Chapter XV.—The Epistle of Constantine concerning the preparation of copies of the Holy Scriptures.
“Constantinus Augustus, the great and the victorious, to Eusebius.
“In the city 388 which bears our name, a great number of persons have, through the providential care of God the Saviour, united themselves to the holy Church. As all things there are in a state of rapid improvement, we deemed it most important that an additional number of churches should be built. Adopt joyfully the mode of procedure determined upon by us, which we have thought expedient to make known to your prudence, namely, that you should get written, on fine parchment, fifty volumes 389 , easily legible and handy for use; these you must have transcribed by skilled calligraphers, accurately acquainted with their art. I mean, of course, copies of the Holy Scriptures, which, as you know, it is most necessary that the congregation of the Church should both have and use. A letter has been sent from our clemency to the catholicus 390 of the diocese, in order that he may be careful that everything necessary for the undertaking is supplied. The duty devolving upon you is to take measures to ensure the completion of these manuscripts within a short space of time. When they are finished, you are authorised by this letter to order two public carriages for the purpose of transmitting them to us; and thus the fair manuscripts will be easily submitted to our inspection. Appoint one of the deacons of your church to take charge of this part of the business; when he comes to us, he shall receive proofs of our benevolence. May God preserve you, beloved brother.”
What has been already said is enough to shew, nay to clearly prove, how great zeal the emperor manifested on the matters of religion. I will, however, add his noble acts with regard to the Sepulchre of our Saviour. For having learnt that the idolaters, in their frantic rage, had heaped earth over the Lords tomb, eager thus to destroy all remembrance of His Salvation, and had built over it a temple to the goddess of unbridled lust, in mockery of the Virgins birth, the emperor ordered the foul shrine to be demolished, and the soil polluted with abominable sacrifices to be carried away p. 54 and thrown out far from the city, and a new temple of great size and beauty to be erected on the site. All this is clearly set forth in the letter which he wrote to the president 391 of the church of Jerusalem, Macarius, whom we have already mentioned as a member of the great Nicene Council, and united with his brethren in withstanding the blasphemies of Arius. The following is the letter.
Constantinople was dedicated a.d. 330 on the site of the ancient Byzantium.53:389
σωμάτια. The Codex Sinaiticus has been thought to be one of these.53:390
i.e. the “Comes fisci,” or officer managing the revenues of the Province. Diœcesis is used in civil sense by Cicero, Ep. Fam. 3, 8, 4, and Ammianus (17, 7, 6), mentions the compliment paid by Constantius II. to his empress Eusebia, by naming a “Diocese” of the Empire after her.54:391
πρόεδρος. Cf. Thuc. iii. 25. The πρυτάνεις in office in the Athenian ἐκκλησία were so called. In our author a common synonym for Bishop. προεδρια = sedes = see.