Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun May 21, 2017 1:19 am

Here is that paragraph from DCH:
The Idolization of the Virginity of Mary, and the details that are otherwise found in accounts of martyrdoms that seem to date to the 3rd century (this is off the top of my thinly haired head), I'd date them to at least the age of Africanus (the one cited by Eusebius, not the one who wrote the work that commented on his brilliant, if he must say so, reconstruction of Homer), unless you are willing to posit a date of composition for the Protoevangelium of James in the 2nd century (I'm not). Candida Moss puts such romanticized martyrdom accounts to the 4th century or even later.
It's an argument, but I'm not sure it's a very good one. Certainly the feature of "virginity of Mary" and giving an account of "martyrdom" are both compatible with the third century. The challenge is showing that they are incompatible or unlikely in the second century. That is much more difficult to do. I find nothing in the shorter Greek epistles of Ignatius -- least of all, these two things -- that are incompatible with a composition in the middle of the second century. It seems that Moss/Price/DCH have taken an interesting theme (the growth of interest in martyrdom accounts in the 3rd and 4th century, coinciding with increased seriousness of persecution) and used that as their main criterion for making a pronouncement on these "letters of Ignatius." However, that is not the only relevant consideration, nor is it a conclusive one.
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun May 21, 2017 1:31 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote: ... if anything it points away from the 3rd century dating.
Not necessarily. I'm not sure late 2nd century (or later) references to 'scripture are necessarily reference to OT texts (such as the LXX).
That's not in dispute. You've cut off the quotation and made a non sequitur of a reply.
Peter Kirby wrote:
MrMacSon wrote:But if the Ignatian texts are much later (say, 3rd C.), the 'scriptures' could include texts that relate [more] to the NT
This makes nonsense of the train of thought quoted here, so if anything it points away from the 3rd century dating.
In this passage of the "letters of Ignatius," the texts being considered as scripture are the OT texts.

Later on, there would be a dispute over the content of the New Testament, with allegations that docetics had rejected gospels written by the apostles (taking only Mark for example) or mutilated the canonical ones (as Marcion is alleged to have done). The debate over the NT scriptures was simultaneously a debate over what the scriptures contained.

In the reference from Ignatius, both sides agreed that the scriptures do not have it written what Ignatius is claiming.

Rather than appealing to different texts that support him (which scriptural texts existed in the 3rd century), Ignatius grandstands and claims that his "archives" are Jesus Christ himself, his cross, etc. He sets his faith over against the interpretation of scripture, in general.

Again, both sides agreed that the scriptures did not have what Ignatius was claiming; Ignatius could not refute them out of scripture.

Your interpretation makes nonsense of the text here, and that is what makes it, if anything, an indication against a 3rd century date.
MrMacSon wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote: ... if anything it points away from the 3rd century dating.
Not necessarily. I'm not sure late 2nd century (or later) references to 'scripture are necessarily reference to OT texts (such as the LXX).
You can believe whatever you want, but you have started from your assumption of a 3rd century date and used it to misinterpret the text here. The fact that you are inclined to misinterpret the text suggests that your starting assumption is wrong -- this is not a 3rd century text.

So, then, why the 3rd century? Is it just the virgin birth and martyrdom things?
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun May 21, 2017 1:58 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Mr. Robertson, in the Literary Guide for April, 1926, pointed out that such evidence is contained in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians. And the evidence is not affected by the genuineness or otherwise of the passage, which runs :—
“ I have heard certain men say : If I do not find (a certain thing) in the archives, I do not believe in the Gospel. And as I replied to them : It is written (in the Old Testament) they answered : ‘ That is the very question.’ But for me the archives are Jesus Christ, His cross, His death. His resurrection, and the faith which comes from Him.”
The meaning of this is that when Ignatius was asked for proof of the Gospel story he could only refer the objector to the Old Testament. The latter, naturally, did not consider Old Testament statements to be a proof of events which were supposed to have happened afterwards. Whereupon Ignatius could do nothing but beg the question, quite in the manner of modern theologians. Of course, the objectors to whom the writer refers in the passage quoted need not have been Jews, but the evidence proves that there were deniers of the historicity of Jesus even in the second century. There is, however, evidence that the denial was made by Jews. For Justin, in his Dialogue with Trypho, . . .
(Gordon Rylands, Evolution of Christianity, p. 225, my color)
I don't think that Ignatius is begging the question, rather he is emphasizing that the life and death of the Christ can be found in the Old Testament, if only the objectors would look for it. The question wasn't "was there a historical person?" but "was that historical person the Christ?" It would be strange for either side to argue over whether there was a recent historical person by using the Old Testament.

Similar thoughts can be found in other texts: The character Paul, in "Acts of the Apostle", Ch 17:
  • 17.1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
    2. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
    3. Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ
    .
    4. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
    5. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
    6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
    7. Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
    8. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
    9. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
    10. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
    11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
    [12] Therefore many of them believed
    ; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
People were believing or disbelieving based on the contents of the Old Testament. That sounds like the same thing happening in Ignatius.

Also Justin Martyr, writing around 150 CE in his First Apology:
  • For with what reason should we believe of a crucified man that He is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we had found testimonies concerning Him published before He came and was born as man
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by MrMacSon » Sun May 21, 2017 2:00 am

Peter K wrote:
Later on*, there would be a dispute over the content of the New Testament, with allegations that docetics had rejected gospels written by the apostles ...or mutilated the canonical ones... The debate over the NT scriptures was simultaneously a debate over what the scriptures contained.
* Later on? - later on in 'Ignatius to the Philadelphians'? in other Ignatian texts?
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sun May 21, 2017 2:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by MrMacSon » Sun May 21, 2017 2:04 am

Peter K wrote:
Rather than appealing to different texts that support him (which scriptural texts existed in the 3rd century), Ignatius grandstands and claims that his "archives" are Jesus Christ himself, his cross, etc. He sets his faith over against the interpretation of scripture, in general.

Again, both sides agreed that the scriptures did not have what Ignatius was claiming; Ignatius could not refute them out of scripture.
I appreciate your explanation, but I don't know what you mean by the apparent statement "which scriptural texts existed in the 3rd century"

Peter K wrote:
Your interpretation makes nonsense of the text here
I haven't tried to interpret anything. I have given a hint of others' interpretations.

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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun May 21, 2017 2:11 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Peter K wrote:
Later on*, there would be a dispute over the content of the New Testament, with allegations that docetics had rejected gospels written by the apostles ...or mutilated the canonical ones... The debate over the NT scriptures was simultaneously a debate over what the scriptures contained.
* Later on? - later on in 'Ignatius to the Philadelphians'? in other Ignatian texts?
Later on, chronologically, over the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Giuseppe » Sun May 21, 2017 5:40 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Giuseppe wrote:
Mr. Robertson, in the Literary Guide for April, 1926, pointed out that such evidence is contained in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians. And the evidence is not affected by the genuineness or otherwise of the passage, which runs :—
“ I have heard certain men say : If I do not find (a certain thing) in the archives, I do not believe in the Gospel. And as I replied to them : It is written (in the Old Testament) they answered : ‘ That is the very question.’ But for me the archives are Jesus Christ, His cross, His death. His resurrection, and the faith which comes from Him.”
The meaning of this is that when Ignatius was asked for proof of the Gospel story he could only refer the objector to the Old Testament. The latter, naturally, did not consider Old Testament statements to be a proof of events which were supposed to have happened afterwards. Whereupon Ignatius could do nothing but beg the question, quite in the manner of modern theologians. Of course, the objectors to whom the writer refers in the passage quoted need not have been Jews, but the evidence proves that there were deniers of the historicity of Jesus even in the second century. There is, however, evidence that the denial was made by Jews. For Justin, in his Dialogue with Trypho, . . .
(Gordon Rylands, Evolution of Christianity, p. 225, my color)
I don't think that Ignatius is begging the question, rather he is emphasizing that the life and death of the Christ can be found in the Old Testament, if only the objectors would look for it.
Clearly you don't want to see what followed the first answer by Ignatius to these opponents:
the objectors, even when they were exhorted a second time to find Christ in the Old Testament, they didn't found nothing about him and pointed out: 'This is the problem'. If the Old Testament was not sufficient, and if the canonical Gospels could only refer the readers simply to the Old Testament, how could Ignatius convince them of the existence of Jesus?

At that point Ignatius made the logical fallacy of the petitio principii:
''Jesus in not in the archives because Jesus is the archive''.

The question wasn't "was there a historical person?" but "was that historical person the Christ?" It would be strange for either side to argue over whether there was a recent historical person by using the Old Testament.
No, it would be strongly expected since the objectors weren't doing any distinction (at contrary of you) between the historical Jesus and the Christ of the faith. For them, no trace of the Christ in the Old Testament did mean only a thing: no trace of the Christ in the history itself.

People were believing or disbelieving [the historicity of 'Christ'] based on the contents of the Old Testament. That sounds like the same thing happening in Ignatius.
I agree, with that little correction added in your quote.
Also Justin Martyr, writing around 150 CE in his First Apology:
  • For with what reason should we believe of a crucified man that He is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we had found testimonies concerning Him published before He came and was born as man
I agree. Justin believed to the same historicity of Jesus only because the scriptures prophetized him.
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun May 21, 2017 9:00 am

Irenaeus 'Against Heresies'(AH), V, 28, 4, written circa.180 "As a certain man of ours said, when he was condemned to the wild beasts because of his testimony with respect to God: "I am the wheat of Christ, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God. [Rom.4:1b]""
Even if Irenaeus did not name Ignatius here, he must have known that according to "to the Romans" the alleged author is allegedly Ignatius, as written at the beginning of the epistle itself. And Irenaeus had good reasons to be unsure about "Ignatius" being the author. But "to the Romans" existed in 180 CE.
According to my study, the two mentions of Polycarp in "to the Ephesians" (21:1) and "to the Magnesians" (15:1) appear to be late interpolations. Also the epistle "to Polycarp" was probably written much later that the other six epistles.
One major reason for these deductions is that the epistle "to the Smyrnaeans" (Smyrna being Polycarp's city) does not mention Polycarp at all. But if written when or after Polycarp became bishop, the author of "to the Smyrnaeans"" would have Ignatius mentioning his name and even Ignatius meeting a young Polycarp.

My conclusion is that the six epistles were written before Polycarp became famously the bishop of Smyrna in his very old age, largely due because, as a young man, he was thought to have heard from the surviving Jesus' disciples or those who heard them.

And the Ignatian letters kept endorsing an early struggling unified orthodox church for each city, implying the catholic hierarchy was not well established yet.

Another thing is that "Ignatius" does not name the bishop of Rome, even if later on, at the end of the second century, a list of alleged very early bishops in Rome was existing.

For more details & justifications, see http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html

Anyway, from a lot of elements, I concluded the six epistles were written along within about 20 years, during 125 to 145 CE. "to Polycarp" was written much later, around 160 CE.
And certainly not by Ignatius", but by individual authors for each city (exception Rome), most likely a struggling "bishop" or presbyter who wanted to unite all orthodox Christians of the city under his authority.

Cordially, Bernard
Last edited by Bernard Muller on Mon May 22, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun May 21, 2017 1:31 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:For more details & justifications, see http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
From that link:

Considering the above recapitulation, it becomes obvious a common author did not write these letters. More likely (more corroborating evidence to follow), each letter was composed by a different writer, and (except for 'to the Romans' & maybe 'to Polycarp') to his own church.
  • Note: five of the first six epistles were addressed to churches within an area sixty by eighty miles (see map), along well-travelled routes, making it easy to learn their existence and to collect copies.
However, it is undeniable there are similarities of style between the letters, but also some noticeable differences. And for such small epistles, and knowing about the previous one(s), including the first one & longest (by a lot!), 'to the Ephesians', it would be easy for a subsequent author to imitate the known phraseology.
The book of Isaiah appears to be in the same situation:
Isa1-35 and Isa40-66a have comparable style with numerous similar expressions & words (but mixed with marked distinctions). But very few (if any) critical scholars would vouch for the two parts being written by the same author.
And as a personal experience, I recall the topic of a dissertation during my teenage years. We, I mean students in a technical school (not literary types!), had to write a story in the manner of a renaissance author (Rabelais), in old French. The style & vocabulary of Rabelais are incomparable, I must say. But some (not me!) in our class did very well, without spending much time on the matter.

Sometimes you can be quite charming. :)
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Re: Mythicists met by 'Ignatius'

Post by MrMacSon » Mon May 22, 2017 7:31 pm

This commentary by Bernard is interesting -
Bernard Muller wrote: --------------------
Irenaeus 'Against Heresies'(AH), V, 28, 4, written circa.180
  • "As a certain man of ours said, when he was condemned to the wild beasts because of his testimony with respect to God: "I am the wheat of Christ, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God". [Rom.4:1b]"
Even if Irenaeus did not name Ignatius here, he must have known that according to "to the Romans" the alleged author is allegedly Ignatius, as written at the beginning of the epistle itself. And Irenaeus had good reasons to be unsure about "Ignatius" being the author. But[So(?)] "to the Romans" existed in ~180 CE.

According to my study, the two mentions in* Polycarp in "to the Ephesians" (21:1) and "to the Magnesians" (15:1) appear to be late interpolations. Also the epistle "to Polycarp" was probably written much later that the other six epistles.
.
  • * a small pedantic point, but I presume you mean
    • "the two mentions to Polycarp in "to the Ephesians" (21:1) and "to the Magnesians" (15:1) appear to be late interpolations."
Bernard Muller wrote: --------------------
One major reason for these deductions is that the epistle "to the Smyrnaeans" (Smyrna being Polycarp's city) does not mention Polycarp at all. But, if written when or after Polycarp became bishop, the author of "to the Smyrnaeans" would have Ignatius mentioning his name and even Ignatius meeting a young Polycarp.

My conclusion is that the six epistles were written before Polycarp became famously the bishop of Smyrna in his very old age, largely due because, as a young man, he was thought to have heard from the surviving Jesus' disciples or those who heard them.

And the Ignatian letters kept endorsing an early struggling unified orthodox church for each city, implying the catholic hierarchy was not well established yet.

Another thing is that "Ignatius" does not name the bishop of Rome, even if later on, at the end of the second century, a list of alleged very early bishops in Rome was existing.

For more details & justifications, see http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html

Anyway, from a lot of elements, I concluded the six epistles were written along within about 20 years, during 125 to 145 CE.
  • "to Polycarp" was written much later, around 160 CE.
And certainly not by Ignatius", but by individual author[s],1 generally one for each city (exception Rome), most likely a struggling "bishop" or presbyter [in each city]1 who wanted to unite all orthodox Christians in his city under his authority.

Cordially, Bernard
  • I find your argumentation for dating interesting and cogent, Bernard.

    1 From Bernard's link http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html -

    Considering the above recapitulation, it becomes obvious a common author did not write these letters. More likely (more corroborating evidence to follow), each letter was composed by a different writer, and (except for 'to the Romans' & maybe 'to Polycarp') to his own church.
    • Note: five of the first six epistles were addressed to churches within an area sixty by eighty miles (see map), along well-travelled routes, making it easy to learn their existence and to collect copies.
    However, it is undeniable there are similarities of style between the letters, but also some noticeable differences. And for such small epistles, and knowing about the previous one(s), including the first one & longest (by a lot!), 'to the Ephesians', it would be easy for a subsequent author to imitate the known phraseology...


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