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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

THERE are said to be five books of Papias, which bear the title “Interpretation of our Lord’s Declarations.” Irenæus, also, makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following terms: “These things are attested by Papias, who was John’s hearer and the associate of Polycarp, an ancient writer, who mentions them in the fourth book of his works; for he has written a work in five books.” So far Irenæus. But Papias himself, in the preface to his discourses, by no means asserts that he was a hearer and an eye-witness of the holy apostles, but informs us that he received the doctrines of faith from their intimate friends, which he states in the following words: “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, but 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 any where, I made it a point to inquire what were the declarations of the elders; what was said by Andrew, 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.” Where it is also proper to observe the name of John is twice mentioned, the former of which he mentions with Peter and James and Matthew, and the other apostles; evidently meaning the evangelist. But in a separate point of his discourse he ranks the other John, with the rest not included in the number of apostles, placing Aristion before him: he distinguishes him plainly by the name of presbyter. So that it is here proved that the statement of those is true, who assert there were two of the same name in Asia, that there were also two tombs in Ephesus, and that both are called John even to this day; which it is particularly necessary to observe. For it is probable that the second, if it be not allowed that it was the first, saw the revelation ascribed to John. And the same Papias, of whom we now speak, professes to have received the declarations of the apostles from those that were in company with them, and says also that he was a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. For as he has often mentioned them by name, he also gives their statements in his own works. These matters, I trust, have not been uselessly adduced. But it may be important also to subjoin other declarations to these passages from Papias, in which he gives certain wonderful accounts, together with other matters that he seems to have received by tradition. That the apostle Philip continued at Hierapolis, with his daughters, has been already stated above; but we must now show how Papias, coming to them, received a wonderful account from the daughters of Philip; for he writes that in his time there was one raised from the dead. Another wonderful event happened respecting Justus, surnamed Barsabas, who, though he drank a deadly poison, experienced nothing injurious, through the grace of the Lord. This same Justus is mentioned in the book of Acts, after the resurrection, as the one over whom, together with Matthias, the holy apostles prayed, in order to fill up their number, by casting lots, to supply the place of Judas the traitor. The passage is as follows: “And they placed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And having prayed, they said.” The same historian also gives other accounts, which he says he adds as received by him from unwritten tradition, likewise certain strange parables of our Lord and of his doctrine, and some other matters rather too fabulous. In these he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations. For he was very limited in his comprehension, as is evident from his discourses, yet he was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion; as, for instance, Irenæus, or any other that adopted such sentiments. He has also inserted in his work other accounts given by the above-mentioned Aristion, respecting our Lord, as also the traditions of the presbyter John, to which referring those that are desirous of learning them, we shall now subjoin to the extracts from him already given, a tradition which he sets forth concerning Mark, who wrote the gospel, in the following words: “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, he 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 he has recorded them; for he was carefully attentive to one thing, not to pass by any thing that he heard, or to state any thing falsely in these accounts.” Such is the account of Papias, respecting Mark. Of Matthew he has stated as follows: “Matthew composed his history in the Hebrew dialect, and every one translated it as he was able.” The same author (Papias) made use of testimonies from the first epistle of John, and likewise from that of Peter. He also gives another history of a woman, who had been accused of many sins before the Lord, which is also contained in the gospel according to the Hebrews. And this may be noted as a necessary addition to what we have before stated.








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