Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Noel Lenski

Second Advisor

Andrew Cain

Third Advisor

John Gibert


Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-339 CE) was a highly productive and innovative writer of Christian history, apology, and biblical scholarship, and as metropolitan bishop of Palestine, an active participant in fourth-century ecclesiastical politics. His most famous work, the Historia Ecclesiastica (HE), a history of the Church from its foundation to ca. 325, is one of our best sources for the history of early Christianity and reign of Constantine. Book eight of the HE is of particular importance, as it provides the focal point of the work through a critical first-hand account of the Great Persecution (303-313) and events surrounding Constantine's rise to power. The present study is a literary and historical commentary on book eight of the HE. It consists of four parts: an introduction, the Greek text, an English translation, and a commentary on the Greek text. The fundamental scope of the project is quite broad and interdisciplinary: philological, insofar as it approaches a Greek text that has remained largely without critical comment; historical, since this is both the genre to which the work belongs and a large part of its scholarly significance; and religio-historical in its examination of aspects of Christian theology, doctrine, and the Church's place in the Roman world. This inherently expansive study is restricted, however, by a focused, thematic approach which centers on the theme of persecution, the author's Palestinian viewpoint, and the pervasive historical and historiographical considerations. This work aims to furnish an essential tool, heretofore missing, to scholars in different fields for whom the study of Eusebius, early Christianity, late Greek historiography, and Roman history plays an important role. For those who wish to approach the text itself, a theme therein, or a topic specific to the period, it will serve as an up-to-date reference and compass for further research. Its thematic approach and new interpretative suggestions, however, ensure that it will also stand in its own right as a coherent piece of scholarship that contributes to the Eusebian debate.