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One of the best resources for a christian
on December 7, 2001
Until just recently, I was unable to find a modern translation of Eusebius, but Maier's translation fits very well in my sphere of undersanding early church writings.
While early on in "The History of the Church" Eusebius extensively quotes from Josephus, Ireaeus and other early historians, later on, he uses more and more personal observation and experience. His extensive reliance on other writers should indeed not be considered a negative thing, but a positive for the reader, thus demonstrating that writers like Josephus are clearly to be trusted with accuracy.
For a christian, "The Church History" offers inside information on the beliefs of the early church, beliefs that in many cases differ from the contemporary, 21st century american church. A few examples are:
"Papias supplies other stories that reached him by word of mouth, along with some strange parables and unknown teachings of the Savior, as well as other more legendary accounts. Among them, he says that after the ressurection of the dead there will be a thousand-year period when the kingdom of Christ will be established on this earth in material form. I suppose that he got these notions by misunderstanding the apostolic accounts, not realizing that they had used mystic and symbolic language. For he was a man of very limited intelligence, as is clear from his books. Due to him, however, many church writers after him held the same opinion, relying on his early date: Irenaeus, for example, and any others who adopted the same views." - Church History 3.39 - Eusebius talking about the writings of Papias, saying that Christ reigning on earth in a material or flesh form is a mistaken belief and an unknown teaching of the Savior
"Such was the reward for the guilt and impiety of the Jews against the Christ of God. It is worth appending to it the infallible prediction of our Savior regarding these very things in this prophecy:
Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For at that time, there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. [Matthew 24:19-21]" - Church History 3.6 - Eusebius clearly saying that in Matthew 24 Jesus was indeed talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, not about the end of the world
"Those who wish may trace precisely from Josephus's history the disasters that overwhelmed the entire nation, especially how the residents of Judea were driven to the limits of suffering; how many thousands of men, women, and children died by the sword, famine, and countless other forms of death; how many famous Jewish cities endured horrors under siege; and in particular the terrors of those who fled for refuge to Jerusalem as an "impregnable fortress". They can study all the details of the entire war and how in the end the Abomination of Desolation, declared by the prophets, was set up in the very temple of God, celebrated of old, when it was utterly destroyed by fire." - Church History 3.5 - Eusebius saying that the entire Matthew 24 was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed, and ended with the Abomination of Desolation setting itself up in the temple before it was burned to the ground
"The Church History" is a great resource, and a must buy for every studious christian.