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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: May 2021

17 - The Fragments of Papias


Papias of Hierapolis flourished in the early second century and wrote five books of Exposition of Dominical Oracles (logiōn kyriakōn exēgēseōs), of which only scattered quotations from his readers survive, including Irenaeus, Eusebius, Apollinaris, and Andrew of Caesarea. Among these excerpts, we learn that Papias was commended by Irenaeus as a hearer of John and a colleague of Polycarp. Eusebius mentions him too for his testimony on the origin of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, and this is the main reason why Papias holds our interest today. Yet his materialistic views about the millennial kingdom of Christ fell out of favor in the third century and ultimately led to the loss of his magnum opus. The largest edition of his remains to date is that of M.W. Holmes, which has twenty-eight separate “fragments” of Papias, though my forthcoming edition for the Oxford Early Christian Texts series will have more than triple the number of items.

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