Tag Archives: Ignatius of Antioch

A fair witness to the church? Didache 11.11

My attention having been drawn to the fact that Harnack dated the Ignatian epistles to the 130s (as have I), I thought I might read what he had to say (Adolf von Harnack, “Lightfoot on the Ignatian Epistles. II. Genuineness and Date of the Epistles” The Expositor third series 3.3 (March 1886), 175-192. This is the third part of an extended review of Lightfoot.)

Interesting though this was, my attention was more taken by Frederic Henry Chase, “Note on The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles Chapter xi,” The Expositor third series 3.4 (April 1886), 319-320. Here Chase suggests emending εἰς μυστήριον κοσμικὸν ἐκκλησίας to εἰς μαρτύριον κόσμιον ἐκκλησίας.

I will admit that I have never seen reference to Chase’s conjecture, and also that I find it very attractive. I need say no more, but commend those interested to read Chase’s argument in support.


1 Comment

Filed under Didache

Didascalia apostolorum 2.26.4

Dani Vaucher’s comment below on the “breaf” abstract from the paper on Didascalia 9 has got me thinking.

The reconstruction of passages from Greek writings preserved only in ancient translations is an uncertain business; if only I had paid more attention in Greek prose composition classes as an undergraduate! Didascalia apostolorum 2.26.4 (from chapter 9 of the Syriac) is of particular interest.

The Constitutiones apostolorum reads: ὁ μὲν οὖν ἐπίσκοπος προκαθεζέσθω ὑμῶν ὡς θεοῦ ἀξίᾳ τετιμημένος (CA 2.26.4). That it is highly paraphrastic at this point (as an adaptation, rather than a translation, of the Didascalia) is evident from both the Latin and the Syriac versions of the Didascalia.

The Latin reads: “hic locum dei sequens sicuti deus honoretur a vobis quoniam episcopus in typum dei praesedet vobis” whereas in the Syriac we read: “But (ܐܠܐ) he leads (ܡܕܒܪ) you in the place of (ܒܕܘܟܬܐ) the Almighty one. He is to be honoured by you as God (ܐܝܟ ܐܠܗܐ) since the bishop sits among you in the place (ܒܕܘܟܬܐ) of God almighty.”

There are thus two major divergences between the versions. The first is in the verb (“following” or “leading”), the second in the statement that the bishop is in the place (Syriac) or as a type (Latin) of God. It is also to be observed that the Syriac supplies an object for the verb which is not present in Latin. Thus the Syriac translator understands this as referring to something that the bishop does,  whereas the Latin understands this to mean that the bishop has second place to God.

In asking which is correct in each part the primary question is that of which Greek verb might lead to either rendition. Given that none is obvious, we ask ourselves which verb might have been misread by either translator. We may suspect the presence of a participle, given that both versions employ participial forms, rather than a simple preposition. One possibility which presents itself is the aorist participle of ἀλλάσσω, ἀλλαχθείς, meaning that the bishop exchanged places with God. This would tend to support the Latin; the suggestion, in turn is that the Syriac translator read this as ἀλλʼ ἀχθείς (thus accounting for the ܐܠܐ in the Syriac) and supplied an appropriate object. As such this is entirely plausible, and so I find that I have persuaded myself, if nobody else.

The distinction between the two versions in the second part of the phrase is easier to explain. We may certainly suspect that the Latin is correct in reading typum, representing τύπος, and that this has been read by the Syriac translator as τόπος, perhaps on the basis that τόπος has appeared immediately beforehand. At Ignatius Magn. 6 we read of the bishop that he is προκαθημένου… εἰς τύπον θεοῦ. Although the MS tradition reads τόπον here. Lightfoot suggested τύπον, and is recently followed, very persuasively, by Brent.

As a result I would venture as a retroversion: ἀλλαχθείς τοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τόπου, ὑφʼ ὑμῶν ὡς θεοῦ τιμῆσθω (or τετιμημένος ), προκαθημένου τοῦ ἐπισκόπου εἰς τύπον θεοῦ. The use of the genitive absolute in the last clause, rather than ἐπεί or ἐπειδή or some similar conjunction, is a punt on the hypothesis that the Didascalist was citing Ignatius directly. To be honest the use of a conjunction is more probable, given the quoniam of the Latin and the ܐܠܐ of the Syriac, which rather indicates that he is not citing Ignatius directly. Thus: ἀλλαχθείς τοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τόπου, ὑφʼ ὑμῶν ὡς θεοῦ τετιμημένος, ἐπεὶ εἰς τύπον θεοῦ προκαθημένος ὁ ἐπίσκοπος.

At the end of which we ask whether we have really learnt anything. Had I been persuaded by this exercise that the Didascalist had direct knowledge of Ignatius that would be worthwhile, although I suppose the lack of direct correspondence indicates a more widespread tradition. Otherwise it has simply exercised the little grey cells for a while without a great deal in the way of progress.

What is perhaps most interesting is that the Constitutiones apostolorum manifestly do not cite Ignatius. Were the redactor pseudo-Ignatius, as we are often told he is, then that would be decidedly odd.

Leave a comment

Filed under Didascalia Apostolorum

Church orders at the 2018 British Patristics Conference

The British Patristics conference is being held in Cardiff from 5th-7th September (https://www.britishpatristics.org/). Sadly I am unable to attend.
There is one paper relating directly to the church orders; the author appears to have discovered a Greek text of the Didascalia! I post the abstract here without editing, or further comment.

Liturgical expression of Trinitarian theology in the third century Antioch

Phoebe Kearns

University of Winchester

I will address this topic by exploring how the descriptions of clergy and liturgy in the Didascalia express the understanding of the Trinity in third century Antioch and Syria. My aim in this paper to express the close link between the Trinitarian theology of the church in the Antioch and the developing theology of the deaconate in this region. The Antiochian theology in this era is important since it influenced the development of the theology of the diaconate and the order of the deacon across the Eastern Roman Empire over the succeeding centuries.

I will start by setting out what is known of third century liturgies in Antioch and the surrounding province of Syria along with the first instances of theological linking clergy with aspects of the Trinity by of Ignatius of Antioch. I will then present the passages of the Didascalia which are the focus of my presentation, this being the first paragraph of Chapter 9 of the where the Trinitarian theology is expressed. Other passages of the Didascalia will be used to illustrate and expand on the implied meaning and context of this passage. Since the Didascalia was written within the Aramaic speaking region I will breafly examine the influence this had on the theology of this document. I will also refer to Greek texts of the Didascalia, as this may also provide insights into aspects of the document which are unclear in English translation. Within my presentation I will also refer to Temple and Wisdom Traditions both of which are evident in my key source text and help to place it within the unwritten traditions of the church at this time.


Filed under Didascalia Apostolorum

Dubious docetists: a new publication

I have just received my copy of Joseph Verheyden et al. (ed.) Docetism in the early church:the quest for an elusive phenomenon (WUNT 402; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018). This includes my essay on Ignatius’ “docetic” opponents, given at the Oxford patristic conference back in 2015. I have made reference to this before, in the post on docetism and the Didachistic Eucharist. I will now record that I sweated blood over that paper. Hopefully it was worth it.

I concluded that “docetism” was not a useful category. I am interested to find that this conclusion is widely shared by other essayists in the volume; since there was no conferring either in advance of or since the submission of the essays this speaks volumes. There are some outstanding essays here; I particularly enjoyed Allen Brent’s philsophical sophistication in identifying enlightenment philosophy of mind as an obstacle to modern understandings of ancient christology, Paul Hartog’s examination of what Ignatius might have added to the kerygma in his polemical context, and Taras Khomych’s rather literate reading of the dance of Jesus in the Acta Johannis. These were my personal highlights, but all the contributions are excellent and worth reading. Beyond the big conclusion, which is that “docetism” is a term which should be abandoned as useless, I was glad to find other points of agreement between other essays and mine, in particular Winrich Löhr’s conclusion that philosophical discourse lay behind a number of the christologies that are classified as docetic, Francis Watson’s observation that Ignatius only speaks of his “docetic” opponents’ denial of Christ’s suffering and not of their denial of any other aspect of Christ, and Jens Schröter’s acceptance of a Hadrianic date for Ignatius’ activity. However, given that there is a lot of common ground among the essays in terms of the materials examined, there is remarkably little redundancy.

The book is €134, which will put it beyond most individuals and many libraries. I am happy to share a pdf of my essay with any reader. My contact details can be found buried somewhere on this blog or on academia.edu. Alternatively leave a comment (if you give your address it will not be published on the blog as I can edit or delete comments before they are displayed.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Anything else

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.

1 Comment

Filed under E-rrata

A synopticon of Ignatius of Antioch and ps-Ignatius

I have just posted to sarum.academia.edu/AlistairStewart a synopticon of Ignatius of Antioch and ps-Ignatius. This is a by-product of my recently appeared translation from St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, and should be self-explanatory. I hope it proves useful.

In case anyone wonders what the connection with church orders might be, note that ps-Ignatius is widely held to be the redactor of the Apostolic Constitutions. Whether or not that is the case (although the magisterial treatment of Funk in Die apostolischen Konstitutionen: eine litterar–historische Untersuchung (Rottenburg: Wilhelm Bader, 1891) has yet to be bettered, I am still slightly unconvinced), they are certainly heirs to the same tradition. Possibly the synopticon will enable us more clearly than before to see the manner in which the pseudepigrapher worked.

1 Comment

Filed under Apostolic Constitutions