Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« "Be United" -- 1 Corinthians 1:4-17 | Main | Who Said That? »

Paul Maier's Translation of Eusebius' Church History

I've tried several times to slog my way through Eusebius' Church History.  Never quite made it all the way through, though I've consulted it many times, especially when dealing with matters of gospel origins, and important historical stuff like the death of James and John. 

The biggest reason for the slog was that the edition I own was a version I picked up when I first began reading theology.  Back in the day, Baker Book House published a line of books they called the "Twin Brooks" series--photolithographs of theological standards.  Basically, these were old (and out of print) books, photocopied and released with paperback covers.  This was an invaluable resource before Google Books.  The Baker Twin Brooks version of Eusebius' classic was the Cruse edition from 1850.  The translation was wooden and the book's binding was brittle.  In other words, this was a book you had to slog through or else it would split in half!

Although I later purchased the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers set (which includes a "Eusebius" volume in series II with the McGiffert translation) it too is hard to read in its entirety given the format.

So, when I saw that Kregel Publications had released a translation of Eusebius' Church History by Paul Maier back in 1999, I bought a copy, and finally got around to reading it last week in preparation for a writing project.  Lo and behold I finished it quickly.  No slogging here.  There is also a paperback version of Maier's translation released in 2007.

I must admit, I really enjoyed the full-color edition.  Even if you pride yourself on being an amateur patristics scholar, don't let the shiny paper and the many illustrations turn you off.  Maier's translation is crisp, and given the subject matter, I actually found the illustrations quite helpful.  Although I own the critical edition of Josephus, I find myself turning to the Maier edition of that as well (even though it is abridged).

If you haven't read Eusebius' Church History (or have slogged through portions of it as I did) this is well-worth tackling.  We often quote that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," but Eusebius introduces us to many of these martyrs by name and recounts the specific circumstances of their deaths.  I found myself asking, "could I endure what they did?"  Only by the grace of God.

While the discussion of which John wrote Revelation, when James (the brother of our Lord) was killed, as well as the story about how his chair was passed down to others in the Jerusalem church, etc., are interesting, it was good to be reminded of how the early church dealt with pagan culture, heresy and schism, as well as suffering and persecution.

Maier's translation (which includes helpful background information in footnotes) makes this great classic accessible to all.  I would also recommend his edition of Josephus.  If you can find the "illustrated versions," of these, don't be ashamed.  Looking at pictures of otherwise obscure emperors and unfamiliar places while reading about them isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Reader Comments (5)

I've owned this version for years but sadly haven't tried to read it yet. Your post moves it higher on this year's reading list.
January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Watts
That was really interesting to read about and is one of the many reasons why I check out the Riddleblog each week. I am going to have to check into buying both Maier's books now.
January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
As a simple (SIMPLE!) layman, I got this book when it first came out. I found it completely engrossing, no slogging at all. We have a long, long way to go before we can come close to understanding real Christian persecution or even hardship.
January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConnie
I have it, it's an easy read, and I like books with pictures!
January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharles S
Currently reading through the Penguin Classic edition of Eusebius. It has a "Who's Who" index in the back that gives you more info on the people mentioned in the book, which I find very helpful. The translation's much more recent than 1850, but I'm sure Maier's is even more of a joy to read (if he translates with the same life and personality with which he speaks!). I'll have to keep that edition in mind for future jaunts into early church history.
January 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D. Chitty

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.