Eusebius of Caesarea

Eusebius of Caesarea lived from ca. 263-339 AD in Caesarea, an ancient Palestinian city on the Mediterranean coast. In 314, he became the bishop of Caesarea. He worked tirelessly to record the history of the early Christian church, leading to him being dubbed the father of church history.

Eusebius was a careful author who painstakingly researched and cross-referenced his work. He was careful to include excerpts from original sources. Many of these original documents have been destroyed, and are only known from his writing. When Caesarea fell and was abandoned, much information was lost. If not for the work of Eusebius, we would know little of this ancient city. We would know even less of the early history of the Christian Church.

In his early days, Eusebius worked on various texts of Biblical criticisms. He studied the Bible, using the writings of the scholar Origen (ca. 185-254 AD) and Eusebius’ own contemporary and teacher Pamphilus, as he tried to write a correct version.

The persecutions of Christians which occurred under Diocletian led Eusebius to study first contemporary marchers, then to the martyrs of the past. From there, he began to study the history of the entire church and finally the entire world.

Eusebius wrote two great historical works – the Chronicle and the Church History. In these books, Eusebius has collected information from many sources, are raging at according to the source. The history is laid out in parallel columns, much like a modern timeline, making it easy to understand. While the work as a whole has been lost, much has been preserved by Byzantine writers, who used extensive excerpts of Eusebius’ work.

Later in his life, questions of dogma arose. As Christianity became an established religion, problems arose. Members of the church would gather to find answers to difficult philosophical questions of the Bible. Among other topics, they were to decide when to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus (Easter, celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox) and whether Jesus was made of the same substance as God (rather than merely a similar substance).

During the Council of Nicaea in 325, prominent members of the Church gathered to work out a consensus in relation to Christian worship. This was an important first for the Christian church, and Eusebius was an important presence. He was a learned man and respected writer, which brought him recognition among the 318 council members. Eusebius proposed a confession which would later be used as the basis of the Nicene Creed.

Eusebius of Caesarea. Courtesy Wikipedia.