Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 25 February 2017

Greek Descent Revisited

Greek Descent Revisited

(p.126) 5 Greek Descent Revisited
Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica

Aaron P. Johnson

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The Greek philosophical tradition plays an integral role in Books 10-15, and may at first seem to be the least likely subject for matters of ethnicity. This chapter argues, however, that Eusebius’ treatment of the Greek philosophers is firmly embedded within his ethnic argumentation of drawing polemical connections between the nations and exhibiting national character. Plato is represented as a ‘translator’ of Hebrew wisdom, with which he had become familiar during his travels to the East. Earlier Greek philosophers had, in any case, stolen or plagiarized barbarian learning, most notably the Hebrew alphabet. Parallels between Plato’s writings and scriptural passages are meant to prove the former’s indebtedness to the Hebrews, while dissimilarities show that even the greatest of Greek thinkers was unable to attain the high level of piety and wisdom of his Hebrew predecessors. Successive generations of Greek philosophers quickly confused any truth that Plato had borrowed; this argument from Greek disagreement functioned as a powerful tool of discrediting Greek philosophy (in contrast to the declared unity of the Hebrews up to, and including, the Christians).

Keywords:   Plato, Greek philosophy, Hebrews, ancient plagiarism, Greek theft, Hebrew alphabet


Much of the apologetic project of early Christians was dedicated to an appraisal of Greek philosophy, which resulted in either positive or negative evaluations of the foundational figures of Greek thought. The positive treatments of Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, who sought to accommodate Greek philosophy favourably within a Christian framework, were balanced by the denigrating judgements of Tatian, Theophilus, and others. By the ninth book of the Praeparatio, it remained unclear as to which side the weight of Eusebius' magisterial apology would fall. His labours had been expended primarily upon the retelling of a historical narrative of the Greeks, with a defence of that narrative and its contemporary effects and manifestations. This narrative had been joined with a second narrative of Hebrews and Jews that served as a foil to the former.

A brief perusal of the remaining books of the Praeparatio exhibit the names of a number of seminal Greek philosophers, in particular Plato. Had Eusebius left history behind finally to pursue intellectual and philosophical themes in a manner more resonant with modern attempts to defend the faith? Such a suggestion might seem natural. Yet, even in these final books of the Praeparatio, Eusebius' vision of the world as comprised of more and less ancient nations, whose collective characters, connections and differences were fundamental for his apologetic argument, persists in his treatment of Greek philosophers. His narrative survey of the history of Greek philosophical developments is artfully grafted onto his narrative of Hebrew descent. After his account of the ancient Hebrews, their way of life and theology, and their distinction from the later Jews, Eusebius attempted to delineate a connection with the Greeks. Plato was the prime migrating figure to receive attention (p.127) when Eusebius picks up this second phase of Greek descent. Plato had been known to have travelled to the East in search of wisdom. For Eusebius, then, Plato's writings had to be thoroughly searched for hints of his interaction with this ancient wisdom. Parallels between Moses' writings and Plato's works are drawn with great care in Books 11–13, since he needed to engage with Plato's thought at length for reasons that will become clearer in the course of the present discussion. First, he was obliged to account for the positive aspects of Greekness, which for him were embodied in Platonic thought. He was not so antagonistic to the Greeks as to attempt a rejection of Plato, but he emphatically set Plato in his historical and ethnical place: Plato was a repository of Hebrew wisdom, who, when located in his proper historical schema, could be shown to have exemplified the process of Greek borrowings from eastern nations. As the transmitter of Hebrew wisdom to the Greeks, Plato's authority was simultaneously invoked and undermined. The greatness of Plato's philosophy was allowed—but only because (and in so far as) it reflected its Hebrew source. Second, Eusebius wanted to depict Plato and the other philosophers who had borrowed Hebrew wisdom as models or precursors for Christian conversion. As he declared:

You may judge that not without sound reason have we given a secondary place to the doctrines of the Greek philosophy, and preferred the theology of the Hebrews, when you learn that even among the Greeks themselves those who have most of all treated philosophy correctly, and thought out something more and better than the vulgar talk about the gods, have discovered no other true doctrines than those which had received a previous sanction among the Hebrews.1

If the most philosophic and wise of the Greeks were forced to look elsewhere for truth, and they were now held in high esteem among the Greeks, why should Christians receive blame for rejecting the ancestral theology of the Greeks for that of the Hebrews? Christians were doing nothing less than following the same route as Greek philosophers, and in fact were surpassing them by more fully grasping Hebrew wisdom.

As in the previous chapter, I wish to note the ways in which Eusebius' narration provides a picture of national character that supports his ethnic argumentation in the Praeparatio as a whole. Second, the ways in which this narrative forges national connections (especially between (p.128) the Hebrews, Jews, and Greeks) will be given due consideration. And third, I will provide analysis of how the ‘argument from disagreement’ (that is, the rejection of Greek philosophy because of the disagreement of Greek philosophers among themselves) offered in Books 14–15 functions within a distinctively ethnic context.


Eusebius has so far exhibited a method of incorporating aspects of Jewishness into his defence of Christianity by marking off ‘Jews’ as ‘Hebrews’. But this retelling of Jewish and Hebrew history can pull yet more apologetic weight by incorporating the best of the Greeks as well. He does so in four stages. First, he provides evidence, through copious citation, that the Greeks did in fact know who the Hebrews and Jews were (9.1–10), and even knew substantial portions of their history (9.11–42). Second, Eusebius offers proof that the Greeks were known to be thieves and plagiarizers of the labours of others, since they possessed neither any wisdom of their own nor any philosophers who lived early enough to contribute wisdom to the other nations (Book 10). He then offers an account of the various ways in which the Greeks had borrowed from the Hebrews, in particular through the travels of Plato (11.1–13.13). Finally, he enumerates the ways in which the Greeks fell short of the high standard of the Hebrews in wisdom and in virtue (13.14–15.62).

The Jews in Greek Texts

Josephus had set a precedent for Eusebius when he made a point of addressing the issue of Greek knowledge of the Jews in his Contra Apionem.2 Criticisms had been levelled against the Jews as being latecomers upon the scene of the history of civilization and as being largely dependent upon other nations for cultural advances. On a very basic level, it could be argued that the Jews were excluded from the history of civilization and progress by the very fact that they were not (p.129) mentioned by those who were the primary movers of history, namely the Greeks. Hence, it was imperative, Josephus thought, that such assertions regarding the obscurity of the Jews among the Greeks be opposed.3

Josephus' Contra Apionem becomes a primary source from which Eusebius quotes when he takes up the issue.4 Beyond the sources quoted by Josephus, Eusebius offers additional quotations from other Greek sources on the Jews: Theophrastus,5 Porphyry,6 Clearchus, Megasthenes and Aristobulus,7 Numenius,8 Abydenus,9 and Alexander Polyhistor and his sources.10 The fact that these authors are all later than Josephus (except for Theophrastus, and even he is found only in the work of the later Porphyry), does not seem to bother Eusebius. In fact, his purpose may be only to update Josephus with the sources from Clement and Porphyry. After all, he claims that ‘illustrious Greek philosophers, even in our own day’, bear witness to the Jews, or rather Hebrews.11 In any case, he only wants favourable mention of ‘the Jews’—as his Greek sources will name them, though they are now placed within his own historical schema as ‘Hebrews’, not ‘Jews’. Thus, he selects Greek testimonies to the ascetic lifestyle and greatness of the ancient Hebrews. For instance, Eusebius cites Alexander Polyhistor, who is in turn citing Eupolemus, as praising Abraham as one who ‘surpassed all men in nobility and wisdom, who was also the inventor of astronomy and the Chaldaic art, and pleased God well by his zeal for piety’.12 The concern of (p.130) the apologist in amassing such citations by Greek authors was to prove not only that Christians had aligned themselves with well‐established nations, but also to show that the ancient Hebrews had received high marks in the assessment of at least some of the Greeks.

Beg, borrow, and steal: the Greeks as thieves

Once Eusebius has made the point that Greek authors have not only known the Hebrews and their deeds, but also esteemed them, he builds up the claim that the Greeks have had a propensity for borrowing what is not theirs, especially in the area of philosophical wisdom, since they had produced nothing of value in this regard on their own:13 they had been forced by their own scarcity of native wisdom to look elsewhere. Eusebius marshals a number of different strategies with which to implement this portrayal of the Greeks. I will only focus on some of the more important ones, consideration of which will help us grasp the contours of his ethnic argumentation.

The first of these is the adoption of the rhetoric of plagiarism and theft to represent the Greek borrowing of ideas, arts, or skills from other nations (10.1–3).14 Eusebius scarcely allows for the possibility that the Greeks discovered the idea of monotheism through natural conceptions (phusikai ennoiai).15 Such a scenario would at any rate be favourable for Christians, Eusebius avers.16 But, given the Greek propensity to steal what is not theirs, it is more likely that they also stole ideas of monotheism and other philosophical tenets from the Hebrews. Before giving a selection of citations as proof, he himself employs a terminology of theft and plagiarism. He writes: ‘But you must not be surprised if we say that possibly the doctrines of the Hebrews have been plagiarized (eskeuōrēsthai) by them, since they are not only proved to have stolen (aposulēsantes) the other branches of learning from Egyptians and Chaldeans and the rest of the barbarous nations, but even to the present (p.131) day are detected in robbing one another of the honours gained in their own writings.’17 Here, plagiarism becomes a provocative metaphor for the Greek activity of taking as their own something originating elsewhere. These acts of plagiarism can extend from lines of writing to whole ‘branches of learning’. Eusebius seems to be concerned with both, for he adds: ‘At all events one after another they surreptitiously steal (hupoklepsas) the phrases of their neighbours together with the thoughts and whole arrangement of treatises, and pride themselves as if upon their own labours.’18 This theft (klopē) exhibits the character (tropos) of the Greeks.19

The vocabulary used in these descriptions of Greek acts of cultural and philosophical appropriation is loaded with pejorative connotations. The word often translated as ‘plagiarist’ in Gifford's translation is kleptēs or ‘thief’.20 This is not to be understood as innocent borrowing of wisdom from other nations, but rather within the stark terms of stealing and robbing (aposulēsantes, aposterountes, and hupoklepsas). The extracts from Clement would provide additional terms such as ‘filching’ (huphairoumenoi) and ‘copying’ (apomimoumenoi), and speak of the Greek ‘style of plagiarism’ (to kleptikon eidos). Eusebius also employs the (less negative?) term eskeuōrēsthai,21 apparently occurring in this sense only in Diogenes Laertius 2.61, and Clement's Stromateis

The rhetoric of plagiarism offers a vivid picture of the relation of the Greeks to other nations. The members of the dominant culture are thereby put in an embarrassing and deplorable light. This manner of representing the Greeks adds much to the claim that the Greeks are later than and dependent on other nations. In fact, the language of theft and plagiarism provides an evaluative, even moral, framework for seeing the Greeks. Eusebius' adoption of such language not only indicates the tenor of his polemic, but also is an effective mechanism in his mapping of national connections. In defining the connection as one of deceptive theft and plagiarism, Eusebius represents Greekness within a moral (p.132) dimension that alienates the Greeks from the other nations, but especially from the Hebrews.

A second and more striking mode of portraying the Greeks lies in the tale of Philosophy personified as a female figure who looks in vain for wisdom among the Greeks (10.4.1–10). The story of the personification of Philosophy as a woman coming to the Greeks appears in a similar manner at Lucian's De Fugitivis 6–11. There, Lucian tells the story of how Philosophy, being sent by Zeus to bring wisdom to humankind, first goes to the barbarian nations under the assumption that it would be harder to instil wisdom among these peoples. Upon her establishment of wisdom in India (where an entire race of philosophers, the Brahmans, is formed),23 Ethiopia, Egypt, Babylon (where the Chaldeans and Magi had arisen), Scythia and Thrace, Philosophy arrives in Greece after sending Eumolpus and Orpheus ahead.24 In Greece, she is able to attach to herself the Seven Sages.25 But after the Sophists obscure the truth, she nearly leaves, being persuaded to stay only by the pleas of the Cynics, Antisthenes and Diogenes, and later Crates and Menippus.26 The story continues with the present mistreatment of Philosophy by the Greeks. Such a tale contains the major elements of Eusebius' account: the personified Philosophy, the openness of other nations to her guidance, and the recalcitrance of the Greeks to her teachings.

Dio Chrysostom had already related a similar tale in his twelfth oration at Olympia. Like the wise owl whose advice went unheeded by the other birds, Philosophy had given counsel to the ancient Greeks, but they ‘were ignorant and dishonoured her’.27 While not specifically saying she went to the other nations, Dio next claims that for his audience to find wisdom, they may have to search in Babylon, Bactra (in Bactria), Susa (in Persia) or Palibothra (in India). The rejection of the personified Philosophy by the Greeks of old had thus become an important topos in Roman times, even by authors who identified themselves with the Greeks, though in varying ways.28

This background further illuminates Eusebius' use and manipulation of the story. After the Greeks had borrowed the customs and religious practices revolving around polytheism from the other nations, Eusebius says that Philosophy arrived to instil her wisdom among them.


[She] found among their forefathers nothing that properly belonged to herself, but discovered that the sanctities and antiquities of the theology which had come to them from their fathers, and even the marvellous and universally famous divinities and oracles, were in reality superfluous and unprofitable. Wherefore she proceeded to put these back into a secondary place, as they could not be of any use to her for the discovery of things necessary and true: and thenceforth, as one naked and destitute of any reasonings or learning of her own, she went about examining the foreign and barbarous systems, and provided, collected, and borrowed what was useful to her from all sides, whatever she found among the several nations. For indeed she began to discover that not only the true theology was lacking to the Greeks, but also the most useful in daily life of all the other arts and sciences.29

Eusebius' account possesses distinctive elements of its own in contrast to the previous Philosophy stories. For him, even the ignorance and polytheism of the early Greeks had been borrowed from the barbarian nations, making it the more difficult for Philosophy to establish herself there. Also, Eusebius' Philosophy is a distinctly monotheistic entity, in contrast to the polytheism borrowed from the other nations before her arrival. Like Lucian (and in some sense Dio), Eusebius represents Philosophy as going to the other nations. Unlike Lucian and Dio, however, Eusebius has painted Philosophy as being herself somewhat impotent and in need of the wisdom that other nations could offer her. In other words, Eusebius turns the story of Philosophy's far‐flung travels upon its head: rather than visiting the other nations to spread her wisdom, Philosophy goes in search of the wisdom she lacks. Eusebius' narrative of Philosophy attempts to effect a memorable and striking image of the state of affairs among the ancient Greeks. They were utterly destitute of all wisdom and beneficial knowledge; philosophy was not innate to the Greeks, but came from outside.

Shortly after the arrival of Philosophy, Eusebius asserts (in a manner similar to Lucian) that the Seven Sages arose and began to discover truth. Importantly, most of the Sages were not originally Greeks themselves, but were from other nations; or if they were Greeks, they had nonetheless gone to barbarian nations for their learning.30 Pherecydes was a Syrian.31 His student, Pythagoras, was from Samos or Tyrrhenia, Syria or Tyre, according to the divergent accounts, so that ‘the first of the philosophers, celebrated in the mouth of all Greeks, was (p.134) not a Greek but a barbarian’.32 But even more than his birth, Pythagoras had sought wisdom from abroad, studying in Babylon, Egypt, and Persia, and becoming a pupil of the Magi and then of Brahmans from India.33 Thales was a Phoenician, or Milesian according to variant reports, and studied in Egypt.34 Solon likewise studied in Egypt, Eusebius says, citing the passage from the Timaeus on the Greeks' historical lateness: ‘O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children, and there is not one old man among the Greeks …, nor is there among you any learning grown hoary with time.’35 Plato, too, had gone abroad in his search for truth, travelling first to Italy then to Egypt.36 After noting Democritus' travels to Babylon and Egypt, Eusebius calls off his enumeration of migrating philosophers and claims that the point has been sufficiently made that the Greeks had been ‘left for long ages very poor, and devoid of all learning’.37

It is in this context that Eusebius offers a rather remarkable ‘proof’ of the dependency of Greek learning upon the other nations, namely the transmission of the alphabet. Beginning with the story of Cadmus, who had transmitted Phoenician letters to the Greeks, Eusebius claims that the geographical label ‘Phoenicia’ needs to be properly understood. For the land in which the Hebrews lived was in ancient times called Phoenicia, only later becoming Judaea and then Palestine.38 Then to clinch the argument, Eusebius systematically goes through each letter of the Hebrew alphabet and gives the special meaning for which each stands. He writes: ‘Each letter among the Hebrews has its name from some significant idea, a circumstance which it is not possible to trace among the Greeks: on which account especially it is admitted that the letters are not originally Greek.’39 For example, the first five letters of the Hebrew alphabet, standing together, mean ‘The learning of a house, this is the fullness of tablets’,40 since Aleph (in Eusebius, ‘Alph’) means (p.135) ‘learning’, Beth means ‘of a house’, and so on. (In fact, Aleph does mean ‘learning’ and Beth does mean ‘house’ in Hebrew.)

Whether or not it was Eusebius' idea to attempt to arrive at a coherent thought or phrase when reading them in order, this manipulation of alphabetic signification is highly important in the history of the alphabet in general, and in Jewish–Greek polemic in particular. Unfortunately, Eusebius' description of alphabetic meaning has not found its way into any scholarship on the history of the alphabet, as far as I can tell. In fact, Jerome's Epistulae 30, which has received scholarly attention,41 is merely another example of Jerome's unacknowledged use of other authors, in particular Eusebius. While Eusebius' discussion seems to be without precedent, the argument for alphabetic superiority may have arisen within the context of the rabbinic schools or from a lost Jewish polemic against the Greeks.42 Either way, this argument fits well within his overall argument for Greek dependency on barbarians and their lack of native wisdom.

So far, Eusebius' rhetoric of plagiarism and his use of Philosophy personified have been seen as driving mechanisms for his portrayal of Greek dependency. The third means of putting the Greeks in their proper place, both historically and culturally, is through a scholarly display of chronological erudition (10.9–14). In some sense, chronology offers a more sure‐fire way of asserting Greek dependence, for if the founding fathers of Greek philosophy can be shown to have lived only after the philosophers of other nations, then any claim to their high position in cultural and philosophical history becomes indefensible. As Eusebius says:

This would be one of the most conclusive proofs for the argument before us, that before dealing with the learned men among the people we should first decide about their antiquity; in order that if the Greeks should be found to hold the same doctrines with the prophets and theologians of the Hebrews, you may no longer be in doubt who were likely to have borrowed from the others; whether the elder from the younger, Hebrews from Greeks, and barbarians from philosophers, whose language even they were not likely to understand; (p.136) or, what is more likely, that the younger borrowed from the elder, and that those Greeks who had most busily studied the history of the various nations were not unacquainted with the writings of the Hebrews.43

Eusebius follows this statement with a prolonged recounting of the dates for various figures from Hebrew history, contrasting these with the later dates of particular Greek figures. He supplements his own calculations with those enumerated by Julius Africanus,44 Tatian,45 Clement,46 and Josephus.47 The citations from these authors are sandwiched between Eusebius' own chronological considerations, which are at 10.9 (concerning the dates of those who lived until the time of Moses) and 10.14 (concerning those who lived after Moses). The latter chronology further drives home the recent arrival of Greek civilization: Solon, one of the Seven Sages, lived at the time of Cyrus, king of Persia.48 Cyrus enters Jewish history, however, at a fairly late stage, even after most of the prophets, while Solon and the Seven Sages had already been marked out as the founders of Greek philosophy. The earliest Greek philosophers were thus shown to have lived embarrassingly later than the ancient Hebrews and Moses.

Eusebius had already laboured diligently in the field of chronological studies.49 His Chronicon had set down the chronologies of the major nations in parallel columns to highlight the early or late development of each. This project was apologetic at its core: Eusebius' innovative use of parallel columns was a clear indicator of the relative lateness or antiquity of each nation.50 However, its full apologetic utility was not realized until his chronological conclusions found their place within the Praeparatio's argument. Combined with his employment of the rhetoric of plagiarism and his narrative of Philosophy's arrival among the Greeks, the chronological argument marshalled in Book 10 strikes a devastating blow to Greek claims for possessing the origins of philosophy and truth.

(p.137) Plato: Traveller and Translator

Reference to Plato's travels was first made in the tenth book of the Praeparatio.51 Here, Eusebius claimed that Plato had visited Italy, to study under the Pythagoreans, as well as Egypt.52 He had also made favourable remarks on the ancient philosophy of the Syrians and Egyptians. Eusebius quotes the pseudonymous Epinomis 986E–987A, where the Syrians and Egyptians are said to have first acquired accurate knowledge of astronomical phenomena as a result of the ‘beauty of the summer season … whence the knowledge has reached to all countries, including our own, after having been tested by thousands of years and time without end’.53

In the eleventh book of the Praeparatio, where Eusebius turns his full attention to Plato, he moderates his accusation of Greek ‘theft’ and makes the much milder claim that Plato is in agreement (sumphōnia, or even homodoxa) with the Hebrews,54 or that they thought similar things (ta homoia).55 The mass of parallels—from the tripartite division of philosophy into ethics, dialectic, and physics to the nature of God or the soul56—are meant to exhibit the conformity of Plato's thought with that of the Hebrews. Eusebius uses the language of agreement throughout, even using the metaphoric phrase ‘like the harmony of a well‐tuned lyre’.57 Of course, he does not allow the reader to forget who came first.58 The Hebrews began practising true philosophy ‘before the Greeks had learned even the first letters’.59

The idea that Plato was actually dependent for his wisdom upon the Hebrews begins to crop up only gradually as Eusebius continues to compare Hebrew and Platonic thought. At 11.6.1, Eusebius begins (p.138) to assume the connection: ‘Plato, following (hepomenos) [Moses], assents to these things.’ Hepomenos allows for more than a mere chronological ordering, and includes the notion of imitating Moses' ideas. However, the statement is not strong, and is probably meant only to introduce the dependent relationship rather naturally.60 The relationship is affirmed more clearly at 11.8.1, where Eusebius states that, ‘the admirable Plato followed the all‐wise Moses and the Hebrew prophets in regard also to the teaching and speculation about things incorporeal and seen only by the mind’.61 However, the matter is quickly complicated in the remainder of the sentence:

Whether it were that he learned from hearsay which had reached him (since he is proved to have made his studies among the Egyptians at the very time when the Hebrews, having been driven the second time out of their own country, were in the habit of visiting Egypt during the Persian supremacy), or whether on his own he hit upon the true nature of things, or in whatever way, he was deemed worthy of this knowledge by God.62

This sort of waffling between dependency and natural knowledge on the part of Plato has already been seen in regard to the Greeks in general at 10.1.5–6.63 While it seems to detract from Eusebius' case, it could show the initial caution with which Eusebius begins approaching the relationship between Plato and the Hebrews. On the other hand, he may only be putting on a show of mock objectivity and openness to other interpretations. For instance, he raises the issue in somewhat more disingenuous terms when he states: ‘Whence these ideas came to Plato, I cannot explain.’64 Of course, this is after he has made clear statements that Plato took them directly from the Hebrews, and hence it here appears to be more rhetorical flaunting than caution.

If it is caution, though, it is soon left behind when he asserts that Plato ‘imitated not only the thought, but also the very expressions and words of the Hebrew scriptures’, and so, ‘appropriated’ Hebrew dogma.65 This description is further supplemented by the terminology of paraphrase and translation: ‘Plato seems directly to paraphrase (metaphrazein) the (p.139) oracle of Moses.’66 Amelius, in interpreting Plato's thought, is said to ‘paraphrase’ the barbarian's theology (that is, of St John).67 Plato writes ‘as if having been taught by Moses’.68 And again, Moses is named the ‘teacher’ of Plato's and Porphyry's doctrine of the soul.69 In the Symposium, Plato is declared to be ‘all but translating’ (a phrase that reccurs) the words of Moses' account of Paradise, and uses allegory just as Moses had done.70 Plato thus ‘speaks in riddles like Moses’.71 Plato's account of affairs before the flood ‘makes use of [Moses'] archaeology’.72 Or alternatively, Plato ‘walks in the footsteps’ of Moses.73 At another place, Plato ‘alters’ (metabalōn) the words of David's Psalms.74 More provocatively, Eusebius claims: ‘you may find each of the philosopher's sayings stated word for word throughout the whole sacred writing of the Psalms’.75 At 12.44.1, Eusebius straightforwardly claims that Plato translated (diermēneuei) Moses.

Under the barrage of Platonic and Hebrew parallels, Eusebius methodically pushes on from the milder claim that Plato may have been only moderately influenced by the Hebrews to the conviction that Plato was, in fact, the translator of Moses. Hence, Eusebius' treatment of Plato and Hebrew wisdom goes beyond drawing parallels between similar passages. He has, rather, strategically placed Plato into a position of subordination to the Hebrews, which allows him to create a certain critical distance between his own thought and that of Plato.76 Eusebius himself may have inadvertently adopted a great deal of Platonic thought in his own theological and philosophical formulations—one thinks most readily of his Logos theology.77 However, to claim that Eusebius is here attempting to reconcile Platonic and Hebrew wisdom in an ‘assimilationist exercise’,78 and is forging a Christian—Platonic (p.140) synthesis, is to misconstrue Eusebius' aim. His argument for Plato's dependence upon earlier and wiser Hebrew thinkers attempts nothing less than to dismantle the authoritative status of this philosopher upon which so much later Greek thought, especially under the empire, rested. Authority in matters of truth and morality reside instead with a group of holy men in a barbarian nation.

Even more important for his ethnic argumentation, Eusebius has written Plato into an ethnic framework that highlights dependency on other nations and shows him to be constrained by the weakness of his own Greekness. As just noted, it could be argued that Eusebius is unwittingly putting Hebrew thought into Greek dress, and so Hellenizing Moses. And this would be a fair assessment. For Eusebius, after all, does claim a tripartite division of Hebrew philosophy into ethics, dialectic, and metaphysics that sounds remarkably Hellenistic. And while he insists that a theology, such as his own, which places important emphasis on the operation of divine reason (the Logos), is distinctively Hebrew, it nevertheless has a very strong resonance with Middle Platonic developments.79 However, on the other hand, Eusebius has provided a paradigm for only selective accommodation of Plato's thought. And, in the end, what is at stake is not so much particular doctrines but a fundamental shift in ethnic and cultural vision—an overturning of the dominant Hellenocentric approach to evaluating cultural, philosophical, and religious truth. The truth, for Eusebius, does not lie in Greece but is scattered across the oikoumenē, wherever Hebrews live out their lives of asceticism, pursuit of wisdom, and friendship with God. And in place of picturing Greekness as a steady stream of development from earlier Greeks to later Greeks, from superstition to the rise of philosophy, Eusebius imagines a world of travelling thinkers criss‐crossing the ancient world with cargoes of distinctive ideas taken from distinctive locations and peoples. It is not a world of steady development by a particular people, but one of transmission, alteration, paraphrase, and translation.

This is the framework for understanding Eusebius' Plato. For Eusebius, Plato is a transmitter, a translator. He is only the greatest of many who had sought the truth outside Greece. But, his philosophy could only be considered great in so far as his translations were accurate. Hence, (p.141) Eusebius turns from those aspects of Plato's thought that were in harmony with Hebrew writings to the less faithful parts of his philosophy.80

Eusebius presented an attitude of deference and respect to the philosopher in 11.1.1–13.13.13. But at 13.14, he becomes hostile, claiming that Plato should be blamed for the continuation of polytheistic superstition among the Greeks.81 Whereas Plato had ‘followed’ the Hebrews in the passages related in 11.1.1–13.13.13, Eusebius now brings to the reader's attention texts of Plato that have fallen away from Hebrew wisdom: Plato ‘no longer follows them’.82 Instead, Plato has turned, for example, to the Egyptians when he adopts the notion of metempsychosis: ‘Plato is Egyptianizing (aiguptiazōn) in his doctrine.’83 In comparison with Moses' legislation, Plato's prescriptions on common wives, pederasty, harsh punishment in legal cases, and more, do not stand up well.84 After quoting from Plato's Phaedrus on pederasty, Eusebius asserts that ‘Moses expressly legislated the opposite’,85 and then quotes the Levitical passages castigating the abominable nature of such practices.

Such an enumeration of Plato's weak points exhibits well Eusebius' critical approach to Plato.86 These undesirable aspects of Plato's thought must be highlighted for Eusebius' apologetic programme to maintain its force. He himself had shown that the criticism might be raised that Christians had no need to go to the Hebrews for wisdom if Plato was shown to be in agreement with them. The Greek interlocutor might ask, Eusebius notes: ‘Why … if Moses and Plato have agreed so well in their philosophy, are we to follow the doctrines not of Plato but of Moses, when we ought to do the reverse, because, in addition to the equivalence of the doctrines, the Greek author would be more congenial to us as Greeks than the barbarian?’87 Eusebius has anticipated the question with (p.142) a response that highlights the limits of that agreement. Plato had not been able to turn fully from his Greekness; Hebrew wisdom held only partial sway over his thought. His writings evinced a mixture of barbarian wisdom and piety with Greek foolishness and impiety. Even if Plato had been able to embrace more completely the teachings and practices of the Hebrews, he nonetheless held only a secondary and belated position in comparison with the purity of original Hebrew wisdom. Eusebius concludes his discussion of the divergences between the Hebrews and Plato by noting: ‘We gladly welcome all that is noble and excellent in him, and bid a long farewell to what is not of such a character.’88

This and similar statements in the Praeparatio have led many to misconstrue Eusebius' aim as an attempt to vindicate Christian doctrine by outlining its parallels with the best of Greek philosophy.89 In effect, he may be doing just this. However, his explicit intention for offering the comparison between Platonic and biblical teaching is to convict Plato of dependence upon the Hebrews. Plato's value lies, for Eusebius, only in those areas in which he accurately conveyed Hebrew wisdom; for those areas in which he failed, he should be roundly condemned as a faulty translator. Contrary to the predominant view of Eusebius' attitude toward Greek philosophy, the Praeparatio eschews any claim that Greek thought provides a preparation for the Gospel. Instead, it is Hebrew philosophy that furnishes the preparation for Greek philosophy. Christians have no need to borrow from the best of Greek wisdom since that wisdom is only (mis‐)appropriated from an original and pure form of Hebrew wisdom.


The fourteenth and fifteenth books of the Praeparatio are primarily dedicated to showing the dissension among Greek philosophers on various doctrinal issues.90 Eusebius says his primary purpose in doing this is to further establish his defence of the Christian rejection of such Greek thinking and Christianity's adoption of the way of life of the (p.143) Hebrews. Furthermore, he writes that he will draw attention to the discord of the Greeks, ‘not at all as a hater of the Greeks or of reason, far from it, but to remove all cause of slanderous accusation, that we have preferred the Hebrew oracles from having been very little acquainted with Hellenic wisdom’.91 Christian rejection of Greekness cannot be denigrated as stemming from ignorance or from a lack of reason. According to Eusebius, Christians know full well what it is they are rejecting (a late, derivative and discordant Greekness), as well as what it is they are accepting (an ancient, pure and rational Hebrew way of life). The opposition between Greek discord and Hebrew unity provides the main theme of the final books of the Praeparatio.

The final element of Eusebius' apologetic methodology that requires attention, then, is the manner in which the account of discord among Greek philosophers fits within the framework of ethnic argumentation. The purpose of Eusebius' argument from disagreement is to trace the corrosion and fragmentation of an original and unified body of wisdom possessed by the Hebrews alone. The force of the argument from disagreement lies in the assumption that if the complete and pure form of wisdom is possessed at any given time, then any change made to that body of truth must be a change for the worse.92 In Eusebius' narration of the rise of Greek philosophy, the true wisdom of the ancient Hebrews is transferred to the Greeks under Plato. Some alterations, or rather deviations, are made at that time—alterations which are ipso facto for the worse. When Plato's successors then made further changes to the already faded wisdom that Plato had preserved, the truth quickly vanished.

Within Eusebius' ethnic argumentation, this discord is seen as distinctively Greek. The harmony of the Hebrews is, accordingly, a distinctively Hebrew trait. In other words, discord or harmony was part of the set of national character traits that were representative of each of the nations. The Hebrew way of life, characterized by rationality and unity, is fit to preserve true wisdom intact. The Greeks on the other hand, as superstitious and ignorant, could not possibly maintain the truth in its purified form.

Eusebius had already shown that the Greeks, destitute of any native wisdom, had become thieves and plagiarizers of barbarian wisdom. Even the greatest of Greek philosophers, Plato, had been forced to resort to (p.144) barbarian (Hebrew) wisdom; his greatness was diminished in so far as he deviated from that wisdom. Now Eusebius wants to continue the narrative of Greek philosophy to show that Plato's successors quickly turned from his thought and fell further and further from the wisdom that had been embodied in the Hebrew philosophy and way of life. The contrast between the ancient Hebrews and the later Greek philosophers becomes more and more vividly highlighted.

Before embarking on his citational tour of Greek discord, Eusebius recalls the way of life exhibited by the ancient Hebrews that he had narrated in Book 7. This time, however, he wants to highlight one particular aspect of the Hebrews: the unity and consistency of life and doctrine among them. ‘The Hebrews on their part from long time of old and, so to say, from the very first origin of humanity, having found the true and pious philosophy have carefully preserved this undefiled to succeeding generations, son from father having received and guarded a treasure of true doctrines, so that no one dared to take away from or add to what had been once for all determined.’93 He adds that Moses, through his legislation and founding of the Jewish nation, nonetheless had left unchanged the true philosophy handed down from the Hebrews. His legislation was meant only to implement a ‘certain moderate constitution’ (tinos mesēs politeias) for the Jews, while he altered the ‘dogmatic theology of his forefathers’ not at all.94 The prophets, likewise, never ‘ventured to utter a word of discord (diaphōnon) either against each other, or against the opinions held by Moses and the elders beloved of God’.95 The Christians, too, had preserved without alteration the wisdom of the Hebrews.96 ‘Our doctrines … with one mind and one voice, confirm with unanimous vote the certainty of that which is both the true piety and philosophy, and are filling the whole world, and growing afresh and flourishing every day.’97 Throughout Hebrew history there had been, according to Eusebius, no hint of deviation from the ancients, nor disharmony among its protagonists. Thus, the picture of Hebrew harmony and purity, in (p.145) thought and way of life, stands in stark contrast to the history of conflict and dissension among the Greeks that Eusebius is about to record.

Eusebius does not, however, limit himself to the philosophers who come after Plato. Instead, he steps back from his narrow focus upon Plato to take in a panoramic view of the history of Greek philosophy from the Presocratics to the Hellenistic schools.98 The Greeks who had turned plagiarizers for not having any wisdom of their own, described in Book 10 before Plato had been introduced as a bringer of Hebrew wisdom, are brought back into the narrative of Greek philosophical development. Before, their lack of rationality and wisdom had been the focal point of Eusebius' argument; here it is their persistent discord and inability to attain any form of philosophical unity. If all truth is one, then their incessant disagreement proves the absence of it from their philosophical attempts.99 The physiological doctrines of the philosophers before Plato were ‘tottering about on short [evidence]’,100 and Plato himself was the foremost witness to their dissension, as quotations from the Theaetetus and Sophist exhibit.101

The central position of Plato, both for Greek philosophy and for Hebrew–Greek connections, marked a lull in the storm of opposing voices. However, the harmony (sumphōnein) that Plato represented was not one of agreement with his Greek predecessors, but with his Hebrew teachers. His successors in the Academy perpetuated the eristic vices of discord and verbal warfare that had characterized philosophers before him. Eusebius castigates Speusippus, Xenocrates and Polemon, the first successors to the Academy:

These ones began from his own hearth at once to undo the teaching of Plato, distorting what had been clear to the teacher by introducing foreign doctrines, so that you might expect the power of those marvellous dialogues to be extinguished at no distant time, and the transmission of the doctrines to come to an end at once on the founder's death; for a conflict and schism having hereupon begun from them, and never ceasing up to the present time, there are none who delight to emulate the doctrines that he loved, except perhaps one or two in our lifetime…102

The philosophical project of the Greeks, when left to themselves (that is, apart from Hebrew teachers), was a deplorable failure.

Quotations from Numenius' The Revolt of the Academics against Plato provided a vivid witness of the fractured state of philosophical affairs in (p.146) Plato's school.103 His metaphors for the disruption and dispute are striking and provocative. Like the ill‐fated king torn apart by Maenads, Plato was ‘now being torn in pieces more furiously than any Pentheus deserved, he suffers limb by limb’.104 The Homeric language of warfare also provided a reservoir of metaphors for depicting philosophical disputatiousness.105 Their verbal clashes resembled the violent combat of the Iliad. Arcesilaus' argumentative parries on both sides of an issue were like Diomedes, the son of Tydeus.106 A number of Homeric texts are joined together in representing the conflict between Arcesilaus and Zeno, for whom arguments served as auxiliary forces (sumpolemountōn).107 ‘Together they cast their shields, together the spears and spirits of the men with bronze breastplates; and their embossed shields met, and a great din had arisen. Shield pressed on shield, helmet on helmet, and man knocked against man.’108 Instead of facing off against Arcesilaus, Zeno ‘turned the mighty jaws of war’ against Plato.109 The language of war and conflict recur throughout Numenius' discussion of Plato's successors.110 The picture is insistently one of discord, intellectual failure, and ineptitude.

Numenius furthermore set before the Academics the embarrassing fact that even the Epicureans had been able to maintain unity and concord with their philosophical master. ‘The school of Epicurus’, claims Numenius, ‘is like some kind of true polity, without civil war, having one mind in common and one manner of thought.’111 Despite the falsity of Epicurean philosophical tenets, the Epicureans' recognition (p.147) that divergence from their founder was to be guarded against was marked out as a single praiseworthy practice of the oft‐criticized school. Epicurean unity in spite of philosophical inaccuracies made the discordant cacophony of the Academy the more embarrassing and Numenius' reprimand the more damaging.

If the successors of Plato in the Academy were so susceptible to accusations of disagreement and attack upon their master, the members of the other philosophical schools could hardly be expected to escape similar charges. The physical philosophers, treated as their own school, had been in perpetual discord because of the conjectural nature of their intellectual pursuits.112 These philosophers boasted of their aptitude in astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, and music (disciplines not clearly heralded in Hebrew teachings);113 yet their more scientific approach had not led them to the truth or virtue.114 Their verbal battles (logomachia) and discord (diaphōnia) were proof of the erroneous path they pursued.115 Similarly, the Sceptics (or Pyrrhonists),116 Cyrenaics,117 empiricists,118 Epicureans,119 Peripatetics,120 and Stoics121 were exposed for the disagreement within and between their rival schools.

Eusebius' treatment of these philosophical schools claims to be a direct criticism of the error of their various positions rather than explicitly a focus on their dissension. He consistently introduces and concludes the criticisms of each school or individual with a statement to the effect that ‘these are the objections raised against these philosophers’,122 or, ‘let us look at the arguments against them’,123 and so on. However, these criticisms not only show the irrationality of the doctrines of the various schools, but also highlight in no uncertain terms the radical divergence and incessant disagreement on all matters between them. The criticisms levelled against the different schools are (p.148) not (except briefly) Eusebius' own; rather, they are the words of other Greeks—most prominently Aristocles and Atticus—both well‐known exponents of their own schools (Peripatetic and Platonic respectively). Hence, Eusebius' argument from disagreement is most powerful through the criticisms of the combatants themselves.

Though Eusebius does not, in these cases, explicitly bring out the disagreement, they must be seen as part of that larger argument. Likewise, in the quotations from Plutarch on the cosmogonical theories of physical philosophers, to whom he returns after his treatment of the schools listed above, Eusebius claims that the material from Plutarch will prove that the physical philosophers worshipped astral phenomena as gods.124 His claim, however, is hardly supported by the extensive quotation, which lists the ideas about various astral phenomena by the different philosophers. For example, the following doctrines on the moon are listed:

Anaximander: … it is like a chariot wheel … and full of fire.

Xenophanes: a cloud condensed.

The Stoics: a mixture of fire and air.

Plato: mostly of earth.

Anaxagoras and Democritus: a fiery solid …

Heraclitus: earth surrounded with mist.

Pythagoras: a mirror‐like body.125

This sort of doxographical citation seems to support much better the general argument from disagreement than the claim that physical philosophers were actually formulating an astral theology. And in fact, Eusebius continues the quotations from Plutarch when he later explicitly shifts back to the argument from disagreement:126 ‘For since they stood in diametrical opposition to each other, and stirred up battles and wars against each other, and nothing better, each with jealous strife of words confuting their neighbours' opinions, must not every one admit that our hesitation (epochēn) on these subjects has been reasonable and secure?’127

(p.149) The argument from disagreement is clearly Eusebius' overriding concern. In addition to the dissension, of course, the particular positions of the various dissenting schools rarely, if ever, fall within what Eusebius takes to be the truth. On the one point where some philosophers do attain an approximation of truth (namely, monotheism), Eusebius is sure to put this philosophical advance in its proper place. I refer to his treatment of the doctrine put forth by Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, Plato, and Socrates on the notion of Mind as the supreme being. Anaxagoras had nearly been stoned to death by the Athenians for atheism when he had declared that ‘not the sun but the maker of the sun was God’,128 and in any case, he did not ‘preserve the doctrine intact’. Eusebius summarizes: ‘Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Plato and Socrates were the first who made mind and God preside over the world. These then are shown to have been in their times very children, as compared with the times at which the remotest events in Hebrew antiquity are fixed by history.’129 The reference to these philosophers as children no doubt recalls the Egyptian declarations of the Timaeus (already quoted at 10.4.19).130 Thus, even those developments in the history of Greek philosophy that Eusebius considers to be improvements are used to highlight the Greeks' late arrival and the unusual nature of these steps. For, according to Eusebius, only a few Greeks arrived at a monotheistic position, and when they did, they faced opposition, as in the case of Anaxagoras. It was the polytheistic theology of the Phoenicians and Egyptians that prevailed among the Greeks.131


Unlike the Hebrew holy men, the Greeks were unable to provide accounts of their ancestors that could carry any iconic weight—they were not images to be imitated. Nor could they offer even the more basic theological doctrine of humans as images of God, which the Hebrews (p.150) had recognized early on. Eusebius makes much of this point in providing additional contours to the map of national connections that he had already offered in the first half of the Praeparatio. There, he had elaborately shown how recent and dependent were Greek religious customs and ways of thinking on older barbarian nations. Now, he is concerned to plot the points of contact between Hebrews, Jews, and Greeks. After his enumeration of the Hebrew notion of humanity as made in the image of God, Eusebius writes: ‘Such were the philosophic doctrines concerning man's nature taught by the Hebrews originally, before any Greeks had even come into the world: for these being of yesterday and quite newly sprung up from the earth, designed to steal away the doctrines of barbarians, and did not abstain from those of the Hebrews.’132 The salient features of the national connections constructed in the second half of the Praeparatio are present in this statement. First, the language of Greek historical lateness and dependency upon others becomes much stronger than before. Second, the Hebrew nation is portrayed in the ethnic world of antiquity so as to carry explanatory value for the positive elements in Plato's philosophy and to account for what was worthy of adoption from Moses' or the prophets' writings.

The rhetoric of theft has already received sufficient attention. But it needs to be seen along with other examples of strong language as part of a rising tone of disparagement towards the Greeks. Echoing the Timaeus passage, Eusebius represents the Greeks as mere youths in relation to other nations.133 In these passages, he focuses primarily upon the Greek philosophers. At 10.4.3, Eusebius states that they were ‘younger in time, so to speak, than all men, not Hebrews only, nor yet Phoenicians and Egyptians only, but also than the ancient Greeks themselves’. The Greeks were already late in chronological terms in other cultural and religious developments; philosophical developments, however, where at least some level of progress was achieved over the previous superstition (thanks, of course, to Hebrew influence), were the last of all.

Alongside this damagingly recent position for Greek philosophy, Eusebius' account has fully sapped the Greeks of any ability to contribute to the discovery of truth by representing them as thieves of the other nations. The language of dependency and borrowing employed in the earlier books of the Praeparatio now gives way to the language of plagiarism and robbery. The use of this sort of vocabulary places them low on an evaluative and moral topography of nations. Hence, the (p.151) double force of a rhetoric of youth and of theft combine in Eusebius' ethnic representation of Greekness to condemn them to an inescapably inferior status.

In addition to his renewed assault upon the Greeks, Eusebius places the Hebrew and Jewish nations at the centrepoint of the ethnic makeup of the ancient world. Besides the fact that Eusebius can then connect Christians to the ancient Hebrews as part of his defence, he also manipulates, or rather creates, relations of dependency between the Greeks and Hebrews that will be important for his appraisal of Greek philosophy. In this regard, Plato functions as a hinge between the Hebrews and Greeks. His authoritative status among philosophers of late antiquity could not easily be dismissed. But it could be undermined; and this is what Eusebius attempts to do in Praeparatio 11.1–13.14. If Plato could effectively be transformed into a translator and epitomator of the Hebrew wisdom found in Moses' writings, his authoritative status could then be transferred back to the source from which he drew. This would help not only to explain why Plato's thought could resonate so closely with that of Eusebius' Christianity; at the same time, this displacement of Plato's authority left him vulnerable to criticism, and hence, Christians could feel safe in not accepting all Plato's philosophy. The Hebrew source of Plato's wisdom could thus be used as a standard by which to judge his thought and discern where he deviated from the purity of Hebrew philosophy. What needs to be remembered in these considerations is that the issue is not a merely philosophical one. It is, rather, an ethnic one—the choice is between philosophies distinctively represented by members of particular nations. The polemic is based, furthermore, upon the connections that are constructed between those nations.


Eusebius' second phase of the narrative of Greek descent was defined by the connections between Hebrews and Greeks and by the discordant character of the Greeks. On both counts the Greeks are found seriously wanting on the scales of chronological antiquity and cultural or philosophical contributions to the history of nations. Their dependency and discord undermined any claims to validity or superiority they would make. This most philosophical portion of (p.152) Eusebius' argument remains firmly embedded within his polemical retelling of the history of nations. The history of Greek philosophy is definitive in shaping Greek identity, against which Eusebius was concerned to defend Christian identity. The disharmony that crowded the narrative of Greek philosophical schools contrasted strongly with Eusebius' picture of the harmonious unity of Hebrew and Christian history. Even Plato, the greatest of Greek philosophers, had nothing to offer the sorry state of Greek philosophical affairs but the wisdom of barbarian others, imperfectly transmitted to the Greeks. Greek thought was not a ‘preparation for the Gospel’ in Eusebius' Praeparatio.134

In the literarily constructed world of the Praeparatio, ethnic identity encompassed religious positions, philosophical schools, cosmogonies, and moral and intellectual character. To recognize how these elements were embedded within strategies of national representation allows for a more coherent picture of the Praeparatio as a whole. When the theological doctrines and philosophical tenets that arise throughout the Praeparatio's 15 books are read in isolation from this ethnic context, the coherence of Eusebius' argument suffers unduly. On an even higher level than his earlier Chronicon, Eusebius had produced a world historical apologetic argument like none before it.135 The work evinces the firm command of sources, broad vision, indomitable imagination, and incisive perspicuity of the bishop of Caesarea.


(1) PE 10.4.1.

(2) A. J. Droge, ‘Josephus Between Greeks and Barbarians’, in Feldman and Levison (eds), Josephus' Contra Apionem, 42–3.

(3) See especially Ap. 1.1–5.

(4) Though he does so without acknowledgement: fragment of Hecataeus (9.4); Clearchus (9.5); Choerilus (9.9); as well as from AJ at 9.11.15–16. Eusebius consistently refers to the work as On the Antiquity of the Jews (see 8.7.21; 10.6.15; etc.); whereas his Antiquities is named the Archaeologia. For discussion of the title(s) of the Contra Apionem in antiquity, see H. Schreckenberg, ‘Text, Überlieferung und Textkritik von Contra Apionem’, in Feldman and Levison (eds), Josephus' Contra Apionem, 75–7. For Eusebius' appropriation of Josephus' ideas and methods, see Hardwick, Josephus as an Historical Source, 69–102, 119–25; and idem, ‘Contra Apionem and Christian Apologetics’, in Feldman and Levison (eds), Josephus' Contra Apionem, 384–96.

(5) Cited from Porphyry's Abst. 2.26 at 9.2.

(6) PE 9.3, 10.

(7) All three cited from Clement's Strom. 1.15, 22 at 9.6.

(8) PE 9.7–9.

(9) PE 9.12, 14, and 41.

(10) PE 9.17.1–9.20.1; 9.21–37; 9.39. On Polyhistor, see J. Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor und die von ihm erhaltenen Reste jüdischer und samritanischer Geschictswerke, Hellenistische Studien I, II (Breslau: Skutsch, 1875); G. F. Unger, ‘Die Blüthezeit des Alexander Polyhistor’, Philologus 47 (1889), 177–83; Sterling, Historiography and Self‐Definition, 144–52.

(11) PE 9.1.4.

(12) PE 9.17.3.

(13) See Eusebius, Theoph. 2.19. On the theme of Greek borrowing from barbarian nations, especially the Hebrews, see W. Jaeger, ‘Greeks and Jews: The First Records of Jewish Religion and Civilization’, Journal of Religion 18 (1938), 127–43; N. Roth, ‘The “Theft of Philosophy” by the Greeks from the Jews’, Classical Folia 32 (1978), 53–67, which includes a survey of medieval sources.

(14) See also, e.g. Tatian, Or. 1; Clement, Strom. 1.16.

(15) See Ridings, The Attic Moses, 141–7.

(16) PE 10.1.5–6; cp. Dio Chrysostom Or. 12.27 ff, and 39.

(17) PE 10.1.7.

(18) PE 10.1.8.

(19) PE 10.1.9.

(20) A. –H. Chroust, ‘Charges of Philosophical Plagiarism in Greek Antiquity’, The Modern Schoolman 38 (1961), 220 n. 1 contains a fairly comprehensive list of terms for plagiarism in Greek literature.

(21) 10.1.7 and 11.praef.1.

(22) The former occurrence is noted by LSJ, s.v.; the latter is noted by Chroust, ‘Charges of Philosophical Plagiarism in Greek Antiquity’, 220 n. 1 (Lampe's Patristic Greek Dictionary lacks an entry for skeuôreomai). Compare with Porphyry, V. Pythag. 53 (Nauck 46).

(23) Lucian, Fug. 6.

(24) Ibid., Fug. 8.

(25) Ibid., Fug. 9.

(26) Ibid., Fug. 11.

(27) Dio, Or. 12.9.

(28) For a different application of the personified Philosophy, see Themistius, Or. 17.213d–214a.

(29) PE 10.4.8–10.

(30) See Richter, Ethnography, Archaism, and Identity in the Early Roman Empire, 99–129.

(31) PE 10.4.14.

(32) PE 10.4.13.

(33) PE 10.4.15. For a survey of Pythagoras' travels to the East in earlier literature, see P. Gorman, ‘Pythagoras Palaestinus’, Philologus 127 (1983), 30–42.

(34) PE 10.4.18.

(35) PE 10.4.19 (from Timaeus 22B). See also, PE 7.18.11.

(36) PE 10.4.20.

(37) PE 10.4.25. ἡ παρ᾿ Ἕλλησι πολιτεία τὸν μακρὸν αἰῶνα πτωχεύουσα καὶ γυμνὴ παντὸς μαθήματος ἀπολειϕθεῖσα.

(38) PE 10.5.1–2.

(39) PE 10.5.3.

(40) PE 10.5.4. μάθησιϛ οἴκου, πλήρωσιϛ δέμτων αὕτη.

(41) See J. Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995); J. N. D. Kelly suggested that Jerome's alphabetic lore was ‘perhaps derived from Jewish advisers’ (Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies [London: Duckworth, 1975], 97).

(42) On the importance of symbolic language for cultural and/or ethnic identity, see S. Schwartz, ‘Language, Power and Identity in Ancient Palestine’, P & P 148 (1995), 3–47; M. Rubin, ‘The Language of Creation or the Primordial Language: A Case of Cultural Polemics in Antiquity’, JJS 49 (1998), 306–33.

(43) PE 10.8.18.

(44) PE 10.10.

(45) PE 10.11.

(46) PE 10.12.

(47) PE 10.13.

(48) PE 10.14.9.

(49) See A. A. Mosshammer, The Chronicle of Eusebius and the Greek Chronographic Tradition (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1979); W. Adler, Time Immemorial: Archaic History and its Sources in Christian Chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1989), 15–71; and idem, ‘Eusebius' Chronicle and Its Legacy’, 467–91.

(50) See Frede, ‘Eusebius' Apologetic Writings’, 224; Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea against the Pagans, 38–40.

(51) PE 10.4.20.

(52) Cicero's Rep. 1.16 seems to be the earliest reference to Plato in Egypt (see also, Diodorus, 1.96.2); for travels elsewhere in the East, see also Cicero, Fin. 5.19.50; Tusc. Disp. 4.19.44; see A. Swift Riginos, Platonica: The Anecdotes concerning the Life and Writings of Plato (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 60–9; H. Dörrie, ‘Platons Reisen zu fernen Völkern: Zur Geschichte eines Motivs der Platon‐Legende und zu seiner Neuwendung durch Lactanz’, in W. Den Boer et al., (eds), Romanitas et Christianitas (Amsterdam: North‐Holland, 1973), 99–118.

(53) PE 10.4.21.

(54) PE 11.praef.3; 11.3.10; 11.5.9; 11.28.18–19; 11.38.1.

(55) PE 11.1.1; 11.32.11; 11.33.4.

(56) Tripartite division of philosophy: 11.2–7; God: 11.12–22; soul: 11.27–8.

(57) PE 12.1.1.

(58) PE 11.3.10; 11.4.7; 11.6.1.

(59) PE 11.4.7; see also 7.18.11.

(60) See Frede, ‘Eusebius' Apologetic Writings’, 247, who nevertheless notes only the use of epakolouthein.

(61) See also PE 11.16.3; 11.26.1; 12.15.6. In earlier apologists, see e.g. Clement, Protr. 6; Origen C. Cels. 4.39; 6.19; 7.30.

(62) PE 11.8.1.

(63) See Ridings, The Attic Moses, 154.

(64) PE 11.26.4.

(65) PE 11.9.4.

(66) PE 11.26.8.

(67) PE 11.19.2.

(68) PE 11.27.4.

(69) PE 11.28.17.

(70) PE 12.11.1; see also, 12.13.1.

(71) PE 12.11.2.

(72) PE 12.14.2.

(73) PE 12.16.1.

(74) PE 12.21.6.

(75) PE 12.21.7. Incidentally, Eusebius never mentions Plato in his commentary on the Psalms.

(76) See E. Des Places, ‘Eusèbe de Césarée juge de Platon dans la Préparation Évangélique’, in Mélanges de philosophie grecque offerts a Mgr. Dies (Paris: Libraire Philosophique J. Vrin, 1956), 71.

(77) See Mortley, The Idea of Universal History, 151–99, esp. 167 (‘Eusebius is one of the great Platonists of the late antique era’); Frede, ‘Eusebius' Apologetic Writings’, 223–50; M. J. Edwards, ‘Pagan and Christian Monotheism in the Age of Constantine’, in Swain and Edwards, Approaching Late Antiquity, 227–32.

(78) Mortley, The Idea of Universal History, 167. Despite my disagreement on this point, Mortley's treatment remains highly important for understanding the complexity of the traditions within, or against, which Eusebius is working.

(79) Eusebius is more likely indebted to Philo of Alexandria and earlier Christian apologists than non‐Christian middle Platonists; see, e.g. Athenagoras, Leg. 10; Tatian, Or. 5, 7; Theophilus, Autol. 2.10; Origen, C. Cels. 5.39.

(80) For a balanced treatment, see Ridings, The Attic Moses, 141–96; Des Places, ‘Eusèbe de Césarée juge de Platon dans la Préparation Évangélique’, 73–6 (though his conclusion that Eusebius valued Greek philosophy as a ‘preparation for the Gospel’ ignores Eusebius' aims).

(81) Although he retains some admiration for him at PE 13.18.17.

(82) PE 13.16.1.

(83) PE 13.16.12.

(84) Theophilus had earlier criticized Plato for wife‐sharing (Autol. 3.6) and metempsychosis (3.7).

(85) 30.20.7. Gifford omits the entirety of Chapter 20 from his translation for the sake of his more sensitive readers.

(86) See Eusebius, Theoph. 2.30–46.

(87) PE 13.praef.

(88) PE 13.21.14. See Origen, C. Cels. 5.40.

(89) See Lyman, Christology and Cosmology, 91–2.

(90) Philosophical discord had been an important theme in earlier apologists as well; see Tatian, Or. 3, 25–6; Theophilus, Autol. 2.4–5, 8; Origen, C. Cels. 2.12; 3.12–13.

(91) PE 14.2.7. See also 15.1.7, 12.

(92) For its use in middle Platonism, see Boys‐Stones, Post‐Hellenistic Philosophy, 123–50.

(93) PE 14.3.1; cp. Eusebius, Theoph. 1.42; Clement, Strom. 1.11.3, with D. Kimber Buell, Making Christians (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 83–6.

(94) PE 14.3.2.

(95) PE 14.3.3; cp. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Thuc. 5; Josephus, Ap. 1.8; AJ 1.17; Revelation 22: 18–19.

(96) PE 14.3.4–5.

(97) PE 14.3.5. See Clement, Protr. 9 (‘a symphony following one choir leader’); 12. On the power of such rhetoric for unity, see Kimber Buell, Making Christians, 5–10.

(98) Cp. Eusebius, Theoph. 2.47–50.

(99) See Lactantius, Div. Inst. 3.4, 7, 15.

(100) PE 14.3.6.

(101) PE 14.4.1–11.

(102) PE 14.4.14.

(103) PE 14.4.13–14.9.3; see Boys‐Stones, Post‐Hellenistic Philosophy, 138–41; R. Lamberton, Homer the Theologian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 54–77; and also, E. Des Places, ‘Numenius et Eusèbe de Cesaree’, SP 13 (1975), 19–28, reprinted in Études Platoniciennes. 1929–1979 (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 316–25; idem, Numenius. Fragments (Paris: Société d'Édition ‘Les Belles Lettres’, 1973), 28–32.

(104) PE 14.5.8. Cp. Clement, Strom.–6; Origen, C. Cels. 2.34; Atticus ap. PE 11.2.2.

(105) See Lamberton, Homer the Theologian, 55–9; for the metaphysical implications behind this, see D. J. O'Meara, Pythagoras Revived (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 10–14. The vocabulary of wrestling had already been applied to verbal conflicts as early as the sophistic period in classical Greece; see M. Gagarin, Antiphon the Athenian (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002), 19–20.

(106) PE 14.6.1, where Il. 5.85 is quoted.

(107) PE 14.6.7.

(108) Homer Il. 4.447–449 ap. PE 14.6.7.

(109) Homer Il. 10.8 ap. PE 14.6.11.

(110) Stasis and cognates: 14.5.4, 7; machē, polemos and cognates: 14.5.12; 14.6.8, 9, 10, 13; 14.8.1, 2; see also the descriptions of Carneades at 14.8.2, 5–6.

(111) PE 14.5.3; see Boys‐Stones, Post‐Hellenistic Philosophy, 138–9.

(112) PE 14.9.4–14.13.9; cp. Theoph. 2.22.

(113) PE 14.10.10.

(114) PE 14.10.11.

(115) PE 14.10.9. Their points of difference are enumerated at 14.14.1–14.16.13; and again at 15.22.68–15.32.8; and 15.32.9–15.52.17 (on cosmogonical doctrines).

(116) PE 14.17.1–14.18.30.

(117) PE 14.18.31–14.19.7.

(118) PE 14.19.8–14.20.12.

(119) PE 14.20.13–14.21.7; cp. Theoph. 2.19.

(120) PE 15.2.1–15.13.5; cp. Theoph. 2.20.

(121) PE 15.13.6–15.22.67; cp Theoph. 2.21.

(122) PE 14.18.32.

(123) PE 14.19.10.

(124) PE 15.22.68; cp. Clement, Protr. 5.

(125) PE 15.26.

(126) PE 15.32.9–15.52.17.

(127) PE 15.32.9. Eusebius' use of epochēn, or the withholding of judgement, is no doubt meant to play upon the doctrine favoured by a number of Academic philosophers, especially Arcesilaus and the ‘second Academy’ (see 14.4.15; with Numenius' criticisms at 14.6–9).

(128) PE 14.14.9–10.

(129) PE 14.16.11.

(130) See also, Herodotus 2.53.1–2; Plato Leg. 677d; Demosthenes De Cor. 130; Josephus Ap. 2.12, 14; Eusebius, Theoph. 5.28; for discussion of the topos in apologetic literature, see Droge, Homer or Moses?, 43.

(131) PE 14.16.12.

(132) PE 7.18.11.

(133) PE 7.18.11; 10.4.19; 14.16.11.

(134) As the unfortunate rendering of the work's title (for instance in Gifford's translation) might lead one to believe. A more felicitous rendering might be Gospel Preparation (as A. S. Jacobs, The Remains of the Jews: The Holy Land and Christian Empire in Late Antiquity [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004], 26–36, passim). That the work is more properly conceived as a preparatory text for new converts, introducing them to the deeper truths of Christianity, has been shown in Chapter 1; see also, Johnson, ‘Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica as Literary Experiment’.

(135) Its closest parallels in earlier apologetic literature are Josephus' Contra Apionem and Aristides' brief pamphlet.