Rewriting Hebrew History: The Descent of the Ancient Hebrews
Rewriting Hebrew History: The Descent of the Ancient Hebrews
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter traces how Eusebius creates a picture of the ancient Hebrews as chronologically earlier, and culturally and religiously superior to the other nations. However, due to ‘Egyptianization’, the Hebrews later fell into the corrupt national form of the ‘Jews’. Moses was seen as the key transitional figure, writing a law that offered an intermediate way of life for the morally-weak Jews. Only some scattered Hebrews remained after this transition to Judaism: Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, and others. For Eusebius, the coming of Christ marked the restoration of the ancient Hebrew nation.
In the first six books of the Praeparatio, Eusebius had aimed to construct a narrative of national descent that emphasized the recent arrival of the Greeks on the historical scene and the depraved and irrational nature of the national character, which was typified in the ancestral way of life of their nation. In Book 7, he turns to the account of a nation whose superiority over the nations of the first narrative he wants to emphasize. This second narrative centres upon the lives of the ancient Hebrews. Whereas the Greeks were shown as latecomers to the history of civilization and were dependent for their customs, religious practices, and theologies upon older nations, Eusebius depicts the Hebrews as the most ancient ethnos. Furthermore, while the nations of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks were represented as possessing depraved and irrational characteristics, the Hebrews would exhibit piety, true rationality, and closeness to the divine.
The narrative of Hebrew descent would also provide an explanation for why Christians did not adopt the way of life of the Jews. The Jewish ethnos, Eusebius emphatically declares, arose as a corrupted form of the Hebrew ethnos as a result of Egyptianization before the exodus of the people under Moses. Eusebius can thus undergird an essentially anti‐Jewish sentiment by retelling Jewish history as a deviation from the larger story of the ancient Hebrews. After the Jews, Eusebius can also pick up a second line of the narrative of Greek descent to explain why some Greeks (especially Plato) did in fact possess a mostly rational form of philosophy. For it was through the travels of Plato and other philosophers to the land of Palestine that one of the most important (p.95) ‘migrations of knowledge’ occurred. These philosophers had found nothing worthy of the name of philosophy in Greece and hence had been forced to borrow, or ‘plagiarize’, from the Hebrew wisdom encapsulated in the writings of Moses.
This narrative of the second half of the Praeparatio is clearly central to Eusebius' argument, and contains much that is of interest for a variety of discussions on different aspects of Eusebius' thought. Here one can see the roots of the hagiographical impulse,1 the theorization of asceticism, the notion of a holy man's life as an icon, the Christian incorporation of, and interaction with, Platonism, and the continued adoption of the methodology of nationalistic historiography. All these will come into play in the following analysis of how the narrative of Hebrew descent functions within the ethnic argumentation of the Praeparatio.
Both this and the following chapter will treat Praeparatio 7–15 as a continuous, if convoluted, narrative of descent, drawing attention to certain salient metaphors that give force to the narrative. Both will attend to particular elements of the narrative that are central to the argumentative force of Eusebius' apologetic. One of these is the portrayal of the Hebrew forefathers as models of virtue; their lives are conceived as icons of national character typified by friendship with God. Another is the employment of boundary‐solidifying mechanisms such as ethnonymic distinctions and differing approaches to Moses' Law, which serve to demarcate firmly the division between Hebrew and Jewish identity. The degree to which the boundary nonetheless maintains some permeability will be examined subsequently. The delineation of boundaries and representations of identities in this portion of Eusebius' argument are complex since he is attempting to claim the ancient Scriptures as Christianity's own while simultaneously distancing themselves from the Jews as far as possible. Furthermore, Hellenistic Jewish authors who were influential on,2 and carried considerable esteem with, the Christian apologist had (p.96) to be saved from the dismal portrayal of Jewish history and identity that Eusebius formulated.
THE NARRATIVE OF DESCENT
Eusebius makes a clear break from the narrative of Books 1–6 in his introduction to Book 7, and reiterates the main issues that his apology seeks to confront. With typical concern for order and arrangement, and in order to alert his reader to what his argument has accomplished thus far and what it will set out to do in the remainder of the work, he writes: ‘Since it has been proven that our abandonment of the false theology of Greeks and barbarians alike has not been made without reason, but with well‐judged and prudent consideration, it is now time to solve the second accusation by stating the cause of our claiming a share in the Hebrew doctrines.’3
Eusebius intends this second narrative to stand in marked contrast to the first. The portrait of a nation that can meet the standards of wisdom, piety, and truthfulness, which the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks had been found to fall so far short of, will emerge in his telling of the Hebrew past.4 Whereas the other nations had fallen from astral theology to the deification of humans and animals, the Hebrews looked beyond astral phenomena to their Creator. And while the Greeks fell into the depraved superstition of oracles founded on the work of daemons, the ancient Hebrews had worshipped the one God with true spiritual devotion and escaped the tyranny of daemons. This contrast between the first and second narrative will be reiterated throughout the second half of the Praeparatio. In fact, the narrative of the Hebrew nation, in many respects, parallels the narrative of Greek descent in the first half of the Praeparatio: the character of the nation's forefathers (7.3–8); cosmogonical reflections (7.9–22);5 Hebrew allegorists (8.9–10); the Hebrew notion of Providence (8.13–14).6
Eusebius begins the second half of the Praeparatio with a recapitulation of his general theory of national decline that had already arisen in the first half, especially at 1.9.13–19.7 There, he had portrayed the history of the nations (explicitly excluding the Hebrews from this narrative, however) as moving from a less depraved, less superstitious form of polytheism to lower and more impious practices and doctrines. God had originally assigned astral polytheism to the nations, but they had quickly rejected it for the deification of humans and animals, the making of statues, sacrifices and enslavement to wicked daemons. Hence, he declares: ‘So then among the oldest of mankind there was no mention of a Theogony, either Greek or barbarian, nor any erection of lifeless statues, nor all the silly talk that there is now about the naming of the gods both male and female.’8 In this context, he had attempted to portray ancient theology in as good a light as he could allow. At least astral polytheism had not sunk as low as later forms of polytheism embodied by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks.9
Now, at 7.2, as Eusebius goes back to briefly retell this narrative of decline, the image of the theology of the ancients darkens and takes on a bleaker tone. The movement is still one of downward corruption, but now the earliest stage is not one ‘assigned by God’ to the nations, nor is it merely a matter of ignorant and primitive failure to recognize the Creator of the stars. The depraved search for pleasure, and devotion to pleasure as a wicked daemon, is now the key factor in explaining the movement of the nations towards decline and corruption.10 According to Eusebius, the roots of astral polytheism were embedded in the ancient supposition that pleasure came from the heavenly bodies. The deification of humans had resulted from their services in the pursuit of pleasure.11 And finally, some philosophers resorted to atheism out of embarrassment for this state of affairs, while others (clearly the Epicureans) declared the life of philosophy to be bound up in pleasure.12 ‘And so in this way the whole (p.98) race of mankind has become enslaved to the goddess, or rather the foul and licentious daemon, pleasure, as to a harsh and most cruel mistress, and was involved in all kinds of miseries.’13
Dio Chrysostom had already denounced the Epicureans (without explicitly naming them) for treating pleasure as a goddess: ‘These men, then, despise all things divine, and having set up the image of one single female divinity, depraved and monstrous, representing a kind of wantonness or self‐indulgent ease and unrestrained lewdness, to which they gave the name of Pleasure—an effeminate god in truth—her they prefer in honor and worship….’14 Dio's attack is primarily against Epicureans or initiates of certain mystery religions,15 as he defends the idea that belief in a supreme god is natural and innate. The polemic of Eusebius' description is brought into relief against the backdrop of Dio's account. Eusebius is making a sweeping, transnational, claim in his assertions about pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure is the basis for the many manifestations of the theology of the ancient (non‐Hebrew) nations. Hence, Eusebius' brief overview of his previous narrative offers a generalizing account of what had been occurring in different ways among the different nations. Besides the national connections that Eusebius drew in the first narrative, the insidious daemon of Pleasure was at work among these nations.
Eusebius' vision of decline resonates with that of Romans I: 18–32. Paul had here painted a picture of human history as one of successive grades of impiety and depravity resulting from a rejection of the Creator of all visible phenomena. For Paul, the downward slope issued from humanity's refusal to give the Creator his due; instead they turned to the worship of created things and hence were ‘handed over’ to ever deeper levels of moral depravity. This way of thinking about decline is echoed by Eusebius. After all, Eusebius cites Sapientia 14.12, ‘The devising of idols was the beginning of wickedness.’ In fact, this same line is quoted in Eusebius' account of decline at 1.9.18 (this is one more reason to assume that Eusebius wants to recall his previous discussion). And, in fact, he even quotes the lines of Paul on the deterioration from heterosexual to same‐sex activity that was not natural (para phusin).16
(p.99) What distinguishes Eusebius' comments from Paul's is their national context. Paul had been addressing ‘the impiety and injustice of humanity (anthropōn)’ in general.17 Eusebius, on the other hand, wants to offer a portrayal of decline that applies only to non‐Hebrew nations. In order to highlight the greater piety and wisdom of the ancient Hebrews, he must lump all the other nations together under an overarching rubric of irrationality and impiety. His summary at 7.2 does not make the distinctions between Phoenician, Egyptian, and Greek in the way that the narrative of Praeparatio 1–6 had: here he merely refers to ‘Greeks and barbarians’. But this is for the purpose of being able to castigate all of them collectively with blanket statements and so offer a holistic or universalizing account of national depravity.
At this point, Eusebius offers a striking metaphor: ‘So great had been the manifold variety, to speak briefly, of the theology of the other nations, attached to impure and abominable pleasure as its one beginning, and like a hydra of many necks and many heads it is carried out into many various divisions and sections.’18 This metaphor of pleasure as a many‐headed hydra is, so far as I can tell, unique to Eusebius. The metaphorical use of a hydra could be evoked in a multiplicity of contexts from Plato19 to a number of early Christian authors.20 But it had not yet been applied to the pursuit of pleasure by the ancient nations. The image of a hydra offered a vivid metaphor of the ways in which a single daemon's activity branched out in various ways in the different nations. The hydra‐like manifestations of impiety provide an incisive contrast to the nation of the Hebrews, the lives of whose ancestors Eusebius was about to narrate.
(p.100) He concludes: ‘Such then was the character (tropos) of the ancient nations, and of their false theology, as exhibited in the preceding books by the Greek historians and philosophers whom we have brought together.’21 His aim is to paint a picture of the nations and their way of life, religious customs, and theologies as a stark contrast to the Hebrew character he is about to champion.
The Narrative of Hebrew Descent
In Praeparatio 7.3–8.14, Eusebius sets out to provide a coherent account of the ancient Hebrew ethnos that will provide valuable material for the apologetic task of defending Christianity's rejection of Greek ancestral ways and adopting that of the ‘Jews’ (the label used by his opponents). His narrative denies the validity of this criticism by first making a distinction between Hebrews and Jews, and then showing the chronological primacy and superior wisdom of the Hebrews to the Greeks. He even goes a step further, by asserting the direct dependence upon the Hebrews by the best of the Greeks—Plato.22
Eusebius begins the narrative by tracing the development of the distinctive way of thinking of the Hebrews from the beginnings of social existence. ‘For of all mankind these were the first and sole people who from the very first foundation of social life devoted their thought to rational speculation, and set themselves to study the physical laws of the universe with piety.’23 Their observation of the physical universe led them to search for the Creator of all these things, for they recognized that a lifeless principle could not be the cause of life, nor could an irrational principle be the cause of rational beings.24 The physical universe could never have produced life and reason on its own. ‘With these and similar thoughts, then, the fathers of Hebrew piety, with purified mind and clear‐sighted eyes of the soul, learned from the grandeur and beauty of His creatures to worship God the Creator of all.’25 Eusebius narrates a story of Hebrew beginnings that stood out against the deterioration of the other ancient nations. The bright eyes of the Hebrews shone out as a solitary light in the midst of the darkened minds of the ethnic landscape of earliest antiquity.
(p.101) The subsequent narrative continues to follow the intellectual and spiritual progress of the Hebrews. The discovery of the soul, the doctrine of humanity's creation in the image of God, the control over bodily impulses and pleasures, and friendship with God as the ‘consummation of all happiness’, were all theological advances made by the earliest Hebrews.26 As a result of their keen pursuit of truth, they were allowed ever greater revelations from God, which included visions of angels and knowledge of the future.27
Their pursuit of the Creator and practice of asceticism in striving after the life of the mind formed a special relationship between themselves and God. Eusebius offers a particularly interesting comment here: ‘Having then been shown to be both lovers of God and beloved by him,28 they were declared to be true worshippers and priests of the Most High God, or were deemed worthy to be called “a chosen race (genos) and a royal priesthood and holy nation (ethnos) of God”, and have bequeathed to their descendants a seed of this true piety.’29 The ascription of titles regarding race, priesthood and, nation to the Hebrews has its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures. Exodus 19: 5–6 (LXX) recorded the words of God to Moses regarding the Jewish people: ‘If you heed my voice and observe my covenant, you will be for me a people peculiar from all the nations; for the whole earth is mine. You will be for me a kingly priesthood and a holy nation.’30
Allusions to this appellation from Exodus are rare in Jewish literature of the Hellenistic and Roman era.31 Philo of Alexandria, however, had picked up the phrase in his De Abrahamo. After referring to the ‘new race of humanity’ (kainou genous anthrōpōn) established after the Deluge by Noah, he writes: ‘The triad [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] of the one form of the aforementioned race, which is most august and worth defending, (p.102) the oracles call “royal” and “priesthood” and holy nation.’32 It may very well be this characterization by Philo that prompted the author of the New Testament epistle attributed to Peter to apply the appellation in a slightly different form to the Christians. ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for [God's] possession.’33 The addition of ‘chosen race’ and ‘people for possession’ result from combining an allusion to Isaiah 43: 20–134 with the Exodus passage. The claim in the New Testament passage is specifically for Christians and made only a generation or so after Philo had written the De Abrahamo.35
The rather complex allusion to both Philo's De Abrahamo and I Peter produce a declaration rich in meaning for Eusebius' construction of both Hebrew and Christian identity. The parallel use by Philo and Eusebius of the Exodus passage to evoke the philosophic and virtuous character of the early Hebrews is striking. The fact that Eusebius' litany of appellations more closely echoes the New Testament passage (especially the use of eklekton genos), which definitively gives the appellation to the Christians, while Eusebius specifically speaks of the ancient Hebrews, serves to strengthen the later claim that Christians are merely the restored Hebrew nation.36 This point will receive more attention at the proper time; for now it suffices to note the reversion of this text, after being appropriated by Christians in the New Testament (and other Christian authors) for themselves, to refer, in Eusebius, back to the Hebrew ancestors once more.
In short, this early portion of the narrative of Hebrew descent articulates a vision of early Hebrew life as one dedicated to the pursuit of the truth beyond the physical world, one that set them apart from the inclinations and ways of life of the other ancient nations. The Hebrews are thus a nation of friends of God—a chosen race, royal priesthood, and holy nation whose (constructed) affinities with later Christians are already being written into Eusebius' narrative.
(p.103) From here Eusebius begins a series of brief biographical sketches of some of the most distinguished of the Hebrew forefathers. Enos was the first of those ‘who hoped to call upon the name of the Lord God’37 in the period before the Deluge.38 The Hebrew scriptures, ‘accustomed to use names in their proper meaning’,39 called him Enos because the name meant ‘true man’.40 If they had wanted ‘to denote the man of the common multitude and the race itself’, they would have used the ‘suitable and natural appellation’ of Adam, meaning ‘earth‐born’.41 Enos exhibited the proper use of reason in attaining knowledge of God and recognizing the proper worship due to him. In contrast to those early humans who were steeped in superstition and sought pleasure, like wild beasts casting themselves upon the ground ‘in the manifold forms of wickedness’,42 Enos' life was an example of piety and knowledge of God.43
Enoch, who ‘pleased the Lord and was not to be found, because God translated him’,44 is the second figure in the narrative. Commenting upon the fact that he cannot be found, Eusebius writes: ‘It is difficult to find the one who is truly wise,’45 for, unlike the multitude who frequent the market‐place and law courts, the wise person cannot be found in this environment, but has been transferred by God to another world and become a ‘friend of God’.46 His avoidance of crowds and bustle of this ephemeral world marked Enoch as a wise man in the (p.104) Platonic tradition. The Socrates of the Theaetetus had declared that true philosophers ‘do not know the path to the market‐place, nor where the courtroom, the council‐chamber, or any other meeting‐place of the city is. And they neither see nor hear the decrees—whether spoken or written. Rivalries of factions for office, meetings, banquets, and revels with flute‐girls never occur to them to do, even in a dream.’47 Already echoed by Philo, this sentiment of the wise man's withdrawal from worldly matters was now applied to an ancient Hebrew wise man by a Christian apologist.48 Because of his otherworldly focus, Eusebius notes, the Hebrews gave him the name Enoch, meaning ‘the grace of God’.49
Noah was the third of the Hebrew forefathers who lived before the flood. While the rest of humanity had fallen into a ‘great foulness and darkness of indescribable wickedness’, and the giants warred against God,50 and the arts of witchcraft and sorcery were introduced, Noah stood apart as ‘a righteous man in his generation’.51 As a ‘friend of God’ he and his family were preserved from the flood sent by God against the wickedness of humanity.52
Following the flood,53 Abraham is introduced as ‘the progenitor of the whole nation’, and as such is in some sense given a higher position than the other ancestors who had come before.54 Eusebius briefly recounts the claims made by God regarding Abraham, that he would be ‘a father of many nations’ and that ‘all the nations and all the tribes on earth shall be blessed’ through him.55 These claims by God were taken by Eusebius to be prophecies of contemporary events (‘things fulfilled in our time’). The emphasis upon this episode from the biblical Abraham story is echoed throughout the Praeparatio and is an important component of Eusebius' ethnic argumentation, to which I will return.
(p.105) A striking feature of the segment on Abraham is Eusebius' effort to separate Abraham's act of circumcision from the later ‘Jewish’ practice under Mosaic Law.56 Abraham's circumcision and the transmission of this ritual act to his descendants, according to Eusebius, may have been for the purpose of later being able to show by a physical sign the fulfilment of the prophecy that Abraham's offspring would be numerous; or it was to be a reminder to his offspring of the virtuous life of their forefather.57 But in any case, Eusebius says, ‘we do not have leisure to needlessly busy ourselves with the causes [for his circumcision] at the present time’. And whatever the reasons may be, this practice of circumcision must not be confused with Jewish practice: ‘the Law of Moses was not yet in existence’.58
A portrait of the lives of Abraham's descendants fills out Eusebius' biographical overview of the ancient Hebrews. Isaac was ‘a successor to his father's knowledge of God and friendship with God’.59 His self‐control was so strong that he had marital intercourse only once, which resulted in twins. One of these twins was Jacob, whose name meant ‘one in training’ or ‘athlete’.60 Jacob would later receive the name of Israel, as ‘one who sees and contemplates’,61 for he would advance from mere training to the true life of contemplation. These men's lives were lives of ‘philosophic endurance and discipline, some things viewed literally, and some in allegorical suggestions’.62
Breaking the continuity of the lineage of Abraham's descendants, Eusebius slips in a brief mention of Job, before proceeding to Joseph. He writes that Job was a ‘blameless, true, just, and devout’ man who ‘abstained from every evil thing’.63 The reasons for including Job in the middle of the family line is that he did ‘not belong at all to the race of the Jews’.64 In effect, Eusebius wants to detract from any notion of biological connections as a necessary component (p.106) of Hebrew identity.65 While he does not want to ignore this element altogether—after all, he consistently makes reference to the transmission of paternal ways from father to son—nevertheless, the biological relations of familial kinship must be subsumed under the more important category of character and way of life. It is these two latter elements that are essential for Eusebius' demarcation of the boundaries of collective identities. For Eusebius, familial connections are only important in so far as they foster the transmission of virtue.
Resuming the narrative with the children of Jacob, Eusebius writes: ‘They cherished the knowledge of God and the piety inherited from their forefathers, and advanced the fame of the elder Hebrews to a high degree of glory, so that at length they annexed the government of all Egypt.’66 This last comment is best seen in light of the historical revisionism of ethnic historiography in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.67 Anti‐Jewish historians (such as Apion) had asserted that the Jews were descendants of the Egyptians, the lower and despised ‘unclean’ classes of Egyptian society, or shepherd people who were driven out of Egypt. Such historical accounts attempted to place the Jews in an inferior and dependant relation to ancient Egypt. Josephus had combated these claims in his Contra Apionem. Eusebius continues the tradition of Josephus by providing a narrative of gradual expansion as a result of the virtue and wisdom displayed by the Hebrews.68 Had he considered these people as Jews he surely would not have cared to paint a favourable picture of how they got into Egypt. These people were Hebrews; but, as will be seen, by the time they emerged from Egypt they had largely lost their Hebrew heritage.
Joseph figures last in Eusebius' narration of the ancient Hebrews. Because of his steadfast chastity he received from God the government of Egypt, even though he had begun his experiences in Egypt as a slave.69 (p.107) But after withstanding the seductive advances of his master's wife, God ‘crowned him as a victor with the rewards of virtue, and gave to him the royalty and governance over his masters and over Egypt itself.70 Moreover’, Eusebius adds, ‘he has been received among the thrice‐blessed and most highly favoured friends of God, since he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, and not a Jew (because the Jewish nation did not yet exist).’71 Joseph's life and heroic act of self‐control serve as a last ray of light from the life of the ancient Hebrews before the darkness of the Egyptians gradually snuffed it out, with only a few flickers remaining.
The Rise of the Jews
Eusebius concludes his series of biographical notes on the Hebrew forefathers with a description of the national decline into the Jewish nation during their stay in Egypt. ‘The race of their ancestors’, he writes, ‘gave way to a great multitude and the nation of the Jews was established out of these.’72 Unlike their forefather, Joseph, who had withstood the temptations of the Egyptian seductress, these descendants fell into the practices of the Egyptians.
The influence of the pious conduct of their godly forefathers of old began little by little to be weakened and blunted, while the effects of their association with Egyptians gained so much strength over the multitude of whom I speak, that they forgot the virtue of their forefathers, and came round in their modes of living to customs like (homoiotropia tous bious) those of the Egyptians, so that their character seemed to differ in no way from the Egyptians.73
The effects were so bad that when God sent Moses as a ‘leader and lawgiver’,74 he was not able to fully restore to them the national character of their ancestors. Their weakness in the face of pleasure and susceptibility to vice constrained them from following the example of the ancient Hebrews. They were ‘sick in the soul’, and hence Moses gave them ‘a polity that corresponded to their condition, ordaining some things openly and clearly, and implying others enigmatically, by suggesting symbols and (p.108) shadows, but not the naked truth, for them to keep and observe’.75 To take Moses as representing a high point in religious history76 fails to give this point adequate weight. Likewise, if we extract the Jews from their ethnic location within a narrative of descent from Hebrew ancestors and instead assume them to represent a theological category (in so far as they represent an Urmonotheismus), we fail to recognize the secondary level of Moses' Law because of the people's deplorable moral status that resulted from the inordinate influence of the Egyptians.77
Mosaic Law was ‘God's will’ only in so far as it was a measure leading back towards the life of virtue of the Jews' Hebrew ancestors. Moses' polity was meant to function as a remedial form of legislation until the coming of Christ. For Eusebius, the monotheism of the Jews was insufficient to obtain the noble name of their Hebrew forefathers. He sought to emphasize the disconnection between the Jews, on the one side, and the Hebrews and Christians, on the other. Christ's ‘customs and ordinances’ were to replace those of Moses.78 Christ established a new covenant for all nations.79
This effort to create a boundary between the Hebrew and Jewish nations, despite their biological connectedness,80 is a systematic and consistent feature of Eusebius' Praeparatio (he had asserted the difference as early as 1.6.6). In several places throughout his account of the ancient Hebrews, Eusebius had been careful to distinguish the subjects of his narrative from the Jews. He ignores the historical reasons for the use of Ioudaios as an appellation for the Jews resulting from the extension of the term from the children of the tribe of Judah to the territory, then to the entire nation following Babylonian exile, which had become prominent in Hellenistic times.81 Instead, he opts for a clear distinction between Hebrews and Jews, which arose during their Egyptian sojourn. There (p.109) were no Jews before the Egyptian era, nor were there many Hebrews left after it. Of the earlier period, he claims: ‘The ones of whom I speak were Hebrews alike by name and in character, and as yet neither were, nor were called, Jews.’82 Egypt was a watershed of national deterioration—in fact, in Eusebius' scheme, it constituted a period of ethnogenesis for the nation of the Jews, and of near extinction for the Hebrews.
FROM HEBREWS TO JEWS: ASPECTS OF ETHNIC ARGUMENTATION IN PRAEPARATIO 7–8
In the present discussion, I have attempted to delineate the overall direction and aims of the argument that Eusebius constructs in Books 7–8. However, certain central features of his argument need to be reiterated and singled out for particular attention as to their function and force within his apologetic project. As in the previous chapter, I aim to note the ways in which Eusebius' narration provides a picture of national character and national connections (or in this case, disconnections) that support his ethnic argumentation in the Praeparatio as a whole. His narration of the ancient Hebrews and the later rise of the Jewish ethnos is fraught with no little significance for grasping his apologetic argument and for illuminating his conceptualization of Jews and Jewishness in general.83 The following remarks are meant to highlight the particular salience of the character of the Hebrew holy men, the boundary‐forging mechanisms employed to mark off Jews from Hebrews, and the ways in which that boundary could be manipulated for other ends when needed.
Ancestors as Icons: National Character in the Narrative of Hebrew Descent
As in the first, so now in the second half of the Praeparatio, Eusebius is concerned to exhibit through his narrative the tropos, or character, (p.110) embodied in the way of life of each of the nations. The character of the ancient Hebrews is represented as entirely different from that of the other nations.84 The national character of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks had been shown in Praeparatio 1–6 as steeped in polytheistic error, irrationality, and impiety. At 7.3, Eusebius makes the following remarks on the degradation of their character:
When therefore they had entrenched themselves in so great an error, naturally in their service of the goddess and evil daemon, pleasure, evils upon evils gathered round them, while they defiled the whole of life with mad passions for women and outrages on men, and had surpassed in their excess of wickedness the character (tropos) of the ancient nations, and of their false theology, as exhibited in the preceding books by the Greek historians and philosophers whom we have brought together.85
This declaration of national decline, of the increase in manifestations of the immorality and impiety attached to the life of pleasure like the multiplication of the heads of a hydra, stands as the last remark on the character of the other nations before Eusebius embarked on the narrative of virtue and simplicity displayed by the ancient Hebrews. The contrast could not be greater.
The life of the ancient Hebrews was marked by rational reflection upon the universe: the minds of the Hebrews were pure, the eyes of their souls clear‐sighted.86 Hence, they avoided the error of the other nations, whose decline had begun with astral theology. Instead, they looked beyond the stars to their maker and diligently sought the creator of all. In this way, they were led on towards friendship with God as ‘the consummation of all happiness’ (telos hapasēs eudaimonias).87 This, coupled with the discovery of the soul as separate from the body, resulted in the disciplining of the body through asceticism.88 For Eusebius, the character of Hebrew theology (namely, their rationality) was thus inseparable from their virtuous lives. In fact, Eusebius refers to their distinctive way of thinking about God and the world as the character of their doctrine (dogmatikon tropon) or rational character (logikon tropon), as distinct from the character of their piety (eusebeias charactēra).89
The character of the Hebrews was both rational and virtuous. At the same time, they did not need legislation such as Moses had established (p.111) for the Jews. ‘They enjoyed a free and unfettered mode (tropon) of piety, being regulated by the manner of life which is in accordance with nature, so that they had no need of laws to rule them, because of the extreme freedom of their soul from passions, but had received true knowledge of the doctrines concerning God.’90 They were Hebrews, as opposed to Jews, in ‘both name and character’.91
One of the most significant aspects of Eusebius' conception of Hebrew character is the particular way in which he describes the exemplary quality of their way of life. He writes that Moses had described the lives of the ancient Hebrews as a ‘preface’ to his laws.92 Moses had done so because he wanted to remind the Jews, for whom he was legislating, of the greatness and virtue of their Hebrew ancestors. The lives of these Hebrews were meant not only as reminders but as models to follow.
At this point, Eusebius adopts the language of painted images to provide a striking metaphor of Moses' biographical method.93 Eusebius explains that Moses ‘was handing down their ancestors' portraits (eikonas) to those who were being instructed in the things of God, recounting the lives of the men of old, and delineating as in painted likenesses the peculiar virtue of each one’.94 This description vividly exhibits Moses' literary activity as the presentation of ancestors as models to be emulated. Like a painter, Moses creates a picture that highlights with bright colours the particular virtue of each individual.95
Eusebius had been preceded in seeing ancestors as images or icons. Plutarch's preface to the Vita Alexandri is the most well‐known example of the metaphor of biographical sketches as painted images. Plutarch claims in the Vita that he is writing lives not histories, and hence will (p.112) focus upon those features that emphasize the individual's character.96 ‘Therefore, just as painters pick out the likenesses from the face and the forms of his appearance, those things in which character is manifest, caring least for the other parts of the body, so we must be granted to undertake rather the signs of the soul and to portray each one's life through these, leaving to others the great deeds and struggles.’97
No doubt, it is Plutarch's programmatic statement here that is the model for Eusebius' methodological reflections in the Vita Constantini, where he claims that he will ‘record with words the image (eikona) of the God‐beloved [emperor] in remembrance, in imitation of mortal portraiture (skiagraphias)’.98 And, just as Plutarch claimed to disregard the great battles and achievements of his subject, so also Eusebius there states that he ‘will pass over most of the deeds of the thrice‐blessed [emperor]’.99 Instead, he ‘will speak and write only those things pertaining to [Constantine's] God‐beloved life’.100
This is obviously quite similar to the image of Moses' portrait‐making given by Eusebius at Praeparatio 7.7.4. However, Eusebius would have been familiar with other occurrences of the metaphor. At the beginning of his De Abrahamo, Philo draws out the relationship between the Hebrew forefathers who lived before Mosaic Law and the Law itself. In an illuminating comment, Philo remarks that particular laws of Moses' legislation are, in fact, copies (eikonōn) of mortal Hebrew archetypes (archetupous), ‘such men as lived blameless and good lives, whose virtues are inscribed in the most sacred books, and this is not only for their praise, but also so that the readers will be encouraged to emulate the same’.101 Literally, Philo says that the laws are icons of the Hebrew archetypes. Just as in Eusebius' account of Moses' lives, these Hebrew models are to serve a protreptic function for the reader. For Eusebius, Moses' laws were to be ‘as an encouragement (protropēn) for the life of the pious’.102
Following these programmatic statements on the lives of the Hebrew saints, the metaphor of a holy life as an image recurs frequently throughout Eusebius' treatment of Hebrew descent.103 For instance, Eusebius claims that a man of such character as Enos is worthy of emulation, and that Christians have attempted to seek God ‘in a manner (p.113) equal to the image of [Enos]’.104 In his report of Enoch, Eusebius adds: ‘We considered it a blessed thing to emulate the life of this image.’105
The most significant example of this metaphoric understanding of the ancestor as an image is his assertion following the account of Noah: ‘This man, then, also would be an archetype, a living and breathing image, who had given an example to his posterity of the character that is pleasing to God.’106 This statement raises some important issues. For Philo, in the passage noted above, the Hebrews were archetypes, while the laws were images of the men. Eusebius, however, seems here to conflate both archetype and image to refer to the ancient Hebrews. A similar conflation occurs later in Book 7 when he describes the Logos as being an ‘archetype and true image of the God of all’.107 He then follows this by saying that the human mind is created in the image of the Logos, and as such is ‘an image of an image’.108 The passage on Noah reflects a distinctively moral focus in its use of the term ‘image’. At 7.7.4, Eusebius had used ‘image’ to refer to the biographical sketches (the bioi) of Hebrews contained in Moses' writings. But now, Eusebius is making the additional claim that the ‘images’ are to serve as models (as hupodeigmata).109 The character represented in the biographical sketches functions as an image to be observed and so incorporated into the moral lives of the readers. The picture painted through the words of the narrative summons the viewer (reader) to emulate its distinctive model for virtuous living.110
The character of the Hebrew ancestors stands not only as a positive contrast to the character of the other nations delineated in Books 1–6 but also places a certain obligation upon the reader. The narrative account of Hebrew character beckons the reader to the life characterized by friendship with God. The character of the Greeks and other peoples had only elicited Eusebius' aversion to such impiety and superstition. There was no iconic quality to the accounts of the Greek forefathers. But in Eusebius' treatment of the biographical sketches of Hebrew (p.114) ancestors, a sort of moral response by the reader was encouraged. And in this way, the Hebrew lives were icons.111
Separating Jews from Hebrews
Two boundary‐making mechanisms are pertinent for the present discussion regarding Eusebius' Hebrew–Jew distinction. First, an important means of making the distinction was through the conscious manipulation and use of separate ethnonyms.112 The difference in ethnonyms, according to Eusebius, lay not only in a difference of character but also in the fact that they went back to two different founders: Heber for the Hebrews and Judah for the Jews. ‘The difference between the Hebrews and Jews you may know in this way: the latter assumed their name from Judah, from whose tribe the kingdom of Judah was long ages afterwards established, but the former from Heber, who was the forefather of Abraham. And that the Hebrews were earlier than the Jews, we are taught by the sacred writings.’113
The two eponymous forefathers were somewhat awkwardly drawn from biblical references. At Genesis 10: 21, Heber is mentioned as an ancestor of Shem.114 This is somewhat late for him to be eponymous for the Hebrews before the flood, since Shem's father was Noah. Yet, Josephus had already made this connection between Heber and the Hebrews.115 In fact, however, the name may not go back to any one individual, but refer rather to ‘slaves’ or some lower social (p.115) category.116 Furthermore, Judah had given his name to one of the 12 tribes of Israel, but the use of Ioudaioi would not be extended to all Jews collectively until at least post‐exilic or even Hellenistic times. Even Josephus had noted this fact when he wrote: ‘They are called by this name from the tribe of Judah, since the time when they returned from Babylon.’117 The fact that both titles are somewhat tendentiously connected to Heber and Judah draws attention to the importance of collective names for the identities of peoples in antiquity. Eusebius shares with Josephus the need to attach particular peoples to ancient roots, however disingenuous such connections might be. Despite the fact (or even because of the fact) that Heber is a fairly hazy figure in the biblical books, he makes an excellent person to be remembered as a founding father. He is a source for the Hebrews' collective name, and reserves a space in the faded mists of earliest time in which an identity can be historically planted.
The ethnonymic distinction between Hebrews and Jews is supplemented later, when Eusebius sums up the narrative of the Hebrews before the flood. He remarks:
[They were neither Jews nor Greeks,] but they would be more properly called Hebrews, either because of Heber, or rather because of the interpretation of the name. For by interpretation they are a kind of ‘passengers’ , who have set out on their journey from this world to pass to the contemplation of the God of the universe. For they are recorded to have travelled the straight path of virtue aright by natural reasoning and by unwritten laws, and to have passed beyond carnal pleasures to the life of perfect wisdom and piety.118
This etymology of Hebrews from ‘passengers’ was based on the biblical passage of Genesis 14: 13 and had already been pointed out by Philo. For reasons similar to Eusebius, Philo adopts the etymology: the Hebrews were these who passed over from the things of this world to pursue the truth found in contemplation of the divine.119
(p.116) The conjunction of the two explanations for the ethnonym—the one resorting to ancestry, the other to etymology—well illustrates the extent of Eusebius' boundary‐forming project. Not only do the Hebrews trace their lineage to a different legendary founder than the Jews, but their character as contemplative ascetics, or ‘passengers’, through this present life, contrasts with the weak and corrupted character of the Jews.
A second means of emphasizing the boundary that Eusebius had constructed between the Hebrews and Jews centred upon Mosaic Law.120 Eusebius repeatedly stressed that the virtuous lives of his Hebrews were based upon living according to nature, right use of reason (orthos logismos) and unwritten laws.121 At 7.6.4, he described them as having nothing to do with Mosaic Law or with the sorts of regulations it required:
But the Hebrews who were earlier in time than Moses having never heard of all the Mosaic legislation, enjoyed a free and unfettered mode of piety, being regulated by the manner of life which is in accordance with nature, so that they had no need of laws to rule them, because of the extreme freedom of their soul from passions, but had received true knowledge of the doctrines concerning God.122
Again, before Moses' ‘own written laws, [the Hebrew] forefathers by right use of reason had already been honourably distinguished for excellence in reverence for God’.123 Hence, the mere fact of chronology, for Eusebius, pre‐empts any connection between the way of life of the Hebrews and the way of life legislated in the Law of Moses. Anyone who wanted to treat the Hebrew patriarchs as part of the Jewish ethnos was thus confronted by Eusebius' contention that the defining and formative factor of Jewish identity centred upon the legislation of Moses to those descendants of Abraham who had Egyptianized and could no longer fully participate in the ancestral life of virtue. This defining moment of Jewishness had not yet occurred, was chronologically later than the lives of the Hebrew forefathers, and as such could not be used to define Hebrew identity.
Circumcision is a central issue in Eusebius' claims that the Hebrews did not follow Mosaic Law. Among the Hebrews before the flood, Eusebius asserts ‘there was not a single word about bodily circumcision, (p.117) nor of the Judaic pronouncements of Moses’.124 Circumcision stood as a semiotic marker of ethnic difference between the Hebrews and Jews. It should be remembered that Eusebius named the Jewish opponents to Christianity to whom his Praeparatio was addressed as ‘those of the circumcision’.125 Since this is the case, it was an especially troubling fact in the biblical story of Abraham that he had himself been circumcised in his old age upon a command from God. Eusebius attempted to explain this away as meaning something other than the circumcision of the Jews: possibly it was to remind later generations that they were to walk in the ways of their ancestor, Abraham; or it was performed in order to keep track of his numerous descendants, who could, by this bodily sign, be differentiated from other peoples. But realizing that these answers may not be good enough to separate Abraham's circumcision from Mosaic Law, Eusebius adds the line cited above: ‘Or for some other reason, whatever it is, which we do not now have leisure to busy ourselves with.’126 Even if Eusebius felt uneasy about the possible reasons he had given, he was clearly eager to explain away the circumcision of Abraham.
The apologist's primary goal in these considerations was to make a clear demarcation, to fortify the boundary, between Hebrews and Jews. Unless the deeper meaning or kernel of Hebrew wisdom could be located through allegorical techniques, Moses' legislation scarcely represented what Eusebius would consider a rational and pious way of life. What elevated Moses to the rank of ‘Hebrew of Hebrews’ was not the fact of his legislation for the Jews, but rather his concealing of Hebrew wisdom within it. Before moving on, it may be instructive to compare the Praeparatio's portrayal of Moses with that of a slightly earlier work.
The General Elementary Introduction had been composed in about 310 while the Great Persecution was still wreaking havoc on the Church's sense of security in the Roman world.127 The remaining four books of this work (going under the title Prophetic Eclogues)128 exhibit its importance in a number of areas, from its development of a Logos (p.118) theology to its method of scriptural interpretation, its contribution to Christian education, and its relevance for anti‐Jewish polemic.
In a discussion of manifestations of the Logos to key figures of the biblical narrative, Eusebius gives due consideration to what he claims is a noticeable change in the way the second person of the Trinity appeared to the ancients. God did not appear at random to humans, but restricted his being seen to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.129 Moses himself was not allowed to see God:130 even when the biblical text describes his encounter with God on Mount Sinai, Moses only saw his back.131 When God spoke with Moses, it was only dimly, ‘visage to visage (enōpios enōpiōi)’ rather than ‘face to face (prosōpon pros prosōpon)’ as God had done with the Hebrew patriarchs.132
Eusebius' interpretive tactics (which may seem to verge on sophistry to the modern reader) artfully manipulate the details of the Bible's narrative. God's revelations to Moses and the people under his leadership are consistently portrayed with evaluative terms that inscribe a shift from the earlier revelations to the Hebrew patriarchs. Divine manifestations to Moses and the Jews were clothed in some sort of form (eidos),133 either fire or cloud, that was fleshly and indirect, since they were ‘babies in their souls and wicked; and the divine things were riddled through symbols to them in types (tupikōs) and images (eikonikōs), nor in this was it a more mystical and spiritual teaching such as [the Hebrew patriarchs] received, since it was to children who had changed their accustomed way of life for the character of Egyptians’.134 Even the monotheism of the Hebrews could scarcely be grasped by the foolish Jews: ‘they were yet without an elementary introduction (stoicheiōdous eisagōgēs) of the monarchy regarding God’.135 ‘The Law of Moses,’ Eusebius baldly declares, ‘could not see the face of God since it was human and rather fleshly.’136 This was in sharp contrast to God's clear, (p.119) unmediated and open (literally, ‘naked’ [gumnōs]) appearances to the Hebrew holy men who had lived before Moses and the rise of the Jewish nation.137
While Eusebius' concerns in the General Elementary Introduction are different from those in the Praeparatio, his attempt to distinguish the ancient Hebrews and their way of life from Moses and his legislation remains consistently clear. As a result of the Jews' moral deterioration while they lived among the Egyptians, a new identity with a new ethnonym, different laws, and lower levels of spiritual and intellectual perceptiveness came into existence. The ethnogenesis of the Jewish nation drew on chronological, legal, moral, and religious elements that highlighted its difference from the Hebrew friends of God.
Hebrews After Moses
After the Egyptian sojourn and the formation of the Jewish ethnos under Mosaic legislation, a small remnant of Hebrews remained. This considerably complicates Eusebius' conception of the development of ethnic history. But in order to grasp what Eusebius is doing in his construction and manipulation of ethnic boundaries, it is critical that those whom Eusebius names Hebrews after the rise of the Jews be given proper consideration.138
The issue begins with the identity of Moses. Moses is a central figure in the ethnogenesis of the Jews. It is his legislation that guarantees their status as a distinct people.139 Whenever Eusebius refers to the origins of the Jewish nation, Moses' name is almost never absent.140 His legislation is referred to as ‘Judaic proclamations’.141 Yet, Moses is hailed as ‘the great theologian, a Hebrew of Hebrews if there ever was one’.142 (p.120) Furthermore, he is called ‘all‐wise’.143 The reason for this double role is that although he established a legislation that was at a lower level than the way of life practised by the earlier Hebrews and in this respect was crucial for the rise of the Jews, he was nonetheless wise in the traditions of his Hebrew forebears. Therefore when he set himself to write up a legal code for the Jews in their morally weakened state, he provided it with a preface that, according to Eusebius, contained crucial elements of Hebrew wisdom.144 There were two of these in the preambles to Moses' Law, and they are given abundant space in Praeparatio 7. First, Moses recognized the necessity of including the lives of the ancestral Hebrews to serve as models and sources of inspiration to virtuous living for the Jews. At 7.7.1–4, a central passage in Book 7 and one to which we will return again, Eusebius writes:
[Moses], understanding well the customs of his forefathers, by way of preface (en prooimiois) to the sacred laws has committed to indelible records (mnēmais anexaleiptois) the lives of the forefathers of the Hebrews, and the blessings which God vouchsafed to them … because he thought that this would be a needful lesson for those who were to be taught his laws. … [It was necessary for those who] were by birth descendants of righteous men beloved of God, to show themselves emulous of the piety of their forefathers, and to be eager to obtain from God equal blessings with those who had begotten them.
Hence, according to Eusebius, the very fact that Moses included the narrative of the lives of the Hebrew ancestors showed that Moses knew quite well that his Law was only meant as a middle ground for the morally handicapped Jews. Moses' privileging of the Hebrews and their way of life exhibited for Eusebius his true Hebrew identity—even as ‘a Hebrew of Hebrews’.
Moses had also made space in the preambles of his legislation for philosophic reflections on the nature of God, the creation of the world, the nature of humans, and the nature and activity of evil forces such as daemons. When Eusebius introduces what he calls the ‘theology of the Hebrews’,145 later called the ‘philosophy of the Hebrews’,146 or even the (p.121) ‘dogmatic character of the Hebrews’,147 he adds this statement regarding Moses' preambles:
In founding by his own writing a polity (politeia) in accordance with piety for the Jewish people, [he] did not think it fit to employ the common and trite preambles (prooimiois) to his books; but after he had collected every law enjoining what ought to be done and forbidding what ought not to be done, and the public and civic arrangements concerning their mutual contracts, he thought it right to make his teaching begin with their ancestral theology, because he considered no other instruction to be proper to laws pertaining to piety than that theology which had come down to him from their forefathers.148
What follows then is an exposition of the theology to be gleaned from the account of the creation of the world found in Genesis. Much of this contains highly significant material for analysing Eusebius' ‘Logos theology’ (especially 7.12–15).149 For our purposes, however, it is important to notice that Eusebius is attributing this theology to the ancient Hebrews. Moses, then, is a preserver of the knowledge of God possessed by the earlier Hebrews.
Besides the emphasis on what Eusebius considers to be the distinctively Hebrew features to Moses' preambles, Eusebius claims that Moses is a Hebrew for another, even more striking, reason. In the Demonstratio Evangelica, Eusebius would dedicate himself to the task of responding to the accusation that Christians had misappropriated the Jewish Scriptures for themselves, while not adhering to their legal pronouncements. Eusebius will there take special pains to show that the Law of Moses was only meant to apply for a limited time to a limited group of people in a limited geographical area (see especially DE 1–2). By way of foreshadowing this discussion in the Demonstratio, Eusebius writes: ‘For we shall prove at the proper opportunity that the institutions of Moses were suited to Jews alone, and not to the other nations of the world, nor were possible to be observed by all men, I mean by those who dwelt at a distance from the land of Judaea, whether Greeks or barbarians.’150
(p.122) However, here in the Praeparatio, he offers a way of understanding the Law that is in harmony with Hebrew theology, without slipping into an espousal of Jewish religious practices and way of life. The way out from under the Jewishness of the Law is through employment of the allegorical approach. The ‘multitude’ of Jews followed the literal sense since they were morally and theologically incapable of deeper interpretation. However, some Jews, who were known as the ‘race of Jewish philosophers’ among the Greeks, interpreted the Law allegorically and led a life of asceticism and virtue.151 After providing sources on the transmission of Moses' writings into Greek (that is the Septuagint),152 an overview of the polity prescribed in fairly literal terms (according to quotations from Philo and Josephus),153 and then some examples of the allegorical meaning symbolized in the legal endorsements (from Aristeas and Aristobulus),154 Eusebius distinguishes between the two types of Jews:
The whole Jewish nation is divided into two sections. And while the lawgiver [Moses] meant to lead the multitude on gently by the precepts of the laws as enjoined according to the literal sense, the other class, consisting of those who had acquired a habit of virtue, he meant to exempt from this sense, and required them to give attention to a philosophy of a diviner kind too highly exalted for the multitude, and to contemplation of the things signified in the meaning of the laws.155
As an example of this second class of Jews, in 8.11–12 Eusebius adds descriptions of the way of life of the ascetic Essenes. He is unclear if this second class of allegorizing Jews is to be identified with the Hebrews or not. He may merely be seeking an explanation for the admirable life of such groups as the Essenes in his division of the Jewish ethnos. While no sure conclusion can be reached, the first possibility is substantiated by the fact that Philo, who is otherwise named a Hebrew (see below), is here given the appellation of a ‘wise Jew’.156 In this case, Eusebius has just concluded his extracts on the Essenes and wants to introduce ‘contemporary’ Hebrew theology on the subject of Providence (no doubt to provide a Hebrew alternative to the Greek notions of Fate attacked in Book 6). He writes: ‘Let us closely examine the thoughts of the wise men (p.123) among the Jews, that we may learn what qualities the Hebrews have shown both in theology and in excellence of speech.’157 If this statement is determinative, it closely identifies the wise Jews with the Hebrews, at least as conduits for Hebrew wisdom.158
It should be remembered that in the HE, Eusebius had taken the Therapeutae, an ascetic group in Egypt described by Philo in De Vita Contemplativa, to be Christians and ‘apostolic men from the Hebrews’ although they ‘observed the customs of the ancients in the manner of Jews’.159 They were, however, open to both Greeks and barbarians.160 And, most importantly, they devoted themselves to the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures, ‘since they consider the writings to be hidden meanings of nature which are revealed in secret notions’.161 This passage remains unclear as to how the Jewishness of their observation of ancient customs fits in with their identity as Hebrews, since as such they now incorporate Greeks and barbarians, and they pursue allegorical interpretive techniques. The fact that the Therapeutae are specifically named Hebrews, and that they are familiar with asceticism and allegory in the same way that the Essenes are described, seems to point towards the identification of the philosophical Jews with the Hebrews. Clearly, Eusebius allows for some manoeuvring between the boundary of Hebrews and Jews that he had constructed in the first part of Praeparatio 7. Not only was the legislator for the Jews himself a ‘Hebrew of Hebrews’, but his Jewish Law could be taken in a more philosophical, and hence less Jewish, way.
Eusebius' boundary, demarcating Hebrews from Jews, possessed some degree of permeability and allows for inclusion into the Hebrew ethnos of anyone Eusebius considers to be philosophical enough (that is, anyone (p.124) who can promote a reasonably similar form of ascetic idealism, a Logos theology, a doctrine of Providence, and so on). And therefore, those authors whom Eusebius finds congenial are identified as being Hebrews. They include the prophets after Moses, Josephus, Philo, Aristobulus, the High Priest Eleazar, and David.162 These examples testify to Eusebius' desire to use exclusionary, boundary‐forming mechanisms to mark off the Jews as other and (as will be the focus in the Demonstratio) illegitimate, while at the same time using a rhetoric of inclusion for those Jewish authors that can best support and legitimate his own form of Christianity.
It has often been assumed that religious positions (given the designations Jewish, Hebrew, Greek) are the subject of the Praeparatio, and that the titles given these positions are only incidentally connected with peoples, that is, with ethnic identity. This results from a great deal of abstraction from the concerns and formulations with which Eusebius himself works. I have attempted to show the importance of taking the ethnic terminology (of ethnonyms, ancestral character portraits, and so on) seriously. Hence, instead of a series of exemplars of a religious or theological category—an Urmonotheismus—I have shown the material of Praeparatio 7–8 as a narrative of descent, providing the stories of a nation's forefathers (the ancient Hebrews), their decline into a bastardized national identity (the Jews), and the persistence of a remnant of Hebrews until the time of Christianity. This picturing of the world, this inscribing of ethnic character and national demarcations, is absolutely crucial to Eusebius' apologetic methodology. One of the fundamental tasks of apologetics was not merely the criticism of doctrinal positions on a theological or philosophical level, but the formulation of a viable vision of the world in which Christianity makes sense and looks attractive. The Praeparatio is, then, concerned with painting a picture of the world of nations in such a way that the other nations are seen in a negative light, (p.125) while the nation of the Hebrews (and so of their descendants, the Christians) are depicted positively. Furthermore, Eusebius is concerned to build his argument on the basis of certain national ‘facts’. This allows him to paint the Jews as a rejected nation, for they are only partly connected to the ancient Hebrews; their origins as Egyptianized and morally weak descendants of the Hebrews had placed a stain upon their continued national identity.
By reading the argument of the Praeparatio as fundamentally ethnic in nature, we are able better to appreciate its richness and intensity. To construe the argument as centred on religious positions impairs our understanding of the mechanisms of the Praeparatio and the world that Eusebius was creating through his narrative. For Eusebius, the argument was only a matter of ‘religion’ in so far as it was embedded within the lives and histories of the forefathers of the nations.
(1) For the phrase, see P. Cox Miller, ‘Strategies of Representation in Collective Biography: Constructing the Subject as Holy’, in T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (eds), Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 222; A. P. Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons: The Lives of Hebrew Saints in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica’, GRBS 44 (2004), 245–64.
(2) Josephus offered a model historical and apologetic approach, while Philo of Alexandria had developed a Logos theology, which would carry due weight in Eusebius' own formulations (see, e.g. the quotations from Philo at 7.13).
(3) PE 7.1.2. For the centrality of Book 7 to the entire PE, see König‐Ockenfels, ‘Christliche Deutung der Weltgeschichte bei Eusebs von Cäsarea’, 356: ‘The especial high point of the PE is the seventh book.’
(5) Note the explicit comparisons to Phoenician, Egyptian, and Greek cosmogonies at 7.9.2; 7.11.13; 7.12.1; 7.17.1.
(6) In marked contrast to the Greek notion of Fate criticized in Book 6.
(7) PE 7.2.
(8) PE 1.9.16.
(9) Cp. Lactantius, Div. Inst. 2.14.
(10) For general discussion see Schroeder, Eusèbe de Césarée, 28–40.
(11) Cp. Eusebius, Theoph. 3.61.
(12) While the Epicureans may have been in Eusebius' sights in this passage, Socrates himself had referred to pleasure as a goddess at Phileb. 12B (which is misunderstood by Origen at C. Cels. 4.48, even though he seems to have taken it rightly at 1.25).
(13) PE 7.2.3.
(14) Or. 12.36. Translation by J. W. Cohoon, LCL (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939).
(15) His description of worshipping pleasure with ‘tinkling cymbals’ probably refers to the Magna Mater or Isis cult.
(16) Rom. 1: 26, quoted at PE 7.2.3; the terms ‘heterosexual’ and ‘same‐sex’ are not meant to accurately reflect ancient frameworks of sexual activity, see H. N. Parker, ‘The Teratogenic Grid’, in J. P. Hallett and M. B. Skinner (eds), Roman Sexualities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 47–65.
(17) Rom. 1.18.
(18) PE 7.2.5; cp. Eusebius' Comm. Ps. 73 (PG 23.864B), in reference to the devil working through his many daemons.
(19) Euthydemus 297C (referring to sophistical arguments) and Republic 3.426E (referring to the proliferation of wrong dealings in the polis under inadequate legal measures). See also, Lucian, Anach. 35 (the strength of a well‐trained body is like a hydra); Numenius ap. PE 14.6.3 (Arcesilaus the academic divided himself in contrary arguments like a hydra).
(20) See, e.g. Irenaeus, C. Haer. 1.30.15; Justin, Dial. 2 (referring to the many schools of Greek philosophy); Methodius, Lepr. 6 (referring to envy) and Res. 1.62 (referring to the complexities of an argument); Ps.‐Clement, Hom. 6.16 (referring to those whom the wise and philosophic person meets as ‘[Nemean] lions and multifarious hydras’); Macarius Magnes Apocriticus 3 (referring to the many anti‐Christian arguments); Jerome, Comm. Ezech., praef. (on the Origenist agenda of Rufinus). My collection of examples here expands that in Lampe's Patristic Greek Dictionary.
(21) PE 7.2.6.
(22) See Chapter 5.
(23) PE 7.3.2.
(24) PE 7.3.2.
(25) PE 7.3.3.
(26) PE 7.4. On the ‘friends of God’ appellation, see Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 59–60.
(27) PE 7.5.1.
(28) This phrase is clearly an allusion to Philo, Abr. 50; see also Quod Omnis 42. On the relationship of Eusebius to Philo in this passage, see A. P. Johnson, ‘Philonic Allusions in Eusebius, PE 7.7–8’, CQ 56 2006: forthcoming).
(29) PE 7.4.6.
(30) Other biblical references to the people as a nation of priests are at Is. 61: 6; Rev. 1: 6; 5: 10; 20: 6.
(31) For a brief discussion and other references, see G. Harvey, The True Israel: Uses of the Names Jew, Hebrew and Israel in Ancient Jewish and Early Christian Literature (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 220–1; also, Johnson, ‘Philonic Allusions in Eusebius’.
(32) Abr. 12.56. Philo had elsewhere referred to the nation as fulfiling a priestly function; see De Spec. Leg. 2.163, and also 1.97
(33) I Peter 2: 9.
(34) See J. H. Elliott, The Elect and the Holy (Leiden: Brill, 1966), on the appellation of ‘royal priesthood’; and for general discussion F. W. Beare, The First Epistle of Peter (Oxford: Blackwell, 1958), 100–5. Cp. Gregory Nazianzenus, Or. 4.35.
(35) See Beare, The First Epistle of Peter, 9–19.
(36) See also its application to the Hebrews by Origen, C. Cels. 4.32; 5.10, 43; cp. e.g., Clement, Protr. 4, where it is reserved for the Christians.
(37) PE 7.8.4, quoting from Gen. 4: 26.
(38) Philo's Abr. 46, 48 also demarcates the history of the ancient Hebrews into a pre‐flood phase and post‐flood phase (the first containing the ‘trinity’ of Enos, Enoch, and Noah, the second that of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
(39) PE 7.8.6. κυριολϵκτϵῖν ϵἰθισμένη τὰςπροσηγορίας.
(40) PE 7.8.5. Philo (Abr. 7–8), on the other hand, asserts that Enos was the Chaldean form of anthrōpos, which means ‘lover of hope’. The giving of such a name to him was a favour since it was ‘the common name of the [human] race’. Then Philo adds that he is ‘only a man in accordance with truth’, who expects goodness and has noble hopes. Eusebius may be distancing himself from Philo's account by firmly distinguishing Enos from anthrōpos and differentiating between this term for the race in general and the ‘true man’. At the same time, however, Eusebius gives ‘hope’ a prominent place in his narrative of Enos (see 7.8.9,12).
(41) PE 7.8.8. See also 11.6.10–15.
(42) PE 7.8.6. In a similar manner, Philo had claimed that, since anthrōpos meant ‘lover of hope’, the one who was without hope was not a human but a ‘beast in human shape’ (Abr. 8).
(43) PE 7.8.9.
(44) PE 7.8.13. The phrase is from Gen. 5: 24, and is also central to Philo's treatment of Enoch (Abr. 17).
(45) PE 7.8.13.
(46) PE 7.8.14; cp. Philo, Abr. 19–20; Quod Omnis 63, 76; De Mut. 34–8.
(47) Plato, Theaet. 173CD; Eusebius will quote this passage in extenso at 12.29.2–21, and more briefly at 13.13.20 (within a citation from Clement's Strom. 5). See also in Plato, e.g., Rep. 3.405B; 5.476B; 6.492B, 503D; 7.517D; 8.549D.
(48) See Philo, Abr. 20; cf. Dec. 2–13; Praem. et Poen. 20–1.
(49) PE 7.8.15. Philo similarly gives the etymology of the name as κϵχαρισμένος (Abr. 17).
(50) For a similar combination of the biblical and Greek accounts regarding the ‘sons of God’ and the giants, see Josephus, AJ 1.73.
(51) PE 7.8.16; the phrase is from Gen. 6: 9. See also, Philo, Abr. 27.
(52) PE 7.8.17.
(53) Eusebius gives a sidelong glance to Melchizadek at 7.8.19 between his accounts of Noah and Abraham. On Philo's and Eusebius' slight allusions to this mysterious king, see Schroeder and Des Places, Eusèbe de Césarée, 66.
(54) ὁ βοώμϵνος τοῦ παντὸςἔθνουςγϵνάρχης (7.8.22). See Philo, Quis heres 279, for this appellation.
(55) PE 7.8.23. See 11.6.25–26.
(56) See Origen, C. Cels. 1.22 and 5.48, for earlier efforts to explain Abraham's circumcision.
(57) PE 7.8.24.
(58) PE 7.8.22.
(59) PE 7.8.25. For an etymology of Isaac, see 11.6.29.
(60) PE 7.8.26. See also, 11.6.30.
(61) PE 7.8.28. See 11.6.31.
(62) PE 7.8.29.
(63) PE 7.8.30, citing Job 1: 1.
(64) Patristic authors seem to be unanimous on Job's non‐Jewish birth; see Baskin, Pharaoh's Counsellors: Job, Jethro and Balaam, 32. Rabbinic exegetes were less agreed on his birth; ibid., 8–32.
(65) Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 63.
(66) PE 7.8.31.
(67) See in general, E. Bickerman, ‘Origenes gentium’, 65–81; J. Gager, Moses in Greco‐Roman Paganism (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972), esp. 113–33; Sterling, Historiography and Self‐Definition; A. J. Droge, ‘Josephus Between Greeks and Barbarians’, in L. H. Feldman and J. R. Levison, (eds), Josephus' Contra Apionem (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 115–42; Mendels, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism, 35–54; and Boys‐Stones, Post‐Hellenistic Philosophy, 60–95.
(69) PE 7.8.32.
(70) Compare with Josephus' account at AJ 2.41–90.
(71) PE 7.8.36.
(72) PE 7.8.37.
(73) PE 7.8.37; cp. the Syriac version of Aristides Apol. 2.5; see Lieu, Image and Reality, 169–70.
(76) Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 62.
(77) Ibid., 80, where Ulrich claims that, ‘Insofar as the Jews followed the Mosaic Law, they followed the will of Moses' highest God … The Jews stood clearly and unequivocally in the line of the ancient original monotheism (represented by the ancient Hebrews).’
(78) PE 7.8.40.
(79) PE 7.8.40.
(80) That he does not ignore the biological relationship is clear from 7.7.2, where the Hebrews are depicted as not being foreign with respect to race from the Jews.
(81) See S. Cohen, ‘Religion, Ethnicity and Hellenism in the Emergence of Jewish Identity in Maccabean Palestine’, in Per Bilde et al. (eds), Religion and Religious Practice in the Seleucid Kingdom 204–23; idem, The Beginnings of Jewishness, 14; Harvey, The True Israel, 11–61; A. Arazy, The Appellations of the Jews (Ioudaios, Hebraios, Israel) in the Literature from Alexander to Justinian (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1977) 1.33–71. Compare with Josephus, AJ 11.173.
(82) PE 7.6.1.
(83) See J. Parkes, ‘Jews and Christians in the Constantinian Empire’, SCH 1 (1964), 69–79; A. Kofsky, ‘Eusebius of Caesarea and the Christian‐Jewish Polemic’, in Limor and Stroumsa, (eds), Contra Iudaeos, 59–83.
(84) Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons’.
(85) PE 7.2.6.
(86) PE 7.3.3.
(87) PE 7.4.4.
(88) See especially PE 7.4.2–4.
(89) See PE 7.8.41, 11.5.1.
(90) PE 7.6.4.
(91) PE 7.6.1.
(92) PE 7.7.1–4; see below.
(93) See, Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons’, 245–64; for discussion of the importance of the visual in late antique literature, see A. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 1991), 141–54; J. Francis, ‘Living Icons: Tracing a Motif in Verbal and Visual Representation from the Second to Fourth Centuries C.E.’, AJP 124 (2003), 575–600; P. Cox Miller, ‘Visceral Seeing: The Holy Body in Late Ancient Christianity’, JECS 12 (2004), 391–411.
(94) PE 7.7.4.
(95) On the metaphor, see Francis, ‘Living Icons’; Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons’; D. Krueger, ‘Typological Figuration in Theodoret of Cyrrhus's Religious History and the Art of Postbiblical Narrative’, JECS 5 (1997), 413–19; P. Canivet and A. Leroy‐Molinghen, Théodoret de Cyr. Histoire des moines de Syrie, SC 234 and 257 (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1977), 1.149–50.
(96) Plutarch, V. Alex. 1.2.
(97) Plutarch, V. Alex. 1.3.
(98) VC 1.10.
(99) VC 1.11.
(100) VC 1.11.
(101) Philo, Abr. 3–4.
(102) PE 7.7.1. ϵἰς προτροπὴντοῦ τῶν ϵὐσϵβῶν βίου. Cp. Clement, Strom. 4.5.3–4; Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons’, 258–9.
(103) Ibid., 259–61.
(104) PE 7.8.12.
(105) PE 7.8.15.
(106) PE 7.8.18. γένοιτο δ᾿ ἂν καὶ οὗτος ἀρχέτυπος ϵἰκὼν ζῶσα καὶ ἔμψυχος τοῖς ἐξ αὐτοῦ γϵγϵνημένοις ὑπόδϵιγμα τρόπου θϵοφιλοῦς παρϵσχημένους.
(107) PE 7.10.12. ϵἶναι δὲ ἀρχέτυπον καὶ ἀληθῆ τοῦ θϵοῦ τῶν ὅλων ϵἰκόνα τὸν αὐτοῦ λόγον.
(108) ϵἰκόνα δὲ ϵἰκόνος τὸν ἀνθρώπϵιον νοῦν.
(109) Cp. Clement, Strom. 4.5.3–4; Origen, C. Cels. 1.68; 3.66.
(111) My account here should be read in light of Eusebius' letter to Constantia (PG 20.1545–50), which offers one of the earliest expressions of iconoclastic sentiment. Hence, while he is opposed to the use of visual icons in the letter, he is here (and in the VC) promoting the use of verbal icons. On the authenticity of the letter, see Gero, ‘The True Image of Christ: Eusebius' Letter to Constantia Reconsidered’, 460–70. The best treatment of Eusebius' views on art remains, C. Murray, ‘Art in the Early Church’, JTS 28 (1977), 303–45. Attempts to explain the iconoclastic ideas of the letter by Eusebius' Origenism (so G. Florovsky, ‘Origen, Eusebius, and the Iconoclastic Controversy’, CH 19 , 77–96) or Arianism (a ‘shrinking from the historical Jesus’, Mortley, The Idea of Universal History, 151–3) are less convincing. For a general account of the rise of iconism, see Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, 189–221.
(112) See Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 57–131 for general discussion.
(113) PE 7.6.2. See also 10.14.2; 11.6.39; cp. Justin Apol. 1.32.3, 14.
(114) See also Gen. 10: 24–5; 11: 15–16.
(115) AJ 1.146.
(116) See G. von Rad, ‘Israel, Judah and Hebrews in the Old Testament’, in TDNT, 358–9. Contrast Eusebius' citation on the Mosaic injunction prohibiting Hebrews from owning Hebrew slaves (12.37.1).
(117) AJ 11.173; see also, Origen C. Cels. 1.53. Later, at DE 3.2 (95d), Eusebius will adopt this same idea.
(118) PE 7.8.20–1. For the same meaning, though rendered in a slightly different manner, see PE 11.6.39.
(119) De Migrat. Abr. 20. See Harvey, The True Israel, 121–2 for discussion. The etymology was brought into Christian discourse by Origen in his Comm. Gen. 14.13, Comm. Matth. 11.5 and Hom. Num. 19.4, as well as in Julius Africanus' Chronicon 8. See Harvey, The True Israel, 139.
(120) See Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 63–4.
(121) These are also central features in Philo's description of the ancient Hebrews; see Abr. 6.
(122) PE 7.6.4.
(123) PE 7.7.2.
(124) PE 7.8.20.
(125) PE 1.1.11, 13; see also 4.16.20 and 15.62.18.
(126) PE 7.8.24.
(127) For date, see E. Schwartz, ‘Eusebios von Caesarea’, col. 1387; for an excellent overview of the work, see T. D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 167–74.
(128) See above, Chapter 1; Johnson, ‘Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica as Literary Experiment’. For the possibility that the Introduction's tenth book survives in the form of Eusebius' Commentary on Luke, see D. S. Wallace‐Hadrill, ‘Eusebius of Caesarea's Commentary on Luke: Its Origin and Early History’, HTR 67 (1974), 55–63.
(129) PG 22.1041C
(130) PG 22.1049B–1053A, esp. 1052A.
(131) PG 22.1065Aff.
(132) PG 22.1060D–1061B. Later, Eusebius notes that God spoke to Moses ‘mouth to mouth’ (PG 22.1064B–the inconsistency in his use of prosōpon pros prosōpon with the previous passages should be noted).
(133) PG 22.1061B–C.
(134) PG 22.1052B.
(135) PG 22.1068B. Pace Ulrich, who claims that monotheism was a common denominator for Jews and Hebrews (Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 80–3).
(136) PG 22.1069A; see also, 1053C; and also 1057C–D, where Moses' Law is referred to as slavery.
(137) PG 22.1053C; 1061B.
(138) See Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 64–8.
(139) See Sirinelli, Les vues historiques d'Eusèbe de Césarée, 157–8.
(140) See PE 7.6.1, 3; 7.8.38, 40; 7.9.1; 8.5.11; 8.8.56; etc.
(141) PE 7.8.20: ἰουδαικῶν παραγγϵλμάτων.
(142) PE 7.7.1. Moses is called a theologian at 7.9.1, as well. The naming of Moses as a ‘Hebrew of Hebrews’ makes inexplicable Sirinelli's bold claim that ‘Moses is not a Hebrew’ (Les vues historiques d'Eusèbe de Césarée, 157). Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 62 n. 19, rightly questioned Sirinelli's statement, but then comes dangerously close to equating the Hebrews and the Jews (despite his disavowal of such a move at 81; just after he has stated that, at PE 9.10.6, Eusebius ‘uses both conceptions [Jews and Hebrews] nearly interchangeably’). As I argue here, the favourable statements towards the Jews in the PE are only in the context of an allegorical approach to the Law so as to discover the Hebrew truths embedded within, which complement the project which he sets himself in the DE (attacking Judaism based upon a literal reading of the Law).
(143) PE 7.12.10.
(144) For the importance of prefaces for Eusebius and Plato, see Johnson, ‘Ancestors as Icons’, 248–51.
(145) PE 7.9.2; see also 7.11.4, 13, etc.
(146) PE 7.11.14.
(147) PE 7.8.41.
(148) PE 7.9.1.
(149) See F. Ricken, ‘Die Logoslehre des Eusebios von Caesarea und der Mittelplatonismus’, Theologie und Philosophie 42 (1967), 341–58; A. Dempf, Der Platonismus des Eusebius, Victorinus, und Pseudo‐Dionysius. Sitzungsberichte der Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.‐hist. Klasse 3 (Munich: Beck, 1962), 3–8; J. R. Lyman, Christology and Cosmology: Models of Divine Activity in Origen, Eusebius and Athanasius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 106–23.
(150) PE 8.1.2.
(151) PE 8.10.19. Eusebius no doubt has in mind the mention of the Jews as a race of philosophers in Porphyry, Abst. 2.26, which he cites at 9.2.1; see also Clearchus' De Somn., cited at 9.5.6.
(152) PE 8.2–5.
(153) PE 8.6–8.
(154) PE 8.9–10.
(155) PE 8.10.18.
(156) PE 8.12.22.
(157) PE 8.12.22. Compare with Eusebius' notion of two levels of Christians in DE 1–2; see M. Hollerich, ‘Hebrews, Jews, and Christians: Eusebius of Caesarea on the Biblical Basis of the Two States of the Christian Life’, in P. M. Blowers et al. (eds), In Dominico Eloquio (In Lordly Eloquence): Essays on Patristic Exegesis in Honor of Robert Louis Wilken (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 172–84.
(158) It may, however, only be the result of Eusebius' consistent attempt to have the opposition's own sources speak in his defence.
(159) HE 2.17.2. For an illuminating discussion of how this passage fits within the rise of Christian asceticism, see J. Goehring, ‘The Origins of Monasticism’, in Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata (eds), Eusebius, Christianity and Judaism (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 235–55, esp. 236–8. For general discussion of Therapeutae, see J. Riaud, ‘Les Thérapeutes d'Alexandrie dans la tradition et dans la recherche critique jusque'aux découvertes de Qumran’, ANRW II.20.2 (1987), 1189–1295.
(160) HE 2.17.7.
(161) HE 2.17.10.
(162) Post‐Mosaic prophets: 7.11.9; 11.23.8–9; Josephus: 10.6.15; 10.12.31; Philo: 7.12.14; 7.17.4; 7.20.90; 11.14.10; 11.15.7; 11.23.12; Aristobulus: 7.13.7; 8.8.56; 13.11.3; Eleazar: 8.8.56 (in a quotation from Aristeas); David: 11.14.3; 11.23.12. For a partial listing of other post‐Mosaic Hebrews in Eusebius' other writings, see Ulrich, Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden, 64–8.