A New Translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History

Jeremy Schott of Indiana University–Bloomington has recently published a new translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History. It’s excellent.

The translation is accurate and perceptive in the passages I’ve consulted. The real strength of the translation is its literary sensitivity, conveying the different registers and voices of the diverse texts which Eusebius collects and cites within the work.

Schott’s scholarship is rigorous. There will always be issues of disagreement, especially in cases where Eusebius describes obscure things using obscure vocabulary (e.g. the description of the Hexapla in Ecclesiastical History 6.16.1–4). But these are legitimate differences of interpretation.

Schott provides a reasonable number of always-helpful notes. These don’t constitute a full commentary. I imagine I’ll continue to refer regularly to Bardy’s notes and introduction in Sources chrétiennes. But that’s not a complaint, because Schott’s notes accomplish their purpose in an efficient and judicious way. Other resources exist for those who want to follow up on minor details.

Perhaps the best thing of all is Schott’s index locorum, which is useable and complete in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else in scholarship on the Ecclesiastical History. Given how fundamental quotation and pastiche are to Eusebius’ work, this seems to be the most vital paratext of all.

Finally, and not to be ignored, this book is inexpensive enough that one can own a copy without the danger of bankruptcy. One can even assign it for students without feeling inordinate guilt.

Schott has done an enormous service to the field in making Eusebius’ most-cited work accessible both as a text and as a physical object to keep on a nearby shelf and consult regularly.

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