Johnson, Aaron, and Jeremy Schott, eds. 2013. Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations. Hellenic Studies Series 60. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_JohnsonA_SchottJ_eds.Eusebius_of_Caesarea.2013.
8. Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms and Its Place in the Origins of Christian Biblical Scholarship
The Date of the Commentary
Purpose and Occasion for Writing
This statement comes from Eusebius’ preface to his exposition of Ps 40, one of the psalms of Asaph, who is credited with divine inspiration according to 1 Chronicles 16:4. To Asaph scripture also attributed Ps 73, which Eusebius construed as prophesying the destruction of both the first and the second temples (DE 10.1.6–10), and Ps 78, which he thought predicted the temple desecration and the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (DE 10.1.10–12). In the same way, Eusebius proceeds to read Ps 40 as a highly specific prophecy of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (DE 10.1.13–40). The whole Psalter becomes an interconnected skein of biblical prophecy fulfilled historically in both the Old and the New Testaments—and thus cements Christian claims to both. 
Content and Character
Among other passages on the godly polity, I point in passing to one on Ps 52, dealing with the existence of two tagmata already in Israel (PG 23.449c), and another on Ps 86:3, “Glorious things have been said of you, O City of God,” which Eusebius says refers to to theosebes politeuma, the Church spread throughout the world and the eikôn of “the great politeuma of the heavenly Zion” (PG 23.1045a). This of course is the great psalm text that gave Augustine the title for On the City of God. Eusebius is equally fond of it; note how he cites Ps 86:3 when commenting on Ps 71:16–17 (PG 23.816d) and on Ps 59:11 (PG 23.572b–c)—where he follows immediately with a reference to Mt 16:18!
- What is the interpretive status of the Greek versions in relation to the LXX?
- And what use, if any, was Eusebius making of the Hebrew?
I will deal with the second question first. His synopsis must have had a Hebrew column in Hebrew script, not merely a Hebrew text in Greek transliteration, because he frequently alludes to the “Hebrew writing” (graphê, PG 23.809c), the “Hebrew reading” (lexis), or “Hebrew letters” (stoicheia). Most often his gestures towards the Hebrew serve to verify that instances of sôtêrion in the LXX are based on some form of the Hebrew name for Jesus (although he is also interested in the Hebrew names for God as well).  He notes that the Hebrew original of Ps 52:2 (= Ps 53:2 MT) is verbally identical with the Hebrew of Ps 13:1 (= Ps 14:1b–c MT) because “the same words and the same letters are contained in both” (PG 23.456b). That tells us he is doing a painstaking check, letter by letter, of the Hebrew column of the Hexapla. Did Origen’s commentary tell him this or did he discover it himself? Even if it is not his own discovery, the care to specify the Hebrew reading—in a passage in which Eusebius did not have an apologetic investment—is suggestive. We can attribute it partly, I propose, to scholarly precision.  But it also reflected the motive behind the very existence of the Hexapla: to gain access to the Hebrew original as a necessary instrument for correcting the Church’s own scriptures. That at least is what Origen gives as the purpose of the Hexapla in a celebrated passage in his Commentary on Matthew.  The project was controversial, which perhaps explains the rather different and somewhat defensive motive he expounds in his Letter to Africanus, where he says that his retention of the Hebrew text, even when it contained material missing from the Church’s bible, was necessary for the sake of discussions with the Jews—it did not mean the devaluing of the Church’s scriptures.