Saturday, December 15, 2012

Eusebius's Interest in the Demonstrating Clement's Orthodoxy Through His Use of Scripture

The canon of scriptures was a recurrent theme in Eusebius, since he acknowledged an interest in recording the usage of the ancient fathers (HE 3.3.3; 5.8. 1).4 Perhaps as a consequence, Eusebius created lists or catalogues of the New Testament from the writings of his predecessors, namely Irenaeus (HE 5.8. 1- 15), Clement of Alexandria (HE 6.14.1-7), and Origen (HE 6.25.3-14). A reading of these passages reveals that Eusebius simply wove together various texts from their works in order to create the impression that each of these Church Fathers had a 'canon.' It was Eusebius who created the 'canon' from their comments, not the writers themselves, so that none of these lists are original catalogues. They are expressions of Eusebius' interest in the Canon, and not of his sources. The remarks of the earlier authors themselves reflect only the concept of Scripture. R. P. C. Hanson has confirmed that no list, not even the concept of a closed collection of New Testament Scriptures, was entertained by Origen and Clement of Alexandria.

The absence of original New Testament catalogues in Eusebius' works, other than his own (HE 3.25.1-7), is a reliable indication that no such catalogues were known to him. If Eusebius had known, or even heard of, any earlier catalogue he would surely have made a reference to it. That Eusebius created such catalogues for himself and others suggests that the interest in catalogues was his. The interest in defining the Canon by the use of catalogues, which was widely repeated in the fourth century, may be traced back no further than Eusebius. (Geoffrey Mark Hahneman. The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon p. 135 - 136)

Not sure if I agree with him about Eusebius's silence being that decisive. The Marcionites certainly had a canon as did the Galatians first associates of Zephyrinu of Rome. Nevertheless it underscores Eusebius's interest in reshaping his sources to make them appear more orthodox.

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