May 21, 2010
Schoedel on Papias
Excerpt from: William R. Schoedel, "Papias", Aufstieg Und Niedergang Der Romischen Welt, , Volume 2; Volume 27 Ed. Wolfgang Haase (1992)
W. R. Schoedel
...Yet time did not deal kindly with Papias, partly no doubt because of his vigorous millenialism - a theological conviction that soon fell out of favor. Ancient notices about him are infrequent, and we possess only a few fragments of his writing, torn out of context and often garbled.
1. Place and Name
Papias was bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia (Euseb. Hist.Eccl. 3.36.1-2). The city was situated near the point where the road from Antioch (in Syria) to Ephesus and the road from Attalia (in Pamphylia) to Smyrna met. Papias' name was common especially in Phrygia, and he may well have been a native of the region.
Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 5.33.4; Euseb. HE 3.39.1) calls Papias "a man of the primitive period" (). Dates for his work have ranged from late in the 1st century to not before 140 A.
The later dates depends in part on taking the De Boor fragment (see below) more seriously than it deserves when it says that Papias spoke of those raised by Christ from the dead as surviving "to the time of Hadrian".
A few points are clear:
Papias wrote after the publication of Mark, Matthew, 1st Peter, and 1st John, all of which he apparently used; and his own work was known to Irenaeus (and possibly already to Justin).
The earliest dating depends in part on reading Papias' prologue (unnaturally, I think) as a reckoning with direct contact between Papias and the earliest disciples.
Yet there are other signs of a relatively early date: Gnosticism does not yet seem to loom large, Papias can still ignore Paul, and he can deal freely with the gospels and the gospel tradition. Probably Eusebius is right in placing Papias in the period of Ignatius and Polycarp, and we may agree with Bartlet in setting his writing about 110 A.D. (Reference to the martyrdom of Papias along with Polycarp and others in the 'chronicon Paschale' is the result of a misreading of Euseb., Hist.Eccl. 4.15).
Three new text from Armenian sources have recently been set forth as additions to the fragments of Papias by F. Seigert 53 Two of these are from an exegetical work of the 13th century scholar Vardan Vardabper (MS armenien 42, Paris, Biblioth. Nat.). Here we are told:
(a) that Papias had something to say about "aloes" that is relevant to Jn 19:39 (fol. 3r/v), and
(b) that the Pericope Adulterae (PA) as reported by Eusebius, was written by Papias (fol. 40v/41r).
But Kortner has shown how unreliable these references are. 54
First, Siegert wrongly thought that Vardan referred to Papias in his capacity as commentator on the Gospel of John. Instead, the "geographer" (Moses of Chorene) and Papias are said to have distinguished 15 kinds of aloes to be found in India. It is Vardan who connects that information with Jn 19:39. Under the circumstances it is more likely that Vardan was not referring to Papias of Hierapolis at all but to Pappos the 4th cent. Alexandrian geographer or perhaps to Papias the lexicographer .
Second, the statement about Papias and the authorship of the PA rests on a mistranslation in the Armenian version of Eusebius' Church History (H.E. 3.39.17).