Eusebius and Empire

BOOK REVIEW Eusebius and Empire: Constructing Church and Rome in the Ecclesiastical History
by James Corke-Webster 2019

About the Author
James Corke-Webster is Lecturer in Roman History at King’s College London. His work focuses on early Christian and late antique history and literature. As well as a series of articles on Eusebius, he has published on early Christian experience under Rome – in particular the Pliny–Trajan correspondence on the Christians – martyr literature, apologetic writings, and early hagiography.

About the Book
Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, written in the early fourth century, continues to serve as our primary gateway to a crucial three hundred year period: the rise of early Christianity under the Roman Empire. In this volume, James Corke-Webster undertakes the first systematic study considering the History in the light of its fourth-century circumstances as well as its author’s personal history, intellectual commitments, and literary abilities. He argues that the Ecclesiastical History is not simply an attempt to record the past history of Christianity, but a sophisticated mission statement that uses events and individuals from that past to mould a new vision of Christianity tailored to Eusebius’ fourth-century context. He presents elite Graeco-Roman Christians with a picture of their faith that smooths off its rough edges and misrepresents its size, extent, nature, and relationship to Rome. Ultimately, Eusebius suggests that Christianity was – and always had been – the Empire’s natural heir…Presents a radical new reading of how Christian history was rewritten in the fourth century to suit its circumstances under Rome. –This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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‘… this award-winning monograph is a tour-de-force. It builds upon previous generations of scholarship while charting a new and intriguing direction in approach to the EH. It takes Eusebius seriously as an innovative literary genius capable of the sophisticated argument that Corke-Webster meticulously extracts from the EH.’ Mark DelCogliano, Studies in Late Antiquity