I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Lost Writings of Papias Part 3

Concerning Papias, Eusebius the historian (circa 260-339 A.D.) wrote the following:

"Papias reproduces other stories communicated to him by word of mouth, together with some otherwise unknown parables and teachings of the Saviour, and other things of a more allegorical character. He says that after the resurrection of the dead there will be a period of a thousand years, when Christ's kingdom will be set up on this earth in material form. I suppose he got these notions by misinterpreting the apostolic accounts and failing to grasp what they had said in mystic and symbolic language. For he seems to have been a man of very small intelligence, to judge from his books. But it is partly due to him that the great majority of churchmen after him took the same view, relying on his early date; e.g. Irenaeus and several others, who clearly held the same opinion."(1)

So, here is Eusebius saying that Papias didn't know what he was talking about - 100 to 200 plus years after the fact. Eusebius says that Papias should have interpreted the scriptures allegorically. Who told Eusebius that the sayings of the apostles were to be interpreted in that manner? Did he talk to the apostles, or God, personally to know how they should be interpreted? Papias was not only a believer in Jesus Christ, but a bishop! If Jesus spoke plainly to his apostles, and his apostles spoke plainly (or at least tried to) to their converts, don't you think that they would speak plainly to a bishop who presided over a congregation of converts?! What was Eusebius thinking? And if Papias was of such small intelligence, why would he have been given the charge of an entire congregation in the first place?

Sadly, all that exists today of Papias' writings are but a few tidbits given to us by Irenaeus and Eusebius. I don't know why it is that all five volumes of Papias's work do not exist today, but I suspect that is because of Eusebius's conceit in his own learning and his presumptuous opinions that they have gone missing all these centuries. Though there may have existed private collections of New Testament writings, there was no "official" collection made until the emperor Constantine commissioned Eusebius to make one. I can only conclude that it is because he didn't consider Papias all that important that it is not included in our current collection of New Testament writings. Ahhh, but what a great treasure it would be if the writings of Papias existed in their entirety today!

  1. Eusebius, The History of the Church, Tr. By G.A. Williamson, Ed. By Andrew Louth. (London, England: Penguin Books, 1965), p. 103.


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