Eusebius of Caesarea (/juːˈsiːbiəs/; Greek: Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, Eusébios tés Kaisareías; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the Greek: Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely learned Christian of his time. He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History" (not to be confused with the title of Church Father), he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs.
During the Council of Antiochia (325) he was excommunicated for subscribing to the heresy of Arius, and thus withdrawn during the First Council of Nicaea where he accepted that the Homoousion referred to the Logos. Never recognized as a saint, he became counselor of Constantine the Great, and with the bishop of Nicomedia he continued to polemicize against Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Church Fathers, since he was condemned in the First Council of Tyre in 335.
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius in a modern imagining
|Died||339/340 (aged 74–79)|
|Occupation||Bishop, historian, theologian|
|Notable works||Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, Chronicle, On the Martyrs|
Little is known about the life of Eusebius. His successor at the See of Caesarea, Acacius, wrote a Life of Eusebius, a work that has since been lost. Eusebius' own surviving works probably only represent a small portion of his total output. Beyond notices in his extant writings, the major sources are the 5th-century ecclesiastical historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, and the 4th-century Christian author Jerome. There are assorted notices of his activities in the writings of his contemporaries Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Alexander of Alexandria. Eusebius' pupil, Eusebius of Emesa, provides some incidental information.
In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius writes of Dionysius of Alexandria as his contemporary. If this is true, Eusebius' birth must have been before Dionysius' death in autumn 264; most modern scholars date the birth to some point in the five years between 260 and 265. He was presumably born in the town in which he lived for most of his adult life, Caesarea Maritima. He was baptized and instructed in the city, and lived in Syria Palaestina in 296, when Diocletian's army passed through the region (in the Life of Constantine, Eusebius recalls seeing Constantine traveling with the army). Eusebius was made presbyter by Agapius of Caesarea. Some, like theologian and ecclesiastical historian John Henry Newman, understand Eusebius' statement that he had heard Dorotheus of Tyre "expound the Scriptures wisely in the Church" to indicate that Eusebius was Dorotheus' pupil while the priest was resident in Antioch; others, like the scholar D. S. Wallace-Hadrill, deem the phrase too ambiguous to support the contention.
By the 3rd century, Caesarea had a population of about 100,000. It had been a pagan city since Pompey had given control of the city to the gentiles during his command of the eastern provinces in the 60s BC. The gentiles retained control of the city for the three centuries to follow, despite Jewish petitions for joint governorship. Gentile government was strengthened by the city's refoundation under Herod the Great (r. 37–4 BC), when it had taken on the name of Augustus Caesar. In addition to the gentile settlers, Caesarea had large Jewish and Samaritan minorities. Eusebius was probably born into the Christian contingent of the city. Caesarea's Christian community presumably had a history reaching back to apostolic times, but it is a common claim that no bishops are attested for the town before about 190, even though the Apostolic Constitutions 7.46 states that Zacchaeus was the first bishop.
Through the activities of the theologian Origen (185/6–254) and the school of his follower Pamphilus (later 3rd century – 309), Caesarea became a center of Christian learning. Origen was largely responsible for the collection of usage information, or which churches were using which gospels, regarding the texts which became the New Testament. The information used to create the late-fourth-century Easter Letter, which declared accepted Christian writings, was probably based on the Ecclesiastical History [HE] of Eusebius of Caesarea, wherein he uses the information passed on to him by Origen to create both his list at HE 3:25 and Origen's list at HE 6:25. Eusebius got his information about what texts were accepted by the third-century churches throughout the known world, a great deal of which Origen knew of firsthand from his extensive travels, from the library and writings of Origen.
On his deathbed, Origen had made a bequest of his private library to the Christian community in the city. Together with the books of his patron Ambrosius, Origen's library (including the original manuscripts of his works[note 1]) formed the core of the collection that Pamphilus established. Pamphilus also managed a school that was similar to (or perhaps a re-establishment of) that of Origen. Pamphilus was compared to Demetrius of Phalerum and Pisistratus, for he had gathered Bibles "from all parts of the world". Like his model Origen, Pamphilus maintained close contact with his students. Eusebius, in his history of the persecutions, alludes to the fact that many of the Caesarean martyrs lived together, presumably under Pamphilus.
Soon after Pamphilus settled in Caesarea (ca. 280s), he began teaching Eusebius, who was then somewhere between twenty and twenty-five. Because of his close relationship with his schoolmaster, Eusebius was sometimes called Eusebius Pamphili: "Eusebius, son of Pamphilus".[note 2] The name may also indicate that Eusebius was made Pamphilus' heir. Pamphilus gave Eusebius a strong admiration for the thought of Origen. Neither Pamphilus nor Eusebius knew Origen personally; Pamphilus probably picked up Origenist ideas during his studies under Pierius (nicknamed "Origen Junior") in Alexandria. In Caesarea, Origenist thought was continued in the generation after his death by Theotecnus, bishop of the city for much of the late 3rd century and an alumnus of Origen's school.
Eusebius' Preparation for the Gospel bears witness to the literary tastes of Origen: Eusebius quotes no comedy, tragedy, or lyric poetry, but makes reference to all the works of Plato and to an extensive range of later philosophic works, largely from Middle Platonists from Philo to the late 2nd century. Whatever its secular contents, the primary aim of Origen and Pamphilus' school was to promote sacred learning. The library's biblical and theological contents were more impressive: Origen's Hexapla and Tetrapla; a copy of the original Aramaic version of the Gospel of Matthew; and many of Origen's own writings. Marginal comments in extant manuscripts note that Pamphilus and his friends and pupils, including Eusebius, corrected and revised much of the biblical text in their library. Their efforts made the hexaplaric Septuagint text increasingly popular in Syria and Palestine. Soon after joining Pamphilus' school, Eusebius started helping his master expand the library's collections and broaden access to its resources. At about this time Eusebius compiled a Collection of Ancient Martyrdoms, presumably for use as a general reference tool.
In the 290s, Eusebius began work on his magnum opus, the Ecclesiastical History, a narrative history of the Church and Christian community from the Apostolic Age to Eusebius' own time. At about the same time, he worked on his Chronicle, a universal calendar of events from the Creation to, again, Eusebius' own time. He completed the first editions of the Ecclesiastical History and Chronicle before 300.
Eusebius succeeded Agapius as Bishop of Caesarea soon after 313 and was called on by Arius who had been excommunicated by his bishop Alexander of Alexandria. An episcopal council in Caesarea pronounced Arius blameless. Eusebius, a learned man and famous author, enjoyed the favour of the Emperor Constantine. Because of this he was called upon to present the creed of his own church to the 318 attendees of the Council of Nicaea in 325." However, the anti-Arian creed from Palestine prevailed becoming the basis for the Nicene Creed.
The theological views of Arius, that taught the subordination of the Son to the Father, continued to be a problem. Eustathius of Antioch strongly opposed the growing influence of Origen's theology as the root of Arianism. Eusebius, an admirer of Origen, was reproached by Eustathius for deviating from the Nicene faith. Eusebius prevailed and Eustathius was deposed at a synod in Antioch.
However, Athanasius of Alexandria became a more powerful opponent and in 334, he was summoned before a synod in Caesarea (which he refused to attend). In the following year, he was again summoned before a synod in Tyre at which Eusebius of Caesarea presided. Athanasius, foreseeing the result, went to Constantinople to bring his cause before the Emperor. Constantine called the bishops to his court, among them Eusebius. Athanasius was condemned and exiled at the end of 335. Eusebius remained in the Emperor's favour throughout this time and more than once was exonerated with the explicit approval of the Emperor Constantine. After the Emperor's death (c.337), Eusebius wrote the Life of Constantine, an important historical work because of eye witness accounts and the use of primary sources. Eusebius died c.339.
Much like his birth, the exact date of Eusebius' death is unknown. However, there is primary text evidence from a council held in Antioch that by the year 341, his successor Acacius had already filled the seat as Bishop. Socrates and Sozomen write about Eusebius' death, and place it just before Constantine's son Constantine II died, which was in early 340. They also say that it was after the second banishment of Athanasius, which began in mid 339. This means that his death occurred some time between the second half of 339 and early 340.
Of the extensive literary activity of Eusebius, a relatively large portion has been preserved. Although posterity suspected him of Arianism, Eusebius had made himself indispensable by his method of authorship; his comprehensive and careful excerpts from original sources saved his successors the painstaking labor of original research. Hence, much has been preserved, quoted by Eusebius, which otherwise would have been lost.
The literary productions of Eusebius reflect on the whole the course of his life. At first, he occupied himself with works on Biblical criticism under the influence of Pamphilus and probably of Dorotheus of Tyre of the School of Antioch. Afterward, the persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius directed his attention to the martyrs of his own time and the past, and this led him to the history of the whole Church and finally to the history of the world, which, to him, was only a preparation for ecclesiastical history.
Then followed the time of the Arian controversies, and dogmatic questions came into the foreground. Christianity at last found recognition by the State; and this brought new problems—apologies of a different sort had to be prepared. Lastly, Eusebius wrote eulogies in praise of Constantine. To all this activity must be added numerous writings of a miscellaneous nature, addresses, letters, and the like, and exegetical works that extended over the whole of his life and that include both commentaries and treatises on Biblical archaeology.
Eusebius' Onomasticon (more properly, On the Place-Names in the Holy Scripture, Περὶ τῶν τοπικῶν ὀνομάτων τῶν ἐν τῇ Θείᾳ Γραφῇ) is a directory of place names, or "gazetteer", a primary source that provides historical geographers with a contemporary knowledge of 4th-century Palestine and Transjordan. It sits uneasily between the ancient genres of geography and lexicography, taking elements from both but a member of neither. Eusebius' description of his own method, who wrote: "I shall collect the entries from the whole of the divinely inspired Scriptures, and I shall set them out grouped by their initial letters so that one may easily perceive what lies scattered throughout the text," implies that he had no similar type of book to work from; his work being entirely original, based only on the text of the Bible. Others have suggested that Eusebius had at his disposal early Roman maps of the Roman Empire with which to work, and which allowed him to record the precise distances between locations in Roman miles. Needless to say, this innovation has been very useful to modern research. Of the approximate 980 Biblical and N.T. names of places contained in those works, Eusebius identifies some 340 with locations known in his own day and age.
The primary source for the Onomasticon is Codex Vaticanus, Gr. 1456 which dates from the 11th or 12th century. Dependent upon this manuscript is Codex Parisinus Gr 464 which dates from the 16th century. These two manuscripts were edited and published by Lagarde in 1870.
Tina (Kinah, 15:22): of the tribe of Judah.
Telem (15:24): of the tribe of Judah.
Tessam ([Azem] 15:29): of the tribe of Judah.
Tyre ([Zer] 19:35): of the tribe of Naphthali.
Under each letter, the entries are organized first by the book they are found in, and then by their place in that book. In almost all of the entries in his geographical opus, Eusebius brings down the respective distances in Roman "milestones" (semeia) from major points of reference, such as from Jerusalem, Beit Gubrin (Eleutheropolis), Hebron, Ptolemais, Caesarea, etc. In Eusebius' Onomasticon, distances between each "milestone" were usually 1,600 meters–1,700 meters, although the standard Roman mile was 1,475 meters. Since most villages in the Onomasticon are far removed from Roman-built roads, scholars have concluded that Eusebius did not glean the geographical information from maps based on a milestone survey, but rather collected the information from some other source.
Where there is a contemporary town at the site or nearby, Eusebius notes it in the corresponding entry. "Terebinth", for example, describes Shechem as "near Neapolis", modern Nablus, and "Tophet" is located "in the suburbs of Jerusalem".
The Onomasticon has traditionally been dated before 324, on the basis of its sparse references to Christianity, and complete absence of remarks on Constantine's buildings in the Holy Land. The work also describes traditional religious practices at the oak of Mamre as though they were still happening, while they are known to have been suppressed soon after 325, when a church was built on the site. Eusebius references to the encampment of the Legio X Fretensis at Aila (in southern Israel, near modern Aqaba and Eilat); the X Fretensis was probably transferred from Jerusalem to Aila under Diocletian.
Pamphilus and Eusebius occupied themselves with the textual criticism of the Septuagint text of the Old Testament and especially of the New Testament. An edition of the Septuagint seems to have been already prepared by Origen, which, according to Jerome, was revised and circulated by Eusebius and Pamphilus. For an easier survey of the material of the four Evangelists, Eusebius divided his edition of the New Testament into paragraphs and provided it with a synoptical table so that it might be easier to find the pericopes that belong together. These canon tables or "Eusebian canons" remained in use throughout the Middle Ages, and illuminated manuscript versions are important for the study of early medieval art, as they are the most elaborately decorated pages of many Gospel books. Eusebius detailed in Epistula ad Carpianum how to use his canons.
The Chronicle (Παντοδαπὴ Ἱστορία (Pantodape historia)) is divided into two parts. The first part, the Chronography (Χρονογραφία (Chronographia)), gives an epitome of universal history from the sources, arranged according to nations. The second part, the Canons (Χρονικοὶ Κανόνες (Chronikoi kanones)), furnishes a synchronism of the historical material in parallel columns, the equivalent of a parallel timeline.
The work as a whole has been lost in the original Greek, but it may be reconstructed from later chronographists of the Byzantine school who made excerpts from the work, especially George Syncellus. The tables of the second part have been completely preserved in a Latin translation by Jerome, and both parts are still extant in an Armenian translation. The loss of the Greek originals has given the Armenian translation a special importance; thus, the first part of Eusebius' Chronicle, of which only a few fragments exist in the Greek, has been preserved entirely in Armenian, though with lacunae. The Chronicle as preserved extends to the year 325.
In his Church History or Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius wrote the first surviving history of the Christian Church as a chronologically-ordered account, based on earlier sources, complete from the period of the Apostles to his own epoch. The time scheme correlated the history with the reigns of the Roman Emperors, and the scope was broad. Included were the bishops and other teachers of the Church, Christian relations with the Jews and those deemed heretical, and the Christian martyrs through 324. Although its accuracy and biases have been questioned, it remains an important source on the early church due to Eusebius's access to materials now lost.
Eusebius' Life of Constantine (Vita Constantini) is a eulogy or panegyric, and therefore its style and selection of facts are affected by its purpose, rendering it inadequate as a continuation of the Church History. As the historian Socrates Scholasticus said, at the opening of his history which was designed as a continuation of Eusebius, "Also in writing the life of Constantine, this same author has but slightly treated of matters regarding Arius, being more intent on the rhetorical finish of his composition and the praises of the emperor, than on an accurate statement of facts." The work was unfinished at Eusebius' death. Some scholars have questioned the Eusebian authorship of this work.
Before he compiled his church history, Eusebius edited a collection of martyrdoms of the earlier period and a biography of Pamphilus. The martyrology has not survived as a whole, but it has been preserved almost completely in parts. It contained:
Of the life of Pamphilus, only a fragment survives. A work on the martyrs of Palestine in the time of Diocletian was composed after 311; numerous fragments are scattered in legendaries which have yet to be collected. The life of Constantine was compiled after the death of the emperor and the election of his sons as Augusti (337). It is more a rhetorical eulogy on the emperor than a history but is of great value on account of numerous documents incorporated in it.
To the class of apologetic and dogmatic works belong:
A number of writings, belonging in this category, have been entirely lost.
All of the exegetical works of Eusebius have suffered damage in transmission. The majority of them are known to us only from long portions quoted in Byzantine catena-commentaries. However these portions are very extensive. Extant are:
Eusebius also wrote a work Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum, "On the Differences of the Gospels" (including solutions). This was written for the purpose of harmonizing the contradictions in the reports of the different Evangelists. This work was recently (2011) translated into the English language by David J. Miller and Adam C. McCollum (edited by Roger Pearse) and was published under the name "Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions." The original work was also translated into Syriac, and lengthy quotations exist in a catena in that language, and also in Coptic and Arabic catenas.
Eusebius also wrote treatises on Biblical archaeology:
These three treatises have been lost.
The addresses and sermons of Eusebius are mostly lost, but some have been preserved, e.g., a sermon on the consecration of the church in Tyre and an address on the thirtieth anniversary of the reign of Constantine (336).
Most of Eusebius' letters are lost. His letters to Carpianus and Flacillus exist complete. Fragments of a letter to the empress Constantia also exists.
Eusebius is fairly unusual in his preterist, or fulfilled eschatological view. Saying "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)
From a dogmatic point of view, Eusebius stands entirely upon the shoulders of Origen. Like Origen, he started from the fundamental thought of the absolute sovereignty (monarchia) of God. God is the cause of all beings. But he is not merely a cause; in him everything good is included, from him all life originates, and he is the source of all virtue. God sent Christ into the world that it may partake of the blessings included in the essence of God. Christ is God and is a ray of the eternal light; but the figure of the ray is so limited by Eusebius that he expressly distinguishes the Son as distinct from Father as a ray is also distinct from its source the sun.
Eusebius was intent upon emphasizing the difference of the persons of the Trinity and maintaining the subordination of the Son (Logos, or Word) to God. The Logos, the Son (Jesus) is an hypostasis of God the Father whose generation, for Eusebius, took place before time. The Logos acts as the organ or instrument of God, the creator of life, the principle of every revelation of God, who in his absoluteness and transcendence is enthroned above and isolated from all the world. Eusebius, with most of the Christian tradition, assumed God was immutable. Therefore, to Eusebius's mind, the Logos must possess divinity by participation (and not originally like the Father), so that he can change, unlike God the Father. Thus he assumed a human body without altering the immutable divine Father. Eusebius never calls Jesus o theós, but theós because in all contrary attempts he suspected either polytheism (three distinct gods) or Sabellianism (three modes of one divine person).
Likewise, Eusebius described the relation of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity to that of the Son to the Father. No point of this doctrine is original with Eusebius, all is traceable to his teacher Origen. The lack of originality in his thinking shows itself in the fact that he never presented his thoughts in a system. After nearly being excommunicated due to charges of heresy by Alexander of Alexandria, Eusebius submitted and agreed to the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Nicea in 325.
Eusebius held that men were sinners by their own free choice and not by the necessity of their natures. Eusebius said, "The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature".
By the time of the Byzantine Iconoclasm several centuries later, Eusebius had unfairly gained the reputation of having been an Arian, and was roundly condemned as such by Patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople. A letter Eusebius is supposed to have written to Constantine's daughter Constantia, refusing to fulfill her request for images of Christ, was quoted in the decrees (now lost) of the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in 754, and later quoted in part in the rebuttal of the Hieria decrees in the Second Council of Nicaea of 787, now the only source from which some of the text is known. The authenticity, or authorship of the letter remain uncertain.
Alternate views have suggested that Gibbon's dismissal of Eusebius is inappropriate:
While many have shared Burckhardt's assessment, particularly with reference to the Life of Constantine, others, while not pretending to extol his merits, have acknowledged the irreplaceable value of his works which may principally reside in the copious quotations that they contain from other sources, often lost.
|Titles of the Great Christian Church|
Agapius of Caesarea
| Bishop of Caesarea
Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein (24 September 1583 – 25 February 1634), also von Waldstein (Czech: Albrecht Václav Eusebius z Valdštejna), was a Bohemian military leader and statesman who fought on the Catholic side during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). His successful martial career made him one of the richest and most influential men in the Holy Roman Empire by the time of his death. Wallenstein became the supreme commander of the armies of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and was a major figure of the Thirty Years' War.
Wallenstein was born in the Kingdom of Bohemia into a poor Protestant noble family. He acquired a multilingual university education across Europe and converted to Catholicism in 1606. A marriage in 1609 to the wealthy widow of a Bohemian landowner gave him access to considerable estates and wealth after her death at an early age in 1614. Three years later, Wallenstein embarked on a career as a military contractor by raising forces for the Holy Roman Emperor in the Uskok War against the Republic of Venice.
Wallenstein fought for the Catholics in the Protestant Bohemian revolt of 1618 and was awarded estates confiscated from the rebels after their defeat at White Mountain in 1620. A series of military victories against the Protestants raised Wallenstein's reputation in the Imperial court and in 1625 he raised a large army of 50,000 men to further the Imperial cause. A year later, he administered a crushing defeat to the Protestants at Dessau Bridge. For his successes, Wallenstein became an Imperial count palatine and made himself ruler of the lands of the Duchy of Friedland in northern Bohemia.An imperial generalissimo by land, and Admiral of the Baltic Sea from 21 April 1628, Wallenstein found himself released from service in 1630 after Ferdinand grew wary of his ambition. Several Protestant victories over Catholic armies induced Ferdinand to recall Wallenstein, who then defeated the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus at Alte Veste and killed him at Lützen. Dissatisfied with the Emperor's treatment of him, Wallenstein considered allying with the Protestants. However, he was assassinated at Eger in Bohemia by one of the army's officials, with the emperor's approval.Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration of the Greek ἀντιλεγόμενα, refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History (c. 325) used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed", literally "spoken against", in Early Christianity before the closure of the New Testament canon. It is a matter of categorical discussion whether Eusebius divides his books into three groups of homologoumena ("accepted"), antilegomena, and 'heretical'; or four, by adding a notha ("spurious") group. The antilegomena or "disputed writings" were widely read in the Early Church and included the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, the Book of Revelation, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache. The term "disputed" should therefore not be misunderstood to mean "false" or "heretical". There was disagreement in the Early Church on whether or not the respective texts deserved canonical status.Church History (Eusebius)
The Church History (Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ ἱστορία; Latin: Historia Ecclesiastica or Historia Ecclesiae) of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts.Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, city now known as Niš (Serbian Cyrillic: Ниш, located in Serbia), he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer of Illyrian origins. His mother Helena was Greek. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.
As emperor, Constantine enacted administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire. He restructured the government, separating civil and military authorities. To combat inflation he introduced the solidus, a new gold coin that became the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the Roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians—even resettling territories abandoned by his predecessors during the Crisis of the Third Century.
Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on his orders at the purported site of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem and became the holiest place in Christendom. The Papal claim to temporal power in the High Middle Ages was based on the forged Donation of Constantine. He has historically been referred to as the "First Christian Emperor", and he did heavily promote the Christian Church. Some modern scholars, however, debate his beliefs and even his comprehension of the Christian faith itself.The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople (now Istanbul) after himself (the laudatory epithet of "New Rome" came later, and was never an official title). It became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, with the later eastern Roman Empire now being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians. His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity. Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship.Constantine the Great and Christianity
During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have often argued about which form of early Christianity he subscribed to. There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena's Christianity in his youth, or, as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea, encouraged her to convert to the faith he had adopted himself.
Constantine ruled the Roman Empire as sole emperor for much of his reign. Some scholars allege that his main objective was to gain unanimous approval and submission to his authority from all classes, and therefore chose Christianity to conduct his political propaganda, believing that it was the most appropriate religion that could fit with the Imperial cult (see also Sol Invictus). Regardless, under the Constantinian dynasty Christianity expanded throughout the Empire, launching the era of State church of the Roman Empire. Whether Constantine sincerely converted to Christianity or remained loyal to Paganism is still a matter of debate among historians (see also Constantine's religious policy). His formal conversion in 312 is almost universally acknowledged among historians, despite that he was baptized only on his deathbed by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia in 337; the real reasons behind it remain unknown and are debated also. According to Hans Pohlsander, Professor Emeritus of History at the University at Albany, SUNY, Constantine's conversion was just another instrument of realpolitik in his hands meant to serve his political interest in keeping the Empire united under his control:
The prevailing spirit of Constantine's government was one of conservatorism. His conversion to and support of Christianity produced fewer innovations than one might have expected; indeed they served an entirely conservative end, the preservation and continuation of the Empire.
Constantine's decision to cease the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was a turning point for early Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Triumph of the Church, the Peace of the Church or the Constantinian shift. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship. The emperor became a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor within the Church and raised the notions of orthodoxy, Christendom, ecumenical councils, and the state church of the Roman Empire declared by edict in 380. He is revered as a saint and isapostolos in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and various Eastern Catholic Churches for his example as a "Christian monarch".Diocletian
Diocletian (; Latin: Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus), born Diocles (22 December 244 – 3 December 311), was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.
Diocletian's reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus, co-emperor, in 286. Diocletian reigned in the Eastern Empire, and Maximian reigned in the Western Empire. Diocletian delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius and Constantius as Caesars, junior co-emperors, under himself and Maximian respectively. Under this 'tetrarchy', or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the empire. Diocletian secured the empire's borders and purged it of all threats to his power. He defeated the Sarmatians and Carpi during several campaigns between 285 and 299, the Alamanni in 288, and usurpers in Egypt between 297 and 298. Galerius, aided by Diocletian, campaigned successfully against Sassanid Persia, the empire's traditional enemy. In 299 he sacked their capital, Ctesiphon. Diocletian led the subsequent negotiations and achieved a lasting and favourable peace.
Diocletian separated and enlarged the empire's civil and military services and reorganized the empire's provincial divisions, establishing the largest and most bureaucratic government in the history of the empire. He established new administrative centres in Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Sirmium, and Trevorum, closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome. Building on third-century trends towards absolutism, he styled himself an autocrat, elevating himself above the empire's masses with imposing forms of court ceremonies and architecture. Bureaucratic and military growth, constant campaigning, and construction projects increased the state's expenditures and necessitated a comprehensive tax reform. From at least 297 on, imperial taxation was standardized, made more equitable, and levied at generally higher rates.
Not all of Diocletian's plans were successful: the Edict on Maximum Prices (301), his attempt to curb inflation via price controls, was counterproductive and quickly ignored. Although effective while he ruled, Diocletian's tetrarchic system collapsed after his abdication under the competing dynastic claims of Maxentius and Constantine, sons of Maximian and Constantius respectively. The Diocletianic Persecution (303–312), the empire's last, largest, and bloodiest official persecution of Christianity, failed to eliminate Christianity in the empire; indeed, after 324, Christianity became the empire's preferred religion under Constantine. Despite these failures and challenges, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling the empire to remain essentially intact for another 150 years despite being near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth. Weakened by illness, Diocletian left the imperial office on 1 May 305, and became the first Roman emperor to abdicate the position voluntarily. He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens. His palace eventually became the core of the modern-day city of Split in Croatia.Diocletianic Persecution
The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors (Galerius with the Edict of Serdica in 311) at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.
Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but emperors prior to Diocletian were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect. In the 250s, under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, Roman subjects including Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution, but there is no evidence that these edicts were specifically intended to attack Christianity. After Gallienus's accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian's assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, and surrounded himself with public opponents of Christianity. Diocletian's preference for activist government, combined with his self-image as a restorer of past Roman glory, foreboded the most pervasive persecution in Roman history. In the winter of 302, Galerius urged Diocletian to begin a general persecution of the Christians. Diocletian was wary, and asked the oracle of Apollo for guidance. The oracle's reply was read as an endorsement of Galerius's position, and a general persecution was called on February 24, 303.
Persecutory policies varied in intensity across the empire. Whereas Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic. Later persecutory edicts, including the calls for universal sacrifice, were not applied in his domain. His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property that had been confiscated during the persecution. In Italy in 306, the usurper Maxentius ousted Maximian's successor Severus, promising full religious toleration. Galerius ended the persecution in the East in 311, but it was resumed in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor by his successor, Maximinus. Constantine and Licinius, Severus's successor, signed the Edict of Milan in 313, which offered a more comprehensive acceptance of Christianity than Galerius's edict had provided. Licinius ousted Maximinus in 313, bringing an end to persecution in the East.
The persecution failed to check the rise of the Church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, and Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in death, torture, imprisonment, or dislocation for many Christians, the majority of the empire's Christians avoided punishment. The persecution did, however, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority (the traditores), and those who had remained "pure". Certain schisms, like those of the Donatists in North Africa and the Meletians in Egypt, persisted long after the persecutions. The Donatists would not be reconciled to the Church until after 411. Some historians consider that, in the centuries that followed the persecutory era, Christians created a "cult of the martyrs", and exaggerated its barbarity. Such Christian accounts were criticized during the Enlightenment and afterwards, most notably by Edward Gibbon. Modern historians, such as G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, have attempted to determine whether Christian sources exaggerated the scope of the Diocletianic persecution.Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan (Latin: Edictum Mediolanense, Greek: Διάταγμα των Μεδιολάνων, Diatagma tōn Mediolanōn) was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the Edict of Toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD with the Edict of Thessalonica.
The document is found in Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum and in Eusebius of Caesarea's History of the Church with marked divergences between the two. Whether or not there was a formal 'Edict of Milan' is debated by some.The version found in Lactantius is not in the form of an edict. It is a letter from Licinius to the governors of the provinces in the Eastern Empire he had just conquered by defeating Maximinus later in the same year and issued in Nicomedia.Epistula ad Carpianum
The Epistula ad Carpianum (Letter to Carpian) or Letter of Eusebius is the title traditionally given to a letter from Eusebius of Caesarea to a Christian named Carpianus.
In this letter, Eusebius explains his ingenious system of Gospel harmony, the Eusebian Canons (tables) that divide the four Canonical gospels, and describes their purpose, ten in number. Eusebius explains that Ammonius the Alexandrian had made a system in which he placed sections of the gospels of Mark, Luke and John next to their parallel sections in Matthew. As this disrupted the normal text order of the gospels of Mark, Luke and John, Eusebius used a system in which he placed the references to the parallel texts in ten tables or 'canons'. By using these tables, the parallel texts could easily be looked up, but it also remained possible to read a gospel in its normal order. (The number of sections was: Matthew 355, Mark 236, Luke 342, John 232 – together 1165 sections). The number of each "Ammonian section" is written in the margin of a manuscript, and underneath these numbers, another number was written in coloured ink. The coloured numbers referred to one of the ten Eusebian canons, in which the reference numbers were to be found of the parallel sections in the other gospels.Eusebian Canons
Eusebian canons, Eusebian sections or Eusebian apparatus, also known as Ammonian sections, are the system of dividing the four Gospels used between late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The divisions into chapters and verses used in modern texts date only from the 13th and 16th centuries, respectively. The sections are indicated in the margin of nearly all Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Bible, and usually summarized in Canon Tables at the start of the Gospels (see below). There are about 1165 sections: 355 for Matthew, 235 for Mark, 343 for Luke, and 232 for John; the numbers, however, vary slightly in different manuscripts.Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia (died 341) was the man who baptised Constantine the Great. He was a bishop of Berytus (modern-day Beirut) in Phoenicia. He was later made the Bishop of Nicomedia, where the imperial court resided. He lived finally in Constantinople from 338 up to his death.First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea (; Greek: Νίκαια [ˈnikεa]) was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now İznik, Bursa province, Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
This ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the Church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Hosius of Corduba, who was probably one of the papal legates, may have presided over its deliberations.Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.Jerome
Jerome (; Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c. 347 – 30 September 420) was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian, commonly known as Saint Jerome. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.Jerome is recognised as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is 30 September.John the Presbyter
John the Presbyter was an obscure figure of the early Church who is either distinguished from or identified with the Apostle John and/or John of Patmos. He appears in fragments from the church father Papias of Hierapolis as one of the author's sources and is first unequivocally distinguished from the Apostle by Eusebius of Caesarea. He is frequently proposed by some as an alternative author of some of the Johannine books in the New Testament.Josephus on Jesus
The extant manuscripts of the writings of the first-century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus include references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity. Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus Christ in Books 18 and 20 and a reference to John the Baptist in Book 18. Scholarly opinion varies on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus referencing the execution of Jesus by Pilate, which was then subject to Christian interpolation and/or alteration. Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear, broad consensus exists as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like.Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity. Almost all modern scholars consider the reference in Book 18, Chapter 5, 2 of the Antiquities to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist also to be authentic and not a Christian interpolation. The references found in Antiquities have no parallel texts in the other work by Josephus such as The Jewish War, written 20 years earlier, but some scholars have provided explanations for their absence. A number of variations exist between the statements by Josephus regarding the deaths of James and John the Baptist and the New Testament accounts. Scholars generally view these variations as indications that the Josephus passages are not interpolations, for a Christian interpolator would have made them correspond to the New Testament accounts, not differ from them.List of ancient Olympic victors
The current list of ancient Olympic victors contains all of the known victors of the ancient Olympic Games from the 1st Games in 776 BC up to 264th in 277 AD, as well as the games of 369 AD before their permanent disbandment in 393 by Roman emperor Theodosius I. It is based on available modern sources, as well as the older ones such as the writings of Pausanias (2nd century AD) and Chronicle of Eusebius (3rd century AD).Maximian
Maximian (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius Augustus; c. 250 – c. July 310) was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent most of his time on campaign. In late 285, he suppressed rebels in Gaul known as the Bagaudae. From 285 to 288, he fought against Germanic tribes along the Rhine frontier. Together with Diocletian, he launched a scorched earth campaign deep into Alamannic territory in 288, temporarily relieving the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion.
The man he appointed to police the Channel shores, Carausius, rebelled in 286, causing the secession of Britain and northwestern Gaul. Maximian failed to oust Carausius, and his invasion fleet was destroyed by storms in 289 or 290. Maximian's subordinate, Constantius, campaigned against Carausius' successor, Allectus, while Maximian held the Rhine frontier. The rebel leader was ousted in 296, and Maximian moved south to combat piracy near Hispania and Berber incursions in Mauretania. When these campaigns concluded in 298, he departed for Italy, where he lived in comfort until 305. At Diocletian's behest, Maximian abdicated on May 1, 305, gave the Augustan office to Constantius, and retired to southern Italy.
In late 306, Maximian took the title of Augustus again and aided his son Maxentius' rebellion in Italy. In April 307, he attempted to depose his son, but failed and fled to the court of Constantius' successor, Constantine (Maximian's step-grandson and son-in-law), in Trier. At the Council of Carnuntum in November 308, Diocletian and his successor, Galerius, forced Maximian to renounce his imperial claim again. In early 310, Maximian attempted to seize Constantine's title while the emperor was on campaign on the Rhine. Few supported him, and he was captured by Constantine in Marseille. Maximian killed himself in mid-310 on Constantine's orders. During Constantine's war with Maxentius, Maximian's image was purged from all public places. However, after Constantine ousted and killed Maxentius, Maximian's image was rehabilitated, and he was deified.Pope Eusebius
Pope Eusebius (from Greek Εὐσέβιος "pious"; died 17 August 310) was the Bishop of Rome from 18 April 310 until his death four months later.Quadratus of Athens
Saint Quadratus of Athens (Greek: Άγιος Κοδράτος) is said to have been the first of the Christian apologists. He is counted among the Seventy Apostles in the tradition of the Eastern Churches.
According to Eusebius of Caesarea he is said to have been a disciple of the Apostles (auditor apostolorum).In his Ecclesiastical History, Book IV, chapter 3, Eusebius records that:
1. After Trajan had reigned for nineteen and a half years Ælius Adrian became his successor in the empire. To him Quadratus addressed a discourse containing an apology for our religion, because certain wicked men had attempted to trouble the Christians. The work is still in the hands of a great many of the brethren, as also in our own, and furnishes clear proofs of the man's understanding and of his apostolic orthodoxy.
2. He himself reveals the early date at which he lived in the following words: But the works of our Saviour were always present, for they were genuine:— those that were healed, and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present; and not merely while the Saviour was on earth, but also after his death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day. Such then was Quadratus.
In other words, Eusebius is stating that Quadratus addressed a discourse to the Roman Emperor Hadrian containing a defense, or apology, of the Christian religion, when the latter was visiting Athens in AD 124 or 125, which Eusebius states incorrectly moved the emperor to issue a favourable edict. The mention that many of those healed or raised from the dead by Christ were still living seems to be part of an argument that Christ was no mere wonder-worker whose effects were transitory.
Eusebius later summarises a letter by Dionysius of Corinth which simply states that Quadratus was appointed Bishop of Athens 'after the martyrdom of Publius', and which states that 'through his zeal they [the Athenian Christians] were brought together again and their faith revived.P. Andriessen has suggested that Quadratus' Apology is the work known as Epistle to Diognetus, a suggestion Michael W. Holmes finds "intriguing". While admitting that Epistle to Diognetus does not contain the only quotation known from Quadratus' address, Holmes defends this identification by noting "there is a gap between 7.6 and 7.7 into which it would fit very well."Because of the similarity of name some scholars have concluded that Quadratus the Apologist is the same person as Quadratus, a prophet mentioned elsewhere by Eusebius (H. E., 3.37). The evidence, however, is too slight to be convincing. The later references to Quadratus in Jerome and the martyrologies are all based on Eusebius, or are arbitrary enlargements of his account.
Another apologist, Aristides, presented a similar work. Eusebius had copies of both essays. Because he was bishop of Athens after Publius, Quadratus is sometimes figured among the Apostolic Fathers. Eusebius called him a "man of understanding and of Apostolic faith." and Jerome in Viri illustrissimi intensified the apostolic connection, calling him "disciple of the apostles".
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