their prophets that had ceased until John arose were no longer active among them, but they had instead a wicked false prophet who led the people astray)— He rightly threatens that He will take away at one time the three offices of grace, that had of old adorned the whole nation with wondrous glory, and says, “And I will take away three shepherds in one month, and my heart shall be sorrowful for them.” (X)
“The souls of the men who before worshipped idols, or the impure and horrid powers, I think, are called flies, and flies of Egypt, as delighting in sacrifices and the blood of idols. And the bee is an animal armed with a sting, that knows how to rule and to obey and to fight, and can defend itself and wound its enemies. These two then combining together, the one from the land of the Rulers (which is the meaning of “Assyrians”) the other from the land of the idolaters, will be bidden, it says, as by the hissing of the Lord God of the Universe, to rule the whole of Judaea, because of their unbelief in Christ, in the day of Emmanuel. And it means by this that a foreign military power will occupy Jerusalem and Judaea. This too our Saviour foretold more definitely, when He said, “And Jerusalem shall be trodden by the Gentiles.” This was fulfilled not long after our Saviour spoke, when the Romans took the city, and settled strangers there, and established them on its site.” (VII)
(On Single Advent of Christ)
“And also on that day, I mean the day of Emmanuel, or of Christ’s Appearing, “A man, it says, will rear a heifer, and two sheep. And it shall come to pass from the abundance of milk, he that is left on the land shall eat butter and honey.” By this he suggests the hunger and extreme penury of the Jews, not enjoying their natural food of corn, neither ploughing, sowing, nor reaping, possessing no flocks of sheep nor herds of cattle, but only possessing two sheep and a heifer to provide them with milk. Or perhaps he means figuratively, that those Jews left in the land, the choir of apostles and evangelists of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, each one of whom was a remnant according to the election of grace, and therefore called “he that is left” in the land, will rear a heifer and two sheep, three orders in each church, one of rulers, two of subordinates, since the Church of Christ’s people is divided into two divisions, the faithful, and those not yet admitted to the laver of regeneration, to whom the holy apostle says, “I have fed you with milk, not with strong meat”; while he aptly calls those who are in a state of greater perfection a heifer, because they are the offspring of the more perfect bulls, like the apostle himself, who says of his own labour and that of his fellow-workers, “Does God take care for oxen, or is this said altogether for our sakes?” Thus the whole order of the leaders of the Church is called a heifer, for they are occupied in ploughing and sowing the souls of men, being the offspring of the ways and teaching of the apostles, who are said so to abound in virtue, that they provide of their fruitfulness fruitful and spiritual milk in elementary teaching, and nourish many besides themselves.
And it predicts also of those that shall be left in the land, that something else will happen in that day, that is to say at the time of Emmanuel’s presence. What is it? Every place, it says, of the people of the Circumcision, where there were 1000 vines for 1000 shekels, shall be dry and thorny. For with arrow and bow they shall come there |63 (obviously the enemy) and the land shall be dry and thorny.
And note that everything the prophecy predicts will fall on the Jewish race in the day of Emmanuel, I mean at the time when the spiritual light of our Saviour’s gifts shines on all men. He says that unclean and hostile powers which worked of old among the Gentiles, in Egypt and the land of the Assyrians, when the Lord hisses, and as it were urges them on and encourages them, will come upon their land, because they deserved the visitation. And it says that these powers will rest in valleys, and in caves of the rocks, in caverns, and in all their clefts, both figuratively understood of their souls, their bodily senses, their reason, and their divided minds, and directly in a literal sense of the whole country. ” (VII)
“You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” VI
And note how clearly the Epistle arranges what was obscure in the prophetic writing, because of the inversion of the clauses. For the prophecy says,” He that cometh will come and will not tarry, and adds, “If he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him,” and this addition would seem to refer to him that cometh and doth not tarry, which is absurd. For how could it be said of him that God takes no pleasure in him? But the placing side by side of the divided clauses by a change in the arrangement of them preserves the sense. For after, “Yet a little while and he that cometh will come and shall not tarry,” it adds next, “The just shall live by my faith. Then what was first in the prophecy it places second in, “And if he draw back my soul taketh no pleasure in him.” For as Scripture has already once foretold through the prophecy, that the light promised, to all nations by Christ’s Coming “shall rise late and in the evening, and shall not deceive” (for so Aquila interprets instead of “come to nothing,”) it next exhorts to patience, because the coming of the subject of the prophecy is to be late and in the evening, in the words, “If he tarry await him, or if he delay expect him, for he that cometh |20 will come and will not tarry,” and encourages the hearer to trust the prediction, saying, that he that trusts it, shewn by his very faith to he just, shall live the life according to God, as on the other hand he that does not trust, drawing back through lack of boldness, and putting no faith in the words, “My soul hath no pleasure in him.” So, then, if we follow this course and place the first clause last, and the last first, we shall preserve the sense of the passage, putting, “The just shall live by my faith,” after, “For he that cometh will come and will not tarry,” by transposing the clauses, and (278) adding to this, “If he draw back my soul taketh no pleasure in him.” And Aquila agrees with this interpretation saying, “If he delay, expect him, for he that cometh will come, and will not tarry. Lo, if he be sluggish, my soul is not true in him, and the just shall live by his faith.” VI
And so we see how at this time the valley of the mountains of God was closed up, as was done in the days of Ozias. Actually and literally in the siege by the Romans, in the course of which I believe such things happened, and figuratively, also, when the outward and lower worship of the Mosaic Law was prevented any longer from activity by the earthquake which according to his prophecy came upon the Jewish race, and by the other causes recorded.
After this the prophecy recurring to the Coming of the Lord announces it more clearly, saying: “And the Lord my God shall come, and all His holy ones with Him,” referring either to His apostles and disciples as holy ones, or certain invisible powers and ministering spirits, of whom it was said: “And angels came and ministered to him.” And then of the Corning of the Lord, he says: “It shall be day, and it shall not be light, and cold and frost shall I be for one day.” Instead of which Symmachus translated:
“And in that day there shall be no light, but frost and cold shall be for one day, which is known to the Lord, not day nor night, but at eventide it shall be light.”
See how clearly this description of the day of our Saviour’s Passion, a day in which “there shall be no light,” was fulfilled, since “from the sixth hour to the ninth hour there was darkness over all the earth.” And also the “frost and cold,” since according to Luke:
“Then after the refreshing saving spiritual blood has fallen on every race of mankind from Jerusalem, which is more clearly described in another place in the words: “A law shall go forth from Sion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and it shall judge in the midst of the nations,” it says: “The Lord shall be King.” He shall not be King in Jerusalem, nor of the Jewish race; but, over all the earth in that day. And this agrees with what I have quoted from the Psalms, where it was said: “The Lord reigneth over the nations,” and also: “Tell it among the nations, the Lord reigneth.” The prophecy is that this will be fulfilled in the days of the Lord. For the whole prophecy opens with: “Behold, the days of the Lord come, and these things shall come to pass.” And what is meant by “these things,” but the siege of Jerusalem, and the passing of the Lord to the Mount of Olives, according to the words, “The Lord shall come,” and the events of the day of His Passion, and the living water, flowing in all the world, and to crown all, the Kingdom of the Lord ruling over all the nations, and His One Name, filling all the earth—in short, what I have briefly shown to be fulfilled?”
(On the Pella Flight Tradition)
“But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. ” (History of the Church 3:5:3)
“The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers form the earth. (Eusebius, 3:5.)
“After all those who believed in Christ had generally come to live in Perea, in a city called Pella of the Decapolis of which it is written in the Gospel and which is situated in the neighborhood of the region of Batanaea and Basanitis, Ebion’s preaching originated here after they had moved to this place and had lived there.” (Panarion 30:2)
“For when the city was about to be captured and sacked by the Romans, all the disciples were warned beforehand by an angel to remove from the city, doomed as it was to utter destruction. On migrating from it they settled at Pella, the town already indicated, across the Jordan. It is said to belong to Decapolis (de Mens. et Pond., 15).
“Now this sect of Nazarenes exists in Beroea in Coele-Syria, and in Decapolis in the district of Pella, and in Kochaba of Basanitis– called Kohoraba in Hebrew. For thence it originated after the migration from Jerusalem of all the disciples who resided at Pella, Christ having instructed them to leave Jerusalem and retire from it on account of the impending siege. It was owing to this counsel that they went away, as I have said, to reside for a while at Pella” (Haer 29:7).
“For when all who believed in Christ had settled down about that time in Peraea, the majority of the emigrants taking up their abode at Pella, a town belonging to the Decapolis mentioned in the Gospel, near Batanea and the district to Basanitis, Ebion got his excuse and opportunity. At first their abode was Kochaba, a village in the district of Carnaim, Arnem, and Astaroth, in the region of Basanitis, according to the information we have received. But I have spoken, in other connections and with regard to other heresies, of the locality of Kochaba and Arabia (Haer 30:2)… “[The Ebionites] spring for the most part from Batanea … and Paneas, as well as from Moabitis and Cochaba in Basanitis on the other side of Adraa” (Haer 30:18).
EUSEBIUS AND THE EARLY CHURCH
Book 1.1: Then there was JAMES who was known as the brother of the Lord. For he too was called Joseph’s son, and Joseph Christ’s father, though in fact the Virgin was his betrothed, and before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit, as the inspired Gospel narrative tells us. This James, as the, whom the early Christians surnamed the Righteous’ because of his outstanding virtue, was the first (as the records tell us) to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church…. Clement, in Outlines Book VI, puts it thus, ‘Peter, James and John, after the Ascension of the Saviour, did not claim pre-eminence because the Saviour had especially honored them, but chose James the Righteous as Bishop of Jerusalem…. James the Righteous, John, and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge. They imparted it to the other apostles, and the other apostles to the seventy…’
II.23: Such is the story of JAMES, to whom is attributed the first of the ‘general’ epistles. Admittedly its authenticity is doubted, since few early writers refer to it, any more than to ‘Jude’s’, which is also one of the seven called general. But the fact remains that these two, like the others, have been regularly used in very many churches.
John 19:25) was a fit person to occupy the throne of the Jerusalem church. He was, so it is said, a cousin of the Saviour, for Hegesippus tells us that Cleophas was Joseph’s brother.III.11: After the martyrdom of JAMES and the capture of Jerusalem which instantly followed, there is a firm tradition that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord who were still alive assembled from all parts together with those who, humanly speaking, were kinsmen of the Lord–for most of them were still living. Then they all discussed together whom they should choose as a fit person to succeed James, and voted unanimously that SIMEON, son of the Cleophas mentioned in the gospel narrative (
III.19: The [Emperor Domitian] ordered the execution of all who were of David’s line, and there is an old and firm tradition that a group of heretics accused the descendants of Jude–the brother, humanly speaking, of the Saviour–on the ground that they were of David’s line and related to Christ himself. HEGESIPPUS states:
And there still survived of the Lord’s family the grandsons of JUDE, who was said to be his brother, humanly speaking. These were informed against as being of David’s line, and brought by the evocatus before Domitian Caesar, who was as afraid of the advent of Christ as Herod had been. Domitian asked them if they were descended from David, and they admitted it. Then he asked them what property they owned and what funds they had at their disposal. They replied that they had only 9,000 denarii between them, half belonging to each. This they said was not available in cash, but was the estimated value of only 25 acres of land, from which they raised the money to pay their taxes and the funds to support themselves by their own toil…
On hearing this, Domitian found no fault with them, but despising them as beneath his notice let them go free and issued orders terminating the persecution of the church. On their release they became leaders of the churches, both because they had borne testimony and because they were of the Lord’s family. And thanks to the establishment of peace they lived on into Trajan’s time (98-117).
III.25: It will be well at this point to classify the New Testament writings already referred to.
We must, of course, put first the holy quartet of the Gospels,
followed by the Acts of the Apostles
The next place in the list goes to Paul’s Epistles
and after them we must recognize the epistle called I John
likewise I Peter
To these may be added (if thought proper) The Revelation of John
…These are classed as ‘The Recognized Books’.
Those that are ‘Disputed Books’, yet familiar to most, include the epistles known as James, Jude, and II Peter and those called II John and III John (the work either of the Evangelist John or of someone else
with the same name).
Among the spurious books must be placed the ‘Acts’ of Paul, the ‘Shepherd [of Hermas]’ and the ‘Revelation of Peter’; also the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’ and the ‘Teachings of the Apostles’, together with the ‘Revelation of John’ (if this seems the place for it; as I said before, some reject it, others include it among the Recognized Books). Moreover some have found a place in the list for the ‘Gospel of the Hebrews’, a book which has a special appeal for those Hebrews who have accepted Christ. These would all be classed with the Disputed Books, but I have been obliged to list the latter separately, distinguishing those writings which according to the tradition of the Church are true, genuine, and recognized, from those in a different category (not canonical, but disputed, yet familiar to most churchmen).
For we must not confuse these with the writings published by heretics under the names of the Apostles, as containing the gospels of Peter, Thomas, Mathias, and several others besides these, or Acts of Andrew, John, and other apostles. To none of these has any churchman of any generation ever seen fit to refer in his writings. Again, nothing could be farther from apostolic usage than the type of phraseology employed, while the ideas and implications of their contents are so irreconcilable with true orthodoxy that they stand revealed as the forgeries of heretics. It follows that so far from being classeven among ‘The Spurious Books’, they must be thrown out as impious and beyond the pale.
III.24: Of John’s writings, besides the Gospel, the first of the epistles has been accepted as unquestionably his by scholars both of the present and of a much earlier period: the other two are disputed. As to the Revelation, the views of most people to this day are evenly divided.
III.3: Of PETER one epistle, known as his first, is accepted, and this the early fathers quoted freely, as undoubtedly genuine, in their own writings. But the second Petrine epistle we have been taught to regard as uncanonical. Many however have thought it valuable and have honored it with a place among the other Scriptures. On the other hand, in the case of the ACTS attributed to Peter, the GOSPEL that bears his name, the PREACHING called his, and the so-called REVELATION, we have no reason at all to include these among the traditional Catholic scriptures, for neither in early days nor in our own has any Church writer made use of their testimony….Paul on the other hand was obviously and unmistakably the author of the fourteen epistles, but we must not shut our eyes to the fact that some authorities have rejected the EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS, pointing out that the Roman Church denies that it is the work of Paul. As for the ACTS attributed to Paul, no one has ever suggested to me that they are genuine.
III.16: CLEMENT (Bishop [?] of Rome, ca. 92-98) has left us one recognized Epistle, long and wonderful, which he composed in the name of the church at Rome and sent to the church at Corinth, where dissension had recently occurred. I have evidence that in many churches this epistle was read aloud in to the assembled worshippers in early days, as it is in our own. That it was in Clement’s time that the dissension at Corinth broke out is plain from the testimony of Hegesippus.
III.38: It must not be overlooked that there is a second epistle said to be from Clement’s pen, but I have no reason to suppose that it was well known like the first one, since I am not aware that the early fathers made any use of it. A year or two ago other long and wordy treatises were put forward as Clement’s work. They contain alleged dialogues with Peter and Apion, but there is no mention whatever of them by early writers, nor do they preserve in its purity the stamp of apostolic orthodoxy.
III. 27: A second group [of Heretics] went by the same name [Ebionites], but escaped the outrageous absurdity of the first. They did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit, but nevertheless shared their refusal to acknowledge His pre-existence as God the Word and Wisdom. Thus the impious doctrine of the others was their undiong too, especially since they placed equal emphasis on the outward observance of the Law. They held that the Epistles of the Apostle ought to be rejected altogether, calling him a renegade from the Law. And using only the ‘Gospel of the Hebrews’ they treated the rest with scant respect.
Eusebius the Liar?
Roger Pearse’s Pages
Some very odd statements are in circulation about Eusebius Pampilus the Historian. Recently someone quoted one of them at me, as a put-down. I had the opportunity to check the statements fairly easily, and the results are interesting, if discouraging for those looking for data on the internet. Since then I have come across other variants, and added these also.
- “I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion”
- “It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment.”
- “… then can’t he lie?” – a new version
- Postscript – the source of them all?
- A real quotation from Eusebius
- A possible source in Origen?
- Another possible source via Blavatsky from Mosheim.
[NOTE: There are a couple of pages with relevant data to this, which I highlight here: Lightfoot’s comment on this issue; and various translations of Eusebius Praeparatio Evangelica]
1. ‘Rebounding to the glory of religion’
The original allegation
Here’s the relevant extract from a recent post:
> Perhaps, but let me quote Eusebius, the Bishop who ‘uncovered’ the > Flavianum Testamonium: > > : “I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed > : all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion” (Chp. 31, Book > : 12 of Prae Paratio Evangelica).
This seems a very strange thing for a historian of any sort to say. My first thought was to look for anything about it in the HE, because I didn’t have the post in front of me and hadn’t recalled that it was not a quote from that work. But it wasn’t labour lost.
The introduction to Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica
From the introduction to the 1965 Williamson edition of HE in Penguin Classics, p.27:
“He indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion”
Williamson goes on to say:
“Gibbon’s notorious sneer … was effectively disposed of by Lightfoot, who fully vindicated Eusebius’ honour as a narrator ‘against this unjust charge’.”
Eusebius also lays down his method in Book I, chapter 1, where he modestly confesses that he knows of no-one who has written anything like this work before, so he would appreciate the reader’s indulgence while he evolves his methodology. The ‘quote’ is not in the section in which he describes how he intends to proceed.
This is all very suspicious. The wording of the ‘quote’ is identical (apart from some carelessness) to what Williamson calls a sneer of Gibbon’s. But the obvious thing to do is to look at the work ‘quoted’ and see if it contains the alleged quote. This I did.
The passage from De praeparatione evangelica
According to Quasten’s Patrology, there is only the one English translation, done as part of a Greek edition. (I hope people will forgive me if I don’t try to display the Greek on this page – I’m not sure how to do Greek characters reliably!) So here is the chapter from that edition. I’ve tried to reproduce the layout and line breaks:
Gifford, E.H., Eusebii Pamphili : Evangelicae Praeparationis, Vol III, Oxford, 1903, p. 657, sections p.607d-608a. The text is Book XII, chapter XXXI:
|‘But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly? ‘Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.’||d PLATO|
|Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction.||p. 608|
As you can see, the ‘quotation’ appears nowhere in the work, which is cast in the form of a discussion quoting passages from the philosophers and discussing their relationship with the Hebrew scriptures (The quote from Plato is from the Laws II, 663 d 6 – e 4). History, as such, is not under discussion in the work at all. In this passage, a piece of Plato is discussed, and the way in which the Hebrew scriptures acknowledge the inability of most men to reason (and how, unlike the philosophers, they don’t exclude that class of men) and embody it as part of their message is outlined.
Clearly the reference we started with is quite wrong.
So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with Gibbon. What did he actually say, and did he reference it?
I looked at a reprint of Gibbon, and I’ve copied out enough to make sense.
Gibbon, Edward, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Encyclopedia Britannica reprint, 1990, ISBN 0-85229-531-6. Volume I, chapter 16, p.232.
In this general view of the persecution which was first authorised by the edicts of Diocletian, I have purposely refrained from describing the particular sufferings and deaths of the Christian martyrs. It would have been an easy task. from the history of Eusebius, from the declamations of Lactantius, to collect a long series of horrid and disgusting pictures …[snip] But I cannot determine what I ought to transcribe, till I am satisfied how much I ought to believe. The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, 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.178 Such an acknowledgement will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history has not paid a very strict regard to the observance of the other; and the suspicion will derive additional credit from the character of Eusebius, which was less tinctured with credulity, and more practised in the arts of courts, than that of almost any of his contemporaries. [etc].
Note 178 on p.736:
- Such is the fair deduction from two remarkable passages in Eusebius, l. viii. c. 2, and de Martyr. Palestin. c. 12. The prudence of the historian has exposed his own character to censure and suspicion. It was well known that he himself had been thrown into prison; and it was suggested that he had purchased his deliverance by some dishonorable compliance. The reproach was urged in his lifetime, and even in his presence, at the council of Tyre. See Tillemont, Memoires Ecclesiastiques, tom. viii. part i. p. 67
Well, that gives us the statement from Gibbon and two references for it. So let’s look at those two references. The Ante-Nicene Fathers should supply our needs adequately.
Eusebius HE Book VIII, chapter 2.
Here is the Ante-Nicene Fathers text, from http://www.ccel.org/fathers2:
Chapter II. The Destruction of the Churches.
1 All these things were fulfilled in us, when we saw with our own eyes the houses of prayer thrown down to the very foundations, and the Divine and Sacred Scriptures committed to the flames in the midst of the market-places, and the shepherds of the churches basely hidden here and there, and some of them captured ignominiously, and mocked by their enemies. When also, according to another prophetic word, “Contempt was poured out upon rulers, and he caused them to wander in an untrodden and pathless way.”
2 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.
3 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 usefull first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity. Let us therefore proceed to describe briefly the sacred conflicts of the witnesses of the Divine Word.
4 It was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, in the month Dystrus, called March by the Romans, when the feast of the Saviour’s passion was near at hand, that royal edicts were published everywhere, commanding that the churches be leveled to the ground and the Scriptures be destroyed by fire, and ordering that those who held places of honor be degraded, and that the household servants, if they persisted in the profession of Christianity, be deprived of freedom.
5 Such was the first edict against us. But not long after, other decrees were issued, commanding that all the rulers of the churches in every place be first thrown into prison, and afterwards by every artifice be compelled to sacrifices.
Chapter III. The Nature of the Conflicts Endured in the Persecution.
1 Then truly a great many rulers of the churches eagerly endured terrible sufferings, and furnished examples of noble conflicts. But a multitude of others, benumbed in spirit by fear, were easily weakened at the first onset. Of the rest each one endured different forms of torture. [etc]
I think we can see that v.2 is the bit that Gibbon has used. But does it mean what Gibbon says? Or is Eusebius, faced with a huge amount of material for contemporary events, simply honestly stating that from here on he won’t cover everything, but only those which are in some way useful to know about, whether positive, or negative but with a useful moral, and for the rest stick to general statements? It seems as if that the latter is more consistent with the context, although one could make out some sort of case that Gibbon is misrepresenting something that is really there in Eusebius. But is the idea that Gibbon is making in Eusebius’ mind at all? Surely he’s thinking about writing something useful to his public?
Our ‘quote’ isn’t here. It would be useful to see which words in Eusebius were represented by which words in Gibbon, but there does not seem to be a 1:1 relation. The closest statement to ‘suppressing material to the disgrace of religion’ is when he says is that it isn’t his place to pillory some people (who of course, are living at the time he writes). The closest statement to ‘he is relating only what redounds to the glory of religion’ is when he says he will relate nothing about the corrupt except that which shows they deserved it (‘vindicates the divine judgement’).
The Martyrs of Palestine
This is an appendix to Book VIII of the HE, and is not a history but a martyrology – a book intended for devotional use. Here’s the ANF text:
- I Think it best to pass by all the other events which occurred in the meantime: such as those which happened to the bishops of the churches, when instead of shepherds of the rational flocks of Christ, over which they presided in an unlawful manner, the divine judgment, considering them worthy of such a charge, made them keepers of camels, an irrational beast and very crooked in the structure of its body, or condemned them to have the care of the imperial horses;-and I pass by also the insults and disgraces and tortures they endured from the imperial overseers and rulers on account of the sacred vessels and treasures of the Church; and besides these the lust of power on the part of many, the disorderly and unlawful ordinations, and the schisms among the confessors themselves; also the novelties which were zealously devised against the remnants of the Church by the new and factious members, who added innovation after innovation and forced them in unsparingly among the calamities of the persecution, heaping misfortune upon misfortune. I judge it more suitable to shun and avoid the account of these things, as I said at the beginning. But such things as are sober and praiseworthy, according to the sacred word,-“and if there be any virtue and praise,” – I consider it most proper to tell and to record, and to present to believing hearers in the history of the admirable martyrs. And after this I think it best to crown the entire work with an account of the peace which has appeared unto us from heaven.
There is a statement of omission here (rather than suppression). But Eusebius does not conceal that some of those persecuted behaved badly. The book is not a history of the persecution, but the deeds of the martyrs, as the title of the book indicates. So other than indicating the way that some fell short, he concentrates on his subject.
This too does not contain our ‘quote’. There does not seem to be a correlation here either with Gibbon’s statement.
The ‘quotation’ seems to be a fraud, although it is not necessary to suppose deliberate dishonesty at any stage – merely a willingness to take a statement in the worst way or to believe the worst.
How did the statement get manufactured? We cannot know all the steps, but we can guess easily enough.
As we have seen, Gibbon’s statements do not tie up much with what Eusebius wrote. It is fair to say that Gibbon gave the facts the worst interpretation they could bear. The master of English prose also phrased his remarks in such a way that many people would take them as meaning more than he said – and he placed no barrier to that interpretation. And so it duly occurred.
Some person unknowing excerpted Gibbon into some sort of anthology of anti-Christian ‘evidence’. Someone else (who probably honestly didn’t notice Gibbon’s little qualification) then altered the indirect statement to direct statement, producing our ‘quote’. How the reference to the Praeparatio became attached to it is hard to say, except that most people have access to the text of the HE and MP, and no-one to the Praeparatio. Perhaps some quote or other from the Praeparatio also appeared in our anthology and crossed over? (But see below…)
Written 26th April, 2000, Updated 9th June, 2000.
2. ‘Necessary to use Falsehood’
Some six months after I wrote the above, a fresh quotation reached me.
In article <email@example.com >, firstname.lastname@example.org (R.A. Beschizza) wrote: > > “It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of > those who need such a mode of treatment.” > — Eusebius of Nicomedia , Constantine’s overseer of church doctrine > and history
[The poster did not, of course, mean Eusebius of Nicomedia; Eusebius of Caesarea is intended, as is clear from other posters].
The allegation seems to be that this is a quotation from Eusebius’ works, and that he is justifying forgery and falsehood ‘for the benefit of others’.
It seemed obvious to look in Gibbon again, as a first resort and this showed where the allegation came from. Here are Gibbon’s remarks, this time from his Vindication, copied from an edition on the net:
Gibbon’s version of the allegation
- Dr. Chelsum is at a loss how to reconcile, – I beg pardon for weakening the force of his dogmatic style; he declares that, “It is plainly impossible to reconcile the express words of the charge exhibited, with any part of either of the passages appealed to in support of it.” (105) If he means, as I think he must, that the express words of my text cannot be found in that of Eusebius, I congratulate the importance of the discovery. But was it possible? Could it be my design to quote the words of Eusebius, when I reduced into one sentence the spirit and substance of two diffuse arid distinct passages? If I have given the true sense and meaning of the Ecclesiastical Historian, I have discharged the duties of a fair Interpreter; nor shall I refuse to rest the proof of my fidelity on the translation of those two passages of Eusebius, which Dr. Chelsum produces in his favour. (106)
“But it is not our part to describe the sad calamities which at last befel them (the Christians), since it does not agree with our plan to relate their dissentions and wickedness before the persecution; on which account we have determined to relate nothing more concerning them than may serve to justify the Divine Judgment. We therefore have not been induced to make mention either of those who were tempted in the persecution, or of those who made utter shipwreck of their salvation, and who were sunk of their own accord in the depths of the storm; but shall only add those things to our General History, which may in the first place be profitable to ourselves, and afterwards to posterity”
In the other passage, Eusebius, after mentioning the dissentions of the Confessors among themselves, again declares that it is his intention to pass over all these things.
“Whatsoever things, (continues the Historian, in the words of the Apostle, who was recommending the practice of virtue) whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise; these things Eusebius thinks most suitable to a History of Martyrs;”
of wonderful Martyrs, as the splendid epithet which Dr. Chelsum had not thought proper to translate. I should betray a very mean opinion of the judgment and candour of my readers, if I added a single reflection on the clear and obvious tendency of the two passages of the Ecclesiastical Historian. I shall only observe, that the Bishop of Caesarea seems to have claimed a privilege of a still more dangerous and extensive nature. In one of the most learned and elaborate works that antiquity has left us, the Thirty-second Chapter of the Twelfth Book of his Evangelical Preparation bears for its title this scandalous Proposition,
“How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived.” “**Ancient Greek**” (P 356, Edit. Graec. Rob. Stephani, Paris 1544.) In this chapter he alleges a passage of Plato, which approves the occasional practice of pious and salutary frauds; nor is Eusebius ashamed to justify the sentiments of the Athenian philosopher by the example of the sacred writers of the Old Testament.
(Paragraphing is mine, to make it easier to read).
[Since we have seen in the first section that Gibbon’s words have been misunderstood, it’s interesting to see this comment by Gibbon himself. It would seem that the tendency of Gibbon’s remarks discussed earlier to mislead was raised at the time, by this Dr. Chelsum. We have already seen that the remarks he made in Decline and Fall are indeed commonly taken as a direct quotation from Eusebius, which they are not. Gibbon’s response is to patronisingly deride ‘the importance of this discovery’.]
These remarks by Gibbon would appear to be a source for the allegation we are discussing, even if Gibbon’s words are rather more negative even than we started with. Neverthless it gives us a source reference, with which to look up the text; and we have already looked at the Praeparatio Evangelica.
The chapter headings
The words quoted come from the chapter heading, rather than the text. In order to discuss these, we will need to look at a critical edition of the Greek text, since the relevant information is not present in English translation.
The standard modern critical text is Karl MRAS, Eusebius Werke. Achter Band. Die Praeparatio Evangelica, Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 43 (1954, 1956), in two volumes. This text is the basis of the new text with French translation in J. SIRINELLI and Édouard des PLACES, Eusèbé de Césarée: La préparation évangélique, livres XII-XIII: Introduction, Texte Grec, Traduction et Annotation. Sources Chrétiennes 307 (1983). pp.136-7 contain Book 12 chapter 31; pp.138-9 chapter 32.
Here is the Greek for chapter 31 from SIRINELLI (using the SPIonic font):
la&. OTI DEHSEI POTE TWI YEUDEI ANTI FARMAKOU XRHSQAI EP’ OFELEIA <I> TON AEOMENWN TOU TOIOUTOU TROPOU.
- “Qu’il faudra, à l’occasion, faire du mensonge un remède au service de ceux qui ont besoin d’un tel procédé”
– – “That it is necessary, sometimes, to make a lie/fiction a remedy for the service of those who need such a process”.
XXXI. That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment
For each book, there is a table at the front of the edition listing the chapters and their titles. In all but one manuscript, these titles also appear at the head of a chapter.
[The subject of chapter divisions and chapter titles in ancient texts is one I am trying to obtain definite information on. However, these cannot be ancient chapter divisions, since chapter divisions seem to come in at the end of antiquity – older literary texts had book divisions, but not chapter divisions. Word divisions were uncommon, as were paragraphing and punctuation! Rather the material at the front is a summary of contents, and a late-antique or medieval copyist has divided the text and used portions of the summary as chapter headings. If we look at the summary for book 1, it does not seem to line up with the chapter divisions. – the 6th item in the list is NOT the chapter heading for chapter 6, which has none; and lines 9 and 10 are not the titles for chapters 9 (=line 8) and 10 (=line 11). From this we can see that the summary and the chapter divisions were not made at the same time. I add this summary from an article on the subject:
“Dunque, possiamo concludere che la divisione in capitoli non fu completamente ignota agli antichi, ma fu adoperata solo per opere con un chiaro fine pratico o per scritti miscellanei, di argomento quanto mai vario, per cataloghi e repertori, mentre non è mai adottata dagli scrittori che avessero un’alta coscienza artistica in tutte quelle opere in cui il proposito letterario o l’interesse storico o l’urgenza della fantasia o anche l’indagine psicologica posero in secondo piano le esigenze pratiche e che perciò solo più tardi furono divise in capitoli dai dotti del Medioevo o addirittura da esperti editori-tipografi nel periodo del pieno fervore degli studi e delle ricerche appassionate dei testi classici, l’Umanesimo.”
“Therefore, we can conclude that the division in chapters was not completely unknown to the ancients, but was only used for works with a practical purpose or for written miscellanea, for catalogues and repertoria, while it is never adopted by literary writers in all those works in which the literary purpose or the historical interest or the urgency of the fantasy or psychological surveying, to which the practical requirements are placed second, and that therefore only later they were organised in chapters by the scholars of the Middle Ages or even by expert editor-printers in the period of the full flood of the studies and passionate searches for the classical texts, Humanism.” (Diana ALBINO, La divisione in capitoli nelle opere degli Antichi, Annali della facoltà di lettere e filosofia, Napoli, vol. 10 (1962-3) pp. 219-234).]
The heading of chapter 31 is the basis of our quotation, more or less exactly.
[Gibbon’s version is interesting for both its similarities and its differences. However we need not consider Gibbon further here, except as probably the first to circulate this text as a proof-text against Eusebius. Incidentally it would seem that if Gibbon’s reference is accurate, that the 16th century Stephanus edition was perhaps arranged differently to modern editions — I need to check this. I have seen modern references which refer to XII, 32, rather than XII, 31, which makes it interesting to consider what sort of checking of references was done in that case].
But did Eusebius write these words? And did he mean, as some have considered, to justify fraud when he wrote them?
The text in question is certainly present in the manuscripts, as is clear from MRAS and, in abbreviated form, from SIRINELLI:
Here are the MSS of book 12 of the PE (from SIRINELLI, t.206 p.57-8).
I: Marcianus Graecus 341 (15th century, paper) – Library of San Marco, Venice.
O: Bononiensis University 3643 (13th century, bombazin paper) – University Library, Bologna
N: Neapolitanus graecus II A 16 (15th century, paper) – Bibliotheca Nazionale, Naples
D: Parisinus graecus 467 (16th century, paper) – Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
MRAS’ apparatus is slightly more detailed on chapter titles. All four MSS contain our text in the table of titles at the front of each book (MRAS, vol.2 pp.83-84). The titles also appear at the head of each chapter in I, O and N. In D they appear only at the front of the book (MRAS 2, p.125).
Are the chapter titles by Eusebius, or a later editor?
Firstly, as far as I can tell the chapter divisions themselves are later, and the titles placed there were extracted from the summaries at the front of each book (this can be seen from book 1, where the numbering in the summaries at the front does not correspond to the divisions in the text). As such, the assignment of wording to a given chapter is the work of a late-antique or medieval scribe. This leaves us with the summaries at the start of the book. However, the wording in the summary, if the summary follows the order of the contents, would seem to refer to this section of the body of the text anyway.
There seems to be some doubt whether the summaries can be considered certainly by Eusebius, rather than ‘helps for the reader’ added at a later period. Chapter titles in medieval manuscripts of the classics are not generally considered authorial. However there is some evidence of authorial summaries for some works of Eusebius:-
I learn from SIRINELLI that scholars in general consider the summaries of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica to be authorial. After looking at them in the Loeb text, I can see that there are notes at the foot of some of these tables written as if by the author. On the other hand, I also have before me the introduction to CAMERON & HALL’s translation of Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Oxford 1999. Apparently the summaries (and extracts used as chapter titles, doubtless again later) for this work cannot be authorial (C & H, p.52).
From SIRINELLI, I learn that the authenticity of the summaries in the PE has been fiercely debated since the 16th century, with one 19th century scholar going so far as to reject the chapter divisions also. MRAS is in favour of authenticity; SIRINELLI also. I have been unable to locate any study of the subject as a whole. See my notes on capituli generally here.
It would be unfair to expect Gibbon to be conversant with such issues, of course – he took the edition of Stephanus as he found it; and this used the MSS.
The issue is interesting, but inconclusive. However, if we cannot be sure he wrote the words in question, is it quite reasonable to pillory him for it?
[My thanks to Richard CARRIER for a list of works containing tables of contents which are probably authorial]
Lie, Falsehood or Fiction – the YEUDOS problem
If we presume that the chapter title is authorial, there is then a question over how it should be translated. One interesting issue surrounds the word (‘pseudos’) translated as ‘falsehood’ by GIFFORD and GIBBON, and as ‘mensonge’ by SIRINELLI.
The word has a wider meaning in Greek, and is value neutral in a way that neither ‘lie’ nor ‘falsehood’ is in English. Eusebius is quoting, in the body of the text, a passage from Plato’s Laws, Book II, and the same word is used there; while elsewhere in the PE Book 12 he quotes Plato’s Republic, again using this word.
But R.G. BURY in the Loeb edition of the Laws (PLATO, THE LAWS, BOOK II, 663C,D,E. Loeb edition p.125, tr. R.G.Bury, 1926 – online) renders it as ‘fiction’. And Sir Desmond LEE, in the Penguin edition of the Republic (PLATO, THE REPUBLIC, Book II, 376D-377D, Penguin edition, pp.129-131. Tr. Desmond Lee, 1955. – Online) does likewise, and adds the following note on the word:
“2. The Greek word pseudos and its corresponding verb meant not only ‘fiction’ — stories, tales — but also ‘what is not true’ and so, in suitable contexts, ‘lies’: and this ambiguity should be borne in mind.”
Consequently, unless the context forbids — and plainly from BURY we learn it does not — the chapter heading might equally be rendered:
XXXI. That it will be necessary sometimes to use fiction as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment
And this, of course, places a different slant on the text. If on the other hand we presume the chapter title is by Eusebius, and we presume that the word ‘lie’ is intended by him, with all its connotation of inflicting injury, then we can reasonably say that the quote doesn’t make Eusebius look very good.
But is this — Gibbon’s interpretation — fair comment? Is Eusebius advocating the use of lies? or is this a discussion of the use of parables, and the value of fiction in education? Clearly there is room for more than one opinion here, and I would rather not suggest certainty where a judgement has to be made of a number of ideas. This is something the reader must do for himself; but I think Eusebius is not advocating dishonesty, so much as suggesting that fiction has a role to play in education.
It is difficult to see Gibbon’s remarks as fair comment, particularly when one notices the mistranslation of the final part of the chapter heading.
However, the issue has recently been reopened making use of the chapter text body. The next section will discuss this, as it is really a new allegation.
Written 22nd December 2000, updated with French/Greek 8th April 2001. Updated with link to translations 28th September 2001. Rewording in one or two places to had apparently been misunderstood. 23rd April 2002. Rewritten to add the point about ‘pseudos’ and details of the MSS, 24th April 2002, after discussion in the infidels.org forum. The old version is still online. Revised with extra details from MRAS, 10th July 2002. Additional note about summaries – not tables of contents – added after discussion with a medievalist, 10th August 2002. More notes from Albino and some condensing and revision, 17th October 2003.
3. ‘Can’t he lie?’
A new variant of this idea has come onto the internet in the last year. The author is the estimable Richard CARRIER, editor-in-chief of infidels.org. His idea is that the chapter heading and the text itself of PE 12, 31 (quoted above) support the idea that Eusebius is dishonest. As far as I know this is original; at least, Gibbon does not quote the text itself in support of his idea. This idea does not really seem very possible to me, but here are some brief notes on it.
The Infidels.Org idea
This is from his article at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html#6:
That it is necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a medicine for those who need such an approach. [As said in Plato’s Laws 663e by the Athenian:] ‘And even the lawmaker who is of little use, if even this is not as he considered it, and as just now the application of logic held it, if he dared lie to young men for a good reason, then can’t he lie? For falsehood is something even more useful than the above, and sometimes even more able to bring it about that everyone willingly keeps to all justice.’ [then by Clinias:] ‘Truth is beautiful, stranger, and steadfast. But to persuade people of it is not easy.’ You would find many things of this sort being used even in the Hebrew scriptures, such as concerning God being jealous or falling asleep or getting angry or being subject to some other human passions, for the benefit of those who need such an approach.
On the basis of this, he says:
So in a book where Eusebius is proving that the pagans got all their good ideas from the Jews, he lists as one of those good ideas Plato’s argument that lying, indeed telling completely false tales, for the benefit of the state is good and even necessary. Eusebius then notes quite casually how the Hebrews did this, telling lies about their God, and he even compares such lies with medicine, a healthy and even necessary thing. Someone who can accept this as a “good idea” worth both taking credit for and following is not the sort of person to be trusted.
And in support of this interpretation he quotes the portion of the Laws that follows this, not in fact quoted by Eusebius, in which Plato contradicts Clinias, and outlines that it would be easy to spin a tale.
[I understand from Mr. Carrier that he translated from the Thesaurus Lingua Graeca text, as the relevant portion of his copy of Gifford was lacking; that the chapter header also was his own, but the translation of the portion of Plato is said to be from John BURNET, 1903, although I haven’t a proper bibliographic reference for this.]
The differences are interesting. The portions of Eusebius seem fair enough, allowing for the ‘pseudos’ issue. The version of Plato given isn’t quite like that of BURY or GIFFORD, and the reader may wish to view those versions.
A number of points come to mind.
- Eusebius does not say that falsehood and lying are acceptable, for whatever reason. This is an inference from his text, and not a very charitable one. Few of us would wish to be subjected to such an inference, just because we don’t denounce someone else while reviewing them.
- Plato asks whether, if any lie/fiction/fable is permissible, the one he is discussing might not be one. Plato has been discussing whether or not the self-interest of the individual is the same as the interest of the community. He has just concluded that it is. The comment in question follows. Plato asks us for a moment to imagine that self-interest and public interest are opposed. He asks whether it would not then be justifiable, if any lie were (and he leaves that open), to tell people that in fact they were the same. The purpose is the good of the community, i.e. acting ‘justly’, rather than selfishly.
- The infidels.org idea presumes that Eusebius has the idea of ‘lie’ in mind, rather than that of educational fiction. However we have seen that the word ‘pseudos’ is actually ambiguous in Greek. Plato seems to have an idea of deception in mind, but is it necessary to presume that Eusebius has?
- So is Eusebius really saying that the Bible is full of lies, and that this is one of the things the Greeks copied from the Jews? I find it hard to believe that Eusebius thought the bible was full of lies. Surely such a curious proposition would certainly require more evidence than one footnote in the PE, anyway. That the bible contains stories, such as parables, intended to educate is surely a better interpretation? To resolve this, we need to see what Eusebius says elsewhere.
- The idea presumes not just that Eusebius believes the bible is full of lies, but that if the bible is full of lies, it must be OK to lie; and that Eusebius has applied this in his writings. The purpose of the allegation seems to be to permit some of his testimony to be discarded. The first idea seems very strange, and the others are simply inferences from it. But no evidence is given for any of these.
- Finally, if the idea of the ‘white lie’ is a cultural convention of the age, is it entirely reasonable to single out Eusebius?
In fact, if we look at PE 12, 4, we see how Eusebius really thinks about the scriptures – an external literal meaning, which is in fact a parable, and an inner meaning for those who have passed beyond the first stages of instruction. This relates so strongly to what Eusebius says here – ‘for those who need this form of instruction’ – that it seems pointless to look further.
But what about the issue that Eusebius is showing that the Greeks got all their good ideas from the Jews? This is correct – that is what the PE is about. It’s hard to see how the portion of Plato says anything useful, then. But the comment of Clinias is perhaps the idea on which Eusebius is commenting.
‘Truth is beautiful, stranger, and steadfast. But to persuade people of it is not easy.’ Plato disagrees; but Eusebius omitted his disagreement. Eusebius’ comments follow this connecting phrase in the Laws.
[Note: Plato does go on to say that in fact people will easily believe quite ridiculous stories – but Eusebius skips that bit. Since Eusebius’ point is that some people have difficulty understanding some things (a theme already raised in chapter IV, in which Eusebius explains his view of scripture), and so scripture resorts to narrative fiction to help them visualise the abstract, it is not surprising that he ignores this part of the Laws. Since he does ignore it, it has to be asked whether it is relevant in understanding the point of this part of the PE.]
Pulling it together
I think we’re asking too much of the text, and trying to build a philosophical statement on an inference. Eusebius was concerned to show that Greek ideas had their origin in the bible. For this purpose he ransacked his library for material that would illustrate this. Of course this material was often written with quite other values in mind, and we need not suppose that every word he quotes supports his thesis, or is even relevant. In chapter 32 of the PE he returns to the Laws, a bit further on, and in his comment he ignores all of what he quotes apart from the conclusion. In chapter 31, he is responding to the observation of Clinias, picking up on the idea of fiction as a way to convince more easily than reason, and making a general point about the bible. That Plato’s purpose is to the advantage of the community, and the disadvantage of the individual is irrelevant to Eusebius, and he ignores it. All he picks up on is the method of teaching a useful idea, by means of words not strictly true.
Eusebius is following a different idea to Plato, which explains why he is using both The Republic and The Laws as it suits him. He has been looking at education, not of the infants of a community, but of the spiritual infant. In chapter 4 he has already discussed the right use of scripture, and how it contains fables. Here we have the idea that people should be told things not strictly true. (Plato’s reason he ignores – the benefit of the community instead of the individual is the reverse of what he is interested in). And he returns to the theme of fables in the bible, and how these benefit the individual.
The heading must be read ‘fiction’, because the subject is the Old Testament: portions of which cannot be understood literally, in Origenist exegesis.(Cf. De Principiis) Instead an allegorical meaning should be sought. This educational role of material for which the literal meaning is irrelevant — fiction — is reiterated by Eusebius at various points from Plato in book 12.
The alternative — that Eusebius advocates lying — is not in the text and can only be put there by the translating with “a judicious laxity” of Gibbon (T.R.Glover, Loeb Tertullian, p.xi). The words of Eusebius have to be played down, and words not quoted by him from the passage by Plato emphasised. In short, the allegation is itself a malicious falsehood.
Is this right? Or I am reading too much into this? The reader must decide for himself. However, if we are to say that someone is advocating dishonesty, I think we want more than this. It seems reasonable to ask just where does Eusebius say ‘it is OK to lie’?
A couple of points on related issues.
When I read the comment of Eusebius, I was reminded of the statement in Origen’s De Principiis 4, 3, 5, that in Scripture:
‘all has a spiritual meaning, but not everything has a literal meaning.’
Eusebius’ mentor Pamphilus wrote a defence of Origen, to which Eusebius added a final book (all now lost except for an unreliable Latin version of the first book by Rufinus). It seemed to me that Eusebius has the allegorical approach of this school in mind.
R.M. GRANT on Eusebius’ sincerity
Note: Mr. CARRIER also refers to Robert M. GRANT, Eusebius as Church Historian, Oxford (1980). This I have read myself, looking for more on this idea. Here are the notes I made at the time:
“Grant certainly gave me the impression that he was making assertions of dishonest handling of material, although he never actually says so or does a demonstration of this from the material, so presumably brought it with him to the book. I suppose that since he was engaged in a speculative reconstruction of the process whereby Eusebius wrote books 1-7 (preface, p.10) it can only be an opinion. However I definitely got the impression that Grant thought him guilty of editing without regard for honesty.
He gets closest in pp.65-66, discussing Tertullian in the Greek version, although curiously failing to mention that the technical point is lifted from Harnack’s Griechische Uebersetzung. But his complaint – that in his editorial he combined the impression from this and Justin – seems a little unfair. Combining the story told by the disparate accounts and making what sense he could was what Eusebius set out to do. Nor is it unreasonable for someone juggling conflicting witnesses, one of which must be mistaken, to hesitate between them, and do the best he can. But again Grant allows the reader to draw the negative conclusion without making it himself.
As far as I could see, he only squarely faced the issue of sincerity once, in the conclusion (p.164), where he then surprisingly says, “And whether or not one agrees with every detail of the portrait of Eusebius that begins to emerge, it is at least a picture of a huamn being, neither a saint nor intentionally a scoundrel.”; which was not the impression I got from the rest of the book, I have to say. As so often in this book, no reference was given, or basis for the statement. However since he refers many times to Lightfoot’s article in the Dictionary of Christian Biography, I think we may presume he is thinking of this.
One comment he did make about the Praeparatio I thought interesting, although I can’t say I’ve noticed either in the small extracts I’ve read. “The Praeparatio, more than any other work, shows that he [Eusebius] knew how to plan a treatise and stick to his plan.” (p.29).
4. Postscript – the source of all of them?
I have since come across a likely source for all these errors. It seems there is an electronic publication called ‘Biblical Errancy‘, written by a C. Dennis McKinsey, which contains lists of what used to be quaintly called ‘bible difficulties’ and assertions of a pseudo-scholarly nature, which most people probably take as made in good faith. This seems to circulate widely and is often reposted to usenet. An extract, discussing the Testimonium Flavianum:
“(3) The passage is not found in the early copies of Josephus. Not until the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius (320 A.D.) do we come across it. This is the same Eusebius who said that it is lawful to lie and cheat for the cause of Christ: “I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion” (Chp. 31, Book 12 of Prae Paratio Evangelica). (4) The early Christian fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen were acquainted with what Josephus wrote and it seems reasonable to conclude that they would have quoted this passage had it existed. Apparently Eusebius was the first to use it because it didn’t exist during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Chrysostom often referred to Josephus and it’s highly unlikely he would have omitted the paragraph had it been extant. Photius did not quote the text though he had three articles concerning Josephus and even expressly stated that Josephus, being a Jew, had not taken the least notice of Christ. (5) Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, nor Origen against Celsus ever mentioned this passage. Neither Tertullian nor Cyprian ever quoted Josephus as a witness in their controversies with Jews and pagans and Origen expressly stated that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not recognize Jesus as the messiah (Contra Celsum, I, 47). (6) The famous historian Gibbon claims the passage is a forgery as do many theologians.”
There are no references given for any of this. Note the key mis-spelling of praeparatio as ‘Prae Paratio’. In true text critical fashion, I think we may deduce community of origin from the community of error.
It would be unkind to note every error of fact, judgement or grammar that is contained in even this short extract, as the author of it clearly intended to impress by accumulation and repetition rather than by any appeal to fact or reason. A couple of notes on some factual details might be useful as a pointer to the interested.
- A look at the preface to the Loeb edition of Antiquities indicates that no such ‘early copies of Josephus’ exist. All of the (few) MSS are derived from a single 9th century MS, and all which contain book 16 contain the passage.
- There is no evidence that Justin or Clement knew Josephus. I compiled a list of the handful (11) references in the 5000 pages of the Ante-Nicene Father some time ago and it is here.
- I regret that I can’t comment on Chrysostom without doing yet more research.
- The reference to Photius, the 9th century Patriarch of Constantinople, is mistaken or misleading on a number of counts. The comment made by Photius in the Bibliotheca, codex 33, is in the review of a lost work of Justus of Tiberias, not Josephus. The Josephus reviews are codices 47 (on The Jewish War), 76 and 238 (Antiquities). (48 (on The Universe) which Photius ascribes to Josephus is actually by Hippolytus). c.47 mentions only a couple of incidents from the seige of Jerusalem. c.76 deals only with one incident that interested Photius from Antiquities 20.9-11, 20, and does not attempt to give any picture of the rest of the work. c. 238 describes the reign of Herod and after, and so could contain a reference, but does not. It does however include a reference to the execution of James the brother of John. The French editor remarks that it is noteworthy that Photius does not say, as he does for Justus, that Josephus makes no mention of Christ. I have placed the item on Justus online here. (Does anyone want the Josephus extracts?)
- There is no evidence that Justin knew the work.
- There is no evidence that Cyprian (in the Latin West, remember) knew the work.
- Tertullian does not use Josephus in his controversy with Jews, but in defending the Jews to the pagans. No writer of antiquity quotes Josephus against the Jews, probably because he was a traitor.
- The quotation from Origen is correct (at last!). Of course his silence about the Testimonium is not evidence that his copy did not contain it, or that it did, or indeed anything about anything. As the archaeologists say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is evidence that the text may have become corrupt, and that this may perhaps have occurred after Origen’s time.
[Note: My thanks to Jim Java for telling me that McKinsey in turn appears to have copied verbatim, and with spelling errors, from a volume he has seen: T.W.DOANE, Bible myths and their parallels in other religions, Somerby (1882). This is still in print, I learn. However I can’t check it myself as I don’t have access to a copy]
Written 1st June 2001. Updated with DOANE reference 10th July 2002.
5. A QUOTE FROM EUSEBIUS
“I prize truth above all else” (Chronicon, 1-4. Barnes, T.D. Eusebius and Constantine, Harvard 1981, p.114.)
Dr. Barnes adds the interesting view that the HE originally ended with book 7. Book 8 of the HE is a revised and shortened version of the original Martyrs of Palestine, extant in a much longer version than that in the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The history as such does not resume until book 9. The text of the preface of this longer version is as follows:
“It is meet, then, that the conflicts which were illustrious in various districts should be committed to writing by those who dwelt with the combatants in their districts. But for me, I pray that I may be able to speak of those with whom I was personally conversant, and that they may associate me with them – those in whom the whole people of Palestine glories, because even in the midst of our land, the Saviour of all men arose like a thirst-quenching spring. The contests, then, of those illustrious champions I shall relate for the general instruction and profit”. (Barnes p.154-4, from Lawlor H.J and Oulton, J.E.L, Eusebius, 1.33.1, SPCK, 1927).
which makes it clear that the Martyrs of Palestine is about those Eusebius knew personally (he was Bishop of the city where the executions occurred), and that this information has suffered somewhat in the process of abbreviation.
6. A possible source in Origen?
[My thanks for Gerald Rosenberg for drawing my attention to the following possible source, and pointing out the existence of the Greek of Origen online]
We know from Eusebius Contra Hieroclem that Eusebius had read Origen Contra Celsum. There is a very interesting passage in this work which may bear on all this subject, in Book IV, chapter 19 (p.196 of Chadwick’s translation, Cambridge University Press, 1980):
- Others may agree with Celsus that He does not change, but makes those who see Him think that he has changed. But we, who are persuaded that the advent of Jesus to men was not a mere appearance, but a reality and an indisputable fact, are unaffected by Celsus’ criticism. Nevertheless we will reply thus: “Do you not say, Celsus, that sometimes it is allowable to use deceit and lying as a medicine? Why, then, is it unthinkable that something of this sort occurred with the purpose of bringing salvation? For some characters are reformed by certain doctrines which are more false than true, just as physicians sometimes use similar words to their patients. This however has been our defence on other points. But further, there is nothing wrong if the person who heals sick friends healed the human race which was dear to him with such means as one would not use for choice, but to which he was confined by force of circumstances.” [etc].
The quote of Celsus is in ch. 18, where Celsus denies that God could have changed into a mortal body, and says that it must have been only an appearance. This, he continues, is a lie, and lying is only allowable ‘when one uses them as a medicine for friends who are sick and mad in order to heal them, or with enemies when the intention is to escape danger‘. (Chadwick notes, p.195 n.4, that Celsus is quoting Plato, Rep. 382C; 389B; 459 C, D.) Origen responds that the incarnation is not a simulation. But then he goes on to suppose if it were otherwise, and then make the above quote.
The Greek for Contra Celsum is actually online, as a demo at the Thesaurus Lingua Graeca site: http://ptolemy.tlg.uci.edu/%7Etlg/.(Text is M. BORRET, Origène. Contre Celse, 4 vols. [Sources chrétiennes 132, 136, 147, 150. Paris: Cerf, 1:1967; 2:1968; 3-4:1969])
From which we can see that the chapter title in Eusebius has not just been lifted verbatim from Origen. However, did Eusebius have this in mind, and so perhaps write the chapter heading thus? Or was it perhaps simply a commonplace from Plato, which anyone might have written? It is certainly an interesting parallel!
7. Another possible source via Blavatsky from Mosheim
Joel McDermon, who wrote an interesting article for American Vision on this same subject uncovered another piece of the jigsaw:
I first came across the quote while reading the occultist and supporter of the mystery-religion origin for Christian doctrine, Madame Blavatsky. In her 1877 Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 303, she gives the same quote with the exact wording. She attributes it to a work called “Ecclesiastical History.” At first glance the careless reader —- because of the careless author —- will recognize the title as belonging to Eusebius. But there are dozens of other works by that title, and this is one of them. The Ecclesiastical History in question is actually that of John Lawrence von Mosheim, originally published in 1755. The English translation I have access to is Murdock’s from 1847. So what was the actual quote about?
Far from giving a quote from Eusebius, Mosheim was actually referring to the corrupt atmosphere of the church in general in the fourth century. After describing the entrance of “a long train of superstitious observances,” 1 he wrote,
To these defects in the moral system of the age, must be added two principal errors now wellnigh pubicly adopted, and from which afterwards immense evils resulted. The first was, that to deceive and lie, is a virtue, when religion can be promoted by it. The other was, that errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to after proper admonition, ought to be visited with penalties and punishments.2
The quote in question nowhere shows up in Eusebius, or any other early Church father for that matter. How the tale got twisted is easy to see. Blavatsky did not cite the author, but in the following sentences says that this doctrine of lying was “applied” by Eusebius (Of course she furnishes no proof of this). Some careless reader probably read the text, assumed it was Eusebius, and then ran to the web to publish his new proof of why not accept Christ. Then all the anti-Christian cohorts copied the error and now webville is littered with more slander.
- Mosheim, John Lawrence von. The Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern. Volume I. tr. James Murdock. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1847), Book II, Century IV, Part II, Chapter III, Sec. 2 (p. 259).
- Ibid., Book II, Century IV, Part II, Chapter III, Sec. 16 (p. 267). For clarity, I have changed the original italics that emphasized portions of the text.
That some of our quotations do indeed have this source seems most likely.
NEW MATERIAL TAKEN FROM THE THEOPHANY
On the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.
18. What the end of those things should be, which had been foretold respecting the Jewish people, has (already) been said and shewn. But, as He, THE WORD OF GOD, prophesied also respecting these places themselves, it is necessary we should see His words on them. Now, when the Rulers of the Jews would not bear the purity of His Doctrine, its publication, nor His rebukes, they so acted as to rid their city of Him. He then, leaving Jerusalem, pronounced these words over their city: “55Jerusalem, Jerusalem! that hast killed the Prophets, and stoned them that were sent unto thee, How often would I have gathered thy children together, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings : but ye would not. Behold I your house is left desolate. For I say unto you, that ye shall not see me henceforth until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Impurity (and) pollution afterwards marked their doings: and this was the sin in which they dared to persist against our Saviour. And it was right, not only that the Inhabitants of the city, but also the land itself,–in which they so greatly boasted.–should be made to suffer the things, which the deeds of its inhabitants deserved. And these they did suffer ! For it was not long, before the Romans came against the city: and, of the inhabitants, some they killed by the law of war; others they destroyed by famine; others they led away captive ; and others they persecuted. The captive56 (City) and Temple they burnt, and reduced to utter |246 desolation ! But the things which took place afterwards, did our Saviour, from his foreknowledge as THE WORD or GOD, foretel should come to pass, by means of those which are (now) before us. For He named the whole Jewish people, the children of the City; and the Temple, He styled their House. And thus He testified, that they should, on their own wicked account, bear the vengeance thus to be inflicted. For many times would He have gathered their children together beneath the yoke of the worship of God, just as all formerly was; even as He had from ancient times been careful for them, and had, during all ages, instructed them by one or other of the Prophets, and called them, but they would not hearken to his call;–on this account, He gave judgment against them, and said, “Behold your house is left desolate.” It was therefore with special care that He said, not (only) the City itself should be desolate, but the House that was within it: that is, the Temple; (and) which He was unwilling should again be called His, or yet “the House of God,” but theirs (only). He prophesied too, that it should be desolate in no other way, than as deprived of that providential care, which was formerly exerted over it: hence He said, “Behold your house is left desolate.” And, it is right we should wonder at the fulfilment of this prediction, since at no time did this place undergo such an entire desolation as this was. Not at the time when it was rased to its foundations by the Babylonians, on account of their great wickedness, their worshipping of Idols, and pollution in the blood of the Prophets. For seventy years was the whole period of the desolation of the place in those times: because it was not (thus) fully said to them at that time, “Behold your House is left desolate.” Nor was it (then so) forsaken; an event happening soon after, which dignified it with a renewal much more illustrious than its former state, as one of the Prophets had foretold : (viz.) “The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the former57.” After the enouncement therefore of our Saviour,–that they should so be left, and their house come, by the judgment of God, to utter desolation ;–to |247 those who visit these places, the sight itself affords the most complete fulfilment of the prediction. The period too has been that of many years, and (of duration) so long, as not only to be double of the desolation of seventy years,– which was that in the time of the Babylonians,–but even to surpass four times (its duration) ; and (thus) confirming the judgment pronounced by our Saviour. Again, on another occasion, our Saviour–walking by the side of the Temple, just mentioned, and His Disciples wondering at the building which surrounded it, and pointing out to Him the greatness and beauty of the same Temple;–returned to them answer and said, “Behold! see ye not all these things ? I say unto you, stone shall not be left here upon stone, which shall not be thrown down.” The Scriptures do moreover shew, that the whole building and the extreme ornamenting of the Temple there, were indeed thus worthy of being considered miraculous: and, for proof (of this), there are preserved, even to this time, some remaining vestiges of these its ancient decorations. But, of these ancient things, the greatest miracle of all is, the Divine word (declaring) the foreknowledge of our Saviour, which fully enounced to those, who were wondering at the buildings (of the Temple), the judgment, that there should not be left in the place at which they were wondering, “one stone upon another which should not be rased” For it was right, that this place should undergo an entire destruction and desolation, on account of the audacity of its Inhabitants; because it was the residence of impious men. And, just as the prediction was, are the results in fact remaining: the whole Temple, and its walls,–as well as those ornamented and beautiful buildings which were within it, and which exceeded all description,–have suffered desolation from that time to this! With time too, this increases : and, so has the power of THE WORD gone on destroying, that, in many places, no vestige of their foundations is now visible! which any one who desires it, may see with his own eyes58. And, should any |248 one say, that a few of the places are still existing; we may nevertheless, justly expect the destruction of these also, as their ruin is daily increasing: the predicting word, just mentioned, daily operating by a power which is unseen. I know too–for I have heard it from persons who interpret the passage before us differently,–that this was not said on all the buildings, except only on that place which the Disciples, when expressing their wonder upon it, pointed out to Him ; for it was upon this that He spoke the predicting word. Again, the Scriptures of His Disciples which teach respecting Him, (teach) us these things (following), on the utter destruction of the place.–
On the taking of the City. From the Gospel of Luke.
19. “And59, when He saw the city, He wept over it, and said, If thou hadst known, even in this day the things of thy peace.–But now, they are (so) hidden from thine eyes, that the days shall come upon thee, in which thine enemies shall surround thee, and shall press upon thee from every part of thee: and they shall utterly root thee up, and thy children within thee.” The things, prior to these, were predicted respecting the Temple; these, which are now before us, respecting the City itself; which the Jews named the City of God, because of the Temple of God that had been built within it. Over the whole of this then, the compassionate (Saviour) wept. It was not, that He had so much pity on the buildings, nor indeed upon the land, as He had first upon the souls of its inhabitants, and (then) upon (the prospect of) their destruction. But the things which took place afterwards, did our Saviour, from his foreknowledge as THE WORD or GOD, foretel should come to pass, by means of those which are (now) before us. For He named the whole Jewish people, the children of the City; and the Temple, He styled their House. And thus He testified, that they should, on their own wicked account, bear the vengeance thus to be inflicted. And, it is right we should wonder at the fulfilment of this prediction, since at no time did this place undergo such an entire desolation as this was. He pointed out moreover, the cause of their desolation when He said, “If thou hadst known, even in this day, the things of thy peace:” intimating too His own coming, which should be for the peace of the whole world. For |249 this is He, of whom it was said, “In his days shall righteousness arise (as the sun), and abundance of peace60. He came also for this purpose, that “He61 might preach peace to them that were near, and to them that were afar off.” And, of them who received Him, He said, “Peace62 I leave to you I leave to you; my peace give I unto you:” the peace, which all nations who believed on Him throughout the whole creation, have received. But the people, who were of the circumcision and believed not on Him, knew not the things of their peace : and, on this account, He said afterwards, “It is now (so) hidden from thine eyes, that the days shall come upon thee, (in which) thine enemies shall surround thee63.” The things (I say), which were therefore to take hold on them, a short time after, in the reduction (of the city) : (and), because they had no previous perception of the peace, that had been formerly preached to them, it should now be concealed from their eyes. They had therefore, no previous perception of any thing, which should afterwards befall them; He then plainly foretold these things by His foreknowledge, and gave open intimation of the reduction (of the city), which should come upon them through the Romans, (when saying), “The days shall come upon thee…because thou knewest not the things of thy peace.” For, for this cause “there shall come upon thee the days, (in which) thine enemies shall surround thee, and shall go round about thee, and shall press upon thee from every quarter of thee; and they shall root thee out, and thy children within thee64.” In these (words) then, has been recorded the form of war which should come upon them. And, how they were fulfilled, we shall presently find from the writings of Josephus, who was himself a Jew, and descended from a tribe of the Jews ;–one of the well known and famous men among that people. At the time of the reduction (of the place), he committed to writing every thing that was done among them; and (so) shewed, that the predictions before us were, in their facts, fulfilled. |250
Again, on the reduction of the City. From the Gospel of Luke.
20. “65When ye shall see Jerusalem surrounded by an army, know ye that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. And let those that are within it (Jerusalem) give up66: and let not those that are in its borders, enter into it. Because these are the days of vengeance, that all which has been written should be fulfilled. But, woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days; for there shall be great tribulation upon the land, and great wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all nations. And Jerusalem shall be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.” Previous to this He said, “Behold your house is left desolate.” He now gives by the words before us, the signs of the times of the final destruction of the place; and these He shews, saying, “When ye shall see Jerusalem surrounded by an army, thence know ye that its desolation is near.” Now, let no one imagine, that, after the reduction of the place, and the desolation that should be in it, another renewal of it shall take place, as it was in the times of Cyrus, king of the Persians; and afterwards in those of Antiochus Epiphanes; |251 and again, in those of Pompey. For many times did this place suffer reduction, and was afterwards dignified by a more excellent restoration.
But, when ye shall see it reduced by armies, know ye that which comes upon it, to be a final and full desolation and destruction67. He designates the desolation of Jerusalem, by the destruction of the Temple, and the laying aside of those services which were, according to the law of Moses, formerly performed within it. You are not to suppose, that the desolation of the city, mentioned in these (words), was to be such that no one should any more reside in it: for He says after this, that the city shall be inhabited, not by the Jews, but by the Gentiles, when speaking thus, “And Jerusalem shall be trampled on by the Gentiles68.” It was known therefore to Him, that it should be inhabited by the Gentiles. But He styled this its desolation (viz), because it should no more (be inhabited) |252 by its own children, nor should the service of the law he established within it. And, how these things have been fulfilled, many words are not wanted (to shew) ; because, we can easily see with our own eyes, how the Jews are dispersed into all nations; and, how the inhabitants of that which was formerly Jerusalem,–but is now named Aelia by Aelius Hadrian,–are foreigners, and the descendants of another race. The wonder therefore of the prophecy is this, that He said of the Jews, “they should be led captive into all nations;” and, of the Gentiles, “that Jerusalem should be trampled on by them.” This miracle is then complete : the Jews being now fully (dispersed) throughout the whole creation, so that they are (found) remaining among the Ethiopians, the Scythians, and in the extremities of the earth. It is only their own city, and the place in which their worship formerly was (carried on), that they cannot enter69! But, if the city itself had been utterly desolated, and without inhabitants, men would have thought that this was the cause (of their exclusion from it). Now however, that the place is inhabited by foreigners, the descendants of a different race, and that it is not allowed to them alone even to set a foot in it, so that they cannot view even from a distance the land of their forefathers70; the things foretold of it are fulfilled, in exact accordance with the prediction: (viz). “They shall be led captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trampled on by the Gentiles“
The manner moreover of the captivity, points out the war. of which He spoke; “For (said He) there shall be (great)71 tribulation upon the land, and great wrath upon this people : and they shall fall by the edge of the sword.” We |253 can learn too, from the writings of Flavius Josephus, how these things took place in their localities, and how those, which had been foretold by our Saviour, were, in fact, fulfilled. He also shews plainly the fulfilment of the prediction of our Saviour, when He said, “Woe to those that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days72.” For he has put it on record, how the women roasted their children by the fire and ate them, on account of the pressure of the famine which prevailed in the city. This famine therefore, which took place in the city, our Saviour foresaw, and counselled His Disciples that, in the reduction which was about to come upon the Jews, it was not for them to take refuge in the city as in a place guarded and preserved by God, but in which many should suffer ; but, that they should depart thence, and “flee to the mountains;” and, that those, who should be within Judea, should give up to the Gentiles; and those, who were in its lands, should not take refuge in it as in a fortified place. On this account He said, “Let those who are in its borders73 not enter into it, since these are the days of vengeance, that all may be fulfilled which has been written.” Any one therefore, who desires it, may learn the results of these things from the writings of Josephus. And, if it is right we should lay down a few things from him in this book, by way of testimony, there is nothing that should hinder us from hearing the historian himself, who writes in this manner;–
From the sixth Book of Josephus74.
21. “And, How can it be necessary, that I should describe the severity of the famine, as to things inanimate? I come then to the making known of a fact, the like of which has not been recorded, either among the Greeks, or the Barbarians : one which, it is shocking to mention, and, to the hearing, incredible. I myself indeed, would |254 gladly have left this calamity (unmentioned)–that I might not be thought by those who shall come after, to have related falsehoods,–had I not had many witnesses among those of our own times. I should indeed otherwise have rendered but a doubtful good, as to the land of my fathers, had I omitted to mention the things which, it has, in fact, suffered. A certain woman, of those who resided on the other side of the Jordan,–whose name was Mirian, well known on account of her family and wealth,–took refuge with many (others) in Jerusalem, and with them was shut up (in the siege). This woman’s other possessions, as they were after she left the passage (of the Jordan) and came into the city, the Tyrants seized. The residue of her treasures moreover, should it have sufficed for her daily sustenance, was invaded and seized by the attendant soldiers. Grievous indignation therefore, took possession of her; and many times did she excite the robbers against herself, by curses and reproaches. But, when no one put her to death.–either on account of her indignation or in mercy; and she became weary of seeking sustenance for others from every quarter, and (as) suspicion was excited against her, even if she found (it) : hunger, at the same time, remaining in her bowels, and indignation inflaming her more than hunger;–she took for her counsellor impetuosity and necessity, and dared to do that which was contrary to nature. She seized upon her son,–for she had a sucking infant,–and said, “Wretched (babe) ! for Whom do I preserve thee in war, famine, and tumult?– that thou shouldest be a slave to the Romans ? If thou shouldest indeed live happily with them, still famine precedes (this) servitude ; and the seditious are cruel. Come ; be thou thou to me for food; to the seditious, the vengeance;–and to the world, the tale which alone is wanting to (complete) the sufferings of the Jews ! And, saying this, she at once killed her son. She then roasted him, and ate a part of him ! the rest she hid, and kept75!” |255 These sufferings out of many, I have here set down on account of the Divine prediction of our Saviour, which declared, “Woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days:” and because it adds this also to the predictive words of our Saviour, “There shall be great tribulation on the land, and great wrath upon this people:” or, as Matthew has said76, “For there shall be at that time great tribulation, the like of which has not been since the beginning of the world, even until now ; nor shall be” (hereafter). It will be well therefore, to hear this writer himself, when thus putting on record the fulfilment of these same things.
From the fifth Book of Josephus77.
22. “It would be impossible to give an account of each and every of their iniquities singly; we say then summarily, that no (other) city (ever) suffered all these things; and, that there never was a generation so fruitful in vices as this78 : for they destroyed the city itself79! and (were the cause) that the Romans should be recorded,– as forced by them against their own wills,–to this sad |256 victory ! They accordingly dragged them on forthwith, unopposed, to the Temple ; and viewed from the upper city, the fire that was burning within it.” Nor were they pained, nor did they weep at these things ! Because, “there should be at that time great tribulation, such, that its like existed not since the beginning of the world.” This very thing was foretold by our Saviour, which this writer attests ! the whole of which was fully brought to pass1 forty years afterwards, in the times of Vespasian the Roman Emperor. Our Saviour moreover, added to His predictions,–determining the time,–how long Jerusalem should be trampled on by the Gentiles; for He said, “Until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled:” intimating by this, the end80 of the world.
Again, on the laws of the Jews, (viz.) that they should no more be observed, either on mount Gerizim, or in Jerusalem. And, on the service worthy of God, which should be set up in His Church. From the Gospel of John.
23. On the side of this our neighbouring city Neapolis of Palestine,–which was not small, but is even (now) a city of celebrity,–a woman of Samaria drew near to Him ; and, after other words, said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a Prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this |257 mountain; but ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where (men) ought to worship.” Upon which, our Saviour returning this answer, said to her, “Believe me woman, the hour cometh (in) which, neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem shall they worship the Father.” And, after a few other things, He said : “The hour cometh, and now is, (in) which the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh even such as these to worship Him. God is a, spirit, and it is right that those who worship Him, should worship him in spirit and in truth81.” And, by these things also, He fully proved that His foreknowledge was not small. For formerly, in the days of Tiberius the Roman Emperor,–in whose times these things were said,–the Jews were particularly collected together in Jerusalem, for the observance of the precepts of their Law; and the Samaritans, on the mount called Gerizim which they honoured, on the side of Neapolis, affirming that it was right the Law of Moses should there be observed. Now, these mounts are, as it were, anathemas of God. With both, certain parts were honoured; and of both, the Scripture of each bears record ; that of Moses, respecting Gerizim ; and those of the Hebrew Prophets, respecting Jerusalem82. The sentence of judgment therefore, put forth in the Divine enouncement of our Saviour was, That no more, either in Jerusalem, or on mount Gerizim, should those henceforth worship, who then adhered so pertinaciously to these places : which came to pass soon after. (For), in the days of Titus Vespasian, and in the reduction which happened in those of Hadrian, both these mounts were, according to His words, desolated. That on the side of the city Neapolis, was defiled by unbecoming Images, by Idols, |258 by Sacrifices, and the shedding of blood, and (thus) rendered abominable. The Temple also of Jerusalem was rased to the foundations, and has remained, during the whole of the time mentioned, in utter desolation and (destruction by) burning. And, from that time and even until now, has the prediction of our Saviour been fulfilled, which declared, ” The hour cometh, (in) which neither in this mount, nor in Jerusalem shall they worship,” He terms the time (meant) “the hour;” which was not yet at hand, but was about to be. And, speaking to His Disciples on the rational service to be completed by Himself, He added, ” The hour cometh, and now is, that the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.” He necessarily added therefore here, It “now is.” For immediately, from the very hour (in) which he said these words, (viz.) ” The true worshippers”–of whom He was the Head and Teacher,–His Disciples, who received the rational service,–from Him, did perform the service of God, “in spirit and in truth.” But the thing, above all (others) prophesied of in these words, implies, that no more on any mount, nor in any distinct corner of the earth, but throughout the whole creation, should those ” true worshippers” worship the God who is above all, and should present to Him the Divine services, which should be performed without blood, “in spirit and truth.” Not by similitude, nor by those things of which He was the antitype, as were those of Moses observed by both Jews and Samaritans, in slaughter, sacrifices, incense, fire, and many other bodily modes;–that all of these should be abolished through the things now before us, did THE WORD OF GOD here predict. He also said, henceforth “in spirit and truth.” That is, “the true worshippers” shall render to God, the service which is worthy of Him, in a manner divine and with both the soul and mind.
On the people which should be set up out of foreign nations, by means of his teaching. From the Gospel of John.
24. “I am83 the good Shepherd, and I know my own, and my own know me. Even as the Father hath |259 known me, so know I the Father….And I lay down my life (lit. self) for my sheep. And I have other sheep, those who were not of this fold; and it is necessary that I should bring in these, and that they should hear my voice. And there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” By other words (too) He taught and said, “I am not come, but to the sheep that have strayed of the house of Israel84.” It was the Jewish people then, that He named under this figure; but, by the things before us, He predicted, that it was not those only who had become His disciples from among the Jews, that were considered (as) of the number of His flock; but those also who were without this fold. For thus, the word (Scripture) usually names at one time, the whole Jewish people; at another, Jerusalem, and the service there performed according to the Law of Moses.–That “He would collect other sheep which were not of that fold” implies the whole creation; and He foretold by these things, that out of them (this) rational flock should be so brought together to Him, that to the one and self-same worship of God, all, (both) Jews85 and Idolaters believing in Him, should come over; and, that there should be ” one flock and one Shepherd.” This is His Church, which has been established both from among the Jews, and Gentiles. And thus, has it come to pass ! For at once, at the outset of the preaching of the Gospel, great multitudes of the Jews were convinced that He was the Christ of God, who had been preached of by the Prophets. And with these, (those), who believed on Him from among the Gentiles, were brought together in one Church, under the hand of the one Shepherd,–of Him who is THE WORD or GOD. For in Jerusalem itself arose, from among the Jews, one after another fifteen bishops of the Church there, from James who was the first86. There were too thousands, at once both of Jews and Gentiles there, who had been brought together, even to the time of |260 its reduction in the days of Hadrian. And, that He was the (good) Shepherd who had been many times preached of in the words of the Prophets, it is obvious to us: the words (I say), which mention THE WORD OF GOD and teach, that He is the Shepherd of the souls of men, as of rational flocks. For it is thus said on one occasion by the Prophets: ” The Lord feedeth me (as a shepherd), and I shall lack nothing87.” And on another; “Shepherd of Israel look, (thou) who leadest Joseph as a flock88:” and, on another, He introduces (one) saying, “He is the Lord, and the Shepherd of the sheep89.” He therefore alone, is truly declared to be the Shepherd of rational souls. For, just as the case is among men, the nature of the sheep is one, and that of the shepherd another; and, (as) the rational nature rules and leads that which is irrational; so also is it with respect to the superiority of the Shepherd (here), THE WORD OF GOD, the nature far excels that of man. We indeed are His flock, and, as compared with His power, we are less rational than any sheep. But He is in truth the good and pure Shepherd, who does not so neglect His flock, that it may be devoured by the wolves; that is to say, by the wicked demons, the corrupters of souls. This constrains us to look to His word which declared, with great power and might, “I am the good Shepherd;” and which also said, “I lay down my life for my sheep.” (This) He said in a mystery respecting His death. He also taught at the same time the cause; viz. that it was for the redemption of the souls of the rational flocks, that He (so) gave His life. And this also: “I have other sheep,” shews, that the Jews were not His only possession; but also, that the whole of the nations had been given to Him of His Father, according to this (declaration), “Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance.” |261
How His death was the cause of the redemption of many. From the Gospel of John.
25. He was often with the Jews, because to them were known the predictions of the Prophets respecting Him. But, because the Greeks upon one occasion also approached His Disciples, desiring to see Him,–it is written, that, when they had told Him this, He said: “90The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified. I say unto you, that unless the grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it will remain alone; but if it (so) die, it will bring forth much fruit.” By these things also) He obviously declared in a mystery, that, among the Greeks, among foreign nations and the children of a different generation, those things which comprehended the praises of His Godhead should be embraced. For it was not when He was among the Jews that he said, “His hour had come that He should be glorified,” but, when the Greeks91 drew near to Him. After this, he necessarily continued shewing of His own death, His resurrection, and of the calling of the people, among whom He then was. For, just as the grain of wheat, before it falls into the earth, remains alone, but contains the life-producing-power, with the energies92 of the seed included within it, (and) which the ears shall produce; but, after falling into the earth,–just as that which lives after death,–it will increase, and, from the power vested within it, produce many ears of corn; so did He also declare respecting Himself, that the things should be. And this indeed, the result of them has plainly evinced. |262 For, it was not the Greeks alone who, after His death, received of His power and of the provisions of His Godhead, but also many nations. He was therefore, that seed which fell, and sprang up again, “He who was dead, but is alive93.” He, who after His fall which was by death, increased greatly, is He who has, by His resurrection, filled the lands of the heathen, as it were cultivated fields, with the Divine unutterable power. On this account He said, “The harvest94 is great, but the labourers are few.” And again, “Lift95 up your eyes and see the fields, that they are white for the harvest.” These things He also foretold (figuratively), of those who should after His death establish themselves in Him, through the pure faith which is by Him; the multitude of whom should, throughout the whole creation both of Greeks and Barbarians, constitute the Church to be established in myriads of congregations ;–collected together, as it were, (the produce of) rational well-cultured fields, into one place ; (that is) the souls of men, into the granaries of His Church. Hence it has been said, “He96 whose fan is in His hand, and who will cleanse His floor, and collect the wheat into (His) treasuries: but the straw He will burn with fire unquenchable.”
STORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE THEOPHANY
Roger Pearse post: Angelo Mai comments on a catena fragment of Eusebius “Another delightful thing has happened to me. While I was translating from Greek into Latin all the passages of Eusebius in the MS of Nicetas’ Catena on Luke, I fortunately observed that the last passage of Eusebius, written on the two final pages of the MS, corresponded word-for-word with Theophania bk 4 chs.8 and 9, as read, in translation from Syriac, in the English edition of the Rev. Samuel Lee, top of p.224 – top of p.229.”
“British Museum, Add, MS. No. 12,150.” Under these symbols scholars recognize a manuscript which Dr. Cureton is quite justified in calling ” that wonderful volume of the Nitrian Collection.” It is wonderful not only for its contents, and its singular history and recovery, but for its immense antiquity. It is believed by all competent judges to have been transcribed fourteen hundred and fifty years ago, in the year of our Lord 411. Of the four treatises in the Syriac language which this precious manuscript contains, the first three have already been printed. The late Dr. Lee, Hebrew Professor at Cambridge, edited and translated the long-lost book ofEusebius on the Theophania, or Divine Manifestation of our Lord; and Dr. P. A. de Lagarde published, at Lsipsic and Berlin respectively, Syriac versions of the Ilecognitiones of Clement of Rome, and also of the controversial work of Titus, Bishop of Bostra in Arabia, against the Manichaeans. At last, in the volume before us, Dr. Cureton lays before the world an edition and a translation of another lost work by Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea—his contemporary History of certain Martyrs in Palestine. Before we proceed to notice this treatise more particularly, it may be allowed us to recall some particulars as to the remarkable Nitrian manuscript containing it, which we find, not in the volume now under review, but in a former work by Dr. Cureton—his edition of the Festal Letters of Athanasius, which was printed thirteen years ago by the Society for the Publication of Oriental Texts. A more curious history is not to be found in any of the annals of literature.
It is now nearly twenty years ago that Dr. Tattam, who has since been made Archdeacon of Bedford, was commissioned by Government to purchase in Egypt certain Syriac manuscripts which were known to exist in the monastery of S. Maria Deipara, in the valley of Nitria, or of the Natron Lakes. This scholar returned to England
* History of the Martyriin Palatine. Ey Easebins, Bishop of Caesurea. Discovered in a very nncient Syriac Manuscript. Kdited and translated ikto English by William Cureton, D.D., Member of the Imperial Institute of France. London: Williams aud Worgate. Paris: Borranl 1861.
in 1842 with a large collection of most valuable manuscripts, more or less imperfect. His bargain with the monks had been that he should purchase the whole collection; but it was afterwards ascertained that they had concealed and withheld a large part of their library. This fact was brought to light by Mr. Pacho, a native of Alexandria, who had been authorized to make a further search for similar literary treasures in other Egyptian convents. It was in 1847 that this gentleman discovered and procured nearly two hundred volumes from the same house of S. Maria Deipara, whence the first instalment had been obtained. It seems that the monks of this convent, who had contrived to deceive and defraud Dr. Tattam, required very delicate handling before Mr. Pacho could be sure that he had received all the remaining Syriac manuscripts in their possession. However, he was as astute as they were, and the second moiety of the collection was added, after some interval of doubt whether the French Government would not make a larger bid for it, to the first moiety in the British Museum. The literary value of the whole collection is incalculable, and the National Library in which it is deposited has become the richest in the world in Syriac manuscripts.
The particular volume from which the present treatise of Eusebius is taken is perhaps the most curious of the whole number. Dr. Lee, when editing from it the Theophania of Eusebius, expressed an opinion that the manuscript must be at least a thousand years old. Afterwards he discovered on the margin of one of the leaves in the body of the volume a transcript of a note of the date of the writing, which added nearly five centuries to the age of the manuscript. He was naturally reluctant to accept so almost fabulous an antiquity, but after weighing the whole question deliberately, he decided that the date was genuine. Dr. Cureton, who, from the peculiar duty which devolved upon him as an assistant keeper of the manuscripts, of examining and arranging the whole collection, had acquired more practical experience than any other scholar as to the quality and condition of the vellum, the color of the ink, and the style of Itand-writing, as indications of age, immediately concluded, when he saw this volume, that it was the most ancient one that had ever come into his hands. Judging from no less than sixty dated manuscripts, which ranged from A.D. 1292 up to A.d. 464, he attributed to this particular volume an antiquity of fifty or sixty years above the earliest of the collection. This would give A.d. 414 or 404 as the date of the manuscript — a most close approximation to the truth, for the actual date noted in the margin is, when reduced to modern chronology, A.d. 411.
This marginal note is in itself so curious that our readers may thank us for quoting it, as translated by Dr. Cureton:—
” Behold, my brethren, if it should happen that the end of this ancient book should be torn off and lost, together with the writer’s subscription and termination, it was written at the end of it thus: viz., that this book was written at Orrhoa, a city of Mesopotamia, by the hands of a man by the name of Jacob, in the year of seven hundred and twenty-three, in the month Tishrin the Latter, it was completed. And agreeably to what was written there, I have written also here, without addition. And what is here I wrote in the year one thousand and three hundred and ninety-eight of the era of the Greeks.”
These dates answer to A.D. 411, and A.D. 1086, of our era ; so that before the close of the eleventh century this manuscript was already regarded as an ancient volume, and tlif library of this Egyptian monastery was even then we may suppose, falling into a state of neglect. That which the acnotator feared actually came to pass. The end of the volume was torn off, and the book was brought to England by Dr. Tattam, and used by Professor Lee, in this imperfect state, with its dated subscription lost. When Mr. Pacho, several years later, brought the remaining Nitrian manuscripts to the British Museum, the missing fragment was found among them; and on the last page Dr. Cureton had the delight of reading the autographic and dated colophon of the original scribe. The history of the hook is summed up by Dr. Cureton as follows, not without a certain clumsiness of expression in one or two places:—
” Among all the curiosities of literature, I know of none more remarkable than the fate of this matchless volume. Written in the country which was the birthplace of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, and the city [Edessa or Orfa] whose king was the first sovereign that embraced Christianity, in the year of our Lord 411, it was at a subsequent period transported to the valley of the Ascetics in Egypt, probably in A.d. 931, when 250 volumes were collected by Moses of Nisibis during a visit to Bagdad, and presented by him upon his return to the monastery of St. Mary Deipara, over which he presided, In A.D. 1086,’ some person, with careful foresight, fearing lest the memorial of the transcription of so valuable, beautiful, and even at that remote period so ‘ ancient a book,’ should be lost, in order to secure its preservation, took the precaution to copy it into the body of the volume. At how much earlier a period the fears which he had anticipated became realized, I have no means of ascertaining; but, in A.D. 1837, ‘ the end of the volume had been torn off,’ and in that state, in A.d. 1839, it was transferred from the solitude of the African desert to the most frequented city in the world. Three yean later two of its fragments followed the volume to England; and, in 1847, I had the gratification of recovering almost all that had been lost, and of restoring to its place in this ancient book the transcriber’s own record of the termination of his labors, which, after various fortunes in Asia, Africa, and Europe, has already survived a period of 1436 years.”
It is from this manuscript that Dr. Cureton now prints for the first time a Syriac version of the History of the Martyrs in Palestine, by the famous Eusebius of Caesarea. That writer, in the eighth book of his Ecclesiastical History, states his intention of compiling a separate narrative of the martyrdoms which he had himself witnessed; and a brief notice, answering to this description, but considered by most critics to be only an abridgment of a lost treatise, is found contained in many manuscript copies of the Ecclesiastical History. We need not discuss here the arguments which led to this conclusion. Suffice it to say that this inference is now become a certainty, since we have here before us, the original treatise, translated into the vernacular language of Palestine, transcribed within seventy years of the death of the author. Dr. Cureton tells us that Stephen Assemani was of opinion that this lost treatise of Eusebius was not improbably written in Syriac, rather than in Greek. But he gives sound arguments against this supposition.
It is disappointing that Dr. Cureton declines the task of discussing thoroughly the question of the exact date of the present treatise in relation to other works of Ensebius. He contents himself with throwing out suggestions which he hopes that other scholars may take up and fully investigate. However, besides the Syriac text (which is printed in a not very attractive type), and a full English translation, we have a very interesting body of notes, in which the present text is compared not only with Assemani’s fragments, but with the abridged Greek of the Ecclesiastical History, and with other notices preserved by ancient writers. In particular, a long passage recounting the Confession of Pamphilus and his companions has been preserved in the original Greek by Simeon Metaphrastes, in the tenth century, and has been translated into Latin, which version is here reprinted for the sake of comparison. Still it is to be regretted that the present editor has not exhausted his subject. In all other respects we owe him thanks for his labor, which we should call scholarly, were it not that he prints all his Greek without accents, and that several Latin words appear without their full number of letters. Perhaps, also, we ought to complain that Dr. Cureton, who lives in London, within reach of so many libraries, should apologize for not referring to a not very rare book, by saying, ” I have not the Acta Martyrum at hand.” We observe, also, an inaccurate reference, which we cannot verify, to the Sibliotheca Orientalis of Joseph Assemani.
The interest attaching to the treatise oi Eusebius which is now given to the world is chiefly a moral one. It -does not- contribute many, if any, new facts to our knowledge oi the history or the theology of the Church of the fourth century. But it is impressive to read here the record of actual martyrdoms for the faith of Christ which the author witnessed with his own eyes. His narrative, in its simplicity and the general absence oi exaggeration, bears upon it the stamp oi veracity; and many to whom this volume Would be without interest in its critical aspect may find pleasure and profit in the English translation, considered merely as a piece of devotional reading. It is affecting to read the details of the cruel deaths and tormerits of the Christian martyrs and confessors who suffered (as Eusebius words it) ” in such a year of the persecution in our days,”—the persecution, that is, of Diocletian, beginning in A.D. 303.
In illustration of the details of the martyrdoms here described, Dr. Cureton refers continually to the work of Gallonius, De Sanctorum Martyrum Cruciatibus. This book is by no means common; and some extracts from it would have been acceptable. Another curious treatise, that of Hieronymus Magius de Equuleo, covers the same ground, and is enriched with copious appendices from Gallonins himself and other writers. In reading the Confession of Pamphilus we are struck with one passage in which Firmilianus, President of Palestine, questions the victim under ” the combs and cauteries of fire “as to ” what city and in what country was that Jerusalem which was said to belong to the Christians only.” It will be remembered that at the time when these martyrdoms took place Jerusalem was known to the Romans by no other name than Aelia Capitolina. Here we have an undesigned historical coincidence of great value. We have no wish to distress our readers with extracts describing the horrid tortures to which these Palestinian martyrs, both men and women, were exposed. We will only notice one fact which we do not remember to have seen noticed before. It appears that the victims who were doomed to the Ludus—that is, the gladiatorial exhibitions were not immediately taken to the amphitheatre, but were handed over to the Procuratores in order to undergo a long course of preparatory training. The Christians, of course, refused to submit to this discipline, and were treated with untold severities for their non-compliance with the rules. It is impossible to close this volume without hoping that the monasteries of the East may afford us yet more of the lost works of antiquity. A distinguished English scholar is understood to have employed the late autumn in a fresh search for such treasures among the convents of Mount Athos.
Roger Pearse (2000): “Little more has been heard of this discovery since the initial reporting. Papyrology seems to have a real problem. On the one hand it is an obscure subject – so much so, that workers in the field seem to be few, and I’ve seen suggestions in the literature that the funding is so limited that there is a career for only a handful of papyrologists. Furthermore, quite specialised training is required – not everyone can read Coptic! On the other hand there are masses of fragments available, even without the desperately needed further excavations.
What is needed is an upsurge in public interest. It’s worth remembering that interest in cuneiform was given a massive boost by the discovery of the Epic of Gilgamesh, because of its biblical parallels – indeed a national newspaper promptly funded new excavations. For biblical papyri, the natural audience is the Christians, who are always interested in the origins of their bible, unless insulted, and always include a significant number of educated and interested people.
But the Christians are not interested in the work of professional papyrologists, it seems. No doubt the reason for this is that papers, whenever they touch on matters of interest to Christians, invariably make a point of asserting that their religion is untrue. Consider the spin that Dr. Mirecki put on his discoveries, in the reporting above. I am quite certain that sales of the ‘Gospel of the Savior’ book suffered markedly in consequence. Despite my interest in the subject, I didn’t buy one either – I obtained a library copy. And any Christian who is interested in biblical papyri and makes a media splash, as C.P.Thiede discovered, will be shunned and abused, rather than welcomed as a possible source of new blood in the profession. What a great recipe to destroy an academic discipline!
The great loser from this is papyrology itself, which remains a cinderella discipline, with little public support or backing, unable even to process existing material and watching helplessly as development in the Middle East destroys irreplaceable documents. Isn’t it time this was addressed? Is the culture of keeping Christians out worth the cost?” lost gospel
Date: 03 Feb 2004
i just don’t get it.? if all this has taken place and i believe it has, then who are we in the 21st century? do we just live and die?
can you answer me the question of who are we and what are we in the 21st century if all has been fulfilled already? if Jesus already came then what are we here for? what are we waiting for? what is our purpose? why continue? bziegler863
Date: 03 Feb 2004
Those who live in Jesus Christ never die – John 11:25-26. If we raise our expectations about redemption, and allow the fulness of christ’s victory to sink in, we will see plenty to be done around us. Isaiah 9:7 presents a never-ending growth of peace and the kingdom.. be a part of it!
Date: 06 Dec 2004
I noticed this statement on many sites on the Internet, but I cannot find this in the Works of Eusebius. Do you have the book, chapter and paragraph reference? Thanks “Eusebius (AD260-340) who wrote that ‘The apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Britannic Isles’,
Date: 05 Apr 2009
Sorry. Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.
I am from Marshall and also now am reading in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Everybody loves to find cheap airline tickets.”
With love :P, Jurrien.
Date: 24 May 2009
As regarding Eusebius telling a lie to protect the church, it appears to have been a widespread practice of the times as described by these orthodox authorities listed below from Rev. Robert Taylor’s Diegesis, chapter on Admissions of Christian Writers,(Taylor was Unitarian but these statements appear as legitimate orthodox admissions):
18. Even our own orthodox Doctor Burnet, in his treatise De Statu Mortuorum, purposely written in Latin, that it might serve for the instruction of the clergy only, and not come to the knowledge of the laity, because, as he says, “too much light is hurtful for weak eyes;” not only justifies, but recommends the practice of the most consummate hypocrisy, and that too, on the most awful of all subjects; and would have his clergy seriously preach and maintain the reality and eternity of hell torments, even though they should believe nothing of the sort themselves.
Can there be any doubt that the Rev. Dr. Burnet, with all his cant about Christianity and truth, was afraid to promulgate the latter sincerely and openly to the people?
19. Dr. Mosheim, among his many and invaluable writings, published a dissertation, showing the reasons and causes of supposititious writings in the first and second century. And all own, says Lardner, that Christians of all sorts were guilty of this fraud; indeed, we may say, it was one great fault of the times.
21. “There is scarce any church in Christendom at this day, (says one of the church’s most distinguished ornaments) which doth not obtrude, not only plain falsehoods, but such falsehoods as will appear to any free spirit, pure contradictions and impossibilities; and that with the same gravity, authority, and importunity, as they do the holy oracles of God.” — Dr. Henry Moore.
32. In the fourth century, the same great author instructs us “that it was an almost universally adopted maxim, that it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the church might be promoted.”—Mosheim, Vol. 1. p. 198.