Eusebius Pamphili°

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EUSEBIUS PAMPHILI ° (c. 260–339 c.e.), Church Father and archbishop of Caesarea. Eusebius was born in Caesarea Maritima, where he was a pupil of the priest Pamphilus (c. 240–309), who had studied with Origen. Eusebius was appointed bishop in c. 313. He was associated with imperial court circles and was a devoted admirer of the emperor *Constantine. A scholar in a wide range of fields, Eusebius was a prolific writer on exegesis, history, apologetics, and dogmatics. Especially important is his Chronicle, a summary of world history based partly on the Bible. Historia Ecclesiastica is a study of Church history in ten volumes (completed in 324) up to the time of the victory of Christianity under Constantine. Important for Church history is his small work on the Christian martyrs of Palestine. He also wrote a biography of Constantine, a panegyric to the emperor who built the first churches in Palestine (notably those at Bethlehem and at Golgotha in Jerusalem).

Eusebius' theological position is reflected in his two great works:

(1) Praeparatio Evangelica ("Preparation for Christianity"), in which he proves the Greek views on religion to be baseless, Judaism alone providing the proper foundation for the establishment of religion;

(2) Demonstratio Evangelica ("Proof of the Truth of Christianity"), in which he severely criticizes Judaism for failing to perceive that the revelation of God in the Bible was merely a prelude to "the glad tidings [the gospel] of the kingdom of God" and that only in the New Testament do these "glad tidings" appear.

The Onomasticon of Eusebius, written between 313 and early 325, contains more than 1,000 place-names mentioned in the Bible and gospels which he arranged alphabetically by books of the Bible, following the Septuagint spelling of the names. The primary aim was for it to be used as a sourcebook to facilitate the reading of the Old Testament with the topography of the Holy Land as its backdrop. At the time of Eusebius, the proper veneration of the places associated with Jesus had still not been fully established and so he would not have deemed it necessary to list such sites in his Onomasticon. One assumes that when Eusebius wrote in Greek "one can see this place to this very day…," it meant that he had actually visited the place himself, or that he acquired some reliable first-hand information about it. He was particularly good when it came to places in the hill country and along the coast, but less reliable about far-flung places. There is also information in his work about provinces and administrative districts, about the ethnic makeup of settlements, topography and holy places, and references to roads. The distances, taken from Roman road maps (e.g., the Peutinger Map) and stated in Roman miles, help determine urban boundaries and the course of highways, and they also provide information on the physical geography of the country. Eusebius also consulted the writings of Josephus. He reports that in his time Jews, Christians, and pagans coexisted in the country, with a large number of Jewish villages in his day but only four Christian ones. The Onomasticon was also a major source of inspiration for the *Madaba mosaic map of the Holy Land, which is dated to the second half of the sixth century. The mosaicist in some cases even copied Eusebius' mistakes. While this was not in any way a comprehensive listing of all the places in the Bible – a feat Eusebius may very well have intended but never succeeded to do – his work serves as an important source of information on the country in the early fourth century.

In c. 420 the Onomasticon was translated into Latin by Jerome who made several additions reflecting the changes that had meanwhile occurred. Extracts from the Syriac version appeared in 1924. Klostermann's edition from 1904 Das Onomastikon der biblischen Ortsnamen was until recently the version most frequently referred to by scholars. A translation into Hebrew was made by Ezra Zion Melamed in 1933 and published with a commentary in Tarbiz (reprinted as a separate publication in 1966). A translation into English was made by G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville (2003).


J.P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graeca, vols. xix–xxiv (complete works); R. Laqueur, Eusebius als Historiker seiner Zeit (1929); H. Berkhof, Die Theologie des Eusebius (1939); 4 (1932/33), 78–96, 248–84; Thomsen, in: zdpv, 26 (1903), 97ff. add. bibliography: D.S. Wallace-Hadrill, Eusebius of Caesarea (1960); R.M. Grant, Eusebius as Church Historian (1980); T.D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (1981); E.Z. Melamed, "Onomasticon," in: Encyclopedia Biblica (1955), 151–54; E.Z. Melamed (transl. with notes), The Onomastikon of Eusebius (1966); D. Groh, "The Onomasticon of Eusebius and the Rise of Christian Palestine," in: Studia Patristica, 18 (1985), 23–31; L. Di Segni, "The 'Onomasticon' of Eusebius and the Madaba Map," in: M. Piccirillo and E. Alliata (eds.), The Madaba Map Centenary, 1897–1997 (1999), 115–20; G.P. Grenville, R.L. Chapman, and J.E. Taylor, Palestine in the Fourth Century. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (2003).

[Michael Avi-Yonah /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]