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Papias reports that Aristion along with John the Elder was a primary witness for the early tradition about Christ. Nothing further is known for certain of him, but in an Armenian MS of the gospels dated 986, discovered by F.C. Conybeare in 1891, Mark 16:9-20 is attributed to the “Elder Ariston.” This may be an authentic tradition, but further proof is lacking. Aristion must be distinguished from Aristo of Pella.

Aristion (Aristo)

ARISTION (ARISTO) (̓Αριστίων). A Christian contemporary with Papias, from whom the church father received information about the sayings of the Lord (Euseb. Hist. III. 39. 3 f.). Papias says, “If anyone came who had followed the presbyters, I was accustomed to inquire about the sayings of the presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter had said, or Philip or Thomas or Jacob or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples; and what Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say.” The precise meaning of Papias’ statement has been a matter of dispute from the time of Eusebius, who quotes him. The major question is whether the two Johns that Papias mentioned were the same man, the apostle John, or whether they were different, one being the apostle John, the other, someone else called the “presbyter John.” Whatever the answer, it is clear that Aristion was associated with the second John and that he was a contemporary of Papias. Papias did not say that he received information from Aristion himself. He prob. meant that Aristion and the presbyter John were disciples of Jesus still living in His time and that he had, perhaps through others, derived material about Jesus from them. Nothing more is known about Aristion. A 10th cent. Armenian NT MS has a note between Mark 16:8 and the longer ending of the gospel stating, “of the presbyter Aristion,” but it is prob. too late to have much value, although Swete thought it had some importance.


D. Guthrie, New Testament introduction, The Gospel and the Acts (1965), 72; Feine-Behm-Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament (1966), 170-172.

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