Friday, May 31, 2019
Eusebius, EH 2.21: The Egyptian False Prophet
A new episode has been added to the occasional series upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 2, chapter 21 (listen here).
Notes and Commentary:
Eusebius continues his account of disturbances among the Jews which occurred during the Roman governorship of Felix.
Here the focus is on an Egyptian false prophet, who is described by Josephus. Eusebius says he appeared in the wilderness as a “sorcerer” and “secured for himself the faith due to a prophet.”
He led 30,000 followers to the Mount of Olives where Felix and the Roman garrison attacked and defeated them.
Eusebius also notes that Josephus’s account is matched by that in Acts 21:38 where Luke records that the “chief captain” [KJC; Greek: chiliarchos; the same term is used here by Eusebius, though Lake renders it as “centurion”] asks Paul if he is the Egyptian prophet. Paul makes clear that he is not [see v. 39]. Luke calls his followers “four thousand men of the Sicarii [tōn sikariōn]” (cf. KJV: “four thousand men that were murderers”).
Again, we see the tumultuous political and religious times of Jesus and the apostles.
We also see Eusebius drawing on Josephus and showing its harmony with Acts.