Eusebius of Caesarea's theology of the Holy Spirit

John K Mackett, Marquette University


This dissertation addresses the problem: What was Eusebius of Caesarea's doctrine of the Holy Spirit? A few twentieth-century writers have discussed Eusebius' doctrine of the Spirit in passing, but none has examined it closely. In order to understand Eusebius' theological system, with the objective of answering the question concerning Eusebius' doctrine of the Holy Spirit, a thorough study was made of his theological writings. This study noted the many places where Eusebius mentions the Holy Spirit in passing. A thorough exegetical study was made on the three passages in Eusebius' theological writings where he discusses the topic of the Holy Spirit at length. Because one of the passages, De ecclesiastica theologia 3, 4-6, is not available in translation, one was made and was accompanied by an exegetical commentary on the text. In addition to studying Eusebius' writings, a survey was made of the theological statements on the Holy Spirit prior to, and contemporary with, Eusebius in order to have a theological context for understanding his doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This study concluded that, although the topic of the Holy Spirit was not of major interest to Eusebius, he nevertheless had an understanding of the Holy Spirit that was consistent with his over-all theological system. For Eusebius, the Holy Spirit was a third distinct subsistent in the divine Triad, subordinate to the Father and Son, but, nevertheless, distinct from the creation that came after him. This understanding of the Holy Spirit was shaped by his apologetical interests in maintaining the principle of monotheism and by his polemical task in refuting the Sabellian-like theological system of Marcellus of Ancyra. Eusebius' use of the Johannine Paraclete passages in order to demonstrate the distinction between Son and Holy Spirit was an important contribution to the Church's theology of the Holy Spirit.

Recommended Citation

Mackett, John K, "Eusebius of Caesarea's theology of the Holy Spirit" (1990). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9117354.