Friday, 29 April 2011

Michael B. Simmons, "Universalism in Eusebius of Caesarea: The Soteriological Use of ´the Divine Savior of us all´ in Book III of the Theophany"

Scholarly works devoted strictly to the Theophany of Eusebius of Caesarea, which was written at the end of his literary career, are as rare as the proverbial gold of Ophir. With the exception of various comments about the work found in T.D. Barnes’ Constantine and Eusebius, and a chapter in Kofsky’s recent work, very little has been written about the work by modern scholars. The only recent work in a language other than English has been the German translation, with introduction and Greek fragments, by Gressman, which incidentally, does not provide the Syriac text.

    My aims in this paper are twofold. After analyzing a few passages related to the dating of the work in part I,  in Part II I will analyze the phrase ‘the divine power of us all’ and cognate soteriological terminology (15 total) related to Eusebius’ argument on universalism as it is found in the Theophany, Book III , paying close attention to the significant Syriac terms that can shed light on his polemical narrative, being sensitive to the conceptual structure of his argument, and noting, where appropriate, some examples of similarity and dissimilarity with the relevant parallel Greek passages from the LC and DE.

I shall argue that the Theophany is the crowning achievement on the universalism argument that E had earlier developed in the P.E. and the D.E. and it coheres very well with a ‘triumphant hermeneutic’ that the Christians were beginning to express after Constantine came to the purple. One corollary question pertinent to this investigation is, of course, whom is Eusebius addressing in the Theophany? My argument will be that his main adversary in Book III is the great anti-Christian Porphyry, against whom he wrote the earlier polemical works, P.E. and D.E.

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