Polycarp::category    Church::smyrna    Irenaeus::letter    Catholic::roman    Sabbath::which    Ignatius::saints

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} Polycarp (Greek: Πολύκαρπος{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, Polýkarpos; Latin: Polycarpus{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; AD 69 – 156) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna.<ref name="Britannica">Saint Polycarp at Encyclopædia Britannica</ref> 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.<ref name="Wace"/> Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.

It is recorded by Irenaeus, who heard him speak in his youth, and by Tertullian,<ref>Tertullian, De praescriptione hereticorum 32.2</ref> that he had been a disciple of John the Apostle.<ref name="Polycarp">Polycarp, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913.</ref><ref>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".</ref> Saint Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.

The early tradition that expanded upon the Martyrdom to link Polycarp in competition and contrast 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, is embodied in the Coptic language fragmentary papyri (the "Harris fragments") dating to the 3rd to 6th centuries.<ref>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).</ref> Frederick Weidmann, their editor, interprets the "Harris fragments" 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".<ref>Weidmann 1999:133.</ref> 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. The sole surviving work attributed to his authorship is his Letter to the Philippians; it is first recorded by Irenaeus of Lyons.

Polycarp sections
Intro  Surviving writings and early accounts  Life  Great Sabbath  Importance  See also  References  External links  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Surviving writings and early accounts