Official Theology: Eusebius of Caesarea (Part 1)

The History of Christianity #91

Our History of Christianity Scripture verse today is Romans 13:1 which reads: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Eusebius. He said: “Looking westward or eastward, looking over the whole earth, and even looking at heaven, always and everywhere I see blessed Constantine leading the same empire.”

Last time, in the History of Christianity, we looked at “The Imperial Church – Reactions to the New Order”. Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Official Theology: Eusebius of Caesarea” (Part 1) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Eusebius of Caesarea was in all probability the most learned Christian of his time. He was also one of the most ardent admirers of Constantine and his work. For this reason he has sometimes been depicted as a spineless man who allowed himself to be swayed by the glitter of imperial power. But things are not so simple when one considers his entire career.

Eusebius was born around the year 260 AD, most likely in Palestine, where he spent most of his early years. He is known as Eusebius “of Caesarea” because, although it is not certain that he was born there, it was in that city that he spent most of his life and that he served as bishop. Practically nothing is known of his parents, and it is impossible to determine whether he grew up in a Christian home or was converted as a youth.

In any case, the person who left a deep impression on Eusebius was Pamphilus of Caesarea. Pamphilus was a native of Berytus — now Beirut, in Lebanon — who had studied in Alexandria under Pierius, a famous teacher who was carrying on Origen’s work in that city. After holding some important posts in Berytus, Pamphilus went to Caesarea, probably at the request of the bishop of that city. The church of Caesarea had kept Origen’s library, and Pamphilus spent long hours working with it and adding to it. In this task he was aided by several others who were moved by Pamphilus’ intellectual curiosity and profound faith. One of those captivated by the scholar from Berytus was young Eusebius, who acknowledged his debt by calling himself “Eusebius of Pamphilus.”

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