Utopia and dystopia in the Praeparatio Evangelica: Eusebius on Christian identity and his rhetoric of exclusivism

Rajiv Bhola

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


However tumultuous the first three centuries were in the evolution of the early Christian church, the most significant developments took place during the generation of Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (ca. 260-339 CE). In his lifetime, the imperial attitude towards Christianity shifted from relative indifference to outright aggression, and finally to not simply tolerance, but endorsement under the emperor Constantine (306-337 CE). From the outset of the ‘Great Persecution’ in 303 CE, Eusebius adopted an apologetic approach to his writings that persisted even after hostilities ceased ten years later. His preoccupation with apologetics is understandable, considering that in previous periods of tolerance the threat of renewed persecution was always looming.

The present paper is a ‘state of the question’ on my current work on Eusebius’ Praeparatio evangelica. This text and its companion volume, the Demonstratio evangelica, are together considered to be his apologetic magnum opus, though traditionally they have not attracted much enthusiasm. At first glance, the PE appears to be primarily concerned with tracing the descent of various Mediterranean peoples religiously, ethnically, and intellectually. However, the purpose and framework of the text suggest that Eusebius’ may have had an instructional agenda for recent Gentile converts that went beyond the history lesson the text appears to be.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventDepartment of Ancient History Research Seminar Series: session 2, 2018 - Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 9 Oct 20189 Oct 2018


SeminarDepartment of Ancient History Research Seminar Series
Abbreviated titleAHRS


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