(Early Second Century)

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PAPIAS, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phyrgia. He was born probably between 70 and 75 A.D., and died, perhaps, A.D. 163.[1] No fact save his episcopacy is definitely known about him, yet he is of great interest from his relation to the apostolic age. he was, according to Irenæus (Adv. Hær., v. 33, 4), "a hearer" of John the apostle, "a companion of Polycarp," "an ancient man," i.e., a nian of the primitive days of Christianity. By "John," Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 39) understands the presbyter, not the apostle, of that name, and declares that Papias had no personal acquaintance with any apostles. Papias, who was certainly acquainted with the present New Testament, wrote in Greek, about A.D. 130, An Interpretation of the Sayings of the Lord, in five books. His work appears to have been a collection of the words and works of the Master and his disciples, with explanatory matter derived from oral testimony. It has entirely perished, with the exception of a few small fragments preserved by Irenæus and Eusebius. The "fragments" in later writers are somewhat dubious. The first passage Eusebius quotes (l.c.) is from the preface of Papias' work, as follows: -

["But I shall not regret to subjoin to my interpretations, also, for your benefit, whatsoever I have at any time accurately ascertained and treasured up in my memory as I have received it from the elders, and have recorded it in order to give additional confirmation to the truth by my testimony. For I have never, like many, delighted to hear those that tell many things, but those that teach the truth; neither those that record foreign precepts, hut those that are given from the Lord to our faith, and that came from the truth itself. But, if I met with any one who had been a follower of the elders anywhere, I made it a point to inquire what were the declarations of the elders; what was said by Andre\v, Peter, or Philip; what by Thomas, James, John, Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord; what was said by Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord. For I do not think that I derived so much benefit from books as from the living voice of those that are still surviving."]

Besides quoting this passage, Eusebius speaks of Papias' stories of the daughters of Philip, who raised one from the dead, and of Justus, surnamed Barnabas, who drank poison with impunity (probably told by Papias in illustration of Mark xvi. 18), of Papias' strange accounts of the Lord's parables and doctrinal sayings, which were "rather too fabulous," and of his recital concerning a woman accused of many sins, apparently an allusion to the story of the woman taken in adultery, now found inserted in the textus receptus of John's Gospel (viii. 1 sqq.).

But of more account is the other verbal quotation from Papias which Eusebius gives (l.c.):-

[" And John the presbyter also said this, Mark being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrote with great accuracy, but not, however, in the order in which it was spoken or done by our Lord, for he neither heard nor followed our Lord, but, as before said, was in company with Peter, who gave him such instruction as was necessary, but not to give a history of our Lord's discourses. Wherefore Mark has not erred in any thing, by writing some things as lie has recorded them; for lie was carefully attentive to one thing, not to pass by any thing that he heard, or to state any thing falsely in these accounts. . . . Matthew composed his history in the Hebrew dialect, and every one translated it as he was able."]

Eusebius mentions Papias' use of 1 John, 1 Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews; the first two, probably, with the intention of showing that only these Epistles were rightly attributable to John and Peter. But out of the omission to speak in any way of the third and fourth Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, nothing can be made; for the failure to speak lies to the charge of Eusebius, not of Papias; and the silence arose merely front Eusebius' desire to quote a few characteristic things front Papias. The attempt to prove from this silence that Papias was ignorant of the other books is vain.

Besides the quotations already given, there are several fragments of Papias of interest. [See Routh, Reliquæ sacræ, vol. i., Eng. traits., in The Apostolical Fathers, Ante-Nicene Library, vol. i. pp. 441—448.] Thus in the Scltolia of Maximnus Confessor on Dionysius the Areopagite's De cælesti hierarchia (c. 2, p. 32), it is stated, on the authority' of Papias in the first book of his Interpretation, "The early Christian called those children who practised guilelessness toward God." Georgius Hamartolos (ninth century) cites in his Chronicle the second book of Papias as authority for the incredible statement that John, the brother of James, was killed by the Jews at Ephesus. Irenæus (Adv. Hær., v. 33, 3), quotes the fourth book of Papias as authority for our Lord's saying:-

["The days will come in which vines shall grow, having each ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and in every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes; and every grape when pressed will give twenty-five metretes (i.e., two hundred and twenty-five English gallons). And when any one of the saints shall lay bold of a cluster, another shall cry out, 'I am a better cluster: take me. Bless the Lord through me.' In like manner lie said that a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear would have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds of clear, pure, fine flour; and that apples and seeds and grass would produce in similar proportions; and that all animals, feeding then only on the productions of the earth, would become peaceable and harmonious, and he in perfect subjection to man."]

Eusebius apparently refers to this passage (Hist. Eccl., iii. 39) in proof that Papias interpreted the future millennium as a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth, and further says that Papias misunderstood the apostolic mystical narrations. Eusebius, moreover, charges Papias with leading Irenæus and most of the ecclesiastical writers to chiliastic notions. Another quotation from the fourth book in Œcumenius relates to the last sickness of Judas the apostate, in flat contradiction to the New-Testament account, - a proof that Papias credulously rested upon lying tradition, not that he was ignorant of Matthew and


the Acts. Other quotations show his preference for typico-allegorizing exposition. A note in a Vatican Vulgate manuscript of the ninth century speaks of Papias as the amanuensis of John. Eusebius appears to vacillate in his judgment of Papias; for whereas in iii. 36 he calls him "a man most learned in all things, and well acquainted with the Scriptures" in iii.39 he says he had "a small mind" [referring to his allegorizing tendency]. The former statement lacks satisfactory manuscript support, and is probably an interpolation. Not enough of Papias is left upon which to form an independent judgment [except that he was pious, credulous, and industrious].

["The work of Papias was extant in the time of Jerome. Perhaps it may yet he recovered; for some work with the name of Papias is mentioned thrice (234, 267, 556) in the catalogue of the Library of the Benedictine Monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury, contained in a Cottonian manuscript, written in the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century (E. Edwards, Memoirs of Libraries, London, 1859, vol. i. pp. 122-235); and according to Menard, the words ‘I found the book of Papias on the Words of the Lord' are contained in an inventory of the property of the church at Nismes, prepared about 1218."—DONALDSON, pp.401,402.]


[1] [But as the date of Polycarp's martyrdom has by recent research been put back to A.D. 155, the date of his contemporary friend Papias must likewise be put about ten years earlier. —ED.]

G.E. Steitz (C.L. Leimbach), "Papias," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 4. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.1738-39.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph Eusebius, Church History 2.15.2; 3.36.2; 3.39.
Book or monograph Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.33.4.
Book or monograph Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men 18.
Book or monograph Lightfoot: Apostolic FathersJ.B. Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, 2nd edn. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. ISBN: 0801021995. pp.514-535.
On-line Resource Alexander Roberts [1826-1901] & James Donaldson [1831-1915], eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Translations of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Vol. 1: The Apostolic Fathers—Justin Martyr—Irenaeus. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1887. Hbk. pp.602. View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]

Secondary Sources

Article in Journal or Book Rupert Annand, "Papias and the Four Gospels," Scottish Journal of Theology 9 (1956): 46-
Article in Journal or Book Benjamin Wisner Bacon, “The Elder John, Papias, Irenaeus, Eusebius and the Syriac translator,” Journal of Biblical Literature 27.1 (1908): 1-23.
Article in Journal or Book Richard Bauckham, "Papias and Polycrates on the Origin of the Fourth Gospel," Journal of Theological Studies 44.1 (1993): 24-69.
Article in Journal or Book Matthew Black, "The Use of Rhetorical Terminology in Papias on Mark and Matthew," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 37 (1989): 31-41.
On-line Resource F.F. Bruce, "Some Notes on the Fourth Evangelist," The Evangelical Quarterly 16 (1944): 101-109.View in PDF format pdf
On-line Resource John Chapman [1885-1934], "Papias on the Age of our Lord," Journal of Theological Studies 9 No 33 (Oct. 1907): 42-61.View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.61-62.
Article in Journal or Book David G. Deeks, "Papias Revisited (Part I)," Expository Times 88.10 (1977): 296-301.
Article in Journal or Book David G. Deeks, "Papias Revisited (Part 2)," Expository Times 88.11 (1977): 324-329.
On-line Resource D. Gregory Dix, "The Use and Abuse of Papias on the Fourth Gospel," Theology 24 (1932): 8-20.View in PDF format pdf
On-line Resource William John Ferrar [1868-1945], The Early Christian Books. Handbooks of Christian LiteratureWilliam John Ferrar [1868-1945], The Early Christian Books. Handbooks of Christian Literature. London: SPCK, 1919. Hbk. pp.108. View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]
Article in Journal or Book Joseph Frankovic, "Pieces to the Synoptic Puzzle: Papias and Luke 1:1-4," Jerusalem Perspective 40 (1993): 12-13.
Article in Journal or Book Dean Furlong, "Theodore of Mopsuestia: New Evidence for the Proposed Papian Fragment in Hist. eccl. 3.24.5-13," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 39.2 (2016): 209-229.
Article in Journal or Book Robert M. Grant, "Papias and the Gospels," Harvard Theological Review 25 (1943): 208-22.
Article in Journal or Book Robert M. Grant, "A Note on Papias," Anglican Theological Review 29 (1974): 171-72.
Article in Journal or Book Robert M. Grant, "Papias in Eusebius' Church History," Mélanges d'histoire des Religions Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974.
Article in Journal or Book R. Heard, "The APOMNHMONEYMATA in Papias, Justin and Irenaeus," Bulletin of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas 1/2 (1954): 122-29.
Article in Journal or Book R. Heard, "Papias' Quotations from the New Testament," Bulletin of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas 1/2 (1954): 130-34.
Article in Journal or Book Charles E. Hill, "What Papias Said about John (and Luke): A New Papian Fragment," Journal of Theological Studies 49.2 (1998): 582-629.
Article in Journal or Book Charles E. Hill, "Papias of Hierapolis," The Expository Times 117.8 (2006): 309-315. [Abstract]
Article in Journal or Book Andrew McGowan, "First Regarding the Cup... : Papias and the Diversity of Early Eucharistic Practice," Journal of Theological Studies 46.2 (1995): 551-555.
Article in Journal or Book Terence Y. Mullins, "Papias on Mark's Gospel," Vigiliae Christianae 14 (1960): 116-24.
Article in Journal or Book Terence Y. Mullins, "Papias and Clement and Mark's Two Gospels," Vigiliae Christianae 30.3 (1976): 189-192.
Article in Journal or Book Johannes Munck, "Presbyters and Disciples of the Lord in Papias," Harvard Theological Review 52 (1959): 223-243.
Article in Journal or Book Charles M. Nielsen, "Papias: Polemicist Against Whom?" Theological Studies 35.3 (1974): 529-535.
Article in Journal or Book A.C. Perumalil, "Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competant to Report on the Gospels?" Expository Times 91.11 (1980): 332-337.
Article in Journal or Book H.A. Rigg, Jr., "Papias on Mark," Novum Testamentum 1 (1956): 161-83.
Article in Journal or Book E.G. Ryan, "Papias and the Marcan Gospel," The Theologian 13.2 (1957): 1-10.
Article in Journal or Book Alistair Stewart-Sykes, "Taxei in Papias: Again," Journal of Early Christian Studies 3.4 (1995): 487-492.
Article in Journal or Book A.F. Walls, "Papias and Oral Tradition," Vigiliae Christianae 21.3 (1967): 137-140.
On-line Resource Robert W. Yarbrough, "The date of Papias: a reassessment," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26.2 (June 1983): 181-191.View in PDF format pdf

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