On Papias: sayings, logia, and 'para ton presbyteron'

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On Papias: sayings, logia, and 'para ton presbyteron'

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:59 pm

... We learn something of the contents [of Papias' logion kyriakon exegesis] from the preface, part of which has been preserved by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.3–4):

I will not hesitate to add also for you to my interpretations what I formerly learned with care from the Presbyters and have carefully stored in memory, giving assurance of its truth. For I did not take pleasure as the many do in those who speak much, but in those who teach what is true, nor in those who relate foreign precepts, but in those who relate the precepts which were given by the Lord to the faith and came down from the Truth itself. And also if any follower of the Presbyters happened to come, I would inquire for the sayings of the Presbyters, what Andrew said, or what Peter said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which Aristion and the Presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I considered that I should not get so much advantage from matter in books as from the voice which yet lives and remains.

From this we learn that Papias's book consisted mainly of "interpretations" - it was a kind of commentary on the "Logia of the Lord". The word logia, meaning "oracles", is frequently at the present day taken to refer to sayings, as opposed to narratives of Our Lord's actions (so Zahn and many others).

But Lightfoot showed long ago ('Essays on Supernatural Religion', 171-7) that this view is untenable. Philo used the word for any part of the inspired writings of the Old Testament, whether speech or narrative. St. Paul, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, even Photius, have no other usage.

St. Irenaeus speaks of corrupting the oracles of the Lord just as Dionysius of Corinth speaks of corrupting the Scriptures of the Lord.

Logia kyriaka in Papias, in Irenaeus, in Photius, means "the divine oracles" of the Old or New Testament or both.

Besides these "interpretations", Papias added oral traditions of two kinds: some he had himself heard from the Presbyters, para ton presbyteron; others he had at second hand from disciples of the Presbyters who happened to visit him at Hierapolis. The Presbyters related what the "disciples of the Lord" -Peter, Andrew etc.,- used to say in old days.

Other informants of Papias's visitors were still living, "Aristion and John the Presbyter, the disciples of the Lord", as is shown by the present tense, legousin. We naturally assume that Papias counted them also among the direct informants whom he had mentioned before, for as they lived at Ephesus and Smyrna, not far off, he would surely know them personally.

However, many eminent critics -Zahn and Lightfoot, and among Catholics, Funk, Bardenhewer, Michiels, Gutjahr, Batiffol, Lepin- identify the Presbyters with Andrew, Peter etc., thus making them Apostles, for they understand "what Andrew and Peter and the rest said" as epexegetic of "the words of the Presbyters".

This is impossible, for Papias had just spoken of what he learned directly from the Presbyters, ora pote para ton presbyteron kalos emathon, yet it is admitted that he could not have known many apostles. Again, he seems to distinguish the sayings of the disciples of the Lord, Aristion and John, from those of the Presbyters, as though the latter were not disciples of the Lord.

Lastly, Irenaeus and Eusebius, who had the work of Papias before them, understand the Presbyters to be not Apostles, but disciples of disciples of the Lord, or even disciples of disciples of Apostles. The same meaning is given to the word by Clement of Alexandria [continues]

John Chapman - http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/i ... athen.html
Last edited by MrMacSon on Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: On Papias: sayings, logia, and para ton presbyteron

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:01 pm

Wikipedia has -
Papias describes his way of gathering information in his preface:

I shall not hesitate also to put into ordered form for you, along with the interpretations, everything I learned carefully in the past from the elders and noted down carefully, for the truth of which I vouch. For unlike most people I took no pleasure in those who told many different stories, but only in those who taught the truth. Nor did I take pleasure in those who reported their memory of someone else’s commandments, but only in those who reported their memory of the commandments given by the Lord to the faith and proceeding from the Truth itself. And if by chance anyone who had been in attendance on the elders arrived, I made enquiries about the words of the elders—what Andrew or Peter had said, or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and John the Elder, the Lord’s disciples, were saying. For I did not think that information from the books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201 ... xxxix.html

Papias, then, inquired of travelers passing through Hierapolis what the surviving disciples of Jesus and the elders —those who had [supposedly] personally known the Twelve Apostles— were saying. One of these disciples was Aristion, probably bishop of nearby Smyrna,[12] and another was John the Elder, usually identified (despite Eusebius' protest) with John the Evangelist,[13] residing in nearby Ephesus, of whom Papias was a hearer;[4] Papias frequently cited both.[14] From the daughters of Philip, who settled in Hierapolis, Papias learned still other traditions.[15]

There is some debate about the intention of Papias' last sentence in the above quotation, "For I did not think that information from the books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice."

One side of the debate holds, with the longstanding opinion of 20th-century scholarship, that in Papias' day written statements were held at a lower value than oral statements.[16] The other side observes that "living voice" was a topos, an established phrase referring to personal instruction and apprenticeship, and thus Papias indicates his preference for personal instruction over isolated book learning.[17]


11 Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 3.39.3–4. Translation from Bauckham, Richard (2012). "Papias and the Gospels" (PDF) [Retrieved today 2018-10-18].

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Re: On Papias: sayings, logia, and 'para ton presbyteron'

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:30 pm

Eusebius preserves two (possibly) verbatim excerpts from Papias on the origins of the Gospels, one concerning Mark and then another concerning Matthew.[21]

On Mark, [Eusebius says] Papias cites John the Elder:
The Elder used to say: Mark, in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory—though not in an ordered form—of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of chreiai,[Notes 1] but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement of the logia of the Lord. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down some individual items just as he related them from memory. For he made it his one concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything.

Note 1
A chreia was a brief, useful ("χρεία" means useful) anecdote about a particular character. That is, a chreia was shorter than a narration—often as short as a single sentence—but unlike a maxim, it was attributed to a character. Usually it conformed to one of a few patterns, the most common being "On seeing..." (ιδών or cum vidisset), "On being asked..." (ἐρωτηθείς or interrogatus), and "He said..." (ἔφη or dixit).

The excerpt regarding Matthew [attributed to Papias] says only:
Therefore Matthew put the logia in an ordered arrangement in the Hebrew language, but each person interpreted them as best he could.

Note 2
Eusebius, "History of the Church" 3.39.14-17, c. 325 CE, Greek text 16: "ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ἱστόρηται τῷ Παπίᾳ περὶ τοῦ Μάρκου· περὶ δὲ τοῦ Ματθαῖου ταῦτ’ εἴρηται· Ματθαῖος μὲν οὖν Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λόγια συνετάξατο, ἡρμήνευσεν δ’ αὐτὰ ὡς ἧν δυνατὸς ἕκαστος.

Various English translations published, standard reference translation by Philip Schaff at CCEL: "[C]oncerning Matthew he [Papias] writes as follows: 'So then(963) Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.'(964)" (Online version includes footnotes 963 and 964 by Schaff).

How to interpret these quotations from Papias has long been a matter of controversy, as the original context for each is missing and the Greek is in several respects ambiguous and seems to employ technical rhetorical terminology. For one thing, it is not even explicit that the writings by Mark and Matthew are the canonical Gospels bearing those names.

The word logia (λόγια)—which also appears in the title of Papias' work—is itself problematic. In non-Christian contexts, the usual meaning was oracles, but since the 19th century it has been interpreted as sayings, which sparked numerous theories about a lost "Sayings Gospel", now called Q, resembling the Gospel of Thomas.[22] But the parallelism implies a meaning of things said or done, which suits the canonical Gospels well.[23][24]

The apparent claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew—which in Greek could refer to either Hebrew or Aramaic[25]—is echoed by many other ancient authorities.[26] Modern scholars have proposed numerous explanations for this assertion, in light of the prevalent view that canonical Matthew was composed in Greek and not translated from Semitic.[24][27] One theory is that Matthew himself produced firstly a Semitic work and secondly a recension of that work in Greek. Another is that others translated Matthew into Greek rather freely. Another is that Papias simply means "Ἑβραίδι διαλέκτῳ" as a Hebrew style of Greek. Another is that Papias refers to a distinct work now lost, perhaps a sayings collection like Q or the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews. Yet another is that Papias was simply mistaken.

As for Mark, the difficulty has been in understanding the relationship described between Mark and Peter—whether Peter recalled from memory or Mark recalled Peter's preaching, and whether Mark translated this preaching into Greek or Latin or merely expounded on it, and if the former, publicly or just when composing the Gospel; modern scholars have explored a range of possibilities.[28] Eusebius, after quoting Papias, goes on to say that Papias also cited 1 Peter,[29][30] where Peter speaks of "my son Mark",[31] as corroboration. Within the 2nd century, this relation of Peter to Mark's Gospel is alluded to by Justin[32] and expanded on by Clement of Alexandria.[33]

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Re: On Papias: sayings, logia, and 'para ton presbyteron'

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:08 pm

Of the traditions recorded by Papias - what has given rise to most discussion and has been the foundation of most theories - is what he relates about the Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark, which he is the first to mention by name.

Concerning Mark he says, "This also the elder [John] said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter wrote accurately everything that he remembered of the things that were either said or done by Christ; but however not in order. For he neither heard the Lord nor had been a follower of His; but afterwards, as I said, was a follower of Peter, who framed his teaching according to the needs [of his hearers], but not with the design of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses [or oracles]. Thus Mark committed no error in thus writing down some things as he remembered them. For he took heed to one thing: not to omit any of the things he had heard, or to set down anything falsely therein."

Concerning Matthew, all that remains of what Papias says is, "So then Matthew composed the oracles in Hebrew, and every one interpreted them as he could."

For a long time no one doubted that Papias here spoke of our Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark; and mainly on the authority of these passages was founded the general belief of the Fathers, that St. Matthew's Gospel had been originally written in Hebrew, and St. Mark's founded on the teaching of Peter.

But some last-century critics contended that our present Gospels do not answer the descriptions given by Papias. There is a striking resemblance between the two as we have them at present; but Papias's description, it is said, would lead us to think of them as very different. St. Matthew's Gospel, according to Papias, was a Hebrew book, containing an account only of our Lord's discourses; for so Schleiermacher translates Τα λόγια, which we have rendered "oracles."

St. Mark, on the other hand, wrote in Greek and recorded the acts as well as the words of Christ. Again, St. Mark's Gospel, which in its present state has an arrangement as orderly as St. Matthew's, was, according to Papias, not written in order.

The conclusion which has been drawn is, that Papias's testimony relates not to our Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark, but to their unknown originals; and accordingly many constantly speak of "the original Matthew," the "Ur-Marcus," though there is no particle of evidence beyond what may be extracted from this passage of Papias that there ever was any Gospel by SS. Matthew or Mark different from those we have.

Renan even undertakes to give an account of the process by which the two very distinct works known to Papias, St. Matthew's collection of discourses, and St. Mark's collection of anecdotes, came into their present similar forms. In the early times, every possessor of anything that purported to be a record of our Lord desired to have the story complete; and would write into the margin of his book matter he met elsewhere, and so the book of St. Mark's anecdotes was enriched by a number of traits from St. Matthew's "discourses" and vice versa.

If this theory were true, we should expect to find in early times a multitude of gospels differing in their order and selection of facts.

Why we should have now exactly four versions of the story is hard to explain on this hypothesis. We should expect that, by such mutual assimilation, all would in the end have been reduced to a single gospel. The solitary fact to which Renan appeals in support of his theory in reality refutes it --the fact, i.e., that the pericope of the adulteress (John vii. 53-viii. 11) is absent from some MSS. and differently placed in others. Such an instance is so unusual that critics have generally inferred that this pericope cannot be a genuine part of St. John's Gospel; but if Renan's theory were true, the phenomena present in a small degree in this case ought to be seen in a multitude of cases.

There ought to be many parables and miracles of which we should be uncertain whether they were common to all the evangelists or special to one, and what place in that one they should occupy. Further, according to Renan's hypothesis, St. Mark's design was more comprehensive than St. Matthew's. St. Matthew only related our Lord's discourses; St. Mark, the "things said or done by Christ," i.e. both discourses and anecdotes. St. Mark's Gospel would thus differ from St. Matthew's by excess and St. Matthew's read like an abridgment of St. Mark's. Exactly the opposite is the case.

We count it a mere blunder to translate λόγια [logia] "discourses" as if it were the same as λόγυς ['words'?].

In [the] N.T. (Acts vii. 38; Rom. iii. 2; Heb. v. 12; 1. Pet. iv. 11) the word has its classical meaning, "oracles," and is applied to the inspired utterances of God in [the] O.T.

Nor is there reason to think that when St. Paul, e.g., says that to the Jews were committed the oracles of God, he confined this epithet to those parts of O.T. which contained divine sayings and refused it to those narrative parts from which he so often drew lessons (Rom. iv. 3; I.Cor. x. 1, xi. 8; Gal. iv. 21).

Philo quotes as a λόγιοv the narrative in Gen. iv. 15, "The Lord set a mark upon Cain," etc., and the words (Deut. x.), "The Lord God is his inheritance."

Similarly the Apostolic Fathers. In Clement (I. Cor. 53) τα λόγια τoυ θεoυ is used as equivalent to τας ιeρας γραφαc. (See also c. 19, Polyc. ad Phil. 7.)

As Papias's younger contemporary Justin Martyr tells us that the reading of the Gospels had in his time become part of Christian public worship, we may safely pronounce the silent substitution of one Gospel for another a thing inconceivable; and we conclude that, as we learn from Justin that the Gospels had been set on a level with the O.T. in the public reading of the church, so we know from Papias that the ordinary name τα λόγια for the O.T. books had, in Christian use, been extended to the Gospels which were called τα κuριακωv λόγιων εξηγησειc, the "oracles of our Lord."

There is no reason to imagine the work of Papias limited to an exposition of our Lord's discourses; we translate therefore its title Κυρίακ λόγιων εξηγησειc, "Expositions of the Gospels."

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/i ... -wace.html

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