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Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote a series of letters somewhere about c. I mentioned this on the radio recently, and a listener wrote in to ask: I heard you on Catholic Answers yesterday, and enjoyed the informative show.
I am a Protestant far along on the road into the Catholic Church.
I heard your message about Ignatius of Antioch and The Real Presence, and his letter to Smyrna on the road to his martyrdom. Then I read his letter to the Smyrnaeans. Your blog noted John Calvin calling the letter to the Smyrnaeans into question, as if it were not authentic. I too am a lawyer and am eager to know more about the authenticity of the letter to the Smyrnaeans concerning the Eucharist.
The letter is compelling on its own. What are those proofs? Ignatius of Antioch you can read them hereif you would like, but again: These forgeries are themselves ancient, so Catholics and Orthodox for centuries believed that Ignatius of Antioch had written 13 letters.
Protestants, including Calvin, often rejected all 13, since they seemed too Catholic. Long Recension — These were the 13 letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch. Copies of this Long Recension are found in both Greek and Latin.
Middle Recension — These are the seven Ignatian letters now recognized, nearly-universally, as authentic. In the Greek manuscript tradition we find numerous manuscripts of a collection of 13 letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch, the apostolic father.
This is known as the long recension; for 7 of these letters have reached us, but only just, in a handful of manuscripts in a shorter version, which we will refer to as the short version. The differences between the two seem to relate to late 4th century theological arguments, with an Apollinarian or Arian tinge.
Finally there is a Syriac epitome of 3 of the letters, and I have seen a reference in Aphram Barsoum to Syriac texts of other letters.
In this respect no difference can be traced between the two sets of epistles. Anything that Protestants would object to in the six false letters is also found in the seven genuine letters. In other words, the fact that the Middle Recension is authentic should give Protestants serious pause, since it disproves many Protestant theories about the nature of the early Church.
In it, he has an honest and relatively-detailed history of the controversy over the letters of Ignatius. A brief reference to two celebrated instances from the history of philological research in the fathers during the past one hundred years will illustrate some of the subtle interrelations between denominational loyalty and historical-literary investigation.
The first is the question of the authenticity of the traditional version of the seven epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. The epistles have been transmitted in three divergent manuscript traditions.
There is also a recension much shorter than the first, available in a Syriac translation. It has been agreed since Ussher [James Ussher,Anglo-Irish bishop and scholar] that many of the other epistles circulating under the name of Ignatius during the Middle Ages were not authentic.
But there has been no such agreement on the authenticity of the received text of the seven epistles of Ignatius. Because this text showed such an advanced stage of doctrinal development in its emphasis on the hierarchical nature of the Church and made such explicit reference to the authority of the bishop, certain Protestant scholars insisted that this version could not have been written by Ignatius, who died during or shortly after the first decade of the second century, perhaps as early as For while the polemical historians were exchanges theses, antitheses, and hypotheses, other historians were patiently at work sorting out the documentary evidence and drawing reasonable conclusions from it.
Once more, other Protestants joined the campaign against the traditional version of the epistles while Roman Catholics defended it, both sides on confessional grounds; and Newman was moved to write his provocative epigram: Theodor Zahn, an orthodox Lutheran, published his defense in And from toJoseph B.
Lightfoot, by then the Anglican bishop of Durham, wrote the definitive analysis of the evidence, together with a detailed history of the research into it. The highly developed hierarchical conceptions of the bishop of Antioch were not at all congenial to Zahn, nor even to Bishop Lightfoot, just as, for that matter, the omission of references to the primacy of the bishop of Rome in the epistles of Ignatius was a puzzle to his Roman Catholic interpreters.
The dispute was not settled by a priori theories about doctrinal development on either side, but by philological history and honest historical research into the facts of the development. The genuine Epistles of St. The interpolated Epistles quote it largely; that is, they are too Scriptural to be Apostolic.
This is less explicit than the sort of papal description given later in the second century c. Lightfoot on the Scholarly History Pelikan mentioned how important J. Lightfoot was for the authentication of seven Ignatian letters.I am a whole-hearted Christian who grew up in a small, local baptist church.
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