Apostolic constitutions and ps-Ignatius

I was not able to hear Joe Mueller at Oxford, as I found myself chairing the liturgy session even as he was giving his paper in another room. I was, finally, able to run into him, however, after a few days of searching.

In due course I will read his paper, but what is interesting, and emerged from our brief discussion in the King’s Arms, is that he shares my suspicion that ps-Ignatius is not the redactor of the Apostolic Constitutions. Thus if the theology of Apostolic Constitutions does not square up with that of Meletius of Antioch, rather than making my proposal that ps-Ignatius is of the Meletian party less likely, this indicates, rather, that there are grounds for not identifying the Constitutor with the Ignatian forger beyond the feeling in my waters.

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Paul Bradshaw and the ancient church orders

Following on from Bradshaw’s paper at the conference, he informs me that he has a little book called The ancient church orders coming out soon in the Alcuin/GROW series. At least there will be some more permanent record of the pertinent questions.

This is an excellent series (I have published in it myself), though fiendishly difficult to obtain. The easiest way is through the Alcuin club, whose website now accepts paypal:


The book is not yet up there, but is expected in October… keep checking back.

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E-rratum: the date of Hadrian’s (and Ignatius of Antioch’s) arrival in Rome

In my Ignatius I wrote that, since Hadrian arrived in Rome in 135, Ignatius might have been writing in 134. This is in the context of my suggestion that Ignatius travelled with Hadrian on his journey to Rome.

In revising my paper from the Oxford conference, dealing with Ignatius’ “docetic” opponents, I now realize that Hadrian was actually in Rome already in 134; I think I was confused because Hadrian’s salutatio imperatoria after the Bar Kosiba revolt took place in August of 135. In other words, my date for Ignatius’ correspondence needs to be revised by a year (or possibly two, as there is some obscurity over the date and direction of Hadrian’s last journey.)

Nonetheless, I continue to hold a Hadrianic date for Ignatius’ correspondence, and to read it in the light of the rupture brought about between Jewish Christ-believers and other Jews by the revolt. This is better than the traditional Trajanic date, and does not present the problems caused by seeing the whole correspondence as a forgery.

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Second edition of my commentary on Traditio apostolica

It’s out! I’ve picked up a copy at the Oxford conference… and it’s definitely thicker than the first edition.

I haven’t had a chance even to look inside it yet, and I don’t even know how much it costs (but surely good value, being from St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.)

Get yours here:http://www.svspress.com/on-the-apostolic-traditon-second-edition-pps54/

More later… it’s late at night and the conference is full-on!


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Also at Oxford…

I hope I shall be able to hear Joe Mueller this year. Here is the abstract:

Joseph Mueller: The Trinitarian Doctrine of the Apostolic Constitutions

Short Communication

Brian Daley has argued that the late-fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions (AC) represent an effort, allied with Meletius of Antioch, to steer a middle course between, on one hand, a conception of the Son and the Spirit as foreign to God’s nature and, on the other hand, an erasure of the Son’s and Spirit’s distinction from the Father, seen by many in the fourth-century East as the vice of Nicaea and its defenders.  In the service of this project, the AC clung to biblical language and categories traceable to the influence of Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea.  Daley’s argument here largely follows Metzger’s introduction to theSources chrétiennes edition of the AC.  Daley also provides evidence that the other works of the redactor of the AC, the commentary on Job and the Pseudo-Ignatian letters, are in this same theological current (“The Enigma of Meletius of Antioch,” in Ronnie J. Rombs and Alexander Y. Hwang, Tradition and the Rule of Faith in the Early Church: Essays in Honor of Joseph T. Lienhard, S.J. [Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2010], 128-50).  This present paper will submit that Daley’s arguments do not address sufficiently those made by Georg Wagner, Thomas Kopeček, and Dieter Hagedorn to link the AC, Pseudo-Ignatius, and his commentary on Job to currents closer to Eunomius.  Tracing the Trinitarian revisions made by the AC to its source documents also provides support for relating the AC to such currents.


It is notable that Brian Daley has fingered the circle around Meletius of Antioch as that in which the Apostolic Constitutions originated, even as I suspected the same of pseudo-Ignatius. Nonetheless, I suspect that Mueller will be spot on as he usually is. What this leads me to ask, once again, is whether there is absolute identity between the Ignatian pseudographist and the apostolic pseudographist. Might fine but significant distinctions in their Trinitarian theology provide the key? Anyone out there looking for a PhD topic?

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The Oxford Patristic Conference and the church order literature

It is now weeks to go until Oxford, and still I haven’t written my paper (which, btw, is on Ignatius of Antioch’s “docetic” opponents, and on Friday afternoon, by which time most people are too tired to care.)

The conference will kick off for me, however, on the Tuesday morning at nine sharp, as I am chairing the short communications on liturgy. I wonder whether I will get to ring the bell.

First into bat is Paul Bradshaw, the abstract of whose paper is below. He is wrestling with the very issues with which I am constantly wrestling, so I look forward very much to his most recent insights.

Paul Bradshaw: SC another look at the church order literature

In the late twentieth century it was debated whether the ancient church orders were comprehensive and descriptive or selective and polemic. This paper will argue that this is a false dichotomy. As ‘living literature’, the church orders need to be read as multiple layers of tradition and cannot be said to have one single purpose. At least in part their compilers and redactors were trying to preserve what they thought was ancient, and the results evolved into literary texts rather than manuals intended for practical use. However, their attempts either to maintain or to promote particular practices ultimately had rather limited effect.


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The Arabic “Canons of the apostles”

Amidst the detritus which daily litters my inbox comes this interesting enquiry from Tom Schmidt, a doctoral student at Yale.

He is working on an Arabic commentary on the Apocalypse by ibn Katib Qaysar, a 13th century Copt. In it he quotes from the “canons of the apostles”. The passage is as follows:

“For this reason, the end of the canons of the apostles was composed from the chronicles, [and] what was transcribed was [as follows]: ‘When the disciples had finished laying down the new traditions, and believers had multiplied upon the earth, the emperors were unbelievers under the deceptions of Satan, and they hastened to kill the believers and to torture them so that they would worship idols. In distress, [facing] adversity, and under compulsion, they were occupied with the establishment of other traditions, about 356 years [after the birth of Christ], around the time of Emperor Constantine the Great. If someone was about to obtain the crown of martyrdom hastily [and] without punishment, his situation would be prolonged and his patience would disappear, so there is no doubt that this involved protection and care.

He wanted to know if I could identify these “canons of the apostles.” Clearly these are not the apostolic canons appended to book eight of the Constitutiones apostolorum; If I understand the text right, amidst the confusion, it seems to regard an over-hasty zeal for martyrdom, an issue much debated in the third century. But I am aware of no canons as such relating to this. and cannot help him identify the canons.

But if there is any learned reader who does recognize this, please comment, and I will pass this to Mr Schmidt.

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