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Papias, Fragments

Papias of Hierapolis

During the Axial Age scribbling down verbal utterances of the Oral Tradition - axioms, adages and proverbs - of Akhenaten, Lao Tze, Siddhartha Gautama, Zoroaster, Moshe Rabbenu and Pythagoras became widespread with the use of written language.

The Gospel of Thomas, found in 1945, is evidence collections existed.

The idea that the Greek gospels are based on primitive collection of sayings (Greek: logia) goes back to the very first commentary on the gospels.

Early in the 2nd century after the birth of Jesus, Papias reported Matthew compiled the logia of Christ which others interpreted as best they could.

Papias penned, a 5 volume commentary on the sayings of Jesus from the accounts of second generation church leaders, labeled an Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.

The Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord to this date provide the earliest record of the composition of the gospels.

Papias' work is among the many texts claimed to be known to ancient Christians that were destroyed by the Roman Catholic Church.

From a fragment from the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord by Papias:

Papias affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he moreover asserts that he heard with his own ears Aristion and the presbyter John.

Papias mentions them frequently by name and his writings gives their traditions.

Papias relates miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from the Oral Tradition.

Papias set down other things as coming to him from unwritten tradition, strange parables and instructions of Jesus - and things of a fabulous nature.

One of these predicts that a millennium after Jesus' resurrection from death, the personal reign of Jesus as Messiah will be established on Earth.

Papias moreover hands down, in his own writing, narratives given by Aristion of Jesus' sayings, and the traditions of presbyter John.

Papias has given in the following words regarding the Gospel of Mark:

"And the presbyter said this:

Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered.

It was not in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Jesus.

For he neither heard Jesus nor accompanied Him.

Afterwards he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to necessities, with no intention of giving a regular narrative of Jesus' sayings.

Mark made no mistake in writing things as he remembered them.

For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements."

With regard to the Gospel of Matthew, Papias made the following statement:

"Matthew put together the sayings in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.

The same writer used proofs from the First Epistle of John, and from the Epistle of Peter in like manner."

Papias also gives another story of a woman who was accused of many sins before Jesus, which is to be found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

This fragment of the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord by Papias translated by the Reverend Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.

Excerpt from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Reverend Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885

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