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|Eusebius Pamphilii of Caesarea|
History of the martyrs in Palestine
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THE manuscript from which this work of Eusebius has been at length recovered, after the lapse of several centuries, is that wonderful volume of the Nitrian Collection 1 now in the British Museum, whose most curious and remarkable history I have already made known in the Preface to my edition of the Festal Letters of St. Athanasius.2 It is not necessary, therefore, for me in this place to give any further account of it than to state that it was transcribed fourteen hundred and fifty years ago,--as early as the year of our Lord four hundred and eleven.
The several works contained in it are now all printed, and thereby rescued from the chance of being lost for all future time. The first--a Syriac translation of the Recognitions of St. Clement, which I once intended to publish, and had transcribed the greater part of it for that purpose--has been edited by Dr. P. de Lagarde, 3 to whom I |ii gave my copy. The transcript was completed by him, and compared with another manuscript of the same work, and afterward printed with that great care and accuracy which gives so much value to all the Syriac texts which he has edited. The second treatise in this manuscript is the book of Titus, Bishop of Bostra, or Bozra, in Arabia, against the Manicheans. We are also indebted for the publication of this important work to Dr. de Lagarde.4 The third is the book of Eusebius on the Theophania, or Divine Manifestation of our Lord. The text of this was edited by the late Dr. Lee,5 who also published an English translation of it,6 with valuable notes and a preliminary dissertation. The last is this history of the Martyrs of Palestine, also written by the same Author.
In the eighth book of the Ecclesiastical History, upon the occasion of his giving a short account of certain Bishops and others, who sealed their testimony for their faith with their blood, Eusebius stated his intention of writing, in a distinct treatise, a narrative of the confession |iii of those Martyrs with whom he had himself been acquainted. 7 Up to the time of the discovery of this Syriac copy, no such work was known to exist in a separate form, either in Latin or Greek. There is indeed a brief history of those contemporaries of Eusebius who suffered in the persecution of the Christians in Palestine, found in several antient Greek manuscripts, inserted as a part of it, and combined with the Ecclesiastical History : but it does not occupy the same place in all the copies of that work. In one it is placed after the middle of the thirteenth chapter of the eighth book;8 in two9 at the end of the tenth book; and in several,10 at the end of the eighth; while from two |iv others,11 as well as from the Latin version made by Ruffinus, it is omitted altogether. There is no distinct title prefixed to it in any copy but one, the Codex Castellani,12 where it bears the inscription:--Eusebiou suggramma peri twn kat' auton marturhsantwn en twi oktaetei Dioklhtianou kai efexhV Galeriou tou Maximinou diwgmou ; but two copies, the Mazarine and Medicean, have at the end--Eusebiou tou Pamfilou peri twn en Palaistinhi marturhsantwn teloV.13
That this was the history of the martyrs who were known to Eusebius which he had promised, has never been doubted by any one; while, on the other hand, almost every one who has undertaken to write on the subject has judged it to be but an abridgment of the original work which formerly existed in a more extended form.14 The |v antient Latin copy of the Acts of Procopius,15 the Acts of Pamphilus and his companions, as exhibited by Simeon Metaphrastes,16 in much fuller detail than they are now found in the Greek text of Eusebius, and the additional facts respecting other martyrs who suffered in Palestine, supplied by the Greek Menaea and Menologia, were adduced as evidence of the existence at one time of a more copious work, and as a proof that the narrative inserted in the Ecclesiastical History was only an abridgment.
The correctness of this critical induction has been completely established by the discovery of this copy of the work of Eusebius of Caesarea on the Martyrs of Palestine, in the vernacular language of the country where the events took place, and actually transcribed within about seventy years after the death of the author.17
S. E. Assemani goes so far as to express his conviction that this history of the sufferings of the martyrs in Palestine was originally composed in Syriac, a language with which Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, was necessarily well acquainted, |vi as being the vernacular speech of his own country and diocese.18 It is not at all improbable that Eusebius might made have use of the Syriac for ordinary purposes, or, indeed, as a safer deposit for any memoranda which he might wish to commit to writing than the Greek, during the time that the persecution continued. Could this inference of S. E. Assemani be established, it would give still additional interest and value to the work which I now publish. I must, however, own that I cannot admit the supposition that this work was originally written in the Syriac language. Indeed, it seems to me to be sufficiently disproved by the fact, that the Syriac copy of such of the Acts of Martyrs in Palestine as have been published by S. E. Assemani, while it agrees completely in substance with this, is evidently a translation by another hand; and that the variation and errors which occur in some of the proper names are of such a kind as could only have arisen from confounding two similar Greek letters of the writing at that period ;19 and further, there are some obscure passages in this Syriac, which obviously seem to be the result of a translator not fully apprehending the meaning of the Greek passage before him.20
How long the entire Greek text of the original work continued to be read, we have now no means of learning with any degree of certainty. It must have been in existence in the time of Simeon Metaphrastes, in the tenth century, for he has supplied many facts (s. n. 20) from it [vii] which the abridged form of the Greek does not contain, and has also given entire the long passage relating to Pamphilus and his companions.21 Neither can there be any doubt of its having been in use at the period when the Greek Menaea and Menologia were compiled.22 The fact that many of the circumstances and events which it described had been inserted in the abovementioned books, and that an abridgment, which, I cannot doubt, was made by Eusebius himself, had also been incorporated into the Ecclesiastical. History, seems to have led to the discontinuance of the transcription of the larger work, and to have been mainly the cause of its being no longer found in the Greek in a separate form. The preservation of this work in its complete state up to the present time, in the Syriac, is chiefly due to the circumstance of its having been transported, at a very early period, to the Syrian Monastery in the solitude of the Nitrian Desert, where the dryness of the climate kept the vellum from decay, and the idleness and ignorance of the monks saved the volume from being worn out and destroyed by frequent use.
Independently of the great interest of the subject of which it treats, this work of Eusebius has especial claims to consideration, on the ground of the author having been himself an eyewitness of most of the events which he [viii] describes. There are some, indeed, at which he could not have have been present ; for instance, the Confession of Romanus, who suffered at Antioch on the same day as Alphaeus and Zacchaeus did at Caesarea, where he was then residing. He has, given a narrative of the sufferings of Romanus, in his history of the Martyrs of Palestine, because he was a native of Palestine, and had also been a deacon and exorcist in one of the villages of Caesarea; and Eusebius was anxious to claim for his own country and diocese the honour of this man's confession. This may perhaps be the reason why there are found two distinct accounts of the Acts of Romanus in Syriac, as well as in Greek and Latin.
It is not my intention to enter into any discussion respecting the time of the composition of this treatise, or that of the great Church History by Eusebius: nor will I consider at any length the question of the abridgment of the account of the Martyrs of Palestine inserted in most of the copies of the Ecclesiastical History, or that of the different recensions of this latter work by the author himself. 23 These are certainly very interesting subjects of literary and historical inquiry; and doubtless this book will supply the critic with new data, to enable him to elucidate and determine them in a more complete and satisfactory manner than it has been hitherto possible for any one to do. These matters I would rather leave to other scholars. All now have the same materials as I have, and some may be possessed of other greater facilities and appliances, as well as better capacities for the task. I [ix] believe it to be my duty to employ my own time and exertions in another way.
I will therefore content myself with briefly observing that this work of Eusebius on the Martyrs of Palestine bears evidently upon it the stamp of being a record of facts which were noted down at the time as they severally occurred, and were afterwards revised and arranged in due order at a subsequent period, when some events, which, in the earlier years of the Persecution, the author thought it probable might happen, had actually taken place ; and when other occurrences of earlier date were no longer so fresh and vivid in the minds of men as they had been when all were still living who had witnessed them.
I would observe, also, that it seems to be evident that this work, in which Eusebius recounts the martyrdom of Pamphilus and his companions, was composed before he wrote the fuller history of that noble Martyr, to which he refers in the Abridgment; for no reference whatever is made to the existence of any such history in this original and more copious narrative of the Martyrs of Palestine. It must, therefore, have been composed before he wrote the Ecclesiastical History, in which he several times adverts to the life of Pamphilus as having been already completed.
The first edition of the Ecclesiastical History does not appear to have contained the history of the Martyrs of Palestine. This seems to be the copy used by Ruffinus, who neither gives any such history, nor has the passage in the thirteenth chapter of the eighth book which refers to it.
Indeed, it is evident from his own words that the abridgment must have been made by Eusebius himself.24 When, [x] therefore, he condensed the narrative for the purpose of incorporating it into the subsequent editions of the Ecclesiastical History, he also took that opportunity of supplying several facts which, either from considerations of prudence, or from not having had knowledge of them at the time when the work was originally composed, he had previously omitted; and also ventured to speak more plainly of persons, because the altered condition of circumstances after the accession of Constantine enabled him to do this without any apprehension of danger. This, I think, will be obvious to those who will be at the pains to compare the general narrative of the events as they are recorded year by year, with the notes which I have added, even without having recourse to fuller and more minute researches.
The translation I have endeavoured to make as faithful as I could without following the Syriac idiom so closely as to render the English obscure. There are a very few passages in which I cannot feel quite sure that I have obtained the precise meaning of the Syriac ; but the obscurity of these passages is certainly due to the Translator, who does not seem to have fully understood the Greek text which he had before him. My English translation of the long account of Pamphilus and his companions was printed before I read either the Greek text printed by Papebrochius, or the Latin translation made by Lipomannus from the same Greek, as it was preserved by Simeon Metaphrastes. The comparison of all of these together will be a good means of testing both the integrity of the transmission of the original Greek to the present day, and the fidelity of the Syriac translation.
In the notes, my chief object has been to collect such observations as may tend especially to throw light upon [xi] the time of the composition of this work and of the Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius, and serve to elucidate the text; but in order to keep them from extending to too great a length, I have omitted all those matters which it appeared to me an ordinarily well-informed scholar might be presumed to be acquainted with.
[[Footnotes given numbers and moved to end]]
"Horum sanctorum martyrum historiam concisam pariter jejunamque exhibet nobis Graecus Eusebii Caesariensis textus in libro de martyribus Palaestinae; eandemque prorsus fortunam experta est, quam prior Procopii, ex latiori scilicet narratione in brevem summam. Atque priorem illam Latina, quae superfuit, versio supplerit, haec autem suppleri aliter non potuissent, nisi, favente Deo, Chaldaicus Codex noster e tenebris Aegypti vindicatus emersisset in lucem."-- Ibid. p. 173.
Baillet:--" Eusébe de Cesarée avait recueilli à part les Martyrs de Palestine: et quoique les Actes qu'il en avoit ramassez avec beaucoup de soin et de travail ne paroissent plus, il nous en reste un bon abbregé dans le livre qui se trouve joint à son histoire genérale de l'Eglise.'' See Les Vies des Saints, vol. i. p. 55.