How could these books just disappear?

Papias made a exposition of the sayings of the Lord, five books named λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξηγήσεις (sayings lords expositions) How could something like that disappear ?

According to Eusebius, Papias carefully searched out individuals that had spoken to the Apostles, in order to collect the sayings of the Lord. How could something like that have disappeared ?

The books are of immense value, is there any chance of finding them ? According to Eusebius, they were in circulation early in the fourth century.


Yes there’s just some tiny fragments (quotations) left. They all had the five books (copies of the books) So how could they just disappear, like that ?

I know Papias subscribed to the “millenarianism” thought, but was this a good reason to throw his five books overboard ? I mean if they contained the sayings of the Lord (as heard and retold by the Apostles)

It’s kind of like I tell Facebook fans: “If you lose contact with somebody, there is normally a very good reason.”

If a textual work from the past has become lost, there is probably a likewise good reason. The readership for these works disappeared, probably because the content was no longer valued. And because before 1455, all texts had to be laboriously recopied to survive, once readership was lost, that was it.


This loss is just the tip of the iceberg! :eek: We have lost INNUMBERABLE valuable books from antiquity, not least of which is the very early copies of the Sacred Scriptures themselves! It is not at all surprising how these became lost when one considers the persecution of the Christians, wars, ignorance, and just negligence of centuries.

However, it is not hopeless! There is always the possibility that some of these works will re-emerge due to archaelogical discoveries and other chance discoveries. Look at the enormous difference the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls has made on modern exegetics.

Otherwise, we can be comforted that we have the oracle of the Divine Church of Christ, helping us toward our salvation. That is something that will NEVER fail us.

I would love to spend days reading those books!!

I agree with you about books such as these disappearing for good reason, but I doubt any of Jesus statements could be no longer valid, something tells me they would be timeless, Id say they ‘disappeared’ because they may be TOO valid, as in maybe contradicting what a modern society thinks or believes, and leading to many problems, so its easier to just have the books ‘disappear’ mysteriously.

I believe this has been done in the past in regards to other books as well. Our modern society is heavily controlled, powers that be would not want certain books or information that MAY throw a wrench into that control, to be widely available, common sense imo.

wasn’t there an enormous library in Alexandria that was burned? I am not sure when that was. and Christian lands were conquered by Muslims as Islam spread and I am sure many works were destroyed in churches and monasteries.

The great library in Alexandria was burned in 45 B.C.

If the five books of Papias contained the sayings of the Lord (as heard and retold by the Apostles), what could be more valuable than that ?

That’s a big “if,” though. Papias’ five books didn’t make it into the New Testament canon, which would mean they were not judged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If in fact some of the words they attributed to Jesus were false and misleading, we might even speculate that it was the will of God that they be lost and thereby not breed confusion in later ages.

That said, they would be fascinating to read. We would have to be careful, though, not to jump to the conclusion that they represent a “truer” picture of Jesus and Christianity than what we have. That way lies schism and heresy.


My guess would be, that the books contained sayings of Jesus, that were very difficult to understand. Like the ones about the future grapes and wheat, quoted by Irenaus and Eusebius. Most certainly sayings of the Lord.

In early Christianity, there was thing called the agrapha, sayings attributed to Jesus that are not found - “not-written” - in any of the gospelst, but are instead found in other sources like the other books of the NT, the writings of Church Fathers or extrabiblical early Christian literature.

There were quite a number of agrapha known to early Christians (I believe there were two or three hundred extracanonical sayings), but scholars believe that only a very small segment of those are really authentic - the rest are simply either variations on sayings that are in the gospels (for example: “Pray for your enemies, for he who is not against is for you”), misattributed sayings, or flat-out inventions.

The scholar Joachim Jeremias (in his book Unknown Sayings of Jesus) pared the agrapha down to twenty-one sayings which he thought “has the same claim to historicity as the sayings in our four Gospels;” out of these twenty-one “historically valuable” quotes, he believed only eleven are possibly genuine (emphasis on the ‘possibly’; we can’t be 100% sure). In fact, a few scholars looking back think that the actual number of authentic agrapha are even smaller than Jeremias thought: maybe just around half a dozen. And the thing is: even these agrapha deemed authentic don’t really add anything important to what we already know about Jesus or His teaching. (Nearly) Everyone basically agrees that the four canonical gospels represents mostly all the meaningful information that the early Christians knew about Jesus.

Some examples of possibly and probably authentic agrapha:

  • “Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed. But if you do not know, you are cursed and a transgressor of the law” (said to a man working on the Sabbath)

  • “He who is near me is near the fire; he who is far from me is far from the kingdom.”

  • “Never be content, except when you look upon your brother in love.”

  • “He who is far away today will be near you tomorrow.”

  • “Ask for the great things, and the small things will be added to you.”

  • “Become approved moneychangers.”

  • “No one who has not passed through temptation can obtain the heavenly kingdom.”

  • “There shall be schisms and heresies.”

  • “As you were found so will you be taken away.”

“Ask for the great things, and the small things will be added to you.”

This really sound like the Lord :thumbsup:

Matthew 6:33 “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:10 Pray, then, in this way:…Your kingdom come. Your will be done…

Pray for the kingdom to come, and everything else will be added to you

With regard to NT Scripture we have everything of value already in the New Testament. We lose nothing with regards to our salvation by the books of Papias being lost.

I was just about to bring this point up! Let’s all remember that in the fire of the library of Alexandria many many ancient books and documents were lost forever and we don’t.even lost what might have been lost there. There are multiple documents from.the ancient world.That have disappeared and there is a pretty good likelihood that they got lost in this event.

I would add that it’s always possible that the actual quotations of value may have simply been employed by the authors of the New Testament as we have it today, thus we may not have lost much.

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