Eusebius of Emesa (ca. 300 – before 359)
Bp. of the Syrian city of Emesa (Ḥimṣ), author of homilies and biblical commentaries. A native of Edessa and contemporaneous with Ephrem, Eusebius received a Greek education. He studied and worked in Caesarea (Palaestina), Antioch, and Alexandria, before becoming bp. of Emesa (shortly after 341). In the Greek tradition, Eusebius’s name somehow remained tainted with Arianism, which helps explain why his writings, all originally written in Greek, do not survive in direct transmission.
In addition to Eusebius’s homilies, a number of which exist in early Latin and Armenian translations, there is an Armenian translation of his commentaries on: Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut., Josh., Judges, 1–4 Kings (i.e., 1–2 Sam. and 1–2 Kings). Only the Gen. commentary is quite developed; the other books are dealt with very succinctly. Excerpts of the original Greek text have been identified in the Greek Catena tradition and in an exegetical collection (‘Epitome’) by Procopius of Gaza (d. ca. 538). Some of Eusebius’s works existed in a Syriac translation. Yaʿqub of Edessa quotes Eusebius for his opinion that Hebrew was the first language. A much more important witness is Ishoʿdad of Merv, who quoted numerous passages from Eusebius’s commentaries, without, however, ever mentioning his name.
A specific feature of Eusebius’s biblical interpretation consists in the many quotations from ‘the Syrian’ (ho Suros), i.e., the Syriac OT (along with the less numerous quotations from ‘the Hebrew’). Somewhat critical of the Greek Septuagint, Eusebius used the Syriac version to gain access to what he saw as the authentic meaning of the Hebrew original. These quotations from ‘the Syrian’ are an important witness to the early Peshitta.
As for Eusebius’s Christology, in addition to references in the sermons and — only rarely — in the commentaries, 33 passages explicitly attributed to him were included in the Florilegium that Philoxenos of Mabbug added to his ‘Memre against Ḥabbib’ (ca. 482). Even though they were used by Philoxenos in support of his late-5th-cent. Miaphysite Christology and may not, therefore, give an unbalanced picture, there seems to be no reason to doubt their authenticity. As such, they provide further evidence of the existence of Syriac translations of Eusebius’s works.
- CPG 3525–3543.
- R. B. ter Haar Romeny, A Syrian in Greek dress. The use of Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac biblical texts in Eusebius of Emesa’s Commentary on Genesis (TEG 6; 1997).
- H. J. Lehmann, Per Piscatores. Studies in the Armenian version of a collection of homilies by Eusebius of Emesa and Severian of Gabala (1975).
- H. J. Lehmann, Students of the Bible in 4th and 5th century Syria. Seats of learning, sidelights and syriacisms (2008). (includes several essays on Eusebius, some of them reprinted)
- F. Petit, L. Van Rompay, J. J. S. Weitenberg, Eusèbe d’Émèse. Commentaire de la Genèse. Texte arménien de l’édition de Venise (1980), fragments grecs et syriaques, avec traductions (TEG 15; 2011).
- M. F. Wiles, ‘The theology of Eusebius of Emesa’, in StPatr , vol.19, ed. E.A. Livingstone, 267–280.
- R. E. Winn, ‘The church of virgins and martyrs: Ecclesiastical identity in the sermons of Eusebius of Emesa’, JECS 11 (2003), 309–338.
- R. E. Winn, Eusebius of Emesa (forthcoming).
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
Lucas Van Rompay, “Eusebius of Emesa,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Eusebius-of-Emesa.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Van Rompay, Lucas. “Eusebius of Emesa.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Eusebius-of-Emesa.
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