Monday, 6 August 2018

Monday quote

One cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.

Arthur C Clarke (1917–2008).

Monday, 30 July 2018

Monday quote

Judgment [discernment] is the precondition of all enjoyment.

Roger Scruton

Monday, 23 July 2018

Monday quote

I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.

Wernher von Braun (1912–1977)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Monday, 9 July 2018

Monday quote

The Bible has always linked sex to covenant rather than consent.

Richard Beck, Reviving Old Scratch.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Outline of Revelation

Introduction and blessing
Vision of Jesus
Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. (1:19)
Letters to the 7 churches
Letter 1. Ephesus
Letter 2. Smyrna
Letter 3. Pergamum
Letter 4. Thyatira
Letter 5. Sardis
Letter 6. Philadelphia
Letter 7. Laodicea
Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. (4:1)
Throne in heaven
Sealed scroll
Slain Lamb

7 seals
Seal 1. White horse (conqueror)
Seal 2. Red horse (war)
Seal 3. Black horse (poverty)
Seal 4. Pale horse ridden by Death and Hades (war, famine, pestilence, wild beasts)
Seal 5. Martyrs appeal
Seal 6. Earthquake, black sun, red moon, stars fall, sky rolls up, men hide
144,000 sealed from Israel
Multitude of the nations clothed in white gathered before the throne
Seal 7. Silence in heaven

7 Trumpets
Trumpet 1. Hail and fire with blood. Burned a third of earth, third of trees, all grass.
Trumpet 2. Burning mountain into sea. Third sea became blood, third sea creatures die, third ships destroyed.
Trumpet 3. Star Wormwood falls on waters. Third waters wormwood (bitter) and men die.
Trumpet 4. Third sun, moon, stars struck. Third light removed. Third of day and night lose light.
3 Woes
Trumpet 5 (Woe 1). Star fallen from heaven open abyss. Dark smoke and locusts of Abbadon. 5 months of torment.
Trumpet 6 (Woe 2). 4 Angels bound at Euphrates released to kill a third of men. Plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur.
Refusal of men to repent
Mighty angel with little scroll

7 Thunders
Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down. (10:4)
In the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled. (10:7)
John eats scroll. Tastes of honey but bitter to stomach.
Court measured
Nations trample holy city for 42 months
2 witnesses prophesy for 1260 days
Beast kills witnesses. Witnesses revived. Witnesses ascend to heaven.
Earthquake. 7000 die.
Trumpet 7 (Woe 3). Kingdom of earth becomes kingdom of heaven. Temple in heaven opened.
Signs in heaven: woman then dragon. Woman flees for 1260 days.
War in heaven. Satan cast down.
Dragon pursues woman. Woman protected for time, times, and half a time. Dragon pursues the rest of the woman's offspring.
The beast from the sea. Beast exercises authority for 42 months.
The beast from the land.
Number of the beast 666

The Lamb on Mount Zion with 144,000
3 angels
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on (14:13)
Harvests of earth and vine

7 bowls (plagues)
Bowl 1. Painful sores
Bowl 2. Sea blood
Bowl 3. Rivers and springs blood
Bowl 4. Sun scorches men
Bowl 5. Beast's kingdom darkness
Bowl 6. Euphrates dries up for kings from the East. Dragon, beast and false prophet have unclean spirits come from their mouths. Battle at Armageddon.
Bowl 7. Earthquake, city split, hailstones.
Great prostitute
Seven mountains and seven kings
Fall of Babylon
Rejoicing in heaven
Marriage supper of the Lamb
Rider on the white horse
Beast and false prophet thrown into the Lake of Fire
Angel binds Satan 1000 years
Martyrs raised and reign with Christ
Satan released. Deceives nations. Destroyed by fire from heaven. Cast into Lake of Fire.
Great White Throne
New Heaven and Earth
New Jerusalem
River of Life
Jesus promises to return

Monday, 2 July 2018

Monday quote

But if [someone] agrees with you and you threaten to punch that [person] for not agreeing with you exactly the right way, that might be an oversized reaction.

Scott Adams

Monday, 25 June 2018

Monday quote

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H.G. Wells (1866–1946).

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The dark side of young earth creationism

This comic was shared as a reason to reject creationism. Old Earth Ministries (OEM) exists,
to help the church understand they are following a false teaching, and abandon young earth creationism in favor of accepting the scientific truth that our world is billions of years old. 
The comic presents claims by a creationist which are refuted by an Old Earth advocate. The setup is an enthusiastic but naive and ignorant creationist who repeats creationist teaching and is refuted by an knowledgeable and calm rationalist. The creationist is increasingly angry until he becomes an apostate.

The rhetorical effect is one of creationism being both false and dangerous regardless of whether the actual arguments contained in the comic have any merit. But it must be remembered that falsehood is falsehood regardless of whether or not you keep your cool (or, as often the case, you are actually passive aggressive). Man's anger is to be avoided but so is sowing discord among brothers. You don't get a free pass from God by avoiding wrath if you still bear false witness. Character matters, but so does truth.

The claims of the tract are as follows
  1. Scientific theories by creationists are not science but propaganda. Creationism is not scientific
  2. Creationism is not taught in the Bible.
  3. The Hebrew word "yom" means any time frame, not a normal day.
  4. The earth bringing forth fruit is not God doing a miracle thus the time must be longer than a day.
  5. Numbering "day" does not make it literal.
  6. Putting "evening and morning" does not make it literal.
  7. God referring to creating in 6 days and resting on one is not literal because we have other Sabbath patterns.
  8. The sun was not created on day 4 it appeared.
  9. Human death did not exist before the Fall, but animal death did.
  10. If the world is no longer very good then Romans 1:20 cannot be true.
  11. God cannot give us meat if carnivory comes from sin.
  12. God fixes laws so creation cannot change.
  13. If creation changed with Adam then the gospel is diminished.
  14. Creationism stared with John Milton's Paradise Lost.
  15. Creationism is dangerous because when Christians come to understand it is false they abandon Christianity.
14 of these claims are definitely false. And #9 probably is.

Creationists have written on all of them in detail. My summary will be brief. But it is worth mentioning a common feature through the comic. Creationists believe what they do because they read the Bible in a straightforward manner. They are what many would describe as literalists. Creationists take many of the statements in Genesis as narrative and historical. Though they do not think every verse in the Bible is literal. Creationists allow for a range of genres including fable, poetry, and apocalyptic. They recognise grammatical features such as hyperbole, generalisation, rhetoric, etc. What is problematic in the protagonist is that he refutes plain readings of Scripture by giving hyper-literal meanings to other passages. Including appealing to more poetical passages.

To the arguments.

Scientific theories by creationists are not science but propaganda. Creationism is not scientific.

Except that creationism is applying the scientific method to the world around us using different presuppositions. We assume that history is correct as recorded in the Bible and apply that to the world. The presuppositions of Evolutionists are just that. The evidence is the same, but we read it through different perspectives. And it matters what those perspectives are.

As an aside, much of what is called science is actually history. And the historical story of evolution is far more history than it is science. Forensic science is legitimate, but it is not operational science and should not be confused with it.

Creationism is not taught in the Bible.

It depends a little on what is meant here, but the idea that the world is currently ~6000 years old has a long history. It seems ridiculous that an idea that many men have concluded from Scripture over millennia is not suggested by Genesis. Now these interpreters could be mistaken, but only if you claim a straightforward reading is mistaken. This is a little ingenuous. You really have to show why this interpretation is incorrect rather than stating it is absent from the text. 

The Hebrew word "yom" means any time frame, not a normal day.

This is just plain false. It can mean a time frame longer than a usual day, much like the English word. But it has usual meaning and less common meanings. And its meaning without any contextual qualifiers is that of a normal length day.

The earth bringing forth fruit is not God doing a miracle thus the time must be longer than a day.

The logic seems to be that God told the earth to bring forth fruit thus the length of the day must include that time that it takes for a fruit tree to grow fruit. This is utter nonsense. The idea that this is not a miracle because it is indirect is folly. Further, the same is said about the earth bringing forth animals and yet the earth does not normally do this directly or indirectly. Also, it is unlikely that the passage even says this. The earth is to bring forth trees which bear fruit.
God said, “Let the earth produce green plants that will bear seed—fruit trees bearing fruit in which there is seed—according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. And the earth brought forth green plants bearing seed according to its kind, and trees bearing fruit in which there was seed according to its kind.

Numbering "day" does not make it literal.

Except that it does. Hosea 6:2 is not an exception.
He will revive us after two days;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live in his presence.
Even if this means a short time (rather than 2 and 3 days), it means this by virtue of a symbolic comparison. The literalness of the 2 and 3 days is needed so that there can be a figurative understanding of a short time. If "day" does not mean a literal day here, then where is the meaning of a short time? If the passage could mean 2 aeons and 3 aeons then the implied meaning is this will happen after an extremely long time.

Putting "evening and morning" does not make it literal.

This is an interesting argument because creationists do not say that evening and morning mean a 24-hour period (though it often does), rather they argue that the association of evening and morning with the term day makes the day literal. So the example of Psalm 90 is irrelevant. The use of evening and morning here is meant to imply a short time. Again, like in Hosea, it is this literal meaning which shows the Psalmist is claiming how short things are. Grass blossoms and withers in a day, meaning quickly. Similarly men, in God's sight, have short lives.

God referring to creating in 6 days and resting on one is not literal because we have other Sabbath patterns.

This gets things back to front. The example of the creation is an example for men to follow. It is a direct comparison. God did this and you do the same. God created in 6 days and rested on the 7th day therefore you are to work for 6 days and rest on one day. In Exodus the term "day" appears in the command and the example of God. Other Sabbaths such as Sabbaths of years are modeled on the week. There is not comparison of God working for 6 years. Rather the example of 6 on 1 off is the Sabbatical type. (And there is no Sabbath of months.)

The sun was not created on day 4 it appeared.

There can be a difference between "create" [bara] and "make" [asah] but one must be careful not to overly distinguish synonyms. It could mean appoint. It is questionable that the sun existed before this, although the parenthetical comment about making the stars could mean they were made either then or had been made earlier. One should be cautious about getting an exact chronology from Job. As mentioned the stars could have antedated the sun. Either way, "stars" in Job 38:7 is likely to poetically refer to angels.

Human death did not exist before the Fall, but animal death did.

It depends a little on what is meant by "animal." Humans did not die before the Fall. Prior to the Fall Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life and death was a result of the Fall. Humans were to eat plants. The fact that God also gave plants to the animals and birds is highly suggestive that carnivory is a result of the Fall. God can then provide for animals if they subsequently become carnivorous. He gave men meat after the Flood and yet we still see God's hand in this provision.

If the world is no longer very good then Romans 1:20 cannot be true.
For from the creation of the world, [God's] invisible attributes, both his eternal power and deity, are discerned clearly, being understood in the things created, so that they are without excuse.
This claim seems a little odd. If the world is no longer very good (because of the Fall and animals eating other animals), then why would this passage not be true? We can see these attributes of God in the world even if it is broken. Why do we need a perfect created world to see God's handiwork?

God cannot give us meat if carnivory comes from sin.

The argument seems to be that if God gives us something then it must be good. If it is good then it cannot be a result of the Fall which came from sin. But this seems like an unusual argument as we know God gave us meat after the Flood and we know that God only gave plants before the Fall. Carnivory was something that occurred after creation. It was not how things were set up when God made humans. So it must have occurred for a reason.

The protagonist argues that carnivory cannot be due to sin because God gives us meat, but God can bring about good from evil. There are many examples in Scripture where something good comes from evil: Joseph and his brothers, Hosea and his wife, water from a rock, salvation through the murder of Jesus.

God fixes laws so creation cannot change.
Thus says the Lord: "If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them."
This says nothing about whether creation can change as a result of the Fall. And we know that it did because Paul tells us:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

If creation changed with Adam then the gospel is diminished.

This takes us away from creationism into whether God foreknew or caused the Fall. Regardless, the Fall occurred and God promised a redeemer in the curse. The idea that a plan B diminishes anything for God is not borne out in Scripture. It is frequently the case that God does even greater things when we fail.

Creationism stared with John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Mention is made of Milton and 4 other creationists. Milton wrote Paradise Lost in 1667 and 1674. It is almost certain that any concepts related to creationism reflected not only his beliefs but those of Christians during that time. No mention is made of many other creationists such as Kepler (1571–1630) or Newton (1642–1727). Creationism clearly antedates Paradise Lost.

Creationism is dangerous because when Christians come to understand it is false they abandon Christianity.

There are several reasons to question this. Firstly, there are a large number of beliefs which are held by a variety of Christians around the world. Many who change what they think about a particular doctrine do not abandon the faith. Most of us have modified at least one aspect of what we think about various Christian doctrines. Do we all abandon the faith every time we modify a belief?

Secondly, it is the experience of many creationists that Christians who have abandoned evolution they were taught and embraced a creationist understanding of Genesis and the Bible are even more enthusiastic about he things of God. It was the theory of evolution that hamstrung their faith.

Thirdly, what are we to say of other Christian beliefs that act as a stumbling block? Professed Christians abandon Christianity claiming that they have come to realise one of their beliefs is wrong. Do we deny the virgin birth, the coming of Jesus in the flesh, the love of God, because if someone abandons this belief they could end up abandoning Christianity? The truth is that people abandon Christianity for a range of reasons, not all because of struggles with doctrine. Even so, someone who wishes to walk away will often blame a belief he struggles with. (This may even be the case when the real reason is that he struggles with a sin that he does not wish to abandon.)

Regardless, it is important to believe the truth. If creationism in true then it is better to teach it in the church and better for Christians to hold this doctrine. Irrespective of what happens to men who abandon a true doctrine, we are better to think rightly about the world, the Bible, and God.


I find it interesting that creationism is portrayed as dangerous in this cartoon. It seems to me that the author rejects a straightforward reading of Genesis but in doing so he reveals that he does not understand the rest of Scripture that he brings to his defense.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Monday quote

Imagine a town with a certain level of crime. You divide the crimes into serious ones and less serious ones. Over a period of time, the rate of serious crime increases by 20% and the rate of less serious crime increases by 40%. This is clearly a development for the worse. But although more people are exposed to serious crime and more people are exposed to less serious crime as well, a trickster would say that, as there are now relatively fewer cases of serious crime, the situation has improved.

Peter C Gøtzsche

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Cosmological argument

Alexander Pruss proposes 2 versions of the cosmological argument:
  1. There are no infinite causal regresses or causal loops.
  2. Every ordinary entity has a cause.
  3. So, there is an extraordinary entity.
  1. There is a causal explanation why there are any ordinary entities.
  2. Causal explanations are not circular.
  3. So, there is an extraordinary entity.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Monday quote

As regards sexual morality, we have reached a point at which it is no longer sufficient for us to criticize modernity’s poor answers. Like our Lord in the gospel narratives, we must also correct its terribly impoverished questions.

Michael W. Hannon

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Papias and John the Elder

We have little of what Papias wrote, and all of it indirectly from others quoting him. Quotes can be accessed in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library here. Papias makes comments about authorship and date which have been variously understood. Lacking the original we lack context, and because other authors quote him we are reliant on their interpretation of Papias' words.

Papias lived c. 60–130 AD. He was the bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia and a contemporary of Polycarp (69–155). Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. Iranaeus (130–202) was a disciple of Polycarp. We have fragments of Papias from the writings of Iranaeus and Eusebius (c. 260–340).

In Church History chapter 39 Eusebius writes,
1. There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenaeus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: “These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him.” These are the words of Irenaeus.
2. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.
3. He says: “But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself.
4. If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders,—what Andrew or what 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 disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.”
5. It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter.
6. This shows that the statement of those is true, who say that there were two persons in Asia that bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the present day, is called John’s. It is important to notice this. For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John.
7. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.
8. But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.
9. That Philip the apostle dwelt at Hierapolis with his daughters has been already stated. But it must be noted here that Papias, their contemporary, says that he heard a wonderful tale from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that in his time one rose from the dead. And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.
10. The Book of Acts records that the holy apostles after the ascension of the Saviour, put forward this Justus, together with Matthias, and prayed that one might be chosen in place of the traitor Judas, to fill up their number. The account is as follows: “And they put forward two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias; and they prayed and said.”
11. The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things.
12. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures.
13. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenæus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.
14. Papias gives also in his own work other accounts of the words of the Lord on the authority of Aristion who was mentioned above, and traditions as handed down by the presbyter John; to which we refer those who are fond of learning. But now we must add to the words of his which we have already quoted the tradition which he gives in regard to Mark, the author of the Gospel.
15. “This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.
16. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: “So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. And he relates another story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. These things we have thought it necessary to observe in addition to what has been already stated.
Specifically Eusebius quotes Papias as saying,
But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself. If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders,—what Andrew or what 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 disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.
Eusebius then states that Papius is referring to two distinct Johns—the disciple (Apostle) John and John the Presbyter (Elder). Gundry argues otherwise in The Old is Better: New Testament Essays in Support of Traditional Interpretations. Gundry translates the relevant passage thus,
And by way of guaranteeing their truth to you [sg.] I will not hesitate to concatenate for the Expositions [of the Lord's Oracles] both as many things as I once learned well from the elders and [as many things as] I remembered [or 'noted down'] well. For I was not delighting in those who were saying many things, as the majority [of people were delighting in them]. Rather, [I was delighting in] those who were teaching the truth. Nor [was I delighting in] those [who were remembering] the commandments given to the faith by the Lord and deriving from the truth itself. And if somewhere anyone who had followed the elders happened to come, I was examining the words of the elders, what Andrew or what Peter had said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other one of the Lord's disciples [had said], and what things Aristion and the elder John, the Lord's disciples, are saying [with reference to the time when Papias was examining these reports]. For I was not assuming that the things from books would benefit me so much as the things from a living and surviving voice.
Another modern translation,
But I will not shrink back [from telling] you even as many things as I have already well learned from the elders—and [as many things as] I have ably remembered to arrange systematically by interpretation, while [at the same time] confirming the truth concerning them. For I was not pleased with those who say many things (even though such is popular with the masses), but with those who teach the truth. Nor was I pleased with those who remember the other commandments, but [only] with those who [remember the commandments] from the Lord which have been given in faith and which come from it in truth. But if somewhere someone would come who has heeded the elders, [let it be known that] I [too] have often examined the words of the elders—[namely,] what Andrew or Peter or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples had said, even what Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were presently saying. For I did not entertain [the idea that] the words from books would benefit me nearly as much as those from a living and abiding voice.
Now the existence of a second John does not imply that the Apostle John did not write Revelation (if we only consider Papias' words). However if these two references to John are the same John then we do not have another John who could have written Revelation. That is, two Johns is not evidence against a single author for the Gospel and Revelation (and the letters) but one John is evidence for it.

A reason to consider that there is only one John is that Papias is talking about different times.

Papias calls the following elders [presbuteron]:
  • Andrew
  • Peter
  • Philip
  • Thomas
  • James
  • John
  • Matthew
and adds "or [what] any other of the Lord’s disciples had said. Note he is referring to them as disciples as he contrasts them with other disciples. He is also specifying previous words of theirs.

Next Papias specifies these two as the Lord's disciples
  • Aristion
  • the elder John, 
and refers to what they "are saying." We do not otherwise know who Aristion was. The Johns mentioned are both called disciple and elder. But Papias is discussing how he was interested in examining the words of what the former group had said in times past and examining the words of what the latter group were saying currently. It is possible that at the time Papias was examining such words, many of the former group had died. Yet the Apostle John was likely still living. In fact Eusebius mentions that Papias had handed down traditions of Aristion and the Elder John which may imply Papias had heard these two directly. Elsewhere Eusebius says that Papias was a disciple of John. From Jerome's translation of Eusebius' Chronicles,
Bishop Irenaeus writes that John the Apostle survived all the way to the time of Trajan: after whom his notable disciples were Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Ignatius of Antioch. (Chronicles)
If Papias had heard them directly this explains why their current sayings are distinguished from the earlier sayings of the disciples. Irenaeus also documents that Papias has heard directly from John.
Now testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John, and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him. (Against Heresies 5:33)
Others also claim that Papias heard John. Jerome writes,
Papias, the pupil of John, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, wrote only five volumes,... (Illustrious Men)
If John was still alive at the time of Papias, and moreover if Papias had listened to John in person, then it seems reasonable, even likely, that he is referring to John the apostle in this passage: both mentions of John refer to the same man.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Monday quote

The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has observed that there is now so little common ground shared by the various schools of thought that rational ethical debate has been reduced to exclamatory cheering sections that, faced with an ethical proposition, erupt into “Hurrah!” or “Boo!”

Professors in countless classrooms in many different disciplines report that students have already been well taught that, when they are faced with any moral proposition, the proper response is, “That’s just your opinion.” They are resistant, then, to resolving disagreements by reasoned arguments. They aver, “You choose your good, and I’ll choose mine.” Reasoned debate is replaced by naked will. I choose. Don’t ask me to give reasons—I just choose.

Michael Novak

Monday, 28 May 2018

Monday quote

Envy is always at the bottom of every discontent.

Douglas Wilson.


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