Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
1. Life.-In a polemic treatise entitled Περὶ μοναρχίας and addressed to a Roman priest named Florinus, Irenaeus (c._ a.d. 190) speaks of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (the part relating to Polycarp is given in Eus. HE_ v. xx. 4-8). Irenaeus remonstrates against the doctrines professed by Florinus, which Florinus cannot boast of having received ‘from the presbyters who were before us and who lived with the apostles.’ Irenaeus states that he knew Florinus formerly ἐν τῇ κάτω Ἀσίᾳ παρὰ Πολυκάρπῳ (‘in Lower Asia in company with Polycarp’). Irenaeus was quite young (παῖς ἔτι ὤν) when Florinus, while still a layman but older than Irenaeus, endeavoured to ingratiate himself with Polycarp. Irenaeus remembers Polycarp very clearly; he can describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp used to sit when he discoursed, how he came in and went out, his personal appearance, the speeches that he addressed to the Christian community, how he would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest who had seen the Lord (τὴν μετὰ Ἰωάννου συναναστροφὴν … καὶ μετὰ τῶν ἑορακότων τὸν κύριον), how he recalled their words and the things that he had heard them relate concerning the Lord, His miracles, and His teaching, how Polycarp had received all that from eye-witnesses of the Word of life. Irenaeus affirms that he has neither lost nor given up any of the teaching of Polycarp, and that, if Polycarp were still alive and heard the things that Florinus teaches, he would stop his ears, as he did before, and say, as he often said: ‘O good God, for what times hast thou kept me that I should bear all this?’ Irenaeus adds as confirmation that ‘the letters which Polycarp sent to the neighbouring churches to strengthen them, and to certain brothers to warn them and arouse them, show it clearly.’ Again, Irenaeus (Haer. III. iii. 4, reproduced by Eusebius, HE_ IV. xiv. 3-8) knows that Polycarp, who was taught by the apostles and who lived with several persons who were eye-witnesses of the Lord, received his appointment in Asia from the apostles as bishop in the Church of Smyrna (ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων κατασταθεὶς εἰς τὴνʼ Ασίαν ἐντῇ ἐν Σμύρνῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπίσκοπος). It is hardly possible to take these words literally: Polycarp could not have been old enough to be made bishop by the apostles (in the plural); the apostle John at the most could have taken part. Nor was Polycarp made bishop for Asia, since Asia had other bishops in other cities besides Smyrna. These words of Irenaeus therefore are not without verbal emphasis. The fact remains that Irenaeus is the principal historical witness of Polycarp. He knew him at a time when he himself was a youth. As the birth of Irenaeus cannot have been before 130, and must, to all appearances, be placed c._ 140, it would therefore be about the year 150 that Irenaeus as a child could have known Polycarp as an old man at Smyrna. If, as we shall see, Polycarp was eighty-six years old when he died in 155, his birth must be dated a.d. 69.
We may compare this information of Irenaeus with that of Papias (Eus. HE_ III. xxxix. 4) on the apostles and the presbyters whose evidence he has collected. Papias knew Polycarp; so, at least, Irenaeus assures us (Haer. V. xxxiii. 4, quoted in Eus. HE_ III. xxxix. 1): ‘Papias,’ he says, ‘was a hearer of John and a companion (ἑταῖρος) of Polycarp.’ When Irenaeus quotes as evidence of the Catholic doctrine words of the presbyters who were disciples of the apostles, and especially of the apostle John, it may be taken for granted that he sometimes quotes the words of Polycarp (see the ‘Presbyterorum reliquiae ab Irenaeo servatae,’ collected in F. X. Funk, Patres apostolici2, Tübingen, 1901, i. 378-389). What is possible for Irenaeus is equally possible for Papias, who among the presbyters that he mentions as hearers of John could name Polycarp (see the ‘Papiae fragmenta,’ Funk, op. cit. pp. 346-379). But critics should give up identifying what may properly be from Polycarp in the various quotations (A. Harnack, Chronologie der altchr. Litt., Leipzig, 1897, i. 333-340).
In a letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, Irenaeus mentions the fact of the journey to Rome of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, in the time of Anicetus, i.e. at the very end of Polycarp’s life and just at the beginning of the episcopate of Anicetus, as Polycarp must have died at the beginning of 155, and the promotion of Anicetus to the See of Rome must have been about 154-155 (see below). At that time the controversy about the date of Easter was in progress: Polycarp, who could only be a quartodeciman, came to confer with the Roman Church. The text of Irenaeus, cited by Eusebius (He_ V xxiv. 16 f.), states that the blessed Polycarp himself also paid a visit to Rome in the time of Anicetus (ἐπὶ Ἀνικήτου). (On the use of the names of the Roman bishops as chronological marks in the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian see L. Duchesne, Le Liber Pontificalis, i. [Paris, 1884] 2.) Anicetus and Polycarp had several other disagreements between them of very little importance, continues Irenaeus; they immediately made peace with one another; but on the subject of the date of Easter they did not fall out. As a matter of fact, Anicetus could not persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed in conformity with the apostle John and the other apostles with whom he had lived (μετὰ Ἰωάννου … καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἀποστόλων οἶς συνδιέτριψεν). Polycarp, on his side, did not convert Anicetus to an observance contrary to that of the presbyters who (at Rome) had preceded him (τῶν πρὸ αὐτοῦ πρεσβυτέρων). Matters remained thus. They communicated with each other, and in the Church (at Rome) Anicetus conceded to Polycarp as a mark of respect the honour of presiding at the Eucharist. They parted from each other in peace.
Irenaeus (Haer. III. iii. 4) says that Polycarp when in Rome attracted to the Church of God a number of heretics belonging to the sects of Valentinus and Marcion. He taught them, says Irenaeus, that there was only one truth left by the apostles and transmitted by the Church. These words of Irenaeus are quoted by Eusebius (He_ Iv xiv. 5). Irenaeus reports in the same passage that one day, when Polycarp met Marcion, the latter said to the bishop, ‘Recognize us,’ and the bishop answered, ‘Ay, ay, I recognize the first-born of Satan’ (ib. 7). Irenaeus does not say that this meeting of Marcion and Polycarp took place at Rome. As Marcion flourished about 140-150, it is possible that Polycarp had quarrelled with him long before coming to Rome to visit Anicetus. As regards the reply given by Polycarp to Marcion, it is quite in the manner of Polycarp (cf. the following words in his letter to the Philippians [vii. 1]: ‘Whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan’).
The death of Polycarp is exceedingly well known through the letter written by the Church of Smyrna to the Church of Philomelium and ‘to all the Churches of the holy and catholic Church in all places’ (see Harnack, Ueberlieferung der altchr. Litt., Leipzig, 1893, pp. 74-75). Parts of the Martyrium Polycarpi are quoted at some length by Eusebius (HE_ iv. 15). At the end of the 4th cent. a hagiographer, who writes under the name of Pionius, a martyr at Smyrna at the time of the Decian persecution, composed a Vita Polycarpi, devoid of any historical value, in which he inserted the complete text of the Martyrium Polycarpi. This Greek Vita, mentioned as early as 1633 by Halloix, published in Latin by the Bollandists in 1734, was edited in Greek by L. Duchesne in 1881: the Greek text will be found in Funk, ii. 291-336, and in Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, pt. ii.2 vol. iii. pp. 433-465). The text of the Martyrium Polycarpi, complete and not connected with the Vita, is given besides in several Greek MSS_, which have been utilized for critical editions of the Martyrium, that of Zahn in the Patrum apostolicorum opera, ii. (Leipzig, 1876) 132-168, that of Lightfoot, op. cit. ii. 947-986, that of Funk, op. cit. i. 314-345. It is reproduced in O. von Gebhardt, Acta martyrum selecta, Leipzig, 1902, pp. 1-12. This beautiful fragment forms the oldest known example of acts of martyrdom. As early as 177 the letter of the Christians of Lyons relating the martyrdom of Lyons and Vienne depends for several editorial details on the Martyrium Polycarpi. The authenticity of the Martyrium is no longer contested (Harnack, Chronologie, i. 341).
Among the minute details which the Martyrium Polycarpi gives on the arrest, the trial, and the execution of the bishop of Smyrna, there appears a valuable date: ‘The martyrdom of the blessed Polycarp,’ we read in 21, ‘took place on the second day of the first part of the month Xanthicus, on the seventh day before the Kalends of March, on a great Sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was apprehended by Herodes, when Philip of Tralles was high-priest, in the proconsulship of Statius Quadratus, but in the reign of the Eternal King Jesus Christ.’ The martyrdom took place, therefore, on a Saturday which fell on 23rd February. The proconsul Statius Quadratus is identified with the person of the same name who was consul in 142 and who, according to inscriptions, was proconsul of Asia between 151 and 157: the year 155 is the only one in which the 23rd of February falls on a Saturday (Harnack, Chronologie, i. 334-356, completed by Stählin, Christl. griech. Litteratur, Munich, 1914, p. 977).
The proconsul, interrogating Polycarp, said to him (ix. 3): ‘Swear the oath, and I will release thee; revile the Christ’; to which Polycarp replied: ‘Fourscore and six years have I been His servant (ὀγδοήκοντα καὶ ἒξ ἔτη δουλεύω αὐτῷ), and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’ We conclude from these words that Polycarp was eighty-six years old at the time of his martyrdom, not that he had been a Christian for eighty-six years (Harnack, Chronologie, i. 323, 342 ff.).
Other Christians suffered martyrdom at Smyrna at the same time as Polycarp; cf. the data supplied by Wright’s Martyrologe: ‘Und am xxiii. (Feb.) in Asia von den früheren Märtyrern, Polykarpos der Bischof, und Azotos und Koskonios und Melanippos und Zenon’ (H. Lietzmann, Die drei aeltesten Martyrologien, Bonn, 1903, p. 10). The Martyrium Polycarpi (1-4) mentions the tortures that were inflicted on them, and gives the name of one of them, Germanicus, whose heroism went the length of attracting the wild beast to him and inciting it to devour him, whereupon the pagan multitude shouted with fury: ‘Away with the atheists’ (αἶρε τοὺς ἀθέους). This is the cry by which popular hatred designated the Christians as enemies of the gods. The people loudly demanded Polycarp (ζητείσθω Πολύκαρπος); the people therefore knew Polycarp as the most notable of the Christians of Smyrna, as their chief (iii. 2). Polycarp remained at Smyrna, in spite of the advice that his friends gave him to flee secretly. He retired to a small farmhouse (ἀγρίδιον) near the town. There ‘night and day he did nothing but pray for all men and for the churches of the inhabited world (τῶν κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐκκλησιῶν), as he had been accustomed to do’ (v. 1). Polycarp was arrested on the Friday towards evening in a house (ἔν τινι δωματίῳ) in which he had found shelter: the bystanders marvelled ‘at his age and his constancy,’ and wondered ‘why there should be so much eagerness for the apprehension of an old man like him’ (vii. 1-2). The bishop requested one hour to pray before following them; they consented. Then Polycarp ‘stood up and prayed, being so full of the grace of God, that for two hours he could not hold his peace’ (vii. 3), and in his prayer he mentioned ‘all who at any time had come in his way, small and great, high and low, and all the universal Church throughout the world’ (καὶ πάσης τῆς κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας). At last he was taken to Smyrna on the Saturday morning (viii. 1). Herod the irenarch (the chief of the municipal police) pressed him to do sacrifice: ‘What harm is there in saying: κύριος καῖσαρ (“Caesar is lord”)?’ He evidently wanted to suggest an equivocation to Polycarp, to save him (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 34, ‘Dicam plane imperatorem dominum, sed more communi, sed quando non cogor ut Dominum Dei vice dicam’). Polycarp was brought εἰς τὸ στάδιον, where the people were assembled and the proconsul was present (ix. 1). Let us remark in passing that this appearance of Polycarp before the proconsul in the open stadium is very unusual from the point of view of the forms of proconsular justice. This is not the only surprising detail, for, as P. Allard says: ‘Tout dans cette procédure est irrégulier’ (Histoire des persécutions, i. [Paris, 1885] 303). The proconsul called upon Polycarp to swear by the fortune of Caesar (ὄμοσον τὴν καίσαρος τύχην) and to say: ‘Away with the atheists’ (αἶρε τοὺς ἀθέους). Polycarp, casting his eyes on the multitude of pagans who filled the stadium, ‘sighs, and, raising his eyes towards heaven, says, “Away with the atheists!” ’ But he refused to curse the Christ (ix. 2-3). The proconsul insisted in vain. ‘I am a Christian,’ replied the bishop; ‘if thou wouldest learn the doctrine of Christianity, assign a day and give me a hearing.’ ‘Prevail upon the people,’ answered the Roman magistrate sarcastically. ‘As for myself,’ said Polycarp, ‘I should have held thee worthy of discourse; for we have been taught to render, as is meet, to princes and authorities appointed by God such honour as does us no harm; but as for these, I do not hold them worthy, that I should defend myself before them’ (x. 2)-a reminiscence of St. Paul, Romans 13:1-7. The proconsul threatened to throw him to the wild beasts if he did not abjure. ‘Call for them,’ answered the bishop, ‘for the repentance from better to worse is a change not permitted to us; but it is a noble thing to change from untowardness to righteousness’ (xi. 1). The proconsul threatened him with the stake; Polycarp replied: ‘Thou threatenest that fire which burneth for a season and after a little while is quenched: for thou art ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly. But why delayest thou? Come, do what thou wilt’ (xi. 2). The proconsul ordered his herald to proclaim in the middle of the stadium: ‘Polycarp hath confessed himself to be a Christian’ (xii. 1). The whole multitude, composed of pagans and of Jews living in Smyrna (Ἰουδαίων τῶν τὴν Σμύρναν κατοικούντων) (on the hostility of the Jews towards the Christians see Harnack, Mission und Ausbreitung, Leipzig, 1906, i. 400), began to shout: ‘This is the teacher of Asia (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τῆς Ἀσίας διδάσκαλος), the father of the Christians, the puller down of our gods, who teacheth numbers not to sacrifice nor worship!’ Notice the expression ὁ πατὴρ τῶν Χριστιανῶν to denote the bishop. The multitude begged that Polycarp should be burned at once (xii. 2-3). They brought fuel; the Jews were in the greatest haste. When the pile was ready, the bishop laid aside his clothes and was placed against the stake. They wanted to nail him to it; he refused: ‘Leave me as I am,’ he said, ‘for He that bath granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pile unmoved, even without the security which ye seek from the nails’ (xiii. 3). Fixed to the stake, his hands behind his back, he was ‘like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering’ (xiv. 1). The account goes on to say that the bishop then repeated in a loud voice a very remarkable prayer, for it is in the manner of a eucharistic prayer, and gives the impression of what we call a praefatio (xiv. 1-2). While dying, the bishop prayed in the ritual from which the liturgy is derived. Thus died ‘the glorious martyr, Polycarp, who was found an apostolic and prophetic teacher (διδάσκαλος ἀποστολικὸς καὶ προφητικός), bishop of the holy Catholic Church which is in Smyrna (ἐπίσκοπος τῆς ἐν Σμύρνῃ καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας). For every word which he uttered from his mouth was accomplished and will be accomplished’ (xvi. 2) (on the gift of prophecy attributed to the bishops see Harnack, Mission, i. 289).
The Martyrium Polycarpi adds that, at the instigation of the Jews, the Christians were refused permission to take away the body of Polycarp (xvii. 2), which was burned by the soldiers of the proconsul, according to the pagan custom (xviii. 1). The Christians therefore got nothing but the ashes, which they interred ‘in a suitable place,’ says the Martyrium in terms which do not reveal the locus depositionis: ‘Where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birth-day of his martyrdom for the commemoration of those who have already fought in the contest’ (xviii. 3). Here we have the most ancient evidence of the custom of celebrating the birthday of a martyr (τὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου αὐτοῦ ἡμέραν γενέθλιον). We have also the testimony that a similar anniversary would be celebrated for Polycarp when possible; that means that it had not been possible at the time when the Martyrium was edited-which proves that this redaction was made shortly after Polycarp’s death.
The supplementary paragraphs of the Martyrium Polycarpi state that Polycarp was the twelfth to suffer martyrdom at Smyrna, counting the Christians of Philadelphia, but that the martyrdom of Polycarp was the most memorable, ‘so that he is talked of even by the heathen in every place’ (xix. 1). By his suffering, Polycarp glorifies God and ‘our Lord Jesus Christ, saviour of our souls, pilot of our bodies, shepherd of the Catholic Church in the whole inhabited world’ (ποιμένα τῆς κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας, xix. 2; cf. verses 3-5 of the epitaph of Abercius: Οὔνομʼ Ἀβέρκιος ὤν, ὁ μαθητὴς ποιμένος ἁγνοῦ, || ὃς βόσκει προβάτων ἀγέλας οὔρεσι πεδίοις τε, || ὀφθαλμοὺς ὃς ἔχει μεγάλους πάντη καθορῶντας). The appendix (xxii. 1-3), which seems to be entirely a forgery by the hand of pseudo-Pionius, author of the Vita, has no historical interest.
Must we believe that the mention on several occasions of the Catholic Church is an indication of later touches? We might get rid of this difficulty if the phrase ἡ καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία had not already occurred in Ignatius, and moreover in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans (viii. 2), with the meaning of ‘universal Church,’ geographically universal, in contrast to ‘local Church.’ This same geographical meaning is the one which the Martyrium Polycarpi retains in all the passages where the Church qualified by ‘Catholic’ is that which is over the whole inhabited world (καθολική = κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην; Martyrium Polycarpi, inscriptio, viii. 1, xix. 2). Once only (xvi. 2) the Church seems to be qualified by ‘Catholic’ as a legitimate predicate: Polycarp is called ἐπίσκοπος τῆς ἐν Σμύρνῃ καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας. This is the earliest example of the use of καθολικός in contrast with αἱρετικός. This early occurrence may be surprising, but it is clear that every formula appears somewhere as the need for it arises. At the time of Polycarp the heretics were fairly numerous and so far separated from the great Church that the great Church distinguished itself from them by calling itself ‘the Catholic.’ There is therefore no reason for seeing signs of interpolation in the use of καθολικός with this new meaning.
We need not be surprised that the Martyrium Polycarpi takes up the task of comparing the Passion of Christ and the martyrdom of the bishop. It endeavours to show that the martyrdom is ‘according to the Gospel’ (i. 1, xix. 1). It is a model martyrdom, and the author explains this by saying that Polycarp ‘waited to be given up, as the Lord also did’ (περιέμενεν γὰρ ἵνα παραδοθῇ, ὡς καὶ ὁ κύριος), to teach the faithful not to think only of their individual safety, but to think of all the brethren (i. 2). He waited to be given up, i.e. he did not accuse himself and present himself before the magistrate of his own free will. The ardour of the faithful had to be restrained in times of persecution, and they had to be warned against presumption. The author of the Martyrium Polycarpi explains it (4): ‘But one man, Quintus by name, a Phrygian newly arrived from Phrygia, when he saw the wild beasts, turned coward. He it was who had forced himself and some others to come forward of their own free will.… For this cause therefore, brethren, we praise not those who deliver themselves up, since the Gospel doth not so teach us.’ It is impossible to establish a comparison between the death of Christ and the death of a martyr. The Christ ‘suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those that are saved-suffered though faultless for sinners’ (xvii. 2). We love the martyrs because they are ‘the disciples and the imitators of the Lord,’ and they are worthy of our love for their ‘unconquerable fidelity to their real king and their master. May we share their fate and be their co-disciples’ (xvii. 3).
2. Writings and doctrine.-We noted above that Irenaeus mentions several letters of Polycarp, either to churches or to individuals. It is not impossible that Irenaeus really knew several letters of Polycarp. Only one has been preserved, however-the letter of Polycarp to the Philippians.
We know that Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, during the journey that led him a prisoner to Rome, stopped at Smyrna. We have a letter of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, in which the prisoner, on arriving at Troas, thanks them for the kindness with which they received him: ‘You have lavished all kinds of comforts on me: may Jesus Christ reward you for it! Both far and near you have shown me your kindness: I pray God to recompense you’ (ad Smyrn. ix. 2). Ignatius thanks them also for the welcome which they accorded to his three companions (x. 1). He requests them to send a messenger to Antioch with a letter congratulating the Christians of Antioch on having restored concord in their church (xi. 2). We may note in passing that a similar letter must have been written by the bishop of Smyrna. Further, Ignatius wrote: ‘I salute the bishop worthy of God (ἀσπάζομαι τὸν ἀξιόθεον ἐπίσκοπον), who is your bishop.’ He adds several other salutations to certain Christians of Smyrna whom he names-Tavia, Alke, Daphnos, Euteknos (13). In the Martyrium Polycarpi, xvii. 2, an Alce is mentioned, whose brother Niketes is an influential Smyrnaean pagan, and very hostile to the Christians. Before leaving Troas, Ignatius wrote his epistle to ‘Polycarp, bishop of the church of the Smyrnaeans.’ The tone of, this letter recalls the Pastoral Epistles: Ignatius gives Polycarp advice, as Paul did to Timothy, but in it the authority of Ignatius is tempered by a tender reverence for the bishop of Smyrna, who was evidently still a young man. ‘I give exceeding glory,’ says Ignatius to Polycarp, ‘that it hath been vouchsafed me to see thy blameless face’ (ad Polyc. i. 1). And again: ‘In all things I am devoted to thee-I and my bonds which thou didst cherish’ (ii. 3). We must be careful not to think that the virtues which Ignatius recommends to Polycarp are so many virtues wanting in the latter! Ignatius insists that the Christians of Smyrna should send a messenger to Antioch: ‘It becometh thee, most blessed Polycarp, to call together a godly council and to elect some one among you who is very dear to you and zealous also, who shall be fit to bear the name of God’s courier-to appoint him, I say, that he may go to Syria and glorify your zealous love unto the glory of God’ (vii. 2). Ignatius apologizes for not being able to write to all the churches. ‘Thou shalt write to the churches in front, as one possessing the mind of God, to the intent that they also may do this same thing’ (viii. 1). The letter ended with salutations to some Smyrnaean Christians, the house of Epitropos, Attalos, and Alke once more. We shall see how the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians fits in with the story of Ignatius.
This epistle is attested by the mention of it and the extracts from it made by Eusebius (He_ Iii xxxvi. 13-14), and better still by the description given of it by Irenaeus (Haer. iii. 3, 4), cited by Eusebius (He_ Iv xiv. 6): ‘There is another letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, which is very important. Those who wish and who have any care for their salvation may learn from it the character of his faith and his κήρυγμα τῆς ἀληθείας.’ Jerome mentions the Epistle to the Philippians and claims that ‘usque hodie in Asiae conventu legitur’ (de Vir. Ill. 17)-which means that at the end of the 4th cent. the Epistle of Polycarp was read in the liturgical assemblies of the province of Asia; but the assertion remains unconfirmed, and everybody knows that Jerome often wrote very hurriedly. The written tradition of the Epistle of Polycarp is very deficient, for the Greek MSS_ of it which are extant all stop at ch. 9; chs. 10-14 (with the exception of 12, which is cited by Eusebius) have been preserved only in the old Latin version of the Epistle (Harnack, Ueberlieferung der altchr. Litt., pp. 69-72). The Latin text was edited for the first time in 1498 by Lefèvre d’Etaples, the Greek text in 1633 by Halloix. The critical editions are those of Zahn, Funk, and Lightfoot. These editors have retranslated into Greek the parts which existed only in Latin. The authenticity of the Epistle of Polycarp, formerly contested by the same authors who contested the Epistles of Ignatius, has now been firmly established. The same may be said of the Epistles of Ignatius (Stählin, Christl. griech. Litt., p. 977).
Polycarp addressed this letter to the Philippians a short time after hearing of the reception which the Church of Philippi had given Ignatius and his companions in captivity: ‘I rejoiced with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, for that ye received the followers of the true Love and escorted them on their way, as befitted you-those men encircled in saintly bonds which are the diadems of them that be truly chosen of God and our Lord’ (i. 1). He exhorts the Philippians to show that enduring patience which they have seen ‘in the blessed Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus’ (ix. 1)-apparently Ignatius’ companions in captivity. The Philippians invited Polycarp to write to them (iii. 1); they wrote to him at the same time as Ignatius, and charged him with a letter to Antioch (xiii. 1). They asked him to send to them the letters that he had received from Ignatius: ‘The letters of Ignatius which were sent to us by him, and others as many as we had by us, we send unto you, according as ye gave charge; the which are subjoined to this letter; from which ye will be able to gain great advantage. For they comprise faith and endurance and every kind of edification, which pertaineth unto our Lord’ (xiii. 1-2). Polycarp adds: ‘Concerning Ignatius himself and those that were with him, if ye have any sure tidings, certify us’ (xiii. 2). These last words prove that Polycarp did not know the fate of Ignatius at the time when he wrote to the Philippians, and it has been concluded from this that Ignatius had quite recently left Philippi en route for Rome. The text (ix. 2) often alleged as a sign that Ignatius must have been already dead is not, in the present writer’s opinion, convincing. Ignatius’ journey from Antioch to Rome belongs to the last years of the reign of Trajan (a.d. 98-117); the Epistle of Polycarp is contemporaneous with this journey.
The historical interest of the Epistle of Polycarp is very great, inasmuch as it is a proof of the existence of letters of Ignatius. The literary interest of the epistle is mediocre, especially if it is compared with the exceptional value of the Ignatian epistles. The style of the bishop of Smyrna is without personal character. His epistle is in reality something like a cento. For that very reason, however, it is a witness, since the majority of the texts which it utilizes can be recognized-the three Synoptics, the Fourth Gospel, the Acts, the principal Pauline Epistles (Romans , 1 and 2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil., Col., 2 Thessalonians , 1 and 2 Tim.), the Epistle to James, 1 Peter , 1 and 2 John. From the fact that Polycarp says (iii. 2) that the apostle Paul wrote letters to the Philippians (ὑμῖν ἔγραψεν ἐπιστολάς), it would be unwise to conclude that Polycarp knew several letters of Paul to the Philippians. The OT, which Polycarp confesses he does not know well (xii. 1), is represented by only a few references (Is., Jer., Ps., Prov., Job, Tob.). Polycarp knew 1 Clem., and made numerous very evident borrowings from it (Harnack, Ueberlieferung, p. 40; Funk, i. pp. xli-xliii).
The address reads: ‘Polycarp and the presbyters who are with him to the Church of God which is in Philippi.’ The letter speaks (v. 3) of the subjection of the Philippians to their presbyters and their deacons, to whom they submit ‘as to God and to Christ.’ This is a very Ignatian thought, but Ignatius would have spoken of the bishop also, while Polycarp does not once mention the word ‘bishop’ in his letter. It has been concluded from this that the Church of Philippi did not at that time have a bishop distinct from the πρεσβύτεροι (A. Michiels, L’Origine de l’épiscopat, Louvain, 1900, p. 367 f.). This is a possibility which cannot be altogether ignored. The non-mention of a bishop at Philippi, however surprising it may be after the Ignatian language, may be a sign that in Thrace the distinction between the ἐπίσκοπος and the πρεσβύτεροι ἐπισκοποῦντες had not yet ended in the monarchical episcopate so clearly realized in Antioch, in Smyrna, in the churches made known to us in the Ignatian epistles (cf. P. Batiffol, Études d’histoire et de théologie positive5, 1st ser., Paris, 1907, pp. 258-266). C. Gore (The Ministry of the Christian Church2, London, 1889, p. 329) says: ‘The hypothesis of a superior order in the Church, such as Clement’s letter has been seen to imply, of which no representation was yet localized in the Church at Philippi, seems to meet the conditions of the problem.… This would postulate a state of things at Philippi which Ignatius could at once have recognized as agreeable to his standard of apostolic requirements.… What we would suggest is not exactly that Philippi was in the diocese of Thessalonica or of some other see, but that we have still to do with a state of things which is transitional.’ Harnack (Entstehung und Entwickelung der Kirchcnverfassung, Leipzig, 1910, p. 59 f.) also thinks that Philippi has a collegial government, and that the bishop or bishops are included in the πρεσβύτεροι.
Among these πρεσβύτεροι Polycarp mentions one called Valens who greatly horrified his colleagues by his greed (xi. 1); the wife of Valens was as guilty as he (xi. 4). ‘He who cannot govern himself in these things,’ writes Polycarp, ‘how doth he enjoin this upon another?’ (xi. 2). Polycarp exhorts the presbyters to bring back Valens and his wife as members who were weak and had gone astray, for the good of the whole community (xi. 4). The sinner, though offensive, is not to be despaired of and abandoned by the community. The presbyters must be merciful to all, bring back the erring, visit the weak, neglect neither the widows, the orphans, nor the poor; avoid unjust judgments, not believe evil readily (vi. 1). The deacons must be beyond reproach, remembering that they are ‘deacons of God and Christ and not of men,’ avoid evil-speaking, duplicity, cupidity (v. 1). Married women must be faithful to the virtues of faith, charity, chastity, love their husbands, bring up their children in the fear of God (iv. 2). Widows are the altar of God, θυσιαστήριον θεοῦ (iv. 3), in the sense that there must be nothing in them that would not be worthy of being offered to God, and also in the sense that they live on the offerings of the charity of the faithful. H. Achelis (Das Christentum in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, Leipzig, 1912, i. 192) shows that widows are always in the first rank of the people to whom alms are given. Virgins (i.e. young Christian girls in general, not virgins consecrated to God) must lead a perfectly pure life (v. 3). Young people must flee from all evil, all the sordid pagan vices branded by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., and they must be under the subjection of the presbyter and the deacons (v. 3). The Epistle of Polycarp is above all a moral exhortation, which recalls the manner of 1 Clem. more than that of the Ignatian epistles. It undoubtedly gives a fairly accurate idea of what ought to be the preaching of a bishop (νουθεσία).
Its speculative and dogmatic contents are very poor, but there are some elementary features worthy of notice.
God is called ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ as Jesus Christ is said to be the ‘Son of God,’ and ‘Eternal Pontiff’ (sempiternus pontifex [xii. 2]). Cf. the doxology with which in the Martyrium Polycarpi (xiv. 3) the prayer of Polycarp ends: ‘For all things I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever].’ The idea of the Priesthood of Christ is also found in Ignatius, ad Phil. ix. 1, and in Clem. ad Cor. xxxvi. 1, lxi. 3, lxiv.; it is the fundamental idea of Hebrews. Jesus Christ deigned to descend even to death for our sins (i. 2). Give up vain speeches and the errors of the majority, i.e. paganism, to believe in the Risen One to whom God has given a throne at His right hand, and to whom all has been subjected in heaven and on earth: God will demand an account of His blood from those who do not believe in Him (ii. 1). God will also raise us from the dead if we observe the precepts of Christ (ii. 2). The error of Docetism is denounced by Polycarp as an imminent danger: ‘Whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil’ (vii. 1); so also is the perversion of Christian morality by false teachers: ‘Whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord (τὰ λόγια τοῦ κυρίου) to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of Satan’ (vii. 1). Let us avoid ‘the false brethren and them that bear the name of the Lord in hypocrisy, who lead foolish men astray’ (vi. 3).
Faith is our mother in all things, ‘while hope followeth after and love goeth before-love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbour’ (iii. 3). Let us reject the folly of the majority (i.e. paganism) and false teaching (ψευδοδιδασκαλίας, the new doctrines of the heretics), and return to the teaching which has been given us from the beginning (ἐπὶ τὸν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἡμῖν παραδοθέντα λόγον, the teaching of the apostles and of the gospel), tradition being the criterion of Christian truth (vii. 2). Let us have our eyes constantly fixed on our hope and the pledge of our justice, i.e. on Jesus Christ, who has ‘endured all things, that we might live in Him’ (vii. 1). Lastly, let us pray for all the saints, for the magistrates and princes, for our persecutors, and for the enemies of the Cross (xii. 3). The Church is not mentioned, but Polycarp says: ‘May God give you a share in the inheritance of the saints, may He let us participate in it with you, we and all those who are under heaven, who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Father’ (xii. 2). Prayer does not go without fasting (vii. 2). The prayer recommended is the Lord’s Prayer (vi. 2, vii. 2).
The eschatology is confined to the resurrection of the dead (ii. 2, v. 2, vii. 1), to the judgment of the living and the dead by the Christ who comes, δς ἔρχεται (ii. 1; cf. vi. 2, vii. 1, xi. 2), to the reward of the just in heaven (v. 2, ix. 2).
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians closes with the mention of Crescens, whom Polycarp presents as the bearer of the letter; and whom he recommends, as well as his sister, to the hospitable reception of the faithful of Philippi.
In the editions of Zahn (p. 171 f.) and Lightfoot (pt. ii. vol. iii. p. 421 f.) will be found five Latin fragments attributed to Polycarp: they were first published by the editor of Irenaeus, Feuardent (1639), who found them in a group now lost, which itself gave them as quoted in Victor of Capua ( 554). Supposing that these five fragments of scholia on the Gospels are ancient (3rd cent.?), they show no sign that Polycarp was the author of them (Harnack, Ueberlieferung, p. 73).
Suidas (Lexicon, s.v. Πολύκαρπος, ed. G. Bernhardy, Halle and Brunswick, 1834-1893, ii. 345) mentions a letter of Polycarp to Dionysius the Areopagite, of which there is no other trace. Maximus the confessor, in the prologue of his commentary on the Areopagitica, also mentions a letter of Polycarp to the Athenians in which he speaks of Dionysius (PG iv. 17). Lastly, the seventh of the ten letters of pseudo-Dionysius is addressed to Polycarp. We need not dwell here on the value of the Areopagitica and all that may be connected with it (Harnack, Ueberlieferung, p. 73).
Literature.-The chief references are given in the course of the article. For general bibliography see O. Bardenhewer, Gesch. der altkirchl. Litteratur, i.2 [Freiburg i. B., 1913]. Critical editions: T. Zahn, ‘Ignatii et Polycarpi Epistulae,’ in Patrum apostolicorum opera, ii. [Leipzig, 1876]; F. X. Funk, Opera patrum apostolicorum, Tübingen, 1878 and 1901; J. B. Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, pt. ii.2, London, 1889. See also the elementary edition of A. Lelong, Ignace d’Antioche et Polycarpe de Smyrne, Paris, 1910 (Gr. text, Fr. tr._, Introduction, and notes on Ep. ad Phil. and Martyrium Polycarpi).
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Πολύκαρπος ), a distinguished father of the Christian Church, is one of a small number who were distinguished from the rest by the term Apostolic Fathers, as having been contemporaries of some of the apostles. The period of his death is well ascertained to have been by martyrdom in A.D. 155, in the reign of Antoninus Titus (see Waddington, Memoires De L'Academie Des Inscriptions, tom. 26:pt. 2, p. 232 sq.). The period of his birth is not known, and we can only determine it by approximation. At the time of his martyrdom he was reputed to have been a Christian eighty-six years, and according to this statement was born probably about A.D. 69. But if with other critics we suppose him to have been converted at a riper age, he must be referred to the reign of Nero. However, there seems no reason to doubt that he was contemporary with the apostle John, and known to him, the lengthened period of whose life connects so fortunately the men of the 2d century with those who had been in personal attendance on the Savior. It is this circumstance which gives its chief importance to the lives of these persons, and thence arises the main value of the few and in other respects unimportant writings which remain of the apostolic fathers. The lives form links in the chain of Christian tradition; and their compositions recognize by frequent quotations the writings which remain of evangelists and apostles. (In the following account of Polycarp we rely largely upon Smith's Dict. of Class. Biog. s.v.)
Life. — An ancient life, or rather a fragment of a life of Polycarp, ascribed by Bollandus to a certain Pionius of unknown date, and given in a Latin version in the Acta Sanctorum Januarii (a. d. 26), 2, 695, etc., dwells much on the early history of Polycarp, but the record (if indeed it be the work of Pionius) is some centuries later than its subject, and is evidently false in several particulars. We are inclined to think, however, that it embodies some genuine traditions of Polycarp's history. According to this account, the apostle Paul visited Smyrna in his way from Galatia, through the proconsular Asia to Jerusalem (the writer apparently confounding two journeys recorded in Acts 18:18-23, etc.), and having collected the believers, instructed them in the proper time of keeping Easter. After Paul's departure, his host, Strataeas, the brother of Timotheus, became bishop of the infant Church; or, for the passage is not clear, Stratoeas became an elder and Bucolus was bishop. It was during the episcopate of Bucolus (whether he was the contemporary or the successor of Strateeas) that Callisto, a female member of the Church, eminent for riches and works of charity, was warned of God in a dream to go to the gate of the city called the Ephesian gate, where she would find a little boy (puerulum) named Polycarp, of Eastern origin, who had been reduced to slavery, and was in the hands of two men, from whom she was to redeem him. Callisto, obedient to the vision, rose, went to the gate, found the two men with the child, as it had been revealed to her; and having redeemed the boy, brought him home, educated him with maternal affection in the Christian faith, and, when he attained to manhood, first made him ruler over her house, then adopted him as her son, and finally left him heir to all her wealth. Polycarp had been from childhood distinguished by his beneficence, piety, and self- denial; by the gravity of his deportment, and his diligence in the study of the Holy Scriptures. These qualities early attracted the notice and regard of the bishop, Bucolus, who loved him with fatherly affection, and was in return regarded by him with filial love. By Bucolus he was ordained first to the office of deacon, in which he labored diligently, confuting heathens, Jews, and heretics; delivering catechetical homilies in the church, and writing epistles, of which that to the Philippians is the only extant specimen. He was subsequently, when of mature age (his hair was already turning gray) and still maturer conduct, ordained presbyter by Bucolus, on whose death he was elected and consecrated bishop. We omit to notice the various miracles said to be wrought by Polycarp, or to have occurred on different occasions in his life.
Such are the leading facts recorded in this ancient narrative, which has, we think, been too lightly estimated by Tillemont. That it has been interpolated with many fabulous admixtures of a later date is clear; but we think there are some things in it which indicate that it embodies earlier and truer elements. The difficult is to discover and separate these from later corrections. The chief ground for rejecting the narrative altogether is the supposed difficulty of reconciling them with the more trustworthy statements of Irenaeus (Epistola ad Florinum, apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 5, 20), who, in his boyhood, had known, perhaps lived with Polycarp, and of other writers. According to Irenaeus (Epist. ad Victorem. Papam, apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 5, 24), Polycarp had intercourse with "John and others of the apostles;" or still more expressly (Adv. Haeres. 3, 3, et apud Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 4:14), he was instructed (perhaps converted, Μαθητευθείς ) by the apostles, and conversed familiarly with many who had seen Christ; was by the apostles appointed ( Κατασταθείς ) bishop of the Church at Smyrna; and always taught what he had learned from the apostles. Tertullian (De Praescriptionibus Haeretic, c. 32) and Jerome (De Viris Illustribus, c. 17) distinctly mention John as the apostle by whom Polycarp was ordained. But we question if the expressions of Irenaeus, when critically examined and stripped of the rhetorical exaggeration with which his natural reverence for Polycarp has invested them, will prove more than that Polycarp had enjoyed opportunities of hearing some of the apostles; and was, with their sanction, appointed bishop of the Church at Smyrna.
That John was one of the apostles referred to by Irenaeus there is not the slightest reason to doubt; and we are disposed, with Tillemont, to regard Philip, whom Polycrates of Ephesus (apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 5, 24) states to have ended his days in the Phrygian Hierapolis, as another of those with whom Polycarp had intercourse. We believe that intercourse with these apostles, and perhaps with some other old disciples who had seen Jesus Christ, is sufficient to bear out the statements of Irenaeus, and is not inconsistent with the general truth of the ancient narrative given by Bollandus. His statement of the ordination of Polycarp by the apostles may perhaps be reduced to the fact that John, of whom alone Tertullian (i.c.) makes mention, was among "the bishops of the neighboring churches," who came, according to the narrative, to the consecration of Polycarp. This circumstance enables us to fix that consecration in or before A.D. 104, the latest date assigned to the death of the venerable apostle, and which is not inconsistent with the narrative. It must be borne in mind, too, that the whole subject of the ordination of these early bishops is perplexed by ecclesiastical writers utterly neglecting the circumstance that in some of the larger churches there was in the apostolic age a plurality of bishops (comp. Philippians 1, 1), not to speak of the grave and much disputed question of the identity of bishops and presbyters. The apostolic ordination mentioned by Irenaeus and Tertullian may, therefore, have taken place during the lifetime of Bucolus, and have been antecedent to the precedency which, on his death, Polycarp obtained. We are the more disposed to admit the early origin and the truth of the leading statements embodied in the narration, as the natural tendency of a forger of a later age would have been to exaggerate the opportunities of apostolic intercourse, and the sanctions of apostolic authority, which Polycarp certainly possessed.
Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna at the time when Ignatius of Antioch passed through that city on his way to suffer death at Rome, some time between A.D. 107 and 116. Ignatius seems to have enjoyed much this intercourse with Polycarp, whom he had known, apparently, in former days, when they were both hearers of the apostle John (Martyr. Ignatii, c. 3). The sentiment of esteem was reciprocated by Polycarp (Epistol. ad Philipp. c.13), who collected several of the epistles of Ignatius, and sent them to the Church at Philippi, accompanied by an epistle of his own. Polycarp himself visited Rome while Anicetus was bishop of that city, whose episcopate extended, according to Tillemont's calculation, from A.D. 157 to 168. Ireneus has recorded (Epistol. ad Victor. apud Euseb. H. E. 5, 14) the difference of opinion of these two holy men on the time of observing Easter, and the steadfastness of Polycarp in adhering to the custom of the Asiatic churches, derived, as they affirmed, from the apostles; as well as their mutual kindness and forbearance, notwithstanding this difference. Indeed, the character of Polycarp appears to have attracted general regard: Irenaeus retained for him a feeling of deepest reverence (Epistol. ad Florin. apud Euseb. II. E. 5, 21); Jerome speaks of him (De Viris Illustr. c. 17) as "totius Asise princeps," the most eminent man in all proconsular Asia. An anecdote given elsewhere shows that even reputed heretics, notwithstanding his decided opposition to them, desired to possess his esteem; and it is not improbable that the reverence excited by his character conduced to his success in restoring them to the communion of the Church. It has been conjectured that he was the angel of the Church of Smyrna to whom Jesus Christ directed the letter in the Apocalypse (2, 8-11); and also that he was the bishop to whom the apostle John, according to a beautiful anecdote recorded by Clement of Alexandria (Liber "Quis Dives salvetur?" c. 42), committed the care of a young man, who, forsaking his patron, became a chief of a band of robbers, and was reconverted by the apostle; but these are mere conjectures, and of little probability.
The martyrdom of Polycarp occurred, according to Eusebius (I. E. 4, 15), in the persecution under the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus; and is recorded in a letter of the Church at Smyrna to the churches of Philomelium and other places, which is still extant, and of which Eusebius (ibid.) has given the chief part. The persecution began: one Germanicus, an ancient man, was thrown to the wild beasts, and several others, including some who were brought from Philadelphia, were put to death at Smyrna. Polycarp had at first intended to remain in the city and brave the danger of martyrdom; but the entreaties of his flock led him to withdraw to a retreat in the adjacent country, where he passed his time in prayer. Here, three days before his apprehension, he had a remarkable dream, which his anticipation of his fate led him to interpret as an intimation that he should be burned alive — a foreboding but too exactly verified by the event. Messengers having been sent to apprehend him, he withdrew to another hiding-place; but his place of retreat was discovered by the confession of a child, who had been forced by torture to make known where he was. Polycarp might still have escaped by leaving the place on the approach of those sent to apprehend him; but he refused, saying, "The will of God be done." His venerable figure and calm and courteous deportment commanded the respect of his captors; and a prayer offered by him affected some of them with remorse for their share in his apprehension. The officer into whose custody he was delivered, with the usual laxity of paganism, would have persuaded him, apparently through pity, to offer divine honors and sacrifice to the emperor; but his steady refusal changed their pity into anger, and they violently threw him down from the carriage in which they were conveying him.
On entering the amphitheatre where the proconsul, Stratius Quadratus, was, a voice which the excited feelings of the old man and his companions led them to regard as from heaven, exclaimed, "Be strong, O Polycarp! and quit you like a man." The proconsul was, like others, moved by his appearance, and exhorted him to consider his advanced age, and comply with the requirements of government: "Swear by the fortune of Caesar, recant, and cry ‘ Away with the godless ( Τοὺς Ἀθέους ) .' " Looking first round upon the heathen multitude, and then up to heaven, the old man sighed and said, "Away with the godless." The proconsul again urged him, "Swear by Caesar's fortune, and I will release thee. Revile Christ." "Eighty and six years have I served him," was the reply, "and he never did me wrong: how then can I revile my King and my Savior?" Threats of being thrown to wild beasts, and of being committed to the flames, failed to move him; and his bold avowal that he was a Christian provoked the wrath of the assembled multitude. ‘ This man," they shouted, "is the teacher of impiety, the father of the Christians, the man that does away with our gods ( Ὁ Τῶν Ἡμετέρων Θέων Καθαιρέτης ); who teaches many not to sacrifice to nor to worship the gods." They demanded that he should be thrown to wild beasts, and when the Asiarch, Philip of Tralles, who presided over the games which were going on, evaded the demand, on the plea that the combats with wild beasts were ended, they demanded that he should be burned alive. The demand was complied with; and the populace, in their rage, soon collected from the baths and workshops logs and fagots for the pile. The old man ungirded himself, laid aside his garments, and took his place in the midst of the fuel; and when they would have secured him with nails to the stake, said, "Let me remain as I am; for he that has enabled me to brave the fire will so strengthen me that, without your fastening me with nails, I shall, unmoved, endure its fierceness." After he had offered a short but beautiful prayer the fire was kindled, but a high wind drove the flames on one side, so that he was roasted rather than burned; and the executioner was ordered to dispatch him with a sword. On his striking him with it, so great a quantity of blood flowed from the wound as to quench the flames, which were, however, resuscitated, in order to consume his lifeless body. His ashes were collected by the pious care of the Christians of his flock, and deposited in a suitable place of interment. The day and year of Polycarp's martyrdom are involved in considerable doubt. Samuel Petit places it in A.D. 175; Usher, Pagi, and Bollandus in A.D. 169; Eusebius (Chronicon) places it earlier, in the seventh year of Marcus Aurelius, who acceded to the throne March 7, A.D. 161; Scaliger, Le Moyne, and Cave place it in A.D. 167; Tillemont in 166; the Chronicon Paschale in the consulship of Elianus and Pastor, A.D. 163; and Pearson, who differs widely from all other critics, in A.D. 147, in the reign of Titus Antoninus Pius. Pearson brings various reasons in support of his opinion, which reasons are examined by Tillemont in one of his careful and elaborate notes. Polycarp is reverenced as a saint both by the Greek and Romish churches; by the former on Feb. 23, by the latter on Jan. 26, or (at Paris) on April 27. The Greeks of Smyrna, on his festival, used formerly to visit devoutly what is shown as his tomb, near the ruins of an ancient church or chapel, on a hill-side to the south-east of the city. Mr. Arundel (Discoveries in Asia Minor, 2, 397) is disposed to think that the tradition as to his place of interment is correct.
The principal authorities for the history of Polycarp have been cited. The account of Eusebius (H. E. 4:14, 15, and 5, 20) is chiefly taken from Irenaeus (11. cc.), and from the letter of the Church at Smyrna, giving an account of his martyrdom, which will be noticed below. Halloix (Illustr. Eccles. Orientalis Scriptorum Vitae), Cave (Apostolici, or the Lives, etc., of the Primitive Fathers), and Tillemont (Memoires, vol. 2) have collected the chief notices of the ancients, and embodied them in their narrative. See also Ceillier, Hist. des Auteurs Sacraes, 1, 672, etc. The English reader may consult (besides Cave's work just mentioned) Lardner, Credibility, etc., pt. 2, ch. 6, 7; Neander, Church Hist. transl. by Rose, 1, 106, etc.; Milman, Hist. of Christianity, bk. 2, ch. 7; and other ecclesiastical historians. Works. — There is extant only one short treatise by this father, Πρὸς Φιλιππησίους Ἐπιστολή , Ad Philippenses Epistola. That he wrote such an epistle, and that it was known in their time, is attested by Irenaeus (Adv. Heres. 3, 3, and Epistol. Ad Florinum, apud Euseb. Ii. E. 4, 14, and 5, 20), Eusebius ''(H. E'' 3, 36; 4, 14), Jerome (De Viris Illustr. c. 17), and later writers whom it is needless to enumerate; and, notwithstanding the objections of the Magdeburg Centuriators (Cent. 2, c. 10); of Daille (De Scriptis Ignatianis, c. 32), who, however, only denied the genuineness of a part; of Matthieu de la Roche; and, at a later period, of Semler, our present copies have been received by the great majority of critics as substantially genuine. Some have suspected the text to be interpolated; and the suspicion is perhaps somewhat strengthened by the evidence afforded by the Syriac version of the epistles of Ignatius, lately published by Mr. Cureton, of the extensive interpolation of those contemporary and kindred productions.
The Epistola ad Philippenses is extant in the Greek original, and in an ancient Latin version; the latter of which contains, towards the conclusion, several chapters, of which only some fragments preserved by Eusebius are found in the Greek. The letter partakes of the simplicity which characterizes the writings of the apostolic fathers, being hortatory rather than argumentative; and is valuable for the numerous passages from the New Testament, especially from the first Epistle of Peter and the epistles of Paul, which are incorporated in it, and for the testimony which it consequently affords to the early existence and wide circulation of the sacred writings. It was first published in black letter in the Latin version by Jac. Faber Stapulensis, with the works of the pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita and of Ignatius (Paris, 1498, fol.), under the title of Theologia Vivificans; and was reprinted at Strasburg in 1502; at Paris, 1515; at Basle, 1520; at Cologne, 1536; at Ingolstadt, with the Clementina (4to), 1546; at Cologne, with the Latin version of the writings of the pseudo, Dionysius, 1557; and with the Clementina and the Latin version of the Epistolae of Ignatius (fol.), 1569. It appeared also in the following collections: the Micropresbyticon (Basle, 1550), the Orthodoxographa of Heroldus (ibid. 1555), the Orthodoxographa of Grynaeus (ibid. 1569), the Mella Patrum of Francis Rous (Lond. 1650, 8vo), and in the various editions of the Bibliotheca Patrum, from its first publication by De la Bigne in 1575. The Greek text was first published by Halloix, subjoined to the life of Polycarp, in his Illustrium Ecclesiae Orientalis Scriptorum Vitae et Documenta (vol. 1, Douai, 1633, fol.); and was again published by Usher, with the Epistolae of Ignatius (Oxford, 1644, 4to), not in the Appendix Ignatiana (which came out in 1647), as incorrectly stated by Fabricius; by Maderus (Helmstadt, 1653); and in the Patres Apostolici of Cotelerius (Paris, 1672, 2 vols. fol.; and Amsterdam, 1724), of Ittigius (Leipsic, 1699, 8vo), of Frey (Basle, 1742), and of Russel (1746, 2 vols, 8vo). It is given likewise in the editions of Ignatius by Aldrich (Oxford, 1708, 8vo) and Smith (ibid. 1709, 4to). It is contained also in the Varia Sacra of Le Moyne (vol. 1, Leyden, 1685, 4to), and in the Bibliotheca Patrunt of Gallandius (vol. 1, Ven. 1765, fol.). Of more recent editions may be mentioned those of Hornemann, Scripta Genuina Graeca Patrum Apostolicorum (Copenhagen, 1828,4to); Routh, Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Opuscula Praecipua qucedamn (vol. 1, Oxford, 1832, 8vo); Jacobson, Patrum Apostolicorum que supersunt (vol. 2, ibid. 1838, 8vo); and Hefele, Patrum Apostolicorum Opera (T Ü bingen, 1839, 8vo). There are English versions of this epistle by Wake and Clementson, and one in Cave's Apostolici, or Lives of the Primitive Fathers.
That Polycarp wrote other Epistolae is attested by Irenaeus (Epistol. ad Florin.): one, Πρὸς Ἀθηναίους , Ad Athenienses, is quoted by St. Maximus in his Prologus Ad Libros Dionysii Areopagitae, and by Joannes Maxentius, but is supposed to be spurious; at any rate it is now lost: another, Πρὸς Διονύσιον Τὸν Ἀρεοπαγίτην , Ad Dionysium Areopagitam, mentioned by Suidas (s.v. Πολύκαρπος ) , is supposed to be spurious also. The life of Polycarp, ascribed to Pionius, states that he wrote various Tractatus, Homilie, and Epistolae, and especially a book De Obitu S. Joannis; of which, according to Halloix (1. c.), some extracts from a MS. said to be extant in an abbey in Northern Italy had been given in a Concio de S. Joanne Evangelista by Franciscus Humblot; but even Halloix evidently doubted their genuineness. Some fragments ascribed to Polycarp, cited, in a Latin version, in a Catena in Quatuor Evangelistas by Victor of Capua, were published by Franciscus Feuardentius subjoined to lib. 3, c. 3 of his Annotationes ad Irenaeum, and were subsequently reprinted by Halloix (1. c.), Usher (Appendix Ignatitana, p. 31, etc.), Maderus (1. c.), Cotelerius (1. c.), Ittigius (i. c.), and Gallandius (1. c.), under the title of Fragmenta Quinque e Responsionum Capitulis S. Polycarpo adscriptis; but their genuineness is very doubtful. See Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 108, 1, 44. etc. (Oxford, 1740, fol.); Ittigius, De Biblioth. Patrum, passim; Fabricius, Bibl. Grcec. 7:47, etc.; Ceillier, Auteurs Sacrls, 1. c.; Lardner. Credibility, pt. 2, bk. 1, ch. 6:etc.; Gallandius, Biblioth. Patrum, proleg. ad vol. 1, c. 9; Jacobson, 1. c. proleg. p. 1, etc., 70; Schaff, Church Hist. vol. 1; Donaldson, Literature (see Index); Bohringer, Christl. Kirche, 1, 30 sq.; Illgen, Zeitschrift hist. Theol. 1866, vol. 1; Milman, Hist.of Latin Christianity (see Index); Jahm b. . deutsche Theol. 1870, 3, 545; Jortin, Remarcks, 1, 323 sq.; Amer. Presb. Rev. 3, 517; Riddle, Christian Antiquities (see Index); Hefele, Patrum Apostolicorum Opera, p. 18; Kitto, Cyclop. of Bib. Lit. 1, 812; Alzog, Patrologie, § 1 sq.; Killen, Anc. Church, p. 365 sq.; Fisher, Beginning of Christianity (N.Y. 1877, 8vo), p. 321 sq., 552 sq.
The Τῆς Σμυρναίων Ἐκκλησίας Περὶ Μαρτυρίου Τοῦ Ἁγίου Πολυκάρπου Ἐπιστολὴ Ἐγκυκλικός is almost entirely incorporated in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius (4, 15); it is also extant in its original form. in which it was first published by archbishop Usher, in his Appendix Ignatiana (Lond. 1647, 4to); and was reprinted in the Acta Martyrum Sincera Et Selecta of Ruiuart (Paris, 1689, 4to), and in the Patres Apostolici of Cotelerius (vol. 2, Paris, 1672, fol.; Antwerp [or rather Amsterdam], 1698; and Amsterdam, 1724); it was also reprinted by Maderus, in his edition of the Epistola Polycarp, already mentioned; by Ittigius, in his Bibliotheca Patrum Apostolicorum (Leips. 1699, 8vo); by Smith, in his edition of the Epistolae of Ignatius (reprinted at Basle by Frey, 1742, 8vo); by Russel, in his Patres Apostolici (vol. 2, Lond. 1746, 8vo); by Gallandius, in his Bibliotheca Patrum (vol. 1, Venice, 1765, fol.); and by Jacobson, in his Patrum Apostolicorum qua supersunt (vol. 2, Oxford, 1838, 8vo). There is an ancient Latin version, which is given with the Greek text by Usher; and there are modern Latin versions given by other editors of the Greek text, or in the Acta Sanctorum Januarii (ad d. 26), 2, 702, etc. There are English versions by archbishop Wake (Lond. 1693, 8vo, often reprinted), by Chevallier (Cambridge, 1833, 8vo), and by Dalrymple, in his Remains of Christian Antiquity (Edinburgh, 1776, 8vo). See Cave, 1. c. p. 65; Fabricius, 1. c. p. 51; Lardner, 1. c. c. 7; Ceillier, 1. c. p. 695; Ittigius, Gallandius, and Jacobson, 11. cc.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
Bishop of Smyrna, one of the early Fathers of the Church, a disciple of the Apostles and in particular of St. John; was for nearly 70 years bishop, and suffered martyrdom for refusing to renounce Christ, "after having served Him," as he said, "for 86 years"; of his writings the only one extant is an "Epistle to the Philippians," the genuineness of which, at one time questioned, is now established, and is of value chiefly in questions affecting the canon of Scripture and the origin of the Church.