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Constantine and Eusebius Revised ed. Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674165311
ISBN-10: 0674165314
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Editorial Reviews


Already an acknowledged expert on the history of the later Roman Empire and early Christianity. Barnes now offers a narrative account of the reigns of the two most important emperors after Augustus...The portrait of Constantine is realistic and convincing. (A main value of the book lies in its assessment of the intellectual, doctrinal, and political activities of the early Christians...Essential reading. (Choice)

This remarkable and exemplary work of scholarship will he read with pleasure and profit...a gripping and complex story told in fresh and lucid prose. (History Today)

An original work of scholarship, rich in detail and minute researches, liberally supplied with fresh observations and new interpretations...The work is characterized by an astonishing mastery of evidence...Barnes is lucid and concise. (Classical Outlook)

A book that scholars would be very ill-advised to neglect on any topic treated in it. It is marked at every turn with Barnes' magnificent obsession with getting the record straight. Its implications for the role of Christianity in the Roman Empire are quite revolutionary. (Peter Brown)

About the Author

Timothy D. Barnes is Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised ed. edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674165314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674165311
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Besides Augustus, Constantine is perhaps the most written about Roman Emperor by scholars down through the centuries because of his impact upon the development of Christianity. Most works on Constantine are very one sided. Some scholars have portrayed Constantine as a saint who saved Christianity through the inspiration of God. Others have portrayed him as a murdering tyrant who used religion as a political tool to gain power and benefit his own deranged ambitions. Barnes' portrayal shows that Constantine was a much more complex individual who had the characteristics of both saint and tyrant. Through extremely thorough research, Barnes reveals that Constantine was a complex, driven, and intelligent individual who acted as both saint and tyrant to advance his evangelical wish to make Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman world, and his goal of making his imprint on that religion. Woven into the story of Constantine is that of Eusebius, a bishop contemporary to Constantine who had a profound influence on the dissemination of the New Testament, the place of the Old Testament in Christian teachings, and how the Christian church fits into the overall history of humanity. Besides being contemporary to one another, Constantine and Eusebius also influenced each other, and became two of the most influential individuals in Christian history. Through these two men, Barnes presents one of the most important moments in the history of western civilization that would turn Christianity into a religion threatened with destruction to the dominant religion of the western world.
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Most readers of history are familiar with the Emperor Constantine's reported vision of the Cross before his victory at the Milvian Bridge and his deathbed baptism to Christianity, yet few probably know about the emperor's first biographer, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339 C.E.). University of Toronto Professor Timothy D. Barnes devotes this scholarly volume to the two men. With copious footnoting, the first third of the book details the era from Diocletian's reforms to Constantine's consolidation of power as sole emperor of a united Roman Empire. In introducing Eusebius, Barnes backtracks to Third century Caesarea, a cosmopolitan seaport in Roman Palestine, and the Christian scholar Origen. Origen's interest in the relationship of God with humankind led him to a synthesis of Platonism and Christianity, believing that God had revealed himself - imperfectly - through Holy Scripture, and on three levels of understanding that encompassed body, soul and spirit. Eusebius was influenced by Origen, but interpreted the Bible from a historical perspective, with the Holy Spirit as the ultimate author. As scholar-historian, Eusebius compiled Chronicle, a guide to biblical place names, with a chronology that dated Moses and the Hebrew prophets in relation to Christ's Incarnation. Eusebius met Constantine in 325, at Nicea, during a council of some 300 bishops, which the emperor called primarily to settle the heresy of Arianism. A bishop by then, Eusebius was under suspicion and presented a formal creed of orthodoxy to refute reports of his Arian sympathies. In 330, when Constantine dedicated New Rome on the site of ancient Byzantium, Eusebius was asked to provide 50 bibles for churches in the new capital.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In this book, Timothy Barnes attempts to give an outline of the two men's lives and investigate their relationship to each other. The first third of the book chronicles Constantine's rise to power, the second describes the Eusebius's life and thought, and the third discusses the Christianization of the empire and Eusebius's relationship to Constantine.

Constantine's life has been interpreted in a number of ways, and Barnes seems to strike a nice balance. His narration of Constantine's rise and reign is not a hagiography: Barnes's Constantine can be shrewd and ruthless when he needs to be. Conversely, Barnes does not impute to Constantine purely political motivations. He claims that Constantine's conversion was genuine, and that even before his conversion, many of his policies can be attributed to his Christian sympathies. Barnes seems to handle the evidence well, and preserves a multifaceted view of Constantine.

His reading of Eusebius is equally intelligent. Barnes understands the issues and theologies of the day, and he is able to place Eusebius in his proper context. Barnes lauds Eusebius's originality, but even though he admires Eusebius, he realizes that Eusebius's account of history is colored by his own purposes for writing. Barnes rightly sees, however, that this coloring does not in any way invalidate Eusebius's usefulness for historical inquiry.

Barnes's analysis of Constantine's involvement with the church is also a balanced understanding of the ecclesiastical controversies that Constantine became involved in. Barnes does not make a firm dichotomy between issues of church and state, with one dominating the other. Instead, he portrays Constantine as having to navigate a new role as the first Christian emperor, an emperor who was attempting to build a new Christian empire.
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