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date: 10 December 2018

Polycarp, c. 69–c. 155 CE

Bishop of Smyrna and correspondent of Ignatius of Antioch. His martyrdom at the age of 86 is described in a letter from the Smyrnaean church to that at Philomelium, Phrygia. That the MSS preserve an interpolated text is probable from Eusebius of Caesarea's quotations (Hist. eccl. 4. 15). Eusebius' Chronicle mentions his death next to the year ce 167, but a (post-Eusebian?) addition to the Smyrnaean letter (ch. 21) dates it to 23 Feb. ‘in the high-priesthood of Philip of Tralles in the proconsulate of Statius Quadratus’. The chronology based by 19th-cent. authors on Aelius Aristides may be dubious, but, since Quadratus was consul in 142, his proconsulate of Asia cannot fall later than 161. Lightfoot's date of 155 fits well with Quadratus' career and with the Asiarchate of Philip, which commenced in 148. Time must be allowed for his return to Smyrna after his visit to Rome (c.154/5) to defend the old Asiatic custom of keeping Easter with the Jewish Passover. His extant letter to the Philippians (a warning against apostasy) speaks of Ignatius as dead in ch. 9, but implies that he is not yet known to be dead in ch. 13; the view that it conflates two letters has commended itself to many scholars.


J. B. Lightfoot (ed.), Apostolic Fathers 2. 3 (1889).Find this resource:

P. N. Harrison, Polycarp's Two Epistles (1936).Find this resource:

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