Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Eusebius, EH.5.12: Narcissus of Jerusalem
This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 5, chapter 12. Listen here.
Here ends Book 5, chapter 12.
Notes and Commentary:
This chapter returns the focus to the church in Jerusalem. Again, Eusebius places emphasis on the succession of bishops in the key early cities and centers of Christianity, Jerusalem, quite naturally being one of them.
In EH 4.5, Eusebius had traced the line of the first fifteen bishops, all Jewish Christians, beginning with James the elder, from the ascension of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem under the emperor Hadrian.
In this brief chapter in perfect symmetry he outlines the succeeding bishops in Jerusalem, after Jerusalem’s destruction under Hadrian, all of whom were Gentiles.
Then line ends with the thirtieth bishop, Narcissus, who, Eusebius says, was “widely famous.”
K. Lake points out that Eusebius here lists only thirteen names, and suggests two names be added after Capito (Maximus II and Antoninus) to make fifteen, as it appears in his Chronicon. Here then would be the lists of Gentile bishops:
The symmetry in the listing of Jewish and Gentile bishops implies divine order. It also notes the shift in the Jerusalem church from Jewish to Gentile control, given the political and historical circumstances. Nevertheless, whether led by Jewish or Gentile bishops, Jerusalem remains a key center of Christianity.