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Old 07-25-2009, 03:13 PM   #1
Switch89
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Default Papias as a Witness to the Historical Jesus: A Response

This is an email I wrote to Jake O'Connell concerning his chapter in "Shattering the Christ Myth" which argued that Papias qualifies as an early witness to an historical Jesus. As of yet he has not responded, but I will try and remember to post his response if I recieve it. His chapter can be read for free here:

Hi Jake,

The first question I have is this: (and I'll have to do some explaining before I can ask it)

The best mythicist theories usually have Christianity begin as a mystery religion. Mystery religion begin with the initiate being told some myth, and later, as he ascends in rank, he is told the symbolism of the myth. Jesus mythicists would argue that the myth was passed on, but the inner symbolic truth was lost over time (perhaps those in the inner circles all died out before they could pass the truth on. Remember, the great revolt lasted from 66-73).

Your evidence is that Papias, who knew some elders who knew the apostles (or knew some elders who knew some elders who knew the apostles) believed in a historical Jesus, and therefore it is probable that Jesus existed.

But on the mythicist theory I just described, it may be that the apostles knew the symbolic truth but that they never passed it on, or that they passed it on one or two generations and that generation never passed it on.

Do you deny that this is possible? Do you have any arguments to show that this scenario is improbable?

Sincerely,
Ryan
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:57 PM   #2
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Papias is an especially solid witness to the historical Jesus since he probably wrote ca. 105 C.E. Papias also attests to the sayings of a historical individual in the first third of the first century as does Mark, M, L, Q and some of Thomas. Those are merely the first century references, btw.

Vinnie
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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Was this intended to be part of this thread?
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:32 AM   #4
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Hi Vinnie - nice to see you back. :wave:
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie View Post
Papias is an especially solid witness to the historical Jesus since he probably wrote ca. 105 C.E. Papias also attests to the sayings of a historical individual in the first third of the first century as does Mark, M, L, Q and some of Thomas. Those are merely the first century references, btw.

Vinnie
Papias, as did Josephus. wrote around the end of the first and beggining of the second century. A good minimum of 60 years after the so-called Crucifixion was supposed to have happened.
Both writers are writing hearsay at best, complete bunkum at worst. The myth of the messiah had by then morphed into the man-god Jebus the christ.
None were witnesses, or knew any witnesses to the facts. Looking for jebus outside of the gospels is like looking for lotto numbers in the morning papers astrology column.
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:47 AM   #6
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How can Papias be a witness to the historical Jesus if he isn't even a witness to the "original" apostles? He asks his contemporaries what these original apostles said, meaning that he was at least one generation removed from them.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:33 AM   #7
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I do not think Papias is a particularly reliable witness for anything. After all, this is what he wrote about Judas:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollinarius of Laodicea
Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before choking. And this the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, that falling headlong his middle burst and his bowels poured forth. And Papias the disciple of John records this most clearly, saying thus in the fourth of the Exegeses of the Words of the Lord:
Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced [out]. And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth. [4]
As found here.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo atheist View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie View Post
Papias is an especially solid witness to the historical Jesus since he probably wrote ca. 105 C.E. Papias also attests to the sayings of a historical individual in the first third of the first century as does Mark, M, L, Q and some of Thomas. Those are merely the first century references, btw.

Vinnie
Papias, as did Josephus. wrote around the end of the first and beggining of the second century. A good minimum of 60 years after the so-called Crucifixion was supposed to have happened.
Both writers are writing hearsay at best, complete bunkum at worst. The myth of the messiah had by then morphed into the man-god Jebus the christ.
None were witnesses, or knew any witnesses to the facts. Looking for jebus outside of the gospels is like looking for lotto numbers in the morning papers astrology column.
You do not have to witness something directly to be justified or rational in believing it to be true. Papias supplies a line of transmission to contemporary primary data in an oral culture as do the other sources I mentioned.

Sixty years is not too long of a time frame to supply the mere historicity of an individual in antiquity by an author who collected his sayings especially when direct lines of transmission are evident. In addition, there are at least five earlier collections that I mentioned.

Vinnie
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:00 AM   #9
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Default Batman and Papias

Hi Vinnie,

Your statistics are based on certain assumptions about the reliable nature of Eusebius' reporting what Papias actually wrote and the work of Papias as being as Eusebius describes. Since we do not have the original work this is a problematical assumption. Given the fairy-tale quality of Eusebius' entire history, we might want to think about this.

One may use statistics in the same way to figure out the real age of Batman's sidekick Robin. Robin is referred to as being a teenager in a 1940 comic book of Batman and referred to as being a teenager in a 1980 comic book of Batman. The average age of a teenage, let us say, is 16. If we take the 1940 comic, and subtract 16 years, we get a birthdate of 1924 If we take the 1980 comic, and subtract 16, we get a birth date of 1964. Taking an average between 1924 and 1964, we get a date of 1944. Thus we can say that Robin was born in 1944.

Since we have a definite and real birthdate for Robin, we may say that Robin is a solid witness that Batman was definitely born before 1944.

Warmly,

Philosopher Jay




Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie View Post
Papias is an especially solid witness to the historical Jesus since he probably wrote ca. 105 C.E. Papias also attests to the sayings of a historical individual in the first third of the first century as does Mark, M, L, Q and some of Thomas. Those are merely the first century references, btw.

Vinnie
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derec View Post
I do not think Papias is a particularly reliable witness for anything. After all, this is what he wrote about Judas:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollinarius of Laodicea
Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before choking. And this the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, that falling headlong his middle burst and his bowels poured forth. And Papias the disciple of John records this most clearly, saying thus in the fourth of the Exegeses of the Words of the Lord:
Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced [out]. And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth. [4]
As found here.
Papias' trustworthiness as a historian is generally unverified because his works have not survived to us. Using him as evidence for the mere existence of an historical individual and using him to find detailed information about said or other individuals are two different things. In addition, codign endings for infamous characters was the norm in antiquity. From an article I wrote:

Quote:
Brown: “The long form of Papias is closer to the full account of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in II Macc 9:5-10 (worms, vile stench) than is Acts 1:18. The death of Nadan in the Arabic form of the Ahiqar legend (8:38) has a much expanded description of the effect of swelling on the body. Herod Agrippa is struck down and eaten by worms in Acts 12:23. Josephus (Ant. 17.6.5) includes in the death of Herod the Great ulceration of the bowels, rotting of the private organ producing worms, and malodorous breath. Besides going mad, the brutal governor of Cyrene, Catallus, has his ulcerated bowels fall out (Josephus, War.7.11.4). According to Herodotus (Hist. 4.205) the cruel Cyrenaean Queen Pheretime has maggots or worms come out of her body. The same fate befalls Cassander who acts against the family of Alexander (Pausanius, Graeca Descriptio 9.7.3-4). The hostile emperor Galerius is punished with an abcess in his private organ, ulcerated bowels, a multitude of worms, and an intolerable stench (Eusebius, EH 8.16.3-5)."

Due to this process a less biased historian migh be inclined to suggest the following: Christians did not know what happened to the disciple who betrayed Judas so they decided to affix horrible fates to his life that parallel the tortures and punishments of other infamous characters in antiquity. Those reconstructing history today should not harmonize these accounts. To repeat: There is a popular imagination of horrible endings for infamous lives in antiquity. Matthew, Luke and Papias are a part of this widespread and common ancient practice.
Read the rest here.

Vinnie
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