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Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica$

Aaron P. Johnson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296132

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296132.001.0001

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(p.234) APPENDIX 1: The Structure of the Praeparatio

(p.234) APPENDIX 1: The Structure of the Praeparatio

Source:
Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

(p.234) APPENDIX 1:

The Structure of the Praeparatio

The Structure of the Praeparatio Ethnicity and Argument

Eusebius' Praeparatio exhibits a concern for order unlike the work of any previous apologist. Apart from periodic statements alerting the reader of the place in the overall arrangement of the argument, he offers two general statements declaring the basic structure of his argument, one in the first (which, however, covers only the first six books), the other in the last book of the Praeparatio.

At 1.6.5, he provides the following schema (into which I have inserted references to the sections referred to):

First, therefore, let us inquire how [the Greeks] have judged concerning the first creation of the world (1.6.1–1.8.19); then consider their opinions about the first and most ancient superstition found in human life (1.9.1–18); and, thirdly, the opinions of the Phoenicians (1.9.19–2.praef.3); fourthly, those of the Egyptians (2.praef.4–2.1.53); after which, fifthly, making a distinction in the opinions of the Greeks, we will first examine their ancient and more mythical delusion (2.1.52–2.8.13), and then their more serious and, as they say, more physical philosophy concerning the gods (3.1.1–3.17.3); and after this we will travel over the account of their admired oracles (4.1.1–5.36.5); after which we will also take a survey of the serious doctrines (viz., Fate) of the noble philosophy of the Greeks (6.1.1–6.11.83).

Elsewhere, he refers to his treatment of oracles (and also of the notion of Fate undergirding the oracles) as ‘political philosophy’, which had been preceded by the branches of ‘historical, which they call mythical, theology’ and ‘physical theology’ (4.1.2).

In the fullest account, Eusebius describes the arrangement of the Praeparatio's argument at 15.praef.1–7 in the following manner:

Since I wanted to refute the polytheistic error of all the nations at the beginning of the Praeparatio Evangelica as a recommendation and a defence of our departure from them, I investigated first of all in the first three books not only the tales, which the children of their theologians and poets treated comically about their native gods, but also their solemn and indeed unspeakable physical theories, transferred above perhaps to heaven and the parts of the universe by their noble philosophy.… Moreover, in three other books after the first three [Books 4–6] I also laid bare with brilliant refutations the account of their famed oracles and the false opinion about Fate, which is celebrated by the many, making use not only of our own works but also the words especially of the philosophers themselves (p.235) among the Greeks. And from there, I moved on to the oracles of the Hebrews, and in an equal‐numbered arrangement of books [Books 7–9] again I presented the reasonings for the dogmatic theology embraced by them and their whole history attested even by the Greeks themselves. Next [Book 10] I refuted the Hellenic character, how they had derived the benefit of all things from barbarians and contributed no serious teaching of their own, and when I had brought into the light the comparison of the times during which those renowned among the Greeks and the prophets of the Hebrews were born, forthwith in the three books after these [Books 11–13] I exhibited the concurrence of the philosophers honoured by the Greeks with the opinions of the Hebrews.… In the book before this one [Book 14], I detected those of the Greek philosophers who thought differently from us as thinking differently not only in relation to us, but to their own kinsmen, and as being overturned by their own acquaintances.… Continuing this even now in the last book, being the fifteenth of the present treatise, I will give what remains to the things being described, dragging into the light yet even now the solemnities of the noble philosophy of the Greeks and laying bare the lack of useful learning in them.

As argued in earlier chapters, the triadic structuring described by Eusebius in this passage is best seen in light of the two main sections of the Praeparatio in Books 1–6 and 7–15; for even the second phase of the narrative of the Greeks at 9–15 is directly connected to the narrative of the Hebrews in 7–8. The following outline appropriately renders the structure of the work:

  1. A. Prologue (1.1.1–1.5.14)

  2. B. The narrative of Greek descent (Books 1–6)

    • 1. Greek account of cosmogony (1.6.1–1.8.19)

    • 2. Greek account of primitive theology (1.9.1–18)

    • 3. The ancient Phoenicians (1.9.19–2.praef.3)

      • a. Cosmological reflections—first principles (1.10.1–6)

      • b. Forefathers of the Phoenicians (1.10.7–44)

      • c. Worship of animals—the serpent god (1.10.45–53)

    • 4. The ancient Egyptians (2.praef.4–2.1.53)

      • a. Forefathers of the Egyptians (2.1.1–32)

      • b. Worship of animals (2.1.33–51)

    • 5. The ancient Greeks (2.1.52–6.11.83)

      • a. Ancestors of the Greeks: ‘the mythical, or rather historical, theology’ (2.1.52–2.8.13)

      • b. ‘Physical theology’ (3.1.1–3.17.3)

      • c. ‘Political theology’ based upon oracles (4.1.1–5.36.5)

      • d. Serious doctrines of the Greeks—Fate (6.1.1–6.11.83)

  3. C. The narrative of Hebrew descent (Books 7–8)

    • 1. Reformulation of theory of decline among the nations (7.2)

    • 2. The ancient Hebrews (7.3–8.14)

      (p.236)
      • a. Progress in earliest times (7.3–5)

      • b. Difference between Hebrews and Jews (7.6)

      • c. Hebrew forefathers (7.7–8)

      • d. Hebrew theology (7.9–8.14)

  4. D. Second phase of the narrative of Greek descent (Books 9–15)

    • 1. Greek accounts of Hebrew stories (9.1–42)

    • 2. The Greeks as plagiarizers (10.1–14)

    • 3. Platonic borrowings from the Hebrews (11.1–13.13)

    • 4. Platonic divergence from the Hebrews (13.14–21)

    • 5. Discord among the Greeks (14.1–15.62)

    • 6. The discord of the Greeks before and after Plato (14.3.6–14.16.13)

      • a. Plato on his predecessors (14.3.6–14.4.12)

      • b. Numenius on Plato's successors (14.4.13–14.9.3)

      • c. Dissension because of conjectural nature of Greek philosophy (14.9.4–14.13.9)

      • d. Dissension of Greek philosophers on God and first principles (14.14.1–14.16.13)

    • 7. Criticisms of philosophical schools and their founders (14.17.1–15.32.8)

      • a. Scepticism (14.17.1–14.18.30)

      • b. Aristippus and the Cyrenaics (14.18.31–14.19.7)

      • c. ‘Empiricists’ such as Protagoras and Metrodorus (14.19.8–14.20.12)

      • d. Epicurus (14.20.13–14.21.7)

      • e. Aristotle (15.2.1–15.13.5)

      • f. Stoics (15.13.6–15.22.67)

      • g. Physical philosophers in general (15.22.68–15.32.8)

    • 8. Discord of physical philosophers on cosmogonical doctrines (15.32.9–15.52.17)