Review: Eusebius: The Church History-H: The Church History
Eusebius: The Church History-H: The Church History by Paul L. Maier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Writing around 325, Eusebius chronicles the first 300 years or so after Christ's ascension. The focus is on the persecutions of believers, the bishops of various cities and especially Rome, the heresies that plagued the church, and the greatness of Constantine in relieving the church of her distress.
Eusebius makes several intriguing assertions, only the first of which is generally accepted.
- Peter was the main source for the gospel of Mark
- Paul wrote Hebrews
- 2 Peter is probably not canonical
- Matthew was written in Hebrew, originally
He shows too much reliance on the succession of bishops, even speaking of "the throne of James" as something of a relic.
He describes the offices of a church in one city thusly: "there can be only one bishop in a catholic church, in which... there are 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, 52 exorcists, readers, and doorkeepers, and more than 1500 widows and people in distress" (pg 240). Definitely the bishop is more than an overseer/elder in one congregation, there.
He writes strongly against the Donatists, Marcion, Montanus, even an early form of Arianism. He is a bit too glowing of Origen, even describing his self-castration positively.
Overall, a helpful book, though with lots of chaff to sift through. It's main value is its early date, of course.
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