Scholastic Stylings: The Jewish Sources in Eusebius's Preparatio Evangelica

Eusebius’s bipartite apology, the Preparatio and Demonstratio evangelica (the Apodeixis) affords an indispensable glimpse into the process whereby the history of the Jews/Hebrews became a central apologetic mechanism in the construction of a continuous and coherent narrative of Christian history. For Eusebius the refinement of a Christian “prehistory” functions primarily as a rejoinder to attacks against Christian novelty, innovation, barbarism, and theological and philosophical barrenness. In her analysis of Eusebius’s extensive employment of citations, Eusebius and the Jewish Authors: His Citation Technique in an Apologetic Context, Sabrina Inowlocki demonstrates the various citation strategies Eusebius utilized in his effort to recast the history of Israel as the history of Christianity (and the history of the Jews as the turning point in the history of Israel). While Inowlocki has produced an invaluable study of Eusebius’ citation technique itself, she devotes only a few pages to the citation strategies of Eusebius’s intellectual forebears. Through an analysis of the citation technique (or lack of technique) in Josephus’ Contra Apionem, Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata, and Origen’s Contra Celsum, I hope to demonstrate both the quantitative and qualitative distinctiveness of Eusebius’s Preparatio. Not only is the text an astounding seventy-one percent citations, but the manner in which Eusebius introduces his citations reflects a desire to candidly and carefully identify the sources of his material. With the Jewish source material in particular, Eusebius explicitly aims to let the sources speak for themselves, a technique that serves to enhance his own scholastic authority. The breadth and scope of Eusebius’s reliance upon and rearrangement of Jewish sources signifies, I believe, an important shift in the coalescence of Christian notions of literary, rhetorical, and historical scholasticism. Eusebius’s generally forthright acknowledgment of his sources reflects a genuine effort to communicate his intellectual mastery. The Apodeixis is, fundamentally, a learned performance of scholastic aptitude.