Originally posted by NOTurTypical
reply to post by Biliverdin
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed
bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which
alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time (Irenaeus.
Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).
"Apostles in Asia" = John and Phillip
Yes, I know that...but where does it say that he was appointed by John. It simply does not make that claim, YOU are following a tradition that
interprets his words to mean that. We are informed that John was asked by the Bishops of Asia to write his Gospel. And that it was Paul that
established the Church in Ephesus...all of which indicates that while in Asia minor, John was more of a 'figure' of the Church, rather than holding
any official capacity. Which, if you consider that carefully, would better fit his more mystical outlook.
Let's look at what Irenaeus is saying, and why he is saying it... Polycarp is believed
to have been the first compiler of the New Testament
and it appears that Irenaeus is supporting that perspective in his polemic against the followers of Valentinus. Therefore, what he is actually trying
to impart, is that he knew Polycarp, and Polycarp knew the Apostles. Fair enough. There is every reason to believe that given his geographical
proximity to John for one. Why is it therefore subsequently necessary to qualify that postition by claiming that Polycarp was appointed Bishop by
John, when there is no evidence to back that up...until much later when Apostolic succession becomes a factor within the patriarchy of the state
So what Irenaeus is actually trying to argue is more important, not his position within the heirarchy and his apostolic succession. Valentinus was
teaching that the message of christianity was hidden, that you needed an 'elect' in order to understand that message and thereby gain salvation
through that elect. Irenaeus however, says, No, I knew Polycarp, and I heard from him, that everything that you need to know is right here in these
books of the New Testament.
Now, if we return to my original point, the problem that we therefore face, given the fragmentary evidence, combined with Polycarp's martyrdom, which
would inevitably have led to an attempt to destroy his 'work', is what books were in the original New Testament? What was taken out over the course
of time, and more specifically, at the Council of Rome in 382? In short, we have, at present, no way of knowing. We also have no way of knowing how
accurate the copies of copies are of those texts that may have been in the original, such as the Four Gospels because of this editorialism. While
Irenaeus argued that Valentinus was incorrect in his assertion that salvation required someone to mediate between God and the initiate, we find a
couple of centuries later, a reversal from the patriarchal church whereby they themselves assume that position. Everything you need in the book, but
that book has to be interpreted by a Priest. See what I mean?
We also see it in the same way in which heresy is qualified following that change. While most heretics fall into the dualist camps, the majority of
those that are burnt, are those that claim that everyone can experience God, directly, by following the path taught to them by Jesus. Which is, what
both the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip seem to indicate also.
My argument is not therefore about dismissing Irenaeus, but in dismissing the way in which his words have been embellished to show a different nature
to the relationship between Polycarp and the Apostles. It is enough that he heard Polycarp preach, or was taught by him as a child. That establishes
his understanding of the 'message' that the teachings of Jesus were to be taken literally in the context of the polemic, that there was no hidden
meaning that needed interpreter to be understood. The later embellishments and interpretation serve only as an enforcement of a dogmatic heirarchy
and support apostolic succession to the exclusion of other branches of the church, such as those started by Mary, Thomas, and Philip, for example,
until we are only left with those branches established by Peter and Paul. Paul who never heard Jesus speak, and Peter who, perhaps, never really got
the simplicity of that message.