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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Inowlocki, Sabrina, and Claudio Zamagni [Eds.]


Reconsidering Eusebius. Collected Papers on Literary, Historical, and Theolog­ical Issues.


Leiden/Boston: Brill 2011. XII, 254 S. u. 14 Abb. im Anhang. 24,0 x 16,0 cm = Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, 107. Geb. EUR 105,00. ISBN 978-90-04-20385-3.


Marie Verdoner

Inowlocki and Zamagni’s well-edited collection of papers is the result of a workshop held in the Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Etude des Religions et de la Laïcité (CIERL) in Bruxelles in 2008. The anthology comprises eleven papers in total, nine of them are directly deal­ing with aspects of Eusebius of Caesarea’s life or authorship, while the first paper describes Caesarea in the time of Eusebius and the last paper is dedicated to Alexander Polyhistor. The scholars contributing to the volume come from various fields of study – history, philology, theology, and archaeology – and the collection thus has an interdisciplinary background that ensures a many-facetted treat­ment of the theme. Inowlocki and Zamagni have chosen not to organize the collection by use of subsections, but leave it to the readers to find crossing lines and common perspectives of the contributions. The overall level is a bit uneven – in some instances the papers can be read by newcomers to the field of study, while other papers are deeply engaged in scholarly discussions and thus re­-quire a high level of preknowledge. The volume includes a compre­hen­sive index locorum (241–254), split in ancient authors, Jewish authors and Christian authors, and additionally 14 illustrations, all referred to in the opening archeological paper about Caesarea Maritima. Furthermore, the volume comprises a translation of Eusebius’ On the feast of Pascha (59–68) in its entirety.
Since the late 1990s, a reassessment of Eusebius as author and as late Christian scholar has been in progress. The overall purpose of the anthology is to contribute to this reassessment by focusing on Eusebius as an author in his own right. An additional guiding principle for the collection can be described as a rule of absence or of defocus: The Church History of Eusebius is basically considered out of scope for the collection in order to avoid »centripetal and even centrifugal movements to and from the < /span>Church History« (IX). With this principle, the contributing scholars can focus on aspects of the authorship that have been overshadowed by the Church History.
The resulting collection of papers is as diverse as can be expected both from the interdisciplinary approach and from the chosen guid­ing principle. The first three papers are all taking a historical ap­proach to the theme. Joseph Patrich’s archeological exposition (1–24) sets the scene for the whole volume, as it takes the readers on a guid­ed tour through Caesarea Maritima in the time of Eusebius. Oded Irshai (25–38) and Mark DelCogliano (39–68) are both dealing with aspects of Eusebius’ political ecclesiastical career. In his contribution (an abridged version of a paper originally published in Cathedra [2006]), Irshai seeks to correct the prevailing scholarly interpretation of the animosity between the sees of Jerusalem and of Caesarea as a mere struggle over primacy. DelCogliano regards Eusebius’ On the feast of Pascha as a deliberate attempt to promote Constantine’s policy of reaching unity in the computing of the Easter date.
After a paper by Eduard Iricinschi (69–86) discussing Eusebius’ by now well-described construction of the ethnic categories Hebrew and Christian, follows a range of papers, where the principle of defocus comes to its right. Elizabeth C. Penland’s paper on the Martyrs of Palestine (87–97), and Aaron P. Johnson’s paper on the General Elementary Introduction (99–118) turn out to complete each other, and offer new insights to the much questioned school of Caesarea and its philosophical and pedagogical practices. In particular, Johnson’s small historical survey where he distinguishes between textual and doctrinal approaches is helpful for evaluating the General Elementary Introduction. Along the same line of thinking, but with an en­-tirely different approach, Sébastien Morlet thoroughly refutes the widespread reading of Eusebius’ apologetic master work, Praeparatio and Demonstratio Evangelica, as an answer to Porphyry’s criticism of Christianity (119–150). Morlet’s conclusive remarks about a possible »Porphyrian corpus« (150) in Eusebius’ library further point towards the interesting question discussed by Inowlocki of books, readers and libraries in antiquity.
Eusebius’ exegetical practice is discussed by Claudio Zamagni in a paper focusing on Questions to Stephanos (151–176), while Jeremy M. Schott takes the Panegyric on the building of Churches (HE 10.4.2–72) as outset for a highly interesting exploration of early Christian politics of space (177–197). Schott uses de Certeau in his analysis and moves from a historical discussion about Early Christian architecture and the role of the bishop in the construction of churches, via Eusebius’ exegetical/allegorical interpretation of the Tyros cathedral and late Platonism, in order to finally map socio-economic, ecclesiastical and soteriological implications of the sermon. With Sabrina Inowlocki’s convincing reading of Praeparatio Evangelica as a library (199–223) yet another approach to Eusebius’ authorship is at hand. Inowlocki’s paper has a decidedly foucauldian flavor as she regards Eusebius’ work as a deliberate »performance of erudition« (e. g. 199) that is part of a complex project of empowering Christianity. Wilhelm Adler concludes the volume with an introduction to Alexander Polyhistor (225–240). The purpose of bringing this introduction remains a little unclear, but the paper does add depth and perspective in particular to Inowlocki’s analysis.
All in all, the collection represents a welcome addendum to the encyclopedic volume on Eusebius edited by Harold Attridge and Gohei Hata, published in 1992 (Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata, eds., Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism. Detroit 1992). The strength of the volume is simultaneously its weak point: The interdisciplinary approach and the absence of the Church History give the scholars freedom to approach the whole subject from new angles and to focus on less debated issues. However, the somewhat postmodernistic principle of absence also results in an unfruitful diversity where common themes and approaches are never ex­pli-citly formulated. More coordination would have been beneficial, and could actually have been achieved quite easily, if for instance the archeological contribution had focused on church building or libraries in late antiquity, or if key words like pedagogical, didac-tical or erudite that can actually subsume quite a few of the present contributions under the same heading had been formulated as supplementary guiding principles.
As it is, the volume is highly recommendable for cherry picking. The papers by Inowlocki, Penland, Schott and Johnson will be of interest to any reader interested in exploring where scholarship on Eusebius of Caesarea is presently headed. However, depending on level and area of interest, readers may find fruitful insights in most of the other papers as well.