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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Aristion (Aristo)

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ARISTION (ARISTO).—One of the principal authorities from whom Papias derived (written?) ‘narratives of the sayings of the Lord’ (τῶν τοῦ Κυρίου λόγων διηγήσεις; cf. Luke 1:1), and (indirectly) oral traditions.

1. Importance and Difficulty of Identification.—According to Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39), Papias of Hierapolis in his five books of Interpretations (var. l. Interpretation) of the Lord’s Oracles ‘referred frequently by name’ to ‘Aristion and the Elder John’ as his authorities. From the Preface (προοίμιον) Eusebius cited the following sentence to prove that Irenaeus had misunderstood Papias in taking him to refer to the Apostle John as his authority, whereas the ‘John’ in question was not the ‘disciple of the Lord,’ but a comparatively obscure ‘Elder.’ We abridge the sentence, but give the relevant variants: εἱ δέ που καὶ παρηκολουθηκώς τις τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις ἔλθοι, τοὺς τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἀνέκρινον λόγους· τἰ Ἀνδρέας ἠ τί Πέτρος εἶπενἤ τις ἔτερος τῶν τοῦ Κυρίου μαθητῶν, ἄτε Ἀριστίων καὶ ὁ πρεσβύτερος Ἰωάννης οἱ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθηταὶ λέγουσιν.

For Ἁριστίων Syriac and Arm. read Ἀριστων, and omit the clause οἱ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθηταὶ λεγουσιν, Arm. by compensation rendering ‘Aristo and John the Elders.’ Nicephorus (Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 46, but not iii. 20) makes the same omission. Rufinus renders ceterique discipuli dicebant. Jerome changes the tense (loqucbantur). Four Greek MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] and Niceph. (iii. 20) omit οἱ

Deferring the question of the significance of the valiant readings, it is apparent that ‘Aristion and the Elder John’ are in several ways placed in contrast with the group of ‘disciples of the Lord’ mentioned immediately before, by whom Papias certainly means the twelve Apostles, enumerating seven (including James the Lord’s brother; cf. Galatians 1:19; Galatians 2:9), from Andrew to ‘John (author of the Revelation) and Matthew’ (author of the Logia). The designation μαθηταί instead of ἀπόστολοι is employed because the function in consideration is that of transmitting μαθήματα—the precepts (ἐντολαί) learned from the Lord. The disciples (including James) of the Lord Himself are the first generation of traditores. The group next mentioned, ‘Aristion and the Elder John,’ are distinguished expressly and implicitly as belonging to a subsequent generation.

(1) As Eusebius points out, the John spoken of in connexion with Aristion is (a) ‘mentioned after an interval,’ (b) ‘classed with others outside the number of the Apostles,’ (c) has ‘Aristion mentioned before him,’ (d) is ‘distinctly called an Elder’ (in contrast with the John mentioned just before, who is called a ‘disciple of the Lord’). Nowhere in the context should the term ‘Elder’ be taken as = ‘Apostle.’

(2) A distinction not referred to by Eusebius, but at least equally important, is the contrast of tense (disregarded by Rufinus and Jerome), whereby Papias makes it apparent that at the time of his inquiries the Apostles, including John, were dead; whereas Aristion and the Elder John were living. He ‘used to inquire of those who came his way what had been said (τί εἶπεν) by Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John or Matthew, or any other of the Lord’s disciples; as well as what was being said (ἅτε λέγουσιν) by Aristion and the Elder John.’ Hence, as an authority of note, and a transmitter of Gospel traditions earlier than the time of Papias’ writing (a.d. 145–160), Aristion is a witness of the first importance for the history of Gospel tradition. On the other hand, great difficulty and dispute are caused by the descriptive clause attached in most texts to his name and that of John the Elder, because it is identical with that by which the Apostles are appropriately designated as traditores of the first generation; whereas the distinctions already noted, especially the contrast of tense τί εἶπενἅτε λέγουσιν, make it certain that Papias did not regard Aristion and the Elder John as belonging to this group. For Lightfoot’s proposal (Essays on Sup. Rel. p. 150, n. [Note: note.] 3) to regard λέγουσιν as ‘a historical present introduced for the sake of variety,’ is confessedly advanced only to escape the ‘chronological difficulty’ of supposing two ‘disciples of the Lord’ still living at the time of Papias’ inquiries. It is certainly inadmissible.

The Armenian version makes a natural inference when it forms the second group by reading ‘Aristo and John the Elders.’ But the change is clearly arbitrary. Papias applies the title ‘the Elder’ only to ‘John’ to distinguish him from the Apostle. It was doubtless applicable to Aristion as well (Conybeare, Expositor, 1893, p. 248, against Hilgenfeld, Ztschr. f. wissenschaft. Theol. xxxvii. 1894, p. 626), but was superfluous. The exegesis suggested above (Weiffenbach, Corssen, et al.) removes all difficulty by rendering τοὺς τῶν πρ. ἀνέκρινον λόγους as an ellipsis: ‘I would inquire the utterances of the Elders (reporting) what Andrew or Peter … had said,’ because ‘Elder’ is then used consistently throughout the paragraph for traditor of the post-Apostolic generation (cf. Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 21:18 and the Heb. וָקן), though it is not relied on (as in Arm.) to make the distinction of the Apostolic from the post-Apostolic generation, but only of the two homonymous individuals, John the Apostle and John the Elder.

On this interpretation, Aristion and John were members of the group which perpetuated the traditions of the Apostles (in Palestine?) until Papias’ day (cf. Hegesippus ap. Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iii. xxxii. 6–8, and Luke 1:1-2, Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 21:18). But even if this exegesis be rejected, there is no escape from the following alternative: Either the descriptive phrase οἱ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθηταί, appended after ‘Aristion and the Elder John’ precisely as after the list of Apostles, is textually corrupt (assimilated to the preceding clause); or the designation is used in a different and very loose significance. On this view the only certainty is that Aristion was living at the time of Papias’ inquiries (a.d. 120–140?) after ‘Apostolic narratives’ (ἀποστόλικας διηγήσεις), and in a legion whence Papias could obtain them only from ‘travellers who came his way.’ For Eusebius’ statement that ‘Papias was himself a hearer, not of the Apostles, but of Aristion and the Elder John,’ is made in the interest of his desire to find ‘some other John in Asia’ besides the Apostle (Zahn, Forsch. vi. 117 f.), and is corrected by himself in the next clause: ‘At all events he mentions them frequently by name, and sets down their traditions in his writings.’

(3) A second difficulty of more importance for the true reading of Papias and the identification of ‘Aristion’ than is generally recognized, is the spelling of the name, which Syriac and Arm. give as ‘Aristo.’ For this spelling, in combination with the omission of the designation ‘the disciples of the Lord,’ is not only traceable to about a.d. 400 (Syriac is extant in a MS of a.d. 462), but these two main variations are accompanied by minor ones in Syriac, Armenian, and Latin authorities, which form a group in that they manifest a belief in common regarding the personality of Aristo-Aristion which diners from that of the received text of Eusebius.

2. Text of Eusebius.—Mommsen (ZNTW [Note: NTW Zeitschrift für die Neutest. Wissen. schaft.] iii. 1902, p. 156 ff.) regarded this textual evidence as conclusive in conjunction with the admitted ‘chronological difficulty.’ He would therefore omit the epitheton from the text of Eusebius. Corssen (ib. iii. p. 242 ff.) rightly criticised Mommsen’s proposal to omit, because some designation of this second link in the chain of traditores is indispensable to the sense. He thought Papias capable of the colossal anachronism of regarding his own contemporaries as ‘disciples of the Lord.’ The present writer had argued (Journ. of Bibl. Lit. xvii., 1898) for the reading οἱ τούτων μαθηταί (se. τῶν ἀποστόλων) as the true text of Papias, on the internal evidence, and because ‘the Elders’ of Papias are twice referred to by Irenaeus (Haer. v. v. 1 and v. xxxvi. 1) as ‘the disciples of the Apostles.’ The corruption followed by Eusebius (and probably even by Irenaeus in this passage, though he transcribed others where ‘the Elders’ were correctly described as ‘disciples of the Apostles’), involves only the change (by assimilation) of three letters, ΟΙΤΟΥ(ΤΩΝ)ΜΑΘΗΤΑΙ becoming ΟΙΤΟΥ(ΚΥ)ΜΑΘΗΤΑΙ. In the form wherein Edwin Abbott (Enc. Bibl. s.v. ‘Gospels,’ ii. col. 1815, n. [Note: note.] 3) adopts the emendation, the change involves but two letters, ΟΙΤΟΥ(ΤΩ)ΜΑΘΗΤΑΙ becoming ΟΙΤΟΥ(ΚΥ)ΜΑΘΗΤΑΙ, as in Judges 4:24 (LXX Septuagint) ΤΩΝ ΥΙΩΝ B becomes ΚΥ ΥΙΩΝ in A. This would largely explain the strange error of Irenaens in taking Papias to belong to a generation even earlier than Polycarp (‘some of them saw not only John but other Apostles also, and heard these same things from them and testify [present] these things’). The difficulty experienced by Eusebius in refuting it could hardly have been so great if his text of Papias had not the same corruption.

On this view the variants are of no help to improve the text of Eusebius, which is correct in the received form (Bacon, art. ‘False Witness,’ etc., in ZNTW [Note: NTW Zeitschrift für die Neutest. Wissen. schaft.] vi. 1905). They have some importance, even if arbitrary, as indicating that in antiquity also the ‘chronological difficulty’ was felt as well as (in Arm.) the incompleteness of sense produced by simple omission of the descriptive clause and (in Rufinus) the incongruity of applying to ‘Aristion and John the Elder’ the same designation by which the Apostles had just been distinguished They would have great importance if it could be made probable that they rest, directly or indirectly, upon a knowledge of Papias (or, much less probably, of Aristion-Aristo) independently of Eusebius.

3. Origin of Variants.—‘Aristo’ is not simply ‘the Greek name Aristion badly spelt’ (Conybeare, l.c. p. 243), nor even should it in strictness be called ‘an equivalent (gleichbedeutende) form of the same proper name’ (Hilgenfeld, Ztschr. f. wissenschaft. Theol. 1875 ii. p. 256, 1883 i. p. 13, 1894 p. 626). It is at least the more usual, if not more correct form, and ‘occurs very frequently in ancient writers. It has been calculated that about thirty persons of this name may be distinguished.’ But Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Biogr., the authority for the statement just made (i. p. 310), knows of but two occurrences of the form ‘Aristion,’ once as the nickname of the adventurer Athenion (b.c. 87), once as designating a surgeon of small repute circa (about) 150 b.c. In Jewish literature only the form ‘Aristo’ occurs (Josephus Ant. xix. 353 [ed. Niese]). Pape (s.v. Ἀριστίων) adds four others from Antiph. vi. 12, aeseh. Πλαταικός 3. 162, Plut. Numbers 9, and Pausanias. Patristic literature knows only the form ‘Aristo’ in Christian legend (Acta Barn. xiv. ed. Tisch. p. 69, knows a Christian host Aristo in Cyprus; Acta Petri, ed. Lipsius, p. 51, 14–53. 13, one in Pnteoli; Constit. Apost. vii. 46, ed. Lagarde, p. 228, 21, gives to the first and third bishops of Smyrna the name Aristo). The form ‘Aristion’ is unknown. Eusebius himself (Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6) draws his account of the devastation of Judaea in the insurrection against Hadrian (132–135) from a certain Aristo of Pella. This writer, accordingly, Would be a contemporary of Papias in position to be referred to as a traditor of Apostolic teaching. To speak of him and ‘the Elder John,’ if by the latter were meant John the elder of the Jerusalem Church (Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 5; cf. Schlatter, Kirche Jerusalems, 1898, p. 40), whose death is dated by Epiphanius (Haer. lxvi. 20) in the 19th year of Trajan, as ‘disciples of the Apostles,’ would involve no greater looseness or exaggeration than we should expect in Asia circa (about) 150 a.d. But as Eusebius gives no account of Aristo’s writings, although making it a principal object of his work to describe early Christian authorities, it is probable that Aristo of Pella was not a Christian, but a Jewish or (more probably) pagan writer. To this supposition there is but one serious objection, for the references of Nicephorus (Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 24) and the Paschal Chronicle may admittedly be disregarded as merely reproducing Eusebius. Maximus Confessor, however, in his scholion on the Theol. Mystira of Areopagitieus (c. i. p. 17, ed. Corder), undoubtedly refers to the same ‘Aristo of Pella’ (Ἀρίστωνι τῷ Πελλαίῳ) as author of the Christian Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus, basing his statement on ‘the sixth book of the Hypotyposcis of Clement of Alexandria,’ who seems to have referred to this ‘Jason’ as ‘mentioned by (l. δν ἀναγράψαι) Luke’ (Acts 17:5-9). Only, while the Dialogue is known to Celsus (circa (about) 167), Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Jerome, if not to pseudo-Barnabas and Justin Martyr, and even probably survives in more or less altered form in the Altercatio Simonis et Theophili (TU [Note: U Texte und Untersuehungen.] i. iii. p. 115 ff.; P. Corssen, Altercatio S. et Th. 1890), it is known to none of these as the work of Aristo, nor do any of the later quotations, references, or other evidences indicate that the work in question contained διηγήσεις τῶν τοῦ Κυρίου λόγων (Eus. l.c.). If the name ‘Aristo’ was ever properly connected with the Dialogue, it circulated only anonymously after a.d. 200, and without the introductory narrative portion which it may have once possessed. The late and unsupported statement of Maximus is therefore much more likely to he due to some misunderstanding of the Hypotyposeis, especially as we have the explicit quotation of the same Aristo of Pella by Moses of Chorene (400–450?) extending to considerable length beyond the portion quoted by Eusebius, accompanied by the statement that Aristo was secretary of Ardasches, king of Armenia, when the latter was sent by Hadrian into Persia (Langlois, Coll. des. Hist. de l’Armenie, i. p. 391 ff., cf. ii. 110, n. [Note: note.] 3, and Le Vaillant de Florival, Hist. Arm. ii. 57). Harnack (TU [Note: U Texte und Untersuehungen.] i. 2, p. 125) and Zahn, it is true, reject Moses’ quotation as a fabrication; but it contains nothing ‘fabulous,’ and is defended with reason by Hilgenfeld (Zts. f. w. Th. 1883, p. 8 ff.). Besides this, Stephen of Byzantium, who knows of no Aristo of Pella, mentions an Aristo of Gerasa (less than 25 miles distant) simply as an ἀστεῖος ῥήτωρ.

Our conclusion must be that, while direct acquaintance with Papias is quite conceivable, the variant form ‘Aristo’ in Syriac and Armenian sources is best accounted for by a mistaken identification of this Aristo of Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6 with the ‘Elder Aristion’ of Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39 and Moses of Chorene.

4. The Appendix of Mark.—The most important addition to our data regarding Aristo was made by Conybeare’s discovery at Eçmiadzin in 1893 of an Armenian MS. of the Gospels dated a.d. 989, in which the longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) has the separate title in red ink, corresponding to the other Gospel titles: ‘From the Elder Aristo’ (Expositor, Oct. 1893, pp. 241–254). This representation, though late, Conybeare takes to be based on very early authority (Expositor, Dec. 1895, pp. 401–421), appealing to the internal evidence of the versos in question. Undeniably the reference in Mark 16:18 to drinking of poison with impunity must have literary connexion with Papias’ anecdote regarding Justus Barsabbas (Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39), whatever the source. Conybeare’s citation of a gloss ‘against the name Aristion’ in a Bodleian 12th cent, codex of Rufinus’ translation of this passage, which referred to this story of the poison cup, was even (to the discoverer’s eye) a designation by the unknown glossator of Aristion as author of this story. But, besides the precariousness of this inference, it would scarcely be possible to write a gloss ‘against the name Aristion’ which would not be equally ‘against the name of the Elder John’ immediately adjoining; and as mediaeval legend reported the story of the poison cup of John (i.e. the Apostle, identified with the Elder in the glossator’s period) this would seem to be the more natural reference and meaning of the gloss.

The evidence connecting the Appendix of Mark with the name ‘Aristo’ is thus reduced to the statement ‘inserted by an afterthought’ by the Armenian scribe John, a.d. 989, over Mark 16:9-20, which he had attached, contrary to Syriac and Armenian tradition, to his text of the Gospel. This, however, is unquestionably important, especially if, as Conybeare maintains, ‘it must have stood in the older copy transcribed.’ The statement has been generally received at its face value, but with different identifications of ‘the Elder Aristo.’ Resch (‘Ausserkanonische Paralleltexte,’ TU [Note: U Texte und Untersuehungen.] x. 3, 1894, p. 449; English translation by Conybeare in Expos. 4th ser. x. [1894], pp. 226–232) regards Aristo of Pella as the only personality open to consideration as author of the Appendix. Hilgenfeld (Ztschr. f. wissenschaft. Theol. xxxvii. 1894, p. 627) stands apparently alone in identifying the ‘Aristion’ of Papias with Aristo of Pella, ‘a notable contemporary of Papias,’ and refusing to the Aristo of the Eçmiadzin codex any significance beyond that of ‘some Elder Aristo or other before circa (about) 500 a.d., from whom a Syriac MS will have borrowed Mark 16:9-20’ (regarded by Hilg. as the original ending). Other critics regard it as ‘practically certain’ that the Mark-Appendix is really taken from the authority referred to by Papias. Harnack sets the example of peremptorily refusing the suggestion of Resch (TU [Note: U Texte und Untersuehungen.] x. 2, p. 453 ff.), that this ‘Elder Aristo’ may be no other than Aristo of Pella, but gives no other reason than the date (circa (about) 140); which, as he rightly says, is irreconcilable with the (disputed) phrase οἱ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθηταί (Chron. i. p. 269; on the textual question, see above, § 2). Zahn (Theol. Literaturbl. 22nd Dec. 1893 [English translation by Conybeare in Expos. l.c.] regards it as a conclusive objection to Resch’s identification that ‘Aristo of Pella, who wrote his (?) Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus after 135, and perhaps a good deal later, cannot be the author of a section (Mark 16:9-20) which Tatian already read in his Mark at the latest in 170, and which Justin had already known so early as 150, though perhaps not (N.B.) as an integral part of Mark.’ We may inquire later what authority the scribe John may have had for his insertion of the title.

5. Internal evidence of the Appendix.—The impression of Westcott and Hort (Gr. NT, ii. p. 51), corroborated by Conybeare (Expositor, 1893, p. 241 ff.), that the Appendix to Mark is not the original full narrative, but an excerpt, constitutes the next step in the solution of our problem. In particular, a real contribution is made by Zahn (Gesch. Kan. ii. App. xiv. 1a, and Forsch. vi. § 3, p. 219) in the demonstration that Jerome (circa (about) Pelag. ii. 15, ed. Vall. ii. 758) had access to it in a fuller, more original form; for he adds after v. 14 ‘Et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: Saeculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia (cod. Vat. 1, ‘sub Satana’) est, quae (l. qui) non sinit per immundos spiritus veram Dei apprehendi virtutem; ideirco jam nunc revela justitiam tuam’ (cf. Acts 1:6). Jerome’s source for this material, whose Hebraistic expressions and point of view confirm its authenticity, becomes a question of importance.

This source can scarcely have been the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus, whoever its author; for while Jerome was acquainted with this work (Com. on Galatians 3:13, and Quaest. Heb. in lib. Gen. [Note: Geneva NT 1557, Bible 1560.] , beginning), and while Celsus, who also used it, twice quotes the substance of Mark 16:9 (circa (about) Cels. ii. 55 and 70), the nature of the work, so far as ascertainable, was not such as to admit material of this kind. Besides, we have seen that by all early authorities it is treated as anonymous. Zahn’s supposition (Forsch. vi. p. 219) has stronger evidence in its favour, and still leaves room to account for the points of contact between the Appendix, the Dialoque, Celsus, and Jerome. According to Zahn, ‘The ancient book in which Mark 16:14-18 was extant independently of the Second Gospel, and whence it was drawn by transcribers of Mark, can only have been the work of Papias, in which it was contained as a διήγησις of Aristion (sic).’ But Jerome, he holds, obtained his version indirectly, through his teacher Apollinaris of Laodicea. This explanation has in its favour certain evidences adduced by Conybeare (Expositor, Dec. 1895), to connect the cancellation of Mark 16:9-20 in Armenian MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] with knowledge derived from Papias of its true origin. In particular, the same Eçmiadzin codex which attributes the Appendix to ‘the Elder Aristo’ has a version of the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53 to John 8:11 TR [Note: R Textus Receptus.] ) independent of the received form, briefer, but with the explanatory comment after John 8:6 ‘To declare their sins; and they were seeing their several sins on the stones.’ Echoes of this addition are traceable in Jerome (Pelag. ii. 17), in uncial U, and perhaps elsewhere. Moreover, Conybeare’s contention that this ‘represents the form in which Papias … gave the episode,’ is strongly supported by Eusebius’ statement of what he found in Papias (‘a story about a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, which the Gospel according to the Hebrews contains’). This applies to the Eçmiadzin text only (‘A certain woman was taken in sins, against whom all bore witness,’ etc. Cf. Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39). It has some further support in the express statement of Vartan (14th cent.) that this pericope was derived from Papias, though this may be merely dependent on Eusebius. Conybeare’s suggestion that the story will have been one of the ‘traditions of the Elder John,’ and for this reason have become attached in most texts to the Fourth Gospel, is more probable than Zahn’s attributing it to ‘Aristion’; but see Blass, Philology of the Gospels, p. 156, who thinks it was simply appended at the end of the Gospel canon.

The Eçmiadzin Codex, accordingly, in the two most important questions of Gospel text makes deliberate departure from the received Armenian tradition, in both cases relying on authority which might conceivably go back indirectly to Papias himself. (1) Until about this date (a.d. 989) Armenian tradition followed the Sinaitic, or older Syriac, in omitting the Mark-Appendix. In the 10th cent. it begins to be inserted as in the Curetonian and Tatian, but with various scribal notes of its secondary character. Our codex is simply more exact and specific than others of its time in adding a datum which could never have gone with the Appendix, but must have been derived, like the comment of Vartan on the Pericope Adulterae, from comparison of Eusebius, which in the Arm. spells the name ‘Aristo’ and expressly designates him as ‘Elder.’ (2) It also goes beyond current Armenian tradition regarding John 8:1-11. Instead of attaching the story after Luke 21:36, as the Gosp. acc. to the Hebrews probably suggested, it adopts the position usually assigned it after John 7:52, with the marginal scholion in red ink τῆς μοιχαλίδος, and an expurgated and embellished text, which Eusebius enables us to identify as that of Papias. To infer from this, however, that the scribe John had actual access to Papias would be rash in the extreme. On the contrary, the evidence is only too convincing that his title is based simply on a comparison of the two Eusebian passages regarding ‘Aristo,’ with the further statements of his own chief national historian, Moses of Chorene (400–450), regarding the Aristo of Pella quoted by Eusebius in Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6.

6. Aristo of Pella.—Moses of Chorene (cf. Langlois, l.c.), in writing of the death and obsequies of Ardasches, king and national hero of Armenia, transcribes first the quotation of Eusebius from Aristo of Pella regarding Hadrian’s devastation of Jerusalem, to explain how Aristo came to be attached to his (Ardasches’) person as secretary; for Ardasches had been sent by Hadrian into Persia. He then continues, quoting professedly from ‘the same historian,’ an elaborate account of Ardasches’ death and obsequies. The connexion of this supplementary quotation, however, is so awkwardly managed as to leave it quite ambiguous to whose person Aristo was attached as secretary. In the text it follows the statement that Hadrian ‘established in Jerusalem a community of pagans and Christians whose bishop was Mark. Langlois accordingly makes him secretary of Mark (cf. Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6). Zahn understands of Hadrian himself (!). The Eçmiadzin scribe seems to have been of Langlois’ opinion, and to have drawn the inference that this Aristo, secretary of Mark the bishop of Jerusalem under Hadrian, could be no other than ‘the Elder Aristo’ of Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39, as well as the natural completer of ‘Mark’s’ Gospel.

If the attribution of Mark 16:9-20 to ‘the Elder Aristo’ be dismissed as untrustworthy, our knowledge of the ‘Aristion’ from whom Papias derived (indirectly) his ‘accounts of the Lord’s sayings’ is reduced to a minimum. Eusebius clearly did not identify him with Aristo of Pella, and from his silence would seem to have known nothing more about him than the statement of Papias that he was an elder, one of the ‘disciples of the Apostles’; or, as his text of Papias would seem already to have read (by assimilation to the preceding), ‘of the Lord.’ Aristo of Pella, Eusebius certainly did not include in his chain of Christian writers, and save for the late and improbable statement of Maximus Confessor, all that we know of Aristo indicates that he does not belong there. He may, or may not, be the same as ‘the cultured rhetorician Aristo of Gerasa.’

7. Conclusions.—The following may be taken as more or less probable conclusions from the foregoing data. (1) In the famous extract of Eusebius from Papias and the adjoining context (Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39), there is no warrant for substituting the reading Ἀρίστων, the common form of the name, for the rarer form Ἀριστίων. The Syriac, followed by Arm., assimilates it to Ἀρίστων (ὁ Πελλαίος)), quoted a few paragraphs farther on by Eusebius himself (Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6), or perhaps merely falls into the ordinary spelling. The reverse process is inconceivable. Of this Aristion, Eusebius seems unable to relate anything beyond what he found in Papias. He certainly did not regard him as identical with Aristo of Pella, whose narrative of the revolt of Bar Cochba was in his hands. Papias, however, knew of Aristion as a traditor (orally; cf. οὐ γὰρ ἐκ τῶν βιβλίων, κ.τ.λ.) of the teachings of the Apostles, himself ‘one of the disciples of these,’ probably in Palestine, since Papias obtained his traditions (Eusebius to the contrary notwithstanding) only from ‘those who came his way.’ Aristion was still living at the period of Papias’ (youthful? καλῶς ἐμνημόνευσα) inquiries.

(2) From this otherwise unknown ‘Aristion’ of Papias we must sharply distinguish ‘Aristo of Pella,’ the historian of the revolt of Bar Cochba, quoted by Eusebius. Had this been a Christian writer, it is inexplicable that Eusebius, in spite of the avowed purpose of his book, elsewhere so consistently followed, should have omitted all mention whatsoever of his works. The Viri Illust. of Jerome is equally silent.

(3) The process of confusion of Papias’ Aristion with Eusebius’ Aristo of Pella begins with the Syriac translator (circa (about) 400), followed by the Armenian; or, if Maximus Confessor be right in attributing to Clement’s Hypotyposeis the (conjectural?) assignment of the anonymous Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus to this author, perhaps with Clement. The late and unsupported statement of Maximus (circa (about) 600), quite in conflict with all that is known either of the Dialogue or the writer, is really valueless.

(4) The Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (5th cent.?) appears really to have known, as he claims, Aristo of Pella. His quotation, where it goes beyond that of Eusebius, shows more and more manifestly the secular, non-Christian writer. His statement that Aristo was secretary of Ardasches, which was so unfortunately ambiguous as to seem to make him secretary of Mark, bishop of Jerusalem, seems to be the starting-point for the last stage of the process.

(5) The scribe ‘John’ who wrote the Armenian Codex of the Gospels in a.d. 989 (found by Conybeare at Eçmiadzin), departed from previous Armenian tradition by appending, after the row of discs by which he had marked the end of the Gospel of Mark, at Mark 16:8, the spurious ending Mark 16:9-20, literally translated from the ordinary Greek text. To justify this unusual insertion, he crowded in ‘by an afterthought’ between the first line and the row of discs, in small, cramped, red letters, the title ‘Of the Elder Aristo.’ That he knew the Eusebian passage about Papias’ informant is indicated by his use of the title ‘Elder’ and the form ‘Aristo’; for only the Armenian Eusebius has these peculiarities. That he should have identified the writer of the Markan appendix with ‘the Elder Aristo’ is most probably explained by his finding in Moses of Chorene what he took to be the statement that Aristo (of Pella) was secretary of Mark, the bishop of Jerusalem, in the time of Hadrian. Who indeed should venture to complete Mark’s unfinished Gospel, if not his secretary?

B. W. Bacon.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Aristion (Aristo)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/a/aristion-aristo.html. 1906-1918.

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