Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

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

19
The New Testament and the
Martyrdom of Polycarp
Boudewijn DehandschutterWhen in 1905 a ‘Committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology’ published The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, or Martyrium Polycarpi (= Mart. Pol.) was not included. The Committee may have had good reasons for restricting the corpus of ‘Apostolic Fathers’, but this should not mean that the question about the New Testament and the Martyrdom of Polycarp has to be neglected in a volume that marks the centenary of the publication of the committee’s conclusions. For whatever reasons, the Martyrdom has been printed in editions of the Apostolic Fathers from Cotelier to the present.1 It is my conviction, moreover, that further research on the theme of the present contribution can lead to a better understanding of the general theme ‘The New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers’. My contribution will therefore take into consideration some elements of the history of research on the Martyrdom in the hope that this will clarify some of the problems that arise when dealing with ‘The New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers’.In the history of research on the Martyrdom we can easily discern several ‘contexts’ in which the relationship with New Testament texts (mainly the Gospels) is taken up:
1. The nineteenth-century controversy over the Quartodeciman tradition.
2. The defence of the authenticity of the Martyrdom.

1 On ancient editions, see B. Dehandschutter, Martyrium Polycarpi: Een literair-kritische Studie, BETL 52 (Leuven: Universitaire Presse, 1979), 57–9; on Cotelier, idem, ‘The Text of the Martyrdom of Polycarp again (with a note on the Greek Text of Polycarp, ad Phil.)’, in F. Garcia Martinez and G. P. Luttikhuizen (eds.), Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome: Studies in Ancient Cultural Interaction in Honour of A. Hilhorst (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 101–6. A restrictive view regarding the Apostolic Fathers has been put forward in recent times by J. A. Fischer, Die Apostolischen Väter griechisch und deutsch (Munich: Kösel Verlag, 1956), p. xi: ‘Auch die Berichte über die Martyrien Apostolischer Väter (Klemens, Ignatius, Polykarp) gehören nicht hierher. Überdies ist nur das Martyrium Polycarpi… als relativ echt und zuverlässig anzusprechen; doch ist dieses nicht Schrift eines Apostolischen Väters.’

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