Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.


Ancient Christian Church

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-340) initiated his Ecclesiastical History with reference to “the successions from the holy apostles” [I.1] thereby enunciating the principal one of those several themes by which he intended to tell his story [cf. Grant 1980,]. As a consequence those major urban centers of the Roman imperial world, including its second city, Alexandria, could provide Eusebius with the main points of reference wherein he could document literally by named persons those who were in that succession and thereby presided over the ministry of their respective urban communities.

At Alexandria, Publius Aelius Hadrianus (January 24, 76 - July 10, 138, ruled from August 8, 117) in his imperial role, following a visit to Palestine already in turmoil with the appearance of Bar Cochba, the seriousness of which he did not appear to realize, “passed parts of 130 and 131, giving himself up to sight-seeing and pleasure” [Carrington 1957: II.41]. Shortly before his arrival, if we can be exact in the chronology of the episcopal succession, Justus (q.v.) had died after an administration of some eleven years. “And after a lapse of a year and some months, Eumenes (q.v.) succeeded in the sixth place to the presidency of the community of the Alexandrians” [H.E.IV.5.5].

Clearly some break at Alexandria had to be acknowledged; one cannot ignore that the well-documented Second Jewish War under the leadership of Bar Cochba broke out in Palestine in the year 132 and lasted until “the Jewish leaders, with the remainder of their army (after the loss of Jerusalem to the Romans), were shut up and besieged in the strong city of Bitther, the modern Khirbet-el-Yehoud, which fell in 135 after a protracted resisteance in which great numbers of Jews were killed or taken prisoners, only to be subjected to the most revolting tortures or sold as slaves” [Carrington 1957:II.46]. The devastating impact upon Jerusalem and its temple included complete destruction and transformation into the new imperial city, Aelia Capitolina, named for the family of Hadrian, while the temple area had erected upon it one in honor of Rome’s chief deity, Jupiter Capitolinus, with a statue of Hadrian within [H.E.IV.6; cf. Carrington 1957:II.46-47; Grant 1970:84-85]. While Christians took no part therein, as Eusebius would next observe, “the church there (meaning Jerusalem but including Alexandria!) was (now) composed of Gentiles” such that “the first to be entrusted with the ministry of its members (specifically at Alexandria, “after Eumenes had completed thirteen years”), in succession to the bishops of the circumcision, was Mark (q.v.)” [IV.6.4; 11.6]. But of these Alexandrians, there remains nothing more within the tradition that can be adduced pertaining to them.

Clyde Curry Smith

Bibliography (see link to abbreviations table below):

GEEC 33 (FWNorris)

Supplementary Bibliography

Carrington 1957 The Early Christian Church, by Philip Carrington. Cambridge: At the University Press. 2 volumes.

Grant 1970 Augustus to Constantine: The Thrust of the Christian Movement into the Roman World, by Robert McQueen Grant. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper and Row.

Grant 1980

Eusebius as Church Historian, by Robert McQueen Grant. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Oulton 1927 Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, translated with Introduction and Notes, by Hugh Jackson Lawlor and John Ernest Leonard Oulton. London: SPCK. 2 volumes. Volume I: Translation, by John Ernest Leonard Oulton. (Specific references also cited as H.E. with book and chapter).

This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Dr. Clyde Curry Smith, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and Religion, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

Click here forAbbreviations and Source References for Ancient African Christians.