Re: [Synoptic-L] Papias
- Stephen asked
Let's take this as an example. In what way should be
people be taking Papias's tale of the death of Judas into account?
This and other less dramatic examples suggest
that Papias had a partiality for oral tradition
which resulted in his accepting a number of
stories which may have been more interesting than
The version of the fate of Judas is particularly
lurid and implausible, but no doubt appealing
given the sense of horror at the treachery
involved in the original accounts. Of course
it may be that it is later "tradition" which has
elaborated or pinned on Papias something for
which he was not responsible, but to take that line
then casts doubt on how accurately Papias is reported
on other matters. But even without this one story
Papias does seem to get some fairly strange items
attributed to him - e.g. the one vine producing 10K shoots,
each with 10k branches, each with 10K offshoots,
each with 10K grapes each of which yields 25 measures
of wine does suggest some propensity for exaggeration
somewhere along the line passing through Papias.
(Enough to give a TT apoplexy I would guess).
That is why I have a few reservations about those who
assume Papias is a reliable source when only familiar with
a dozen lines attributed to him about Mark and Matthew.
But perhaps I am alone in wishing that I had the opportunity
to ask Papias a few straight questions, though if I did have
one opportunity to do that with one figure from the past
I can think of several people at whose feet I would much
prefer to sit.
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
- Ken Olson wrote:
> I am assuming that what Papias says in other places (according to Eusebius‚Ken,
> reports) may be used to interpret
> what he says here. Particularly when he uses groups of words together
> (interpret, arrange, logia) in relation to the evangelists on different
> occasions, they mean something close to the same thing .....
NT scholars don't always use the word "gospel" in the same sense. The
variation in meaning parallels almost exactly the variation in meaning
between Eusebius/Papias, where logia usually refers to general traditions
(c.f. e.g. Luke's gospel), and what I think Papias meant re what Matthew
produced - logia as sayings (c.f. the 'Gospel of Thomas'). Why should we
expect the ancients to be more consistent than the highly educated products
of modern universities?
> Papias' concern is to show that the gospels are the authentic witness of theThere appears to be a significant weakness in your assessment of the
> apostles to Jesus and have not been adulterated in transmission, and the
> variation between them is due differences in translation of the underlying
> material .....
statement by Papias, namely your interpretation of his "translation".
Firstly it assumes that Eusebius' HE 3.24.6 reflects the understanding of
Papias, which is not necessarily the case (and I think you admitted this).
Secondly I don't see any evidence that Papias (or Eusebius) was making
inadequate translation an excuse for variations between the gospels.
Thirdly, if I've understood you correctly, your interpretation envisages an
awkward sentence in which Matthew did a good job with the logia, yet is
included in the "each one" whose ability at translation was being
questioned. This doesn't seem to me likely. In my interpretation, Matthew
(the apostle) is not included in the "each one". Indeed I'm wondering
whether it could have been this very statement which Eusebius and/or others
misunderstood, leading to the apostle Matthew being taken to have been the
author of the gospel which we know as Matthew's gospel.
> You can't simply set aside the larger context of what Papias and Eusebius sayBut what about the wider context of the synoptic problem? There are
> elsewhere as a tool for interpreting what he says here about Matthew.
phenomena in NT books that can only be explained satisfactorily if there
existed in the first century a written Aramaic document containing sayings
attributed to Jesus, and if copies of this document were available to the
2. Aramaic word play
3. extensive Semitic parallelism
4. blocks of aphorisms in each of the synoptic gospels
5. comments by Paul (esp. in 1 Cor) which seem to be best understood as
allusions to such a document
Such observations should lead us to *expect* that there was an Aramaic
sayings source, and surely it would be reasonable to take this expectation
as tipping the balance as to what Papias actually meant.