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The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine
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Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
During your reading, if you have any idea not included in the previous questions, you can comment here.


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John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
I am enjoying the read. One of the interesting things, though I have to go back and double check is the repetitious nature of Eusebius' writing, and the inconsistencies that crop up where he says one thing in one place, but something a little different elsewhere.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
In books V and VI, and especially at the end of book VII, Eusebius discusses the way to compute the date of the Passover (Easter). As he wrote this book before the Council of Nicea took a decsion on the question, he does not give a final solution to the problem.

Some time ago I wrote a short post in my blog about the date of Easter, which you can find here: http://populscience.blogspot.com/2016...


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Jill A. | 719 comments I'm finding it hard to slog through this, perhaps because there are so many unfamiliar names and places and you can't always tell when he's quoting someone else. But it is amazingly comprehensive and thorough and well-sourced considering how early it was written. I too am bothered by many inconsistencies, though they don't seem substantive.

The Anglican translator claims in his preface to find no evidence of things like the primacy of Rome/Peter, clerical celibacy, devotion to Mary, invocation of saints. We'll see. He's also dismissive of things that don't interest him, like the early Fathers' allegorical interpretation of Scriptures.


Mariangel | 584 comments I just finished Book V - half way!


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John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I'm finding it hard to slog through this, perhaps because there are so many unfamiliar names and places and you can't always tell when he's quoting someone else. But it is amazingly comprehensive a..."

As to the primacy of Rome, there seems slight evidence so far (I have finished Book 4), mostly in the fact that when he recounts the names of Bishops of multiple Sees, he always begins with Rome. He seems to be tracking the naming of bishops in 4 cities: Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch. As far as clerical celibacy, the only thing I've noticed that comes close to addressing it is a condemnation of a heresy that denounced marriage in general, in which he noted several Apostles as having had wives, and that Peter's wife journeyed with him.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
In Book IX, chapter 7, the Decree against the Christians promulgated by Maximinus Daia looks quite similar to what could be promulgated against nowadays Catholics by the reigning atheist ideology. I have selected points nr. 3, 8, 11 and 12 of the decree and made minimal changes. Compare:

Now at length the... power of the human mind has become able to shake off and to scatter every dark mist of error, which before this besieged the senses of men, who were more miserable than impious, and enveloped them in dark and destructive ignorance; and to perceive that it is governed and established by [chance].

For who can be found so ignorant or so devoid of all understanding as not to perceive that it is due to [mere chance] that the earth does not refuse the seed sown in it, nor disappoint the hope of the husbandmen with vain expectation; that impious war is not inevitably fixed upon earth, and wasted bodies dragged down to death under the influence of a corrupted atmosphere; that the sea is not swollen and raised on high by blasts of intemperate winds; that unexpected hurricanes do not burst forth and stir up the destructive tempest; moreover, that the earth, the nourisher and mother of all, is not shaken from its lowest depths with a terrible tremor, and that the mountains upon it do not sink into the opening chasms. No one is ignorant that all these, and evils still worse than these, have oftentimes happened hitherto.

[L]et as many as have wholly abandoned that blind error and delusion and have returned to a right and sound mind rejoice the more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or severe disease and are to reap the fruits of pleasure for the rest of their life.

But if they still persist in their execrable vanity, let them, as you have desired, be driven far away from your [society], that thus, in accordance with your praiseworthy zeal in this matter, your [society], being freed from every pollution... may... attend to the sacred [rights of abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia] with becoming reverence.



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John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I'm finding it hard to slog through this, perhaps because there are so many unfamiliar names and places and you can't always tell when he's quoting someone else. But it is amazingly comprehensive a..."

As to primacy of Rome, Victor seemed to believe in it as he excommunicated the eastern churches in the Easter dispute. As recounted by Eusebius, Irenaeus and the other bishops rebuked Victor, not because he didn't have the authority, but because they felt he should turn his mind to things that would make for peace and unity. V. 23-25

Also in chapter 5, there is a reference to "joy in the heart of the Virgin Mother." The translator has included a "helpful" footnote that this is a reference to the Church. That is probably correct and it works in context, but a reference to Mary would also work in context. V.1


Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
John wrote: "As to primacy of Rome, Victor seemed to believe in it as he excommunicated the eastern churches in the Easter dispute..."

There is a good example of Rome's primacy in Book X, chapter 5, where Constantine writes to Miltiades, Bishop of Rome, to complain that several bishops in the North of Africa are fighting among themselves about doctrinal questions. Constantine asks Miltiades to solve the issue, possibly helped by other bishops.

In the next letter in the same chapter, it appears that Miltiades's decision was not accepted by all the parts, and therefore Constantine convenes a synod of bishops in Arles, apparently to confirm the Pope's previous decision. So we have here the first example of the debate, which endured over a millennium, about the primacy of the Pope or the Councils, which was finally solved in the first Vatican Council in the nineteenth century, in favor of the Pope.

I read this yesterday night and thought that it had to do with the current discussion.

I have finally ended the book.


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John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
“Finally”. :-)

It is a long book, but I am finding it very interesting. I expect to finish Book VI today, so at the pace I’m reading another week or so to finish.


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Madeleine Myers | 268 comments I'm not very far along in the book (Book IV), but yesterday our Bible Study just began our year on Acts, and I think that will make Eusebius more enriching and interesting, at the beginning of course, but also the end chapters which relate to the time frame of Marshall's Sword and Serpent trilogy. Making notes as I go....


Mariangel | 584 comments I am enjoying the Book about Origen.


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Fonch | 1443 comments Manuel wrote: "John wrote: "As to primacy of Rome, Victor seemed to believe in it as he excommunicated the eastern churches in the Easter dispute..."

There is a good example of Rome's primacy in Book X, chapter ..."

I suppose that you know that the bishops of Africa that Alfonseca and Eusebius say are the Donatist, that they créate his own church, because they do not agree with accepting the christians who regret of abjuring during the prosecution. The Donatist cased the chaos and they were destroyed by the vandals Paul Johnson unfairly accused to Saint Agustin of the destruction of the christianity in Africa.


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Madeleine Myers | 268 comments And I'm still behind everybody in reading, but one thing that struck me after I did my homework on Acts and then read Book III, I do remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem followed Christ's death and was considered the punishment for the Jews' execution of Jesus. What I didn't know was all the other disasters that befell the Jews along with that--the chaos, disorder, animals behaving strangely, sickness, and especially the famine and all the graphic details with which Eusebius describes the degradation that extreme hunger can wreak on people.


Mariangel | 584 comments John wrote: "“Finally”. :-)

It is a long book, but I am finding it very interesting.


"Finally" is right after finishing Chapter VIII and its appendix.

I am starting chapter IX.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "John wrote: "“Finally”. :-)

It is a long book, but I am finding it very interesting.

"Finally" is right after finishing Chapter VIII and its appendix.

I am starting chapter IX."


Yes, Book VIII and its appendix is very hard, with so many descriptions of martyrdom. Book IX is in the same line. Book X, however, whose first part is a paean to the end of persecution and the new situation, is a little repetitive. The second part, however, with so many quotes from official documents, including the Milan edict, is quite interesting.


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Mariangel | 584 comments I finished! Book IX did not have much about persecutions, it was abating already. Or, at least, it felt much less after book VIII. :) There's another graphic bit on Licinius' persecution near the end of book X, but it's short. I also liked reading the Milan edict.


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Fonch | 1443 comments Mariangel wrote: "I finished! Book IX did not have much about persecutions, it was abating already. Or, at least, it felt much less after book VIII. :) There's another graphic bit on Licinius' persecution near the e..."

He burnt the beard to our friend Saint Nicholas :-), that we reminded to The Sword and the serpent".


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Jill A. | 719 comments Finished.
In 7.24, there's a lovely account of patiently refuting untruth by using Scriptures. I also like the account in 32. of cleverly saving many non-combatants from famine due to a siege.
There seem to be a great many bishops; maybe each has a smaller area than bishops today?
I was surprised that at this time he felt the need to translate from Latin to Greek; I would have supposed Latin was more universally understood.
I love titles of address like "Your Steadfastness"


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Jill A. | 719 comments His praise of Constantine makes me squirm a little. Troubling when secular authority is invoked to settle doctrinal, jurisdictional or other internal Church disputes. I like the secular magistrate in Acts who says "I don't want to be a judge in such matters."


Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I was surprised that at this time he felt the need to translate from Latin to Greek; I would have supposed Latin was more universally understood."

Latin was universally spoken only in the Western part of the Empire. Greek was the lingua franca of the eastern part, and was also understood by most educated people in the West.


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Fonch | 1443 comments Manuel wrote: "Jill wrote: "I was surprised that at this time he felt the need to translate from Latin to Greek; I would have supposed Latin was more universally understood."

Latin was universally spoken only in..."


With all there is a try to install the latin as a language during Justinian reign, curiously the greek delays a lot of time to come back tto the byzantium Empire. We must wait to the Paleogos dinasty to the greek was recovered in Greece.


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Manuel Alfonseca | 1630 comments Mod
Fonch, I meant in Eusebius time, not several centuries later :)


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Fonch | 1443 comments Manuel wrote: "I meant in Eusebius time :)"

Certain i only give extra information :-).


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John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "There seem to be a great many bishops; maybe each has a smaller area than bishops today?"

Certainly many fewer people. I've read articles recently arguing that this is one of the problems we have today - with such immense populations, it is difficult for bishops to actually be shepherds. The nature of modern dioceses drives them to be managers. And the resources in most of them is corrupting.


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