Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Eusebius of Emesa: Church & Theology in the Mid-Fourth Century

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Eusebius of Emesa: Church & Theology in the Mid-Fourth Century

Article excerpt

Eusebius of Emesa: Church & Theology in the Mid-Fourth Century. By Robert E.Winn. (Washington, DC:The Catholic University of America Press. 2011. Pp. xiv, 111. $69.95. ISBN 978-0-8132-1876-2.)

Scholars of early Christianity have not known what to make of Eusebius of Emesa (c. 300-59). His writings did not survive in their original Greek, but in Latin and Armenian translations. Furthermore, he does not fit many precon- ceived notions of the fourth century. Robert Winn's new book is a remarkable accomplishment, which presents Eusebius's thought on its own terms and sheds light on this previously obscure figure. After surveying the biographical data for Eusebius in chapter 1, the remainder of the book consists of Winn's close reading of Eusebius's surviving corpus. Since this requires mastery of Latin and Armenian, it is no small task. Winn is able to convey clearly the flow of Eusebius's thought in his various homilies while also conveying the details of Eusebius's rhetorical performance and his exegetical and argumentative strategies (such strategies are the focus of chapter 2). In connection with both exegesis and Christology, for instance, Winn helpfully undermines the notion that Eusebius should be thought of as representative of an "Antiochene" theological school.Winn offers a more convincing context, situ- ating Eusebius's thought in relationship with his mentor, Eusebius of Caesarea, and his friend, George of Laodicea, while also noting affinities with conciliar documents of the 340s and 350s.

Winn shows that affiliaticon with a doctrinal party was not determina- tive for Eusebius, who in fact used his sermons "to chastise his audience and the larger church for the very debate concerning the nature of God" (p. 125). Instead of partisanship, "what was primary in Eusebius's mind was ecclesiastical identity" (p. 13). Eusebius sought to show his audience the superiority of the church over its rivals: Jews, pagans, and heretics (espe- cially Marcionites and Manichees). By "identity," Winn signals the Christian community's defining beliefs and practices. He narrates Eusebius's difficul- ties in convincing his audience; when urging them to renunciation, the bishop had to remind his audience, "We are not your enemies" (p. …

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