Hello Brothers and Sisters:
I have questions and comments to those who are more history savvy. I found this intriguing claim by a Mr. Paul Tobin, founder of the website Rejection of Pascel’s Razor regarding the Apostolic Succession of Saints Papias, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Irenaeus:
First we look at the case of Polycarp.
Early Christian tradition claimed that Polycarp was a disciple of John, son of Zebedee and was appointed to the position of bishop of Smyrna by the apostle himself. The main source of this tradition was Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon.
There are three argument against this tradition:
The silence of earlier tradition about connection between Polycarp and the apostle John.
Irenaeus’ mistake about Papias’ connection with John.
The presence of an alternate tradition about the succession of bishops in Smyrna.
In conclusion these three arguments make a strong case against the historicity of the connection of Polycarp with the apostle John.
Mr. Tobin’s article can be found here: rejectionofpascalswager.net/apostolic.html
I’m not perfectly sure how to refute this claim. I don’t know of any scholar who rejects the connection between St. Polycarp and St. John the Apostle, and, although Mr. Tobin wrote a book (which is usefully titled the same as the website) on in part the History of Christianity, which I have not read (nor plan to), I do not think that he has any historical scholarship credentials. However, he does site many scholars, and seems to be familiar with the discipline, so I wish to take some of his claims seriously, even if they are contradictory to what many scholars teach (scholars have a tendency to be insanely wrong, so I can respect a educated layman opinion on matters, especially since I am one myself).
I skimmed through other pages in his site, where he cited many skeptical scholarship (especially Edward Gibbon), which already points to his bias (as if it were not obvious already). Nevertheless, they are scholars, and so should be taken seriously, even if we disagree with their (often question begging or false a priori assumption filled) conclusions (although I have trouble taking the conspiracy theorist Mr. Bart Ehrman seriously, at least in more his popular works). I found that Mr. Tobin specifically uses Gibbon’s false presentation of the Hypatia Affair, so he definably is willing to use false and skewed information in his articles, whether he is aware of its falseness or not (if the reader is interested, a series, undertaking the Hypatia Affair, was done (humorously) by Mr. Mike Flynn (a layman regarding Historical scholarship) at his website: tofspot.blogspot.com/2015/02/hypatia-part-i-mean-streets-of-old.html. He presents his sources (including primary and secondary documents) at the end).