Polycarp is said to have been among those converted by the Apostles, and to have been a disciple of St. John; on the other hand, his martyrdom took place c 155 CE. He thus represents the generation linking the age of the New Testament to that of the Apologists.
Polycarp's life is known mainly from the writings of his disciple Irenaeus of Lyons, made familiar to a wide audience by the extensive quotations in Eusebius. Irenaeus is depicted as the heir to the Johannine tradition; his uncompromising opposition to the heretic Marcion is equated with the evangelist's to Cerinthus. Polycarp was also a defender of the Johannine Easter date, and late in life made a visit to Rome for inconclusive talks on the subject with Pope Anicetus. Besides John, Polycarp was connected with another outstanding figure of the apostolic church: Ignatius of Antioch addressed an epistle to him.
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir) in western Asia Minor. Members of his flock wrote an extremely detailed account of their aged hierarch's martyrdom, one of the most famous documents to be passed down from the age of persecution.
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