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Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden: Studien zur Rolle der Juden in der Theologie des Eusebius von Caesarea.

Euseb von Caesarea und die Juden: Studien zur Rolle der Juden in der Theologie des Eusebius von Caesarea. By Jorg Ulrich. Patristische Texte und Studien 49. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999. x + 324 pp. 198 DM cloth.

In this revised version of his 1997 Habilitationschrift, Ulrich confronts the scholarly assumption that Eusebius of Caesarea was an "anti-Jewish" theologian (1-3). In this first monograph dedicated solely to the question of Eusebius and the Jews, Ulrich focuses on Eusebius's apologetic "double-work," the Praeparatio Evangelica (PE) and the Demonstratio Evangelica (DE), also incorporating a vast array of primary and secondary sources. The result is a sociotheological interpretation of Eusebius that ranges from starkly apologetic to historically provocative.

Ulrich begins with context. He situates Eusebius in a somewhat irenic and multicultural hellenized Palestine (chapter 2) and argues that, by the fourth century, there had developed in Caesarea "an atmosphere of relative tolerance" that undergirds Eusebius's perception of Jews (27). Ulrich's survey of Eusebius's writings (chapter 3) consists mainly of an overview of the PE and DE (28-49), which Ulrich reads as a single apologetic magnum opus outlining God's participation in sacred history, culminating in Christianity. When Ulrich compares the PE and DE to Eusebius's other writings (49-56), he finds (predictably) that they either serve to confirm what may be found in the PE and DE or are not particularly relevant to the question of Jews in Eusebius's theology.

The next two chapters (4 and 5) make up more than half the book, and contain Ulrich's most valuable insights. Chapter 4, "Euseb und die Juden: Terminologische Beobachtungen," gives a detailed analysis of the terms "Hebrew," "pagan" (Hellen), "Jew," and "Christian" in the Eusebian corpus. Here is Ulrich's most original and provocative scholarly contribution. Standard accounts of Eusebius's distinction between "Hebrew" and "Jew" are generally chronological and oppositional: Hebrews were the monotheistic people of God before Moses (good); Jews were the monotheistic people under the Law after Moses (bad). Ulrich demonstrates how Eusebius's own application of these terms often sacrifices this chronological divide for the sake of theological argument: "The criteria for [`Hebrewness'] appear to be loyalty to scripture and covenant, erudition [Gelehrsamkeit], and learned culture [wissenschafliche Bildung]" (68). Ulrich posits that Eusebius distinguishes these groups by their understanding of God: "Hebrews," "Jews," and "Christians" all stand on one side of the theological divide (monotheists), opposite the pagans (polytheists). Ulrich's analyses of "Hebrew" and "Jew" are particularly engaging. "Hebrews" come to include post-Mosaic figures such as David, the prophets, Philo, Josephus, Trypho, and even Eusebius's contemporaries.

This terminological slippage leads Ulrich to observe that, for Eusebius, "Jew" in and of itself is not a negative label. Although Eusebius finds fault with Jews and Judaism, "such polemical aspects should, however, in no way distract from the clearly central conclusions of the double-work, that is, that Judaism ... is seen as a positive influence for the time between the Hebrews and the Christians, indeed, as the only positive influence in this phase of human history" (83). Ulrich furthermore concludes that "Eusebius's Judaism should in no way be seen as entirely `superseded'" (110) since it still maintains its inherent connection to the "un-monotheism" of the Hebrews. This triangulation of Hebrews (good), pagans (bad), and Jews (good and bad) shows the complex blurriness of Eusebius's inscription of religious identities. Terminologically, Eusebius's Jews remain fixed in a "marginal position" (Randposition) (124).

Chapter 5, "Euseb und die Juden: Theologische Fragenkreise," uncovers how this terminological "marginality played out theologically. Ulrich evinces three broad theological "spheres of inquiry": the historico-theological, the christological, and the exegetical. In each of these cases, Ulrich softens Eusebius's theological presentation of Jews. In terms of "salvation history," Ulrich admits that the chastisement of the Jews looms large in Eusebius's writings, but insists that he takes no "Schadenfreude" in recounting their miseries (as compared, for instance, with Chrysostom) (139-40). Indeed, Eusebius's Jews play an invaluably positive role as guardians of monotheism between Moses and Jesus (147-48). Even after the incarnation, according to Ulrich, Eusebius accords to Jews a significant role in the spread of Christ's message; their marginal position, somewhere between "evil" pagans and "good" Hebrews, remained in Eusebius's day (156-57).

Ulrich concedes that "christology" creates an essential division between Jews and Christians, but he is at pains to note how Eusebius moderates this division: by pointing out Jesus' Jewishness (162-63) or by extended comparison of Jesus and Moses in salvation history (172-76). Ulrich argues that Eusebius does not press a supersessionist theology of the Jews so much as expansionist theology. The essential quality of salvation from "Hebrews" to "Jews" to "Christians" has remained the same, while Christian history is the story of the expansion of that salvation to all of humanity. Ulrich finds the same emphasis on expansion, rather than supersession, active in Eusebius's exegesis that explicitly opposes "Jewish" viewpoints. Eusebius's main objection to Jews, Ulrich concludes, is their theological exclusivity, their refusal to acknowledge the extension of salvation to the gentiles. Despite (or perhaps because of) close intellectual contact in Caesarea, Eusebius is not interested in social or moral critique of the Jews: "He regards them ... as theological opponents. This accords them, in distinction from nearly all of his other theological opponents, a fairly high degree of respect" (238).

The next two chapters step back to resituate this newly respectful Eusebius into his contemporary political and religious environments. Chapter 6 (239-54) looks briefly at anti-Judaism in the writings of Constantine (preserved almost uniquely by Eusebius) and in Roman legislation. Based on diction and attitudes, Ulrich finds Constantine's anti-Judaism to be the emperor's own, reported by Eusebius and akin to previous and subsequent imperial postures (242-47). Likewise in chapter 7 (255-70) Ulrich is at pains to distinguish Eusebius's moderate position from that of his "more pointed" (scharfer) apologetic predecessors.

The concluding chapter reiterates the central argument of the study: scholars can no longer casually claim that "Eusebius was suffused with anti-Jewish ardor"--a memorable phrase Ulrich quotes (274) from N. R. M. De Lange (Origen and the Jews: Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations in Third Century Palestine [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976]). When negative language about Jews creeps in, it serves the larger purpose of delineating Christian expansionism. Here Ulrich's apologetic tone comes through the clearest, as he tries to demonstrate how Eusebius's theological critique of Jews does not make him anti-Jewish per se and how, perhaps, present-day Christian theology might follow suit (276).

Although the scope of this work is theological, Ulrich's incorporation of an optimistic social setting for Eusebius's writings make this work essential for any student of fourth-century Christianity. Ulrich's terminological and theological analysis of Eusebius's writings is scrupulously detailed, and his pervasively apologetic tone provides a salutary counterpoint to other equally harsh and accusatory interpretations of Eusebius's writings on Jews. Although this work will surely not be the last word on this subject, it is an important step in reopening a question that many scholars may not have considered debatable.
Andrew S. Jacobs
University of California at Riverside
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Author:Jacobs, Andrew S.
Publication:Church History
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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