Papias of Hiersaypolis

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JoeWallack
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Papias of Hiersaypolis

Post by JoeWallack » Sat May 11, 2019 3:16 pm

Papias of Hierapolis
Papias (Greek: Παπίας) was a Greek Apostolic Father, Bishop of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, Turkey), and author who lived c. 60–163 AD.[2][3] It was Papias who wrote the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord (Greek: Λογίων Κυριακῶν Ἐξήγησις) in five books.

This work, which is lost apart from brief excerpts in the works of Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 180) and Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 320), is an important early source on Christian oral tradition and especially on the origins of the canonical Gospels.
...
Papias provides the earliest extant account of who wrote the Gospels. Eusebius preserves two (possibly) verbatim excerpts from Papias on the origins of the Gospels, one concerning Mark and then another concerning Matthew.[21]
JW:
Bible scholarship is mixed as to whether or not Papias (as opposed to Eusebius, interpreting Irenaeus, interpreting Papias) was likely referring to GMark and GMatthew. As is often the case though with these matters, the better question for the serious Skeptical scholar is not whether Papias referred to GMark/GMatthew but rather, if he did, WHERE did he do so.

The place of Papias (unfortunately, only available in Christian copies/edits of Eusebius) primarily looked at to answer the authorship issue is where Papias says "Matthew" and than "Mark". For those who are predisposed to think that Papias referred to GMark/GMatthew, this is like a man buying a pair of shoes. Hmmm, one left and one right. Perfect. I'll take em. Hmmm, GMark and GMatthew are the earliest Gospels, Papias says Matthew and Mark. Perfect. I'll buy it. For the Skeptic though who is holding out for something more (like evidence) there is another place in Papias to look at:

Fragments of Papias
But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.
Note that everything here is consistent with Papias being aware of GMark/GMatthew, but not knowing them as "Gospel of Mark"/"Gospel of Matthew", not considering them authoritative and not referring to them with his identification of Matthew and Mark authors:
  • 1) He prefers oral tradition.

    2) He prefers a chain of known witnesses to Jesus.

    3) He does not think books about Jesus are authoritative.
The timing also supports this conclusion. Papias is c. early first century and GMark is c. 100. Papias knows that GMark was written in his lifetime (he remembers when it did not exist). No one identifies GMark/GMatthew before Papias. Subsequent to Papias there is no evidence independent of Papias regarding Gospel authors "Mark"/"Matthew". Subsequent Christianity, aware of Gospels later known as GMark/GMatthew, having no other evidence, attribute these two Gospels to the Mark and Matthew mentioned by Papias. I've never seen this possibility even mentioned by a Bible scholar (and where the hell is Jeffrey Gibson when you really need him) but the conclusion that Papias did refer to GMark/GMatthew as indicated above is not just a possibility but the more likely possibility.


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TheDinoPlanet
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Re: Papias of Hiersaypolis

Post by TheDinoPlanet » Sat May 11, 2019 3:22 pm

This is fascinating. I need to look at Papias' document. :D

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Re: Papias of Hiersaypolis

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat May 11, 2019 3:24 pm

I believe this is a fairly standard theory for Matthew. It's commonly believed that the sayings of Matthew recorded in Hebrew... whatever is meant by that, as it is expressed by Papias... did not have anything to do with the Gospel of Matthew we know, which is (on this theory) neither that text nor a translation of it. Some hedge by trying to connect it to something vaguely Q-like, but not everyone... even if they even believe in Q, they might think Papias was talking about something entirely different.

It's less common to make Papias ignorant of the canonical Gospel of Mark, but a lot of that could just be an overall chronological framework (right or wrong) that tends to put Papias after GMark, which doesn't make it easy to make the same connections that the OP does.
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Papias Fiction

Post by JoeWallack » Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:32 pm

Le Grace

JW:
Stephen Carlson, responsible for The Gospel Hoax Hoax, tries to resurrect (I tell you the truth, I never believed in any kind of resurrection until I saw John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) his reputation at the brave and influential Skeptic's blog, Bart Ehrman, and concludes as follows regarding Papias' attitude towards GMark and GMatthew:
In conclusion, Papias wrote five books of exposition of dominical oracles. Although the evidence is scant, I argue that it points to a messianic exegesis of Old Testament promises and prophecies, with additional material from oral traditions. It turns out that these traditions were more interesting to those who quoted him than his interpretation. With this understanding, however, we can get a sense of his attitude toward the Gospel of Mark. He stated in his preface that for his project he did not find books to be as helpful as the “living voice.” While his appeal to a commonplace expression in antiquity serves to commend himself as being properly instructed, it also gives a hint about what he thought was inadequate about the writings of Mark and Matthew. Mark included hardly any messianic promises and prophecies in his writing, and Matthew compiled them in Hebrew, apparently unaware about our Gospel of Matthew. Neither work would be helpful in his project of expounding the dominical oracles.
Note then that Carlson (likely wrongly) concludes that Papias was referring to GMark, he just didn't enojy it, and likely rightly concludes that Papais was not referring to GMatthew. Carlson, contra Ben, rightly (I think) concludes that Papias wrote alot but it was primarily theological/polemical and not commentary on GMark/GMatthew. Eusebius was therefore primarily interested in (mis)interpreting Papias as referring to GMark/GMatthew because by Eusebius' time orthodox Christianity was Gospel based. On the other hand, what Carlson gets wrong is Papias referring to GMark and believing it had a source of Peter as what has been demonstrated Ad Nazorean on this unholy forum is that GMark has a primary theme of specifically discrediting Peter as a witness to Jesus and to claim the opposite, that GMark primarily credits Peter as witness to Jesus is not just wrong but comical and exponentially a better point then any that Carlson makes.


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Re: Papias Fiction

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:12 pm

JoeWallack wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:32 pm
Carlson, contra Ben, rightly (I think) concludes that Papias wrote alot but it was primarily theological/polemical and not commentary on GMark/GMatthew.
I agree that it was (probably) not primarily commentary on the gospels of Mark and Matthew. I have never thought it was primarily commentary on written gospels, and I remain quite opposed to the notion (for example, I have argued specifically against MacDonald's view that Papias followed Matthew more than Mark; I think he followed neither). I think what you are hearkening back to is our disagreement about whether we can tell how much material in Papias overlapped with the gospels (not that it was taken from them, but that it overlapped with them). I argued that few (especially Eusebius) would be inclined to quote Papias in those cases, that they would be more likely to quote Papias where he stood alone.
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Re: Papias Fiction

Post by JoeWallack » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:34 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:12 pm
JoeWallack wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:32 pm
Carlson, contra Ben, rightly (I think) concludes that Papias wrote alot but it was primarily theological/polemical and not commentary on GMark/GMatthew.
I agree that it was (probably) not primarily commentary on the gospels of Mark and Matthew. I have never thought it was primarily commentary on written gospels, and I remain quite opposed to the notion (for example, I have argued specifically against MacDonald's view that Papias followed Matthew more than Mark; I think he followed neither). I think what you are hearkening back to is our disagreement about whether we can tell how much material in Papias overlapped with the gospels (not that it was taken from them, but that it overlapped with them). I argued that few (especially Eusebius) would be inclined to quote Papias in those cases, that they would be more likely to quote Papias where he stood alone.
JW:
Despite my many scholarly faults I fully accept that you are not only the best source for what Ben Smith thinks but that that source is unrivaled.


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Re: Papias Fiction

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:52 pm

JoeWallack wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:34 pm
Despite my many scholarly faults I fully accept that you are not only the best source for what Ben Smith thinks but that that source is unrivaled.
Thanks.

It appears that Carlson and I do disagree on what the logia are referring to in the title of Papias' composition; he apparently thinks that they are prophetic testimonies to Jesus, whereas I still think that they are statements as to "the things said and done by the Lord." I am willing to rethink this, but as things stand this is certainly a disagreement. To be candid, the way Carlson connected his interpretation of the logia as messianic prooftexts to Papias' explanations for not using Matthew and Mark in that paragraph you cited had me second guessing myself there for a few minutes; quite clever; but after I went back and reread the quotations I decided that I still held the same position as before, at least for the time being.
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