1. Introduction

Aaron P. Johnson
Current study of the cultures and literatures of late antiquity continues to find attractive the interpretive polarity of tradition and innovation. [1] The spectrum containing these two poles has fruitfully functioned to gauge the complex ways in which the history, literature, and thought of late antiquity can be identified as a coherent and distinctive age. This interpretive schema remains useful for identifying the ways in which particular late antique authors developed powerful conceptual frameworks in response to or in expectation of the great events, individuals, peoples, and forces of their changing world. Such changes could be represented as either of cataclysmic effect, altering the course of history, or as only the gentle drift of a world ossified by unbreakable and timeless laws of a cosmic nature. For a thinker like Eusebius of Caesarea, the literary modes of expression through which he formulated his own conceptual vision were at once carefully chosen and audaciously experimental. His wide-ranging corpus comprised works of historiographical, exegetical, and apologetic significance in one of the most stimulating and explosive periods of Christian literary history.
The present volume rests on the assumption that Eusebius is a thinker and writer worthy of great interest and deep investigation in his own right if we are properly to appreciate the literary and conceptual shifts marking the transition into late antiquity. The first decades of the fourth century were possessed not only of the Great Persecution, the conversion(s) of Constantine, the breakup of the brilliant administrative achievement of the Tetrarchy, and the imperial building of churches and hosting of ecclesiastical councils. These years also saw the production of new literary forms and the articulation of sophisticated and progressively precise philosophical and theological positions. Eusebius’ prolific output lies at the heart of this literary profusion, as well as of the historical and theological transformations of the era. Yet, Eusebius has often been relegated to an inferior rank in the midst of the intellectual and literary currents of late antiquity, especially when compared with the literary style of Gregory Nazianzen, the political independence of Athanasius, or the theological precision of Gregory of Nyssa. As a stylist, he has been found wanting at least since the time of Photius; [2] as a thinker, he has been deemed a second-rate imitator of Origen; as an historian, he has been dubbed “the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity.” [3] The difficulty of his sometimes heavy periods and tangled syntax cannot be denied; his role as a purveyor of many of Origen’s theological tendencies must not be understated (and will even be explored further in the present collection); and the pervasiveness of his particular historiographical agenda should not be ignored. We should, however, practice caution in these areas where later evaluations of Eusebius have often relied more on narrow literary tastes, an unhelpful elevation of the purported value of literary or intellectual originality, or historiographical assumptions foreign to late antiquity in general and Eusebius in particular.
A felicitous shift in scholarship on Eusebius in recent decades has made important advances in overcoming earlier shortsighted reactions to the man and his writings. Many of the latest studies have begun to approach his historical and biographical writings as literature. [4] Other studies have explored the social, theological, and cultural features of his exegesis. [5] His contributions to early apologetics have likewise received a number of important discussions. [6] Even his importance as a theologian has begun to be reassessed. [7] The essays contained in the present volume bear witness to the remaining vitality of these and other areas and approaches to Eusebius’ writings and thought. At the same time they do not exhaust the possible ways in which Eusebius can be fruitfully appreciated. One element that deserves more adequate attention is the powerful ways in which his corpus evinces the creation of a new late antique aesthetic. Before turning, therefore, to a few introductory words on the main themes pursued in the essays of this collection, I would like to offer some brief remarks towards more properly recognizing his literary work as guided by and productive of what Jaś Elsner has aptly named the “cumulative aesthetic.”

Eusebius and the Late Antique Aesthetic

A significant part of the modern dismissal of Eusebius as a creative thinker lies in what has been taken as his inability to control his sources. Several of his most important productions contain numerous quotations of earlier authors. The Ecclesiastical History furnishes verbatim quotations from earlier authors to provide documentation of the veracity of Eusebius’ historical claims or to serve as exempla of those authors’ positions on particular issues. The pages of the Preparation for the Gospel are packed with often lengthy—and to the modern reader unwieldy—quotations from pagan and Jewish sources. Several chapters of his General Elementary Introduction as well as the Proof of the Gospel consist almost entirely of quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures with almost no comments of Eusebius’ own. His initial response to what he claimed was the Sabellianizing theology of Marcellus based itself on quotations from his opponent’s writing. The Life of Constantine provides lengthy imperial documentation that fills out (or, for many modern readers, interrupts) the biographical narrative.
Were he to have synthesized the contributions of Philo, Clement, and Plato (for example) and were he judiciously to have combined elements of each into his own thought and expressed the ideas more in his own voice, glossing over the abrupt breaks that we now experience in his verbatim quotations, he would probably receive a more favorable commendation among many readers today. It is the presence of polyphonic quotation, however, that highlights his position within the ongoing scholastic culture(s) of late antiquity. Schools of the late Roman Empire busied themselves with the careful reading and interpretation of the texts deemed relevant for study by the teacher. The teacher assumed the role of master reader, selecting and commenting on passages whose true meaning was not readily available to the amateur reader. [8] Some of Eusebius’ treatises explicitly invoke such a scholastic context in which passages were to be read and appropriate interpretive techniques to be espoused for a student audience. [9] This scholastic context, however, only partly accounts for the bulky weight of his quotational works. Beyond the pedagogical processes of these works, his attempt to allow his sources to speak in their own voices, hostile though some of them were (for instance, Porphyry in his Preparation and History, or Marcellus in the Against Marcellus), marked a choice that was at once aesthetic, epistemological, moral, and theological.
Importantly, Eusebius’ citational tendencies exhibit a literary manifestation of a more widespread phenomenon in architectural and artistic media of the cumulative aesthetic that arose precisely in this time. The reuse of older materials in new contexts was fostered in the early fourth century as never before. Such aesthetic tastes evinced a sense of the triumph of the new that was rooted in a transparent connectedness to past traditions (what would later be called “the new glory of the old,” nova vetustatis gloria). [10] The cumulative aesthetic appeared in monumental art (such as the Arch of Constantine), in church buildings (such as the Lateran Basilica), and in entire cities (such as Constantinople, especially the Forum). The Arch of Constantine, erected in close proximity to the Colosseum at the east end of the Roman Forum soon after the newly-converted emperor’s defeat of Maxentius in 312 (most likely 315), is probably the most well-known indication today of this new shift in taste. [11] Unlike the struggling ascent of aesthetically-homogeneous figures on the earlier Column of Marcus Aurelius, the Arch juxtaposed artistic pieces detached from their earlier contexts in the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, and Aurelius, and placed them in a new triumphal whole with a carefully worded inscription (which may exhibit more an attempt to slow down the growing religious changes in the person and reign of Constantine on the part of the Senate than an ambiguous expression by the emperor of his new religious allegiances). [12] The panels of Trajan are made to collaborate in a new late antique visual program with the roundels of Hadrian, the artistic narratives of Aurelius, and friezes produced by Constantinian-age carvers. The heavy forms of Dacian soldiers (of Trajanic provenance), for instance, now collude with the lighter (Hadrianic) scenes of hunting; the formulaic sequences of a Constantinian adventus scene contrast with the individualism and spatial ease of a Hadrianic sacrifice scene. Though age has faded their original brilliance, the variegated marble (including Numidian yellow, white Proconnesian, and purple porphyry) contributed to a striking collage of images, styles, and colors. The Arch contained not only a sort of visual quotation of these earlier sources; Constantinian friezes narrated his campaigns in northern Italy and at the Milvian Bridge. More intrusively, the heads of the earlier pieces were recarved to resemble Constantine and another tetrarch (either his father or Licinius).
Like the compilation of images drawn from different ages and different conceptual worlds juxtaposed within a new unity on the Arch of Constantine, the works of Eusebius brought together the scattered, even disparate, voices of the classical, Hellenistic, and biblical literary traditions into a new, and therefore, a newly signifying, monument of words. [13] Both the Arch and Eusebius’ corpus thus evince a critical moment in the cultural, literary, intellectual, and religious transformations of late antiquity. Both monuments exhibit a keen concern both to preserve and reframe more ancient works. They are, therefore, both deeply conservative in their traditionalism and strikingly innovative in their aesthetic sensibilities and conceptual expansion into a new age.
We may connect this aesthetic expression to the rise in the next generation of the erudite poetry of the cento poets, who stitched together lines (or half-lines) of Homer or Vergil in new (frequently Christian) poems. [14] As Ausonius’ programmatic comments on the cento form declare, his own cento was at once “continuous, though made of disjointed tags; one, though of various scraps; playful, though of serious themes; mine, though the elements are another’s.” [15] Many of Eusebius’ works extensively exhibit this same taste for the composite and cumulative. Unlike Eusebius in his lengthier quotations, however, the Latin poet played by stricter rules that limited the contiguous quoted material to, at most, one and a half lines, while the entirety comprised only a patchwork of quotations without any of the later centonist’s own words. While Eusebius was no centonist, I would suggest that Puech goes too far when claiming that Eusebius “did not pretend to create a work of art,” [16] for there is nonetheless a related artfulness to his compositions. What strikes the modern reader as awkward and bulky citation can alternatively be appreciated for its gentle rhythms: “let us hear him as he writes in his own words”; “he writes word for word thus”; “these are the very syllables”; “and again, after other things, he adds.” Suspicious of manipulation, wary of theological unorthodoxy, or desiring a different classical aesthetic, the modern reader of Eusebius may be too eager to resist this new cumulative aesthetic, which relished the bricolage of formerly disparate blocks of text placed within the frame of a new literary collage.
An example, taken at random from the Praeparatio, may suffice as an instance of this aesthetic affect. At 11.13.5, following quotations with commentary from the Timaeus and Epistle 13, we read ten lines of quotation from Plato’s Laws, followed by single lines of the Bible juxtaposed with single lines taken from the just-quoted text of Plato, or sometimes three separate biblical verses to one line of Plato. The progression begins with “compare” a to b, followed by “examine together” c to d, followed by merely e to f (in the dative), g to h (dative), and i to j (dative). Eusebius concludes: “These then are a few out of countless passages concerning x, but observe also the passages concerning y.” These are presented in 11.14, which contains four lines of Eusebius’ introductory words, approximately one line of the Bible (Moses, i.e. Genesis), four lines of Eusebius’ remarks, one line from the Bible (David, i.e. the Psalms), five lines of Eusebius’ remarks, one line from the Bible (David), one line of commentary, one line from the Bible (David), two lines of Eusebius (11.14.6), one line of the Bible (David), “then he adds,” three lines of the Bible (Prov); “this is also from the same person,” and one line of the Bible (Prov); “still further these things are said to be from the same person,” and one line of the Bible (Wisdom), “then he adds,” and two lines of the Bible (Wisdom) (11.14.9), “and next he clarifies such things,” and nine lines of the Bible (Wisdom), “this [is what] Scripture says, but Philo presents the idea in this way . . .” Two lines of Philo open up 11.15, then “in the same author it also says this,” followed by eight lines of Philo, “and again he adds,” followed by eight lines of Philo, then eight lines of Eusebius’ remarks.
These chapters from Book 11 exhibit well the ebb and flow of the commentator’s guiding connective voice, gliding between the larger quotational units, which are themselves disproportional from each other in length as well as in style (thus evincing what Michael Roberts aptly named an “aesthetic of discontinuity”). [17] This latter effect arises from a compositional choice that favored variatio over repetitive regularity. Such a cumulative progression is representative of the text as a whole. Yet the aggregation of variegated blocks of quotation could be omitted at key junctures in the overall structure of the Preparation. Most notably, sustained allusions to earlier master texts occur in the early portions of each of the two main segments of the work, namely Books One and Seven. A series of hitherto unnoticed allusions to the preface of Origen’s Contra Celsum arise in the first book, [18] whereas Book Seven contains allusions to Philo of Alexandria’s On Abraham. [19] Both instances avoid verbatim quotation or explicit naming of the source of the allusions. The agglomeration of allusive echoes nonetheless mingles with quotations of biblical passages to produce a similar, if more subtle, display of the cumulative aesthetic.
In a striking contrast to both the disproportional rhythms of Book Eleven and the two allusive passages of the first and seventh books, the final book of the entire work rises in a quotational crescendo that climaxes with twenty-nine chapters of direct quotation from Pseudo-Plutarch’s doxographical lists with an almost complete lack of Eusebius’ inserted remarks (PE 15.33–61). The overwhelming din of quotation from this doxography enumerates in quick succession the divided views of the enemy camp of Greek philosophers on a great number of subjects. Eusebius concludes the extended quotational tour-de-force with an apologetic summation of his own, an affirming quotation from Xenophon that evinced the similarity in response shared by both Socrates and Christians to the philosophical cacophony, and then his own commentary. With stirring effect, he mixes his final remarks with the staccato brevity of lines of verse from Timon of Phlius caustically lamenting the discord of the philosophers (PE 15.62).
The diversity, frequency, and rhythms of Eusebius’ compositional accretions recognizably vary, therefore, among the different textual locations with their distinct purposes. Obvious variations in tone arise in the movement from an allusively strong passage to one that follows contrasting quotational units or an extended quotational string of dozens of pages. These variations further express the same aesthetic shift visible in monumental imperial art of the fourth century, which fostered a taste for irregularity in the aggregation of disparate visual units.
Even if we overlook the differences between centos and the text of Eusebius with respect to the length or disproportionality of quoted materials, Eusebius does not compose mere prose centos. Instead, he marks the “seams” between quoted material with formulaic phrases, provides an explanation, notes how the material fits within his overall argument, or inserts several paragraphs or pages of his own argument. Eusebius frequently magnifies the stitches holding the patchwork of compositional units together (to maintain the metaphor). Furthermore, direct classification of Eusebius’ citational writings with the phenomenon of centonism would also require thorough knowledge on the part of his readers of the texts he was quoting; part of the appeal of centonism was the challenge of detecting the original contexts of quoted material. It seems unlikely that Eusebius’ primary readers had such thorough knowledge. In fact, because the context for some of his heavily citational works was pedagogical, such knowledge seems to be precluded by the nature of the project (even if he himself admitted an openness of readership so that both the “advanced” and the beginners would derive benefit from his treatise). [20] Instead, centonism and citational pedagogy are very different yet twin expressions of a single, broader cumulative tendency and its attendant aesthetic. In both cases, it was an aesthetic of erudition, though Eusebius exemplifies a process of both literary and stylistic bricolage, in which textual blocks from earlier authors of sometimes widely differing styles, linguistic registers, genres, and historical and intellectual milieus, which had hitherto not appeared to be related or assimilable, were made to form the gears of a new larger literary machine—which gears were sometimes intricately miniature like lines of Timon of Phlius, sometimes massive like the dozens of pages from Pseudo-Plutarch. Quoted within the same literary frame might be texts of Plato and the Hebrew Scriptures, or of Philo of Byblos and Diodorus Siculus, or of Porphyry and Eusebius’ comments themselves, now forming innovative rotational movements in harmony with a larger conceptual, rhetorical, and textual whole.
Such literary practices go beyond the production of new late-antique tastes, however, since they prove to be the manifestation of a moral and theological choice as well. [21] Eusebius’ literary collage could have comprised fuzzy pastel blotches of former thinkers’ ideas if he had determined only to paraphrase their voices. This would have effectively muffled those distinctive voices under or behind his own clearer authorial voice. [22] His decision to quote many sources verbatim is thus a refusal to stifle those voices—even when they say more than he needed or wanted them to say, even when they spoke otherwise. We cannot and should not ignore Eusebius’ active polemical edge; nearly every work is grounded in polemical concerns, whether of an offensive or defensive nature. We also cannot and should not ignore those few occasions where we have been able to catch Eusebius altering his source texts and thereby cheating at argumentation. [23] (However, we should also not exaggerate the extent to which he does so; given that he is quoting the writings from the enemy camp, he is remarkably sparing in the practice of altering texts.) Eusebius nonetheless chose to engage in polemical argument in a startlingly fair manner (given the much wider possibilities residing in the practice of paraphrase or innuendo) and placed rather restrictive limits upon himself by choosing to pursue literary controversy by means of quotation. Because his quotations could be selective, unrepresentative, or manipulated, we might be tempted to consider him a “thoroughly dishonest historian,” apologist, theologian, and exegete. In doing so, however, we would fail to recognize the radical cost that he was willing to pay by allowing the multiplicity of other voices to be heard within the pages of his own corpus and often pulling in divergent or oblique directions from that of his own words. If this was a form of ventriloquism, it was a ventriloquism of limited freedom that even may have lost its independence altogether. Indeed, one often suspects that the voices of Eusebius’ sources have ineluctably transformed his own expression when he is no longer quoting the views of others.
As with later imperial collections, where “meticulously ordered archives were the most dangerous documents of all” for the free play of imperial power, where the control of documents from the past or from the subjects of empire began to restrict the range of independence on the part of the possessor of those documents, [24] so also Eusebius’ assemblage of other sources held a constraining force over his own authorial role. Eusebius’ use of quotations from Marcellus in the two treatises against him is suggestive of this dynamic. As part of his assertion that Marcellus was renewing Sabellianism, Eusebius declared: “Marcellus calls one part of God the Father another part the Son, as if there was some kind of double and composite ousia in him” (Eccl. Theol. 1.5[63].1). Yet, a careful reading of the Marcellan quotations notices that nowhere is the language of part/whole adopted. Elsewhere, we are told that Marcellus held that the Word is like an indicative (sēmantikon) or imperative (prostaktikon) word (Eccl. Theol. 2.8[112].1). In spite of the quantity of quotation that follows Eusebius’ allegation, the use of such grammatical language in describing the status of the Word is entirely absent. Likewise, with respect to Eusebius’ avowal that Marcellus wrongly applied the distinction of logos endiathetos and logos prophorikos, his supporting quotations fail to use such terminology (Eccl. Theol. 2.11 [118–119].1–5). In the earlier anti-Marcellan treatise, Eusebius explained his opponent’s line of argument: “As if realizing he has fallen into a depth of strangeness (atopia), he tries to recall himself, saying he doesn’t know any of the things he said” (C. Marc. 2.4[53].15). The quoted material that follows only shows that Marcellus was unwilling to “dogmatize about what we have not learned precisely from the Scriptures” (C. Marc.–18), and thus shows the twist Eusebius has performed in his own representation.
While we may justly criticize the polemical smokescreen that Eusebius sought to produce in such instances, we must recognize that we are only able to check Eusebius’ portrayal of Marcellus’ thought from the verbatim material he himself preserves for us. In other words, Eusebius has provided us with the instruments of detecting the extent and nature of his representational manipulations. In spite of his claim that he quotes Marcellus “so no one may suppose I slander him” (C. Marc. 1.1[9].36), it is precisely from his quotations that we can now appreciate the force of his misrepresentations. As Brenk noted in a discussion of the artistic and architectural use of spolia from earlier sources, “It is far more difficult and inconvenient to work with spolia than with newly made, homogeneous building materials.” [25] Though it would have made an easier task of dismantling a muted, paraphrased version of Marcellus’ theology, Eusebius’ quotational habit has tethered him to the still speaking, if fragmentary, voice of his rival.
We see, then, the importance of the cumulative aesthetic on levels beyond the merely artistic. Eusebius’ corpus, comprised of texts building upon texts (whether of his polemical works emphasized here, or of others, such as the Gospel Questions and Answers, the commentaries, or the Onomasticon), stands as an exquisite manifestation of a cultural shift with incisive ramifications for an intellectual’s argumentation, pedagogy, and aesthetic tastes. The brief remarks offered here merely hope to suggest some of the ways in which this phenomenon might have played itself out in particular texts. While the essays of the present volume do not (nor were they asked to) respond to the question of Eusebius’ relationship to late antique aesthetic transformations, it has seemed appropriate to acknowledge the sorts of ongoing underlying attitudes and sensibilities that informed the range of works that are found in Eusebius’ corpus.

Traditions and Innovations in Eusebius’ Writings: The Present Collection

The collection of essays contained in the present volume cannot match Eusebius’ breadth. Indeed, even if taken together with another recent collection of studies on Eusebius (Reconsidering Eusebius, edited by Sabrina Inowlocki and Claudio Zamagni), to which this one owes its original impetus, there remains a good deal to be done in the exploration of Eusebius’ importance as a writer and thinker. The present volume does, however, seek to address some of the gaps in the ongoing study of Eusebius’ corpus and indicate promising directions for further investigation. It furthermore indicates the several salient modes of innovation and of preservation of traditional forms (whether in terms of genre, theological formulation, or exegetical movement).
Each contribution was invited to be presented at a series of sessions under the rubric of “Eusebius of Caesarea and the Making of Literary Culture in Late Antiquity” (which I organized and chaired at the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature from 2009 to 2011). Following the rewarding and successful Brussels colloquium on Eusebius organized by Sabrina Inowlocki and Claudio Zamagni (the result of which was the just-mentioned volume Reconsidering Eusebius), it was determined at a later informal meeting of its participants that Eusebius’ role as an author should be the object of the SBL sessions. Though I was given the responsibility of their organization, the papers presented at those sessions and published here (with some additional invited pieces) are collectively the offspring of the Brussels gathering. Aside from the contexts of the original invitation, the precise topics, approaches, and conclusions of the individual contributions were left solely to the interests and proclivities of their authors. In so doing, this collection captures the variety of productive ways in which Eusebius’ works might be explored. As with Eusebius’ corpus itself, the present volume exhibits the ways in which both traditional and innovative questions and methods remain significant in pushing Eusebian studies forward.
In significant ways, Eusebius did not perceive himself as doing anything innovative. His composition of the history of the Church from Origen to his own day made important representational connections that affirmed the continuity of Origen’s school in that of Pamphilus, of which Eusebius had been a part during the years of persecution (see Penland). Eusebius saw himself as standing within the traditions of the Church; his theological position was designated as that fostered by “ecclesiastical men,” that is, the men of the true Church. Again Origen played a formative role in Eusebius’ articulation of a sound and orthodox theology (Ramelli) and of a proper reading of the Bible (Morlet). Even if his friends and associates might be deemed less than orthodox by later standards, he glossed over the doctrinal infelicities of thinkers like Asterius, but highlighted the innovating heretical (“Sabellianizing”) formulations of his opponent Marcellus of Ancyra. Ecclesiastical tradition thus bound together a theological network from which subversive innovators could be rejected (Del Cogliano). Yet, at the same time that Eusebius articulated his theological concerns as merely the affirmation of traditional orthodoxy, the contemporary disputes prompted new emphases. In particular, his conflict with Marcellus served as a catalyst to develop further his doctrine of the Holy Spirit (his pneumatology) that had already been formulated in the Preparation for the Gospel (Drecoll). Even the earlier discussion in that work resisted the temptation to drift too deeply into the categories of his Platonist contemporaries—in spite of his asseverations that Platonists were indebted to biblical wisdom—and his distinctive pneumatological formulations rooted themselves in Christian, particularly Origenian, traditions.
Yet Eusebius himself was an innovator and even claimed as much in the prologues of his Preparation for the Gospel and his Ecclesiastical History. Though well read in the historiographic traditions of the Greek and Roman worlds, he explicitly had set himself the task of striking out on an untrodden path. The novelty of the History’s genre has been widely recognized, but the work has remained something of a literary anomaly. Even while invoking great historians of a previous generation (like Josephus), Eusebius advanced the conceptualization of history writing in new and productive ways (DeVore). The shifts and transformations that play out in the pages of the History provoked conceptual shifts about the role of the family and the place of Christianity within Roman society (Corke-Webster). The authority of tradition could even be invoked at the same time that it was being (re-)invented by Eusebius (Olson). If Olson’s argument for the Eusebian origins of the so-called Testimonium Flavianum (the passage attributed to Josephus referring to Christ), it would affirm a further parallel with the Arch of Constantine developed above: just as Constantinian workers recarved the heads of earlier emperors as fourth-century ones, so Eusebius has intrusively infused his own work into that of his earlier predecessor. Innovation and tradition would thus certainly collide in an invention of Josephan tradition.
An especially powerful context for the directions Eusebius’ corpus could take lies in the web of imperial discourses, speech-acts, and relations of benefaction fostered by Constantine. Moving beyond the trite assessments of Eusebius as a court theologian and sappy sycophant of the first Christian emperor (as much recent scholarship has attempted to do) [26] need not entail a complete dismissal of Eusebius’ boundedness within imperial ways of writing and construing the subjects of his literary projects, as several essays in this volume indicate. Eusebius’ well-known motif of Moses as a paradigm for Constantine, first in the Ecclesiastical History, then more fully in the Life of Constantine, is here suggestively placed in conversation with Constantine’s own Oration to the Saints (Damgaard). Eusebius is recognized as carefully attending to Constantinian cues, while elaborating them in his own particular ways. [27] Nor would visual cues be lost on Eusebius: his Life of Constantine produced literary images of the emperor that played off of imperial portraits (Van Nuffelen). Significantly, the Life of Constantine is examined as literature rather than attempting to determine its historical accuracy or deficiency. [28]
Other Christian authors grappled with, at the same time that they were products of, broader imperial contexts. A member of the imperial courts of Diocletian and Constantine, Lactantius’ corpus provides a precious counterpoint to Eusebius’ writings that will continue to deserve sustained attention in the future. [29] Here, the Latin rhetor’s On the Anger of God marks a path not taken (or only partially taken) by Eusebius (Meinking). Lactantius’ exposition of the character of God was distinctive from what we find formulated in Eusebius because he was formed not only by Roman philosophical tendencies but also stood firmly within the Latin rhetorical tradition. The two Christian intellectuals who exemplify so well the tetrarchic and Constantinian eras were formed by variant traditions. Further examination of Eusebius and Lactantius would also display similarity and difference in the multiple ways in which they were both bearers of traditions and inventive explorers in territory formed by the effects of imperialism. Indeed, textual and conceptual territory were drawn and redrawn by imperial discursive modes of writing and reasoning. Eusebius’ commentary on Isaiah in particular may fruitfully be examined as the product of imperializing modes of textuality (Schott). Here Eusebius’ commentary is shown to exhibit a series of “hypertextual” movements between the text of Isaiah, the imperial histories of key cities or regions, other texts defining those cities or regions (especially Eusebius’ own Onomasticon), and the text of the commentary itself. Like the Arch of Constantine, in which the “Senate and People of Rome” and the emperor negotiated earlier imperial visual and ideological traditions, Eusebius’ commentary bears the marks of a manifold negotiation between empires past and present, conceived within the shifting boundaries of biblical and imperial textual territories.
With less attention to the imperial dynamics at play in his exegetical treatments, the other studies of Eusebius’ biblical scholarship contained in this volume reveal his negotiations between tradition and innovation through his exegetical determinations. On the one hand, this involved his experimentation with the appropriate genre within which to perform exegesis. However, the Gospel Questions and Answers does not easily fit in any readily circumscribed or stable genre, but marks an innovative move beyond other instances of question and answer literature (the erōtapokriseis, zētēmata, or aporiai) (Zamagni). Our appreciation of the nature of this text is unfortunately impeded by the loss of its original form (its fullest survival from antiquity is in an epitome). Future research of this text will be indebted to the catalogue of all the known fragments to date, with which Zamagni concludes his present contribution. The Commentary on Psalms and the more fragmentary Commentary on Luke are in similar need of critical assessment and editing. Their extant remains (especially the hundreds of pages of firmly identified material from the Psalms commentary) nonetheless allow for much exploration of Eusebius’ work as a scholar and interpreter. His commentary dedicated to the Psalms is a central witness to processes of Christian “naturalization” in late antiquity, that is, the dual transformation wherein Christian reading practices came more fully to imitate those surrounding the texts of Homer, Plato, or Aristotle by contemporaries and then the countermovement in which the cultural imagination began to be formed by the biblical texts themselves (Hollerich). In a manner similar to the naturalizing performance of exegesis in the Commentary on Psalms, his work on the gospel of Luke exhibits an ongoing process of translating elements of the biblical text into a new fourth-century context (Johnson). Throughout Eusebius’ exegetical endeavors, ancient traditional texts became reinvested with new value and seriousness as the culmination of the literary culture of the learned elite (a position formerly held by the canonical texts of the Greek heritage) and re-embedded within new frameworks of knowledge (imperial modes of textuality, innovative genres, cosmological and eschatological visions, and so on).
Collectively, the essays of this volume exhibit a sustained effort to appreciate Eusebius as an author and thinker who was at once a bearer of formative traditions and a creative shaping force in the contours and trajectories of those traditions. His historical works are here treated with due seriousness as literature. His theological formulations are recognized for their significance in the forming of theological communities and as contributions to the direction theological reflection would take in the fourth century. At the same time, his well-known role as an heir of Origen is analyzed here with the precision necessary for a proper appreciation of his engagement with the third-century master—it was neither a slavish nor an uncreative adoption of Origen’s theological and exegetical legacy. Likewise, continuities abound amid new emphases, interpretive techniques, and imperializing visions in his commentaries and other exegetical works. The present collection is a promising harbinger of the future of Eusebian studies and its role in the broader and increasingly diversified study of late antique literary culture.

Works Cited

Brenk, B. 1987. “Spolia from Constantine to Charlemagne: Aesthetics Versus Ideology.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 41:103–109.
Burckhardt, J. 1949. The Age of Constantine the Great. Trans. M. Hadas. Berkeley.
Cameron, A. 1997. “Eusebius’ Vita Constantini and the Construction of Constantine.” In Portraits: Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire, ed. S. Swain and M. Edwards, 145–174. Oxford.
Clay, A. 2012. A Commentary on Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Book VIII. PhD diss., University of Colorado, Boulder.
Clover, F., and R. Stephen Humphreys, eds. 1989. Tradition and Innovation in Late Antiquity. Madison, WI.
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———. 2008. “Basil of Caesarea on Proverbs 8:22 and the Sources of Pro-Nicene Theology.” Journal of Theological Studies 59:183–190.
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[ back ] 1. See, for example: Goulet-Cazé 2000; Clover and Humphreys 1989; Kelly, Flower, and Williams 2010.
[ back ] 2. Photius Biblioth ē k ē 13; see Clay 2012:42–45.
[ back ] 3. Burckhardt 1949:283; cf. 260 (“Constantine’s historical memory has suffered the greatest misfortune conceivable . . . He has fallen into the hands of the most objectionable of all eulogists, who has utterly falsified his likeness. The man is Eusebius of Caesarea . . .”); 293 (“Eusebius . . . has been proven guilty of so many distortions, dissimulations, and inventions that he has forfeited all claim to figure as a decisive source”); 313 (“He presents an account of the [Arian] conflict which is unique in its kind for dishonesty and intentional meagerness”).
[ back ] 4. See, for example: Cameron 1997; Morlet 2005; 2006; 2012; Morgan 2005; Verdoner 2011; De Vore forthcoming.
[ back ] 5. Hollerich 1999; Johnson 2006c.
[ back ] 6. Inowlocki 2006; Johnson 2006a; Schott 2008; Morlet 2009.
[ back ] 7. Lyman 1993; Spoerl 1997; DelCogliano 2006; 2008; Robertson 2007.
[ back ] 8. Mansfeld 1994; Snyder 2000.
[ back ] 9. See Gen. El. Intr. 6.1 (PG 22.1024D); PE 1.1.12; Johnson 2011.
[ back ] 10. Theodoric, ap. Cassiodiorus, Variae 7.15; quoted by Brenk 1987:108.
[ back ] 11. See esp. Elsner 2004; 2000, with bibliography. Controversy continues to surround the date of the construction of the Arch itself, as well as the messages it was intended to convey; see Panella and Pensabene 1997; 1999; Wilson Jones 2000.
[ back ] 12. For a recent defense of the pagan senatorial origins of the inscription (which is, of course, ostensibly by the Senate and people of Rome), see Lenski 2008.
[ back ] 13. For a related examination of the ways in which the visual arts contribute to a richer understanding of late antique literary art, see the important study of Roberts 1989, esp. 66–121.
[ back ] 14. See Usher 1998; the cento form is directly compared at Elsner 2000:176.
[ back ] 15. Ausonius, Cento Nuptialis, epistula ad Paulum; trans. modified from Evelyn White 1988:373.
[ back ] 16. Puech 1930:3.219.
[ back ] 17. Roberts 1989:61.
[ back ] 18. Compare PE 1.5.3–8 with Origen, contra Celsum 1.9–11.
[ back ] 19. See Johnson 2006b.
[ back ] 20. Gen. El. Intr. 6.1 (PG 22.1024C).
[ back ] 21. For the present I leave aside the way in which a cumulative aesthetic might interact with, or diverge from, a symbolic-allegorical aesthetic grounded in a Platonic ontology or a Christian Logos theology (both of which are pervasive, without necessarily being identical, in Eusebius’ thought). On Eusebius’ adaptation of a Platonic aesthetic, see most recently Schott 2011.
[ back ] 22. An example of this is Plutarch’s de Iside; cf. Johnson 2013: Chapter 6.
[ back ] 23. Even where it is clear that Eusebius offers us an altered text, it is difficult to determine with any certainty that he is the producer of the alteration, rather than an earlier Christian author.
[ back ] 24. Kelly 1994: quotation at 167–168; cf. 175–176.
[ back ] 25. Brenk 1987:106.
[ back ] 26. See Hollerich 1990; Johnson 2006a:174–196.
[ back ] 27. For a related study of Eusebius’ elaboration of Constantinian cues, see Del Cogliano 2011.
[ back ] 28. See the perceptive paper of Cameron 1997.
[ back ] 29. See Schott 2008; with older studies, see e.g. Laurin 1954.