Papias of Hierapolis

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Papias (Greek: Παπίας), Bishop of Hierapolis[1] (modern Pamukkale[2], Turkey), was a 2nd century bishop of the early Church, who published an "Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord"[3] (Greek κυριακῶν λογίων ἐξηγήσις — Kyriakôn logiôn exêgêsis) in five volumes. This work is lost but survives in fragments quoted by Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202) and Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339).

His interpretations would have been a prime early authority in the exegesis of the sayings of Jesus, some of which are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, however the book has not survived and is known only through fragments quoted by later writers; Irenaeus of Lyons's (d. 202) Against Heresies and later by Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339) in Ecclesiastical History, the earliest surviving history of the early Church.

One of these fragments, quoted by Eusebius in his History of the Church (Book III, chapter 39), reads:

But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.[4]


  1. Eusebius of Caesarea calls him "Bishop of Hierapolis"
  2. Pamukkale is 22km from Laodicea and near Colossae (see Col. 4:13), in the Lycus river valley in Phrygia, Asia Minor and is not to be confused with Hierapolis of Syria.