Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

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Ben C. Smith
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Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 10, 2020 11:30 am

Just some observations and accompanying conjectures.

It is common to refer to Papias for the early tradition about the authorship of the gospels of Matthew and Mark; sometimes a person might get a bit more sophisticated and refer to the Elder, presumably John, to whom Papias attributes the tradition. But neither of these attributions is the complete picture:

Papias apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15-16: 15 “And the Elder would say [ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἔλεγεν] 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 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.’” 16 These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he has said these things, “Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able.”

Only the tradition about Mark is explicitly attributed, by Papias himself (if the quotation is accurate), to the Elder. The tradition about Matthew is attributed to Papias; no intermediary is implied in the quotation itself.

This distinction raises the possibility that John the Elder referred only to Mark; Papias, coming a bit later, quoted the Elder concerning Mark and then added his own information concerning Matthew. That Eusebius should have placed the traditions in this order, Mark and then Matthew, suggests to me that this is the order in which he found them in Papias, since the church at large held that Matthew had been composed first; this point stands regardless of who is to be credited with the Matthean one. But this order is also in harmony with the possibility that Papias is quoting the Elder first and then adding his own knowledge of texts which the Elder had not mentioned. And Matthew may not stand alone, since Eusebius in 3.39.17 credits Papias with knowing a story which he says was found in the gospel according to the Hebrews. Assuming that the texts Papias is referring to were in Greek, a Greek gospel of Matthew and also the so called gospel to the Hebrews may be what Papias has in mind when he writes that "each interpreted them as he was able." The wording implies at least two; if there are others, then Eusebius does not name them for us (possibly because Papias did not name them either).

Now, I have laid out a conjecture before on this forum for the existence of an early gospel of Mark in which Levi was called in Jericho, in that gap at Mark 10.46. It has long been suspected that the pericopes in Mark 2.1-3.6 were compiled artificially into a series of "controversy stories," and my suggestion was that the story of the calling of Levi, before it found a place among the controversy stories, was originally situated in Jericho. I also put forth reasons to think that another early text, which I labeled either as L1 or L2 for the sake of convenience, had left the calling of Levi in Jericho but had renamed him as Matthias (and, of course, our canonical Luke renames him as Zacchaeus). I did not specify at the time whether Zacchaeus had come before Matthias or vice versa; I specified only that Levi had been the very first, before either of the other two.

My reasoning for Matthias having been named in Jericho was a comment by Clement of Alexandria:

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 4.6.35.2: 2 It is said, therefore, that Zacchaeus [Ζακχαῖον], or, according to some, Matthias [Ματθίαν], the chief of the publicans, on hearing that the Lord had deigned to come to him, said, “Lord, and if I have taken anything by false accusation I restore him fourfold,” on which the Savior said, “The Son of Man, on coming today, has found that which was lost.” / 2 Ζακχαῖον τοίνυν, οἳ δὲ Ματθίαν φασίν, ἀρχιτελώνην, ἀκηκοότα τοῦ κυρίου καταξιώσαντος πρὸς αὐτὸν γενέσθαι, «Ιδοὺ, τὰ ἡμίση τῶν ὑπαρχόντων μου δίδωμι ἐλεημοσύνην,» φάναι, «Κύριε, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα τετραπλοῦν ἀποδίδωμι.» ἐφ' οὗ καὶ ὁ σωτὴρ εἶπεν, «Ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν σήμερον τὸ ἀπολωλὸς εὗρεν.»

How better to know that Matthias and Zacchaeus might each be the chief publican whom Jesus forgave than to find the same basic story in two different texts, with each text offering a different name for the same character? Instead of leaving the other of the two texts anonymous, I am also prepared to submit that it was the gospel according to the Hebrews:

Didymus the Blind, On the Psalms 184.9-10, commentary on Psalm 34.1 (33.1 LXX): § It seems that in the one according to Luke Matthew is named Levi, but it is not the same person, but rather the Matthias who was installed instead of Judas and Levi are one person with a double name. This appears in the gospel according to the Hebrews. / § τὸν Μαθθαῖον δοκεῖ ἐν τῷ κατὰ Λουκᾶν Λευὶν ὀνομάζειν. οὔκ ἐστιν δὲ αὐτός, ἀλλὰ ὁ κατασταθεὶς ἀντὶ τοῦ Ἰούδα ὁ Μαθθίας καὶ ὁ̣ Λ̣ε̣υ̣ὶς εἷς διώνυμο<ί> εἰσιν. ἐν τῷ καθ' Ἑβραίους εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦτο φαίνεται.

My proposal is that the gospel of the Hebrews contained only one calling of a publican (unlike our canonical Luke), and that publican's name was Matthias. With only the one calling in the gospel, and that in Jericho, some readers might think that Matthias and Zacchaeus are supposed to be the same person, while others might think that Matthias and Levi are supposed to be the same person, thus explaining both Clement's and Didymus' comments above.

If this reconstruction is correct, then both the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Matthias have made the same basic move. Recall that Matthew and Matthias are just two variants of the same Hebrew name: מַתִּתְיָהוּ Matityahu = Ματταθίας = Ματθαῖος/Μαθθαῖος. Well, each of these gospels has replaced poor Levi with a Matityahu; Matthew and Matthias were generally kept separate in Greek, but both wound up being important tradents of gospel information, and I think that this is because they originated as the same guy. The variant in the gospel of the Hebrews was Matthias, while that in the gospel of Matthew was Matthew, and after that the two went their separate ways.

The purpose of this renaming of Levi was, I suspect, exactly as Richard Bauckham surmised:

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, page 111: 111 .... Surely this Gospel’s change of Mark’s “Levi son of Alphaeus” to “Matthew” and its addition “the tax collector” to the name “Matthew” in the list of the Twelve are connected in some way with the title of the Gospel.... It is hardly likely that these two references to the apostle Matthew within the Gospel led to the Gospel later being attributed to Matthew. .... The most plausible explanation of the occurrence of the name Matthew in 9:9 is that the author of this Gospel, knowing that Matthew was a tax collector and wishing to narrate the call of Matthew in the Gospel that was associated with him, but not knowing a story of Matthew’s call, transferred Mark’s story from Levi to Matthew. ....

And the gospel of the Hebrews made exactly the same move, thus making itself, like the gospel of Matthew, a claimant to the label of "the text which Matthew, author of the Logia, had penned." This shared move would explain how Papias knows of at least two anonymous authors, each of which had translated the fabled Logia "as he was able." It would also help to explain the patristic confusion between "the original gospel of Matthew in Hebrew" and the gospel according to the Hebrews.

Finally, long before I had written about Matthew, Matthias, Levi, and Zacchaeus, I had looked into the parable of the talents (Matthew) or pounds (Luke) and concluded that the parallel parable recounted by Eusebius as coming from the gospel according to the Hebrews may have been the original version, which both Matthew and Luke had altered. When I did my work on Matthias in Jericho I did not have the gospel of the Hebrews in mind (hence the clumsy labels L1 and L2), but it is interesting how, once I plug in the gospel of the Hebrews for L1 on my first (and preferred) option in that thread, simultaneously removing the notion that this text had a calling both of Matthias and of Levi (which I now think only Marcion/Luke later did, conflating the gospel of the Hebrews and that of Mark), the implied textual relationships are mutually compatible:

Parable, Jericho, & Capernaum in the Gospel of the Hebrews.png
Parable, Jericho, & Capernaum in the Gospel of the Hebrews.png (102.12 KiB) Viewed 2173 times

(I am arranging Marcion first, and then Luke, in a direct line, but this is only for convenience; the reverse relationship or a more complex relationship involving a common source would fill the same role for my purposes on this thread.)

And... these relationships are also compatible with a reconstruction by which the Elder mentioned only Mark, whereas Papias mentioned both Matthew and Mark and also knew, and perhaps mentioned, the gospel of the Hebrews; the texts potentially stack in roughly that order.

I do not know whether I am on the right track or not, but I am liking how some of the seemingly disparate details seem to dovetail.

Ben.

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:53 am

I have mentioned that both Klijn and Luomanen point out a parallel between the parable of the talents as cited by Eusebius for the gospel of the Hebrews, on the one hand, and papyrus Oxyrhynchus 840, on the other: both texts refer disparagingly to harlots and flutegirls (μετὰ πορνῶν καὶ αὐλητρίδων in Eusebius, αἱ πόρναι καὶ αἱ αὐλητρίδες in papyrus Oxyrhynchus 840). Here are the texts:

Eusebius, Theophany 4.12: § But since the gospel written in Hebraic characters which has come to us levels the threat, not against the man who hid the talent, but against him who had lived unsafely – for it had three servants, the one eating up the belongings of his master with harlots and flutegirls, another multiplying it by the work of trade, and the other hiding the talent, then made the one to be accepted, another only blamed, and the other to be closed up in prison – I wonder whether in Matthew, after the end of the word against the one who did not work, the threat that follows was said, not about him, but about the first, by epanalepsis, the one who ate and drank with the drunkards. / § Ἐπεὶ δὲ τὸ εἰς ἡμᾶς ἧκον Ἑβραϊκοῖς χαρακτῆρσιν εὐαγγέλιον τὴν ἀπειλὴν οὐ κατὰ τοῦ ἀποκρύψαντος ἐπῆγεν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τοῦ ἀσώτως ἐζηκότος – τρεῖς γὰρ δούλους περιεῖχε, τὸν μὲν καταφαγόντα τὴν ὕπαρξιν τοῦ δεσπότου μετὰ πορνῶν καὶ αὐλητρίδων, τὸν δὲ πολλαπλασιάσαντα τὴν ἐργασίαν, τὸν δὲ κατακρύψαντα τὸ τάλαντον· εἶτα τὸν μὲν ἀποδεχθῆναι, τὸν δὲ μεμφθῆναι μόνον, τὸν δὲ συγκλεισθῆναι δεσμωτηρίῳ – ἐφίστημι, μήποτε κατὰ τὸν Ματθαῖον μετὰ τὴν συμπλήρωσιν τοῦ λόγου τοῦ κατὰ τοῦ μηδὲν ἐργασαμένου ἡ ἑξῆς ἐπιλεγομένη ἀπειλὴ οὐ περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ περὶ τοῦ προτέρου κατ´ ἐπανάληψιν λέλεκται, τοῦ ἐσθίοντος καὶ πίνοντος μετὰ τῶν μεθυόντων.

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 840, lines 1-45: 1-45 “First, before doing injustice, he reasons all things out. But be aware lest somehow you also suffer the same things as them. For not only among the living do the wrongdoers of m(e)n receive their due, but they [a]lso endure punishment and mu[c]h torment.” And he took them along and led them into the place of purification itself and was walking around in the temple. And there ca[m]e a certain Pharisee, a High Priest, Lev[i?] by name, and he joined them and s[aid] to the Sa(vi)or, “Who allowed you [to] walk this place of purification and see [the]se holy vessels, neither having bat[h]e[d] n[o]r the f[eet] of your disciples having been [ba]ptized? But after having defi[led it,] you walked this holy p[lace, which] is clean, on which no ot[her man, unless] he has bathed and chan[ged his clo]thing, walks, nor [dares to] l[ook at these] holy vessels.” And [the Sa(vi)or straightway stood] wi[th t]he disciple[s and answered him,] “You, therefore, being here in the temple, are you clean?” That man says to him, “I am clean. For I bathed in the pool of D(avi)d and going down by one ladder I went u[p] by another, and I clothed myself in clothing white and clean, and then came and looked upon these holy vessels.” The Sa(vi)or answ[er]ed him and said, “Woe, blind men who do not s[e]e. You bathed in these flowing w[a]ters in which dogs and swine [are] cast night and day, and was[h]ed and smeared the outside skin, with which [eve]n the harlots and th[e] flutegirls per[f]um[e a]nd bathe and wipe [and b]eautify for the desi[re o]f m(e)n, but within th[ey are fi]led with scorpions and [all ev]il. But I and [my disciples,] whom you say [have] not [been] ba[ptized, have been im]mersed in waters [of eternal] li[fe whic]h come from [.... Bu]t woe to [t]he [....”] / 1-45 «...πρότερον πρὸ <τοῦ> ἀδικῆσαι πάντα σοφίζεται. ἀλλὰ προσέχετε μή πω̣ς καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ ὅμοια αὐτοῖς πάθητε̣. οὐ γὰρ ἐν τοῖς ζωοῖς μόνοις ἀπολαμβάνουσιν οἱ κακοῦργοι τῶν ἀν(θρώπ)ων ἀλλὰ [κ]αὶ κόλασιν ὑπομένουσιν καὶ πολ[λ]ὴν βάσανον.» καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς εἰσήγαγεν εἰς αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγνευτήριον καὶ περιεπάτει ἐν τῶ ἱερῶ. καὶ προσ[ελ]θὼν φαρισαῖός τις ἀ̣ρ̣χιερεὺς Λευ[εὶς?] τὸ ὄνομα συνέτυχεν αὐτοῖς καὶ ε̣[ἶπεν] τῶ σω(τῆ)ρι, «Τίς ἐπέτρεψέν σοι πατ[εῖν] τοῦτο τὸ ἁγνευτήριον καὶ ἰδεῖν [ταῦ]τα τὰ ἅγια σκεύη μήτε λουσα[μ]έν[ω] μ[ή]τε μὴν τῶν μαθητῶν σου τοὺς π[όδας βα]πτισθέντων; ἀλλὰ μεμολυ[μμένος] ἐπάτησας τοῦτο τὸ ἱερὸν τ̣[όπον ὄν]τα καθαρόν, ὃν οὐδεὶς ἄ̣[λλος εἰ μὴ] λουσάμενος καὶ ἀλλά̣[ξας τὰ ἐνδύ]ματα πατεῖ, οὐδὲ ὁ[ρᾶν τολμᾶ ταῦτα] τὰ ἅγια σκεύη.» καὶ σ[τὰς εὐθέως ὁ σω(τὴ)ρ] σ[ὺν τ]οῖς μαθηταῖ[ς ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῶ,] «Σὺ οὖν ἐνταυθα ὢν ἐν τῶ ἱερῶ καθαρεύεις;» λέγει αὐτῷ ἐκεῖνος, «Καθαρεύω· ἐλουσάμην γὰρ ἐν τῆ λίμνη τοῦ Δ(αυεὶ)δ καὶ δἰ ἑτέρας κλίμακος κατελθὼν δἰ ἑτέρας ἀ̣[ν]ῆλθον, καὶ λευκὰ ἐνδύματα ἐνεδυσάμην καὶ καθαρά, καὶ τότε ἦλθον καὶ προσέβλεψα τούτοις τοῖς ἁγίοις σκεύεσιν.» ὁ σω(τὴ)ρ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀπο[κρι]θεὶς εἶπεν, «Οὐαί, τυφλοὶ μὴ ὁρῶντ[ε]ς. σὺ ἐλούσω τούτοις τοῖς χεομένοις ὕ[δ]ασι̣(ν) ἐν οἷς κύνες καὶ χοῖροι βέβλην[ται] νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, καὶ νιψάμε[ν]ος τὸ ἐκτὸς δέρμα ἐσμήξω, ὅπερ [κα]ὶ αἱ πόρναι καὶ α[ἱ] αὐλητρίδες μυρί[ζ]ου[σιν κ]αὶ λούουσιν καὶ σμήχουσι [καὶ κ]αλλωπίζουσι πρὸς ἐπιθυμί[αν τ]ῶν ἀν(θρώπ)ων, ἔνδοθεν δὲ ἐκεῖ[ναι πεπλ]ήρω<ν>ται σκορπίων καὶ [πάσης κα]κίας. ἐγὼ δὲ καὶ οἱ [μαθηταί μου] οὓς λέγεις μὴ βεβα[πτίσθαι βεβά]μ̣μεθα ἐν ὕδασι ζω[ῆς αἰωνίου τοῖ]ς ἐλθοῦσιν ἀπὸ [.... ἀλ]λ̣ὰ οὐαὶ [τ]οῖς [....»]

The name of the High Priest is partly illegible, but it sure looks it is supposed to be Levi. Given my conjectures about Levi, Matthew, and Matthias, both on this thread and elsewhere, that little datum draws my eye. Is there something to it? Did the gospel of the Hebrews replace (proto-)Mark's Levi with Matthias and then also attach that name to an adversary, a High Priest? Was it a matter, not only of thrusting Matthew/Matthias into the gospel narrative, but also of deprecating Levi for some reason? Is papyrus Oxyrhynchus 840 a fragment of the gospel of the Hebrews? Did it rather just copy from that gospel? Or is it just a coincidence? Levi was a fairly popular name at the time, so no argument from scarcity will help. That distinctive phrase, μετὰ πορνῶν καὶ αὐλητρίδων or αἱ πόρναι καὶ αἱ αὐλητρίδες, is apparently not extant elsewhere in such a form, but Luke 15.30 has a possibly truncated version, μετὰ πορνῶν (sorry, flutegirls; the wayward son is interested only in the harlots), and I have argued that the parable of the prodigal son is perhaps based upon the discarded first servant from the parable of the talents.

This is all just an island in the sky at the moment, but I am posting it to see whether others might have other connections to put forth or similarly useful ideas about the matter.

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:29 am

Doesn't Clement having a variant gospel of Mark add credibility to the Letter to Theodore? I've come to a similar but not as thought out observation about this other gospel. If you say it might be a variant Mark it is worth noting that - by implication - nudity in the previous scene.

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:59 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:29 am
Doesn't Clement having a variant gospel of Mark add credibility to the Letter to Theodore? I've come to a similar but not as thought out observation about this other gospel. If you say it might be a variant Mark it is worth noting that - by implication - nudity in the previous scene.
I fully expect you to publish a book someday that collects all extant references or or implications of nudity in the ancient texts. :D

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:35 am

It's already written. But seriously. Why, if you accept in theory that Clement might have had proto-Mark who not also the Letter to Theodore? You can't expect Smith to have read Papias the way you do hear, nor know or accept the business about Levi in Mark 10:46. Surely the understanding helps the authenticity argument. No?

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:46 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:35 am
It's already written. But seriously. Why, if you accept in theory that Clement might have had proto-Mark who not also the Letter to Theodore? You can't expect Smith to have read Papias the way you do hear, nor know or accept the business about Levi in Mark 10:46. Surely the understanding helps the authenticity argument. No?
My interest in discussing the letter to Theodore could not possibly be lower than it currently is, but I am not sure that Clement knew a thing about my hypothetical proto-Mark with Levi at 10.46. What my hypothesis supposes is that he knew the gospel of the Hebrews, and by that point, ex hypothesi, Levi had already morphed into Matthias. I am even trying to figure out ways of relieving this hypothesis of any reliance on a proto-Mark at all, for whatever that may be worth, and strictly for the sake of parsimony. Not there yet; may never be; but obviously the proto-Mark part of the reconstruction is (necessarily) the least attested.

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:33 am

Why do you suppose the repeated allusions to "alternate Zacchaeus" in Clement come from a Gospel of Mark?

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 14, 2020 12:48 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:33 am
Why do you suppose the repeated allusions to "alternate Zacchaeus" in Clement come from a Gospel of Mark?
I am not following, sorry. Can you clarify?

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:11 pm

Now, I have laid out a conjecture before on this forum for the existence of an early gospel of Mark in which Levi was called in Jericho, in that gap at Mark 10.46.
Mark uses Levi. Clement identifies the other name for Zacchaeus as Matthew.

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Re: Papias, the Elder, Mark, & Matthew.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:34 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:11 pm
Now, I have laid out a conjecture before on this forum for the existence of an early gospel of Mark in which Levi was called in Jericho, in that gap at Mark 10.46.
Mark uses Levi. Clement identifies the other name for Zacchaeus as Matthew.
As Matthias. I know they are variants of the same Hebrew name, but in Greek they seem to have been kept separate most of the time, at least so far as I have been able to tell thus far.

My reasons for putting Levi in Jericho in a proto-Mark have nothing to do with Clement, though. The gospel of the Hebrews (or some other gospel, for that matter), having Matthias being called as a publican in Jericho would explain Clement without remainder, and would even, I think, explain Didymus. My reason for positing a proto-Mark with Levi in Jericho is simply that I find it hard to imagine that, once Matthew and/or Matthias is in the mix, some nobody named Levi should come along and take his place. And that may simply be a failure of my imagination, since we have no direct attestation for it (unlike Zacchaeus and/or Levi being confused with Matthias), which is why I am trying to figure out whether the hypothesis really needs that step. If Levi meant more to the earliest Christian record than just what we find in the gospels, and/or if there were good reasons to get Matthew/Matthias out of that role (replacing him with Levi being one of way of doing it), then I could possibly get rid of the proto-Mark step. Again, though, this is only for the sake of parsimony, not because I have something against the idea of a proto-Mark. I have argued for a proto-Mark of some kind on numerous occasions.

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