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E00276: Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, mentions the martyrdoms of *Fabianus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00147), *Alexandros (bishop and martyr of Jerusalem, S00149), and *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061), during the Decian persecution (250/251). Written in Greek in Palestine, 311/325.

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posted on 05.02.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 6.39.1-4

Summary:

Under Decius, Fabianus, bishop of Rome, is martyred and succeeded by Cornelius. In Palestine, the bishop of Jerusalem Alexandros is arrested and, after defending himself before the governor in Caesarea, he dies in gaol. He is succeeded by Mazabanes in his throne. In Antioch, Babylas dies in gaol and is succeeded by Phabios.

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Summary: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00276

Saint Name

Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. 282-284 : S00061 Fabianus, martyred bishop of Rome, ob. 250 : S00147 Alexandros, martyred bishop of Jerusalem, ob. 250 : S00149

Saint Name in Source

Βαβύλας Φαβιανὸς Ἀλέξανδρος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

311

Evidence not after

325

Activity not before

250

Activity not after

325

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

Eusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea. Written between 311 and 325, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is the first literary work to employ the methodology and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them. The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive in their full form. Eusebius’ source material consists mostly of Greek texts, originating from Christian communities in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the western provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) is very limited. The text survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations.

Discussion

One of the main themes discussed by Eusebius in the Ecclesiastical History is the successions of bishops at the main catholic communities of the Roman world, which he follows systematically for Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, and less systematically for Ephesus, Corinth and other cities. His focus on episcopal successions parallels his interest in martyrdoms, which Eusebius understood as the two axes of the existence and development of the Church through history. Eusebius recognises the working of God through the life and acts of bishops no less than through the feats of martyrs. This is one of Eusebius' numerous lists of episcopal successions, here specially commemorating bishops who died as martyrs. All three figures mentioned here were remembered and honoured as saints in the later period. In another passage, Eusebius also mentions the miraculous election of Fabianus as bishop of Rome (E00266). Fabianus’ tomb with the inscription 'bishop and martyr' has been found in the Crypt of the Popes in the Catacomb of Saint Callixtus (E###). Of special interest here is also the fact that Eusebius dates the martyrdom of Babylas to the Decian persecution and describes it as death in prison. He thus contradicts the Greek Martyrdom of Babylas which ascribes the event to the reign of Carinus, and describes it as an execution by beheading ($02684).

Bibliography

Edition: Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 6/1-3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999). Translations: Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; London and Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926). Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989). Further reading: Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.

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