A Papias Mystery: What Was the Book He Wrote? Guest Post by Stephen Carlson

 

Stephen Carlson has graciously agreed to do a few more posts on his work on Papias.  Remember, Papias is that (very?) early second century church father who is later said to have written a five-volume work called the Exposition of the Sayings (or Oracles) of the Lord.   We don’t have the book any longer, and don’t really even know what was in it.  But several church fathers mention it and give a few quotations from it, some of them very ...

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Papias. How Do We Know His Context? Guest post by Stephen Carlson

Now that Stephen Carlson has said a few things about Papias, in this post he is going to explain why it is so hard to know what Papias is actually saying in the fragmentary quotations of his writings that we have.   (Even though people / scholars quote them all the time as if we can tell exactly what he means.)  It all has to do with putting them in context.  But what if you don’t know the context?

This is the ...

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The Writings of Papias: Guest Post by Stephen Carlson

I occasionally get questions about one of the most interesting but least known Christian authors of the early 2nd century, a man named Papias (writing in 120 CE? 140 CE).  Many readers consider him particularly important because he claims to have known and interviewed the companions of disciples of Jesus’ own apostles (it’s a bit confusing: but Jesus had his apostles; after his death they themselves had disciples; Papias knew people who knew these disciples of the apostles); moreover, Papias ...

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Now, The Gospel of Peter

I am devoting this thread to understanding why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament, when other Petrine books, especially 2 Peter, did make it in.  I’ve summarized what happens in both these books, but to contextualize my remarks further, I have to provide information on yet another Petrine book that did not make it in, the “Gospel of Peter.”  I’ve talked about this Gospel several times on the blog before, but since it is ...

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Introducing the Apocalypse of Peter

As I said in my last post, I have been putting a lot of time into reading the scholarship on the Apocalypse of Peter, an early-second-century text that describes the torments of the damned in some graphic detail, and that almost came to be accepted as part of the New Testament canon.  I’m puzzling long and hard over why, in the end, it did not make it in.   It’s not an easy question to answer, given our scant discussions of ...

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A Very Perplexing Question

As many of you know I am on sabbatical this year at the National Humanities.   This gives me a year off from teaching duties in order to focus on my research for my next book.   I am not working on a trade book for a general audience, but a scholarly monograph meant for academics in the field of Early Christian studies.   I’ve talked about the book before on the blog, but want to say a few more things about it ...

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Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library and Some Crucial Missing Parts!

I have been making two-posts-a-day, giving the new “boxes” that I’ve written for the seventh edition of my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  Today, as it turns out, the two boxes I was going to post are both about the Nag Hammadi Library (the so-called “Gnostic Gospels”).  So I’ll simply include both of them in this one post.  Happy reading!

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Another Glimpse Into the Past

11.6 The Discovery of ...

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What Was Discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library?

I have started a short series in response to a question about the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945 among a cache of documents near Nag Hammadi Egypt.  In my last post I gave the story typically recited by NT scholars for the discovery of this “Nag Hammadi Library.”   Some scholars have doubted the story, and we may never know the details.  What is not in dispute is what was actually discovered.

This is what I say about it in ...

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How the Gospel of Thomas Was Discovered

A few days ago I responded to a reader’s comment by saying something about how I am reluctant these days to label the Gospel of Thomas a “Gnostic” Gospel.  Several readers responded to my comment by asking what in the blazes I could possibly mean.  So I thought I would respond.  But then I realized that to make sense of anything I have to say about the matter will require me to start at the beginning — since some readers ...

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Is 1 Clement Older than Some Books of the New Testament?

This will be my final post on the book of 1 Clement.  Now that I’ve summarized what the book is about and said something about its author, I can turn to the original question I was asked, about its date.  The time of its writing is an important question, for a reason you might not suspect.

It is almost always said – I myself regularly say this, as a kind of simple “short hand,” knowing that it’s probably not literally true, ...

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