Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: ↑
Sat Feb 13, 2021 3:42 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: ↑
Fri Feb 12, 2021 3:52 pm
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: ↑
Fri Feb 12, 2021 3:17 pm
Very understandable. But you can only quote a Papias-fragment from Eusebius for that, right?
Kind of? The main one is from Eusebius, yes. Secondary support comes (A) from Mark 10.35-40, the martyrologies, and possibly also from Philip Sidetes demonstrating an early belief that John, the direct follower of the Lord and son of Zebedee, died early, and (B) from the tradition that John was a child when he met Jesus, which can be interpreted as a way to make a certain John's dotage during a certain period of time fit in with his being regarded as an eyewitness, as well (indeed, the tradition that Jesus was crucified under Claudius may at least partly serve the same purpose), without explicitly naming him as one of the Twelve.
YMMV (and I bet it does).
My hypothesis in this thread is that Papias didn't exist. Because of this, it makes little sense to me to say that Papias thought something entirely different from what Irenaeus said of him. Because Papias didn't exist!
My hypothesis is seriously, but it’s not my aim to finally assert this. I take this radical point of view in the hope that it will help me understand some things better. My impression is that there could be a greater pious fraud regarding the Johannine tradition and Papias and I am trying to find out what it could be.
That is a great idea, and, to be honest, with so much about Papias floating around the forum right now and my attention only partly focused on these matters at the moment, I have lost track of what each poster's aims are.
For this purpose there are no trustworthy quotes from Papias, only questionable claims by later authors that they quote Papias. And the truth is, it really is like that. You have to trust Eusebius in order to be able to substantiate your POV even partially.
I would reword this a bit, I think. It is not that I either trust or distrust Eusebius; rather, it is that I have tried to build up a picture of how Eusebius operates, and it is that picture that I am trusting.
I find a strange analogy in the modern British TV game show called "Would I Lie to You?" In this show, the panelists have written down a set of true things about their past or their preferences and such, but the show runners have also written down a set of false things. Turn by turn, a panelist will read one such thing from a card, not knowing whether it is going to be one of the truths or one of the lies until actually reading it. At that point, the panelists on the other team will interrogate him/her about the topic, and then they have to decide whether it is the truth or a lie. Meanwhile, if the card is a lie, the panelist who has read it is doing his/her best to justify that lie. So the other team is making this determination, not at all
on whether they trust the reader, because they already know
he/she is going to be lying at least part of the time, but rather on how good a picture they have of that person: is that person capable of or prone to this sort of thing, for example? Two of the panelists, David Mitchell and Lee Mack, are regulars on the show, each one being the captain of one of the two teams, so in their cases especially it becomes increasingly possible to distinguish the truth from a lie just because everyone has gotten to know their personalities more and more, game by game. Obviously, no method is foolproof, but some people get to know David and Lee better than others, and they then have an advantage.
Similarly, with Eusebius, we have a lot of extant writings from him, and it is possible to get better and better at forming a complete picture of what he is capable of and prone to.
All this to say, I find it more likely that Eusebius is quoting Papias accurately here than that he is not. There is no smoking gun. I could definitely be wrong. It is less like holding a position with 90% certainty against a position with only 20% certainty and more like holding a position of 55% certainty against a position of 45% certainty.
According to the Anti-Marcionite prologue and Irenaeus, it is very clear that Papias is said to have been a hearer and disciple of the evangelist and apostle John. This is the earliest tradition about the relationship between Papias and John and about the identity of John. The exact dating of the Anti-Marcionite prologue is, from my point of view, rather unimportant, because the prologue goes back to this earliest tradition.
What leads you to date this tradition so early?
Your secondary support A) could simply be a contradicting tradition that moved Eusebius to harmonize this tradition with the tradition about John and Papias. Why shouldn't it have been like that?
Well, if the fragment from Philip Sidetes is correct, then Papias would appear to be commenting on Mark 10.35-40, affirming that the sons of Zebedee were both already dead by the time Mark was written, in contrast to the Elder John of whom he writes in the present tense. If we ignore Philip, we still have Mark 10.35-40 itself, along with the martyrologies, which suggests that the sons of Zebedee were no longer on the scene (if they even existed) by the time Mark was written. And, if that is the case, then (assuming Papias postdates Mark) Papias probably could not have known John the son of Zebedee in his old age, much less have been writing about him in the present tense. This is not a comment on the tradition, of course; this is a comment on what I take to actually be the case about Papias, regardless of what the tradition may have said, however soon after his flourit
. And all of this agrees with what I take to be the most likely meaning of the syntax in the crucial passage (but obviously recall my point about the 55% versus the 45%): the only
thing that tempts anyone to connect the first John to the second John is the fact that both men bear the same name, and this temptation is heightened by the desire on the part of Papias' admirers (like Irenaeus) to connect the Hierapolitan as closely as possible to the apostolic age; had Papias instead written of "the Elder Bob" in the second list, no one would have been missing anything in the passage.
To be clear, of course, yes, most of this depends upon Eusebius having quoted Papias more or less correctly. My main point is that this proposition does not stand alone; there are other factors available in its favor.
The support B) is not really a support, but the dubiousness of the earliest tradition about Papias itself. It agrees with Irenaeus' assertion that Papias was an “ancient man”.
The "best fit" for the origins of B, IMHO, is at a stage before Papias' John was thought to be the apostle, and was merely thought to have been an eyewitness (albeit as a child to make the dates work out). I readily admit that this is only
a "best fit" argument; but I do not think that we have recourse to any better kind of argument at this point due to the scarcity of the data. All of the best arguments are going to be "best fit" here.