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Historical Ruptures in Eusebius’ History of the Jerusalem Church

Authors
  • Livneh, Yonatan
Type
Published Article
Journal
Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Nov 27, 2023
Volume
27
Issue
3
Pages
449–483
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/zac-2023-0026
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Articles
License
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Abstract

Eusebius of Caesarea includes in his Historia ecclesiastica several episodes regarding the Jerusalem church, in which he emphasizes periods of rupture in the history of this community in the aftermath of the Judean wars. The current paper explores this material and, first, clarifies Eusebius’ pioneering role in the construction of a coherent history of the Jerusalem church, and, second, explains his focus on breaks in this history, in spite of the difficulties such ruptures pose for his conceptions of divine providence and apostolic succession. In the first part, after surveing Eusebius’ possible sources for the history of the Jerusalem church (Hegesipus, Ariston of Pella, Julius Africanus), the paper concludes that it was Eusebius who first composed a coherent history of this church, a narrative mostly based on his independent research in Jerusalem. The second part of the paper presents Eusebius’ concern, already in the beginning of his episcopacy, with the Jerusalem bishopric’s celebration of its succession from James and the apostolic fathers, in its claim for superiority in the province. For Eusebius, so the paper claims, destabilizing the conception of direct apostolic succession in the Jerusalem church could somewhat restrain these local aspirations, and thus support his own position as metropolitan bishop in Palestine.

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