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Re: [Synoptic-L] Papias

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  • David Mealand
    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
    Message 1 of 52 , Jul 2, 2012
      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 M.

      David Mealand, University of Edinburgh

      The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
      Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
    • Ronald Price
      ... Ken, 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
      Message 52 of 52 , Jul 4, 2012
        Ken Olson wrote:

        > I am assuming that what Papias says in other places (according to Eusebius‚
        > 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 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 .....

        There appears to be a significant weakness in your assessment of the
        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 say
        > elsewhere as a tool for interpreting what he says here about Matthew.

        But what about the wider context of the synoptic problem? There are
        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
        synoptic writers.

        1. mistranslations
        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.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

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