Papias, Origen, and Eusebius: The Criticisms and Defense of the Gospel of John

In: Vigiliae Christianae
T. Scott Manor 3 Rue Vauquelin, Paris, 75005 France

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The question of whether or not Papias recorded anything about John’s Gospel has garnered a lot of attention in the scholarly realms of New Testament and Patristics alike. Most notably, Charles E. Hill has recently argued that a portion of Eusebius’ testimony (HE 3.24.5-13) on the origins of the Gospel of John derives from the record of Papias. Aspects of Hill’s proposal are largely convincing, particularly the links he draws between Eusebius’ testimony and other writers who knew the Papian tradition. However, Hill has overestimated the influence of Papias on Eusebius’ account and missed a crucial, albeit subtle, correction by Eusebius against his hero, Origen. This article suggests that the argument for Gospel compatibility found in 3.24.8b-13 is Eusebius’ own direct response to the criticisms raised by Origen that the divergent chronology of the Gospel of John demonstrates its historical unreliability.

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