EUSEBIUS STUDY QUESTIONS
EUSEBIUS--BOOKS I AND II
1. How does Eusebius begin his work? Is this introduction
helpful to you in using Eusebius as a source?
2. What sort of problems does Eusebius face in putting together
his history? How hard is his task?
3. Suppose it was your job to write the first U.S. history.
(Note that in covering the history of the U.S., you would be dealing
with just about the same time span Eusebius has to deal with in writing
his church history.) What would you do? How would you
organize your material? What material would you use? What
would you concentrate on?
4. Note that, in the absence of earlier histories, one has to
rely almost entirely on primary sources--and this is what Eusebius has
done. How has he used his primary sources? Is this a good
5. What sources has Eusebius used so far? How good
are theses sources? Is there any important source missing here?
6. What does Eusebius seem to think of Philo?
Josephus? Why does he place so much emphasis on these
writers? Does he use these sources fairly/accurately?
7. What theme does Eusebius address first (right after the
introduction)? Why this theme? Is this a good place to
start? Is it right for a historian to deal with such themes?
8. Who do you think is Eusebius' intended audience?
Christians? Jews? Pagans?
9. What is Eusebius own christology? Is it any dif. from
christology today? Does it differ from NT christology?
10. Do you find Eusebius' account of the history of the church
interesting so far? What do you find interesting? What do
you find not so interesting? Why would a 4th century reader have
particularly enjoyed this book?
EUSEBIUS BOOK III
1. How does Eusebius classify the various writings that might be
included in the canon? Why three divisions instead of two?
What criteria does he seem to use in classifying these books?
2. Why do you think so many of the NT books were accepted without
question almost from the first?
3. Why would there have been any doubt about the authority of II
Peter, Jude, II John, III John, Hebrews, James, and Revelation?
4. Why were books like Hermas, I Clement, etc. not admitted to
5. How do you explain the conduct of the Jews toward one another
during the siege of Jerusalem? What do you suppose would be the
effect of such incidents on Jews elsewhere? How do you suppose
learning of such horrible events would have affected the Christian
1. What effect do you suppose Bar Cochba's rebellion (the
rebellion of the Jews during the time of Hadrian) would have had on the
Christian community? How would this have affected Roman treatment
of the Christians?
2. According to Eusebius, what was the general policy of the
"good" Roman emperors in regard to the Christians? Do you think
his view accurate?
3. Does Eusebius' account of the martyrdom of Polycarp seem
probable? What would motivate a man to act as Polycarp
does? How would Polycarp's firm stand for Christ have affected
the Roman officials? How would it have affected the general
population watching the execution?
4. What information can you gain from this chapter that might
explain why the Romans persecuted Christians? What evidence do
you find that might explain why persecution failed to destroy the faith?
1. How do you explain the horrible treatment of the Christians in
Lyon? Why would a "good" emperor like Marcus Aurelius permit (and
encourage) such treatment of Christians?
2. How do you explain the perseverance of Christians in the face
of extreme physical pain? How are they able to avoid blasphemy?
How did Christianity manage to survive in these circumstances?
3. What would happen if Christians today were faced by similar
attempts to get them to deny their faith?
4. How would the fact that not all remained steadfast have
affected the church?
5. What does Eusebius seem to think about spiritual gifts, e.g.
prophecy, healings, speaking in tongues, etc.?
6. What would have been attractive about Montanism? Why
were some opposed to this movement? Why couldn't Montanist and
7. Note the divisions about the proper date to celebrate easter
and the divisions over Christology. What caused these
divisions? How were they solved?
1. What are Origen's strengths? His weaknesses? Why
would men like Eusebius have been so attracted to his teachings?
2. What motivates a man like Origen? Why was he able to
accomplish so much? Why was he so zealous for Christianity, when
he might so easily have had a successful career as a teacher of
3. What are Porphyry's criticisms of Origen? Is he at all
4. How do you explain the courage and persistence of a woman like
1. Why would there be a dispute at all over the rebaptism of
converted schismatics? Wouldn't it have been easier to rebaptize
people just in case the original baptism wasn't quite proper?
What harm would this course have done?
2. What is the attitude of the 3rd century Christians toward
death? How did that affect their conduct. Note their name
for places of burial: cemeteries. What significance does this
3. According to Eusebius, what was the Christian response to the
devastating plague that swept through Alexandria?
4. Why were Christians so eager to win the "martyr's crown"?
5. Why would there be a dispute between Christians who believed
in a "literal" millennium and those who believed otherwise? What
difference does it make? What position do you think is right?
6. What do you make of Dionysius' criticisms of the book of
Revelation? Is he right?
7. Why would the church have paid special attention to things
like the statue of the woman with the issue of blood and the throne of
8. What kind of a man was Paul of Samosata? Do you think
Eusebius' description of him accurate? Was he rightly condemned
by the church? Was the appeal to secular authority to remove Paul
9. By the late third century, individual Christians were often
held in high esteem by at least some Roman officials. Why?
Note, for example, the conduct of Anatolius and Eusebius at Alexandria.