Church history (literature)

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As church history (Latin Historia ecclesiastica ), a literary genre called, particularly in the late antiquity experienced (. 4th-6th century) a bloom, but also in the Middle Ages was (now primarily in the form of Christian historiography) widespread; see, for example, the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum .

Important authors of ancient "church histories" were Eusebius of Caesarea ( 4th century ), the "father of church history", Sozomenos , Socrates Scholastikos and Theodoret (all three 5th century ) and Euagrios Scholastikos ( 6th century ), all in Greek Language wrote, whereby Sozomenos, Socrates and Theodoret with their representations connected to Eusebius' church history and strongly depend on each other. Other church histories come from Gelasios of Kyzikos or the Arian Philostorgios , among others . But church histories were also written in Syrian, such as those of John of Ephesus or Daniel bar Maryam ; The original Greek church history of Zacharias of Mytilene has only been preserved in a Syrian revision .

In addition to the history of the church and internal Christian disputes, profane history was often at least partially and increasingly taken into account, so that church histories often also represent an important source of political history. This is all the more important as many works by classicist profane historians from late antiquity (e.g. Olympiodoros von Thebes , Priskos or Menander Protektor ) are largely lost today and research is therefore often dependent on the works of church historians. The work of Orosius , who in the 5th century wrote a Latin world history from a decidedly Christian perspective, is not considered church history in the narrower sense .

Rufinus of Aquileia translated the "Church History" of Eusebius into Latin and continued it until the year 395; The works of the three above-mentioned continuers of Eusebius were finally translated into Latin by Epiphanios Scholastikos in the 6th century and summarized in 12 books ( Historia tripartita ).

Concerning. Christian historiography in the Middle Ages cf. History of historiography .


  • Jörg Ernesti (Ed.): Church history in portrait - Catholic church historians of the 20th century . Freiburg i. Br./Basel/Wien 2016, ISBN 978-3-451-34288-2 .
  • Hartmut Leppin : From Constantine the Great to Theodosius II. The Christian Empire with the church historians Socrates, Sozomenus and Theodoret . Göttingen 1996, ISBN 3-525-25198-X .
  • Hartmut Leppin: The Church Historians. Socrates, Sozomenus, and Theodoretus . In: G. Marasco (Ed.): Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity. Fourth to sixth century AD . Leiden 2003, pp. 219-254, ISBN 90-04-11275-8 .
  • Georg Schwaiger: Church historiography . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages . Vol. 5, Col. 1173-1176.
  • Eckehart Stöve: Church historiography . In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . Vol. 18, pp. 535-560.