CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

I have been enjoying this. It's fun I hope the fun holds out to the end,

The article “#103: Polycarp’s Martyrdom” asserts the following as if it were an historical fact:
Polycarp was an old man, at least 86…, and probably the last surviving person to have known an apostle, having been a disciple of St. John.However, it is NOT a fact that Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle (i.e. it is not a fact that Polycarp had “known an apostle” named John, that he had face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle).  The problem with this article, and many other similar articles, is that (despite the official-sounding name of the website “Christian History Institute”) this is simply religious propaganda masquerading as objective history.

Hinman Brad you offer no valid why we should not accept it,  the one and only point you make  is the probably argument on age that does not out weigh eye witness testimony. We have that, Irenaeus heard Polycarp tell him about his friendship with John (either elder or Apostle does not matter which--ok ear witness). BTW Polycarp himself lived to be 86 and that is testified to by his decedent Polycrates, and other sources including Irenaeus,

Scholars who study the issue have significant doubts about whether Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle.  Just as in the second and third centuries,  Christians are still hard at work lying to, and deceiving, uncritical thinkers and true believers about the history of Christianity.  
Hinman you been hitting the sauce?


Facts don’t matter; truth doesn’t matter; scholarship and objectivity don’t matter: just say whatever it is that will strengthen the faith of Christian believers, and that will suffice to justify any lies or deceptions or misinformation that one wishes to promote.Some websites avoid engaging in outright deception by using hedging phrases.  A good example of this is on the Christianity Today History website, which is one of the top sites that came up in my Google search on “Polycarp”:

Hinman painting with a broad brush there man, not cool.

This article supports the claim that Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna, and that Polycarp “was personally discipled by the apostle John”, but it does so with the use of the hedge “Tradition has it that…”:
Hinman So? There is no valid reason to think he wasn't Bishop of someplace. He was not just some anonymous guy who got killed. He was taken to be killed in Smyrna from a near by local where he had fled to hide from persecution. and passed through areas and wrote to the local churches.,, He was important enough to do that to. He was important enough to write to commiseration as he was being led away, there is no indication that saying he was a bishop got them anything, why brim Christianity today into it? Straw man.

He [Polycarp] lived during the most formative era of the church, at the end of the age of the original apostles, when the church was making the critical transition to the second generation of believers. Tradition has it that he was personally discipled by the apostle John and that he was appointed as bishop of Smyrna (in modern Izmir in Turkey) by some of the original apostles. (emphasis added)

The use of this hedging phrase gives the author an escape hatch: “I was just describing the content of a tradition, not asserting that the tradition was true.”  But, an obviously important question is begged:  IS THIS TRADITION TRUE OR FALSE?  The author of the article never indicates whether these claims are true or false.  The author never indicates whether these claims are probable or improbable.  The author never discusses any evidence for or against these claims.
Hinman  Apparently Brad has never read any history especially church  history,

(1) the term "tradition" is important in theology and t;'s not a dirty word. It'a good thing we know we are in a tradition,Western philosophy is a radioisotope, it doesn't ,meamn you are lying it;'s like a conversation'

(2) should I believe that Brad has never  been to college and is illiterate so he's never heard of scholarly caution? That is what they are doing when the speak conditionally about Poloycarp. No we can't prove he knew John of course if that was an obvious fact we wouldn't have a debate. Irenaeus testimony is backed up by Polycrates and otyers,

BowenSo, it appears that the writer of this “historical” article on Polycarp at the Christianity Today History website does not give a damn about whether these claims are true of false. 
Hinman that's ridiculous saying that just because he uses Scholarly causation.

In the first debate I said Bowen wont use straw man argument but I guess I was wrong, that's what this is. Why is he using Christianity today? That's not scholarly source, does the guy writing that even a history degree?

 What kind of historian does not give a damn about the truth of such obviously significant claims?  I  know who does not give a damn about the truth of obviously significant historical claims: a worthless pseudo-historian who cares more about promoting Christian propaganda and pleasing the sheeple in the pews than about what actually happened in the past, that’s who!
Hinman Again, he's talking about a popular infotainment source. He's not talking about a historian why expect a non historian to be a historian? why is he not attacking my argument?  Argument why is he wasting my time on this stuff?

It is possible that the author of that article on Polycarp did care about truth and objectivity to a degree, and did express some doubts about these claims in an earlier version of this article (e.g. “but this tradition is probably false, because….” ) but then the editors at Christianity Today objected and demanded that expressions of such doubts be removed from the article before it was published.  But if that were the case, the author is still to blame for caving in to pressure to conform his/her scholarly opinions to the goals of some Christian propagandists.  It would be better for the article on Polycarp not to be published, than to sacrifice one’s intellectual integrity and objectivity to make the article more pleasing to Christian propagandists in order that the article would be published.

Holy straw man Batman he's beating the daylights out of tacit non Joe Hihman argument,
he's making up this fiction about the author. 

Joe Hinman, of course, is not to blame for the stupidity, ignorance, bias, and dishonesty of numerous Christian psuedo-historians or of modern Christian propagandists, any more than I am to blame for the stupidity, ignorance, bias, and dishonesty of Atheist pseudo-historians or modern Atheist propagandists.  Hinman and I are only to blame for our own stupidity, ignorance, bias and dishonesty, not for that of others who happen to share a similar point of view about God or Jesus.  I’m simply pointing out that there is a whole lot of bullshit about Polycarp on the internet, and that some of this bullshit is presented as if it was scholarly historical writing, when it is simply religious propaganda: BUYER BEWARE.

Hinman good ,I thought you were drunk. I do share your disgust for the bad scholarship I see in the evangelical church but there's a lot of good scholarship you are ignoring, I had a prof at Perkins, big name in feminist theology. studied NT but I beat her in argument on Polycarp because she knew almost nothing about patristics,

Question 2: What is the Logic of Hinman’s Argument from Polycarp?As with Hinman’s argument from Papias, my initial guess at the logic of his argument focuses on the idea of a chain of face-to-face relationships:(1) Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle.(2) John the Apostle had personal, face-to-face conversations with Jesus of Nazareth.
THUS:(3) Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with someone who had personal, face-to-face conversations with Jesus of Nazareth.(4) If Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with someone who had personal, face-to-face conversations with Jesus of Nazareth, then Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.THEREFORE:
(5) Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.Premise (1) is highly questionable, as I will argue for most of the rest of this post.But, as with my attempt to summarize Hinman’s argument about Papias, there is a premise in the above argument that clearly begs the question:  premise (2).   In order to determine that (2) is true, one must first determine that Jesus of Nazareth really existed, i.e.  that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.  
Hinman First, this is another from of strawman, I did not make that argument it does more or less capture what I'm saying but I did not construct it as such ,Saying p2 is begging the question is totally a straw argument move. I didn't wrote it. But moreover, it's backwards, the fact that Poloycarp knew John is evidence that Jesus existed, had Jesus not existed there would have been no apostle John for him to know., yes according to Poloycarp and Papias John quoted Jesus so he wasn't quoting a myth, he was quoting a man he knew.

Thus, to assert that premise (2) is true involves ASSUMIING that the conclusion (5) is true, which begs the question at issue.
who wrote the argument? would it be in the form of p2 if wrote it? no. so it's Bull shit, Brad. not professional Brad.


Because premise (2) so clearly begs the question, and because Hinman did not clearly and explicitly lay out this argument, I hesitate to attribute this obviously bad argument to Hinman.  
Hinman very unprofessional Brad. Surely he can handle an argument not in the form of a deductive piece of model logic. It doesn't take a genus to figure the link from Polycarp to John to Jesus

Here is another thing, I'm a historian, I argue like a historian,Historians don't do that 

1 if p then q
2 p
3 therefore q

we don't  do that, get used to it.

Perhaps he had some other line of reasoning in mind,  some other bit of logic that connects the basic factual premise (1) to the conclusion (5) about Jesus.   The problem, therefore, with Hinman’s argument from Polycarp, is that his argument is incomplete.  There is a logical gap between his factual premise (1) and the implied conclusion (5).


1 if Polycarp Knew John then John was a real guy
2 Polycarp knew John
3 John was a real guy

1 John John knew Jesus then Jesus was a real guy

2 john knew Jesus
3 Jesus was a real guy

happy now?

I can provide a generic “warrant” premise to fill this logical gap, but Hinman needs to provide some line of reason or argument in support of the generic “warrant” premise:(1) Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle.(W) IF Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle, THEN it is probable that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.THEREFORE:

you need to come to grips with the fact that you have no evidence, I have evidence and you don't. My evidence is  that Polcarp sid he knew John, he told his student Irenaeus and his student wrote about it. You have no reason to assume that is not true. Doubt it all you wish you have no counter. You allude to scholars but you don't quote them. I can tell you who some of them are, I point you to the evidence but should I? is that why you are upset?

Liberals are ideologically resistant to the truth tree of Orthodox eccleology for several reasons. Those reasons are mostly ideological so I don't count them.

(5A) It is probable that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.

remaining objections on the factual premise (1),  but I also have serious doubts about the warrant premise (W).  Hinman has not provided any reason or argument to believe that (W) is true or correct, and the most obvious way to support (W) begs the question.  It is not clear to me that there is any good reason to accept (W).  Apart from a convincing reason to accept (W),  Hinman’s argument fails even if the basic factual premise (1) was proven to be true.

that is decidedly silly. First hand eye witness evidence polycarp's own words why is that not evidence? because you don't want it to  be so? 

Question 3: Was Polycarp a Student of John the Apostle?Hinman quotes from Eusebius, who quotes from the contents of a letter from Irenaeus to Florinas:

For, while I [Irenaeus] was yet a boy, I saw thee [Florinus] in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court,4799 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. (AnteNicene Fathers, Volume 1, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeusemphasis added)

Note that Irenaeus does not here speak of “John the Apostle”.  However, he does imply that Polycarp knew a person named “John” who had “seen the Lord”.  But many Christians claimed to have “seen the Lord” long after Jesus had been crucified.  So, this “John” could have been just a Christian believer who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus (perhaps in a vision, like Paul “the Apostle”).

Hinman O no they did not, Notice he doesn't document even one case of a Chroistian claiming to see Jesus in the flesh long after the time. iI they did they probably meant it as a vision like Paul. He has no examples of anyone claiming to have actually seen Jesus when he was in the flesh. It is clear that Polycarp did not say it in this sense, Irenaeus is clearly saying Elder John heard Jesus in the flash saying he saying he quoted.

Notice I've already answered he's just repeating him self. If the John he knew was elder John elder John knew Jesus. I covered this last time.

The additional comments about Polycarp learning about the miracles and sayings of Jesus from “those who had seen the Lord” does, however, indicate that Irenaeus is talking about literally seeing a flesh-and-blood Jesus prior to the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus.  In that case, “John” could be the “John the Apostle”, but it is also possible that this “John” was some other follower of Jesus, outside of the inner circle of “the twelve” disciples of Jesus (perhaps the “beloved disciple” mentioned in the Fourth gospel).

we discussed that pretty well last time.I proved it's all tiresomely possible and the evidence  claims it, the source he claimed as his own attributed the Gospel of John  no less to Elder John so he clearly would have been a witness to Jesus. I documented Papias talking about saying of Jesus not in the bible he learned from Elder John

Since “John the Apostle” was a central figure in the early church,  let’s grant the assumption that IF the above words are an accurate representation of the words of Irenaeus, then it is probable that Irenaeus intended to assert that Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle, and that this was intended to mean or imply that Polycarp had personal, face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle.
that is not counter evidence,

Granting this assumption, however, does not mean that it is probable that Polycarp did in fact have face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle, because Irenaeus might well have been mistaken (or possibly dishonest) about this matter.Instead of turning to Christianity Today’s propaganda on Polycarp, let’s turn to a more scholarly and objective source: The Anchor Bible Dictionary (hereafter: ABD)one of the best Bible reference works in the English language.

In his argument based on Papias, Hinman quoted from an ABD article by William Schoedel, a scholar who specializes in the study of early Christianity.  In the article quoted by Hinman, Schoedel asserted that Eusebius was probably correct about the meaning of the preface of the book by Papias, namely that Papias was NOT an “eyewitness of the holy apostles”, and thus that Papias did not have face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle.
Hinman I said I didn't agree with him on that

Hinman does not quote from Schoedel’s article relating to Polycarp, but if he had, he would have seen that Schoedel also supports my skeptical view about the claim that Polycarp had face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle:
Hinman since I don't agree with him about the other I don't care about this either, If my favorite scholar Benette Hillman Streeter didn't believe Poloycarp knew Apostle John then that others agree with him is not going matter to me. There are other scholars who think he did. No evidence you give shows it was not possible, only less probable and even I disagree with,
Speaking of that firebrand for honesty stuff Brad shows us, why is he fudging on this? His source Baukham believes Ploycarp and Papias knew elder john and Elder John was a eyewitnesses  to Jesus and wrote the gospel of John I documented this last time several times. Shall I go on a ti-raid about the dishonesty of atheists?

In spite of all this [evidence like the letter from Irenaeus to Florinus], a link between Polycarp and John [the Apostle] is not assured.  Irenaeus was young when he heard Polycarp and may well have taken references to John the elder (Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.39.3-7) as references to John the apostle.
Hinman Which would't matter anyway because according to Bowen's own source, Baukham, Elder John Knew  Jesus and wrote Gospel of John

  Polycarp himself certainly makes no appeal to having known any of the disciples of the Lord, and he does not claim to have been appointed by one of them over the Church in Smyrna.  
Hinman argument from silence. It's not as though we have all of his writings.His people were aware of his authority he had no need to make that kind of appeal.

He does not even lay claim to the title of bishop….Yet even Ignatius makes no use of the idea of apostolic succession in this connection.  When he writes against Docetism on Polycarp’s behalf (Ign. Smyrn. 1-9), he never appeals to the special authority of John [the Apostle].  
Hinman Sorry Brad quite the opposite. if they had a strongly developed sense of apostolic ascendance at that stage (it was just forming up at hat time wasn't fully fledged) then it would be suspicious to claim to have studied with they guy who knew the apostles. when it can't get you so much then there's no reason to doubt it. Obviously it would still matter a lot but not as much.

A link between Polycarp and John, then, seems about as unlikely as a link between Papias and John.  

Hinman Obvious question begging and i proved last time the odds are high,

In any event, Irenaeus evidently remembered very little of what Polycarp may have said concerning his mentor John.  For it is significant that he presents the story of the encounter between the apostle and Cerinthus–a high point of his account of the bishop of Smyrna [i.e. Polycarp]–as derived from others. (ABD, “Polycarp (Epistle Of)” by William Schoedel, emphasis added)
Hinman that's an absurd conclusion Just because Polycarp didn't tell him that is not proof thiat P did not know John. what w bizarre idea. all that proves is that Polycarp did not tell Irenaeus that anecdote.

Schoedel is a serious scholar who cares about the truth and who does not sugar-coat his findings to please Christian propagandists or the sheeple in the pews.  Schoedel is very much aware of the passages attributed to Irenaeus about Polycarp’s alleged relationship with the apostles, and with the apostle John in particular, but his considered and well-informed judgement is that it is UNLIKELY that Polycarp had personal, face-to-face contact with John the Apostle.

Hinman I have not been saying disparaging things about atheists I never said he's not serious. I like a lot of things he says I don't have to agree with him on everything. I had a professor qt Perkins who thought Polycarp never knew John she was a big name liberal scholar proved to her her arguments were fallacious.

If you read the letters of Ignatius, you will see that he was obsessed with the importance of the role and authority of bishops in Christian churches.  Ignatius repeats over and over how Christians must respect and obey and follow the bishop of their local church. But when Ignatius writes to the church in Smyrna, he says nothing about their bishop (allegedly Polycarp) having been appointed by Apostles, or having personally known and conversed with various Apostles, or having been a student of John the Apostle.  Any one of those points would have helped Ignatius to convince the Christians at Smyrna to respect, obey, and follow Polycarp, but there is no mention of any direct relationship between Polycarp and any of the Apostles.  Similarly, Ignatius makes no mention of any such relationship with any of the Apostles in his letter addressed to Polycarp (which was also intended to be read by Christians who belonged to the Church in Smyrna).
Hinman Yes it is true that Ignat, was obsessed with the Bishop.That is quite well known. That was the beginnings of Orthodoxy. Argument from silence, Against that we don't have all his writings.Just because he doesn't say Polycorp knew John and he was a Bishop dodsn't mean he wasn't. Ignat himself was a student of John with Polycarp and Papias. all this proves is that he was not challenged on that point and didn't need to talk about it. I am not sure if he mentions Polycarp at all.

some evidence that he did know John is his Johannine langue, he seems to have known the Gosepl of John and to have written like John but at  a time when GosJon was not well known or used much. the canon wasn't closed.

There is only one document that exists that is believed to have been written by Polycarp: The Letter of Polycarp to Philippians.
Hinman Brad these are things of which I've been aware  since the very early days of my faith in fact even when I was an atheist. That he only wrote that one letter really contradicts your argument from silence because the less he wrote the less likely he would be to mention the  a stuff we want to hear.It just could be that he wasn't being challenged on it so he didn't need to talk about it. He wrote on his way to be killed so he did't have much time and he had to focus on the things that needed saying.

Irenaeus is the linchpin he's the one who documents all three as John students: P.carp, Papius and Ignat, he says it in 
Against Hersey which is independent of Eusebius,

  In that letter, Polycarp makes no mention of having had been appointed bishop of Smyrna by some of the Apostles, there is no mention of his having personally known and conversed with various apostles, and he does not mention having been a disciple of John the Apostle.  Any one of these points would have helped Polycarp to persuade the believers in Philippi to take his moral guidance and his theological teachings seriously.
Hinman no mention of his father or what he thought about hot dogs or his ideas on taxes or his favorite vegetable...he must not have had a father cause he did't write about him,

Although mentioning that Polycarp had been appointed by Apostles, had personally known and conversed with some of the Apostles, or had been a student who had face-to-face conversations with John the Apostle, would have clearly provided support and authority to Polycarp and his words, neither Ignatius nor Polycarp mention any such relationship between Polycarp and the Apostles.

This casts doubt on Irenaeus’ claims that Polycarp was a student of John the Apostle, and that Polycarp had face-to-face conversations with various other Apostles, and “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.”  In the one letter we have from Polycarp, where speaking about such relationships and conversations with John the Apostle and other Apostles would have clearly helped him to persuade his audience to take his guidance and teachings seriously, Polycarp says nothing about any such relationships and conversations.

Hinman But since he wasn't being challenged on it he didn't need to go
Question 4: Was John the Apostle a Teacher of Polycarp?This is basically the same question as the previous question: “Was Polycarp the student of John the Apostle?”  The difference is that Question 4 is focused primarily on John the Apostle rather than on Polycarp.   William Schoedel is an expert on Early Christianity, especially on Papias, Ignatius, and Polycarp.  But other scholars have expertise on John the Apostle, so we can flip the question around and see what scholars who focus on John the Apostle have to say about the alleged relationship between Polycarp and John the Apostle.The Encyclop√¶dia Britannica has an article called “Saint John the Apostle“.  The article was written by Henry Chadwick, who was “Regius Professor Emeritus of Divinity, University of Cambridge; Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1987–93. Author of The Early Church and others.”  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this scholar:Henry Chadwick, … (23 June 1920 – 17 June 2008) was a British academic and Church of England priest. A former Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford – and as such, head of Christ Church, Oxford – he also served as Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, becoming the first person in four centuries to have headed a college at both universities.A leading historian of the early church, Chadwick was appointed Regius Professor at both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. (emphasis added)Here is an important conclusion that Henry Chadwick asserts in his article about John the Apostle:John’s subsequent history is obscure and passes into the uncertain mists of legend. (emphasis added)According to Chadwick, at a certain point in time, historical data on the life and activities of John the Apostle become “obscure” and any further events in the life of John the Apostle beyond that point in time pass “into the uncertain mists of legend.”  In other words, up to a certain point in time, there is sufficient historical data to use as the basis for probable claims about the activities of John the Apostle, and after that point in time, there is NOT sufficient historical data to use as the basis for probable claims about the activities of John the Apostle.

Hinman Modern scholarship has not been generous to the Apostle John, There are a lot of reasons for this. Brad wants to just ignore the whole Baukham-EJ thing as though e didn't make this incredible mistake but he did. He had not disputed the elder John.

"Richard Bauckham has examined this issue and provided a careful translation of the passage from Eusebius that quotes from the preface of Papias’ book"

Bowen: (last time)
Based on Bauckham’s translation and interpretation of this passage, Papias implies that there are several layers between him and Jesus (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):Chain of Tradition
Hinman  he's practically holding a pep rally for Baukham but then Baukham says Elder John Knew Jesus.!!!!
I show 

1) EJ was still going sense it speaks of him in present tense
(2) That means the earlier date would be more likely. 
(3) Polycarp died in 156 at age 80. Papi AD78
(4) Say EJ was 20 in AD 30 assuming he's Older than Apostle John because he';s the elder John Yes I know not necessarily what it means,
(5) he would be 90 in 100.
(6) Papias could have met EJ in AD 90 when he was 10 an EJ would have been 80, so he could have made the famous quote  around the turn of the centenary. Of course EJ could have been 10 when he saw Jesus;
The quote is dated to the time of the book because it was in the book but it could have been used from an earlier time without being updated.

now he does more apostle bashing
But what IS that point in time, when, according to Chadwick, the life and activities of John the Apostle pass “into the uncertain mists of legend”?  The word “subsequent” in the above sentence, refers to an event described in the previous paragraph of the article:John’s authoritative position in the church after the Resurrection is shown by his visit with Peter to Samaria to lay hands on the new converts there.  It is to Peter, James (not the brother of John but “the brother of Jesus”), and John [the Apostle] that Paul successfully submitted his Gospel for recognition. What position John held inthe controversy concerning the admission of the Gentiles to the church is not known; the evidence is insufficient for a theory that the Johannine school was anti-Pauline—i.e., opposed to granting Gentiles membership in the church. (emphasis added)
This event when a decision was made by the leadership of the Church in Jerusalem to grant Gentiles membership in the church is known as the “Apostolic Council” or the “Jerusalem Council” (see Acts 15:4-29).  This event is usually dated to 49 CE.  Thus, Chadwick’s Historical Principle (hereafter: CHP) about the history of John the Apostle can be re-stated as follows:(CHP) Claims about any activities of the Apostle John that allegedly occurred after 49 CE cannot be determined to be probable based on the availavble historical evidence.
Hinman all assumes Apostle John not Elder John he totally ignores the possibility of Elder John as a witness to Jesus. in he will not mention it for the whole debate.

But, according to Hinman,  Polycarp was born about 69 CE.  So, if Polycarp was a student of John the Apostle, that means that the alleged face-to-face conversations between Polycarp and John the Apostle would have occurred in the 80s or 90s, when Polycarp was a teenager or a young man and John the Apostle was a very old man.  This alleged activity of John the Apostle is well beyond the year 49 CE, and thus this alleged activity of John the Apostle has, according to Chadwick, passed “into the uncertain mists of legend”.  In other words, the claim that John the Apostle engaged in teaching Polycarp is a claim that cannot be determined to be probable based on the available historical evidence.
Hinman the date works. John (either one) lived into the time of Trajan according to  all early authorities. So that makes his death date most likely around 101 or 102. Poly was born in 69 he could have met John at age 10-15 80-81 he might have had 15 years to learn from him. While less liley anyone in that era lived that long it did happem, Poly himself lived to be 86 and Papias lived into his 70s or 80s.

Chadwick is not the only scholar who accepts (CHP).  John Meier is a leading Jesus scholar, and he has carefully investigated the history of Jesus’ disciples.  In Volume III of Meier’s multi-volume work about the historical Jesus (A Marginal Jew), Meier discusses the various people and groups with which the historical Jesus allegedly interacted.  One chapter is on “The Disciples”; another chapter is on “The Existence and Nature of the Twelve”, and another chapter is on “The Individual Members of the Twelve” (John the Apostle was one of the members of the Twelve).
Here is the skeptical conclusion that Meier reaches about our knowledge of the Apostle John:In fact, all we can say of John the son of Zebedee after Easter is that he remained in Jerusalem in the company of the Twelve in the early days of the church (Acts 1:13),  was active with Peter in Jerusalem as well as in Samaria (Acts 3:1,3-4,11; 4:13,19; 8:14,17) and that, along with James (the brother of Jesus) and Peter he was considered a leader (“pillar”) of the Jerusalem community as late as the “Jerusalem Council” held ca. A.D. 49 (Gal. 2:9).  After that, we must admit total ignorance of John’s life and fate.  (A Marginal Jew, Vol. III, p.219-220, emphasis added)Henry Chadwick and John Meier both agree with (CHP).  Both are highly-respected N.T. scholars and historians, and both have carefully studied the historical data concerning the life and activities of John the Apostle.

Hinman same time line when he went to Patmos. or good evidence for Elder John

Because Hinman’s claim (A), and his claim (B),  and premise (1) of his argument imply claims about alleged activities of John the Apostle which occured (if they did occur) long after 49 CE,  Chadwick and Meier would clearly reject these claims by Hinman as not capable of being shown to be probable based on the available historical evidence that we have about John the Apostle.
Hinman so what? they have no basis for their opinion other than argument from silence, we don't hear anything out of him and that fits what the Legend says about going to Patomos.
notice how Brad keeps repeating himself all the time? He never answers my major points.

There is another problem that puts the final nail in the coffin of claims (A), (B), and premise (1).  In all likelihood, John the Apostle would have died before Polycarp became old enough to become a disciple of John the Apostle.

Hinman suggests that Polycarp was born about 69 CE.  We don’t know when John the Apostle was born, but John was probably in his twenties when he was a disciple of Jesus,  so if John was in his mid-twenties when Jesus was crucified (around 30 CE), then when Polycarp turned 16, the year would be 85 CE, and John the Apostle would have been about 80 years old.  A scenario in which Polycarp became a student of John the Aposlte in the 80s is not impossible, but it is very unlikely, given that people usually did not live very long back in the first century.
Hinman The overwhelming weight of scholarly opinion puts John younger than 20 when he knew Jesus. let's say 15. He would be 65 in 80. Polycapr could have been 10. That is not too young, In world with no adolescence kids got married in their teens and went to work as children. put their meeting at 85 he would have been 15 and John 70.
The skeptical historian Richard Carrier writes about this issue in his book On the Historicity of Jesus (hereafter: HOJ):Even in the best of times, no more than one in three people made it to 55 or above.  Yet if anyone started in the apostolate at, for example, age 15 in the year 30, they would be 55 in the year 70.  And it is far more likely the first apostles were in their 20s or 30s, not teenagers, which would make them around 65 or 75 in the year 70.  Teenagers would have incredible difficulty earning the respect or deference of those in their 20s or 30s, much less of elder folk, and therefore would be ineffective as evangelists.  So it is very unlikely the first apostles were of teen age.  Indeed, such a thing would be so remarkable it could not have failed to have been remarked upon in the sources we have.  Yet only one in five teenagers would reach age 65, and barely one in twenty would make it to age 75–and that’s without wars, famines, and persecutions reducing their survival rate.  Factor those in, and we can expect none of the original ‘twelve’…will have made it much beyond the year 75 (to which age the chances of a 25-year old surviving are one in eight in normal conditions).  Combine these prior expectations with the lack of any reliable evidence of anyone so surviving, and the silence of the evidence against it…, and we must conclude that in all probability all the original leaders were by then dead.  (HOJ, p.151-152)
NOTE: Carrier’s statistical remarks above are based on “the data provided in T.G. Parkin, Demography and Roman Society…Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992…You can see some calculations for survival odds at http://www.richardcarrierinfo/lifetbl.html…” (footnote #207).

Hinman he's assumimg John was in his 20 most people don't assume that

If “only one in five teenagers would reach age 65”, then even if John the Apostle was only 15 years old when Jesus was crucified (about 30 CE), then John would have beeen about 65 years old in the year 80 CE and Polycarp would be only about 11 years old that year.  Although this is a possible scenario (Polycarp becoming a disciple of John the Apostle in the 80s) the probability of this scenario is significantly less than .2  (less than one chance in five), because (a) John the Apostle was probably in his twenties or thirties when Jesus was crucified (not a teenager), and (b) this survival rate does not factor in wars, famines, and persecutions, which did happen in the first century.  At best the probability of John the Apostle teaching Polycarp in the 80s or 90s is .1  or one chance in ten, based on survival rates.
Given that we have insufficient reliable historical evidence to support a claim that John the Apostle lived beyond the year 50 CE, let alone that he survived beyond the year 80 CE, and given that the rate of survival makes it IMPROBABLE that someone who was a teenager or in his twenties in the year 30 CE would have survived beyond the year 80 CE, we must conclude that in all probability John the Apostle died before he had an opportunity to become a teacher of Polycarp.

Hinman I think it';s absurdly ridiculous to call it weak when he has no evidence against it, it's eye witness based, it checks with the facts of ages as we can confirm them. It may be a bit against the odds but not so great as though no one ever did it

Q5: How Reliable is Irenaeus Concerning John the Apostle?In the above discussion, we saw that three scholars with expertise on this issue (William Schoedel, Henry Chadwick, and John Meier) clearly do NOT view Irenaeus’s assertion that John the Apostle was the teacher of Polycarp as constituting significant evidence for that claim.  Thus, these well-informed scholars do NOT view Irenaeus as a reliable source of information about John the Apostle.According to Irenaeus, the following are true claims about John the Apostle:
  1. John the Apostle was the “beloved disciple”. (Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 1, Section 1)
  1. John the Apostle wrote the Gospel of John(Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 1, Section 1)
  1. John the Apostle wrote the 1st Epistle of John(Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 16, Section 5)
  1. John the Apostle wrote the 2nd Epistle of John(Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter 16, Section 3)
  1. John the Apostle wrote Revelation(Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter 20, Section 11)
Each one of these claims is probably false, so it is very probable that at least three of these claims are false.  Thus, it is very probable that Irenaeus asserted at least three false claims about John the Apostle.  But if Irenaeus asserted at least three false claims about John the Apostle, then Irenaeus is an unreliable source of information about John the Apostle.
Hinman: Of course all of those assume he is talking about the Apostle John.He doesn't say Apostle john, In The passage where he quotes John quoting Jesus about the grape clusters he says:

"who saw John the disciple of the Lord, recalled hearing from him how concerning these times he used to teach that the Lord would say:"

there it says disciple and he's just assuming it's apostle.So is that Apostle John or Elder John? How many times is he really talking disciple? How many times does he actually sway Apostle? The theory is the two Johns were conflated. 
all thos times above where Brad says he is talking about Apostle John he doesn't say Apostle he  says disciple (I just quoted it) and that can be the elder.
Brad never makes attempt to answer the Elder john Argument. when you don;t mention an argument you lose it.


good job joe

Joe the Elder

Bowen says, "Scholars who study the issue have significant doubts about whether Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle. Just as in the second and third centuries, Christians are still hard at work lying to, and deceiving, uncritical thinkers and true believers about the history of Christianity."

I think this starts with the logical fallacy of "appeal to non-existent authority that I hope exists because it helps my argument," and follows that with the logical fallacy of "let's discredit everything that the other side says because claiming that they are liars and cheats helps me to ignore the evidence to the contrary."

The authority that we have says that Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna an disciple of the Apostle John. Tertullian agrees that John himself put Polycarp into that position of authority. (Tertullian Prescription Against Heresies 32) Bowen's entire argument consists of trying to raise questions and doubts about something that is historically accepted. It isn't hard. I can raise doubts about virtually any historical fact if I wanted to do so -- and the further back in time the more I can raise doubts about it. Did Hannibal really cross the Alps with elephants? It is my understanding that we have only two authorities for that proposition, Polybius and Livy, both of whom were born after the event in question - Polybius about 20 years later and Livy almost 170 years later.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that the histories are not to be trusted. Absent evidence to the contrary, the claims ought to be trusted. But why the difference with Polycarp's discipling by the Apostle John? Usually, skeptics (who would be better labeled "doubters") argue against believing the claims of Christianity under the silly aphorism of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." But this shows that any claim that supports Christianity is considered an extraordinary claim in their eyes. All Bowen is doing is throwing enough ... uh, stuff... at the wall hoping that it will stick. Nothing more to see here.

If it comes to that, Hannibal, being from Carthage, would have necessarily had to use African elephants, and indeed coinage and art (I don't know how contemporary, probably later) all show African elephants not Asian ones.

And we all know African elephants cannot be domesticated by anyone. QED, Livy and Polybius were referring to cosmic mythical elephants that only existed in the stories the Romans and/or the Carthaginians told about themselves for varying purposes.

Hm, trying to decide if I should be an elephant mythicist now. Eh, I don't have any ideological stake in the matter, so I guess not. Fun thought experiment though.

BK: {{But this shows that any claim that supports Christianity is considered an extraordinary claim in their eyes.}}

One does get that impression commonly, yep. But it synchs with Jesus Mythicism being a syncretistic scepticism, and I've called it that previously in being charitable to them: if you read a whole bunch of sceptical authors bouncing everything off the wall to this or that degree, and put all the sceptical arguments together in a (sort of) synthetic whole (or mush), what do you get? Basically the Jesus Myth position. It isn't more than a half-step or so beyond what Schweitzer was doing long ago after all: if we can know practically nothing other than two or three facts about Jesus, and someone anywhere can be found to throw even those into a fog, nothing is left over.


I think Joe hit the nail on the head up in one of his replies, too: "tradition" shouldn't be a dirty word. Learning how to evaluate tradition is absolutely crucial to thinking about and working out ancient history (and even some modern history) at a professional level. Agreeing that the tradition does have it right, doesn't mean simply accepting that tradition (much less all tradition) at face value.

But a lot of scepticism, especially among Mythcists, involves an absolute disdain for tradition even on mundane matters; no doubt because any traditional validity is a foot in the door for the miraculous claims.


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