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Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica$
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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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Rome Among the Nations: Eusebius' Praeparatio and the Unmaking of Greek Political Theology

Rome Among the Nations: Eusebius' Praeparatio and the Unmaking of Greek Political Theology

(p.153) 6 Rome Among the Nations: Eusebius' Praeparatio and the Unmaking of Greek Political Theology
Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica

Aaron P. Johnson

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks a reappraisal of Eusebius’ political theology from the standpoint of ethnic argumentation. Often characterized as laying the basis for later Christian conceptions of kingship and Byzantine ‘caesaro-papism’, his political thought must be analyzed in the context of his portrayal of Hellenic political or civic theology (that centered upon ancestral cult sites) and his synchronism of Augustus and Christ. Eusebius criticizes Greek polis religion as fundamentally controlled by wicked daemons, who have misled the Greeks and others (including the Romans) into the abominable practices of animal, and even human, sacrifices. Even though the lifetimes of Christ and Augustus are synchronized, Eusebius does so in a way that slights Rome’s power in emphasizing the victory of Christ over daemonic activity. Through close readings of important passages, this chapter shows that Eusebius’ conceptions of Rome and its empire were more ambivalent than previously thought. Furthermore, passages from his later works, which seem to offer theological support to the imperial office, are suggested to carry similar implications to those of his earlier apologetic writings.

Keywords:   political theology, Augustus-Christ synchronism, daemons, sacrifice

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