Did Papias exist?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin
Posts: 1470
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:19 pm
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Contact:

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sat Feb 20, 2021 12:41 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:19 am
... back to the five books of Papias
After Irenaeus, Eusebius thought about Papias. In his Chronicon (303 CE) he quotes Irenaeus without contradicting him, but twenty years later he questions Irenaeus' assertion in his Church History and claims that Papias did not even know the Evangelist John. This would follow from Papias’ own words in the preface of his work. He thus initiated an exegetical battle among modern scholars.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies Eusebius, Chronicon Eusebius, History of the Church
3.3.4 Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
5.33.3-4 … just as the elders who saw John the disciple of the Lord remembered that they had heard from him how the Lord would teach … These things Papias too, who was a earwitness of John and companion of Polycarp ...
Irenaeus and others report that John the theologian and apostle remained in life until the times of Trajan, after which his earwitnesses Papias the Heirapolitan and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, became known. 3.39.1ff Irenæus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: "These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him." These are the words of Irenæus.
But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends. He says:
… (alleged quote from Papias)
It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter. This shows that the statement of those is true, who say that there were two persons in Asia that bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the present day, is called John's. It is important to notice this. For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things, we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.

The alleged quote from the preface goes as follows:
.
οὐκ ὀκνήσω δέ σοι
καὶ ὅσα ποτὲ παρὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καλῶς ἔμαθον καὶ καλῶς ἐμνημόνευσα,
συγκατατάξαι ταῖς ἑρμηνείαις,
διαβεβαιούμενος ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἀλήθειαν.

οὐ γὰρ τοῖς τὰ πολλὰ λέγουσιν ἔχαιρον
ὥσπερ οἱ πολλοί,
ἀλλὰ τοῖς τἀληθῆ διδάσκουσιν,
οὐδὲ τοῖς τὰς ἀλλοτρίας ἐντολὰς μνημονεύουσιν,
ἀλλὰ τοῖς τὰς παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου τῆι πίστει δεδομένας καὶ ἀπ' αὐτῆς παραγινομένας τῆς ἀληθείας

εἰ δέ που καὶ παρηκολουθηκώς τις τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις ἔλθοι, τοὺς τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἀνέκρινον λόγους,
τί Ἀνδρέας ἢ τί Πέτρος εἶπεν ἢ τί Φίλιππος ἢ τί Θωμᾶς ἢ Ἰάκωβος ἢ τί Ἰωάννης ἢ Ματθαῖος ἤ τις ἕτερος τῶν τοῦ κυρίου μαθητῶν
ἅ τε Ἀριστίων καὶ ὁ πρεσβύτερος Ἰωάννης, τοῦ κυρίου μαθηταὶ, λέγουσιν.

οὐ γὰρ τὰ ἐκ τῶν βιβλίων τοσοῦτόν με ὠφελεῖν ὑπελάμβανον
ὅσον τὰ παρὰ ζώσης φωνῆς καὶ μενούσης
But I will not hesitate, for you
also so much I ever very carefully learnt and very carefully memorized by/from the Elders
to put into properly ordered form together with the interpretations,
guaranteeing it’s truth.

Because, unlike the many (people), I did not enjoy those who had many (things) to say,
but those who teached the true (things),
not those who memorized other’s commandments,
but those (who recalled) the (things) given by/from the Lord to the faith and which proceed from the truth itself.

But whenever someone, who had closely beside followed the Elders, came along, I investigated about the words of the Elders
what Andrew or what Peter had said or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or what any of the Lord’s disciples,
and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying.

Because I did not suppose that the (things) out of books would profit me
as much as the (things) by/from a living and remaining voice.


It seems to me that the author of the alleged Papias-quote was a jolly liar. He claims that he has no interest in books, but the quoted text is clearly literarily formed with rhetorical means. I think it is worth studying the text carefully because the meaning is constructed from the text itself. imho, nobody should start thinking about „apostles“. Note what Irenaeus said: The Elders "saw John the disciple of the Lord", but Papias was a "earwitness of John".


Michael Kok, „Would the real Elder John please stand up?“, mentions the discussion points among scholars.

  • Did presbyteros denote an apostle’s follower who was appointed to an ecclesiastical office (Bacon 1908, 11; Chapman 1911, 13–27; Körtner 1983, 116–21; Bauckham 2017, 17) or any elderly figure of repute (Lightfoot 1889, 146; Munck 1959, 232–36; Deeks 1977, 296–97; Schoedel 1993, 251; Hill 2006, 310)? I see no basis for restricting the term to the apostles, excluding the non-apostolic Aristion (contra Gundry 2005, 55; Shanks 2013, 153–54, 156–57).
  • Were the “elders” and the “Lord’s disciples” separate groups, with the former handing down the latter’s words or “what” had been spoken to them (Hengel 1989, 27; 1993, 79; Schoedel 1993, 251; Culpepper 2000, 110; Kok 2015, 59, 62; Bauckham 2007, 64; 2017, 16–17)? Or did the “Lord’s disciples” stand in apposition to the “elders,” meaning that Papias alternated between using the labels “elders” and “disciples” for the same group and restated his goal of ascertaining “what” they had all been teaching (Lightfoot 1889, 145; Annand 1956, 47–48; Munck 1959, 236; Deeks 1977, 296–97; Gundry 2005, 53–54; Shanks 2013, 140–43).
  • Did the tense shift from the aorist eipen (“they said”) to the present legousin (“they are saying”) signal that the former seven disciples had died while Aristion and the Elder John were still living? A related question is whether an authentic Papian fragment was preserved in the fifth-century church historian Philip of Side about the deaths of John and James, the sons of Zebedee (cf. Mark 10:39).[2]
  • Why were Aristion and the Elder John marked as “disciples of the Lord” (tou kuriou mathētai)?[3] Were they taught by the historical Jesus, perhaps among the seventy disciples in Luke 10:1 (Perumalil 1980, 334) or the two anonymous ones in John 21:2 (Hengel 1989, 18–19; 1993, 81–82; Bauckham 2007, 77–78; 2017, 419)? Or was there a precedent for employing “disciples of the Lord” for Christ believers in general (Munck 1959, 231–32, but cf. 239)?
  • Was the article before presbyteros anaphoric, so that it could be translated as “the aforementioned elder” John (Köstenberger and Snout 2008, 219; Shanks 2013, 19-21, 154–55)? Or does the article accentuate the titular nature of “Elder” bestowed on the second John, perhaps due to his exceptional old age (Deeks 1977, 297)?
Unsurprisingly, Papias’s sloppy phraseology has led to conflicting interpretations. On the one hand, Irenaeus commended Papias as an “ancient man” (archaios anēr) and a “hearer of John” (Against Heresies 5.33.4). Eusebius, on the other hand, sharply distinguished the Elder John from the Apostle John (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.2, 5–6). Eusebius presumed that the Elder John was the visionary responsible for the book of Revelation (3.39.6), while Jerome credited the second and third epistles of John to the Elder (On Illustrious Men 9; cf. 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1).[4]


User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 13348
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:04 pm

A couple of things.

1. Clearly Irenaeus WANTED Papias to be a disciple of John. If there is some ambiguity about whether or not Papias WAS a disciple of John then it must be regarded as a dubious claim on Irenaeus's part.
2. Irenaeus also makes Polycarp a disciple of John.
3. Irenaeus says he 'saw' Polycarp when he was young but acknowledges that Florinus was closer to Polycarp.
4. Irenaeus strongly and consistently links Papias and Polycarp "These things Papias too, who was a earwitness of John and companion of Polycarp" I have heard from a certain presbyter,(= Polycarp) who had heard it from those who had seen the apostles, and from those who had been their disciples (= Papias)"
5. Irenaeus strangely avoids calling Polycarp a 'disciple' of John (see above). John appointed him bishop (according to Irenaeus). He says Papias was John's 'earwitness' (= Papias too, who was a earwitness of John and companion of Polycarp, and an ancient man).

As such

a) Irenaeus was a real person.
b) Florinus was a real person.
c) Polycarp was a real person.
d) John the disciple of Jesus who lived into the second century was likely NOT a real person.

But the status of Papias is still ambiguous. As far as I see it there are a few possibilities.

Papias is groomed by Irenaeus into a witness for A SPECIFIC PURPOSE that Irenaeus had developed. Some would say 'the gospel of John' but I would say the entire fourfold canon of which John was developed as a kind of 'rule' or 'ruler' which measured out the time of Jesus's ministry to many years rather than just one (cf. 2.21). John never developed the fourfold canon. John never wrote a gospel let alone was Jesus's beloved disciple. But clearly the reason he stops short of applying all these things to Polycarp is because Florinus was lurking around in the background and able to deny that Polycarp ever witnessed these things. So Papias likely had no witnesses even in antiquity. He mentions 'the Elder' who is said to be 'John' by Irenaeus or Eusebius and this leads to the creation of our canon and the myths associated with it (i.e. John gathering four texts together) but clearly the upshot is that even in the second century no one seems to know who 'Papias' is.

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 13348
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:29 pm

Another observation. We tend to think of 'exegesis' as something open-ended. My exegesis. Your exegesis. Our exegesis. Their exegesis. Yet when you think about it when someone is called THE exegete' like Irenaeus (cf. Cyril of Jerusalem) this means his exegesis is no long 'an' exegesis but THE exegesis. For instance Alexander of Aphrodisias is similarly called THE exegete because his interpretation of Aristotle was deemed authoritative. Scholars puzzle over a pre-Alexander of Aphrodisias interpretation of Aristotle. In the Samaritan community Marqe's Mimar is not a midrash but the authoritative understanding of the Pentateuch.

But if Irenaeus's understanding of Christianity or Christian texts was THE exegesis of the religion leading him to be called THE exegete (like Alexander of Aphrodisias who lived contemporarily with him) he likely sat in a cathedral 'chair' like Alexander:
"Alexander held a chair in Peripatetic philosophy in Athens, which was one of four chairs inaugurated by Marcus Aurelius, one for each of the main philosophical schools."
Irenaeus also talks about the 'sects' of Christianity in the same way as there were four philosophical 'sects' each having their own chair. It is worth noting that the Alexandrian Church had a 'chair' with the 'catechetical school' (= κατήχησις). But Irenaeus distinguishes Christianity from the various 'sects' of philosophy insofar as he denies the legitimacy of other 'sects.'

But how did Irenaeus emerge as 'THE exegete' when he takes every opportunity to mention Papias whose book Λογίων Κυριακῶν Ἐξήγησις preceded him. As such Εἰρηναῖος ὁ ἐξηγητὴς in some form must have been dependent on Papias's Ἐξήγησις of the 'Oracles of the Lord.' The relationship is inescapable. Remember he builds up an imaginary John the disciple of the Lord who lived into the second century principally by means of Papias. Polycarp is a kind of afterthought.

We have already established that the Λογίων Κυριακῶν Ἐξήγησις must have taken there to be TWO types of logia:

a. the Old Testament 'prophesies' OF THE COMING of the Lord.
b. the things the Lord said AFTER HAVING COME (i.e. the gospel) but likely also as he continued to abide in the Christian community and various prophets made spiritual pronouncements.

I find it hard to escape that Papias must be equated in some sense with Montanus. The locales are the same (= Phrygia). Irenaeus doesn't mention 'Montanus' at all but only Papias. But the two are likely indistinguishable. There is prophesy BEFORE the coming of the Lord. Then prophesy 'dies out' in effect. Then, after the Lord 'reappears' a prophesy 'reappears' and Papias seems actively in search of it and his Ἐξήγησις may end up embodying both meanings of the terminology i.e. it is both an 'account' of the prophesy before and after the coming of the Lord and as an 'account' it is also an interpretation in the sense that any reporting of prophesy necessarily attempts to explain it.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8643
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:26 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:07 am
StephenGoranson wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 5:00 am
"Did Eusebius read Papias?"...

...is the title of an article by Luke J. Stevens in The Journal of Theological Studies, Volume 70, Issue 1, April 2019, Pages 163–183.
The article can be read here. Stevens made some really good points.
He certainly does, though to my eye he may get a little too excited about the renewed prospect of Papias having written about the gospels both of Luke and of John after all.

Kunigunde Kreuzerin
Posts: 1470
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:19 pm
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Contact:

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sun Feb 21, 2021 10:23 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:04 pm
So Papias likely had no witnesses even in antiquity. He mentions 'the Elder' who is said to be 'John' by Irenaeus or Eusebius and this leads to the creation of our canon and the myths associated with it (i.e. John gathering four texts together) but clearly the upshot is that even in the second century no one seems to know who 'Papias' is.
Agreed. Irenaeus probably knows what he is talking about, but already Eusebius apparently has no clue.

In the following comparison between the text passage from Irenaeus and Eusebius' alleged quotation from Papias, I have highlighted some things in colour.
  • words for "learning and teaching" in red, whereby it should be noted that the Greek word for "disciple" (μαθητής) is based on the word "learn" (μανθάνω). Disciples are learners in Greek.
  • words for "memorize, remember" (μνημονεύω) in blue, which etymologically goes back to "stay, remain" (μένω).
  • "Elder" and "Lord" in green
  • words for "faith", "belief" and "truth" in magenta

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.33.3-4 Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.1ff
The blessing thus predicted pertains, without fear of contradiction, to the times of the kingdom, when the just, rising from the dead, will reign, when even the creation, renewed and liberated, will produce a multitude of foods of all kinds from the dew of heaven and the fertility of the earth, just as the elders who saw John the disciple of the Lord remembered that they had heard from him how the Lord would teach about those times and would say
...
These things Papias too, who was a earwitness of John and companion of Polycarp, and an ancient man, wrote and testified in the fourth of his books. For there are five books written by him. And he adds, saying: But these things are believable by the believers. And, he says, Judas the traitor did not believe and asked: How therefore will such generations be brought to completion by the Lord? The Lord said: Those who come into those times will see.
But I will not hesitate, also so much I ever very carefully learnt and very carefully memorized from the Elders to put into properly ordered form for you together with the interpretations, guaranteeing it’s truth. Because, unlike the many people, I did not enjoy those who had many things to say, but those who teached the true things, not those who memorized other’s commandments, but those (who recalled) the things given from the Lord to the faith and which proceed from the truth itself.
But whenever someone, who had closely beside followed the Elders, came along, I investigated about the words of the Elders what Andrew or what Peter had said or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or what any of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying. Because I did not suppose that the things out of books would profit me as much as the things from a living and remaining voice.


imho we can make the following observations
  • In both passages there is no "Jesus" or "Christ", only the "Lord". The "Lord" also appears on the scene in the conversation with Judas.
  • Nor are there any "apostles" or "the twelve", only "disciples of the Lord" and "elders".
  • Nevertheless, figures from the Gospels such as Peter or Judas appear, albeit in an unusual way, perhaps similar to those in the Apocrypha. The term "Judas the traitor" refers to an event in the Gospels and appears similarly in Luke 6:16 ("Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor").

Charles Wilson
Posts: 1618
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:13 am

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Charles Wilson » Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:31 am

Perhaps, then, "Papias" serves a simple purpose: To the Argument that the Gospels cannot be True because the order of the stories is so jumbled, there appears a "Papias" who was supposed to be within a generation of the original disciples. He could state with authority that the stories were remembered perfectly but not written in the actual order of occurrence.

Problem solved.

gmx
Posts: 289
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:35 am

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by gmx » Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:16 am

The suggestion that discourses of Papias were extant in the middle ages should possibly be reckoned with in this thread.

That was discussed in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4115&hilit=zahn+papias

And courtesy of Ben, this link:
http://hypotyposeis.org/weblog/2003/11/ ... -ages.html

davidmartin
Posts: 735
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by davidmartin » Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:18 am

Someone mentioned Alexandria above
Another early reference to gospels is found in the 2nd century apologies
Can gospels be inferred from those who came before Clement?
He is as early as any other church father, right?

This apology would supposed to be from 125AD
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/aristides.html

how early are these apologies really?
Can they really be dated as early as they appear to?

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 13348
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:53 am

I've been thinking about the arguments for Eusebius to have used only a summary of Papias. I don't think it's convincing. The passages sound certainly like he had the text in front of him.

Also as another consideration. Unless I am slipping Παπίας = 232. 232 is an important kabbalistic number

https://www.biblewheel.com/GR/GR_232.php

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8643
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Did Papias exist?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:02 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:53 am
I've been thinking about the arguments for Eusebius to have used only a summary of Papias. I don't think it's convincing. The passages sound certainly like he had the text in front of him.
I am still thinking it all through myself. Some elements of it are more convincing than others.

Post Reply