I’ve been sitting on the idea presented in this post for a couple weeks. As an idea, it sets off red flags. It’s comparing a text known only from a few fragments to another text known only from a few fragments, which both reduces the amount of potential evidence and increases the amount of room for speculation. It’s positing an identity between two given names of writers, writers that are widely known in some circles (they are both in presentations of church history aimed at a secondary school level) and conflating them, which seems a bit pat.
Frankly, I didn’t like these red flags, and that’s why I felt it necessary to mull it over a bit before offering it to others for consideration. My own understanding of the evidence has not changed, so I’m giving the idea up for scrutiny that others might help me change it if I have erred.
The idea arises from the background material presented in earlier posts:
The second post, about Hegesippus, concludes that the author’s name was unknown (having been assumed to be Josephus and then corrupted to be Hegesippus), that the author may have been known solely from his fifth book (from which the title was ascribed), and that the author wrote during the reign of Antoninus and specifically between 138 and 148 AD. The conclusions reached when “Chasing Hegesippus” lead to the question of the author’s identity.
Here are the clues that point to a common identity between Papias and the author of the fifth book of memoirs otherwise known as Hegesippus:
- Both refer to Hadrian as a recent emperor (Papias in the fragment from Philip of Side, Hegesippus in the fragment regarding Antinoüs).
- Both are attributed with a five-volume work.
- Quotes from Papias mention specifically only the first, second, and fourth books. Quotes from Hegesippus mention specifically only the fifth book.
- The fourth book of Papias is explicitly mentioned for containing the death of Judas and a scene that appears to be drawn from the Lord’s supper. The fifth book of the other work contains post-Ascension stories.
- Papias stresses memory (μνημονεύουσιν), while the other work acquires the title Memoirs (Ὑπομνήματα) and has the author making inquiries in Corinth.
- Stephen Gobar refers to Hegesippus in the context (apparently) of correcting 1 Clement because it quotes a potential dominical saying (“Eye has not seen,” etc.) that contradicts a more-authoritative saying, a concern for the sayings of the Lord and a criticism of books that contained them consistent with Papias.
- Both Papias and Hegesippus are specifically mentioned by Eusebius as using the Gospel of the Hebrews.
- Both make lists of sevens (heretical schools for Hegesippus, apostles and other things for Papias).
- Both show a concern for proper order or chronology (given that the reference in Clement of Alexandria to Josephus making a chronology to the tenth year of Antoninus is in fact to the text later ascribed to Hegesippus).
- Both works adopt a genre that allows the author to make some statements in the first person.
- Both are considered ancient and apostolic men with important information from the early church, but Papias is quoted much more widely, which makes sense if Hegesippus is just a false name given to his fifth book.
- Papias had chiliast views and liked numerical symbolism enough to expound on the six days of creation. The tenth year of Antoninus (147/148 AD) is not just seventy-seven years after the destruction of Jerusalem (mentioned by Clement of Alexandria) but also 120 years after a possible date for the Ascension, significant enough to be a prediction of the imminent apocalypse.
Interesting, no? But is it correct? Let me know what you think.