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shortly after the persecution there in A.D. 177 under Marcus Aurelius, devoted many pages to refuting erroneous interpretations of the often mysterious words of Scripture; it was a matter of understanding it right. The Father, he concluded, "is indeed invisible," but has been revealed in various forms through the Word: "not in one finger or character, did He appear to those seeing Him, but according to the reasons and effects aimed at in His dispensations, as it is written in Daniel." But "it was not by means of visions alone which were seen, and words which were proclaimed, but also in actual works that He was beheld by the prophets, in order that through them He might prefigure and show forth future events beforehand."[ ]

How deep-seated the figurality of Christian discourse came to be can also be seen from what may seem a paradoxical example: the early-fourth-century Life of Constantine by Eusebius, a work overcriticized on historical grounds and understudied as a literary text.[21] The example is paradoxical not merely in that this may seem an unusual kind of Christian literature from which to draw general conclusions, but also because Eusebius himself has commonly been cited as an opponent of Christian images in visual art and was presented as such by the Iconoclast side in the eighth century during the Iconoclastic controversy.[22] Yet his literary presentation of Constantine is figural to a high degree. He

[20] Against Heresies, 4.20.11-12.

[21] The vast bibliography (for which see esp. F. Winkelmann, "Zur Geschichte des

Authentizitätsproblems der Vita Constantini, " Klio 40 [1962]: 187-243) focuses largely on historical issues and the question of authorship; see Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 265 ff., regarding Eusebian authorship as settled. The Vita Constantini is not usually included in discussions of Christian lives, despite its obvious relation to the biography of Origen in HE 6, for which compare P. Cox, Biography in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983). Harpham, Ascetic Imperative, chap. 1, offers an interesting discussion in these terms of the slightly later Life of Antony (see below, chapter 5).

[22] See S. Gero, "The True Image of Christ: Eusebius's Letter to Constantia Reconsidered," JThS, n.s. 32 (1981): 460-70.

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