Saturday, July 09, 2016

Ignatius (Updated Replying to a Trinitarian)

From time to time, I get requests for information dealing with Ignatius of Antioch. I'm providing a variant of a post submitted here before. I've also linked to an earlier discussion on this subject.

Ephesians 3:3 (Ignatius)
Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the mind of the Father (IHSOU CRISTOU TO ADIAKRITON HMEN ZHN TOU PATROS H GUWMH WS)

I think the transliteration should be GNWMH and not GUWMH. I am not being pedantic or mean but it is important to understand that Ignatius is comparing Jesus to the divine "will" of God and not to God's mind. GNWMH is at times used in Greek literature as a substitute for QELHMA. See Plutarch De def. orac. and Schoedel (page 50). Schoedel translates the passage:

"Indeed Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the Father's purpose; as also the bishops appointed in every quarter, are in the purpose of Jesus Christ" (Schoedel 48).

Schoedel also points out, though he is a Trinitarian, it seems: "The theological implications of Christ as the 'purpose' of the Father are thus probably minimal" (50).

Ephesians 7:2
There is one only physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passable and then impassable, Jesus Christ our Lord (EIS IATROS ESTIN SARKIKOS KAI PNEUMATIKOS GENNHTOS KAI AGENNHTOS EN ANQRWPW QEOS EN QANATW ZON ALHQINH KAI EK MARIAS KAI EK QEOU PRWTON PAQHTOS KAI TOTE APAQHS IHSOUS XRISTOS hO KURIOS HMEN)

Schoedel writes that the distinction made by Ignatius above cannot apply to the "internal relations of the Godhead" but only applies to the incarnate Christ. However, I am puzzled over how one can stipulate that Ignatius' words refer to the immanent Trinity or the economic Trinity. Subsequent professed believers of Christ declared that the Son is
begotten, not created and that the Father is unbegotten. But how does one consider Christ "unbegotten" in relation to the cosmos (humanity) that he came to save? It is no wonder that Bart Ehrman writes in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture that theologians would later find Ignatius' formulation in Eph. 7:2 to be "vague." It does not seem to assist the Trinitarian case at all, IMHO, and therefore has no theological force.

Interestingly, Cyril C. Richardson plainly writes that Christ is called hO QEOS by Ignatius and he further points out that the bishop "does not explain, he only asserts that Christ is God" (Ignatius of Antioch, page 45). Nevertheless, Richardson goes beyond the surface structure or prima facie meaning of Ignatius' terminology and he explores "what type of picture Ignatius has in mind" when he employs the signifier QEOS or even hO QEOS. What does he conclude?

"Unlike Theophilus of Antioch, he has nothing to say about God as creator; His eternity and invisibility are mentioned only in Pol. 3.2, and He is never predicated with immortality, the chief attribute of the heathen 'Gods'. For Ignatius QEOS means essentially a superhuman, moral being" (45).

Richardson adds: "There is never a hint in his writing that Christ was in any way absorbed in God or confused with Him. He always stands in a place secondary and inferior to him" (44).

Consult The Christianity of Ignatius of Antioch, New York: AMS Press, 1967.

I also recommend Milton P. Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius: A Study of Linguistic Criteria, Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 1963 for a solid analysis of the textual issues appertaining to the Ignatian epistles and a look at how he uses QEOS.

One Trinitarian writes: "8:2 there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word (hOTI EIS QEOS ESTIN hO FANERWSAS hEAUTON DIA IHSOU CRISTOU TOU UIOU AUTOU hOS ESTIN AUTOU LOGOS)

Once again Ignatius returns to the theme of the ONE TRUE GOD became evidential reality through the agency of Jesus. The case becomes more and more overwhelming that Ignatius believed Jesus to be God in the unqualified sense more and more.

EDGAR RESPONSE: I think you need to read this text more carefully. The "one God" who manifested Himself through the Son, according to Ignatius, is the Father. I thus do not believe that this passage serves as an effective prooftext
for you. Please note:

"There is one God, who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ, His Son--who, being His Word, came forth out of the silence into the world and won the full approval of him whose Ambassador he was' (Magnesians 8).

Notice how the context of Magnesians 8 militates against your interpretation of this text.

Another good source is William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, edited by Helmut Koester, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

See also

1 comment:

Matt13weedhacker said...

Long recension makes far better sense here. Far more Biblical too.

ἀλλ' ἐπειδὴ ἡ ἀγάπη οὐκ ἐᾷ με σιωπᾶν περὶ ὑμῶν, διὰ τοῦτο προέλαβον παρακαλεῖν ὑμᾶς, ὅπως συντρέχητε τῇ γνώμῃ τοῦ θεοῦ. καὶ γὰρ Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς πάντα κατὰ γνώμην πράττει τοῦ πατρός, ὡς αὐτός που λέγει· Ἐγὼ τὰ ἀρεστὰ αὐτοῦ ποιῶ πάντοτε. οὐκοῦν καὶ ἡμᾶς χρὴ ζῆν κατὰ γνώμην θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ καὶ ζηλοῦν ὡς Παῦλος· μιμηταὶ γάρ μου, φησί, γίνεσθε, καθὼς κἀγὼ Χριστοῦ.

But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that ye would run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ does all things according to the will of the Father, as He Himself declares in a certain place, "I do always those things that please Him." Wherefore it behoves us also to live according to the will of God in Christ, and to imitate Him as Paul did. For, says he, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."