The First Christian Histories

Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius

Glenn F. Chesnut

Also search under the following common variants and misspellings: Glenn Chesnut, Glen Chesnut, Glen Chestnut, Glenn Chestnut, Glen F. Chesnut, Glenn F. Chestnut, Glen F. Chestnut, Glenn C. South Bend
Glenn F. Chesnut, First Christian Histories, Glenn Chesnut
Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories:  Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius, 2nd edit., revised and enlarged (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1986), ISBN 978-0-86554-203-7, xiv + 296 pp., $25 U.S.

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"With this revised edition (especially with the addition of chapter 6), the best book in English on the historians of early Christianity has become the best book on the subject in any language. A work of mature, Catholic scholarship which enables anyone interested in the writing of history to see not only what these great ancient historians wrote but also why and how their perspectives formed."
Dennis E. Groh, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Illinois Wesleyan University, co-author (with Robert C. Gregg) of Early Arianism: A View of Salvation
"The first edition of Glenn Chesnut's The First Christian Histories provided a thorough and profound study of early Christian historical thought and practice from Eusebius to Evagrius. The second edition, with additions and revisions, is now indispensable. It correlates history with Christian life and explains factors both theological and nontheological. Chesnut naturally begins with Eusebius and has added a whole new chapter on the latest research. A great virtue of the book is that he does not stop there but goes on through the significant Christian historians of the fifth and sixth centuries who laid foundations for later Byzantine authors."
Robert M. Grant, University of Chicago, author of Eusebius as Church Historian
"The First Christian Histories is a genuinely original and fruitful contribution to the historiography of early church history and to the historiography of antiquity in general. Glenn Chesnut's work is much the best of any I have read in studying the first historians of Christianity. He has corrected many mistaken impressions about their work and their understanding of the work of God in history. It is a foundational work for the history of church history."
Albert C. Outler, the leading Methodist philosophical theologian of the twentieth century
"Glenn Chesnut has applied the most sophisticated techniques of historiographical analysis to the earliest Christian histories. This valuable analysis describes the emergence of an important perspective on human history, one that stood as a significant alternative to Augustine's otherworldly orientation. In addition to depicting a heritage of no little consequence to later types of historiography, Chesnut sheds light on literary figures whose writings influence New Testament, Byzantine, and medieval studies. This inquiry into their presuppositions and motivations presents essential materials for further scholarship in these fields."
Henry Warner Bowden, Rutgers University, author of Church History in the Age of Science

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. The Pagan Background

3. Eusebius: Fate, Fortune, Free Will, and Nature

4. Eusebius: The History of Salvation from the Garden of Eden to the Rise of the Roman Empire

5. Eusebius: The Rational and the Irrational in Human Motivation

6. Eusebius: From Youthful Defender of Religious Liberty to Spokesman for the Constantinian Imperial Church

7. Eusebius: Hellenistic Kingship and the Eschatological Constantine

8. Socrates Scholasticus: Origenism, Humanism, and Cosmic Sympathy

9. Sozomen, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Evagrius Scholasticus: Other Successors and Continuators

10. The Pious Emperor and the Philosopher-King

11. Toward a Tradition and Theology of Christian History





Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260 - c. 340) in Palestine, followed by Socrates Scholasticus (c. 380 - 450) and Sozomen (early 5th century) in Constantinople, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c. 393 - c. 466) and Evagrius Scholasticus (c. 536 - 600) in Syria, were the great authors who wrote the account of the first six centuries of Christian history.



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