This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapter 4 (part three).
Notes and Commentary:
This section continues and completes the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.
The occasion of the Panegyric is the dedication of a magnificently restored and expanded church building.
This final part begins by continuing a comparison between the physical restoration of the building and the spiritual restoration of the people.
Eusebius notes, with thanksgiving, how God first raised up the Emperors (Constantine and Licinius), “dearly beloved of God” in order to cleanse “the whole world of all the wicked and baneful persons and of the cruel God-hating tyrants themselves.” Next, he raised up his disciples, including the church leaders, whom he had secretly concealed from the storm of persecution.
Eusebius takes up a spiritual allegory using the idea of locations of various persons in the church building to describe how God had “duly divided the whole people according to their several abilities.” Some were at the entrances. Others were at the pillars becoming acquainted with “the letter of the four Gospels.” Still others were on the inside taking in “the innermost mystic teachings of the Scriptures.” The whole temple was adorned with “a single, mighty gateway”, the praise of God.
He also describes Christ as being the “unique altar” and as standing by it as “the great High Priest of the universe.” The Word has created not only this temple but the whole universe.
He closes the panegyric with a call to worship “the Author of the present assembly … even the Ruler of the Assembly Himself.”
This final part concludes this lengthy speech that comprises EH 10.4. Eusebius continues to celebrate and give thanks to God for the removal of the tyrants and their replacement by the sympathetic emperors. We also see his use of spiritual allegory in taking the dedication of the restored building to describe the restoration of the Christian community with Christ, as their altar, in the center.