What to make of Papias' strange quotes?

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TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Papias was known to be a hearer of John the apostle and much of our evidence for the apostolic authorship of the gospels comes from him. I, however, am pretty perplexed as to why many consider him to be a reliable source due to quotes like these:

"To some of them [angels] He gave dominion over the arrangement of the world, and He commissioned them to exercise their dominion well. And he says, immediately after this: but it happened that their arrangement came to nothing"

This is easily the most concerning quote of his I've read as he denies the Creator-Creature distinction in positing angels as creators. Isn't this blatant heresy?

Or take this quotation,

"As the presbyters say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him. But that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold; for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in Paradise, and the last will inhabit the city; and that on this account the Lord said, 'In my Father’s house are many mansions:' for all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place, even as His word says, that a share is given to all by the Father, according as each one is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch in which they shall recline who feast, being invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the apostles, say that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature"

He also has a very strange take on Judas' death that I won't bother quoting here, but my question is what are we to make of these statements? How could someone who was so close to the apostles say anything like these? Does it make sense to see Papias as a reliable source at all?
 

dhh712

Puritan Board Freshman
As Sean comments, I think that's just it--he wasn't given inspiration by the spirit. But I think I know what you're getting at--like why would he come up with such statements if he were in direct conversation with the apostles (namely John as you point out) who should have given better instruction? It may come down to simply how the sin remaining in us makes us unable to see things perfectly, infallibly (as there is no infallible interpreter of God's infallible word). In conversation, they were still liable to see things in a misguided way, perhaps; also, even if he was taught correctly, he still may have turned it around to something different in his own mind as people are often prone to doing.

Do we know if the author derived his comments from any actual verses of God's word?

"To some of them [angels] He gave dominion over the arrangement of the world, and He commissioned them to exercise their dominion well. And he says, immediately after this: but it happened that their arrangement came to nothing"

This is easily the most concerning quote of his I've read as he denies the Creator-Creature distinction in positing angels as creators. Isn't this blatant heresy?
Does the idea of angels being Creators come from how, as he states, they were given "dominion over the arrangement of the world"? Could that mean something else like it's government or something? Just thinking out loud. It doesn't appear to me that "arrangement of the world" denotes anything specific, but that may be just me not understanding it clearly.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
John Milton in Paradise Lost has the angels doing work in the creation after it was done, but not actually creating. So the idea is not limited to Papias, if he's thinking along those lines.
Since God is pleased to use means to accomplish His work, why not use angels as means of ordering creation, or directing meteors, or some unnamed task on the surface of the sun, as Milton has it?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
This is easily the most concerning quote of his I've read as he denies the Creator-Creature distinction in positing angels as creators. Isn't this blatant heresy?

I think arrangement means something akin to territorial ownership, ala Daniel 10 and Deut. 32. I don't see Papias saying angels co-created the world.

If I arrange papers on my desk, that doesn't mean I created them out of thin air.
 
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SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
For what it's worth, Eusebius thought Papias was an imbecile.

He may have sat with the Apostles, or Disciples of the Apostles, but that doesn't mean he was a particularly intelligent individual.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
From what I have heard in the James White church history series I have been listening to (Sean, I believe this is when he was still at your church), he mentioned that we have NO actual writings of Papias, so everything is being quoted second hand. So, it's possible Papias never said any of those things, or someone else said them and then attributed them to Papias because of the name recognition.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The actual quote itself is not that objectionable, as long as arranged isn't read to mean created (which it never means, anyway). That said, none of the second-hand accounts of Papias make him sound that profound.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
From what I have heard in the James White church history series I have been listening to (Sean, I believe this is when he was still at your church), he mentioned that we have NO actual writings of Papias, so everything is being quoted second hand. So, it's possible Papias never said any of those things, or someone else said them and then attributed them to Papias because of the name recognition.

Yep, that's what I remember. Odds are I was sitting in the front row when James said exactly that.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the replies. Yea, it would be helpful if we had Papias' original writings to see the context more clearly, but I guess what I'm trying to get at is, does it make sense for us to see him as a reliable source as far as the authorship of the gospels go when we have such strange quotes as these? It makes you wonder how much we can actually trust of the quotes we have of him from Eusebius. Doesn't it seem inconsistent for us to cite him as a source, or perhaps I'm just overthinking this?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
but I guess what I'm trying to get at is, does it make sense for us to see him as a reliable source as far as the authorship of the gospels go when we have such strange quotes as these?

The quotes aren't strange. They seem like a summary of aspects of Deut. 32.
It makes you wonder how much we can actually trust of the quotes we have of him from Eusebius. Doesn't it seem inconsistent for us to cite him as a source,

That actually works as evidence in his favor. If he unironically believes this, then it doesn't seem like he is making things up. If Papias had a reputation as a liar, then we shouldn't appeal to him.

There is a difference between saying strange things and actually providing false evidence. The former doesn't logically imply the latter.
 
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SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hey, TryingToLearn, I am not a Mod or Admin here, but I noticed you don't have your signature set up.

One of the board's rules requires the members of this board to have certain info in their signature line.

Here's the guideline:
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I'm confused. What parts of Deut. 32 are you referring to? I guess Im missing something.

Thanks! I'm trying to find the User Control Panel to add it in

Verse 8.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God

Sons of God are heavenly beings. Other translations say "sons of Israel," but that doesn't really make sense, since Israel didn't exist at that time. Papias is almost certainly working with the Septuagint, which translates it as "angels." Not a great translation, but still closer in concept. He would have seen angels as the territorial guardians of the nations. We see similar language in Daniel 10.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Verse 8.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God

Sons of God are heavenly beings. Other translations say "sons of Israel," but that doesn't really make sense, since Israel didn't exist at that time. Papias is almost certainly working with the Septuagint, which translates it as "angels." Not a great translation, but still closer in concept. He would have seen angels as the territorial guardians of the nations. We see similar language in Daniel 10.
Ah, I see now. Thanks. "Arrangement of the world" seems to be more in a creative-sense to me, especially followed by "their arrangement came to nothing", because if he meant in a dominion over nations sense, he probably put wouldn't have said it "came to nothing" if it's evident that angels do exercise authority over nations from Daniel. Nevertheless, it's hard to know exactly what he meant without a full context.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Ah, I see now. Thanks. "Arrangement of the world" seems to be more in a creative-sense to me, especially followed by "their arrangement came to nothing", because if he meant in a dominion over nations sense, he probably put wouldn't have said it "came to nothing" if it's evident that angels do exercise authority over nations from Daniel. Nevertheless, it's hard to know exactly what he meant without a full context.

Part of the problem is Papias's use of "angels" from the LXX, which implies morally good beings. The Hebraic concept of the beney ha-elohim, the sons of God, doesn't necessarily carry the same connotation.

In any case, the heavenly beings in charge of Greece and Persia aren't good.
 
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