Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

By Andrew F. Gregory; Christopher M. Tuckett | Go to book overview

18
The Opponents of Polycarp, Philippians,
and 1 John

Paul A. Hartog

The 1905 Oxford Society of Historical Theology classified the possible use of 1 John in Polycarp’s Philippians with a ‘C’ rating, meaning that they thought there was a ‘lower degree of probability’ that Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians used 1 John.1 Some scholars have expressed similar uncertainty.2 For example, S. E. Johnson labelled the possibility of dependence as ‘doubtful’,3 and H. F. von Campenhausen dismissed the parallels between 1 John and Polycarp’s letter as a typical ‘kirchliche Parole im Kampf gegen die kleinasiatische Gnosis’.4 However, many other scholars have disagreed with the Oxford Society’s assessment.5 G. Strecker asserted that Polycarp ‘no doubt’ uses 1 John 4. 2–36 J. Painter agreed that Polycarp’s letter is ‘almost certainly’ dependent

1 A Committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology, The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), pp. iii, 100, 137.

2 Kleist expressed some uncertainty (J. A. Kleist, The Didache; The Epistle of Barnabas; The Epistles and the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp; The Fragments of Papias; The Epistle to Diognetus, ACW (Westminster: Newman Press, 1948), 192 n. 53). Schoedel maintained that parallels did ‘not necessarily point to a literary relationship’ (W. R. Schoedel, ‘Polycarp, Epistle of’, in ABD v. 390–2). See also F. X. Gokey, The Terminology for the Devil and Evil Spirits in the Apostolic Fathers (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1961), 90–2.

3 S. E. Johnson, ‘Parallels between the Letters of Ignatius and the Johannine Epistles’, in E.W. Conrad and E. G. Newing (eds.), Perspectives in Language and Text (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987), 327–38, on p. 329. Cf. ibid. 338.

4 H. F. von Campenhausen, Polykarp von Smyrna und die Pastoralbriefe (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1951), 40–1.

5 B. Dehandschutter, ‘Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians: An Early Example of “Reception” ’, in J.-M. Sevrin (ed.), The New Testament in Early Christianity, BETL 86 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1989), 275–91, on p. 284.W. von Loewenich, Das Johannes-Verständnis im zweiten Jahrhundert (Gießen: A. Töpelmann, 1932), 23. É. Massaux considered ‘literary contact’ to be ‘beyond doubt’ (É. Massaux, The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature before Saint Irenaeus, ed. A. J. Bellinzoni (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1990), i. 34). Cf. B. M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 62.

6 G. Strecker, The Johannine Epistles, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), p. xxix.

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