Book Review | Eusebius: The Church History

Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History is one of the classics of early Christianity and stands ahead of many other writings on the subject. In this work, Eusebius chronicles the events of the first three centuries of the Christian Church—preserving the early history of the brave martyrs, defenders of the faith, and even those who renounced their faith in the face of persecution. However, over time, this rich legacy of the early church has been obscured by outdated translations which rendered it almost unreadable to modern readers.

In Eusebius: The Church History, renowned historian Dr. Paul L. Maier created a new dynamic, contemporary English translation of Eusebius’ magnum opus which liberates it from its literary chains while remaining faithful to the original text. Previously released as a paperback, this new hardback edition includes over 150 full-color photographs, maps, and illustrations.

Unlike his condensation of Josephus’ vast works, Dr. Maier’s volume on Eusebius’ Church History is a full translation. It is based on the standard critical edition of the original Greek text published by the German scholar Eduard Schwartz in 1897. To make it more accessible to today’s reader, he clarified Eusebius’ text by breaking up long sentences into digestible segments and eliminating excess verbiage and repetitive phrases without compromising the original accounts. Furthermore, he rendered the Greek versions of proper names and literary titles into their common English equivalent (e.g., “Peter” rather than “Petros” and Justin’s Defense rather than his “Apologia”). He also included book titles, subtitles, and section titles, which are not in the original text to further organize the thoughts and information.

What I love most about this edition are the brief commentaries that Dr. Maier included after each chapter which summarize them and add further insights to Eusebius’ account. Each of the end commentaries concludes with a brief overview of Roman imperial politics during the period covered in each chapter. Aside from this, I also like the vivid photographs, maps, and illustrations. It not only helps in the study but also makes the records and accounts come alive.

Final thoughts

Dr. Paul L. Maier did an outstanding job in translating Eusebius’ magnum opus. His genius translation, excellent organization, and insightful commentary make this invaluable work even more priceless.

Disclosure: A review copy of Eusebius: The Church History was provided for review by Kregel Academic, from whom you may purchase a copy.

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