Talk:John the Presbyter

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Earlier discussion[edit]

santa claus??? Why is this mentioned in the last paragraph as being related to St. John? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:54, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Papias admits in one of the fragments of his treatise quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea that he had in no way been a hearer or eye witness of the apostles themselves. He says he gathered material from those who were their followers:

"I will not hesitate to add also for you to my interpretations what I formerly learned with care from the Presbyters and have carefully stored in memory, giving assurance of its truth. For I did not take pleasure as the many do in those who speak much, but in those who teach what is true, nor in those who relate foreign precepts, but in those who relate the precepts which were given by the Lord to the faith and came down from the Truth itself. And also if any follower of the Presbyters happened to come, I would inquire for the sayings of the Presbyters, what Andrew said, or what Peter said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which Aristion and the Presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I considered that I should not get so much advantage from matter in books as from the voice which yet lives and remains."

User:Str1977 asserts in his edit summary "Irenaeus states that Papias heard John the Apostle." That may be so, and scarcely to the credit of Irenaeus, but Wikipedia is not an uncritical organ of Str1977's church. Let us instead attempt to keep the record clear, even though Str1977 attempted to suppress the following as "POV": "A natural motivation for conflating John the Apostle, as author of the Gospel of John, and John the Presbyter, was that it would bring his pupil Papias one step closer to the Apostolic tradition." Violations of "POV" should not be perverted to "not according to my church's dogma"

Jerome was not taken in by the so-called "confusion'. Neither is Wikipedia. --Wetman 20:12, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

I have requested of User:Str1977 that he add to the article the quote from Irenaeus as to the identity of the "John" who taught Papias? It seems most relevant. Especially if we are all to follow Irenaeus like good Catholics. --Wetman 01:23, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Wetman, though I will provide the reference later, let me state now that you can stick your condescending and insulting attitude. Your sentence "Jerome was not taken in by the so-called "confusion'. Neither is Wikipedia." is the best illustration of your disregard for NPOV. That there is a confusion is a POV, maybe true but a POV nonetheless. You want WP to agree with Jerome. Why don't you do so on other issues? Also you betray you ignorance by talking about dogma. There is no dogma of the Church that would prevent such a view - Jerome is the best example for this. Str1977 (smile back) 01:52, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Here are some quotes by Irenaeus, on Papias, Polycarp and John:

  • "And these things are bone witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book; for there were five books compiled by him." (Adv. Haer., V, xxxiii, 4)
  • "For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court,(3) and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse--his going out, too, and his coming in--his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God's mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind. And I can bear witness before God, that if that blessed and apostolical presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, exclaiming as he was wont to do: "O good God, for what times hast Thou reserved me, that I should endure these things?" And he would have fled from the very spot where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words. This fact, too, can be made clear, from his Epistles which he despatched, whether to the neighbouring Churches to confirm them, or to certain of the brethren, admonishing and exhorting them." (Fragment 2, Letter to Florinus)

Note that Irenaeus mentions no other John than "John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia." (Adv. Haer., III, i, 1)

To address what Wetman wrote above:

"Papias admits in one of the fragments of his treatise quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea that he had in no way been a hearer or eye witness of the apostles themselves."

No, Papias does nothing of that kind. Nowhere does Papias state: "I have never heard an apostle". He asserts something positive. The negative deduction from this is not by Papias but by Eusebius. It is Eusebius' original view (later adopted by Jerome) that there are two Johns and he quotes Papias accordingly. In the above quotation there is no clear indication that the two Johns mentioned are two different people. Papias gives his sources in two levels:

"If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples"

Papias states that he asked others who had known a group of people he calls "elders" and "presbyters" (which in Greek need not be a technical term) about what they have said. As examples for this groups he gives Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, Matthew - all of which we know as Apostles, and he identifies the "elders" with "the Lord's disciples".

Then he continues by saying:

"which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say."

We have no clue who Aristion may be. And there comes the "presbyter John, who is indentified as a disciple of the Lord". Above the terms "presbyter" and "disciple of the Lord" were used to refer to the Apostles, so it is not unreasonable to identify the two Johns. John is mentioned twice as Papias first talks about his second-hand testimony going back to John ("someone told me that John said the Lord said") and then about his first-hand testimony from John ("John told me the Lord said"). (Note that this is not OR, though at the moment I don't have access to the source. I will provide it in time.)

To address the more general problem: the whole article is not written in a NPOV way. It immediately endorses the view that there is a separate John the Presbyter. Of course, this is a relevant view, not the least because Jerome adhered to it, but it is still a view. This article should first mention the basis in the sources and then describe the two views, without (and this is the conflict with Wetman) siding with either. Str1977 (smile back) 11:59, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I have now started to make this article more conform with the NPOV policy, creating separate section for Papias, the view going back to Eusebius and the differing view. This might look a bit messy at the moment but will improve again. Str1977 (smile back) 12:48, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I have completed the major overhaul. Some tweaks here or there (and maybe something from the above mentioned currently unaccessible source) may follow. Str1977 (smile back) 21:18, 11 December 2006 (UTC)


I may have this wrong, but the significance of this figure goes to the apostolic origin of the gospel of John - this should be mentioned in the intro. I won't be bold, 'coz I is ignorant on dis subject.--Shtove 22:52, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Sliding translation[edit]

Notice in the following: presbyteros, which can be translated as "the presbyter, "the elder", "the ancient", "the old" how the dual meanings that can be applied to "elder", both as an authority-figure in a congregation and as a person older than the majority, are used as a fulcrum to slide the successive meanings of presbyter in the desired direction. I merely note the technique. --Wetman 01:38, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

A bad faith accusation by someone who has no qualms about pushing his POV (see what I wrote above). The possible translations could be presented in any possible sequence. I do not know what Wetman actually wants but if he wants WP to hide the fact that the word can have different translations, then he can't possibly have it.

Suppressed material and a red herring[edit]

In the deleted former text that follows, which did not follow RC teachings, I have italicised information that has been suppressed in the "major overhaul"

The shadowy figure of John the presbyter ("John the Elder") 'formed a link in the chain of Early Christian oral tradition that Papias of Hierapolis recorded in the early 2nd century, in five volumes called "Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord"... but Jerome (De viris illustribus ix) remarks that John the Elder ("presbyter") was credited by many in the Church with having written the Epistles of John (see Second Epistle of John and Third Epistle of John) and that the Presbyter's tomb was to be seen at Ephesus in Jerome's day, "though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist", The Decretum Gelasianum associated with Pope Gelasius I, though of later date, follows Jerome in accepting one letter of "John the apostle" and two letters of the "other John the elder".
The presbyter John has often been confused with the Apostle John, though not by Jerome: in De viris illustribus ("Praise of Famous Men"), chapter XVIII, in discussing Papias, Jerome states
"Papias, the pupil of John... had the apostles for authority, he said "I considered what Andrew and Peter said, what Philip, what Thomas, what James, what John, what Matthew or any one else among the disciples of our Lord, what also Aristion and the elder John, disciples of the Lord had said, not so much that I have their books to read, as that their living voice is heard until the present day in the authors themselves."
It appears through this catalogue of names that the John who is placed among the disciples is not the same as the elder, or presbyter John, whom Jerome places after Aristion in his enumeration.
[Jerome's text quoted]
A natural motivation for conflating John the Apostle, as author of the Gospel of John, and John the Presbyter, was that it would bring his pupil Papias one step closer to the Apostolic tradition.

The current version asserts "In modern times, the distinction was frequently revived, mainly - and quite in contrast to Eusebius' views - "to support the denial of the Apostolic origin of the Fourth Gospel" whose "beauty and richness" some scholars had difficulty in ascribing to a "fisherman from Gallilee". Cheap assertions of low motivation, combined with a conscious perversion of "Eusebius' views", which in fact do not conflate the two Johns. The distinction has not been "revived": it is the original distinction, based on contemporary sources, preserved in quotations.

The red herring intruded is in forcing a spurious connection to attributions of Johannine works: these attributions constitute a separate question that is not related to the two, clearly separate historical Johns, whose separate personalities are being obscured in the present "major overhaul". Questions of attribution of the Johannine literature are fully addressed elsewhere, at Authorship of the Johannine works. In this article, the historical development of a conflation of the two historical Johns, in direct contradiction of Papias, Eusebius and Jerome, is a revealing subject, which needs to be addressed directly here, in its own, sourced section. Wikipedia's reliability is not well served by what might appear to the informed but neutral reader as obscurantist, intentionally deceptive mumbo-jumbo. --Wetman 01:38, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

I have no idea what you are up in arms about. This has absolutely nothing to do with some kind of "RC teaching". There might be prevalent views in Catholic exegesis and theology but nothing binding.
The italicized parts above are a) a needlessly circumstantial wording ("a link in the chain blah" blah"), b) Jerome's text - however that has actually not been deleted but retained (please read more carefully next time). c) the "natural motivation" - now, there is of course no "natural motivation" that can simply be stated. Where is this bit of information from?
The assertion about modern times is completely correct and in no way "cheap assertions of low motivations" and certainly not "peversions" - that would assume that Eusebius is right.
Also, you are constantly talking about "conflating the two". That is one (legitimate) way of looking at things but not the only one, unless you assume one view to be the only possible truth, namely that the Apostle and the Presbyter are two distinct persons. They might be, they might not be. We don't decide. (ironically, elsewere you are pushing an identification of two persons, proposed by a dodgy writer, based on absolutely zero evidence. But whatever it takes, right?)
Finally, Wetman, read WP:NPOV (which is neither WPOV nor ACPOV. Str1977 (smile back) 07:06, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Str, I think what you are embroiled in here is an attempt to buttress the "Paul vs. Jesus" controversy that has sprung up on a few pseudo-historical webpages which have been put together by noted scholars like Bidstrup and Danizier. In order to explain away Polycarp's endorsement of Paul in his Epistle to the Phillipians, they have to seperate him from the Apostolic tradition. 17:53, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't think this is an important factor here. Str1977 (talk) 14:53, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Having removed this page from my Watchlist, I check back now and find the following opening statement: "...a hypothetical elder in the early church, proposed 'a priori' by Eusebius..." This is false.--Wetman (talk) 04:40, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Wetman, though you do not clearly spell out why you think the statement to be false, I have changed it again, mostly back to what it was before. In particular, I saw no use in using the term "a priori" here. We cannot look into the mind of Eusebius and know whether he thought up this second John before he even read Papias - I doubt it! He might be subconciously been prone to grasp any potential for a different, non-Apostolic author for the Apocalypse (the only Johannine book that actually and clearly gives its author's name as John) but IMHO that would not be an "a priori" proposal but rather a onesided reading of Papias.
I avoided the phrase "is an elder" as to make this meaningful, one would have to define elder and this would lead to the definition as an ecclesiastical office which in turn would endorse the distinction view. Let's keep it at "figure".
I also avoided the term "hypothetical" as it might seem to (if ever so slightly) endorse the idenfication view.
When talking about that Eusebius was the first to distinguish I also added "unequivocal(ly)". To say that Esebius was the first without a qualifier would endorse the statement that Papias did not distinguish the two and that is merely one interpretation. However, that Papias' statement is not clear this way or that way is a fact. Proponents of the distinction view (such as you, Wetman) who read Papias as mentioning two different people called John can live with that, as can proponents of the identification view (such as me) who read Papias as mentioning the same John twice.
I also changed the sentence about the "alternative author" to reflect some modern authors who attribute the Gospel to the presbyter.
Str1977 (talk) 14:53, 3 November 2009 (UTC)