He was a fascinating person to research. (Book One, Hold the Faith.)
This clip said Polycarp had been born in 70 AD. Other sources put him as being born in 80 AD (I had found 69 AD the most preferred option, and went with that one.) The clip says that legend has it that he was anointed bishop of Smyrna by the Apostle John. I had read that too, but further research led me to the first bishop of Smyrna being a dedicated man by the name of Bucolus.
So, as can be seen Polycarp is someone about whom there is much contradiction in writings.
Now, as to whether the Apostle John was the one who ordained him bishop – which means overseer…
When he survived, he was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where he is generally considered to have written the book of Revelation. (He was released from Patmos, most likely after the murder of Emperor Domitian, in 95 AD)
At that time Polycarp would have been approximately twenty-four or twenty-five. If John had made him a bishop, presumably it would have been before then.
Although, in the overall scheme of things, it does not matter to us who anointed Polycarp as bishop it did for Hold the Faith. (For those of you who have not read ‘Hold the Faith’… in order to introduce the reader to the challenges faced by brethren in those times, John and his fictitious great-grandson walked from Ephesus to Smyrna.)
For the background of that stay in Smyrna, I needed to check who was bishop at that time. Whilst it is not impossible for Polycarp to have been anointed as bishop by John, I considered it unlikely, given the Bible’s guidelines about not appointing young men to the office of an elder… a bishop is an overseer. Then, as mentioned at the start, I discovered another source that stated that the first bishop of Smyrna was a well-loved and respected man named Bucolus. According to some sources, he was the one who passed the fellowship in Smyrna into the care of Polycarp.
Still, if you are not writing about any of these early church ‘fathers’ all we need to know is that they were dedicated, honorable and very committed men. Life in those days was a ‘risky business’ for a Christian… as it seems to be increasingly becoming today.
Back to taking big scissors to book three in the series.