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.
9. Textuality and Territorialization: Eusebius’ Exegeses of Isaiah and Empire
Theorizing Imperial Space and Textuality
Here, Lefebvre’s contrast between “text” and “texture” is homologous to the post-structuralist distinction between “work” and “text.” Space, in other words, is not a “book” legible through linear “reading,” but like the post-structuralist text, is a complex web of interrelations. To press the scribal analogy: space, in its depth and texture, is much like a hand-made, hand-penned manuscript that bears the marks of its creation and has experienced the vicissitudes of transmission (blemishes in the skin/parchment, the marks of cutting and assembly, errors, erasures, additions, and so forth). A historical account of a written or artistic work that takes account of space, then, would aim to understand the relations of power and political interests at work in these textured webs (or textualities).
Eusebius’ Commentary on Isaiah and Imperial Textuality: The vision against Tyre
Here, Eusebius’ hermeneutic seems rather simple—a tempered Origenist exegesis that looks for deeper meanings, the dianoia, behind the lexis, or letter, of the text. The body of the text consists of prophecies against the nations, while the dianoia of the text concerns the parousia and the coming kingdom of God. Yet, Eusebius’ explanation of his exegetical principles leaves unspoken or unexamined the precise mode in which lexis and dianoia are related. That relation is effected through a hermeneutic of territorialization.
The invasion of Tyre by the Assyrians, he infers, would have disrupted economic movement within the Phoenician empire. The deeper meaning, the dianoia, of the prophecy is determined by reflection on the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of Tyrian space. When Tyre asks: “Who planned this for Tyre” the answer must be that the Assyrian invasion teaches the lesson of Proverbs 3:34: “God is opposed to the boastful, but gives favor to the humble” (CI 151.14–15). Imperial figures of speech thus provide a hermeneutical key to exegesis: the boastfulness and humbleness of Proverbs map, respectively, the imperial hubris and subsequent conquest of Tyre as an imperial power.
This exegesis is based, ostensibly, on (inaccurate) knowledge of Hebrew. The Hebrew, though it lacks a definite article, does have a pronominal suffix, making the word definite, so Eusebius’ reading is philologically incorrect. Rather, the changed economic distributions within imperial space lead Eusebius to opine about the Hebrew. His suggested reading of the verse looks, on its surface, to account for the economy of article usage in the Hebrew, but it is driven by the present system of wealth distribution in Tyre. Tyre’s place as a merchant city bookends Eusebius’ exegesis of the vision against Tyre. The movement of the exegesis follows the flow of Tyrian commerce through a sequence of imperial spatialities; the city is territorialized as a metropolis of the Phoenician empire, reterritorialized as conquered land under the Assyrians, and reterritorialized as Christian metropolis.
The dianoia refers to the present Christian reterritorialization of Tyre, and, hypertextually, situates the present space of Tyre, colonized by the Church, in terms of Isaiah’s reterritorialization of Tyre as tributary of the God of Israel (via his clergy).
Prophecies against Moab
Here again, the underlying exegetical poetic is that of imperial territorialization. The “Moab” of Isaiah marks a space (chōra) that for Eusebius bears the traces of a number of spatial writings and rewritings. Eusebius produces the meaning of these verses by establishing a hypertextual link between the space of the prophetic text and the present demographic situation of Roman Arabia: the prophecy ends with a prediction of Moab’s dishonor and depopulation, “as is easily observed by those who travel to the place” (CI 112.30–33). “Moab,” identified by Eusebius with the chōra of fourth-century Areopolis, is a polysemic spatial text that is spread (again, spatially) across several textual planes: the prophetic text of Isaiah, the historical geography of Moab, and the present territory of Roman Arabia marked by imperial defenses and marking the limits of Roman power.
The verse from Isaiah is explicitly concerned with land and territory, but establishing a hypertextual link between Isaiah and Roman Arabia was not the only exegetical avenue open to Eusebius. Commenting on the same verse, Jerome notes a range of explanations: some interpreters read the verses as a prophecy of Hezekiah’s reign after the return from exile, while others saw an eschatological prophecy of Christ’s eternal kingdom after the defeat of the anti-Christ.  Given that Jerome claims to draw on both Eusebius’ and Origen’s commentaries on Isaiah, Jerome’s comments could suggest that these other interpretations stood in Origen’s work. Since at other points in his Commentary, Eusebius clearly refers to alternative exegeses that likely derive from Origen, Eusebius may deliberately ignore these less-territorialized exegeses here. For Eusebius, the verse points to a material, historical alteration of Moabite/Arabian space: the altars of the demons have been scraped from the land and churches with bishops’ thrones now dot the landscape. That this different enunciation of space is a conquest and colonization was not lost on Jerome as he drew upon Eusebius’ exegesis. His vocabulary makes the hypertextual references between the prophetic past and ecclesiastical and Roman imperial presents even more explicit: “in the whole land of Moab the imperium of Christ is evidenced by the signs of the churches that have been built.” 
Here, the spatial logic of the imperial text points to what is for the book of Isaiah a future and for Eusebius’ commentary a present colonization of people and peoples, souls and nations, by the “preaching (kerygma)” of the apostles (CI 121.5). This reterritorialization is not figurative:
As we have seen in the examples of Tyre and Moab, churches, and here in the prophecies about Ethiopia, the preaching of the “theology of Christ,” are indeed material enunciations upon real (material) people and peoples and interpolated between the real (material) lines of Roman inscriptions of imperial power.
Conclusions and Speculations