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Author Topic:   Eusebius the Liar? - Pious Fraud Endorsed to Advance Christianity
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 1 of 49 (547357)
02-18-2010 4:07 PM


First of all, who is Eusebius?

wikipedia writes:


Eusebius of Caesarea, c. 263-339,[1] called Eusebius Pamphili, became the Bishop of Caesarea[2], in Palestine, about the year 314.[1] He flourished during the time of Constantine the Great and Constantius. His surname Pamphilus came from his relationship with Pamphilus the martyr. Eusebius, historian, exegete and polemicist is one of the more renowned Church Fathers.

He (with Pamphilus) was a most diligent investigator of the Canon. Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels were among his scholarly works. As "Father of Church History" he produced Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, Chronicle of Universal History and On the Martyrs.[1][2]

Eusebius is actually one of the only reasons we have ANY church history from the founding of the orthodoxy. There are some issues though. Many critical scholars have no qualms calling out Eusebius as a blatant liar. By some he is called the father of "Pious Fraud" although it is demonstrable that he wasn't the first to actually practice it. There are varying lines of evidence for this, many disputed by conservative scholars, but I would like to discuss one popular one in particular to kick off this discussion.

Starting with this quote from Eusebius from Ecclesiastical History Chapter 12. (Adding EvC style quotes, and styling)

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/fathers/index-2.html

Eusebius writes:


XXXI. That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment

PLATO writes:

100 'But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?

'Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.'

Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction.

The main theme of what Eusebius is trying to do here is convince pagans that Plato's ideas are actually derived from ancient Hebrew religion. Legacy of a belief was very important to the Greek and Roman population and Eusebius is trying to appeal to that sentiment.

Plato is talking about how it is useful to use lies to convince some people of things who would be unable to be pursuaded otherwise. For good reasons of course but lies none the less.

Eusebius is therfore not only endorsing this idea, he is making the claim to pagans that the Hebrews thought of it first!

Moreover, he is pointing out examples from the OT where scripture is using this method to communicate, "for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction."

So even more brief he is saying:
1. Plato said that lying is okay sometimes.
2. This is a great idea and we thought of it first!
3. Here are some examples of us lying in our scriptures for this reason.

Some defend Eusebius by pointing out that rather than "falsehood" the greek word used here COULD be translated as "fiction". So therefore Eusebius is endorsing the use of parables. Not only is this a stretch, I can't quite see how this helps the issue much. Eusebius would still at best be relegating the God of the OT to the same status as a fairy tale.

Why this is important is that Eusebus is often used as a source to resolve a variety of controversies. He is considered authoratative on a number of issues not the least of which is the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) which is one of the only references to a historical Jesus that exists outside the Gospels. The TF has many hallmarks of a forgery and the earliest reference we have to it is from Eusebus. In fact, Eusebus was probably responsible for maintaining copies of ancient manuscripts such as the works of Josephus so he has motive, access, capability, and authority to do something like make a pious Jew refer to Jesus as the Messiah (one of the more obvious reasons the TV is likely a fraud).

I have read some defense of Eusebius that can be found online but I thought I would see if anyone here wanted to perhaps defend him in a different way. As I get closer and closer to considering myself a former Christian, the more I examine about the history of the church, scripture, and Judiasm the more I cannot ignore these kinds of blatant stains upon the legacy of the religion.

Put this in whatever religion forum you feel is appropriate please.

Thanks!


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 49 (547360)
02-18-2010 6:08 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Eusebius the Liar? - Pious Fraud Endorsed to Advance Christianity thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16097
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 3 of 49 (547374)
02-18-2010 7:48 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jazzns
02-18-2010 4:07 PM


You don't say what defeses of Eusebius you've already read. One of them might have been mine.

Anyway, in this case he's just saying what every orthodox Bible fan must believe --- that (a) the anthropomorphic imagery of Good in the Bible is inaccurate and (b) that there's still a good reason why it should be there.

This isn't a reason to knock Eusebius' integrity particularly. Nor do I think it justifies your title: "Pious Fraud Endorsed to Advance Christianity".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Jazzns, posted 02-18-2010 4:07 PM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Jazzns, posted 02-19-2010 12:10 AM Dr Adequate has responded
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Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 118 days)
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 4 of 49 (547380)
02-18-2010 8:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jazzns
02-18-2010 4:07 PM


Hi Jazzns, interesting thread.

I don't know much about this, but isn't it the case that only parts of the TF are in doubt (with most scholars)? Bits like "He was the Christ" and the stuff about the resurrection are thought to be fraudulent additions, but the rest could well be real.

Mutate and Survive


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Jazzns, posted 02-18-2010 4:07 PM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 5 of 49 (547402)
02-19-2010 12:10 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Dr Adequate
02-18-2010 7:48 PM


You don't say what defeses of Eusebius you've already read. One of them might have been mine.

I wanted to leave the opposition voice in this thread untainted by those but basically if you google 'eusebius liar' and read the conservative opinions in the first page of results, those defenses.

I would love to read yours if you could link it.

Anyway, in this case he's just saying what every orthodox Bible fan must believe

Must believe? I have encountered a wide range of beliefs regarding the accuracy and/or literalism of the OT.

--- that (a) the anthropomorphic imagery of Good in the Bible is inaccurate

I don't know that that would describe many of the believers on this particular forum. Perhaps jar back in the heyday? Perhaps Phat?

and (b) that there's still a good reason why it should be there.

Again, I am not sure how wide this belief actually is even if it is highly regarded. Certainly none of the Christian experiences I have had personally have been anything close to this. An anecdote for what it is worth.

This isn't a reason to knock Eusebius' integrity particularly. Nor do I think it justifies your title: "Pious Fraud Endorsed to Advance Christianity".

By itself perhaps not but I think it is at least arguable. If there is interest in diving a bit deeper, Eusebius makes a number of claims that are pretty outlandish which provides some support for this notion that he at best is an "imaginative" writer of fiction.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-18-2010 7:48 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 6 of 49 (547403)
02-19-2010 12:15 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Granny Magda
02-18-2010 8:36 PM


I don't know much about this, but isn't it the case that only parts of the TF are in doubt (with most scholars)? Bits like "He was the Christ" and the stuff about the resurrection are thought to be fraudulent additions, but the rest could well be real.

It is somewhat hard to say because the best reference we have to the TF is Eusebius himself. So beliefs range from

1. It is fully authoritative (quite unlikely)
2. It is a modified version of an actual quote from Josephus to strengthen a real reference to Jesus (most cautious opinion)
3. It is a full forgery, insertion by a pious scribe. (most critical opinion)

But if Eusebius is shown to be a liar, perhaps it throws some doubt onto the TF as well, since he is the only resource we have for that particular quote.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
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 Message 4 by Granny Magda, posted 02-18-2010 8:36 PM Granny Magda has responded

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 Message 8 by Granny Magda, posted 02-19-2010 12:46 AM Jazzns has responded
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Peg
Member (Idle past 3157 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 7 of 49 (547404)
02-19-2010 12:25 AM


i would like to know what bearing any of this has on the bible

Lets say Eusebius deliberately lied in some of his own writings...how does that affect the writings of the Apostles?


Replies to this message:
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Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 118 days)
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 8 of 49 (547406)
02-19-2010 12:46 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Jazzns
02-19-2010 12:15 AM


Thanks for the reply Jazzns,

here is the text. I think the green sections are pretty obviously interpolations, the yellow I find somewhat dubious.

quote:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

It's pretty obvious that Josephus would not have said that Jesus was Christ, nor that he rose from the dead. Anyone who believed that would be an idiot not to convert to Christianity immediately, which Josephus did not do.

As for the rest I wouldn't like to say. I simply don't have the expertise. The fact that Eusebius advocated lying certainly places some doubt on the TF and raises the suggestion that he was responsible for the interpolations, but that is merely speculation.

Mutate and Survive


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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 9 of 49 (547407)
02-19-2010 12:56 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Granny Magda
02-19-2010 12:46 AM


I would also add suspicion to "as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him".

Presumes that Jesus was foretold in the scripture. 10,00 wonderful things is being quite charitable to someone who perhaps was considered heretical to the Jews.

There are also some linguistic clues concerning the use of "tribe" and the context of the Antiquities surrounding this particular quote. It sort of sticks out like a sore thumb.

The fact that Eusebius advocated lying certainly places some doubt on the TF and raises the suggestion that he was responsible for the interpolations, but that is merely speculation.

A lot of times the only thing you can draw from an ancient source like this is educated speculation. It is unfortunate.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Granny Magda, posted 02-19-2010 12:46 AM Granny Magda has responded

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Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 118 days)
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 10 of 49 (547408)
02-19-2010 1:09 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Jazzns
02-19-2010 12:56 AM


Yeah,

I would also add suspicion to "as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him".

Presumes that Jesus was foretold in the scripture. 10,00 wonderful things is being quite charitable to someone who perhaps was considered heretical to the Jews.

Agreed, it sounds unlikely. Perhaps Josephus did not consider Jesus to be a heretic and saw him as a Jewish holy man, but I do agree that this is questionable.

As to linguistics clues, I think I have to step aside for someone who knows what they're talking about.

Mutate and Survive


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16097
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 11 of 49 (547417)
02-19-2010 9:12 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Jazzns
02-19-2010 12:10 AM


Must believe? I have encountered a wide range of beliefs regarding the accuracy and/or literalism of the OT.

Well, I did say orthodox. The idea that God literally has limbs and passions is the "anthropomorphite heresy".

Again, I am not sure how wide this belief actually is even if it is highly regarded. Certainly none of the Christian experiences I have had personally have been anything close to this.

Well, this is just a logical consequence of thinking that the Bible is the word of God. It follows from this there must have been some good reason why the Bible describes God as having hands, feet, nostrils, etc.

Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject of anthropomorphism. Note that they're saying the same thing as Eusebius, and the same thing that I attributed to the orthodox:

The Bible, especially the Old Testament , abounds in anthropomorphic expressions. Almost all the activities of organic life are ascribed to the Almighty. He speaks, breathes, sees, hears; He walks in the garden; He sits in the heavens, and the earth is His footstool. It must, however, be noticed that in the Bible locutions of this kind ascribe human characteristics to God only in a vague, indefinite way. He is never positively declared to have a body or a nature the same as man's ; and human defects and vices are never even figuratively attributed to Him. The metaphorical, symbolical character of this language is usually obvious. The all-seeing Eye signifies God's omniscience; the everlasting Arms His omnipotence ; His Sword the chastisement of sinners ; when He is said to have repented of having made man, we have an extremely forcible expression conveying His abhorrence of sin. The justification of this language is found in the fact that truth can be conveyed to men only through the medium of human ideas and thoughts, and is to be expressed only in language suited to their comprehension.

So you see it's their doctrine that the anthropomorphic language is not to be taken literaly but that there's still a good reason for it being in the Bible.

And here's a Protestant theologian saying the same thing:

Finally, we are faced with Scripture referring to God's "hands", "eyes", "ears", and so forth (e.g., Deut. 33:27; Ps. 11:4; Isa. 59:1). We see also that God is at times represented as if He had specific locality (e.g., Genesis 11:5,7; Psalm 2:4). Some teachers and sects draw from such passages the notion that God "has a body." However, that this is not the case can be easily seen when we consider the whole of Scripture. It should be evident from the many clear statements cited above that such language cannot be taken literally.

Such statements are called anthropomorphisms - these are metaphorical expressions used by God as an accommodation (or, condescension) to our finite understanding. Simply put, God speaks to us on our finite level, chiefly because we cannot ascend to His infinite level. (11) In the same way, God is represented as "discovering" information, "repenting," and so forth. That God has revealed truth about Himself in this way should not surprise us. Paul recognized this very fact in 1 Corinthians 13:12. To literalize such language is the ancient error of the sect known as the Anthropomorphites (Greek, anthros = man, morph = form).

It is interesting to note that Eusebius lived in the fourth century, a time when Anthropomorphites (Audians) had some following. So he had a motivation to put forward the use of such metaphorical language in the OT as being an example of a good idea and one of the admirable features of Hebrew thought, as he does in the passage we're discussing.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16097
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 12 of 49 (547418)
02-19-2010 9:21 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Jazzns
02-19-2010 12:15 AM


It is somewhat hard to say because the best reference we have to the TF is Eusebius himself.

We also have the Histories of Josephus themselves. Eusebius is just the first person who quotes the TF from them --- although given that we don't have Eusebius' autograph manuscripts either, it is perfectly possible that someone amended Eusebius to bring him into line with what they thought Josephus said.

To actually blame Eusebius for any tampering in the TF is a leap of the imagination.


This message is a reply to:
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 13 of 49 (547420)
02-19-2010 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Peg
02-19-2010 12:25 AM


Eusebius' influence on the Bible
i would like to know what bearing any of this has on the bible

Lets say Eusebius deliberately lied in some of his own writings...how does that affect the writings of the Apostles?

Eusebius was highly influential regarding the formation of the canon and was chartered with the responsibility for creating authoritative copies of "sacred scripture" for the emperor.

In fact, Eusebius was quite disappointed that his own arianism was rejected as heretical at the Council of Nicea.

The only way he could affect a particular writing would be if he changed it and it would be very difficult to prove that. But to say he wasn't influential regarding the early formation of the church, or how the church viewed itself for the coming centuries would be naieve.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Peg, posted 02-19-2010 12:25 AM Peg has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Peg, posted 02-19-2010 6:40 PM Jazzns has responded

  
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 14 of 49 (547421)
02-19-2010 10:28 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dr Adequate
02-19-2010 9:12 AM


Eusebius mentions things specifically regarding God's mental characterization as if they were absurd. Specifically anger and jealousy.

There are many churces today, I would go as far to make the claim that most, that consider the jealousy and anger of the God of the OT to be very real. There are entire lines apologetics designed to legitimize the contrast between the character of the God of the OT and Jesus in the NT.

Once again I say that giving Eusebius the total benefit of the doubt only results in making him a story teller rather than a historian. I don't know how this paints the church's reliance upon him all that much better than if he was a confirmed liar.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-19-2010 9:12 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-19-2010 11:22 AM Jazzns has responded

  
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 15 of 49 (547422)
02-19-2010 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Dr Adequate
02-19-2010 9:21 AM


To actually blame Eusebius for any tampering in the TF is a leap of the imagination.

It is my understanding that Eusebius was actually responsible for preserving Antiquties amongst a large number of other non-canonical writings that the church was interested in maintaining.

I'll try to find my reference for that but if it is true, it would mean that the copies we have of Antiquities are straight from Eusebius. At the very least I am pretty sure that the oldest reference we have to Antiquities is either Eusebius, or partial quotes from an earlier church father.

Certainly we have evidence that Antiquities existed prior to Eusebius but we have exactly zero copies of those.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
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 Message 12 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-19-2010 9:21 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

  
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