Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica in Syriac and Latin: A First Comparison

in Aramaic Studies
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The contemporary fifth-century Latin and Syriac translations of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica provide a great opportunity for a close comparison which both highlights the different linguistic and cultural patterns underlying the translations produced by Rufinus and the Syriac translator and also reveals many similarities between them. This article is not concerned with using the translations to reconstruct the original Greek text, but with trying to understand, by the analysis of some selected parallel passages, the theological, ideological and cultural characteristics of the Latin and Syriac contexts into which Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica was translated.

Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica in Syriac and Latin: A First Comparison

in Aramaic Studies




W. Wright and N. McLean (eds.)The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac with a Collation of the Ancient Armenian Version by Adalbert Merx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1898) p. XIII.


S. Toda‘The Syriac Version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Revisited’ in J. Baun A. Cameron M. Edwards and M. Vinzent (eds.) Tertullian to Tyconius Egypt before Nicaea Athanasius and His Opponents (Studia Patristica 46 Leuven: Peeters Publishers 2010) pp. 333–338.


OultonRufinus’s Translation p. 153.


Jon M. RobertsonChrist as Mediator. A Study of the Theologies of Eusebius of Caesarea Marcellus of Ancyra and Athanasius of Alexandria (Oxford Theological Monographs, Oxford: Oxford University Press2007) pp. 69–96 rightly refuses any approach which anachronistically applies the orthodox definition of a later age (‘Arian’) to the study of Eusebius’ theology. Eusebius who was a defender of Arius and was excommunicated by the council of Antioch in 325 C.E. as a member of the Arian party then signed the Nicene Creed which he interpreted in an idiosyncratic manner. It is noteworthy that Rufinus in his continuatio made no mention of Eusebius’ previous attitude towards Arius.


OultonRufinus’s Translation p. 153.


Transl. Deferrari p. 39.


Transl. OultonRufinus’s Translation p. 154.


Transl. Deferrari p. 42.


Transl. OultonRufinus’s Translation p. 154.


SimonettiLa crisi ariana p. 66.


Transl. Deferrari p. 42.


OultonRufinus’s Translation p. 154.


HumphriesRufinus’s Eusebius p. 163.


A. GrillmeierChrist in Christian Tradition v. 1. From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451) (London: John Knox Press, 2nd edition1975) pp. 179–180.


Transl. Deferrari pp. 37–38.


See BrockChristology pp. 165–166.


Han J.W. Drijvers‘Facts and Problems in Early Syriac speaking Christianity’Second Century (2) (1982) pp. 157–175 [160].


BrockEusebius and Syriac Christianity p. 231 n. 18.


JonesEvaluating pp. 247–249 insists on the distinction between the ornate mode of translation and the simple one the first used by Rufinus e.g. in his rendering of Origen’s De Principiis and—I add—of Eusebius’ Historia ecclesiastica the second in the translation of the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions.


HumphriesRufinus’s Eusebius p. 163.


See Fernández‘Gli interventi dottrinali’ p. 42.


E. Fiano‘The Trinitarian Controversies in Fourth Century Edessa’Le Muséon 128(1.2) (2015) pp. 85–125.

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