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Papias of Hierapolis


Bishop and chronicler of primitive Christianity; b. c. a.d. 60 or 70; d. c. 125. Information on Papias is supplied by eusebius of caesarea (Hist. Eccl. 2.15.2, 3.39.13) and irenaeus of lyons (Adv. haer. 5.33.4). Irenaeus testifies that Papias heard the Apostle John preach and was acquainted with Polycarp; Eusebius makes mention of his Explanation of the Sayings of the Lord (in 5 bks.). In the preface to this work, Papias asserts that his main endeavor is to record the truth, and that he had made a collection of the logia (sayings that included both words and deeds) of the Apostles that were reported to him by a presbyter. Irenaeus took this to mean that Papias was quoting the Evangelist John, whereas Eusebius maintains that Papias spoke of two Johns, indicating the Evangelist as one, and the other as the companion of Aristion, one of the presbyters, or elders, of the primitive Church (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.7). Eusebius further believed that the second John was the author of the Apocalypse and accused Papias of transmitting the heretical doctrine of chiliasm to Irenaeus and other early churchmen (ibid. 3.39.1213).

Papias stated that Mark the Evangelist was the interpreter of Peter, that Mark had never heard Christ, but that he had carefully recorded everything he remembered from Peter's preaching (ibid. 3.39.15). Of Matthew, Papias maintained that he "wrote down the logia of the Savior in the Hebrew dialektikos [language or dialect], and each one interpreted them as best he could"(3.39.16). Irenaeus took this to refer to the Hebraisms that appear frequently in Matthew's Gospel. Origen, however, thought it meant that Matthew had originally written his Gospel in Hebrew. Papias also witnessed to the existence of the apocryphal Gospel according to the Hebrews, out of which he reported a story of the woman taken in adultery that differs from the disputed pericope in John's Gospel (7.538.11). Papias refers to the daughters of the Apostle Philip, who told him of a miracle concerning a certain Justus Barsabbas, as well as, in Eusebius's judgment, several bizarre parables attributed to the Savior (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.913).

Papias's exegesis was used not merely by Irenaeus, but by Origen and Western theologians down to victorinus of pettau. His testimony, however, has raised many problems in regard to the formation of the Gospel texts, an Aramaic version of Matthew, the identity of the two Johns, and other questions about the history of the primitive Church. According to a late legend he died a martyr.

Bibliography: j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster, Maryland 1950) 1:8285. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190350) 11.2:194447. m. jourjon, Dictionnaire de la Bible, suppl. ed. l. pirot, et al. (Paris 1928) 6:11041109. j. kÜrzinger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 8:3436. e. preuschen, ed. and tr., Antilegomena (2d ed. Giessen 1905) 9199, 195202. k. bihlmeyer, ed., Die Apostolischen Väter (2d ed. Tübingen 1956) 133140. f. wotke, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 18.2 (1949) 966976. j. f. bligh, Theological Studies 13 (1952 234240. j. munck, Harvard Theological Review 52 (1959) 223243; Neotestamentica et Patristica (Leiden 1962) 249260. k. beyschlag, Studia patristica, v.4 (TU 79; 1961) 268280.

[f. x. murphy]

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