Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wonderful Fulfillment, Wonderful Completion

After the past few introductory posts in this series, it should be clear by now that Eusebius of Caesarea, the so-called "Father of Church History," considered the Scriptures to speak emphatically (and prophetically) about the end of the "Jewish Age," the Old Covenant "Mosaic" administration. Eusebius, of course, was not the only Church Father (as we will see in later posts) to highlight this teaching within the Scriptures. 

But for now, because Eusebius has so much to say about this topic, over the next few posts I plan on including much lengthier sections of his comments, in order to shorten the amount of posts on this blog. (I think I have roughly 50 pages of quotations left from him, which all refer to the prophetic "fulfillment" of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.). In order to alleviate myself of much time editing each post, I will also include relevant footnotes below each citation, from the work cited. Below are some more (lengthy) excerpts from The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cesarean (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans. London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company)

Commenting on Zechariah 14:1-2, Eusebius writes: 
The fulfilment of this also agrees with the passages quoted on the destruction of the whole Jewish race ...the final siege of the people by the Romans, through which the whole Jewish race was to become subject to their enemies: he says that only the remnant of the people shall be saved, exactly describing the apostles of our Savior. (Vol. 1, pp. 97–98) 

Commenting on Isaiah 53, he writes:
In this he shews that Christ, being apart from all sin, will receive the sins of men on Himself. And therefore He will suffer the penalty of sinners, and will be pained on their behalf; and not on His own. And if He shall be wounded by the strokes of blasphemous words, this also will be the result of our sins. For He is weakened through our sins, so that we, when He had taken on Him our faults and the wounds of our wickedness, might be healed by His stripes. And this is the cause why the Sinless shall suffer among men: and the wonderful prophet, in no way shrinking, clearly rebukes the Jews who plotted his death; and complaining bitterly of this very thing he says: “For the transgressions of my people he was led to death.” And then because total destruction overtook them immediately, and not a long time after their evil deed to Christ, when they were besieged by the Romans, he does not pass this over either, but adds: “And I will give the wicked for his tomb, and the rich for his death.” (Vol. 1, pp. 113–114)

Commenting on the faithful witness of Jesus' apostles, Eusebius draws a clear parallel between "the prophecies of what would happen to" Jesus' apostles and "the Son of man coming" (c.f. Matthew 10:13), which implies, based on the Scriptural allusion he uses, that Eusebius considered the "coming" of the Son of Man in Matthew 10:13 as the Lord's visitation of final judgment upon Israel within the same generation as the apostles. Notice carefully that Eusebius also sees consistency with this theme between Matthew's gospel and John's gospel, precisely because both come from the lips of Jesus himself:

When the Master gave them gloomy prophecies, if they gave heed to the things He said to them: “Ye shall have tribulation,”* and again: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice”*—the strength and depth of their nature is surely plain, since they did not fear the discipline of the body, nor run after pleasures. And the Master also, as One Who would not soothe them by deceit Himself, was like them in renouncing His property, and in His prophecy of the future, so open and so true, fixed in their minds the choice of His way of life. These were the prophecies of what would happen to them for His Name’s sake—in which He bore witness, saying that they should be brought before rulers, and come even unto kings, and undergo all sorts of punishments, not for any fault, nor on any reasonable charge, but solely for this His Name’s sake.And we who see it now fulfilled ought to be struck by the prediction. (Vol. 1, pp. 136–137)
* John 16:33
* John 16:20
* Matthew 10:16-23

Commenting on Amos chapters 4 and 5, he notes a remarkable comment of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which undeniably refers to the destruction of Jerusalem's temple in 70 a.d.  Eusebius writes:
God now proclaiming the Christ by name the seventh time is said to “strengthen the thunder” and “to create the wind,” the proclamation of the Gospel being called thunder from its being heard by all men, and similarly the spirit that Christ breathed on His apostles is meant; and also the Saviour’s sojourn among men has clearly fulfilled the prophecy in which God is said to make “morning” and “mist” together, morning for those that receive salvation, but for the Jews that disbelieve in Him the contrary.  On whom also Scripture foretells an extreme curse, adding a lamentation for the Jewish race, which actually overtook them immediately after their impiety against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For of a truth from that day to this the House of Israel has fallen, and the vision1 once shewn by God and the rejection have been brought to pass, concerning the falling of their house in Jerusalem, and against their whole state, that it should not be possible for any one to lift them up, who will never more be lifted up.  “There is,” he says, “therefore no one to lift her up.” For since they did not accept the Christ of God when He came, perforce He left them and turned to all the Gentiles, telling the cause of his turning, when He said with tears, as if almost apologizing: 
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto her, how often2 would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathereth her nestlings under her wings, and ye would not:* behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Vol. 1, pp. 210–211)

1 ὅρος in Migne from Paris text. Gaisford and Dindorf read ὅρασις following Donatus’ rendering, and the Oxford Codex.
2 W.H.: ποσάκις. E.: πολλάκις. W.H. omit ἔρημος.
* Matt. 23:37

In another chapter of the same work, commenting on a passage within Amos 4 again, he writes: 
You also, he says, will suffer a destruction such as Sodom underwent for its unnatural wickedness, and even so did not turn to Me. This is levelled at the Jewish race, and only received its fulfilment in their case, after their plot against our Saviour. Their ancient holy place, at any rate, and their Temple are to this day as much destroyed as Sodom. Yet though they have suffered in accordance with the prediction, they have not hitherto turned to Christ, on Whose account they have suffered so much. And so the prophecy before us is justly inspired to say: “And neither so have ye returned to me, saith the Lord.” (Vol. 1, p. 266-267)

In the introduction of the sixth volume of the same work, Eusebius reminds his audience again, that:
So let us now examine any such predictions of the Hebrew oracles, that now the Lord, now God, would descend to men and again ascend in their sight, and the causes of His descent: and you will note that some prophecies are veiled and some clearly expressed.  I hold that the secret prophecies were delivered in a disguised form because of the Jews, as the predictions concerning them were unfavourable; because they would most probably have destroyed the writing, if it had plainly foretold their final ruin; just as history shows that they attacked the prophets, because they rebuked them. But the prophecies that are clear include beyond all doubt the call of the Gentiles, and announce the promises of the reward of holiness not only to the Jewish race, but to all men throughout the world. As this is so, we must now hear the divine oracles. (Vol. 2, pp. 1–2)

Commenting on Psalm 106 and 107, he writes:
This clearly gives the good news of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, Who is named, and of the result of His Coming. For it says, “He sent his Word and healed them.” And we say distinctly that the Word of God was He that was sent as the Saviour of all men, Whom we are taught by the Holy Scriptures to reckon divine.  And it darkly suggests that He came down even unto death for the sake of those who had died before Him, and in revealing the redemption of those to be saved by Him it shews the reason of His Coming. For He saved without aid from any one those that had gone before Him even to the gates of death, healed them and rescued them from their destruction. And this He did simply by breaking what are called the gates of death, and crushing the bars of iron.  And then the prophecy proceeds to predict the state of desolation of those who rejected Him when He came. For it says, “He turned rivers into a wilderness, and rivers of waters into thirst, a fruitful land into saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein”: which you will understand if you behold Jerusalem of old, the famous city of the Jewish race, her glory and her fruitfulness, despoiled now of her holy citizens and pious men. For after the coming of Christ she became as the prophet truly says without fruit or water, and quite deserted, “saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Vol. 2, p. 7)

And finally (for this post, at least) Eusebius combines a lengthy series of prophetic statements by Micah, commenting on chapters 1, 3, 5, and 6:

And then He gives an additional reason for the Descent of the Word, recounting the impiety of the Jews, and the destruction falling upon them, and heralding the calling of all nations throughout the world. For these things’ sake the Word of God came down from heaven to earth. Hear this passage: 
“For the impiety of the House of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of the House of Israel. What is the impiety of the House of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? And I will make Samaria a lodge of the field, and a plantation of a vineyard, and I will draw down to chaos the stones thereof, and will hide the foundations thereof.”
And He adds:
“Evil hath descended from the Lord on the gates of Jerusalem,* the noise of chariots and horsemen.”
And again:
“O glory of the daughter of Jerusalem,* shave and cut off thy choice children. Enlarge thy widowhood, as an eagle, when thy captives are led from thee.”
And moreover:
“Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a granary, and the mount of the house as a grove of the wood.”*
  Sion and Jerusalem and the so-called “mount of the house” are what were represented before in, “And the mountains shall be shaken from beneath him, and the valleys shall be melted as wax before the fire for the iniquity of Jacob.” For the mountains and the dwellers thereon were besieged for the iniquity they had wrought against Him soon and not long after Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood.
  If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem, as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge.1 And this has come to pass precisely because of their impieties, for the sake of which the Heavenly Word has come forth from His own place.
  And I have already said that the Word of God came down from heaven and descended on the high places of the earth for other reasons, both that the mountains which of old lifted themselves up and exalted themselves against the knowledge of God might be shaken beneath Him (that is to say the opposing powers, which before His coming enslaved the Hebrew race as well as the rest of mankind in the practice of impiety and idolatry), and also that the evil dæmons called valleys (through their living in gloomy chasms, and in the recesses of the body) might melt as wax before the fire and flee away from men by the power of the divine Word
...And after this the same prophet, having prepared the way by telling of what related to the fact of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, and foretold what should be the causes of His coming, proceeds to relate His birth among men, and to name the place where He should be born, in the following words:

“And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, art the least to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth for me a leader,2 to be for a ruler in Israel, and his goings-forth are from the beginning from the days of eternity.”*
  Note with care how he says that the goings-forth of Him that shall appear at Bethlehem are from above and from eternity, by which he shews the pre-existence and essential origin of Him that is to come forth from Bethlehem.  Now if any person can apply the oracle to any one but Jesus, let him shew who it is; but if it is impossible to find any one but our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Person after the date of this prophecy Who came forth thence and attained to fame, what should hinder us from acknowledging the truth of the prophecy, which directs its prediction on Him only?  For He alone of all men is known to have come forth from the before-named Bethlehem after the date of the prophecy, putting on a human shape, and what had been foretold was fulfilled at His coming. For at once and not after a long time the woes that were foretold fell on the Jewish nation, and blessings in accordance with the prophecies on the nations as well, and He Himself, our Lord and Saviour Who came from Bethlehem, was shewn to be the ruler of the spiritual Israel, such being the name of all people of vision and piety

...Then the word of the prophet, a little further on, suggests again the curtailing and abolition of the ancient ritual of the Law, speaking in the person of the people:
“Wherewithal shall I reach the Lord, and lay hold of my God most high? Shall I reach him by whole burnt-offerings, by calves a year old3 Should I give my firstborn for my ungodliness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”*
And he makes this answer to them in the person of God:
“Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk after thy God?”4
  You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ(Vol. 2, pp. 14–18)

* Micah 1:12.
* Micah 1:15.
* Micah 3:12.
1 Cf. 406c: Σιὼν ὔρος … διὰ Ῥωμαίων ἀνδρῶν κατʼ οὐδὲν τῆς λοιπῆς διαφέρουσα χώρας γεωργεῖται, ὡς καὶ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς ὀφθαλμοῖς παραλαβεῖν βουσὶν ἀρούμενον καὶ κατασπειρόμενον τὸν τόπον.—Epiphanius (de Mens. et Pond. xiv.; Migne, P.G. xliii. col. 259) in the fourth century states that Hadrian found the Temple trodden under foot, with a few houses standing, the Cœnaculum, and seven synagogues “that stood alone in Sion like cottages.” There is no reason to suppose that Eusebius’ valuable witness that part of the Temple area was under cultivation in his day is incorrect or merely rhetorical.
2 LXX omits ἡγούμενος.
* Micah 5:2.
3 E. omits Εἰ προσδέξεται κυρίος ἐν χιλιάσι κριῶν; ἢ ἐν μυριάσι χιμάρων πιόνων:
* Micah 6:6.
4 LXX: μετὰ κυρίου Θεοῦ σου. E.: ὀπίσω.

A House About to Fall

Continuing in our series on the early Church and their views about prophetic “fulfillment,” Eusebius offers further comments from the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:9-12, he describes the way in which such prophecies were ultimately fulfilled in the first century. His comments about Isa. 6:9-11 are especially helpful considering that these passages are cited by Jesus and St. Paul as reaching complete fulfillment in their own generation (i.e. the first century; c.f. Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26-27; Romans 11:8).

Eusebius writes: 
  “Ye shall hear indeed, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see and not perceive.* For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and they hear with heavy ears, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should ever see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,1 and turn, and I should heal them.2 And I said, Until when, O Lord? And he said, Until the cities be desolated that none dwell in them, and houses that no men be in them, and the earth be left desolate. And afterwards God will increase men, and they that are left on the earth shall be increased. 

  And notice here how they that are left again on the earth, all the rest of the earth being desolate, alone are said to multiply. These must surely be our Saviour’s Hebrew disciples, going forth to all men, who being left behind like a seed have brought forth much fruit, namely, the Churches of the Gentiles throughout the whole world. And see, too, how at the same time he says that only those will multiply who are left behind from the falling away of the Jews, while the Jews themselves are utterly desolate: “Their land,” he says, “shall be left unto them desolate.” And this was also said to them before by the same prophet: “Your land is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire, your country strangers devour it before your eyes.”
  And when was this fulfilled, except from the times of our Saviour? ...But from that inspired word, by which our Lord and Saviour Himself predicted what was about to fall on them, saying: “Your house is left unto you desolate,”3 from that moment and not long after the prediction they were besieged by the Romans and brought to desolation.
  …The Scripture, as I suppose, means by this, that after the first siege, which they are recorded to have undergone in the time of the apostles, and of Vespasian, Emperor of the Romans, being a second time besieged again under Hadrian they were completely debarred from entering the place, so that they were not even allowed to tread the soil of Jerusalem.4

* Isa 6:9.
1 S.: καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν.
2 S.: ἰάσομαι. E.: ἰάσωμαι.
3  Matthew 23:38
4 Cf. H.E. iv. c. 6; Tertullian, Apol. c. 16. Origen, c. Celsum viii. ad fin.; Gregory Naz., orat, xii. After the founding of Ælia Capitolina, Milman says, “An edict was issued prohibiting any Jew from entering the new city on pain of death, or approaching its environs so as to contemplate even at a distance its sacred height.”—History of the Jews, Book. XVIII. ad fin.

 Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 83–84). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.

Terebinth in the Fall

Continuing in this series about first century fulfillment of prophecy, Eusebius of Caesarea comments on passages in Isaiah and their usage according to St. Paul in the book of Romans. Eusebius writes: 

…the Divine Promises did not extend to the whole Jewish Nation, but only to a few of them. [Passage quoted Isa. 1:7–9.] 
This great and wonderful prophet at the opening of his own book here tells us that the whole scheme of his prophecy includes a vision and a revelation against Judæa and Jerusalem, then he attacks the whole race of the Jews, first saying: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s manger, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not understand.”* 
And then he laments the whole race, and adds: “Woe, race of sinners, a people full of iniquity, an evil seed, unrighteous children.” 
Having brought these charges against them in the beginning of his book, and shewn beforehand the reasons for the later predictions that he is to bring against them, he goes on to say, “Your land is desolate,” though it was not desolate at the time when he prophesied: “Your cities are burnt with fire.” Nor had this yet taken place, and strangers had not devoured their land. And yet he says, “Your land, strangers devour it before your eyes,” and that which follows. But if you came down to the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of those He sent, and to the present time, you would find all the sayings fulfilled. For the daughter of Zion (by whom was meant the worship celebrated on Mount Zion) from the time of the coming of our Saviour has been left as a tent in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, or as anything that is more desolate than these. And strangers devour the land before their eyes, now exacting tax and tribute,1 and now appropriating for themselves the land which belonged of old to Jews. Yea, and the beauteous Temple of their mother-city was laid low, being cast down by alien peoples, and their cities were burnt with fire, and Jerusalem became truly a besieged city. But since, when all this happened, the choir of the Apostles, and those of the Hebrews who believed in Christ, were preserved from among them as a fruitful seed, and going through every race of men in the whole world, filled every city and place and country with the seed of Christianity and Israel, so that like corn springing from it, the churches which are founded in our Saviour’s name have come into being, the divine prophet naturally adds to his previous threats against them: “We should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” Which the holy Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans more clearly defines and interprets. [Passages quoted Rom. 9:17–29 and 11:1–5] 
And to shew that the prophecy can only refer to the time of our Saviour’s coming, the words that follow the text—“unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah,” naming the whole people of the Jews as the people of Gomorrah, and their rulers as the princes of Sodom—imply a rejection of the Mosaic worship, and introduce in the prediction about them the characteristics of the covenant announced to all men by our Saviour. …what could this be but the plot against our Saviour Jesus Christ, through which2 and after which all the things aforesaid overtook them?3 
…It will be clear to you, if you run through the whole course of this section, what that day is, in which it is said God will glorify and exalt the remnant of Israel and those who are called holy and to be written in (the book of) life. For in the beginning of his complete book the prophet (Isaiah) having seen the vision against Judah and Jerusalem, and numbered in many words the sins of the whole people of the Jews, and uttered threats and spoken about their ruin and the complete desolation of Jerusalem, brings his vision about them to an end with the words: 
“For they shall be as a terebinth that has cast her leaves, and as a garden without water.* And their strength shall be as a thread of tow, and their works as sparks of fire, and the transgressors and the sinners shall be burnt together, and there shall be none to quench them.”4

* Isa. 1:3.
1 δασμοὺς καὶ φόρους.
2 Paris text has διʼ ὄν—ὃν—αὐτοὺς.
3 Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 77–79). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.
* Isa. 1:30.

4 Ibid. (Vol. 1, p. 79)

What the Hebrew Oracles Foretell Distinctly

Continuing our series about the fulfillment of prophecy in the first century, Eusebius discusses in what ways the Scriptures teach that Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, was intended to be the salvation not only of the Jews, but of all nations as well. Taking into consideration that he is one of the greatest historians of the Christian Church, notice especially what his consistent focus is upon—how the Hebrew oracles foretell distinctly the fall and ruin of the Jewish race through their disbelief in Christ”, which culminated in 70 a.d. 

Eusebius first compiles a list of “Hebrew oracles” for his audience, before making that comment:
  Of the Plotting against Christ, and He1 that is called the Son of God, receiving His Portion and the Gentiles from the Father. [Passages quoted, Ps. 2:1, 2, and 7, 8.]

  Of Christ’s Kingdom, and the Call of the Gentiles, and the Blessing of all the Tribes of the Earth. [Passages quoted, Ps. 71:1, 2, 8, 11, 17, 19.]
  Of the new Song, and of the Arm of the Lord, and of the Shewing of His Salvation to all Nations; the Salvation of the Son is shewn by the Name in the Hebrew. [Passages quoted, Ps. 97]
  How after the Cessation of the Kingdom of the Jews, the Christ Himself coming will be the Expectation of the Gentiles. “There shall not fail a prince from Juda, nor a governor from his loins, until he come in whom it is laid up,2 and he is the expectation of the Gentiles.”* [From Genesis]
  A Shewing forth of the Appearing of Christ, and of the Destruction of Idolatry, and of the Piety of the Nations towards God. [Passage quoted, Zeph. 2:11.]
  A Shewing forth of the Day of Christ’s Resurrection, and the Gathering of Nations, and of all Men knowing God, and Turning to Holiness, and how the Ethiopians will bring Sacrifices to him. [Passage quoted, Zeph. 3:8.]
  A Shewing forth of the Appearing of Christ, and of the Fleeing of many Nations to Him, and how the Peoples of the Nations shall be established in the Lord. [Passage quoted, Zech. 2:10.]
  A Shewing forth of the Birth of Christ coming from the Root of David, and the Call by Him of all the Nations. [Passages quoted, Isa. 11:1, 10.]
  A Shewing forth of the Appearing of Christ, and of the Benefits brought by him to all the Nations. [Passages quoted, Isa. 42:1–4 and 6–9.]
  A Shewing forth of Christ and his Birth, and the Call of the Gentiles. [Passage quoted, Isa. 49:1.]
  The Shewing forth of the Coming of Christ and of the Call of the Gentiles. [Passage quoted, Isa. 49:7.]
  A Shewing forth of Christ, and the Call of the Gentiles. [Passage quoted, Isa. 55:3–5.] 

Then Eusebius adds:

  And now that we have learned from these passages that the presence of Christ was intended to be the salvation not only of the Jews, but of all nations as well, let me prove my third point, that prophecies not only foretold that good things for the nations would be associated with the date of His appearance, but also the reverse for the Jews. Yes, the Hebrew oracles foretell distinctly the fall and ruin of the Jewish race through their disbelief in Christ, so that we should no longer appear equal to them, but better than they. And I will now present the bare quotations from the prophets without any comment on them, because they are quite clear, and because I intend at my leisure to examine them thoroughly. 

  Shewing forth the Refusal of the Jewish Race, and the Substitution of the Gentiles in their Place. [Passage quoted, Jer. 6:16.]
  Shewing forth of the Piety of the Nations, and Accusation of the Impiety of the Jewish Race. Prediction of the Evils to overtake them after the Coming of Christ. [Passage quoted, Jer. 16:19–17:5.]3
  Concerning the Dispersion of the Jewish Race among all the Nations, and the Renewing of Christ’s Coming and Kingdom, and the Call of all the Nations consequent upon it. [Passage quoted, Amos 9:9.]
  Accusation of the Rulers of the Jewish People, and a Shewing forth of the Desolation of their Mother-city, and the Appearance of Christ and of the House of God His Church, the Entrance of His Word and His Law, and its Shewing to all Nations.4 [Passages quoted, Mic. 3:9–4:2.]
  Shewing forth of Christ’s Appearing, and the Destruction of the warlike Preparation of the Jews, and the Peace of the Nations, and the Kingdom of the Lord unto the Ends of the World. [Passage quoted, Zech. 9:9–10.]
  Rebuke of the Jewish Race, and Refusal of the Mosaic outward Worship, and of the spiritual Worship delivered by Christ to all Nations. [Passage quoted, Mal. 1:10–12.]
  The Apostasy of the Jewish Race and the Revelation of the Word of God, and of the new Law, and of His House, and the Shewing forth of the Piety of all the Nations. [Passages quoted, Isa. 1:8, 21, 30; 2:2–4.]
  The Destruction of the Glory of the People of the Jews, and the Turning of the Nations from Idolatry to the God of the Universe, and the Prophecy of the Desolation of the Jewish Cities, and of their Unfaithfulness to their God. [Passage quoted, Isa. 17:5–11.]
  Shewing forth of the destruction of the Jewish cities, and of the joy of the Gentiles in God. [Passage quoted, Isa. 25:1–8.]
  The Message of good News to the Church of the Nations desolate of old, and the Rejection of the Jewish Nation, and Accusation of their Sins, and the Call of all the Gentiles. [Passages quoted, Isa. 43:18–25; 45:22–25.]
  Shewing forth of the Coming of Christ to Men. And Reproof of the Jewish Race, and Promise of good Things to all Nations. [Passages quoted, Isa. 50:1, 2, 10; 51:4, 5.]
  Reproof of the Sins of the Jewish People, and their Fall from Piety, and the Shewing forth of the Call of all the Gentiles. [Passages quoted, Isa. 59:1–11, 19.] 

  But although there are a number of prophecies on this subject, I will be content with the evidence I have produced, and I will return to them again and explain5 them at the proper time, as I consider that by the use of these numerous texts and of their evidence I have given adequate proof that the Jews hold no privilege beyond other nations. For if they say that they alone partake of the blessing of Abraham, the friend of God, by reason of their descent from him, it can be answered that God promised to the Gentiles that He would give them an equal share of the blessing not only of Abraham but of Isaac and Jacob also, since He expressly predicted that all nations would be blessed like them, and summoned the rest of the nations under one and the same (rule of) joy as the blessed and the godly, in saying: “Rejoice ye Gentiles with his people,” and: “The princes of the peoples were gathered together with the God of Abraham.”*6

1 Nominative.
2 See note, p. 21.
* Gen. 49:10.
3 Jer. 17:5 is wanting from LX, but given in some codices with asterisks. See also 484 c.
4 τῶν ἐθνῶν ἁπάντων.
5 ἐξομαλίσομεν.
* Deut. 32:43; Ps. 47:9.

6 Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 68–73). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Prophecies Exactly Fulfilled"

This is the second post in a series which covers the early Christian views pertaining to the interpretation of biblical prophecy as being “fulfilled” within the first century. Of particular interest to this discussion are key words and phrases used to describe the Lord's "appearance" or "coming" and the especially the events of the Jewish wars, the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of its temple in 70 a.d. 

Continuing where we left off in the previous post, the church historian and Bishop, Eusebius of Caesarea, comments further about these events, only this time it’s regarding the first century Israelites who rejected Jesus in favor of what the corrupt religious authorities had been advocating. Referring to the consequences stated in Torah, Eusebius says that they had: 
   …fallen under Moses’ curse, attempting to keep it in part, but breaking it in the whole, as Moses makes absolutely clear: “Accursed is he, who does not continue in all the things written in this law, to do them.”*

   And they have come to this impasse, although Moses himself foresaw by the Holy Spirit, that, when the new covenant was revived by Christ and preached to all nations, his own legislation would become superfluous, he rightly confined its influence to one place, so that if they were ever deprived of it, and shut out of their national freedom, it might not be possible for them to carry out the ordinances of his law in a foreign country, and as of necessity they would have to receive the new covenant announced by Christ. 
   Moses had foretold this very thing, and in due course Christ sojourned in this life, and the teaching of the new covenant was borne to all nations, and at once1 the Romans besieged Jerusalem, and destroyed it and the Temple there.  At once the whole of the Mosaic law was abolished, with all that remained of the old covenant, and the curse passed over to those who became lawbreakers, because they obeyed Moses’ law, when its time had gone by, and still clung ardently to it, for at that very moment the perfect teaching of the new Law was introduced in its place. And, therefore, our Lord and Saviour rightly says to those who suppose that God ought only to be worshipped in Jerusalem, or in certain mountains, or some definite places: 
 “The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. For God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”* 
   So He said, and presently, not long after, Jerusalem was besieged, the holy place and the altar by it and the worship conducted according to Moses’ ordinances were destroyed, and the archetypal holiness of the pre-Mosaic men of God reappeared. And the blessing assured-thereby to all nations came, to lead those who came to it from the first step and from the first elements of the Mosaic worship to a better and more perfect life.2 Yes, the religion of those blessed and godly men, who did not worship in any one place exclusively, neither by symbols nor types, but as our Lord and Saviour requires “in spirit and in truth,” by our Saviour’s appearance became the possession of all the nations, as the prophets of old foresaw. For Zephaniah says the very same thing: 
 The Lord shall appear against them, and shall utterly destroy all the gods of the nations of the earth. And they shall worship him each one from his own place.”* 
   Malachi as well contends against those of the circumcision, and speaks on behalf of the Gentiles, when he says: 
“I have no pleasure (in you),3 saith the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun even to the setting4 my name has been glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering.”5* 
   By “the incense and offering to be offered to God in every place,” what else can he mean, but that no longer in Jerusalem nor exclusively in that (sacred) place, but in every land and among all nations they will offer to the Supreme God the incense of prayer and the sacrifice called “pure,” because it is not a sacrifice of blood but of good works? And Isaiah literally shouts and cries his prophecy to the same effect: 
“There shall be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt.6 … And the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians …. And he shall send to them a man who shall save them, …, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall offer sacrifice, and vow vows to the Lord and pay (them).7 And they shall be turned to the Lord, and he shall hear them and heal them.”* 
   Do we not say truly then that the prophets were inspired to foretell a change of the Mosaic Law, nay its end and conclusion? Moses lays down that the altar and the sacrifices should be nowhere else on earth but in Judæa, and there only in one city. But this prophecy says that an altar to the Lord shall be set up in Egypt, and that Egyptians shall celebrate8 their sacrifices to the Lord of the prophets and no longer to their ancestral gods. It foretells that Moses shall not be the medium of their knowledge of God, nor any other of the prophets, but a man fresh and new sent from God. Now if the altar is changed contrary to the commandment of Moses, it is beyond doubt necessary that the Law of Moses should be changed also. Then, too, the Egyptians, if they “sacrifice to the Supreme God,” must be admittedly worthy of the priesthood. And if the Egyptians are priests Moses’ enactments about the Levites and the Aaronic succession would be useless to the Egyptians. The time, therefore, will have come when a new legislation will be needed for their support. What follows? Have I spoken at random? Or have I proved my contention?  
   Behold how to day, yes in our own times, our eyes see not only Egyptians, but every race of men who used to be idolaters, whom the prophet meant when he said “Egyptians,” released from the errors of polytheism and the dæmons, and calling on the God of the prophets!  They pray no longer to lords many, but to one Lord according to the sacred oracle; they have raised to Him an altar of unbloody and reasonable sacrifices according to the new mysteries of the fresh and new covenant throughout the whole of the inhabited world, and in Egypt itself and among the other nations, Egyptian9 in their superstitious errors. Yes, in our own time the knowledge of the Omnipotent God shines forth, and sets a seal of certainty on the forecasts of the prophets.  You see this actually going on, you no longer only expect to hear of it, and if you ask the moment when the change began, for all your inquiry you will receive no other answer but the moment of the appearance of the Saviour. For He it was, of Whom the prophet spoke, when he said that the Supreme God and Lord would send a man to the Egyptians, to save them, as also the Mosaic oracles taught in these words: “A man shall come forth from his seed, and shall rule over many nations”;* among which nations the Egyptians would certainly be numbered. But a great deal could be said on these points, and with sufficient leisure one could deal with them more exhaustively. Suffice it to say now, that we must hold to the truth, that the prophecies have only been fulfilled after the coming of Jesus our Saviour.10

When beginning the next chapter, and after citing many scripture passages to prove his points thus far, Eusebius lays out more of his thoughts pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70a.d.  He writes: 
   When we shall have reached that point of the argument, I think I shall have proved that it is untrue to say that the hope of the Messiah was more proper for them than for us.   Then having demonstrated that for Jews and Greeks the hope of the promise was on an equality, so that those of the Gentiles would be saved through Christ would be in exactly the same position as the Jews, I shall proceed to show with super-abundance of evidence,11 that the divine oracles foretold that the Advent of Christ and the call of the Gentiles would be accompanied by the total collapse and ruin of the whole Jewish race, and prophesied good fortune only for a scanty few easy to number, while their city with its temple would be captured, and all its holy things taken away—prophecies which have all been exactly fulfilled.12

* Deut. 27:26.
1 παραχρῆμα “immediately,” and αὐτίκα below. Eusebius passes lightly over the space till a.d. 70.
* John 4:23.
2 τῆς πρώτης στοιχειώσεως. Cf. P.E. 4 b and 761 b. στοιχείωσις is used for “the alphabet” in Epiphanius.
* Zeph. 2:11.
3 E. omits ἐν ὑμῖν (S.).
4 E. omits ἡλίου (S.).
5 The “incense” of the prophecy is referred to prayer and the “sacrifice” to good works; Eusebius does not regard it directly as a prophecy of the Eucharist. But see I. 6 c. “θυσιαστήριον ἀναίμων και λογικῶν θυσιῶν κατὰ τὰ καινὰ μυστήρια.” “An altar of unbloody and reasonable sacrifices according to the new mysteries,” I. 10 b τὴν τούτου μνήμην τοῦ τε σώματος αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τὴν ὑπόμνησιν ὁσημέραι ἐπιτελοῦντες (in contrast with Jewish sacrifices): we are “admitted to a greater sacrifice of the Ancient Law” (ibid.).
* Mal. 1:11.
6 E. omits καὶ στήλη πρὸς τὸ ὅριον αὐτῆς τῷ κυρίῳ. καὶ ἔσται εἰς σημεῖον εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κυρίῳ ἐν χώρᾳ Ἀιγύπτου ὅτ: κεκράξονται πρὸς κύριον διὰ τοὺς θλίβοντας αὐτοὺς, and inverts the two following clauses, omitting κρίνων σώσει αὐτοὺς.
7 E. omits καὶ πατάξει κύριος τοὺς Ἀιγυπτίους πληγῇ, καὶ ἰάσεται αὐτούς.
* Isa. 19:19–22.
8 καλλιερήσειν τὰς θυσίας: cf. P.E. 157 c., a quotation from Clement, Protrepticus, c. iii. p. 12, Sylb. where καλλιερεῖν means “to yield good omens.”
9 αἰγυπτιάζουσι “acting as Egyptians,” analogous to Ἕλληνίζω, and Ἰουδαίζω.
* Num. 24:7.
10  Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 34–39). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.
11 ἐκ περιουσίας: generally a rhetorical figure—“from superabundant evidence.” Gifford [P.E. 64 a, 2] quotes Plato, Theat.: “sparring for mere amusement.”
12  Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, p. 64). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.

The Proof of the Gospel: An Introduction

Over the next few months, I plan on posting regularly to a new series which highlights certain views of the early Christian Church, especially those views which relate to the "fulfillment" of Scripture in the events surrounding the first century Jewish wars that culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel's temple in 70 a.d., as prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. My hope, in the very least, is that Christians today notice how prevalent certain views were regarding the "fulfillment" of Jesus' words, the prophets before him, and the apostles after him. 

In this post, and in many more to come, the excerpts are from Eusebius of Caesarea, a Roman historian and Bishop of Caesarea Maritima during the Council of Nicaea.  

In case any Christian doubts the credibility of this Bishop and historian, let us recall the description of him given by Pope Benedict XVI:1
   Eusebius is above all...the first historian of Christianity, but he was also the greatest philologist of the ancient church... Eusebius embraced different spheres: The Succession of the Apostles as the backbone of the Church, the dissemination of the Message... and the errors and then persecutions on the part of the pagans. ...The fundamental perspective of Eusebian a 'Christocentric' history, in which the mystery of God's love for humankind is gradually revealed.

Benedict continues elsewhere in his address: 
   Another feature thus springs to the fore which was to remain a constant in ancient ecclesiastical historiography: it is the "moral intention" that presides in the account. Historical analysis is never an end in itself; it is not made solely with a view to knowing the past; rather, it focuses decisively on conversion and on an authentic witness of Christian life on the part of the faithful. It is a guide for us, too. Thus, Eusebius strongly challenges believers of all times on their approach to the events of history and of the Church in particular. He also challenges us: what is our attitude with regard to the Church's experiences? Is it the attitude of those who are interested in it merely out of curiosity, or even in search of something sensational or shocking at all costs? Or is it an attitude full of love and open to the mystery of those who know - through faith - that they can trace in the history of the Church those signs of God's love and the great works of salvation wrought by him?

With these important considerations in mind, we now move to some of the opening words in Eusebius' classic work, The Proof of the Gospel, which introduce us to both the importance and the prevalence of such views in the early Christian Church:

   In addition to all this you can hear the wailings and lamentations of each of the prophets, wailing and lamenting characteristically over the calamities which will overtake the Jewish people because of their impiety to Him Who had been foretold. How their kingdom, that had continued from the days of a remote ancestry to their own, would be utterly destroyed after their sin against Christ; how their fathers’ Laws would be abrogated, they themselves deprived of their ancient worship, robbed of the independence of their forefathers, and made slaves of their enemies, instead of free men; how their royal metropolis would be burned with fire, their venerable and holy altar undergo the flames and extreme desolation, their city be inhabited no longer by its old possessors but by races of other stock,1 while they would be dispersed among the Gentiles through the whole world, with never a hope of any cessation of evil, or breathing-space from troubles. And it is plain even to the blind, that what they saw and foretold is fulfilled in actual facts from the very day the Jews laid godless hands on Christ, and drew down on themselves the beginning of the train of sorrows.
   But the prophecies of these inspired men did not begin and end in gloom, nor did their prescience extend no further than the reign of sorrow. They could change their note to joy, and proclaim a universal message of good tidings to all men in the coming of Christ: they could preach the good news that though one race were lost every nation and race of men would know God, escape from the dæmons,2 cease from ignorance and deceit and enjoy the light of holiness: they could picture the disciples of Christ filling the whole world with their teaching, and the preaching of their gospel introducing among all men a fresh and unknown ideal of holiness: they could see churches of Christ established by their means among all nations, and Christian people throughout the whole world bearing one common name: they could give assurance that the attacks of rulers and kings from time to time against the Church of Christ will avail nothing to cast it down, strengthened as it is by God. If so many things were proclaimed by the Hebrew divines, and if their fulfilment is so clear to us all to-day, who would not marvel at their inspiration? Who will not agree that their religious and philosophic teaching and beliefs must be sure and true, since their proof is to be found not in artificial arguments, not in clever words, or deceptive syllogistic reasoning, but in simple and straightforward teaching, whose genuine and sincere character is attested by the virtue and knowledge of God evident in these inspired men? Men who were enabled not by human but by divine inspiration to see from a myriad ages back what was to happen long years after, may surely claim our confidence for the belief which they taught their pupils.3

Also, in the opening statement of his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius tells us his purpose in writing such an important work:
As it is my purpose to record the successions of the holy apostles, together with the times since our Saviour, down to the present, to recount how many and important transactions are said to have occurred in Ecclesiastical History, what individuals in the most noted places eminently governed and presided over the church, what men also in their respective generations, whether with or without their writings, proclaimed the divine Word; to describe the character, times and number of those who, stimulated by the desire of innovation, and advancing to the greatest errors, announced themselves leaders in the propagation of false opinions, like grievous wolves, unmercifully assaulting the flock of Christ; as it is my intention, also, to describe the calamities that swiftly overwhelmed the whole Jewish nation, in consequence of their plots against our Saviour; how often, by what means, and in what times, the word of God has encountered the hostility of the nations; what eminent persons persevered in contending for it through those periods of blood and torture, beside the martyrdoms which have been endured in our own times: and, after all, to show the gracious and benign interposition of our Saviour; these being proposed as the subjects of the present work, I shall go back to the very origin and the earliest introduction of the dispensation of our Lord and Saviour the Christ of God.4

1 Benedict XVI General Audience Address June 13, 2007 
1 ἀλλοφύλων: so Fabricius.
2 δαιμόνων ἀποφυγήν. See Harnack: Expansion of Christianity. Excursus on “The Conflict with Demons.” E.T. i. 152–180. For dæmons as fallen angels, heathen gods, and oracles, cf. P.E. 329. See Jewish legends, Book of Jubilees, 103, 6, 8; 15; 2217; 1 Enoch 6; 158, 9, 11; 161; 692, 3; 86, 10613, 14. etc.

3 Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 3–5). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.
Valesius. (1847). Life of Eusebius Pamphilus. In Parker S.E. (Trans.), An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine (p. 33). London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.