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Helpful introduction and Handy Glossary
am 4. März 2000
The G.A. Williamson translation of Eusebius' History of the Church has a few helpful features.
First, the lengthy introduction provides the 20th (21st?) century reader a framework for looking at these 4th century writings--it identifies his biases, omissions, strengths as well as his cultural context. I found that re-reading the introduction, once I finished *History of the Church,* helped greatly in clarifying the work.
Second, the "who's who in Eusebius" section aids in keeping track of the various names/saints/heretics that pop up in the pages. I got the most out of the book when looked up each new name in the "who's who" section and *slowly* read Williamsons comments. Such an approach made for slow going, but it helped me to sift through and synthesize the material. A couple of examples: I now know who Dionysius of Alexandria is and who's responsible for calculating the date of Easter.
One more note on the translation: it's supposedly much more modern and readable than others (or so says the introduction). Eusebius, supposedly, wrote in obtuse and windy Greek. As I have only read this translation, I can't compare it; but I did find this translation readable.
Interesting things along the way:
-Eusebius' has interesting comments on the development of the canon--i.e. the selection of the gospels and the epistles for that distribution known as the New Testament
-Reading Eusebius will give you an appreciation for the sufferings of the 2nd and 3rd century martyrs for simply refusing to give token acts of worship to Roman gods.
-This book does *not* contain much evidence of the "Eusebian Accomodation," the pro-government stance I'd heard about in church history class.
Overall, this book is *the* seminal church history book and worth reading, but will require some discipline to finish