Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:19 pm

Or maybe Aristion. He seems easy enough to forget.

I have mentioned before that Armenian Manuscript Etchmiadsin 229 (Matenadaran 2374) has a note between Mark 16.8 and 16.9: "Of Ariston the Elder," which puts one in mind of how Papias refers to Aristion in the same breath as he refers to John the Elder. It has been suggested, therefore, in some quarters that Aristion is the originator of the material in the long ending, and that Papias quoted him by name, and that an Armenian scribe compared what Papias had quoted from Aristion to the contents of the longer ending. Such a suggestion must probably forever remain a suggestion, but the possibility exists.
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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:02 am

I think that if Papias had truly meant 'acts and words of Jesus' and not rather 'oracles in the OT scriptures about Jesus' then probably he would have used the same construct of Justin:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

...where the author cares to point out the distinction between what is prophetized by prophets and what is remembered by apostles.

ADDITION: Even if Papias had meant 'sayings of Jesus' (and not oracles about Jesus), Papias doesn't talk about stories about Jesus (stories = acts (or contexts) + sayings) but only about 'sayings', like the Gospel of Thomas, in the form:

Jesus said: ….
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:16 am

What does "not in order" mean with respect to the Hebrew oracles?
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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:25 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:16 am
What does "not in order" mean with respect to the Hebrew oracles?
It may mean two things (not necessarily mutually exclusive):

1) that the Jewish prophecies were confused and they had to be interpreted (by midrash?) and contextualized.

2) that the 'sayings of Jesus' were in the abstract form: Jesus said... . So requiring by need, anyone of them, a particular context (an 'act' by Jesus). Was it not the same question we raise about, for example, the Gospel of Thomas? The saying x is without link with the saying y, so they are 'not in order' in this sense: there is no an order of cause and effect, a 'context' (possibly, a midrashic context).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by DCHindley » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:26 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:02 am
I think that if Papias had truly meant 'acts and words of Jesus' and not rather 'oracles in the OT scriptures about Jesus' then probably he would have used the same construct of Justin:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

...where the author cares to point out the distinction between what is prophetized by prophets and what is remembered by apostles.

ADDITION: Even if Papias had meant 'sayings of Jesus' (and not oracles about Jesus), Papias doesn't talk about stories about Jesus (stories = acts (or contexts) + sayings) but only about 'sayings', like the Gospel of Thomas, in the form:

Jesus said: ….
That is a good point. Papias undeniably attributed to Jesus some fantastic predictions (logia), especially about the fruitfulness of the earthly kingdom when it is established. Papias *also* gave some details about his sources (disciples, evangelists, notable elders) to validate their trustworthiness. In recent history, such as the case of Nazi death camps, we would give different levels of credibility to official archives or occasional written records like diaries, over anectdotal ones. Even when your source is anectdotal, some witnesses naturally have greater trustworthiness attached to them than others (eyewitness testimony versus hearsay).

I believe that the lexicons say that this Greek word meant ambiguous prophetic oracles delivered by folks like the ones at pagan shrines at Delphi. They remain ambiguous oracles until the hearers interpret them as pertaining to themselves or others, and of course, the initial interpretations are often in "error" when historical events offer a better interpretation. It seems to me that Jesus' teachings were interpreted anew in the turn of the 2nd century (ca. 100-125 CE) in reaction to fallout from the failed 1st Judean rebellion (40 years after Jesus' time, and the one in N. Africa & Cyrene (40 yrs after that 1st one).

What kind of "acts" of Jesus are we speaking of, if not the circumstances under which they were uttered (to fit into the Gospel frameworks) and by whom these sayings were relayed to him (trustworthiness)? If we read about some Delphic oracle and its ultimate meaning "made plain" by subsequent events, we don't include the story about how the oraculation was occasioned as included part and parcel in the oracle itself. I don't think it becomes *necessary* to assert that Papias lumped *both* the oracles uttered from Jesus' mouth and facts pertaining to the trustworthiness of them under the heading "logia." That is part of the story *about* that oracle, and how it came to be "properly" interpreted.

Papias seemed to relay these fantastic stories, attesting to the trustworthiness of the witnesses, with the caveat that, like all oracles, sweeping them away will not prevent them from one day being fulfilled. Eusebius was commenting that in Papias' day circumstances had not yet unfolded enough to "properly" understand them as figures or what have you.

IMHO, that is just wishful thinking on our part, intended to make problems "go away." I'd rather just live with some unresolved issues than to tie it up neatly like a package.

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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:38 am

DCHindley wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:26 am
That is a good point.
Thanks! :cheers:
I believe that the lexicons say that this Greek word meant ambiguous prophetic oracles delivered by folks like the ones at pagan shrines at Delphi. They remain ambiguous oracles until the hearers interpret them as pertaining to themselves or others, and of course, the initial interpretations are often in "error" when historical events offer a better interpretation. It seems to me that Jesus' teachings were interpreted anew in the turn of the 2nd century (ca. 100-125 CE) in reaction to fallout from the failed 1st Judean rebellion (40 years after Jesus' time, and the one in N. Africa & Cyrene (40 yrs after that 1st one).
I like very a lot this comparison between the logia and the oracles of Delphi, both in need of a later clarification/interpretation (by an apt 'context') and both having probably a revelatory nature (read: hallucinations).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:26 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:25 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:16 am
What does "not in order" mean with respect to the Hebrew oracles?
It may mean two things (not necessarily mutually exclusive):

1) that the Jewish prophecies were confused and they had to be interpreted (by midrash?) and contextualized.
Being out of order is a kind of confusion, but not all confusion is a case of something being out of order.
2) that the 'sayings of Jesus' were in the abstract form: Jesus said... . So requiring by need, anyone of them, a particular context (an 'act' by Jesus). Was it not the same question we raise about, for example, the Gospel of Thomas? The saying x is without link with the saying y, so they are 'not in order' in this sense: there is no an order of cause and effect, a 'context' (possibly, a midrashic context).
Thomas has few if any things which could count as "things done" by the Lord. "Things said," plenty. But not "things done."

It is so much easier to admit that "things said and things done" by the Lord is a perfectly accurate way to describe a gospel text. Being "out of order" is also exactly what Mark (for example) is when compared to John (for example), or vice versa, and we know that this inconsistency of order was noticed and commented upon in the second century. We also know that the NT narratives were called logia at some point, at any rate:

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 3.4 [long recension]: For, say the oracles [τὰ λόγια], "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen Him go unto heaven."

For Papias to be an early example of this is hardly shocking.
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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:30 am

DCHindley wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:26 am
I believe that the lexicons say that this Greek word meant ambiguous prophetic oracles delivered by folks like the ones at pagan shrines at Delphi.
That is probably a more original sense of the term. But Jewish and Christian authors often used it of, for example, the Hebrew scriptures, as a plain and simple synonym for authoritative writings.
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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:43 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:26 am
. Being "out of order" is also exactly what Mark (for example) is when compared to John (for example), or vice versa, and we know that this inconsistency of order was noticed and commented upon in the second century.
It happens that I remember easily Mark, in comparison to other gospels. It is not a coincidence (or a mere effect of the particular attention received by Mark as presumed first Gospel). I think that it is also an effect of the order that is found easily in Mark: afterall, its allegorical clues require a kind of order.

Really, it is strongly expected that Mark added contexts (=time, place and actions) to logia of the Lord.
Emblematic, in this sense, the Logion about the tribute to Caesar. It is expected that Paul, before Mark, would have given it (before or after) as 'Logion of the Lord'. And 'Mark' did the rest, by building a context and an action.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Did Papias report not the "sayings of the Lord" but "the oracles concerning the Lord"?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:44 am

The full context of the notice about Mark is important:

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15: And the elder would say this: "Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord. For [γάρ] he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings to the needs, but not making them as an ordering together of the lordly oracles, so that Mark did not sin having thus written certain things as he remembered them. For he made one provision, to leave out nothing of the things that he heard or falsify anything in them."

Why did Mark write out of order? Because (γάρ) he had neither heard nor followed the Lord. What kinds of things could Mark have been writing down whose incorrect order would be the result of his not having been an eyewitness or earwitness of the Lord? The answer is right there in the context: "the things either said or done by the Lord."
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