Friday, April 27, 2007

Eusebius Book Ten: Constantine (Extra Credit)

Eusebius' final pages are among the most optimistic in all of historical literature. Why is Eusebius so positive and so hopeful about the future? In particular, why is he so positive about Constantine? What is Constantine doing that makes Eusebius feel that the Roman world is exactly on the right track? Do you feel Eusebius is missing anything here?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Eusebius on Heretics and Heresy (Extra Credit)

in Book 7 of his History of the Church, Eusebius discusses several figures whom he regarded as heretics, among them Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, and Novatian (whom he calls Novatus). Do you agree with Eusebius' evaluation of these men? Are they truly heretics? If so, is false doctrine the central problem, or does something else seem to be involved? WWhat techniques does the church seem to be using in dealing with the divisions caused by such men? Does the "surgery" in each case seem successful or not?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Persecution under the Good Emperors (Extra Credit)

Like any historian, Eusebius is only as good as his sources. When it comes to 2nd century persecutions, his sources are sometimes excellent (e.g., Justin Martyr) and sometimes not quite as reliable. Nevertheless, while one might question some of the details he includes, Eusebius is an excellent source for understanding the reasons Christians were persecuted and the reasons Christianity was able to grow despite the persecutions.

Read through some of the martyrdom sections in Books IV and V of Eusebius' History of the Church. Sections you might find particularly useful are 4:14-17 (which includes an account of the martyrdom of Polycarp) and 5:1-3 (which includes the martyrdom of Blandina).

What do you find in these sections that helps explain Roman persecution of the Christians or helps explain the perseverence of the Christians despite the persecutions?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Testament Apocrypha/Apostolic Fathers (Extra Credit)

The Early Christian Writers site includes most of the New Testaments Apocrypha (pseudegriphal works that Eusebius would have called "really spurious") and the works of the men who came to be called the Apostolic Fathers (books accepted by the church as orthodox in doctrince, though not authoritative).

Please choose either one of the Apocryphal books or the Apostolic Fathers (the first nine on the link here). What is your evaluation of this book? Is it a book to die for? Does it seem to you useful and/or interesting? Or is it a book you wouldn't mind seeing burned by government officials? Why?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Deuterocanonicals (Extra Credit0

Please read through a portion of any of the Deuterocanonical books, the books included in Catholic and Greek Orthodox Bibles but not ususally included in Protestant Bibles. I recommend especially Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), but the other books are worth looking at as well.

Note what you find particularly interesting in the selection you read. Would you ever read through the Deuterocanonicals on your own? Why, or why not?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Eusebius Book III

Please read Book III of Eusebius' History of the Church. What do you see in this book that would be particularly worth adding to an essay on the strengths/weaknesses of Eusebius as a historian? Was there anything you found particularly interesting here?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Eusebius--Books I and II

Please read the first two books of Euesebius of Caesarea's History of the Church. What do you find interesting in these chapters? What do you find not so interesting?