Skip to comments.Two Fathers [Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna]
Posted on 02/26/2010 6:24:33 AM PST by marshmallow
I have a pile of books in my study for review, and if people are kind enough to send me a book I try to read it and review it if I can. I also have a belief that I should read every book someone sends me rather than just the books I want to read because this is the way God cracks open my clam like closed mind and heart just a little bit more.
Thus the splendid commentary on Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna comes my way. Like most converts, I'm a fan of the fathers. I mean, their splendiferous names alone are rather admirable. These guys are not called Harry Jones or Bill Button. Ignatius of Antioch. Polycarp of Smyrna. There's a certain rolling sense of thunder about them. They are to be reckoned with. They demand bold type. Their icons are august and awesome. Bearded and serious they are...the are the Dumbledores, the Gandalfs, the wizened wise wizards of the gallery of saints. They are the patristical patriarchs.
Enough purple prose. You know their stories or if you don't you should. Ignatius comes along as bishop of Antioch just a few years after Peter himself was there. Some say he is the third bishop after Peter, and that Peter himself appointed him. He is one of the originals, and the story goes that he was one of the children Jesus took up and blessed. "Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not." If only he had recorded the story in his letters, "You know my dear children," he could have written, "I still remember to this day when our Lord Jesus Christ the king of glory took me in his arms and blessed me. Who can forget that tender voice? Who, once blessed, could forget the look of eternity in his eyes?"
Alas, no such record exists, but he did write six splendid letters to the churches while he was on his way to Rome to be devoured by the wild beasts during the terrible persecutions. These letters till exist, and give us a beautiful and simple insight into the early church. How I wish that all our Evangelical brethren who want their church to be 'just like the early church' would take the trouble to read these letters so they would learn just what the early church was really like. Here you find a clear and uncompromising insistence on the centrality of the episcopacy, an established priesthood and diaconate, a clear understanding of our Lord's divinity and the doctrine of the Real Presence.
Then we have a letter that Ignatius wrote to Polycarp of Smyrna, and Polycarp's letter to the Philippians. These letters from such holy men ooze the apostolic spirit. They are vivid accounts of the concerns of those early Christians, and as such they have been held as precious documents by all who love the church from the earliest times.
Now what about this book? It gathers all these letters together and gives us biographical goodies about both these patriarchs. Kenneth Howell is a well known convert from Presbyterianism. A great scholar, he offers these new translations of the Ignatian and Polycarpian letters along with introductory essays and a verse by verse commentary. The handsome book has been produced by Coming Home Resources and is available here .
What I liked about this book is that once more I was able to spend time with these two venerable and holy men. The beauty of letters (rather than theological tomes) is that they are written by real people to real people in real situations. An epistle is a very incarnational form of literature. It's immediate and it's amazing to me how vital and relevant and alive these letters are despite being 2000 years old. If you have a bookish sort of Evangelical friend, why not get him this book and challenge him to discover what the early church was like. Then get into a discussion about it. It's cool to think that these 2000 year old fathers might help in 2010 evangelization.
I'm not through with the book yet because I'm eating it like an apple: small bites and chewing long. I recommend you do the same.
How I wish that all our Evangelical brethren who want their church to be 'just like the early church' would take the trouble to read these letters so they would learn just what the early church was really like. Here you find a clear and uncompromising insistence on the centrality of the episcopacy, an established priesthood and diaconate, a clear understanding of our Lord's divinity and the doctrine of the Real Presence.
Er..........a loud *ahem* to the usual suspects......... :-)
Fascinating, thanks for posting!
I don’t know about being a suspect, but these are two of my favority Apostolic Fathers and I have enjoyed many evenings meditating with them about how to maintain the Spirit in myself and others. Truly great and inspirational saintly men.
The passage from Ignatius where he claims he was the disciple of John?
The passage to which you are referring is not considered to be an authentic letter of St. Ignatius and is not included in the above manuscript.
From the Catholic Encylopedia:
At intervals during the last several centuries a warm controversy has been carried on by patrologists concerning the authenticity of the Ignatian letters. Each particular recension has had its apologists and its opponents. Each has been favored to the exclusion of all the others, and all, in turn, have been collectively rejected, especially by the coreligionists of Calvin. The reformer himself, in language as violent as it is uncritical (Institutes, 1-3), repudiates in globo the letters which so completely discredit his own peculiar views on ecclesiastical government.
The convincing evidence which the letters bear to the Divine origin of Catholic doctrine is not conducive to predisposing non-Catholic critics in their favor, in fact, it has added not a little to the heat of the controversy. In general, Catholic and Anglican scholars are ranged on the side of the letters written to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, Smyrniots, and to Polycarp; whilst Presbyterians, as a rule, and perhaps a priori, repudiate everything claiming Ignatian authorship.
The two letters to the Apostle St. John and the one to the Blessed Virgin, which exist only in Latin, are unanimously admitted to be spurious. The great body of critics who acknowledge the authenticity of the Ignatian letters restrict their approval to those mentioned by Eusebius and St. Jerome. The six others are not defended by any of the early Fathers. The majority of those who acknowledge the Ignatian authorship of the seven letters do so conditionally, rejecting what they consider the obvious interpolations in these letters. In 1623, whilst the controversy was at its height, Vedelius gave expression to this latter opinion by publishing at Geneva an edition of the Ignatian letters in which the seven genuine letters are set apart from the five spurious. In the genuine letters he indicated what was regarded as interpolations.
So his perspective is no more “apostolic” than any fellow that claimed to understand the Gospel.
Can "any fellow that claimed to understand the Gospel" also claim apostolic succession and episcopal consecration at the hands of the same?
If we include St. Peter, Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch and the immediate successor of Evodius (Eusebius, Church History II.3.22). Theodoret ("Dial. Immutab.", I, iv, 33a, Paris, 1642) is the authority for the statement that St. Peter appointed Ignatius to the See of Antioch. St. John Chrysostom lays special emphasis on the honor conferred upon the martyr in receiving his episcopal consecration at the hands of the Apostles themselves ("Hom. in St. Ig.", IV. 587).
Wrong. He knew Peter and probably John and Paul personally.
His "Letter to John" is spurious; that's not the same as saying he never knew him.
Polycarp was definitely a disciple of John.
"probably"? So give us the evidence...
Go look it up. Like We did. I would say start with the blog Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong on Google and Guess what he also shows the other side’s view honestly unlike some apologists -May Christ Bless you PS: look in his archive section
Tell you what...I don't need to follow up on more spurious stories from the Roman group that manufactures its stories to match its teachings. Some day, look into the truth of the Scriptures and read that the Gospel is much different than the Vatican claims. And turn to Christ alone...if you can.
You wanted the evidence so I gave it to you. The gentleman who runs the blog is an ex-protestant you might learn something. bye
The letters of Ignatius and Polycarp are a slam dunk in the face of those who question Catholic teaching and authority.
All that's left is the denial of their authenticity.
If you would like to read the blogs from the many ex-Catholics that found freedom from the chains of Rome, escaped the deep error of man-made tradition and superstitions, let us know. You probably won't learn anything, because it is God who grants eyes to see and ears to hear. And, Rome has been slighted from this benefit.
I read them all the time.
Ignatius Loyola, godfather of the counter-Reformation guard dogs, the Jesuits, wrote this in his "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius"...
Let the following Rules be observed. First Rule The first: All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical. Second Rule The second: To praise confession to a Priest, and the reception of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar once in the year, and much more each month, and much better from week to week, with the conditions required and due. Third Rule The third: To praise the hearing of Mass often, likewise hymns, psalms, and long prayers, in the church and out of it; likewise the hours set at the time fixed for each Divine Office and for all prayer and all Canonical Hours. Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.
TO HAVE THE TRUE SENTIMENT WHICH WE OUGHT TO HAVE IN THE CHURCH MILITANT
Let the following Rules be observed.
The first: All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.
The second: To praise confession to a Priest, and the reception of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar once in the year, and much more each month, and much better from week to week, with the conditions required and due.
The third: To praise the hearing of Mass often, likewise hymns, psalms, and long prayers, in the church and out of it; likewise the hours set at the time fixed for each Divine Office and for all prayer and all Canonical Hours.
To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.
Catch that last part - be ready and willing to say white is black in order to defend Rome's agenda.
Lol. Who says times change?
.Some say? We're led to believe they have notarized statements,certified copies of HS transfusions, not hearsay.
Yep, we made the whole thing up............Ignatius.........Polycarp.........the Church Fathers........it's all a myth! All part of our fiendish Roman agenda to enchain the human race.......LOL..........
Did Ignasius write that or not?
Or is this black, too?
Wow you do not know how to read that. What he is saying is that if what i think is White can be corrected, not to lie.Wow You know what you see- what you... want to see, not whats there. His belief is that the Church came first then the the new testament. Say he reads the bible mistakenly and gets the interpretation wrong then is corrected just like you would be corrected by an elder of the church so what he thought was correct can be wrong. If you see anything else your wrong. May Christ open your eyes. God help us