The Impact of Martyrdom on Eusebius of Caesarea's Commentary on Luke: Anticipating the Imminent Eschaton

Mario Baghos, Associate Lecturer, St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College, PhD Candidate, University of Sydney

Abstract: Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 255-339) is perhaps best recognised as the chronicler of the ostensible peace and prosperity for the Church that dawned in the reign of the emperor Constantine (r. 306-337); a reign which he interpreted eschatologically, that is, as the fulfilment of God’s kingdom on earth. But in focusing on this well-known aspect of Eusebius’ eschatological vision, contemporary scholarship has, with very few exceptions, bypassed his earlier reflections on the ‘end times,’ which he believed would occur imminently. More specifically, Eusebius’ encounter with the martyrs who died during the reign of the tetrarchic emperor Maximinus Daia between the years 309-312 led him to believe that Christ would return soon to alleviate the suffering of the faithful. Since the historical context affected his literary output, this article will assess the impact of martyrdom on Eusebius’ eschatological vision as discernable in his Commentary on Luke, which was written during the years of persecution and testifies to his early belief in Christ’s imminent return. In so doing, this paper will contribute insights to the aforementioned lacuna in contemporary Eusebian studies.