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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Section 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

§4. Editions and Versions.

The original Greek of Eusebius’ History has been published in many editions.

1. The editio princeps is that of Robert Stephanus, which appeared at Paris in 1544, and again, with a few changes, and with the Latin translation of Christophorsonus and the notes of Suffridus Petrus, at Geneva in 1612.

2. Henr. Valesius (de Valois) published his first edition of the Greek text, with a new Latin translation and with copious critical and explanatory notes, at Paris in 1659. His edition was reprinted at Mainz in 1672, but the reprint is full of errors. In 1677, after Valesius’ death, a revised edition was issued at Paris, which in 1695 was reprinted with some corrections at Amsterdam. In 1720 Valesius’ edition of Eusebius, together with his edition of Socrates, Sozomen, and the other Greek historians, was republished at Cambridge by William Reading, in three folio volumes. This is the best edition of Valesius, the commentary being supplemented by ms. notes which he had left among his papers, and increased by large additions from other writers under the head of Variorum. A reprint of Reading’s edition was issued in 1746–1748, but according to Heinichen it is not as accurate as that of 1720. For the elucidation of Eusebius’ History we owe more to Valesius than to any other man. His edition of the text was an immense advance upon that of Stephanus, and has formed the basis of all subsequent editions, while his notes are a perfect storehouse of information from which all annotators of Eusebius have extensively drawn. Migne’s edition (Opera, II. 45–906) is a reprint of Valesius’ edition of 1659.

3. F. A. Stroth (Halle, 1779). A new edition of the Greek text, of which, however, only the first volume appeared, comprising Books I.-VII.

4. E. Zimmermann (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1822). A new edition of the Greek text, containing also the Latin translation of Valesius, and a few critical notes.

5. F. A. Heinichen (Leipzig, 1827 and 1828). An edition of the Greek text in three volumes, with a reprint of the entire commentary of Valesius, and with the addition of Variorum notes. The critical apparatus, printed in the third volume, is very meager. A few valuable excursuses close the work. Forty years later Heinichen published a second edition of the History in his Eusebii Pamphili Scripta Historica (Lips. 1868–1870, 3 vols.). The first volume contains the Greek text of the History, with valuable prolegomena, copious critical apparatus and very useful indices; the second volume contains the Vita Constantini, the Panegyricus or De laudibus Constantini, and Constantine’s Oratio ad Sanctorum coetum, also accompanied with critical apparatus and indices; the third volume contains an extensive commentary upon the works included in the first two volumes, together with twenty-nine valuable excursuses. This entirely supersedes the first, and is on the whole the most complete and useful edition of the History which we have. The editor made diligent use of the labors of his predecessors, especially of Laemmer’s. He did no independent work, however, in the way of collecting material for the criticism of the text, and was deficient in critical judgment. As a consequence his text has often to be amended on the basis of the variant readings, which he gives with great fullness. His commentary is made up largely of quotations from Valesius and other writers, and is valuable for the material it thus contains as well as for its references to other works. It labors under the same incompleteness, however, that mars Valesius’ commentary, and, moreover, contains almost nothing of independent value.

6. E. Burton (Oxford, 1838). The Greek text in two volumes, with the translation of Valesius and with critical apparatus; and again in 1845, with the critical apparatus omitted, but with the notes of Valesius, Heinichen and others added. Burton made large contributions to the criticism of the text, and had he lived to superintend the issue of the second edition, would perhaps have succeeded in giving us a better text than any which we now possess, for he was a far more p. 53 sagacious critic than Heinichen. As it is, his edition is marred by numerous imperfections, largely caused by the inaccuracy of those who collated mss. for him. His text, with the translation, notes, and critical apparatus omitted, was reprinted by Bright at Oxford in 1872, and again in 1881, in a single volume. This is a very handy edition, and for school use is unsurpassed. The typography is superb, and the admirable plan is followed of discarding quotation marks and printing all citations in smaller type, thus making plain to the eye at a glance what is Eusebius’ own and what is another’s. The text is preceded by a very interesting and graphic life of the historian.

7. Schwegler (Tübingen, 1852, in one volume). The Greek text with critical apparatus, but without translation and notes. An accurate and useful edition.

8. Laemmer (Schaffhausen, 1859–1862). The Greek text in one volume, with extensive critical apparatus, but without explanatory notes. Laemmer had unusual opportunities for collecting material, and has made larger additions to the critical apparatus than any one else. His edition was issued, however, in a most slovenly manner, and swarms with mistakes. Great care should therefore be exercised in the use of it.

9. Finally must be mentioned the text of Dindorf (Lips. 1871), which is published in the Teubner series, and like most of the volumes of that series is handy and convenient, but of little value to the critical student.

There are few writings of the Fathers which more sadly need and more richly deserve a new critical edition than the History of Eusebius. The material for the formation of a reliable text is extensive and accessible, but editors have contented themselves too much in the past with the results of their predecessors’ labors, and unfortunately those labors have not always been accurate and thorough. As a consequence a new and more careful collation of most of the mss. of the original, together with those of Rufinus’ translation, must lie at the foundation of any new work which is to be done in this line. The publication of the Syriac version will doubtless furnish much valuable material which the next editor of the History will be able to use to advantage. Anything less than such a thorough work as I have indicated will be of little worth. Unless the new edition be based upon extensive and independent labors, it will be little if any improvement upon that of Heinichen. It is to be hoped that a critical text, up to the standard of those of some other patristic works which we already possess, may yet be issued, which shall give us this, one of the noblest productions of the ancient Church, in a fitting and satisfactory form.

Translations of Eusebius’ History are very numerous. Probably the earliest of all is the ancient Syriac version which is preserved in great part in two mss., one of which is at St. Petersburg and contains the entire History with the exception of Book VI. and large portions of Books V. and VII. The ms. is dated 462 a.d. (see Wright’s description of it in his Catalogue of the Syriac mss. in the British Museum acquired since the year 1838, Part III. p. xv. sq.). The second ms. is in the British Museum, and contains Books I.–V., with some mutilations at the beginning of the first book. The ms. dates from the sixth century (see Wright’s description of it in his Catalogue, p. 1039). From these mss. Wright was engaged in preparing an edition of the Syriac, which remained unfinished at the time of his death. Whether he left his work in such shape that it can soon be issued by some one else I have not yet learned. The version was probably made at a very early date, possibly within the lifetime of Eusebius himself, though of that we can have no assurance. I understand that it confirms in the main the Greek text as now printed in our best editions.

The original Latin version was made by Rufinus in the early years of the fifth century. He translated only nine books, and added to them two of his own, in which he brought the history down to the death of Theodosius the Great. He allowed himself his customary license in translating, and yet, although his version is by no means exact, it is one of our best sources for a knowledge of the true text of Eusebius, for it is possible, in many doubtful cases where our mss. are hopelessly divided, to ascertain from his rendering what stood in the original Greek. p. 54 The version of Rufinus had a large circulation, and became in the Western Church a substitute for the original throughout the Middle Ages. It was first printed, according to Fabricius (ib. p. 59), in 1476 at Rome, afterward a great many times there and elsewhere. The first critical edition, which still remains the best, is that of Cacciari (Rome, 1740), which has become rare, and is very difficult to find. A new edition is a great desideratum. An important work upon Rufinus’ version is Kimmel’s De Rufino Eusebii Interprete, Geræ, 1838.

A new Latin translation, by Wolfgang Musculus, was published in Basle, in 1549, and again in 1557, 1562, and 1611, according to Fabricius (Bibl. Gr. VI. p. 60). I have myself seen only the edition of 1562.

Still another Latin version, from the hand of Christophorsonus, was published at Louvain in 1570. This is the only edition of Christophorsonus which I have seen, but I have notices of Cologne editions of 1570, 1581 and 1612, and of a Paris edition of 1571. According to Fabricius the Paris edition, and according to Brunnet the Cologne edition of 1581, contain the notes of Suffridus Petrus. A revision of Christophorsonus’ version is said by Crusè to have been published by Curterius, but I have not seen it, nor am I aware of its date.

Another translation, by Grynæus, was published at Basle in 1611. This is the only edition of Grynæus’ version which I have seen, and I find in it no reference to an earlier one. I have been informed, however, that an edition appeared in 1591. Hanmer seems to imply, in his preface, that Grynæus’ version is only a revision of that of Musculus, and if that were so we should have to identify the 1611 edition with the 1611 edition of Musculus mentioned by Fabricius (see above). I am able, however, to find no hint in Grynæus’ edition itself that his version is a revision of that of Musculus.

The translation of Valesius, which was first published in 1659 (see above), was a great improvement upon all that had preceded it, and has been many times reprinted in other editions of Eusebius, as well as in his own.

The first German translation was published by Caspar Hedio. The date of publication is given by Fabricius as 1545, but the copy which I have seen is dated 1582, and contains no reference to an earlier edition. It comprises only nine books of Eusebius, supplemented by the two of Rufinus. The title runs as follows: Chronica, das ist: wahrhaftige Beschreibunge aller alten Christlichen Kirchen; zum ersten, die hist. eccles. Eusebii Pamphili Cæsariensis, Eilff Bücher; zum andern, die hist. eccles. tripartita Sozomeni, Socratis und Theodoreti, Zwölff Bücher; zum dritten die hist. eccles. sampt andern treffenlichen Geschichten, die zuvor in Teutschef Sprache wenig gelesen sind, auch Zwölff Bücher. Von der Zeit an da die hist. eccles. tripartita aufhöret: das ist, von der jarzal an, vierhundert nach Christi geburt, biss auff das jar MDXLV, durch D. Caspar Hedion zu Strassburg verteutscht und zusamen getragen. Getruckt zu Franckfurt am Mayn, im jar 1582.

A second German translation of the entire History (with the exception of the Martyrs of Palestine, and the Oration on the Building of the Churches, X. 4), together with the Life of Constantine, was published by F. A. Stroth in Quedlinburg in 1777, in two volumes. Stroth prefaced the translation with a very valuable Life of Eusebius, and added a number of excellent notes of his own. The translation is reasonably accurate.

A much more elegant German version (including the Oration, but omitting the Martyrs of Palestine) was published by Closs in Stuttgart in 1839, in one volume. This is in my opinion the best translation of the History that exists. Its style is admirable, but pure German idiom is sometimes secured at the expense of faithfulness. In fact the author has aimed to produce a free, rather than a literal translation, and has occasionally allowed himself to depart too far from the original. A few brief notes, most of them taken from Valesius or Stroth, accompany the translation.

More recently a German translation has been published by Stigloher (Kempten, 1880) in the Kempten Bibliothek der Kirchenväter. It purports to be a new translation, but is practically p. 55 nothing more than a poorly revised edition of Closs’ version. The changes which are made are seldom improvements.

Fabricius mentions a French translation by Claudius Seysselius, but does not give the date of it, and I have not myself seen it. Dr. Richardson, however, informs me that he has a copy of this translation (which is from the Latin, not from the Greek) bearing the following title: L’Histoire ecclesiastique translatie de Latin au Français, par M. Claude de Seyssel, evesque lors de Marseille, et depuis archevesque de Thurin. Paris, 1532 [or ’33], fº. He informs me also that there exist editions of the years 1537 and 1567.

More than a century later appeared a new French translation by Louis Cousin, bearing the following title: Histoire de l’Eglise écrité par Eusèbe Césarée, Socrate, Sozomène, Theodoret et Evagre, avec l’abrégé de Philostorge par Photius, et de Théodore par Nicephore Calliste. Paris, 1675–1676. 4 vol. 4º. Another edition appeared in Holland in 1686, 5 vol. 12º.

The first English translation was made by Hanmer, and was issued in 1584, and, according to Crusè, passed through five editions. The fourth edition, which lies before me, was published in London in 1636. The volume contains the Histories of Eusebius, of Socrates, and of Evagrius; Dorotheus’ Lives, and Eusebius’ Life of Constantine.

Another translation is said by Crusè to have been published about a century later by T. Shorting, and to be a decided improvement upon that of Hanmer. I have seen no copy bearing Shorting’s name, but have examined an anonymous translation which bears the following title: The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus in ten books. Made into English from that edition set forth by Valesius, and printed at Paris in the year 1659; together with Valesius’ notes on the said historian, which are done into English and set at their proper place in the margin. Hereto also is annexed an account of the life and writings of the aforesaid historian, collected by Valesius and rendered into English. Cambridge: John Hayes, 1683. This is evidently the translation of Shorting referred to by Crusè, for it answers perfectly the description which he gives of it.

An abridgment of this version, made by Parker, is mentioned both by Fabricius (ib. p. 62) and by Crusè, but I have not myself seen it. Fabricius gives its date as 1703, and Dr. Richardson informs me that he has seen an edition bearing the date 1729, and that he has a note of another published in 1703 or 1720.

The latest English translation was made by the Rev. C. F. Crusè, an American Episcopalian of German descent, and was published first in Philadelphia in 1833, with a translation, by Parker, of Valesius’ Life of Eusebius prefixed. It has been reprinted a great many times both in England and America, and is included in Bohn’s Ecclesiastical Library. In Bohn’s edition are printed a few scattered notes from Valesius’ commentary, and in some other editions an historical account of the Council of Nicæa, by Isaac Boyle, is added. The translation is an improvement upon its predecessors, but is nevertheless very faulty and unsatisfactory. The translator is not thoroughly at home in the English, and, moreover, his version is marred by many serious omissions and interpolations which reveal an inexcusable degree of carelessness on his part.

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