St. Polycarp learned about Jesus from St. John the Evangelist, who taught him and made him Bishop of Smyrna in present-day Turkey. Therefore we would expect that any extant writing by Polycarp would be as faithful to the Gospel as it’s possible to get from someone who didn’t know Jesus directly. And we have such a fragment, a letter to the Philippians as documented by St. Irenaeus (d. 202), who was born in Smyrna and became Polycarp’s disciple. We have a direct link to “the disciple Jesus loved.” (

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