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The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 3, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0140445350 ISBN-10: 0140445358 Edition: Revised

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The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine (Penguin Classics) + Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers (Penguin Classics) + The Early Church (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 1)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (April 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek

About the Author

The so-called 'Father of Ecclesiastical History', Eusebius (263-339) was a Greek Christian. His prodigious literary output can be grouped into four categories: the historical, the apologetic, the Biblical and the dogmatic. G.A Williamson was a renowned scholar of the Classics.

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Customer Reviews

This book is definitely a must read for anyone serious about Church history or their faith.
James M. Green
I'm very happy that I did, for this book, even though it is 1700 years old, is extremely interesting and informative on very early Church history.
Frank J. Konopka
The work itself is, as most may already know, the first and only surviving one of its kind.
T. B. Vick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

149 of 152 people found the following review helpful By John on January 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Eusebius lived in the late third and early fourth centuries in Caesarea Palestine. His History of the Church chronicles the time from Christ to the victory of Constantine over Licinius. He wrote in Greek, but this translation Latinizes the names. Eusebius covers the period of Jewish persecution in the early first millennium a.d.; goes through the succession of the bishops of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, etc.; gives the account of heretical movements; and gives numerous examples of Christian martyrs in times of persecution. In the back of this edition is an extensive "Who's Who in Eusebius" spanning some 88 pages. It is a very useful tool in the reading of The History of the Church. It may also prove a valuable quick reference in further studies on early Christianity. Eusebius's style allows him to extensively quote several authors and historians in the early first millennium. His ten books of The History of the Church are riddled with passages from Josephus, Origen, Philo, Hegesippus, and the like. Also, behind the Who's Who in Eusebius, are a few appendices. I would highly recommend reading the appendices B, C, and D before undertaking the body of the book. A brief knowledge of the Roman empire at the time and Christianity will greatly benefit the reader.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By JustinK on June 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the foundational works of Christian history. It was the first extensive, systematic attempt to present Christian history up till the author's time (4th century). In the centuries following the work of Eusebius, many other authors attempted Histories, including Sulpitius Severus, Hermias Sozomen, Socrates Scholasticus, Theodoret, Evagrius Scholasticus, John of Ephesus, Gennadius of Marseilles, Isidore of Seville, Bede the Venerable, and others (just to list the major attempts through the 7th century). But none of these authors--and some would argue that none since--achieved what Eusebius did in his Ecclesiastical History. In fact, many didn't even try, and simply picked up the history of the Christian Church at the point where Eusebius had left off.

Eusebius is sometimes accused of being biased, but then everyone is biased. It is true that he might not have followed the strict standards followed by many modern historians (to expect that he would as some objectors do is totally anachonistic), but one thing is for sure, Eusebius was not simply a cheerleader for his own personal beliefs, nor someone who would gloss over differences or arguments within the Church. If someone wants a specific example (and one that isn't a small issue), one could read over his overview of how the Scriptural Canon was compiled and debated.

When it came to the Epistle of James from the New Testamnet, for instance, Eusebius at one point calls it "the so-called epistle of James" and says that it is "Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3, 25).
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Florentius VINE VOICE on January 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was first assigned to me as a student of late Roman history and it was one that had a great impact on me. More than a mere ecclesiastical history, it is a defense of Christianity written by a Bishop of the 4th century. Having lived through the persecution of Diocletian and been a confidant of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine, Eusebius recounts the tumultuous history of the Church in all its tragedy and triumph.

Quoting from the early Church fathers, Josephus, and sacred scripture, Eusebius proceeds through the reigns of the various Roman emperors from the time of Christ down to his own time--a period of over 300 years. Among the most fascinating information included is the curious correspondence between Jesus himself and Abgar the Toparch of Edessa a city in western Asia Minor in which Jesus promises to send one of His disciples to cure Abgar after His ascension. Though of uncertain authenticity, the tale has been used in recent years to link the Holy Shroud of Turin to the Mandylion of Edessa.

Also of interest are the numerous persecution, miracle, heresy, and martyrdom narratives that are packed into this book. The recounting of the marytrdoms of St. Polycarp and St. Justin Martyr are particularly compelling.

In short, this book is a treasure house of information on the early Church and no serious student of Church history can neglect it. Note, however, that this book does not contain the famous story of Constantine's miraculous conversion--seeing a cross in the sky with the words, "Conquer by this." If I remember correctly, this incident is recounted separately in the "Vita Constantini" also written by Eusebius.

As for the Penguin translation, I am not qualified to comment.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Bad news up front: the style of writing is very difficult to read. It reminds me of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" in that the sentence structure forces you to go very slowly. I don;'t know if that is a result of this particular translation or if it is a fair rendition of Eusebius' writing style. If it wasn't for this, I would have rated this 5 stars.

That said, what makes this book so gripping is the content itself. I was blown away by how much the early Christians had to sacrifice for being a Christian. It has made me realize what a bunch of wimps we American believers are. This was an extremely eye-opening book and well worth your time to read.
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