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E00101: Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, reports that in his day the throne of *James ('brother of the Lord', S00058) was preserved and revered in Jerusalem. Written in Greek in Palestine, 311/325.

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posted on 2014-10-29, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 7.19.1

Τὸν γὰρ Ἰακώβου θρόνον, τοῦ πρώτου τῆς Ἱεροσολύμων ἐκκλησίας τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν πρὸς τοῦ σωτῆρος καὶ τῶν ἀποστόλων ὑποδεξαμένου, ὃν καὶ ἀδελφὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ χρηματίσαι οἱ θεῖοι λόγοι περιέχουσιν, εἰς δεῦρο πεφυλαγμένον οἱ τῇδε κατὰ διαδοχὴν περιέποντες ἀδελφοὶ σαφῶς τοῖς πᾶσιν ἐπιδείκνυνται οἷον περὶ τοὺς ἁγίους ἄνδρας τοῦ θεοφιλοῦς ἕνεκεν οἵ τε πάλαι καὶ οἱ εἰς ἡμᾶς ἔσῳζόν τε καὶ ἀποσῴζουσι σέβας. καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ταύτῃ.

'The throne of James – who first received the episcopate of the church at Jerusalem from the Saviour and the apostles, and whom the divine texts indicate to have been a brother of Christ – is preserved into our times, and the brethren who have followed him in succession there exhibit it with certainty to all. Such is the reverence that both those of old times and those of our own days maintained and still maintain for holy men on account of their being dear to God. Such is this matter.'

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

James the Brother of the Lord, also known as James the Just, ob. 1st c. : S00058

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Caesarea Maritima

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes


Eusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea. Written between 311 and 325, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is the first literary work to employ the methodology and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them. The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive in their full form. Eusebius’ source material consists mostly of Greek texts, originating from Christian communities in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the western provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) is very limited. The text survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations.


The throne of James in Jerusalem is perhaps the earliest attested example of revering a holy bishop’s throne, a practice amply attested later. It was part of the construction of the memory of James as the first bishop of Jerusalem (see E00173). Eusebius refers to the practice approvingly, as a sign of the respectful attitude of the church of Jerusalem towards holy men. His definition of the attitude is noteworthy: both the older and the current generation treat holy men with reverence (σέβας, sebas) for their theophiles (τὸ θεοφιλές = being dear to god). Eusebius’ references to relics are rare, but always in positive tones. On the other hand there is no suggestion here that contact with, or proximity to, the throne was believed to be able to impart any particular blessings.


Edition: Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 6/1-3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999). Translations: Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; London and Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926). Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989). Further reading: Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity