Papias of Hierapolis

Papias Of Hierapolis, in Phrygia, a noted Christian writer and prelate of the patristic period, is one of the most important witnesses to the authenticity of John's Gospel. Papias flourished in the 2d century, and finally suffered martyrdom. According to Irenaeus he was a disciple of the apostle John; but Eusebius, who quotes (Hist. Eccles. ch. 39) the words of Irenaeus, immediately subjoins a passage from Papias himself, in which the latter distinctly states that he did not receive his doctrines from any of the apostles, but from the "living voice" of such followers of theirs as "are still surviving." He was an intimate associate of Polycarp, a bishop in the same province of proconsular Asia; and as the latter was a disciple of the apostle John, it is probable that Irenaeus — a somewhat hasty writer — inferred that his companion must have been the same. The Paschal or Alexandrian Chronicle states that Papias suffered martyrdom at Pergamus, A.D. 161; others put the date 165. Eusebius describes him as "well skilled in all manner of learning, and well acquainted with the Scriptures;" but a little farther on he speaks of him as a man "of limited understanding," and a very credulous chronicier of "unwritten tradition," who had collected "certain strange parables of our Lord and of his doctrine, and some other matters rather too fabulous" The work in which these were contained was entitled Αογίων κυριακῶν ἐξήγησις (Five Books of Commentaries on the Sayings of our Lord). It is now lost, but fragments of it have been preserved by Ireneus, Eusebius, Anastasius Sinaita, Andreas of Caesarea, Maximus Confessor, and Ecumenius. These fragments are extremely interesting, because of the light which they throw on the origin of the New- Testament Scriptures, and their importance may be estimated from the fact that they contain the earliest information which we possess on the subject. Papias is our authority for the statement that the evangelist Matthew drew up a collection of Christ's sayings and doings in the Hebrew (probably Syro-Chaldaic) dialect, and that every one translated it as he was able. There can be no doubt that this is a perplexing statement, suggesting as it does the delicate question: "If Papias is correct, who wrote our present Matthew, which is in Greek, and not in Hebrew?" SEE MATTHEW, GOSPEL OF. Papias also tells us, either on the authority of John the Presbyter, or more probably on that of one of his followers, that the evangelist Mark was the interpreter (ἑομηνευτής) of Peter, and wrote "whatsoever he [Peter] recorded, with great accuracy." The passage, however, is far from implying that Mark was a mere amanuensis of Peter, as some have asserted, but only, as Valesius has shown, that Mark listened attentively to Peter's preaching, culled from it such things as most strictly concerned Christ, and so drew up his Gospel. According to Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 3:39), Papias was an extreme Millenarian. — S. Cave, Hist. Litterae. Papias; Herzog, Petrologie, § 17; Neander, Hist. of Dogmas; Holtzmann, Die synoptischen Evangel. (Leips. 1863), p. 248-251; Limbach, Das Papias Fragment (1875). See also Studien u. Kritiken, 1870; 1875; Meth. Qu. Rev. 1853, p. 487; 1866, p. 605; Theological Eccles. Rev. 3:241; Christ. Remembrancer, July, 1853, p. 218.

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