Friday, February 14, 2020

The ten-thousand-grapes meme

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Papias, Jesus, and the Miraculous Vines (Philip Jenkins).
It is an open question whether the explicitly Jewish version in 2 Baruch is earlier than the saying quoted by Papias, or whether the one influenced the other. As so often, the story reminds us of the very thin boundaries that still separated Christians from their Jewish background, even after the Fall of Jerusalem. It also demonstrates the powerful hold that ideas originating in Enoch had on the early church: all roads lead back to Enoch! Without the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, it is very difficult to make sense of early Christianity.

Originally, the “ten thousand-fold” motif perhaps circulated free of any association with Jesus. For Papias, though, not only has it become firmly identified as a Jesus saying in the oral tradition, but it has already been fitted into a narrative dialogue with Judas. Lest we think that Papias was credulous about such things (as Eusebius certainly thought), Irenaeus has no difficulty accepting that context.

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