Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, a seminal late-antique historical narrative, features three periodizations of the church’s past. First, a soteriological periodization divides God’s relationship with humanity at Christ’s Incarnation, an event that Eusebius marks in Book 1 with detailed commentary on the gospels rather than narrative. Second, an ecclesiastical periodization divides pristine, heroic apostolic times from post-apostolic times. The divide between apostolic times and the post-apostolic periods is illustrated through a comparison of History 2.13–17, about Simon Magus, Peter, and Mark, and 6.12, on Serapion of Antioch. And third, an epistemological periodization distinguished earlier times from Eusebius’s lifetime, the latter marked by frequent references to “our time.” Eusebius changed numerous narrative features with his changes of period, including alternating between commentary, diachronic, and synchronic format for different time periods; changing protagonists’ fallibility, individuality, composition of texts, and citation of scripture; and providing notices of episcopal successions and quotation of sources. Moreover, Eusebius’s History changed periods not with the sharp breaks of many modern histories but with gradual transitions. He also underscored key continuities, including God’s intervention in human events and alternation between persecuting and protecting rulers—a continuity within which, contrary to scholarly assumptions, the History never inaugurates a new era with the emergence of Constantine. The case study of Eusebius’s periodization suggests an important limitation of the analytic usefulness of periodizations such as “Late Antiquity” for organizing intellectual history.

“History, ubiquitously formulated, can only persist as a discipline if it develops a theory of historical times.”—Reinhart Koselleck1

“Each ‘new’ time provides the place for a discourse considering whatever preceded it to be ‘dead,’ but welcoming a ‘past’ that had already been specified by former ruptures. Breakage is therefore the postulate of interpretation, and its object.”—Michel de Certeau2

Historical periodization is the reason for Late Antiquity’s existence. Although the field became a widely recognized historical period of the premodern Mediterranean world already in the 1970s, its boundaries continue to elicit disagreement.3 Peter Brown’s 1971 book The World of Late Antiquity, often credited with defining the period, established a “long Late Antiquity” from 150 to 750 CE.4 But this periodization has not stood unchallenged. Other scholars, working broadly in the tradition of A. H. M. Jones’s monumental 1964 book The Later Roman Empire, 284–602, have preferred a “short Late Antiquity” lasting either roughly from 250 to 600 or from “Constantine to Muhammad.”5 If there is consensus over the center of Late Antiquity, consisting of the fourth through sixth centuries, the period’s borders remain debated. Indeed, scholars of Late Antiquity seem accustomed to positing transitions at the period’s beginning and end, in the “Third-Century Crisis” and the Abassid Caliphate, rather than the ruptures presumed by Michael de Certeau in this article’s second epigraph.

Behind the debate over Late Antiquity lies the often undertaken but undertheorized operation of periodization itself. In much historical discourse, the past is divided by century (“the [long?] nineteenth century”), ruling regime or individual (“Han China,” “Victorian England”), economic system (“Feudal Age,” “Industrial Age”), or artistic movement (“the Renaissance,” “the Romantic Age”).6 Such periodic divisions usually erect sharp social, cultural, political, and/or economic breaks: “the very idea of a period presupposes its substantial internal coherence vis-à-vis the other periods—marked by ‘turning points.’”7 These divisions, moreover, structure historians’ professional institutions. The desired period of study (“medieval historian,” “postcolonial literature”) typically defines positions advertised in the humanities and the scope of professional organizations.8

Although periodization so defines history, we do not consider frequently enough how the historical subjects whom we study themselves divided up time.9 Did residents of the late antique Mediterranean partition their own world starkly from the Roman past? What can we learn from how they divided time?

In this paper, I consider how Eusebius of Caesarea, the first undeniably “late antique” historian, distinguished periods of time.10 Eusebius, scholars now agree, composed his seminal Chronological Tables, a listing of key events in universal history from Abraham to his own day, after 306 CE.11 Eusebius’s sequel of sorts, his Ecclesiastical History, was written between 312 and 317 CE, with some revision after late 324.12 Entrenching Eusebius’s priority among late antique historians is his persistent linkage to Constantine I, the first emperor whom adherents to Late Antiquities—both long and short—commonly accept as late antique. This paper will argue, though, that Eusebius’s History represented Constantine’s emergence as less momentous than scholars often assume.

While in the last couple of decades studies of the Ecclesiastical History have expanded from narrow concerns over accuracy, composition, and theology to creative analysis of genre, narrative construction, and ideology,13 to my knowledge the History’s representation of time has occupied just one study, by Scott F. Johnson. Johnson shows that the History deployed Eusebius’s chief structuring device, the successions of bishops in major cities, to present a gallery of important personalities. He concludes, “Time (for Eusebius, at least) happens through a succession of moments, rather than through an abstract understanding of chronological time.”14 While Johnson is right that Eusebius typically “fills” time in the History with human content, in his Chronological Tables Eusebius had represented a series of equally long, predictable years even when these years lack significant events.15 Since the Chronological Tables demonstrate that Eusebius could represent time through multiple visual apparatuses, framings, and metaphors, I believe that further study of the History will reveal a richer conception of time than Johnson has described.

Indeed, the Ecclesiastical History refers frequently to time. A Thesaurus Linguae Graecae search shows that the word chronos (time as duration) appears 141 times in the History, while kairos (a moment, usually felicitous) appears another 86 times. Eusebius also included so many signifiers of relative time (such as the numerous Greek words meaning “before,” “until,” “after,” “back then,” “in antiquity,” “later,” and “now”) as to be difficult to count.16

For this study, I have scrutinized Eusebius’s use of noun and prepositional phrases that distinguish spans of time. Eusebius’s Greek marks these distinctions with such expressions as tous chronous or ton kairon with an adjectival phrase (“in such-and-such a time,” “at such-and-such a moment”), kata with an accusative of person or sometimes epi with a genitive (“in the time of”), or with other prepositions indicating relative time (such as eis, pro, meta, apo, or mechri). Certain repeated phrases stand out as associated with markers of time, including references to Christ, the apostles, other Christian leaders, and to Eusebius himself, usually in the first-person plural (καθ’ ἡμα˜ς, “in our time,” εἰς ἡμα˜ς, “into our time”). These markers of time, I aim to show, coincide with conspicuous narrative features: characters’ virtues and sacred status, the authorship of texts and use of scripture, the structure of chapters, individuation or grouping of characters, the threat of antagonists, citation and quotation,17 and the providential relation between God and humanity. All of these features shift as Eusebius moves between periods.

I argue that by his references to time and concomitant narration Eusebius produced three overlapping periodizations, which coalesce into a rich representation of passing time. The three periodizations are illustrated graphically in the table below (Figure 1). First, the Ecclesiastical History includes what I would call a “soteriological” periodization, indicated throughout book 1, where the Incarnation of Christ represents a total break with God’s previous ethnos in which Christians displace Jews as God’s privileged people. Eusebius’s second periodization can be categorized as “ecclesiastical,” as it follows the status of the leaders of the church; after Christ’s ministry, the apostles led the church throughout much of book 2 before handing over the reins across books 2 and 3 to a series of post-apostolic successors up through Eusebius’s own day. Third, Eusebius periodized epistemologically. For the period up to the 270s CE, the History uses available texts, mostly Christian, to describe events, but toward the end of book 7, for events “in our own time,” it appeals more to Eusebius’s personal experience, his oral informants, and his own authority to convince readers of its reliability. As for his transitions between periods, Eusebius delineated gradual temporal shifts rather than the ruptures that de Certeau noted, and equally importantly Eusebius wove conspicuous continuities across his periods that reflect God’s continued activities. Periods, for Eusebius, are internally coherent only from God’s perspective; for humans, periods exist on a spectrum, based on their relative distance from Christ, on the one hand, and their relative proximity to the historian, on the other.

Figure 1.

Three overlapping periodizations are woven into the narrative of the Ecclesiastical History as gradual transitions, indicating relative proximity and relationships to the divine.

Figure 1.

Three overlapping periodizations are woven into the narrative of the Ecclesiastical History as gradual transitions, indicating relative proximity and relationships to the divine.

The most fundamental temporal division in Eusebius’s History comes at the beginning of his narrative: Christ’s Incarnation. The Incarnation had long been central within Eusebius’s thought. His earlier Chronological Tables had included multiple timelines of different peoples by placing timetables of the rulers of several peoples—such as the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans—into separate columns. At its most complex, the Tables expanded to nine columns, but by the Incarnation Eusebius reduced these timelines to just two—one Roman and one Jewish.18 The topic of Christ dominates book 1 of the Ecclesiastical History (as HE 2.pref. states), so this section focuses on the soteriological periodization that frames the opening book of the work.

Straightaway in the second chapter of the History, Eusebius inscribes the Incarnation within that most vast of timescales, the entire existence of humanity. Jesus Christ, Eusebius explains, became human for humans’ salvation (τῆς ἡμῶν αὐτῶν ἕνεκεν…σωτηρίας, HE 1.2.1). After several pages explaining Christ’s preexistence (1.2.2–16, 1.3), Eusebius emphasizes that the Fall (katapeptōken) had separated humans from divine wisdom and virtue, the qualities embodied in Christ (HE 1.2.17–21). But the Fall also preceded progress: humanity advanced from “a beastly and unlivable manner of life” (θηριώδη τινὰ τρόπον καὶ βίον ἀβίωτον, 1.2.18). In those ancient times (πάλαι πρότερον, 1.2.17), Eusebius says, the Gospel could not be preached.19 The pre-Christian period held no salvific hope.

This condescension toward ancient humanity sets up Eusebius’s rousing description (in a 183-word periodic sentence) of Christ’s Incarnation (1.2.23). Humanity was “civilized [ἡμέρωτο] through lawgivers and philosophers…, their wild and cruel beastliness transmuted to gentleness, so as to have deep peace and friendship and commingling with one another…at the beginning of the Roman monarchy [ἀρχομένης τῆς Ῥωμαίων βασιλείας], when the divine Logos became present on Earth…as a teacher for all peoples [τοῖς πα˜σιν ἔθνεσιν διδάσκαλον].”20 Christ’s Incarnation is clearly the climax of human development, the break between human deficiency and human fulfillment.

Following this “obligatory introductory section” (δέουσαν προκατασκευὴν, HE 1.5.1), Eusebius affirms the importance of the Incarnation as a chronological boundary. In this first narrative chapter (1.5), Eusebius begins the journey of his narrative proper (οἷά τινος ὁδοιπορίας) with the birth of Christ. Eusebius marks this moment by synchronizing it with both a year of Augustus’s rule and to an eastern Mediterranean benchmark, the 28th year after Antony and Cleopatra lost Egypt (1.5.2). He also notes the overlap between the Third Gospel’s notice of Quirinius’s governorship of Syria and Josephus’s mention of Quirinius (HE 1.5.3–4, citing Luke 2.2 and Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae 18.1).21 This conjunction of the chronologies of Rome, Egypt, and Syria heightens the emphasis on Christ’s birth as the center of gravity for surrounding nations.

Having erected a stark temporal boundary with book 1 and synchronized it with an axial geopolitical moment, Eusebius structures this book and its chapters differently than the rest of the History, with one important exception. After his dating of Christ’s birth, Eusebius asserts a momentous shift in the Jews’ high priesthood (1.6, discussed in the next section), explains away the discrepancies between Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies of Christ (1.7), argues from Josephus that Herod’s painful death was punishment for Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents (HE 1.8, quoting Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae 17.168-70 and Bellum Judaicum 1.656-62), dates the administration of Pontius Pilate and the priesthoods of Annas and Caiaphas (1.9, 1.10), locates Josephus’s notices about John the Baptist and Jesus (1.11), and records traditions about the identities of the seventy apostles of Luke 10 (1.12). Book 1, save one chapter discussed ahead, assumes rather than tells a story of Christ’s life; it corroborates, contextualizes, and clarifies the Gospels,22 but does not narrate.23 With the Four Gospels already holding sacred status, Eusebius had no need to rewrite Christ’s life. Indeed, the sacrality of Christ implies that sacred texts should tell his life; the historian’s job is merely to note supplementary material to confirm and enrich readers’ understanding of this sacred threshold. This material, then, stretches out the Incarnation in Eusebius’s historical writing. If the Incarnation is a temporal break, Eusebius lingers on it to create a narrative transition.

The exception to the first book being commentary rather than narrative is important. At the end of book 1, Eusebius inserts a narrative about Abgar, the king of the northern Mesopotamian city of Edessa in Jesus’s day, quoting a purported translation of a Syriac text from Edessa’s archives.24 Abgar, the story goes, suffers from an ailment and writes Jesus a letter asking for healing (HE 1.13.6–9). In this text, Jesus writes back to Abgar (1.13.10) saying that, although he cannot come himself to heal Abgar, he will send a disciple to do so. After Christ’s death, he does indeed commission a disciple, Thaddaeus, to minister to Abgar. Thaddaeus journeys to Edessa, heals Abgar, and teaches the Edessenes Christ’s message (1.13.11–21). This passage not only is a narrative,25 unlike the other chapters of book 1, but also recounts the actions taken by Jesus before the crucifixion as well as by the apostles after Christ’s ascension to heaven.26 The chapter thus spans both the Incarnation and Eusebius’s apostolic period, discussed below. And the chapter includes a lengthy narrative quotation, a technique that, as shown below, Eusebius used typically to narrate post-apostolic events. Eusebius, then, provided a narrative transition between the Incarnation and the apostolic period. If the Incarnation erected a stark temporal threshold, Eusebius as narrator paved a smooth, intriguing transition from this threshold to the period after Jesus.27

All in all, the life of Christ constitutes a clean chronological break for Eusebius. The teaching of Christ saves humanity, and the Church emerges, with the mission to Abgar providing a transition to apostolic times. This temporal break, however, is not instantaneous. The Incarnation endures for the 33 years (by Eusebius’s count) of Christ’s human lifetime (HE 1.10.1–2). The History’s narration marks this protracted revolution by rejecting narrative and commenting on the scriptures that already proclaimed the event. Rather than succeeding one another in a line of narratives, the chapters of book 1 radiate from the Incarnation like beams of light from the sun.28 They encourage readers to linger over this chronological transition, while pointing readers to the sacred narratives of the Gospels.

In book 1 of the History, Eusebius did not just announce a change in God’s self-representation and his salvation of humanity; he also underscored a change in the community charged with representing the divine. Whereas before the Incarnation the Jewish priests had been the mediating institution between God and humanity, Eusebius prepares readers for the church to assume this role in chapter 6 of book 1. Here Eusebius asserts repeatedly that Herod the Great was the first foreigner (πρῶτος ἀλλόϕυλος, 1.6.1, 2, 7) to rule the Jews, citing Josephus at length to establish Herod’s non-Jewish lineage. The Jewish high priesthood, Eusebius deduces, served for the first time at the pleasure of a foreigner, and so “the prerogatives of the high priesthood, which had proceeded steadfastly from forefather to the nearest successor in each generation, were instantly thrown into disarray” (καὶ τὰ τῆς ἐκ προγόνων εὐσταθῶς ἐπὶ τοὺς ἔγγιστα διαδόχους κατὰ γενεὰν προϊούσης ἀρχιερωσύνης παραχρῆμα συγχεῖται, HE 1.6.8). Herod then “no longer affirmed high priests of the ancient ancestry but apportioned the honor to some obscure men” (οὐκέτι τοὺς ἐξ ἀρχαίου γένους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς, ἀλλά τισιν ἀσήμοις τὴν τιμὴν ἀπένεμεν, 1.6.9). Eusebius represents this alleged sacerdotal disruption as the fulfillment of Daniel 9.24–27, where Christ is to be the ruler (ἡγουμένου; HE 1.6.11). The disruption of the Jewish priesthood, Eusebius implies, leaves space for the beginning of the Christian priesthood.

This chapter, I contend, doubly misrepresented the Jewish priesthood under Herod.29 First, Eusebius was well aware that Herod was not the first foreigner to rule the Jews or to choose high priests. In 167 BCE the Seleucid king Antiochus IV had removed the legitimate high priest and replaced him ultimately with a clearly ineligible Jew (2 Maccabees 3–6, Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae 12.237–256).30 Josephus, in fact, had recalled this disruption of the priestly succession just a few lines before the passage that Eusebius had proffered to confirm the fall of the high priesthood (Antiquitates Judaicae 20.235–239). Eusebius surely knew that the high priesthood had not proceeded steadfastly through time. Second, while Josephus had described Herod as removing more worthy high priests for less distinguished men, the Jewish historian also affirmed that Herod’s new priests—unlike Antiochus IV’s appointee—were of priestly ancestry and thus eligible for the position (Antiquitates Judaicae 20.247).31 Herod’s interference was hardly the rupture that Eusebius trumpeted.

Eusebius’s tendentious, arbitrary disruption in the Jewish high priesthood vacated the traditional mediators between Israel’s God and humanity. When Christ appoints the apostles toward the end of book 1 of the History (1.12), the high priests of Jerusalem, though they continue to exist up until 70 CE, allegedly have ceded their role as the human foci of God’s relationship with humanity. In place of the high-priestly succession comes the succession of the holy apostles. Apostolic succession then becomes the chronological spine on which Eusebius fleshes out the History’s narrative up to his own time (HE 1.1.1, 4–5; 7.32.32, 8.1.1; see section IV of this article). Eusebius’s displacement of divine mediators stands as the first signpost of his ecclesiastical periodization.

Books 2 and 3 of Eusebius’s History follow Christ’s apostles, defined broadly to include James the brother of Christ, Philip the evangelist, and Paul, along with Christ’s chosen men Peter and John. Eusebius twice uses the noun phrase apostolic times (τοὺς ἀποστολικοὺς χρόνους, HE 2.14.3, 3.31.6; cf. 3.18.3, 3.29.4) and frequently uses the apostles as the object of temporal prepositions (e.g., 2.13.2; 4.5.2, 4; 4.8.1). The time of the apostles, I argue, is not simply a handy reference. The History imputes a different character to the apostolic church than to the post-apostolic church. Eusebius represents the character of the Apostolic period in narrative terms that differ starkly from the predominantly commentarial mode of book 1.

To illustrate the characteristics of Eusebius’s apostolic period, I explicate a unified, fascinating, and understudied section of the text, chapters 13 to 17 of book 2.32 In book 2, chapter 13, in the reign of Claudius, Eusebius introduces the figure of the devil, who becomes a recurring character throughout the History.33 Satan in turn dispatches an “arch-heretic,” the Samaritan Simon Magus, to Rome. Simon’s mission is to capture the capital in a preemptive strike (2.13.1). To corroborate Simon’s sorcery, Eusebius quotes Justin Martyr and paraphrases Irenaeus. Justin and Irenaeus describe Simon’s magic, keeping of a Tyrian consort, acceptance of worship of himself, and his followers’ frenzy and madness (2.13.2–5). This passage illustrates well Eusebius’s habit of corroborating apostolic events with multiple attestations. He frequently cites two sources for events from the temporally distant landscape of apostolic times.34

Since Simon is the “father and manufacturer of such evils” (τοιούτων κακῶν πατέρα καὶ δημιουργόν, 2.14.1), God counters Satan immediately, for, as Eusebius comments, “Neither Simon’s nor anyone else’s connivance at all among those that sprung up in those very apostolic times held up” (κατὰ αὐτοὺς ἐκείνους τοὺς ἀποστολικοὺς…χρόνους). Simon’s “heresy” draws the powerful opposition of Peter. As Simon flees across the Mediterranean, Peter races hot on his heels.35 In Rome, Peter delivers the salvific gospel, and Simon quickly perishes before the divinely authorized hero (2.14.6–2.15.1). Simon’s flashy annihilation exemplifies the pristine, “heretic-free” character of apostolic times, as Eusebius repeatedly claims (here and in 3.29.4).

This assertion of Simon’s failure and the apostles’ liquidation of “heresy” raises a temporal tension later in Eusebius’s narrative, which I illustrate with a digression from book 2. More than a book later, during the reign of Trajan (beginning at HE 3.21), as Eusebius transitions from apostolic to post-apostolic times (see below), Eusebius claims that another Samaritan sorcerer, Menander, became Simon’s successor (3.26.1). The Trajanic date of Simon’s successor is problematic. Eusebius knew his chronology well enough to know that Claudius died 44 years before Trajan became emperor,36 a long delay for a disciple to wait before succeeding his master.37 This dating of Menander implies that Menander was unable to spread his “heresy” while the apostles were active,38 even while he did meet with some success after they departed the scene. According to Eusebius’s own chronology, at that time, Menander must have been at least in his mid-60s.39

This temporal gap between founder and successor, which has the effect of isolating Simon as the sole ecclesiastical deviant during the apostolic period, is wholly implausible. Why did Eusebius insert this gap? An answer comes toward the end of book 3 (3.32), where Eusebius narrates the death of Symeon, the son of Clopas, the second bishop of Jerusalem, and the last living character in the History to have known Christ. After Symeon’s martyrdom, Eusebius paraphrases the late second-century Christian writer Hegesippus, his source for Symeon’s death,40 as saying (3.32.7–8):

Up through those times, the church remained a virgin, pure and uncorrupted, for those attempting to corrupt the vigorous standard of salvific preaching (τὸν ὑγιῆ κανόνα τοῦ σωτηρίου κηρύγματος), if any even existed, concealed themselves somewhere in obscure darkness up through then. But when the sacred chorus of the apostles and that generation (ἡ γενεὰ ἐκείνη) of those who had been deemed worthy to hear the divine wisdom with the apostles’ own utterances had attained their life’s excellent end (διάϕορον…τοῦ βίου τέλος), in the ensuing circumstances (τηνικαῦτα) the confederacy of godless error seized a beginning through the deceit of deviant teachers.

The apostles’ voices, Eusebius claims, had silenced the corruption of “heretics.” While the story of Simon Magus’s status as “arch-heretic” was apparently too widely known for Eusebius to ignore or displace,41 it would contravene the sacred power of the apostles to allow Menander to pervert Christianity while the apostles were still active. Eusebius, in sum, minimized the “heresy” of the apostolic period to keep the apostolic past immaculate.

To return to our passage in book 2: in chapter 15, and still in Rome, Peter commits his preaching about Christ to writing through Mark; this preaching underscores the beginning of the Church of Rome, where Peter will found its apostolic line. As two chapters before he had cited both Justin and Irenaeus on Simon, here Eusebius cites both Clement of Alexandria and Papias of Hierapolis to confirm Peter’s and Mark’s collaborative textual composition (2.15.2).42 But equally significantly, the Gospel of Mark is a jointly authored text. This is no accident. For the apostolic period, Eusebius consistently lumps together the apostles’ textual authorship within chapters (HE 3.3–4, 3.24–25). The New Testament thus emerges as a collective product of the apostolic circle rather than as a set of separate texts written by individual authors. Moreover, it is important that Eusebius does not note any scriptural citations in Mark, even though Mark cites numerous texts from the Jewish Bible.43 Since the Second Gospel is scriptural itself, it needs no scriptural authority.

In 2.16, Mark is commissioned to visit Egypt, and in 2.17, after claiming that Peter met Philo and conversed with him in Rome (2.17.1), Eusebius describes what he characterizes as the Christian community founded by Mark in Alexandria. Here Eusebius manipulates the description of the Therapeutae, an ascetic community of Torah-believers in Egypt, from Philo’s On the Contemplative Life. Philo, Eusebius claims, “welcomed, regarded as divine, and treated with awe the apostolic men of his time” (ἀποδεχόμενος ἐκθειάζων τε καὶ σεμνύνων τοὺς κατ’ αὐτὸν ἀποστολικοὺς ἄνδρας, 2.17.2). The term apostolic explicitly associates the Therapeutae with the apostolic circle and their time,44 and a complex combination of paraphrase, quotation, and selective parallels with description of early Jesus followers in the Acts of the Apostles present the Therapeutae as self-denying, studious, contemplative, and pious Christians.45 Once again, Eusebius paints a collective image of the Christian life rather than foregrounding individual Christians. Apostolic times, Eusebius implies, saw a harmonious and communally oriented, as well as virtuous and invulnerable, church.46

In these five chapters,47 then, Eusebius follows the devil to Simon Magus to God to Peter to Mark to Philo to the Therapeutae, guiding readers from Palestine to Rome to Alexandria. Much more could be said about the passage—which fuses Hebrew and Christian, public combat and textual authorship, and Christian communities in three continents—but for Eusebius’s narration of the apostolic period, the following eight features are most salient:

  • Eusebius’s narrative of Simon Magus, Peter, and Mark is diachronic.48

  • No Christian character is individuated by Eusebius.49 While Peter and Mark each carry out crucial tasks, neither is described with striking, memorable detail. And the Therapeutae, like the apostles, are a collective character.50

  • Christian characters come off as virtuous and infallible in Eusebius’s apostolic era. The character flaws of Peter and Mark in the New Testament, particularly Peter’s failures before Jesus and both characters’ quarrels with Paul, leave no trace in Eusebius’s pages,51 and the virtuous Therapeutae mirror the virtuous apostles.

  • Together Peter and Mark compose Mark’s Gospel, as the scriptures for Eusebius are a collectively authored text.

  • While Eusebius is well known for following the Christian canon of scripture, he mentions none of the scriptures quoted in Mark.

  • The apostles successfully eliminate “heresy,” backed by Satan. As we saw, the devil’s representatives, the “heretics,” are only able to attack the church again as the apostles leave Eusebius’s narrative.

  • Eusebius repeatedly cites multiple sources for his narrative of the apostolic period:52 Justin and Irenaeus on Simon, Papias and Clement on Mark’s Gospel, and Philo and Acts on the Therapeutae as living the ideal Christian life.53

  • Since Mark and Peter are ecclesiastical founders, they do not succeed a predecessor. The successions (διαδοχαί) of church leaders promised in the first five words of Eusebius’s History have not yet taken root.

Each of these qualities—sequential organization; nondescript, infallible, and collective characterization; elimination of “heretics”; multiple corroboration of sources; and the absence of ecclesiastical predecessors—exemplifies Eusebius’s representation of the apostolic era. In each quality Eusebius’s post-apostolic church differs markedly.

As an example of Eusebius’s representation of the church after the last apostle dies, I offer Eusebius’s portrait of the bishop Serapion of Antioch.54 History 5.19 introduces Serapion as the bishop of Antioch under Commodus and as collector of a dossier on the ecstatic followers of the prophet Montanus in central Anatolia; Serapion then presides in Antioch until Caracalla’s accession as emperor (HE 6.8.7, 6.11.4). Just after noting the end of Serapion’s episcopacy, Eusebius devotes chapter 12 of book 6 to Serapion, which I translate with some omission of repetitive content.

Now, of Serapion’s discipline in writing texts, it is likely that other written pieces are preserved also [τῆς περὶ λόγους ἀσκήσεως καὶ ἄλλα μὲν εἰκὸς σῴζεσθαι…ὑπομνήματα] among others. But to us have come only the works To Domnus, Domnus being a person who had apostatized at the moment of the persecution from loyalty to Christ to Jewish wishful worship, and his writings To Pontius and Caricus, who were ecclesiastical men, and other letters to other people. Another text composed by him is On the Gospel Titled According to Peter, which he wrote as a refutation of the statements falsely said in this gospel because some people in the community at Rhossus were running aground into heterodox teaching on account of this writing. On this event it is reasonable to present some short sentences, through which he puts forward the opinion that he held about the book: “For we, brothers, welcome Peter and the other apostles as Christ, but the writings falsely attributed to their name we reject.…For when I came to your community, I assumed that all conducted their tasks in the correct faith, and I did not go over the Gospel named after Peter brought forward by them.…But now, having learned that their mind lurks in heresy, based on what’s been said to me, I’m hurrying back to be near them.…We, having apprehended what sort of heresy Marcianus had…, were able, from others of this discipline—that is the one from the successors who had initiated it, whom we call Docetists…[παρ’ ἄλλων τῶν ἀσκησάντων…, τοῦτ’ ἐστὶν παρὰ τῶν διαδόχων τῶν καταρξαμένων αὐτοῦ]—to get access and go through this Gospel and to identify the majority that is of the Savior’s correct doctrine.”

The rhetoric of this chapter stands in stark contrast to the eight features noted above for Eusebius’s apostolic narration. Exemplifying Eusebius’s narration of the post-apostolic era, from the end of book 3 through the end of the History, are the following:

  • The passage is synchronic. It organizes Serapion’s character and activity within a sequence of Serapion’s surviving texts, in contrast to the narrative organization of passages in book 2 (albeit with one embedded narration, about Serapion’s interaction with the Christian community at Rhossus).55

  • The chief character is represented as an individual, in that Eusebius dedicates a full chapter to Serapion. Eusebius individuates Serapion through a quotation of Serapion’s voice that showcases Serapion’s mindset (γνώμην, 6.12.2), particularly in the anecdote of his urgent policing of the texts and doctrines that structured the church at Rhossus.56 This diverges from the collective character of the apostles and Therapeutae.

  • Serapion’s Christian community is clearly fallible; Serapion, after all, must check his community’s scriptures and correct their doctrinal deviation. Whereas Eusebius’s apostles do no wrong, in post-apostolic times some Christian characters flirt with “heresy,” hesitate to obey God’s will, or commit other offenses.57

  • Serapion’s individually authored works are cataloged, structuring the chapter, as often Eusebius describes some of the content and context of these works.58 (Eusebius also draws attention to the incomplete preservation of these texts, a frequent topic, discussed in section III of this article.)

  • Eusebius notes Serapion’s devotion to Christian scriptures, texts from the past, in his quotation, a recurring theme in Eusebius’s portraits of post-apostolic Christians.59 By contrast, since apostolic Christians’ writings were themselves scriptures, Eusebius does not note their use of sacred texts.

  • Here Eusebius emphasizes Serapion’s intense, ongoing struggle against “heresy”; indeed, Eusebius quotes him as noting a succession (διαδοχή) of “heretics,” indicating a long-term problem for the church.60

  • For Serapion, Eusebius narrates by quotation. For Serapion’s interactions with the church at Rhossus, he inserts Serapion’s words rather than narrating in his authorial voice. For post-apostolic events, Eusebius quotes to narrate not to corroborate.61 While the most conspicuous cases of narration by quotation come in Eusebius’s martyr narratives,62 Eusebius also relies heavily on quotation in narrating Christian controversies,63 and he also often quotes earlier Christians’ stories about “heretics” verbatim, as Eusebius does for Serapion.64 In these passages quotations do not confirm factual assertions, as Eusebius’s quotations do for Simon Magus’s character, Peter’s role in composing Mark, and the Therapeutae’s Christian virtue. Perhaps because apostolic events are sacred and thus require exceptional proof, or perhaps because they are especially distant in time,65 Eusebius does not usually corroborate his quotations in later books, even as he quotes his sources at far more length.66 Instead, the quoted voices become the narrators, and Eusebius is content not to corroborate them.

  • Eusebius places his chapter on Serapion shortly after naming Serapion’s successor (διάδοχος) as bishop of Antioch (6.11.4). The post-apostolic period, for Eusebius, is characterized by successions of bishops, particularly in Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and in Serapion’s city, Antioch; in the apostolic period, obviously, those episcopacies had yet to be established.67 As successions of the apostles require change in leadership and thus an end to apostolic agency, Eusebius’s apostolic period avoids them.

The apostolic period’s church is described in narrative, attested through multiple sources, collective in character, perfectly virtuous, unrivaled by “heretics,” and sacred, and it consists of church founders. By contrast, post-apostolic Christians are described synchronically and through quotations as individuated, fallible, struggling against “heretics,” and taking over for earlier Christian leaders.68 These features are remarkably stable within the History through to the very end of the text.

Where does Eusebius end the apostolic period and begin the post-apostolic? The end of book 2 and much of book 3 include several moments that Eusebius could have pinpointed as ending the apostolic era.69 One is the first death of an apostle who led the church of a major community, the death of James in Jerusalem, already in book 2 (HE 2.23). A second moment is the first succession after an apostle, when Annianus succeeds Mark in Alexandria (2.24). Another is the deaths of the major apostles Peter and Paul in Rome (2.25), where Eusebius lingers on the start of the Jewish war (2.26) and the deaths of other apostles (3.1) before Linus ascends to Peter’s role as bishop of Rome (3.2). Hereafter Eusebius devotes a chapter to “The first succession of the apostles” (3.4 chapter title), but the characters in this chapter (Luke, Timothy, Linus, Clement, and Dionysius of Athens) are, like Mark, associates of apostles. This chapter presents no obvious break either. After Domitian’s persecution, chapters 24 and 25 of book 3 discuss the Gospels and the rest of Eusebius’s New Testament, a passage that might seem to bring the apostolic age to a close with the legacy of their writings. The first “heretical” successor, Menander (previously discussed), appears immediately after this chapter and could represent a turning point. But the deaths of John and Philip the evangelist, dated to Trajan’s rule and reported in 3.31, likewise seem to terminate apostolic times.70

The chapter immediately after this, 3.32, features the most explicit reference to the end of the apostolic age. Here, after the death of Symeon, the son of Clopas, the 120-year-old bishop of Jerusalem and the last living acquaintance of Christ, Eusebius voices the claim previously quoted (3.32.7–8) that the church remained pure as long as the apostles and the generation of their hearers remained alive, but “heretics” were able to gain a foothold afterward. This might seem to mark the end of the apostolic period, yet the assertion creates a tension, if not outright contradiction, as Eusebius has already described three different “heretics” (Menander, Cerinthus, and Nicolaus, 3.27–29, discussed previously). If “heretics” have already sprung up, can Trajan’s reign still fit into the apostolic period?

The impossibility of identifying a partition between apostolic and post-apostolic times suggests that Eusebius never singled out a firm, instantaneous boundary. The passages I cited in the last two paragraphs, all apparent turning points, span at least 38 years from the end of Nero to the start of Trajan’s reign, in contrast to the firm turning point of Christ’s Incarnation that is central to book 1.71 While the apostles gradually expire, some post-apostolic Christians slowly take over until the transition is complete. The apostolic and post-apostolic “periods” are not fixed durations with absolute beginning and endpoints; Eusebius instead prolonged the transition between apostolic and post-apostolic times.

In fact, this transition includes a great deal of narration that would be more at home in later books of the History than in Eusebius’s account of apostolic times.

  • The transition involves several successions of the apostles (HE 2.24, 3.2, 3.11, 3.13–15, 3.21–22).

  • A lengthy narrative quotation (i.e., where Eusebius lets a source tell his story) comes just before the first succession from an apostle, when Eusebius quotes Hegesippus at length to narrate James the brother of Jesus’s martyrdom (HE 2.23.4–18; see also 3.6, 3.20, 3.23).72

  • Eusebius begins noting individual Christians’ works rather than lumping authors together in HE 3.16, when he describes First Clement.

  • Eusebius individuates John the Apostle in a touching anecdote in which the apostle bravely rescues a young apostate Christian from a life of brigandage (HE 3.23).73

  • Representatives of the church also are no longer flawless, as the anecdote about John involves the failure of a bishop to minister properly to the apostate from John (HE 3.23.13–14), a failure that John must correct.74

  • Shortly hereafter Eusebius describes formidable “heretics,” the first since Simon Magus in Menander (3.27, discussed previously), Cerinthus (3.28), and Nicolaus (3.29); incidentally Eusebius describes Simon and Cerinthus with multiple source citations.

Eusebius, then, represents apostolic and post-apostolic times with numerous differences. Due to their different ecclesiastical protagonists, the two eras show different degrees of ecclesiastical unity and moral virtue, different levels of protection for God’s people, and different narration to match in the representation of time and usage of quotation. The apostles, in short, represent a flawless ideal for later, valiant but fallible Christians. Between the two periods, though, is a long transition, lasting from Nero to Trajan’s reign, rather than a stark turning point.

Among Eusebius’s temporal references are numerous mentions of “our times.” The very first clause of the History promises to follow the successions of the apostles “with the times from our Savior and finishing in our own times” (τοῖς…εἰς ἡμα˜ς διηνυσμένοις χρόνοις, HE 1.1.1), while the last clause of the opening sentence says that Eusebius will tell of martyrdoms “in our time” (καθ’ ἡμα˜ς, 1.1.2). References to “our own times” recur throughout his apostolic and post-apostolic periods, sometimes noting the contemporary composition of texts (HE 1.9.3 with 9.5, 6.33.4); sometimes mentioning individuals alive in his time (6.30, 7.11.26); and sometimes noting texts that contemporary groups considered sacred (3.16, 3.24.17). Whereas books 1 through most of 7 describe times before Eusebius, books 8 to 10 fit squarely into Eusebius’s own time, with a transition, discussed ahead, from 7.26.3 to the end of book 7.

Books 8 through 10, section 7 of the History cover 303 to 314 or so CE, a period punctuated by the empire-wide persecution of Christians by the emperors Diocletian, Galerius, and Maximinus Daia. As the themes of persecution, martyrdom, and divine vindication of the church dominate books 8 to 10 of the History, Eusebius' narration of these themes in books 1 to 7 should determine expectations about the narration of books 8 to 10.75 Where Eusebius’s previous martyr narratives had sometimes featured individual martyrs but sometimes represented martyrs collectively, so with the martyr narratives of Eusebius’s own times martyrs sometimes appear as individuals but sometimes as a collective unit.76 Even though the topics of individual textual authorship, devotion to the scriptures, and the threat of “heresy” should not be expected within the narrower subject matter of books 8 to 10, on the margins individual authorship, scriptural devotion, and “heresy” still turn up in Eusebius’s own times.77 And other features of Eusebius’s post-apostolic narration—diachronic sections, the apostolic successors’ (i.e., bishops’) role as protagonists, and a fallible church—largely remain the same across books 3 to 10.78 Concerning the latter, the Diocletianic persecution is precipitated by the laziness, envy, infighting, and deceit of Christian leaders, yet at the other extreme the church’s martyrs rise to the occasion and endure the empire’s violence valiantly, and the persecution ceases.79 The character of the persecuted church, imperfect but noble when it counted most, remains that of the post-apostolic church.

On the other hand, Eusebius’s practice of quotation in his narration of “our times” deviates substantially from previous books. A common denominator of both the apostolic period, where quotations corroborate, and the post-apostolic period up to his own time, where quotations narrate, is the heavy presence of quotation itself. Eusebius’s dependence on texts for times before his is probably the most distinctive of his authorial habits. Even when he is not quoting, Eusebius alerts readers again and again to textual sources for the past. The History frequently uses the verbs ϕέρεσθαι (“to be transmitted”) and σῴζεσθαι (“to be preserved”) to indicate that past Christian texts were transmitted to Eusebius and thus available as historical sources;80 σῴζεσθαι, for example, appears in 6.12.1, translated previously.81 Eusebius’s observations about the transmission of texts underscore the epistemological constraint involved in narrating times before one’s own.

By contrast, in books 8 through 10, on the persecutions that Eusebius himself witnessed, he uses another author as a narrator just once, when he quotes a letter of Phileas of Thmuis on martyrdoms in his region in HE 8.10.82 Rather than quoting other narrators in books 8 to 10, Eusebius tells the stories himself. His own voice describes martyrdoms in Phoenicia, Egypt, Antioch, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Arabia, and even Nicomedia and Phrygia (8.5–12). Eusebius tells in his own voice of Maximinus Daia’s renewal of persecution and his subsequent failures of governance and defeat at Licinius’s hands (HE 9.2–6, 9.11). Indeed, assertions of personal observation recur throughout Diocletian’s persecution in book 8, and book 10 rests almost entirely on Eusebius’s own experiences.83 At the end of the persecution Eusebius celebrates the church’s renewed safety by inserting his own Oration for the Dedication of Churches as the majority of book 10’s text (HE 10.4). Instead of presenting other voices, Eusebius offers his own oral reports, recollections, or even his own composition.84

Where do “our own times” begin? As with his transition from apostolic to post-apostolic times, Eusebius transitions the reader between earlier and contemporary times. Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria between 248 and 265 CE and the single individual most thoroughly covered by Eusebius,85 emerges as a prominent chronological threshold between pre-Eusebian and Eusebian times. Dionysius was a bishop “in our times” (HE 3.28.3; cf. 7.pref.), and Dionysius’s departure prompts Eusebius to say, “Anyway, now that we are past their story, come on, let us pass on to the generation of our own time—to impart what sort of generation it was to those afterward” (ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἤδη μετὰ τὴν τούτων ἱστορίαν ϕέρε, καὶ τὴν καθ’ ἡμα˜ς τοῖς μετέπειτα γνωρίζειν γενεὰν ὁποία τις ἦν, παραδῶμεν, 7.26.3). This is a sharper temporal signpost—to call it a “boundary” goes too far—than any that Eusebius constructed between apostolic and post-apostolic times. It is not the only such signpost, however. The end of book 7 and the beginning of book 8 feature a repeated, almost identical sentence (HE 7.32.32 = 8.pref.) that winds down the successions of the apostles and ushers the reader in to “events in our own times” (HE 8.pref.). His narration again changes, so to speak, with the times.86

Then, between the two transition statements, noted previously, at 7.26.3 and in the end of book 7, Eusebius reverts to his narration by quotation, excerpting a letter denouncing the Antiochene bishop Paul of Samosata’s egomaniacal character (7.30.2–17). But then the transition to Eusebius’s time receives another notice, where Diocletian appears as the emperor overseeing the “persecution in our time” (HE 7.30.22). The next two chapters describe the “heretical” Manichees on Eusebius’s own authority rather than with citations, and in 7.32 Eusebius describes numerous intellectuals “of our own time” (καθ’ ἡμα˜ς αὐτούς, 7.32 title). Here Eusebius, true to the pattern of his post-apostolic narration, quotes at length a calendrical text by Anatolius of Alexandria that highlights Anatolius’s intellectual prowess (7.32.14–19). But Eusebius also praises several individuals whom “we knew” or “we know” (ἔγνωμεν, 7.32.2, 25; ἴσμεν, 7.32.24, 26), who hail from Pontus, Antioch, Caesarea, and Alexandria, without quotations. Here Eusebius’s personal acquaintance proves veracity even at great distances across the eastern Mediterranean.

Between the beginning of Eusebius’s time and the persecution, then, Eusebius weans himself from his dependence on earlier Christians’ quotations.87 Just as he transitions rather than switches from apostolic to post-apostolic ecclesiastical representatives, so between earlier times and his own time Eusebius gradually shifts his sourcing from the textual references for earlier times to his own authority for his own day.

The different narration from books 2 to book 7 on the one hand, and then from the end of book 7 through book 10 on the other, reflects an epistemological divergence. Historical authority shifts from texts to personal observation and oral communication trusted by the historian. Still present, however, are the post-apostolic period’s diachronic and individualized narration; its fallible, scripturally devoted, and episcopally led church; and its individually authored texts and “heretical” threats. Eusebius’s epistemology changed for his own time, but his narration, his church, and his church’s world remained consistent.

As we have seen, for different periods of the church’s past, Eusebius adopts different approaches to Christian ecclesiastical leadership, fallibility, and individuality, the synchrony of his chapters, the sacrality of characters’ writings, and above all his quotation practices. But key aspects of the History’s intratextual world remain constant from book 1 through the end of book 10. In this section I briefly highlight two constants: divine intervention by miracles and the interchange of hostile and friendly rulers from Herod, Augustus, Pilate, and Tiberius up to Licinius and Constantine I.

Miracles occur regularly throughout Eusebius’s History.88 Eusebius tells of numerous miracles, supernatural interventions such as healings, exorcisms, and answered prayers, as well as prophecies within the text that are fulfilled within the text.89 From before the Incarnation, Eusebius notes several supernatural theophanies (HE 1.2.6–14). Jesus’s miracles are noted though not narrated, as befits the commentary of book 1.90 The apostles heal and travel miraculously, and some post-apostolic miracles come up in the History.91 Several Christians (and the Jew Josephus as well) receive divine revelations.92 Eusebius goes so far in affirming miracles as to devote an entire chapter to quoting Irenaeus’s affirmation that he saw Christians healing, exorcizing, and prophesying in his day (HE 5.7). Miracles know no temporal boundaries for Eusebius, nor any obvious changes in frequency or intensity. The Christian God had enchanted his church since Jesus’s time. All across the History, moreover, Eusebius describes miracles of vengeance in which persecutors or other enemies of God perish, usually of grotesque illnesses (HE 1.8, 2.10, 6.9.7–8, 8.16,, 9.9, 9.11; cf. 7.17, 7.30.19–21).

The fluctuations of rulers’ policies toward Christianity is a second area of continuity in the text. Starting with the Incarnation of Christ in History 1.5, Eusebius correlates Christian events and personalities with the reigns of Roman emperors; and whereas Eusebius’s successions of bishops (but not bishops’ activities) end at the conclusion of book 7, the successions of emperors continue (HE 8.13.12–14, 9.1.1, 9.9.1). Eusebius signals the importance of rulers’ Christian policies during the Incarnation, noting Herod’s attempt to kill the recently born Christ and correlating this with Herod’s pitiful death, recorded by Josephus (HE 1.8). Hereafter emperors alternate between protecting and persecuting. Tiberius’s protection for the church (as reported by Tertullian, HE 2.2) gives way to Nero’s and then Domitian’s persecutions (2.25, 3.17–20). Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius order toleration for Christians (3.33, 4.9, 4.13); “Antoninus Verus” reverses the toleration (5.pref.1; 5.1.44, 47; 5.4.3), but Marcus Aurelius restores it (5.5, 5.9). Septimius Severus persecutes (6.1, 6.4–5, 6.8.7); Alexander Severus tolerates Christians in his household before Maximinus Thrax persecutes (6.28); Philip the Arab is Christian himself (!) and corresponds with Origen (6.34, 6.36.3, see ahead), but Decius, Gallus and Valerian persecute (6.39, 7.1, 7.10) before Gallienus orders toleration (7.13). Aurelian not only tolerates but consults the bishop of Rome and awards property to the church of Antioch, and yet he subsequently plans a persecution, with sudden death averting the bloodshed (7.30.19–21), and after 19 years of tolerating Christians Diocletian and his co-emperors, save Constantius, persecute (7.30.22, 8.2.4, 8.13.9–13). Hereafter Constantine I and Licinius promote the church while Maxentius and Maximinus Daia harm it (8.14, 9.1–9.8),93 but Constantine’s and Licinius’s victory delivers favored status for the church (HE 9.9–11, 10.5–7). Then, at the very end of the History Licinius turns persecutor and Constantine defeats him (10.8–9), a win for Christian-friendly imperial policy.

I enumerate these changes at length as the context for correcting what I consider to be a widespread misreading of a famous character in Eusebius’s History. Constantine I’s rule, beginning with his victory at the Milvian Bridge, is often read as Eusebius’s culminating turning point, a total reversal of the centuries-long repression of Christians in the Roman Empire. To many scholars, Eusebius wrote the History partly to celebrate the new Constantinian order of the Empire.94

This reading of the History invites several serious objections. Constantine I’s toleration is far from novel; Roman emperors had tolerated Christians before. Moreover, Constantine was not the first Christian emperor. As noted above, Eusebius asserts that Philip the Arab had been a Christian—and that Philip’s successor Decius had persecuted in retaliation (HE 6.34, 6.36.3, 6.39.1).95 If he believed that the Roman Empire had previously been ruled by a Christian but snapped back not only into pagan rule but into persecution,96 Eusebius is unlikely to have received the mere emergence of a Christian emperor as a conclusive ecclesiastical triumph. Moreover, the importance of Eusebius’s Milvian Bridge narrative in the History has now been restored into an important context. Raymond van Dam has shown that Eusebius almost certainly found his narrative of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in a pro-Constantinian panegyric that circulated to Caesarea from the western Roman Empire. After obtaining this panegyric, Eusebius incorporated its narrative into the History in 8.13 and 9.9, with some Christianizing modifications.97 And his particular modifications do not signal a deep temporal break.

In my view, passages in the History that apparently mark a Constantinian temporal break prove inconclusive on closer inspection. True, Eusebius does describe Constantine I as a new Moses, rescuing the people from a tyrant (HE 9.9.5–8). But Vespasian, Gallienus, and Licinius also fulfill the same role—Licinius in tandem with Constantine (3.8.10–11, 7.23, 9.10–11).98 Again, in the version of the History produced in the 310s, Eusebius quotes six directives of Constantine (one, the “Edict of Milan” in HE 10.5.2–14, with the names of both Constantine and Licinius at the top) toward the end of book 10,99 but Eusebius credits the directives to both Constantine and Licinius (10.5.1).100 Constantine’s victory did not necessarily transform Eusebius’s temporal imaginary—particularly as Constantine was ruling the western Roman Empire when Eusebius wrote these words in the eastern Empire between 313 and 316, under Licinius’s rule.101

Eusebius’s description of Constantine I’s acquisition of sole rule at the very end of the History, in chapters added to the History after Constantine’s victory late in 324,102 also yields insufficient evidence that Eusebius saw Constantine’s rule as the dawn of a new era.103 After Licinius becomes a persecutor (10.8), Constantine treats Licinius humanely, and when rebuffed, Constantine defeats Licinius (10.9.3–5). After Constantine’s victory, the Roman Empire is again unified, subjects celebrate joyously with song and dance, Constantine issues just laws, and the whole populace is happy and virtuous (10.9.6–9). These actions certainly represent relief and joy after a lengthy experience of tension and violence, and some scholars have read Eusebius as implying a revolution for the church here.104 In the text itself, however, there is no grand temporal pronouncement that Constantine’s sole rulership inaugurates a new era.105 On the contrary, the chapter is told scrupulously in the past tenses.106 The History’s representation of Constantine’s new order is far from, say, Vergil’s representation of “Augustus Caesar, offspring of the divine, who will establish a Golden Age, with the fields in Latium, as before, ruled again by Saturn” (Augustus Caesar, Divi genus, aurea condet/saecula qui rursus Latio regnata per arva/Saturno quondam, Aeneid 6.792–794).107 No comparable declaration of a new “Constantinian age” appears in Eusebius’s History. Far from a major turning point, the triumph of Constantine I remained, as Philip’s Christian empire had proven, reversible.

The continuity of miracles and of rulers’ alternating persecution and beneficence underscores the stable administration of Eusebius’s world. God’s cosmic management would stay constant, sometimes punctuated by miraculous intervention, and would reward his followers when faithful. The Incarnation and foundation of the church during Augustus’ principate had established the terms of that management. By contrast, human governmental authorities would come and go, tolerate and persecute. Even Constantine I instigated no revolutionary rupture—he represents a triumphal but potentially reversible moment, not a transformational Christianization of the Empire. If by 325 Late Antiquity had arrived,108 Eusebius missed it.109

Eusebius stands out for his complex representation of time. For one, Eusebius was too sophisticated to apply just one structure to the times of the past. The Caesarean scholar, the author already of Chronological Tables that displayed multiple chronologies synoptically, understood that multiple layers of time operated in the past. Indeed, Eusebius would surely have endorsed the historical theorist Reinhart Koselleck’s principle that historians must conceptualize past time as multilayered, with different temporal sequences moving at different paces and subject to different forces. As multiple chains of events cross the past, the historian must guide the reader through the disparately advancing movements to consequential events.110 Eusebius’s History constructed such multiple, simultaneous layers of time artfully.

God’s relationship with humanity constituted an all-encompassing temporal framework for Eusebius, and God governs the world of the History pervasively. Christ’s salvific teaching continues to ring in the ears of his people. Miracles continue to emanate from Christians from the time of the Incarnation forward. And the provident Roman Empire alternately produces threatening emperors to test Christian martyrs and beneficent emperors to rescue Christians in the wake of these tests (see HE 8.4.2–3, 10.4.14–16). Constantine I is the latest protective emperor, distinct for his contemporary triumph, but even at the end of the History, he is no permanent game-changer.

As for the History’s main human character, the church, Eusebius makes clear that its pristine beginning gave way to a less perfect but still virtuous state of affairs. The apostles are so uniformly infused with divine power as to annihilate “heretics,” whereas later Christians are more diverse and fallible, yet nonetheless noble and able to avert “heresy.” Since the apostles are homogeneously virtuous, they require no individuating description. Apostolic texts are sacred and collectively authored, whereas later Christian writings are individually authored, are dependent on the sacred scriptures, and point back to the teaching that the apostles transmitted from Christ. The deeds of the apostles are so significant (and temporally distant from Eusebius) that they require multiple attestation, while post-apostolic Christians need simply to have their voices heard. Eusebius thus sharply distinguished the apostolic and the post-apostolic church and represented their respective time periods accordingly. Eusebius’s periodization of the apostolic and post-apostolic church has, in effect, marked the dividing line between specialists in early Christian studies or Kirchengeschichte on the one hand, and specialists in New Testament studies on the other, down to the present day.111 For his own time, though, Eusebius did not distinguish the character of the immediately post-apostolic church from the church of his time. The church in Eusebius’s own day remained capable of great piety, asceticism, brilliance, and courage; but this character was not guaranteed and thus required ongoing effort. The imperfections of the post-apostolic church, culminating in the church’s recent descent into infighting and division, implied that the church was in need of instruction to sustain its virtue, and Eusebius’s body of writings was precisely what was needed.112

To mark off his own times from what came before, Eusebius altered his epistemology and thus his citation practice. Whereas for the period prior to his lifetime Eusebius offers an anthology of Christian voices, his own times are narrated almost entirely in his own voice. The History carefully distinguished between information from earlier times, for which its author relied on other observers, and authorial testimony. Eusebius was hardly the first Greek historian to distinguish his own times from earlier periods on epistemological grounds.113 Herodotus had done so already;114 Thucydides had cautioned that events from very ancient times were hard to recover and so emphasized his own times;115 and more recently Cassius Dio’s Historia Romana divided the Roman principate between earlier times and his own, promising for the latter to emphasize events in which he had personally taken part (72[73].18.3–4).116 Eusebius extended Dio’s practice. He not only layered a periodization based on his subject institution’s leaders with a periodization grounded in his own perspective but added a third periodization from God’s perspective. Readers could see events from divine, institutional, and the historian’s vantage points, moving at different speeds and with differing but complementary refractions of events.

In marking his periodizations, meanwhile, Eusebius hesitated to erect sharp periodic boundaries. Perhaps this should not surprise. As spatial extension often serves as a metaphor for passing time (cf. HE 1.1.4, 1.5.1),117 the boundaries between territories in different times likely served as visual models for the boundaries of time periods. The sharp periodizations of modern histories, accordingly, are appropriate to an academic discipline that, as Lynn Hunt has noted, emerged in the nineteenth century to support the nation-state, an internally coherent amalgamation of government, people, and territory, bounded sharply from its counterparts militarily, politically, culturally, and geographically.118 Eusebius, by contrast, lived in a multi-cultural empire with porous frontiers at its margins, so sharp boundaries did not partition his and other states’ territories.119 Moreover, no human entity was capable of making a total break with the past. God alone could transform temporal circumstances, and rarely did, and hence the Incarnation is the only complete break for humanity since the Fall. Aside from such reversals of the cosmic order, events did not resolve themselves cleanly into bounded coherent timespans. For Eusebius, then, older periods did not die suddenly to let new times take over but gradually dissolved into successive eras.

Most dramatically, Eusebius’s refusal to mark the beginning of a new era with Constantine I suggests limits for the analytic use of periodization. If, even after a Christian emperor’s decisive conquest of the entire Mediterranean, such a keen student of time as Eusebius did not see Late Antiquity coming—if perceptive contemporaries who thought about time did not see the times changing—then, for the purposes of intellectual history, how do normative periodizations such as “Late Antiquity” matter? This question seems especially applicable to thinkers who, like Eusebius, stand at the inception of historical periods. Although in any periodization his works are “late antique,” Eusebius’s own horizon—his memories, his knowledge, his categories of thought, his perceptions—coalesced in the later third century, around a temporal world established much earlier.120 He matured outside the short Late Antiquity (at least on its Constantine-to-Muhammad timeframe), and his own delineation of his institution’s time began not with the Severan dynasty or the Third-Century Crisis that typically initiate the long Late Antiquity but with Augustus, at the beginning of what we call the Roman imperial period.121 As innovatively as he deployed his horizons in texts,122 it was not Eusebius but succeeding generations who saw such innovations as constituting Late Antiquity. Understanding Eusebius on his own terms, then, requires reading him as a Roman imperial thinker.123

This disjunction between institutional periodizations and the cognitive frameworks of historical actors must remain axiomatic. Since actors’ mentalités are shaped by their pasts, not the times they were initiating, in intellectual history the memories, knowledge, categories, and perceptions deployed by thinkers, rather than the periods in which scholars locate their activity, must constitute the formative temporal contexts.124 We must resist the postulate of breakage between Late Antiquity and what came before. The onset of a new period is still a transition.

This paper began with a different framing as an invited talk about Eusebius for the Westar Institute’s fall 2020 seminar on Christianity between 212 and 325 CE. I thank Nina Livesey, Bill Lehto, and Chris Shea for their invitation and for organizing that meeting; my co-presenter Elizabeth Penland for insightful discussion of Eusebius; and attendees for providing an engaging audience. The Friends of Ancient History network in the Los Angeles area heard the modified version of the paper in spring of 2021; I thank Kathryn Chew for organizing the event and all participants for lively discussion, particularly Beth Digeser, Hal Drake, Amy Richlin, Michele Salzman, and Lydia Spielberg. In addition, I am grateful to Jesse Torgerson for pointing me to theoretical work on time and for reading and improving this article considerably; to Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos for help with the Syriac translation of Eusebius’s History; as always, to the interlibrary loan staff at Cal Poly Pomona; and to Beth Digeser, Ra‘anan Boustan, Lisa Johnson, and the anonymous readers for a smooth and swift editorial process. Finally, this article is dedicated to Emily Albu, whose attentive instruction in Latin and Greek at UC Davis and stimulating paper assignments nurtured my close reading of all manner of ancient texts and particularly those, like Eusebius’s, from the margins of the traditional classical canon; who first drew my attention to Late Antiquity as an academic field; and whose encouragement helped keep me in academia at what we might call a turning point. All errors and, unless otherwise noted, translations mine.


“Die ubiquitär angelegte Historie [kann] nur als Wissenschaft bestehen, wenn sie eine Theorie der geschichtlichen Zeiten entwickelt.” Reinhart Koselleck, Zeitschichten: Studien zur Historik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2000), 302.


Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, trans. Tom Conley (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 4.


Especially recommended, among the many tracings of the emergence of “Late Antiquity,” are Stefan Rebenich, “Late Antiquity in Modern Eyes,” in A Companion to Late Antiquity, ed. Philip Rousseau (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), 77–92, and Arnaldo Marcone, “Late Antiquity: Then and Now,” in Antiquity and Its Reception—Modern Expressions of the Past, ed. Helena Trinidade Lopes, Maria de Fatima Rosa, and Isabel Almeida (Intech Open, 2020),


Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity: A.D. 150750 (London: Thames & Hudson, 1971). Subsequent historians have shifted Brown’s boundaries a bit later, to between 200 and 800; see, for example, Arnaldo Marcone, “A Long Late Antiquity?: Considerations on a Controversial Periodization,” Journal of Late Antiquity 1 (2008): 4–19. The “long Late Antiquity” governs: see Philip Rousseau, ed., A Companion to Late Antiquity (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), and Scott McGill and Edward Watts, eds., A Companion to Late Antique Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2018).


See Hervé Inglebert, “The Birth of a New Short Late Antiquity,” in Late Antiquity in Contemporary Debate, ed. Rita Lizzi Testa (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017). The “short Late Antiquity” governs: Scott F. Johnson, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). A solid theoretical discussion is Shawn Tougher, “Periodization,” in A Practical Guide to Studying History, ed. Tracey Loughran (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), 31–45.


Centuries: see, for example, David Blackbourn, “‘The Horologe of Time’: Periodization in History,” PMLA 127 (2012): 301–7; sovereignty and economic systems: Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012); artistic movements: Eric Hayot, “Against Periodization; or, On Institutional Time,” New Literary History 42 (2011): 739–56.


Chris Lorenz, “‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’: On Time, Space and Periodization,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Research in Historical Culture and Education, ed. Mario Carretero, Stefan Berger, and Maria Grever (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017), 109–31 at 123; or note the epigraph to this article from de Certeau. Compare with the assertion of Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty, 3–4, that traditional boundaries between medieval and modern “exercise exclusionary force, and require alignment with historically particular cultural, economic, and institutional forms” and “impose homogeneities.” See also Lucian Hölscher, “Time Gardens: Historical Concepts in Modern Historiography,” History and Theory 53 (2014): 577–91 at 588.


As Hayot, “Against Periodization,” complains.


Hervé Inglebert, “Introduction: Late–Antique Conceptions of Late Antiquity,” in Johnson, Oxford Handbook, 3–29, tellingly uses the word period only in relation to modern historical thought, not conceptions within Late Antiquity itself.


Beginning with Eusebius are, for example, Friedhelm Wickelmann, “Historiography in the Age of Constantine,” in Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity, ed. Gabriele Marasco (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 3–10, 18–31; David Woods, “Late Antique Historiography: A Brief History of Time,” in Rosseau, Companion to Late Antiquity, 357–71 at 358–61; Brian Croke, “Historiography,” in Johnson, Oxford Handbook, 405–36 at 405–8; cf. David Rohrbacher, The Historians of Late Antiquity (London: Routledge, 2002), 12. Note also that Warren Treadgold, The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstroke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), 23–46, commences Byzantine historical writing with Eusebius. “Undeniably” because the “long Late Antiquity” includes some later third-century historians, such as the Athenian Publius Herennius Dexippus (e.g., Michael Kulikowski, “Classicizing History and Historical Epitomes,” in McGill and Watts, Companion to Late Antique Literature, 141–59 at 145–46) or Porphyry of Tyre in his role as historian of philosophy. Absent from the anglophone conversation, incidentally, is Callinicus of Petra, another fragmentary historian of the later third century: see Laurent Pernot, “Callinicos de Pétra, sophiste et historien,” Revue des études grecques 123 (2010): 71–90.


All citations from the Latin Chronicle are from Rudolf Helm, ed., Eusebius Werke 7, Die Chronik des Hieronymus (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1926); citations from the Armenian Chronicle are from Josef Karst, ed., Eusebius Werke 5, Die Chronik (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1911). On the Chronological Tables, the classic anglophone work is Alden Mosshammer, The Chronicle of Eusebius and Greek Chronographic Tradition (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1979); see also Richard Burgess, “Jerome Explained: An Introduction to His Chronicle and a Guide to Its Use,” Ancient History Bulletin 16 (2002): 1–32; Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2006), 133–77; and Osvalda Andrei, “Canons chronologique et Histoire ecclésiastique”, in Eusèbe de Césarée: Histoire ecclésiastique, Commentaire, vol. 1, Études d’introduction, ed. S. Morlet and L. Perrone, Anagôgê 6 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2012), 33–82.


See Richard Burgess, “The Dates and Editions of Eusebius’s Chronici Canones and Historia Ecclesiastica,” Journal of Theological Studies 47 (1997): 471–504, for the majority composition hypothesis of the Chronicle and History; T. D. Barnes, once the most vocal proponent of dating Eusebius’s History books 1–7 to the later third century, has now accepted Burgess’s hypothesis: Barnes, “Eusebius of Caesarea,” Expository Times 121 (2009): 3–15 at 6–7. Valerio Neri, “Les éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique (livres VIII–IX): bilan critique et perspectives de la recherche,” in Morlet and Perrone, Commentaire, 151–83, mostly follows Eduard Schwartz, “Einleitung,” to Eusebius, Kirchengeschichte (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1909), 3: xlix–lxiv, in dating books 1–8 to after 311, and book 9 after 313; Mathieu Cassin, Muriel Debié, and Nicholas Perrin, “La question des éditions de l’Histoire ecclésiastique et le livre X,” in Morlet and Perrone, Commentaire, 185–207, suggest two versions, of Books 1–10.7 before 324 and a version with 10.8–9 after 324; and Aaron Johnson, Eusebius (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), 104–12, posits that the entire History originally appeared in just one edition, after late 324.


See, for example, Marie Verdoner, Narrated Reality: The Historia ecclesiastica of Eusebius of Caesarea, vol. 9, Early Christianity in the Context of Antiquity (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010); Johnson, Eusebius, 85–104; James Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire: Constructing Church and Rome in the Ecclesiastical History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).


Scott Johnson, “Lists, Originality, and Christian Time: Eusebius’s Historiography of Succession,” in Historiography and Identity I: Ancient and Early Christian Narratives of Community, ed. Walter Pohl and Veronika Wieser (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019), 191–217, esp. at 199–208. I would suggest amending Johnson’s terms from abstract and momentary time to empty and embodied time, following Hölscher, “Time Gardens.” In fact, Eusebius uses precisely Hölscher’s metaphor of embodiment to describe his insertion of events into his chronology marked by successions of bishops (HE 1.1.4). See also Ahivu Zakai and Anya Mali, “Time, History and Eschatology: Ecclesiastical History from Eusebius to Augustine,” Journal of Religious History 17 (1993): 393–417; David J. DeVore, “Genre and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History: Toward a Focused Debate,” in Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations, ed. Aaron Johnson and Jeremy Schott (Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2013), 19–49 at 31–34.


There are numerous empty spaces, occupied only by years, in Eusebius’s Chronological Tables: see Helm, Eusebius Werke 19–39 (= Karst, 156–61).


For example, πρό appears 115 times; μετά appears 367 times, at least half with the accusative; and μέχρι and μέχρις appear 75 times. For Eusebius’s History, I use the edition of Eusebius Werke, vol. 2, Die Kirchengeschichte, ed. Eduard Schwartz, 3 vols., 2nd ed. (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999).


In this paper, citation denotes the reference by name or by another clear reference to a source Eusebius used for his information. By quotation or excerpt, I denote the copying verbatim of the ipsissima verba of another author’s written text.


Nine columns: Chronological Tables, Helm, Eusebius Werke, 106–7, with Mosshammer, Chronicle of Eusebius, 45; Romans and Jews: Tables, Helm, 163; birth of Christ: Tables, Helm, 169. Noting the ideological impact of this moment is Osvalda Andrei, “I Chronici Canones di Eusebio di Cesarea. Una rivoluzione cronografica,” Adamantius 16 (2010): 34–51 at 48–50.


See Sébastien Morlet, “L’introduction de l’Histoire ecclésiastique d’Eusèbe de Césarée (HE I, ii–iv): Étude génétique, littéraire et rhétorique,” Revue des études augustiniennes et patristiques 52 (2006): 57–95.


Eusebius follows with a citation of Daniel 7.9–14 (= HE 1.2.23–26), identifying Christ as the promised Son of Man.


This synchronism was momentous enough that Eusebius pointed back to it later in the History, with a quotation of Melito of Sardis noting the synchronism between Augustus’s Roman Empire and the birth of Christ (4.26.7–10). Citations of Josephus’ Antiquitates Judaicae are from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, ed. and trans. H. J. Thackeray et al., 7 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926–65).


Eusebius attempted to iron out the differences between the Gospel narratives in a different text, his Gospel Questions and Answers: see Claudio Zamagni, Eusèbe de Césarée: Questions évangéliques (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2003).


See further Sébastien Morlet, “Entre histoire et exégèse: Réflexions sur la logique narrative du livre I de l’‘Histoire ecclésiastique,’” Adamantius 14 (2008) 191–208, and Claire Muckensturm-Poulle, “Exégèse et histoire sainte dans l’Histoire ecclésiastique d’Eusèbe de Césarée (livre I),” in Jeux et enjeux de la mise en forme de l’histoire. Recherches sur le genre historique en Grèce et à Rome, ed. Marie-Rose Guelfucci (Paris: CNRS, 2010), 141–53.


This episode is told in more detail in the Syriac Teaching of Addai from the later fourth century, which differs from Eusebius’s version in some places. For a passage-by-passage comparison of the two texts, see Sebastian Brock, “Eusebius and Syriac Christianity,” in Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism, ed. Harold Attridge and Gohei Hata (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 212–34. See also the recent treatments of Gregory Given, “Utility and Variance in Late Antique Witnesses to the Abgar-Jesus Correspondence,” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 17 (2016): 187–222, and James Corke-Webster, “A Man for the Times: Jesus and the Abgar Correspondence in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History,” Harvard Theological Review 110 (2017): 563–87.


And it features a narrative (as opposed to confirmatory) quotation, a mode of quotation that Eusebius usually uses in the post-apostolic era; see the next section.


Indeed, Eusebius recapitulates Thaddaeus’s mission in the first chapter of book 2 (2.1.6–7), a passage more explicitly about the apostolic period.


See Enrico Norelli, “La mémoire des origines chrétiennes: Papias et Hégésippe che Eusèbe,” in L’historiographie de l’Église des premiers siècles, ed. Bernard Pouderon and Yvette-Marie Duval (Paris: Beauchesne, 2001), 1–22 at 4.


A simile that Eusebius, a habitual user of light metaphors (e.g., HE 1.1.4, 2.14.6, 4.7.1, 10.1.8, 10.4.13), may have appreciated.


As noted in DeVore, “Genre,” 32 with n53. See also Michael Beggs, “From Kingdom to Ethnos: the Transformation of a Metaphor in Eusebius’s Historia Ecclesiastica” (PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 1999), 108, which notes Eusebius’s representation of the situation but not his distortion of Josephus. Doron Mendels, “The Sources of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius: The Case of Josephus,” in Pouderon and Duval, L’historiographie de l’Église, 204–5, describes Eusebius as in error, which seems naïve given Eusebius’s extensive knowledge of Josephus and recent composition of the Chronological Tables.


Eusebius’s Chronological Tables (Helm, Eusebius Werke, 139 = Karst, 203) recorded this event.


From Josephus’s phrase τισιν ἀσήμοις καὶ μόνον ἐξ ἱερέων οὖσιν, Eusebius (HE 1.6.9) reproduces ἀσήμοις but omits ἐξ ἱερέων οὖσιν.


The narration of this passage has been noted by Robert Grant, Eusebius as Church Historian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 72–75; Sabrina Inowlocki, “Eusebius of Caesarea’s ‘Interpretatio Christiana’ of Philo’s De vita contemplativa,” Harvard Theological Review 97 (2004): 305–28 at 323–24; and Sébastien Morlet, “Écrire l’Histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée,” L’Information litteraire 57 (2005): 3–15 at 11; but to my knowledge there is no detailed study.


See Sophie Lunn–Rockcliffe, “Diabolical Motivations: The Devil in Ecclesiastical Histories from Eusebius to Evagrius,” in Shifting Genres in Late Antiquity, ed. Geoffrey Greatrex, Hugh Elton, and Lucas MacMahan (London: Routledge, 2015), 119–31 at 120–24. On demons in Eusebius’s works generally, see Hazel Johannessen, The Demonic in the Political Thought of Eusebius of Caesarea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).


See esp. HE 2.1.3–5, 2.5, 2.12, 2.23.4–20, 2.25.4–8, with the fuller list of confirmatory citations in books 1 to 3 by Sébastien Morlet, “La concorde des textes dans l’Histoire ecclésiastique d‘Eusèbe: un motif apologétique?,” in Geschichte als Argument?: Historiographie und Apologetik, ed. Martin Wallraff (Leuven: Peeters, 2015), 49–78 at 51–55.


Jeremy Schott’s clever translation of παρὰ πόδας in 2.14.6.


Eusebius’s Chronological Tables (Helm, 179, 181, 193 = Karst, 214–15, 218), moreover, place Simon at the beginning of Claudius’s reign, more than 50 years before Trajan’s accession.


While Eusebius’s own voice merely calls Menander Simon’s successor (διαδεξάμενος), where in theory the position of “arch-heretic” could stay vacant, Eusebius’s corroborative quotation of Justin (3.26.3) calls Menander a disciple (μαθητήν) of Simon.


Meike Willing, Eusebius von Cäsarea als Häresiograph (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2008), 104, notes the problem and explains the separation similarly to how I do: “Den Ausschlag für die Spätdatierung des Menander mag auch die eusebianische Konzeption gegeben haben, wonach die Häresie in den Zeiten der Apostel keinen Bestand hatte (h. e. II 14, 3).” The two subsequent chapters (HE 3.28–29), incidentally, continue the problematic separation of “heretics’” activity from apostolic times. In 3.28, Cerinthus is said to have encountered the apostle John in a bathhouse (3.28.6 = Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 3.3.4). And following Clement of Alexandria, 3.29.2–3 represents a heresiarch named Nicolaus as releasing his wife to “the apostles,” which assumes contemporaneity (and spatial proximity!) among the bulk of the apostles, even though at this point in Eusebius’s narrative only John and Philip the evangelist survive among the apostles (cf. 3.31).


Menander’s “heresy” also lives on, as he has two disciples, Saturninus and Basilides (HE 4.7.3–4).


Compare with HE 3.29.4, and 4.22.4–6, where Eusebius quotes verbatim Hegesippus’s lost Hypomemata, the apparent source of this metaphor, a quotation that represents the “deflowering” of the church rather differently than Eusebius’s paraphrase. On Hegesippus’s heresiography, see Cecilia Antonelli, “Hégésippe chez Eusèbe. Histoire Ecclésiastique, IV, 21–22: Διαδοχή et origine des hérésies,” Apocrypha 22 (2011): 185–232.


On the spread of traditions about Peter’s death, see Otto Zwierlein, Petrus in Rom. Die literarischen Zeugnisse (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007), 128–82.


Eusebius focuses here again, as with the character of Simon (2.13.2–5), on multiply attesting this preaching rather than on its content or performance.


This is not because there was no New Testament yet for Mark to reference. Eusebius devotes a chapter to the (Old Testament) scriptures that Josephus considered sacred and notes the Old Testament canons of Melito of Sardis and Origen as well (HE 3.10, 4.26.13–14, 6.25.1–2).


Eusebius’s attribution of its way of life to Mark’s community creates a sense of awe around this Christian community, a community that, Eusebius asserts, eventually trained the Christian philosophers Pantaenus, Clement, Origen, Heraclas, and Dionysius—and Eusebius himself, after Origen’s relocation to Caesarea. See HE 5.10–11, 6.6, 6.15, 6.27, 6.31.


On Eusebius’s use of this passage, see in general Inowlocki, “Eusebius’s ‘Interpretatio Christiana,’” and Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 121–25.


Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, deserves credit for his perceptive observations of Eusebius’s emphasis on Christian community (91–97, 105, 115–129, 141–148, 186–247).


Chapter 18 continues Eusebius’s circuit with a catalog of Philo of Alexandria’s works, but that chapter is exceptional within the History rather than illustrative of Eusebius’s periodization. See David J. DeVore, “Eusebius’s Un-Josephan History: Two Portraits of Philo of Alexandria and the Sources of Ecclesiastical Historiography,” Studia Patristica 66 (2013): 161–79, and Lucio Troiani, “Filone Alessandrino nella Storia Ecclesiastica di Eusebio,” in Caesarea Maritima e la scuola origeniana: multiculturalità, forme di competizione culturale e identità cristiana, ed. Osvalda Andrei (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2013), 211–17.


There is one digression from temporal sequence in HE 2.17.1, where Peter meets Philo, an episode that lies beyond the scope of this article.


Simon Magus is individuated (HE 2.13.3–8), as Eusebius’s “heretics” usually exhibit difference rather than similarity.


See similarly the collective presentation of characters of the apostolic era in HE 1.12, 2.1, 2.3, 2.25; 3.1, 3.3–4, 3.7.8, 3.8.11, 3.24–25; cf. 2.17, 3.19–20, 3.31.


Mark 8.32–33 and parallels; Mark 14.66–72 and parallels; Galatians 2.11–14; Acts 15.37–39. An additional example of Eusebius’s whitewashing may lie in his suppression of Hegesippus’s apparent criticism of Paul preserved by Photius, Bibliotheca, codex 232.


Morlet, “Concorde des textes,” 60–75, traces such citations to the production of textual commentary, originating in Hellenistic Alexandria, that Eusebius observed in Origen’s writings and notes Eusebius’s teacher Pamphilus’s proffering of textual concord in the Apology for Origen, written between 307 and 310; Morlet, however, refuses to call Eusebius’s claims of textual concord “confirmation.”


Pace the assertion of Christoph Markschies, “Eusebius liest die Apostelgeschichte: Zur Stellung der Apostelgeschichte in der frühchristlichen Geschichtsschreibung,” Early Christianity 4 (2013): 474–89 at 487, “dass die Apostelgeschichte weder die große Autorität noch die große…inhaltliche Anregerin des Bischofs von Caesarea war”: Eusebius assumes the truth of the narrative in Acts and cites other sources as supplementary to it (e.g., HE 2.1.11–14, 2.9–10, 2.12, 2.18.9, 2.19, 2.21).


On Eusebius’s representation of Serapion, see Pablo Edo, “Citing or Doctoring the Sources? Serapion and the Gospel of Peter in Eusebius’s Historia Ecclesiastica,” Exemplaria Classica 7 (2016): 107–21.


There are, to be sure, some diachronic passages representing post-apostolic Christians: martyr narratives are the most obvious example, but there are also some Christian controversies presented in narrative form, such as the Easter Controversy of the 190s (HE 5.23–25), the Rebaptism Controversy of the 250s (7.1–7), and the removal of Paul of Samosata from the episcopacy of Antioch in the 260s (7.27–30). These passages, though, are exceptional and involve the church addressing “heresy” and its own fallibility, undeniably persistent problems that Eusebius had to represent his church as facing.


Likewise, Eusebian anecdotes render vivid portraits of such post-apostolic Christians as Polycarp (HE 4.14.7, 5.20.7), Origen (6.2–3, 6.8, 6.19), and Dionysius of Alexandria (6.40.7–9, 7.24.6–9).


For example, Papias’s feeble-mindedness and Irenaeus’s acceptance of his errors (HE 3.39.12–13), Origen’s castration (6.8.1), Beryllus of Bostra’s flirtation with “heresy” (6.33), Paul of Samosata’s low Christology (7.27.2) and outrageous behavior (7.30.6–16), and several Christian leaders’ faults just before and during the Diocletianic persecution (7.32.22, 8.1.7–8; cf. 8.2.2–3).


The History’s more than 40 literary catalogs are dreadfully understudied. The best study remains Monique Alexandre, “L’approche des vies d’écrivains dans l’Histoire ecclésiastique de Eusèbe de Césarée,” in Actes de la table ronde Vies anciennes d'auteurs grecs: mythe et biographie, ed. Philippe Brunet and Marie-Pierre Noël (Tours: Rabelais, 1998), 117–44; see also DeVore, “Genre,” 42–43.


More often Eusebius names the scriptural texts cited by post-apostolic authors, sometimes devoting entire chapters to the topic (HE 5.8, 6.14, 6.25, 7.25). Eusebius’s preferences on the New Testament canon have drawn outsized attention in scholarship on the History. See, for example, Grant, Eusebius as Church Historian, 126–41; Sylvia Nielsen, Euseb von Caesarea und das Neue Testament (Regensburg: Roderer, 2003).


Eusebius’s successions of “heretics” are well analyzed by Willing, Eusebius von Cäsarea.


My explanation of Eusebius’s quotation differs from earlier studies of Eusebius’s quotation in the History. such as Erica Carotenuto, Tradizione e innovazione nella Storia ecclesiastica di Eusebio di Cesarea (Bologna: Mulino, 2001), and Jose Torres Guerra, “Documents, Letters, and Canons in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History,” in Beginning and End: From Ammianus Marcellinus to Eusebius of Caesarea, ed. Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz (Huelva: Universidad de Huelva, 2016), 61–82.


See HE 2.23.4–18, 3.20.1–6, 4.15–18, 5.1–2, 6.40–41, 7.11, 8.10.


See HE 5.23–25, 7.1–9, with David J. DeVore, “Character and Convention in the Letters of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History,” Journal of Late Antiquity 7 (2014): 223–52 at 235–43.


For example, HE 4.29, 5.13, 5.16–18, 6.38; cf. 6.19.1–14, 7.24. See also HE 7.21–23, discussed in David J. DeVore, “‘The Only Event Mightier than Everyone’s Hope’: Classical Historiography and Eusebius’s Plague Narrative,” Histos 13 (2020): 1–34.


Cf. Morlet, “Concorde des textes,” 63, who asserts that Eusebius’s stress on textual concord comes from commentary and apologetic and “ne viennent pas de la tradition historiographique.” I observe, however, that some earlier Greek historians did quote texts verbatim to confirm factual assertions about the distant past. See, for example, Thucydides 1.10, 3.104.4–6, 6.54–59; Polybius 3.22.4–13; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae 1.12.3, 1.25.3, 1.28.2–3, 1.29.3, 1.48.3, 1.64.5, 1.73.4; Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae 1.93–95, 1.118–119, 1.158–160, 1.240–241, 7.101–103, 10.20–21, 13.287, 13.319, 14.35, 14.112–118, 15.9.


Exceptions: HE 4.16, 5.5, 5.24 with DeVore, “Character and Convention,” 239–43, and now Michael Rosenberg, “‘Popes’ and ‘Patriarchs,’ Power and Pluralism: Reading Eusebius with the Mishnah,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 28 (2020): 501–24; 6.19.4–12.


A complete list of Eusebius’s successions appears in Johnson, “Lists, Originality, and Christian Time,” 208–12.


And not only bishops: there are several scholastic successions as well in the Ecclesiastical History, most notably the “Alexandrian catechetical school,” from Pantaenus (HE 5.10) to Clement (5.11) to Origen (6.3, 6.6) to Heraclas (6.15) to Dionysius (6.31).


Franz Overbeck, Die Bischofslisten und die apostolische Nachfolge in der Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius (Basel: Reinhardt, 1898), 32–33, noticed the vague end of the “apostolic period” for Eusebius.


Eusebius’s description of the destruction of Jerusalem (HE 3.5–8) could be added to the points of transition as well: here Eusebius quotes Jesus’s prophecy in Luke 21.20 to claim that Jerusalem stood as long as it did “in order to fulfill the moments of the gentiles” (πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν, HE 3.7.6).


Eusebius also could have underscored the transition to the post-apostolic period by devoting a self-contained book to these turning points, but he chose not to.


Eusebius also includes two corroborative quotations for this narrative, from Clement and Josephus, at HE 2.23.19–20. On HE 2.23, see Cecilia Antonelli, “La construction de la mémoire des ‘origines’ par Hégésippe chez Eusèbe à travers deux modèles en dialogue: Jérusalem et la famille de Jésus, Corinthe et Rome et ses apôtres et disciples,” in Memory and Memories in Early Christianity, ed. Simon Butticaz and Enrico Norelli (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 219–57, and David J. DeVore, “Opening the Canon of Martyr Narratives: Pre-Decian Martyrdom Discourse and the Hypomnēmata of Hegesippus,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 27 (2019): 579–609. For corroborative citations in book 3, see Morlet, “Concorde tes textes,” 54–55.


On this narrative see Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 199.


One final difference between apostolic and later times is that Jews, especially prominent in books 1 and 2, lose their war against the Romans and their temple in HE 3.5–8 and rarely appear again in the History, though Eusebius does note the Bar Kokhba revolt at 4.2.


In his representation of these themes, books 8 through 10 largely follow the pattern of earlier books. Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 179–80, notes consistency in martyr narratives across the History. I plan to publish a more detailed argument for this consistency soon.


Individual martyrs: HE 2.9, 2.23, 2.25, 3.20, 3.32, 3.36, 4.15–17, 5.21, 6.4–5, 7.15, 8.6.1–6, 8.13.1–7; Collective martyrs: 3.33, 5.1–2, 6.41–42, 7.11, 8.6.7–8.12.


Textual authorship: HE 8.9.7–8.10. Devotion to the scriptures: 8.6.5 with 7.32.2; 8.10.2–3, 10; cf. 8.13.7 with 7.32.25. Heresies: 7.31.2 (where Manichean doctrine spreads “still into the present,” εἰς ἔτι νῦν); cf. the Donatists, in 10.5.18 (20–22, 24) and 10.6.4, who recalled Novatian’s sect that originated two generations before, on which see HE 6.43, 6.45, 7.8 with the comparison by W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), 128–29.


Synchronic, individuated portraits: HE 7.27, with 7.30; 7.32.2–3 with 8.6.1, 5; 8.9.7–8.10, 8.13.1–7, 9.6.1–2. Bishops: 8.6.9, 8.9.7–8.10, 8.13.1–7, 9.6.1–2, 10.2.2–10.4.1, 10.5.18–10.7.


Fallibility of the church: 7.27–30, 7.32.22, 8.1.7–8, 8.2.2–3 (where Eusebius acknowledges fallibility but refuses to describe instances of it), 10.5.22–23; cf. 10.4.57–58.


Eusebius, of course, had access to numerous texts in the library that his master Pamphilus had bequeathed to him in Caesarea. Andrew Carriker, The Library of Eusebius of Caesarea (Leiden: Brill, 2003), remains the best study. See also Marco Frenschkowski, “Studien zur Geschichte der Bibliothek von Cäsarea,” in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World, ed. Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 53–104.


ϕέρεσθαι: HE 2.15.1, 2.18.6, 3.3.1, 3.9.4, 3.25.2–4, 7; 3.28.1; 3.36.3, 13; 3.39.1, 4.3.1, 4.14.9; 4.15.1, 48; 4.23.4, 13; 4.24.1, 3; 4.28, 4.29.6; 5.5.3, 6; 5.6.3, 5.19.3–4, 5.23.3, 5.24.10, 5.28.1, 6.16.1; 6.17.1; 6.31.1, 3; 6.36.3; 6.46.2, 5; 7.9.6, 7.13, 7.20.1, 7.22.11, 7.26.1, 7.29.2; cf. 1.12.1, 1.13.5, 5; 3.18.2, 3.37.4, 3.39.6, 4.25, 5.18.1. σῴζεσθαι: 4.3.3, 5.12.3, 5.27, 6.11.3, 6.12.1, 6.22; cf. 4.24.


All other quotations in these sections are of imperial directives (HE 8.17, 9.1.3–6, 9.7, 9.9, 9.10, 10.5–7), a genre also quoted in previous books (4.9, 4.12, 7.13; cf. 2.2, 3.33), and a fundamentally different use of quotation. Carotenuto, Tradizione e innovazione, rightly distinguishes Eusebius’s quotation of literary texts from his reproduction of imperial directives.


HE 8.1.7–8, 8.2.1, 8.7.2, 8.9.4–5, 10.1.4–5; 10.2.1–2; 10.3.1, 10.4.5–7, 9, 12, 14, 27, 31, 53, 58; 10.8.1; cf. 8.13.7.


And perhaps some inventions.


Although scholars typically consider Origen far more important to Eusebius than Dionysius, Eusebius in fact spends more words quoting or describing Dionysius than quoting or describing Origen. For more on Eusebius’s representation of Dionysius, see DeVore, “Character and Convention,” 231–32, 237–39; DeVore, “Only Event Mightier”; Garry Trompf, “A Foretaste of Eusebian Panegyricism in the Tenth ‘Festal Letter’ by St Dionysius (the Great) of Alexandria,” Phronema 30 (2015): 37–68.


Eusebius drops several hints about the shift to his times even before HE 7.26.3. In 7.26.11, Eusebius notes a confessor of the Valerian persecution who survived “until the persecution in our own time” (μέχρι τοῦ καθ’ ἡμα˜ς διωγμοῦ). Shortly after this, Eusebius describes two Christian statues that he has observed personally (7.18–19). These references to oral tradition and personal knowledge begin a transition away from quotation into narrating on his own authority as a historian.


Though he reverts to quotation when, in the bishop Phileas of Thmuis (HE 8.10), he possessed another voice that could tell the story better (as he says explicitly in 8.10.1).


On Eusebius’s views toward miracles, see, for example, Monika Gödecke, Geschichte als Mythos. Eusebs “Kirchengeschichte” (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1987), 60–70; Aryeh Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea against Paganism (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 165–214; cf. Teresa Morgan, “Eusebius of Caesarea and Christian Historiography,” Athenaeum 93 (2005): 193–208 at 199–201.


Eusebius often uses the word thauma and cognates to describe such occurrences.


HE 1.13.2, 6; cf. 2.2.1–2; and section I of this article.


Apostolic miracles: HE 1.13.11–17, 2.1.11, 2.3.2, 2.9.4. Post-apostolic miracles: 4.3.2, 5.7.2–4, 5.18.13, 5.20.6, 6.9.2–3, 6.29.2–4; cf. 5.5, 7.18.2.


Revelations: HE 2.1.13; 2.3.3–4; 3.8; 3.31.3–5, 4.15.10, 28; 5.3; cf. 5.16–18, 7.17. The History also narrates numerous prophecies from scripture that Eusebius as narrator describes as fulfilled (e.g., 1.2–4 passim, 3.7.5–6, 8.1.8–8.2.1, 9.9.5–7, 10.4 passim), or which narrators quoted by Eusebius say were fulfilled (e.g., 3.8.10, 5.1.15, 58; 7.10.5–8; 7.21.4–7). But the highly technical and contested practice of recognizing the fulfillment of scripture, which Eusebius treats at length in other major works (the Prophetic Extracts and Gospel Demonstration), renders the fulfillments of scripture too debatable to be declared unambiguously miraculous.


On Eusebius’s representation of Maximinus Daia, see now Scott Kennedy and David J. DeVore, “The Famine and Plague of Maximinus (311–12): Between Ekphrasis, Polemic, and Historical Reality in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History,” Journal of Late Antiquity, forthcoming.


See, for example, Gödecke, Geschichte als Mythos; Hervé Inglebert, Les Romains chrétiens face à l’histoire de Rome: Histoire, christianisme et romanités en Occident dans l’Antiquité tardive (IIIe–Ve siècles) (Paris: Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 1996), 164–75; Harry O. Maier, “Dominion from Sea to Sea: Eusebius of Caesarea, Constantine the Great, and the Exegesis of Empire,” in The Calling of the Nations: Exegesis, Ethnography, and Empire in a Biblical-Historic Present, ed. Mark Vessey et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 149–75 at 162–70, who erroneously assumes that HE 10.4, delivered in Tyre to Paulinus the bishop there, is dedicated instead to Constantine I. Raymond Van Dam, Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 81–100, and Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 280–301, nuance but largely retain the thesis. More skeptical of Eusebius’s Constantine-centered triumphalism are Michael Hollerich, “Religion and Politics in the Writings of Eusebius: Reassessing the First ‘Court Theologian,’” Church History 59 (1990): 309–25; Johnson, Eusebius, 143–69; and Johannessen, Demonic in the Political Thought, 116–19, 128–33, 150–2, 158–73, 177–20; see also Devin Singh, “Eusebius as Political Theologian: The Legend Continues,” Harvard Theological Review 108 (2015): 129–54.


In addition, Eusebius claims that Constantine I’s father, Constantius, had “a very friendly disposition to the Divine Word” and refused to persecute Christians, even if he was not unquestionably a Christian (HE 8.13.12). But this passage was likely informed by the same lost panegyric that Raymond Van Dam has identified as informing HE 8.13.8–15 and 9.9, discussed ahead; see Van Dam, “A Lost Panegyric: The Source for Eusebius of Caesarea’s Description of Constantine’s Victory and Arrival at Rome in 312,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 27 (2019): 211–40.


See also Aurelian’s about-face from a protector to a near persecutor: HE 7.22.19–21.


Van Dam, “Lost Panegyric.” Clifford Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 128, notes evidence from Libanius showing the wide circulation of panegyrics to inform provincials about recent events.


On Eusebius’s representation of Gallienus, see Trompf, “Foretaste of Eusebian Panegyricism,” who rightly emphasizes the triumphalism in HE 7.23, which Eusebius chose to excerpt in the History before he lived under Constantine. See also DeVore, “Only Event Mightier,” 12–13, 25–26, though I erred in dating the letter of Dionysius quoted in HE 7.22 to ca. 250; it should be dated to 252/3, an oversight revealed to me thanks to Sabine Huebner.


“Version produced in the 310s”: One manuscript family of the History, represented by manuscripts A, E, and R, includes six imperial directives usually published as History 10.5–7; the most famous of these directives is a Greek translation of the so-called Edict of Milan, which bears the names of both Licinius and Constantine (HE 10.5.2–14). This manuscript family is also markedly kinder to Licinius. The other manuscript family, represented by MSS B, D, and M as well as by Rufinus’s Latin translation and an early Syriac translation, lacks these directives (except for M) and is also more hostile to Licinius (see the variants in HE 8.17.5, 8.13.14, 9.9.12, 9.9a.12, 9.10.2, 9.11.6, and cf. Cassin, Debié, and Perrin, “Question des éditions,” 187–96). Both manuscript families end with a narrative of Licinius’s descent into evils and persecution of Christians, and Constantine’s defeat of Licinius in 324 (HE 10.8–9, discussed ahead). As Burgess, “Dates and Editions” (with references to earlier scholarship) showed, the text of MSS A, E, and R most likely represents the History as Eusebius wrote it in the 310s, while Eusebius inserted attacks on Licinius, removed the directives of HE 10.5–7 as superfluous under an openly Christian emperor, and wrote the last two, anti-Licinius chapters after Constantine’s victory in late 324, changes that are fully visible in MSS B, D, and M as well as in Rufinus’s Latin and the Syriac translation.


Also, Eusebius removed the six directives for the final edition of the History, as is apparent from their absence from MSS B and D, Rufinus, and the Syriac, which, along with manuscript M, largely represent Eusebius’s final edition of the History from late 324 or a bit later. On the “Edict of Milan,” see Noel Lenski, “Il valore dell’editto di Milano,” in Costantino a Milano: L’editto e la sua storia (313–2013), ed. R. Macchioro (Milan: Biblioteca ambrosiana, 2018), 5–58, who argues cogently that Constantine’s agency underlay this directive, though Eusebius could not know this.


Some might also interpret the lengthy Oration for the Building of Churches, a panegyric celebrating the rebuilding of the church of Tyre after its destruction in Diocletian’s persecution (HE 10.4.2–72), as initiating a new Christian era. Yet the oration itself nowhere voices a grand temporal distinction, and its representation of the current times are not wholly exceptional within the History. The oration’s fulfilled prophecies about new blessings for the church (e.g., HE 10.4.7–9, 45–51) are in fact paralleled in Dionysius of Alexandria’s praise for Gallenius’s empire excerpted in HE 7.23.2, which quotes Isa 42.9 and 43.19 similarly to how Eusebius uses biblical quotations in the Oration for the Building of Churches; see Trompf, “Foretaste of Eusebian Panegyricism,” 48–50. Moreover, the final sentence of Eusebius’s oration exhorts audiences to “stand up now and beseech God with a loud voice in delivery, that he keep us safe, sheltering us under his fold to the end, and awarding the unbreakable and unshakeable eternal peace that comes from him” (HE 10.4.72). This peace—surely psychical peace, not physical (cf. HE 5.pref. 3–4)—and protection are not assured by a new, Christian-dominant era but depend on continued obedience to God, which, Eusebius asserts, had recently waned and triggered Diocletian’s persecution (HE 8.1.6–9; 10.4.12–14, 57–61). Indeed, the oration’s allegorical interpretation of the church building implies that, to honor God properly, Christians must absorb the instruction in sacred interpretation that an educated Christian like Eusebius can provide; see Katharina Heyden, “Die Sakralisierung der christlichen Basilika in Eusebs Kirchweihrede für Tyros (h.e. 10,4),” in Heilige, Heiliges und Heiligkeit in spätantiken Religionskulturen, ed. Peter Gemeinhardt and Katharina Heyden (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012), 85–110.


See notes 12 and 99 in this article.


Before this, in HE 10.8.19, Eusebius says that God raised Constantine to oppose Licinius. But this phrasing is not unique in Eusebius; see 5.16.1; cf. 10.4.15.


See, for example, Mali and Zakai, “Time, History, and Eschatology,” 399–400; Maier, “Dominion from Sea to Sea,” 152; cf. Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 298–301.


Perhaps coming closest is the statement at HE 10.9.9 that Constantine and his sons “wiped away from life all his predecessors’ hatred of God” (τῶν πρόσθεν ἁπάντων ἀποσμήξαντες τοῦ βίου τὴν θεοστυγίαν); the translation is mine. I thank one of the anonymous reviewers for drawing my attention to this clause. To my mind, the statement references the elimination specifically of the tetrarchs’ loathing of God, rather than elimination of God-hatred throughout the world. Concerning τὴν θεοστυγίαν: twice in the preceding chapters Eusebius characterizes Licinius and his forces as hating God (τῷ θεομισεῖ, HE 10.8.11; τῶν θεομισῶν, 10.9.4), and he describes several other emperors as God-haters (HE 2.18.8, 9.7.2, 9.8.2, 9.11.2, 10.4.60, and likely 10.1.7 and 10.4.29; cf. 10.4.13). θεοστυγία, in isolation, most likely denotes Licinius’s disposition, specifically rather than more widespread, toward hatred of God. As for τῶν πρόσθεν ἁπάντων as a subjective genitive dependent on τὴν θεοστυγίαν: the early Syriac translator of Eusebius’s History supports my translation of the phrase as referring to Constantine’s tetrarchic predecessors, “who removed from the entire world the hatred against God of all the ancestors [or predecessors]” (lqostntinos wlbnohi lhnon dmrqo mn ‘lmā snetā dlōt ‘lhā dklhon qdmiē); I thank Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos for translating the Syriac text. Whereas most modern translators construe τῶν πρόσθεν ἁπάντων as a prepositional phrase denoting Constantine’s actions (e.g., Häuser “zu allererst”; Bardy: “avant toutes leurs autres actions”; Lo Castro: “prima di ogni altra cosa”; Schott: “before all else”; cf. Oulton’s paraphrase, “they had made it their very first action.…”), in the History πρόσθεν is almost always adverbial rather than prepositional. (McGiffert alone translates it thus: “of their predecessors.”) The best objection to my translation of τῶν πρόσθεν ἁπάντων seems to be its syntactical separation from τὴν θεοστυγίαν; yet Eusebius often complicates his syntax by separating phrases that naturally fit together (see, for example, 3.32.8, translated previously), so for Eusebian style, construing τῶν πρόσθεν ἁπάντων as a possessive makes syntactical as well as semantic sense. Finally, as noted above, Eusebius believed that the Christian-friendly policies of Alexander, Philip, and Gallienus had been reversed before; even if we assume that τοῦ βίου refers to “the world” rather than to “the life” of the now deceased predecessors (as most translators render it, including the early Syriac translator, with only Schott excepted), this cleansing of the tetrarchs’ hatred of God hardly implies that hatred of God can mount no comeback.


By contrast, Eusebius uses the phrase εἰς ἔτι νῦν frequently to describe phenomena that endured into his time of writing (e.g., HE 1.3.19, 2.12.3, 2.17.1, 3.36.2, 4.24, 5.12.1, 6.5.1; 7.32.2, 29; cf. 7.18, 3.37.4.).


Translation from Virgil, Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1–6, trans. H. R. Fairclough, rev. G. P. Good, Loeb Classical Library 63 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 560. Note also Aeneid 1.286–287, 291 (LCL, 63:260): “Caesar will be born, a Trojan of noble pedigree, an empire at the ocean, a reputation that ends at the stars.…A harsh age will become gentle, with wars put down.” (Nascetur pulchra Troianus origine Caesar, / imperium oceano, famam qui terminet astris.… / Aspera tum positis mitescent saecula bellis.) In Eusebius’s own day on the other side of the Roman Empire, Lactantius, Divine Institutes 7.16–24 (Lactantius, Divinarum institutionum libri septem, ed. Eberhard Heck and Antione Wlosock [Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011], 693–726), incorporated such Vergilian images into an apocalyptic narrative that culminates in a new Age of Saturn, apparently to motivate his patron Constantine to defeat the pagan tetrarchs: see Elizabeth DePalma Digeser and Avery Barboza, “Lactantius’ Euhemerism and Its Reception,” in Euhemerism and Its Uses: The Mortal Gods, ed. Syrithe Pugh (London: Routledge, 2021), 78–103 at 85–90.


Inglebert, “Introduction,” 5, acknowledges that the “short Late Antiquity” beginning with Constantine I is a Christian-inflected periodization.


This, of course, says nothing about Eusebius’s representation of Constantine I in his Vita Constantini or the De laudibus Constantini, written more than a decade later and whose representation of time would require separate treatment.


For more on Reinhart Koselleck’s subtle thought, see esp. Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 92–115; Koselleck, Zeitschichten, 131–224; Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, trans. Todd Samuel Presner et al. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 1–20, 45–83, 100–18, 131–47; Koselleck, Begriffsgeschichten. Studien zur Semantik und Pragmatik der politischen und sozialen Sprache (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2006), 32–55, 86–98. For synthesis of Koselleck’s thought on time, see Helge Jordheim, “Against Periodization: Koselleck’s Theory of Multiple Temporalities,” History and Theory 51 (2012): 151–71, and Jordheim, “Introduction: Multiple Times and the Work of Synchronization,” History and Theory 53 (2014): 498–518.


As Mark Humphries observes: “In the tradition of scholarship on early Christianity, a dividing line is usually drawn between Christianity as it appears in the New Testament and that which appears in other writers from the early centuries. This distinction in scholarship is marked in various ways, such as different academic journals, conferences, and shelving arrangements in university libraries. It is also signalled by terminology: the early Christianity of the New Testament is often described as ‘apostolic’, whereas that described by authors writing after c. 100 is termed ‘patristic’” (Early Christianity [London: Routledge, 2006], 76). This institutional periodization patently replicates Eusebius’s distinction between the apostolic and post-apostolic times, even retaining his Trajanic terminus of apostolic times.


Johnson, Eusebius, 51–83, has rightly emphasized Eusebius’s self-presentation as an educator and the instructive purposes behind much of his textual production, an observation that demands further exploration.


This is a different distinction than the frequent distinction between mythical and historical times in Greek historiography: see, for example, John Marincola, Authority and Tradition in Classical Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 63–86; Denis Feeney, Caesar’s Calendar: Ancient Times and the Beginning of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 77–86. The mythical-historical time distinction, I think, maps closely onto Eusebius’s distinction between the apostolic and post-apostolic times, a hypothesis I plan to explore elsewhere.


Herodotus sometimes notes events that occurred ἐπ’ ἐμεῦ (“in my time”) or states of affairs in place μέχρις ἐμεῦ (“until my time”) (e.g., Hdt. 1.5.4, 2.30, 2.182.1, 3.10.3, 3.97.3).


Thuc. 1.1.3, 1.20.1–21.1.


Translation from Dio Cassius, Roman History: Books 71–80, trans. Earnest Cary, Loeb Classical Library 177 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 108. See Adam Kemezis, Greek Narratives of the Roman Empire under the Severans: Cassius Dio, Philostratus and Herodian (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 90–104, 139–45.


On historians’ use of spatial metaphors to represent time, see, for example, John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 1–5; Koselleck, Practice of Conceptual History, 6; Hölscher, “Time Gardens.”


Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era (London: Norton, 2014), 44–77.


See Hugh Elton, Frontiers of the Roman Empire (London: Basford, 1996), 1–9.


As some have pointed out; see, for example, H. A. Drake, “What Eusebius Knew: The Genesis of the Vita Constantini,” Classical Philology 83 (1988): 20–38 at 33–4; Corke-Webster, Eusebius and Empire, 29–33.


A normative periodic break that Eusebius surely helped establish. Eusebius had alternative starting points available: note, for example, that the Third Gospel (Luke 3.1) places Christ’s ministry under Tiberius, which also happens to be where Tacitus’s historical narratives begin. The Roman conquest of Judaea in 63 BCE and the destruction of the temple in 70 CE are other alternative beginnings. Eusebius’s disingenuous argument about the Jewish priesthood’s discontinuity in HE 1.6, discussed above, reflects an urgency to fix Augustus’s rule as a world-historical turning point.


See in general the essays in Johnson and Schott, Eusebius of Caesarea.


Cf. DeVore, “Genre,” 21. Reading Eusebius as simply “late antique” requires interpreting him within a sociocultural system that was not yet entirely in place and that he himself did much to establish; the same would apply to other thinkers overlapping with Eusebius’s lifetime, such as Porphyry, Iamblichus, Arnobius, or Lactantius. On such teleology in history, see William J. Sewell, Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 83–91, 100–103.


The generational cohort is a fruitful analytical unit for studying individuals’ horizons: see, for example, Howard Schuman and Jacqueline Scott, “Generations and Collective Memories,” American Sociological Review 54 (1989): 359–81; Harald Wydra, “Conceptions of Memory: Elements of a Conceptual Framework,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 60 (2018): 5–34. Among studies of Late Antiquity, productive analysis of generational horizons (explicitly or not) appears in Jeremy Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012); Edward Watts, The Final Pagan Generation (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015).