Thursday, September 05, 2019
Eusebius, EH.3.37-38: Quadratus, Hebrews, and Clement
A new episode has been posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 37-38. Listen here.
Notes and Commentary:
Eusebius here continues to describe the expansion of the Christian movement after the time of the apostles.
He begins with reference to one named Quadratus who was said to have prophetic powers like the daughters of Philip, but emphasizes that there were a large number of unnamed men who “built in every place upon the foundations of the churches laid by the Apostles.”
He notes that it would be impossible to describe exhaustively all “the shepherds or evangelists in the churches throughout the world,” noting, though, that it is natural to take notice of those who left behind useful writings.
Here he notes again the letters of Ignatius of Antioch as well as the first epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians.
Eusebius adds some interesting views on Hebrews here, noting that Clement made use of parallel thoughts from Hebrews and made quotations from it.
This, he suggests, proves the antiquity of Hebrews. He suggests that Paul originally wrote Hebrews in the native language of the Jews and that it was translated by either Luke or Clement.
He also refers to 2 Clement but sees it as spurious, and he likewise rejects the authenticity of other writings attributed to Clement, like a supposed dialogue between Peter and Apion. These pseudo-Clementine works are rejected, because they are not mentioned ‘by the ancient writers nor do they preserve the pure type of apostolic orthodoxy.”
This analysis is interesting in noting the distinction between canonical, apostolic works (including Hebrews as in the Pauline tradition, even if translated by someone else) and non-canonical, post-apostolic works (like the authentic writings of Clement).
These chapters are also interesting in drawing a distinction between the age of the apostles and the age that followed, in which, Eusebius seems to indicate, the exercise of extra-ordinary gifts were diminishing.