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Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica$
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Aaron P. Johnson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296132

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296132.001.0001

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Greek Descent Revisited

Greek Descent Revisited

(p.126) 5 Greek Descent Revisited
Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica

Aaron P. Johnson

Oxford University Press

The Greek philosophical tradition plays an integral role in Books 10-15, and may at first seem to be the least likely subject for matters of ethnicity. This chapter argues, however, that Eusebius’ treatment of the Greek philosophers is firmly embedded within his ethnic argumentation of drawing polemical connections between the nations and exhibiting national character. Plato is represented as a ‘translator’ of Hebrew wisdom, with which he had become familiar during his travels to the East. Earlier Greek philosophers had, in any case, stolen or plagiarized barbarian learning, most notably the Hebrew alphabet. Parallels between Plato’s writings and scriptural passages are meant to prove the former’s indebtedness to the Hebrews, while dissimilarities show that even the greatest of Greek thinkers was unable to attain the high level of piety and wisdom of his Hebrew predecessors. Successive generations of Greek philosophers quickly confused any truth that Plato had borrowed; this argument from Greek disagreement functioned as a powerful tool of discrediting Greek philosophy (in contrast to the declared unity of the Hebrews up to, and including, the Christians).

Keywords:   Plato, Greek philosophy, Hebrews, ancient plagiarism, Greek theft, Hebrew alphabet

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