Polycarp

Polycarp (/ˈpɒlikɑːrp/; Greek: Πολύκαρπος, Polýkarpos; Latin: Polycarpus; AD 69 – 155) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna.[1] According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him.[2] Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. His name 'Polycarp' means 'much fruit' in Greek.

Both Irenaeus, who as a young man heard Polycarp speak, and Tertullian[3] recorded that Polycarp had been a disciple of John the Apostle.[4] Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.

The late tradition surrounding Polycarp that expanded upon the Martyrdom is embodied in the Coptic language fragmentary papyri (the "Harris fragments") dating to the 3rd to 6th centuries.[5] These fragments compare and contrast Polycarp with John the Apostle, who, though many people had tried to kill him, was not martyred but died of old age after being exiled to the island of Patmos. Frederick Weidmann, editor of the Harris fragments, interprets them as Smyrnan hagiography addressing Smyrna–Ephesus church rivalries, which "develops the association of Polycarp and John to a degree unwitnessed, so far as we know, either before or since".[6] The fragments echo the Martyrology, and diverge from it.

With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. Polycarp is the patron saint of Smyrna.

Saint Polycarp
Burghers michael saintpolycarp
S. Polycarpus, engraving by Michael Burghers, ca 1685
Martyr, Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna
BornAD 69
DiedAD 156 (aged 86 or 87)
Smyrna, Asia, Roman Empire
Venerated inEastern Orthodox Church,
Oriental Orthodox Church,
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Anglican Communion,
Lutheran Church
FeastFebruary 23 (formerly January 26)
AttributesWearing the pallium, holding a book representing his Letter to the Philippians
Major worksPolycarp's letter to the Philippians

Surviving writings and early accounts

The sole surviving work attributed to him is Polycarp's letter to the Philippians, a mosaic of references to the Greek Scriptures. It, and an account of The Martyrdom of Polycarp, form part of the collection of writings Roman Catholics and some Protestants term "The Apostolic Fathers." This title emphasizes the writings' particular closeness to the apostles in Church traditions. After the Acts of the Apostles, which describes the death of Stephen the Martyrdom is considered one of the earliest genuine[1] accounts of a Christian martyrdom, and is one of the earliest-known Christian documents of this kind.[1]

Life

There are two chief sources of information concerning the life of Polycarp: the letter of the Smyrnaeans recounting the martyrdom of Polycarp and the passages in Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses.[7] Other sources are the epistles of Ignatius, which include one to Polycarp and another to the Smyrnaeans, and Polycarp's own letter to the Philippians. In 1999, some third to 6th century Coptic fragments about Polycarp were also published.[8]

Papias

According to Irenaeus, Polycarp was a companion of Papias,[9] another "hearer of John" as Irenaeus interprets Papias' testimony, and a correspondent of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius addressed a letter to him, and mentions him in his letters to the Ephesians and to the Magnesians.

Irenaeus regarded the memory of Polycarp as a link to the apostolic past. He relates how and when he became a Christian, and in his letter to Florinus, a fellow student of Polycarp who had become a Roman presbyter and later lapsed into heresy.[10] Irenaeus stated that he saw and heard Polycarp personally in lower Asia. Irenaeus wrote to Florinus:

I could tell you the place where the blessed Polycarp sat to preach the Word of God. It is yet present to my mind with what gravity he everywhere came in and went out; what was the sanctity of his deportment, the majesty of his countenance; and what were his holy exhortations to the people. I seem to hear him now relate how he conversed with John and many others who had seen Jesus Christ, the words he had heard from their mouths."[11]

In particular, he heard the account of Polycarp's discussion with John and with others who had seen Jesus. Irenaeus also reports that Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a bishop, and communicated with many who had seen Jesus. He repeatedly emphasizes the very great age of Polycarp. Polycarp kissed the chains of Ignatius when he passed by Smyrna on the road to Rome for his martyrdom.

Visit to Anicetus

According to Irenaeus, during the time his fellow Syrian, Anicetus, was the Bishop of Rome, in the 150s or 160, Polycarp visited Rome to discuss the differences that existed between Asia and Rome "with regard to certain things" and especially about the time of the Easter festivals. Irenaeus said that on certain things the two bishops speedily came to an understanding, while as to the time of Easter, each adhered to his own custom, without breaking off communion with the other.[12] Polycarp followed the eastern practice of celebrating the feast on the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week it fell on. Anicetus followed the western practice of celebrating the feast on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox (March 21). Anicetus—the Roman sources offering it as a mark of special honor—allowed Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in his own church.[12]

Date of martyrdom

Izmir St Polycarp Church Icon Miraculously Extinguishing Smyrna Fire
Polycarp miraculously extinguishing the fire burning the city of Smyrna

In the Martyrdom, Polycarp is recorded as saying on the day of his death, "Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong", which could indicate that he was then eighty-six years old[13] or that he may have lived eighty-six years after his conversion.[2] Polycarp goes on to say "How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked."[11] Polycarp was burned at the stake and was pierced with a spear for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor.[14] On his farewell, he said "I bless you Father for judging me worthy of this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ."[11]

The date of Polycarp's death is in dispute. Eusebius dates it to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, c. 166–167. However, a post-Eusebian addition to the Martyrdom of Polycarp dates his death to Saturday, February 23, in the proconsulship of Lucius Statius Quadratus — which works out to be 155 or 156. These earlier dates better fit the tradition of his association with Ignatius and John the Evangelist. However, the addition to the Martyrdom cannot be considered reliable on only its own merits. Lightfoot would argue for the earlier date of Polycarp's death, with which Killen would strongly disagree. In addition, some have proposed a date in 177. However the earlier date of 156 is generally accepted.[15]

Great Sabbath

Because the Smyrnaean letter known as the Martyrdom of Polycarp states that Polycarp was taken "on the day of the Sabbath" and killed on "the Great Sabbath," some believe that this is evidence that the Smyrnaeans under Polycarp observed the seventh day Sabbath.

William Cave wrote "... the Sabbath or 'Saturday' (for so the word sabbatum is constantly used in the writings of the fathers, when speaking of it as it relates to Christians) was held by them in great veneration, and especially in the Eastern parts honoured with all the public solemnities of religion. This is plain, not only from some passages in Ignatius and Clemens' Constitutions, but from writers of more unquestionable credit and authority. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, tells us that they assembled on Saturdays... to worship Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath."[16]

Some feel that the expression the Great Sabbath refers to the Christian Passover or another annual holy day. If so, then Polycarp's martyrdom would have had to occur at least a month after the traditional February 23 dating since according to the Hebrew calendar the earliest time Nisan 14, the date of the Passover, can fall on in any given year is late March. Other "Great Sabbaths" (if this is referring to what are commonly considered to be Jewish holy days, though observed by many early professors of Christ) come in the spring, late summer, and the fall. None occur in winter.

It is claimed that the "Great Sabbath" is alluded to in John 7:37. Here it is referred to as "the last day, that great day of the feast" and is a separate annual holy day immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. Others argue that the gospel writer is referring to the seventh day of the Feast and later refers to the Eighth Day or annual Sabbath in John 9:14. It is more likely that the "Great Sabbath," as referred to in the Martyrdom of Polycarp is alluded to in John 19:31 which points out "that [weekly] Sabbath day" following the "[day of the] preparation" was a "high day" or "great." In any event, however, it is disputable whether such biblical references imply a common practice or just onetime events.

Importance

Polycarp occupies an important place in the history of the early Christian Church.[8] He is among the earliest Christians whose writings survived. Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a "disciple of the apostle John and by him ordained bishop of Smyrna".[17] He was an elder of an important congregation which was a large contributor to the founding of the Christian Church. He is from an era whose orthodoxy is widely accepted by Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Church of God groups, Sabbatarian groups, mainstream Protestants and Catholics alike. According to David Trobisch, Polycarp may have been the one who compiled, edited, and published the New Testament.[18] All of this makes his writings of great interest.

According to Eusebius, Polycrates of Ephesus cited the example of Polycarp in defense of local practices during the Quartodeciman Controversy.[19]

Irenaeus, who as a young man had heard Polycarp preach, said of him:[20] "a man who was of much greater weight, and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics". Polycarp had learned from apostle John to flee from those who change the divine truth. One day he met in the streets of Rome the heretic Marcion who, resenting that Polycarp did not greet him, said: "Do you know me?" Polycarp replied: "Yes, I know you, the first-born of Satan."[11] Polycarp lived in an age after the deaths of the apostles, when a variety of interpretations of the sayings of Jesus were being preached. His role was to authenticate orthodox teachings through his reputed connection with the apostle John: "a high value was attached to the witness Polycarp could give as to the genuine tradition of old apostolic doctrine", Wace commented,[2] "his testimony condemning as offensive novelties the figments of the heretical teachers". Irenaeus states (iii. 3) that on Polycarp's visit to Rome, his testimony converted many disciples of Marcion and Valentinus.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Saint Polycarp at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ a b c Henry Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies, s.v. "Polycarpus, bishop of Smyrna".
  3. ^ Tertullian, De praescriptione hereticorum 32.2
  4. ^ Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses III.3, Polycarp does not quote from the Gospel of John in his surviving letter, which may be an indication that whichever John he knew was not the author of that gospel, or that the gospel was not finished during Polycarp's discipleship with John. Weidmann suggests (Weidmann 1999:132) that the "Harris fragments" may reflect early traditions: "the raw material for a narrative about John and Polycarp may have been in place before Irenaeus; the codification of the significance of a direct line of succession from the apostle John through Polycarp may arguably be linked directly to Irenaeus".
  5. ^ Dating according to Frederick W. Weidmann, ed. and tr. Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to the Literary Tradition (University of Notre Dame Press, 1999).
  6. ^ Weidmann 1999:133.
  7. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBacchus, Francis Joseph (1911). "St. Polycarp" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton.
  8. ^ a b Hartog, Paul (2002). Polycarp and the New Testament. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-16-147419-4.
  9. ^ Irenaeus, V.xxxiii.
  10. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Bacchus, Francis Joseph (1911). "St. Polycarp" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. ^ a b c d Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). "St. Polycarp". My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate - Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 58–59. ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
  12. ^ a b Wikisource Andrews, Herbert Tom (1911). "Polycarp" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 20–22.
  13. ^ Staniforth, Maxwell, trans. Early Christian Writings London: Penguin Books (1987): 115.
  14. ^ "Polycarp - Martyrdom". Polycarp.net.
  15. ^ Ferguson, Everett (16 June 2005), "4: The Church and the Empire", Church History: From Christ to pre-Reformation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 80, ISBN 978-0-310-20580-7
  16. ^ Cave, Primitive Christianity: or the Religion of the Ancient Christians in the First Ages of the Gospel. 1840, revised edition by H. Cary. Oxford, London, pp. 84–85).
  17. ^ Schaff, Philip (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2, 3
  18. ^ Tobisch, David, "Who Published the New Testament?", Free Inquiry, 28:1 (2007/2008) pp.30–33
  19. ^ Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter 24
  20. ^ Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses III.3.4

External links

Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were Christian theologians who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles, or to have been significantly influenced by them. Their writings, though popular in Early Christianity, were not included in the canon of the New Testament. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature which came to be part of the New Testament. Some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers appear to have been highly regarded as some of the writings which became the New Testament.

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Brazilian guinea pigs are mainly diurnal animals and are narrower and longer than domesticated guinea pigs.

Christianity in the 2nd century

Christianity in the 2nd century was largely the time of the development of variant Christian teachings, and the Apostolic Fathers who are regarded as defenders of the developing proto-orthodoxy. Major figures who were later declared by the developing proto-orthodoxy to be heretics were Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus.

While the Jewish Christian church was centered in Jerusalem in the 1st century, Gentile Christianity became decentralized in the 2nd century.Although the use of the term Christian is attested in the Acts of the Apostles (80–90 AD), the earliest recorded use of the term Christianity (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) is by Ignatius of Antioch about 107 AD, who is also associated with modification of the sabbath, promotion of the bishop, and critique of the Judaizers.

Church Fathers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700 (John of Damascus died in 749 AD, Byzantine Iconoclasm began in 726 AD).In the past, the Church Fathers were regarded as authoritative and more restrictive definitions were used which sought to limit the list to authors treated as such. However, the definition has widened as scholars of patristics, the study of the Church Fathers, have expanded their scope.

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Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch (; Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, Ignátios Antiokheías; c. 50 – c. 98/117/145), also known as Ignatius Theophorus (Ιγνάτιος ὁ Θεοφόρος, Ignátios ho Theophóros, lit. "the God-bearing") or Ignatius Nurono (lit. "The fire-bearer"), was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers, of which he is considered one of the three chief ones together with Pope Clement I and Polycarp. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

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Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben

Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben (22 June 1744 – 19 August 1777) was a German naturalist from Quedlinburg.

Erxleben was professor of physics and veterinary medicine at the University of Göttingen. He wrote Anfangsgründe der Naturlehre (1772) and Systema regni animalis (1777). He was founder of the first and oldest academic veterinary school in Germany, the Institute of Veterinary Medicine, in 1771.

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Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel

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Martyrdom of Polycarp

Martyrdom of Polycarp is a manuscript written in the form of a letter that relates the religious martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (the site of the modern city of Izmir, Turkey) and disciple of John the Apostle in the 2nd century AD. It forms the earliest account of Christian martyrdom outside of the New Testament. The author of Martyrdom of Polycarp is unknown, but it has been attributed to members of the group of early Christian theologians known as the Church Fathers. The letter, sent from the church in Smyrna to another church in Asia Minor at Philomelium, is partly written from the point of view of an eye-witness, recounting the arrest of the elderly Polycarp, the Romans' attempt to execute him by fire, and subsequent miraculous events.The letter takes influence from both Jewish martyrdom texts in the Old Testament and the Gospels. Furthermore, the Martyrdom of Polycarp promotes an ideology of martyrdom, by delineating the proper conduct of a martyr.

Plutarch of Byzantium

Plutarch (Greek: Πλούταρχος), (died 105) served as Bishop of Byzantium for sixteen years (89 – 105 AD) in succession to Polycarp. When he died, he was buried in the church of Argyroupolis, as were his predecessors.

The persecution of Christians by Emperor Trajan took place in 98, during the bishopric of Plutarch.

Polycarp's letter to the Philippians

The Letter to the Philippians (often simply called Philippians) is an epistle composed around AD 110 to 140 by Polycarp of Smyrna, one of the Apostolic Fathers, from Antioch to the early Christian church in Philippi. The letter is described by Irenaeus as follows:

There is also a forceful epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians, from which those who wish to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth.The letter is one of a number believed to have been written by Polycarp, but is the only extant document. The letter was composed in Greek, but the Greek text has not been preserved in its entirety; there is also a Latin translation of the letter. Moreover, a few quotations of it are preserved in Syriac.

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Pope Anicetus

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Smyrna

Smyrna (Ancient Greek: Σμύρνη, Smýrnē or Σμύρνα, Smýrna) was a Greek city dating back to antiquity located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Since 1930, the modern city located there has been known as İzmir, in Turkey, the Turkish rendering of the same name. Due to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defense and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. Two sites of the ancient city are today within the boundaries of İzmir. The first site, probably founded by indigenous peoples, rose to prominence during the Archaic Period as one of the principal ancient Greek settlements in western Anatolia. The second, whose foundation is associated with Alexander the Great, reached metropolitan proportions during the period of the Roman Empire. Most of the present-day remains of the ancient city date from the Roman era, the majority from after a 2nd-century AD earthquake.

In practical terms, a distinction is often made between these. Old Smyrna was the initial settlement founded around the 11th century BC, first as an Aeolian settlement, and later taken over and developed during the Archaic Period by the Ionians. Smyrna proper was the new city which residents moved to as of the 4th century BC and whose foundation was inspired by Alexander the Great.

Old Smyrna was located on a small peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus at the northeastern corner of the inner Gulf of İzmir, at the edge of a fertile plain and at the foot of Mount Yamanlar. This Anatolian settlement commanded the gulf. Today, the archeological site, named Bayraklı Höyüğü, is approximately 700 metres (770 yd) inland, in the Tepekule neighbourhood of Bayraklı at 38°27′51″N 27°10′13″E.

New Smyrna developed simultaneously on the slopes of the Mount Pagos (Kadifekale today) and alongside the coastal strait, immediately below where a small bay existed until the 18th century.

The core of the late Hellenistic and early Roman Smyrna is preserved in the large area of İzmir Agora Open Air Museum at this site. Research is being pursued at the sites of both the old and the new cities. This has been conducted since 1997 for Old Smyrna and since 2002 for the Classical Period city, in collaboration between the İzmir Archaeology Museum and the Metropolitan Municipality of İzmir.

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Église Saint-Polycarpe

The Église Saint-Polycarpe (Church of St. Polycarp) is a Roman Catholic church located in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon, on the slopes of La Croix-Rousse, between rue René Leynaud, rue Burdeau and passages Mermet and Thiaffait. It is the oldest church of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.

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