Papias and The Daughters of Philip

Tomb of Philip at Hierapolis

 Our understanding of Philip comes to us form four major soruces: Papias, Irenaius, Eusebius, and Polycrates. Papias (70?-155?) was Bishop of Hierapolis (in Phrygia, sort mid southwestern Turkey), where Philip lived. He knew the daughters of Philip after their father's time. What we know of him comes to us priarily form his student Irenaeus. Irenaeus is important as the connecting link not only to Philip but to Papias and Polycarp. Irenaeus is a major figure in the chain.
Papias and The Daughters of Philip 

Papias had several important connections to the history of Jesus. He studied with his friend Polycarp and they both studied under the Apostle John. There is a controservy about weather it was the Apostel John or another John, I will deal with that on Papias own page. He lived in Hierapolis where he was Bishop there was also Philip and his four virgin daughters. The daughters of Philip were prophetesses, Paul is said to have met them in Acts (8:5-40; 21:8-9. ), and Papias is said to have met them as well. Eusebius speaks of this in the same passage that he speaks about Papias:

The residence of the Apostle Philip with his daughters in Hierapolis has been mentioned above. We must now point out how Papias, who lived at the same time, relates that he had received a wonderful narrative from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that a dead man was raised to life in his day. He also mentions another miracle relating to Justus, surnamed Barsabas, how he swallowed a deadly poison, and received no harm, on account of the grace of the Lord.[6]
Polycrates testifies (AD 190) to existence of these daughters and their burial and their father's burial at Hierapolis, "Philip of the twelve apostles who sleeps in Hierapolis and his two druthers, elderly virgins, and another of his daughters who after living in the Holy Spirit rests in Ephesos."[7] William Tabbernee documents an inscription from Hierapolis honoring a public figure which links the burial of Philip the apostle with the monument in his honor, the "martyrium." It refers to him as "the glorious Apostle and Theologian Philip.[8]  Of course there are problematic details in these accounts. Other accounts give four daughters, Polycrates seems to only know of there. There is a controversy as weather or not this Philip is the evangelist of Acts (one of the first decons) or the Apostles, one of the twelve who traveld with Jesus. No one really knows. In a famous debate between a Montanist (Prokolos) and an Orthox (Gaius) reference is made to the four daughters of Philip as having resided in that area and being burried there.[9] There is a possiblity that the tomb of Philip has been discovered:

Italian professor Francesco D'Andria, the head of the excavation team at the Hierapolis ancient city in Denizli, told reporters on Tuesday that experts had reached the tomb of St. Philip whose name is mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

Professor D'Andria said archaeologists had been working for years to find the tomb of the Biblical figure, and finally, they had managed to reach the monument while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church in Hierapolis.
D'Andria said the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity.[10]

The Tomb is near the "martyrium" a structure put around the fifth century to commemorate the death of Philip. The martyruim is probably where he was crucified and the tomb where he was burred. Or it could just be that they didn't put the monument over his tomb because a chruch was there so they put it near by. It's not proof but it lends credence, it at least establishes that the tradition starches back further toward the actual event of his living there.

F.F. Bruce, an Evangelical Scholar, highly respected in all circles, tells us: "Eusebius tells us on the authority of Papias and other early writers that at a late date Philip's four prophetic daughters were famed in the church for authorities in the history of its earliest days." [11] That's probably exaggeration. As as been seen the only quotations I can find by Eusebius about Philip and his daughters say nothing of the kind. He's probalby basing that upon the miracle stories they told Papias. Yet they do provide a more important link to Papias than has been observed by scholars. These women have been overlooked, relegated to footnotes in the questions about their father's identity. They must have been important in their day, they show up in several sources even long after they were gone (Polycrates wrote in 190 and the report of Gaius and Prockleus was even latter). The site of their tombs was marked. They were prophetesses and that gives a status. Even though tehy were probalby weren't historians per se they surely did pass on stories about the early days as Papias attest. They  knew their father who around in the early days of the faith. Even though the sources may have become confused on points such as which Philip we are dealing with, in my view it must be the evangelist [12] those are not big enough problems to lose the reality of Jesus as a real man in history.

All these connections provide a web of historicity. There are three major trajectories along which the historical evidence is found: the gospels (both canonical and extra canonical), the Pauline corpus, and the apostolic fathers. These form interdependent links that make a big web of historicity. Papias is linked to John or at least disciples of the Lord such as Elder John, and he's also linked to the Pauline corpus through his association with the daughters of Philip, who know Paul. Through Philip he has another link to the early days of the chruch. We have this big web all these groups of people that knew each other as we go more deeply into it the inner circles come close to knowing Jesus. Paul met several such as James and Peter who knew him intimately. He also knew Andronicus and Junia who were around in the early days and Priscilla and Aquila who were first followers of the Baptist. Irenaeus' teacher Polycarp knew Papias and knew he was a follower of eye witness disciples who saw Jesus.  Yet how could it be that the core of the web is fictional?

How absurd to think people in Jerusalem  just a few years after the disciples began preaching would say "my father never heard of this guy, my grandfather never heard of him, his followers say he spoke to throngs of people in the streets of Jerusalem they heralded him, they demanded his release when he was captured but no one has heard of him, no one I know has any memory of those events, I think I'll join his little band of twelve guys."

You might ask how this ties into Jesus, both groups, Paul and his circle and Philip and his circle understood Jesus as a man in history. They all knew people that had seen him. They clealry told Paul about him and no doubt told Philip about him too. There's a a good chance Philip himself saw Jesus as he began his ministry in Jerusalem in the first days of the chruch.

fragments Papias writing form sources other than Eusebius.

[1] "The Apostle Paul," Britannica Encyclopedia (1997) quoted on website "Was the Apostle Paul a Historical Person?" Kevin's Articles on Religion aacessed 11/2/13.
[2] etherial library

[3] Gary R. Habermas Originally published in Dialog: A Journal of Theology, Vol. 45; No. 3 (Fall, 2006), pp. 288-297; published by Blackwell Publishing, UK. on Experinces of Risen Jesus, Website
 accessed 11/2/13.
Hbermas fn
Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University, 1991), 81

[4] Ibid. also fn
[7] Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection: Biblical Testimony to the Resurrection: An Historical Examination and Explanation (Edinburgh: St. Andrew, 1977), 2.
[8] Joachim Jeremias, "Easter: The Earliest Tradition and the Earliest Interpretation," New Testament Theology, trans. John Bowden (N.Y.: Scribner's, 1971), 306.
[9] Walter Kaspar, Jesus the Christ, new ed., trans. V. Green (Mahweh: Paulist, 1976), 125.

[5] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels

[6] Eusebius, Oracles of the Lord op cit.

[7] William Tabbernee, Montanists Inscriptions and Testimonia:Epigraphic Sources Illustrating The History of Montanism.Macan Georgia: Mercer University Press 1997, 504

[8] Tabbernee, op cit 503.

[9] ibid, 505

[10] "Tomb of Philip The Apostle Discovered in Turkey?" News Network Archaeology. website URL:

[11] FF Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable,published in USA by Wb Erdeman's Publishing company and Invervarsity press, originally published 1943, 1981 , p.43)

[12] The same quote by Papias about how he always tried to get word from those who had been with the elders, names Philip the Apostle among them. If he lived in Herapolis Papias would hardly need to learn his words form travelers coming in from elsewhere.


improveranking said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
You do realise that that is spam, right? It is just someone trying to get a link to their own stuff.

no kidding? I only get those all the time

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