Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to the Literary Traditions

Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to the Literary Traditions

by Frederick W. Weidmann

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Overview

This is a multifaceted work concerning an important, if little known, text on Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and martyr, and his association with the apostle John. This ancient work includes significant portions of narrative description and dialogue which are preserved nowhere else among extant texts and shows significant similarities to the earliest strata of other important early Christian works such as the Acts of John and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. The text of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp and John raises new exciting questions about martyrdom and apostolicity, the earliest history of the important Christian communities at Ephesus and Smyrna, and the legacies of Polycarp and John among early Christians. Frederick W. Weidmann accomplishes several important things in one volume. Foundationally, he presents an authoritative critical edition and translation of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp and John. Coptologists and philologists are well served through extensive text-critical notes, while a broader range of interested readers will appreciate, and benefit from, the register of parallels to the New Testament and other ancient literature, and the informative introduction to the ancient text. An essay on the narrative strategy of the text identifies the broad theme of the work, "apostolicity and martyrdom," as well as many of the rhetorical motifs and elements employed. The Commentary, a significant work in itself, provides a wealth of information about possible biblical sources and parallels, as well as consideration of pertinent Jewish, pagan, and other early Christian works. Weidmann suggests and pursues several relevant avenues of inquiry in order to illuminate the words, phrases, and episodes which make up the extant text, and to engage the cultural context, social location, and theological proclivities of the community in and for which the work may have been written. In a final chapter, the work preserved by the text of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp and John is located in time and place according to both literary-historical and social-historical considerations. Through a detailed series of inquiries, ranging from consideration of the early Christian apologist Irenaeus and his agendas, to the fascinating and troublesome record of John's martyrdom--or lack thereof, and, finally, to the notorious rivalry between the cities, and Christian communities of, Smyrna and Ephesus, Weidmann is able to narrow significantly the provenance of the work, while also further illuminating its significance. Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to the Literary Traditions will be influential in New Testament and Early Christian studies, particularly in the areas of Johannine trajectories, martyrdom, noncanonical acts, Coptic literature, and the development of Christianity in Asia Minor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780268038267
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date: 05/31/1999
Series: Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Frederick W. Weidmann is the Senior Pastor at Hillcrest Congregational Church UCC in Pleasant Hill, California. Prior to that he was director of the Center for Church Life and professor of Biblical studies at Auburn Theological Seminary. He has authored many articles and books related to early Christianity.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
List of Abbreviations
xv
Introduction
1(12)
The Occasion for This Book
1(1)
Polycarp's Martyrdom and the Martyrdom of Polycarp
2(2)
Polycarp in Ancient Christian Literature
4(4)
The Harris Fragments: A Unique Work on Polycarp
8(3)
Modern Description of the Fragments on Polycarp
8(2)
Ancient Production and Preservation of the Harris Fragments
10(1)
Original Location of the Work
11(1)
Goal and Scope of This Book
11(2)
Text Edition of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp
13(28)
Introduction
13(4)
Physical Description of the Fragments
13(2)
Sigla
15(1)
Format
16(1)
The Fragments
17(24)
Translation
41(8)
Introduction
41(1)
Objectives
41(1)
Possible Restorations
41(1)
Sigla
41(1)
Translation
42(7)
Apostolicity and Martyrdom: An Introduction to the Narrative Strategy of the Text
49(10)
Missing Title and Contents
49(1)
Narrative Structure
50(1)
Part One: Polycarp's Apostolic Credentials (via John)
51(2)
Part Two: Polycarp's Martyrdom (via John's Divine Reprieve)
53(6)
Commentary
59(66)
Introduction
59(1)
Commentary
60(65)
Remembering Polycarp, Remembering John: Hagiography and Rivalry in Asia Minor
125(24)
John and Polycarp: How Can It Be?
126(1)
Irenaeus: Confused, Lying, or Proponent of a Tradition
126(7)
Irenaeus as Confused
127(2)
Irenaeus as Liar
129(1)
Irenaeus as Proponent of a Tradition
130(3)
Why Is John's Peaceful Death So Troublesome?
133(8)
The Problem
133(1)
An Alternate Tradition: John as Martyr
134(2)
The Prominent Tradition and Attempts at Compensation
136(1)
The Prominent Tradition, the Gospels, and Polycarp
137(4)
Smyrna versus Ephesus: John, Polycarp, and a Rivalry Both Sacred and Profane
141(8)
Under Roman Imperial Rule
141(3)
Under Christian Rule
144(1)
John and Polycarp in an Ephesian Inscription
144(2)
The Harris Fragments on Polycarp as a Smyrnaean Document
146(3)
Plates of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp 149(8)
Bibliography 157(20)
Index of Ancient Sources 177(7)
Index of Modern Authors 184(3)
Subject Index 187

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