Further evidence that Ignatius faced old deniers of the historicity of Jesus

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Re: "Christian-adjacent" Hellenistic Jews with a second divine figure

Post by Peter Kirby »

Some more context from the text. I will start with this section, to save a bit of time on highlighting and copying the Greek.

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, which is in Philadelphia of Asia, which hath found mercy and is firmly established in the concord of God and rejoiceth in the passion of our Lord and in His resurrection without wavering, being fully assured in all mercy; which church I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, that is eternal and abiding joy; more especially if they be at one with the bishop and the presbyters who are with him, and with the deacons that have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom after His own will He confirmed and established by His Holy Spirit.

...

2:1 As children therefore [of the light] of the truth, shun division and wrong doctrines; and where the shepherd is, there follow ye as sheep.
2:2 For many specious wolves with baneful delights lead captive the runners in God's race; but, where ye are at one, they will find no place.
3:1 Abstain from noxious herbs, which are not the husbandry of Jesus Christ, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found division among you, but filtering.
3:2 For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, they are with the bishop; and as many as shall repent and enter into the unity of the Church, these also shall be of God, that they may be living after Jesus Christ.
3:3 Be not deceived, my brethren. If any man followeth one that maketh a schism, he doth not inherit the kingdom of God. If any man walketh in strange doctrine, he hath no fellowship with the passion.

Here is Lightfoot's translation, with the Greek from Sources chrétiennes 10 (1969).

5:2 Yea, and we love the prophets also, because they too pointed to the Gospel in their preaching and set their hope on Him and awaited Him; in whom also having faith they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being worthy of all love and admiration as holy men, approved of Jesus Christ and numbered together in the Gospel of our common hope. 5:2 Καὶ τοὺς προφήτας δὲ ἀγαπῶμεν, διὰ τὸ καὶ αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κατηγγελκέναι καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἐλπίζειν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀναμένειν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσώθησαν, ἐν ἑνότητι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὄντες, ἀξιαγάπητοι καὶ ἀξιοθαύμαστοι ἅγιοι, ὑπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεμαρτυρημένοι καὶ συνηριθμημένοι ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τῆς κοινῆς ἐλπίδος.
6:1 But if any one propound Judaism unto you, hear him not: for it is better to hear Christianity from a man who is circumcised than Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either the one or the other speak not concerning Jesus Christ, I look on them as tombstones and graves of the dead, whereon are inscribed only the names of men.
...
6:1 Ἐὰν δέ τις Ἰουδαϊσμὸν ἑρμηνεύῃ ὑμῖν, μὴ ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ. Ἄμεινον γάρ ἐστιν παρὰ ἀνδρὸς περιτομὴν ἔχοντος Χριστιανισμὸν ἀκούειν, ἢ παρὰ ἀκροβύστου Ἰουδαϊσμόν. Ἐὰν δὲ ἀμφότεροι περὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ λαλῶσιν, οὗτοι ἐμοὶ στῆλαί εἰσιν καὶ τάφοι νεκρῶν, ἐφ' οἷς γέγραπται μόνον ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων.
...
... [7:1] Howbeit there were those who suspected me of saying this, because I knew beforehand of the division of certain persons. But He in whom I am bound is my witness that I learned it not from flesh of man; ... 7:1 Οἱ δὲ ὑποπτεύσαντές με ὡς προειδότα τὸν μερισμόν τινων λέγειν ταῦτα· μάρτυς δέ μοι, ἐν ᾧ δέδεμαι, ὅτι ἀπὸ σαρκὸς ἀνθρωπίνης οὐκ ἔγνων.
7:2 it was the preaching of the Spirit who spake on this wise; Do nothing without the bishop; keep your flesh as a temple of God; cherish union; shun divisions; be imitators of Jesus Christ, as He Himself also was of His Father. 7:2 Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ἐκήρυσσεν λέγον τάδε· Χωρὶς τοῦ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲν ποιεῖτε, τὴν σάρκα ὑμῶν ὡς ναὸν θεοῦ τηρεῖτε, τὴν ἕνωσιν ἀγαπᾶτε, τοὺς μερισμοὺς φεύγετε, μιμηταὶ γίνεσθε Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὡς καὶ αὐτὸς τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ.
8:1 I therefore did my own part, as a man composed unto union. But where there is division and anger, there God abideth not. Now the Lord forgiveth all men when they repent, if repenting they return to the unity of God and to the council of the bishop. I have faith in the grace of Jesus Christ, who shall strike off every fetter from you; 8:1 Ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν τὸ ἴδιον ἐποίουν ὡς ἄνθρωπος εἰς ἕνωσιν κατηρτισμένος. Οὗ δὲ μερισμός ἐστιν καὶ ὀργή, θεὸς οὐ κατοικεῖ. Πᾶσιν οὖν μετανοοῦσιν ἀφίει ὁ κύριος, ἐὰν μετανοήσωσιν εἰς ἑνότητα θεοῦ καὶ συνέδριον τοῦ ἐπισκόπου. Πιστεύω τῇ χάριτι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς λύσει ἀφ' ὑμῶν πάντα δεσμόν.
8:2 and I entreat you, Do ye nothing in a spirit of factiousness but after the teaching of Christ. For I heard certain persons saying, If I find it not in the [you-know-what], I believe it not in the Gospel. And when I said to them, It is written, they answered me That is the question. But as for me, my [you-know-what] is Jesus Christ, the inviolable [you-know-what] is His cross and His death and His resurrection, and faith through Him; wherein I desire to be justified through your prayers. 8:2 Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς μηδὲν κατ' ἐρίθειαν πράσσειν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ χριστομαθίαν. Ἐπεὶ ἤκουσά τινων λεγόντων ὅτι, ἐὰν μὴ ἐν τοῖς ἀρχείοις εὕρω, ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ οὐ πιστεύω· καὶ λέγοντός μου αὐτοῖς ὅτι γέγραπται, ἀπεκρίθησάν μοι ὅτι πρόκειται. Ἐμοὶ δὲ ἀρχεῖά ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, τὰ ἄθικτα ἀρχεῖα ὁ σταυρὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ πίστις ἡ δι' αὐτοῦ ἐν οἷς θέλω ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ ὑμῶν δικαιωθῆναι.
9:1 The priests likewise were good, but better is the High-priest to whom is committed the holy of holies; for to Him alone are committed the hidden things of God; He Himself being the door of the Father, through which Abraham and Isaac and Jacob enter in, and the Prophets and the Apostles and the whole Church; all these things combine in the unity of God. 9:1 Καλοὶ καὶ οἱ ἱερεῖς, κρεῖσσον δὲ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς ὁ πεπιστευμένος τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων, ὃς μόνος πεπίστευται τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ θεοῦ· αὐτὸς ὢν θύρα τοῦ πατρός, δι' ἧς εἰσέρχονται Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ καὶ οἱ προφῆται καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι καὶ ἡ ἐκκλησία. Πάντα ταῦτα εἰς ἑνότητα θεοῦ.
9:2 But the Gospel hath a singular preeminence in the advent of the Saviour, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and His passion and resurrection. For the beloved Prophets in their preaching pointed to Him; but the Gospel is the completion of immortality. All things together are good, if ye believe through love. 9:2 Ἐξαίρετον δέ τι ἔχει τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ σωτῆρος, κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸ πάθος αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν. Οἱ γὰρ ἀγαπητοὶ προφῆται κατήγγειλαν εἰς αὐτόν· τὸ δὲ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπάρτισμά ἐστιν ἀφθαρσίας. Πάντα ὁμοῦ καλά ἐστιν, ἐὰν ἐν ἀγάπῃ πιστεύητε.

The two sections are tied together, along with the beginning also which sets out a purpose for writing. At least, in the narrative setting created by the epistle, not being at one with the "bishop" ties together the beginning verse, 3:2, 7:2, 8:1, etc. along with several points of vocabulary, including those that regard schism, division, factiousness, certain persons, unity, etc.
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Re: "Christian-adjacent" Hellenistic Jews with a second divine figure

Post by Peter Kirby »

Peter Kirby wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:16 pm
(Lightfoot's translation)
5:2 Yea, and we love the prophets also, because they too pointed to the Gospel in their preaching and set their hope on Him and awaited Him; in whom also having faith they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being worthy of all love and admiration as holy men, approved of Jesus Christ and numbered together in the Gospel of our common hope.
6:1 But if any one propound Judaism unto you, hear him not: for it is better to hear Christianity from a man who is circumcised than Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either the one or the other speak not concerning Jesus Christ, I look on them as tombstones and graves of the dead, whereon are inscribed only the names of men.

This passage supports an observation that this letter is written in opposition to Hellenistic so-called "Judaizers" (note the reference to "Judaism from one uncircumcised"), although I wouldn't use that specific term. The possibilities for such opponents are varied and tantalizing, but unfortunately it isn't really part of the aim of the letter to explain the ideas being propounded by his opponents, which would be interesting to know. What we do learn here is that they "speak not concerning Jesus Christ."
Further support for this reading can be found here in the phrase "only the names of men":
Peter Kirby wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:29 pm
5:2 Yea, and we love the prophets also, because they too pointed to the Gospel in their preaching and set their hope on Him and awaited Him; in whom also having faith they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being worthy of all love and admiration as holy men, approved of Jesus Christ and numbered together in the Gospel of our common hope. Καὶ τοὺς προφήτας δὲ ἀγαπῶμεν, διὰ τὸ καὶ αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κατηγγελκέναι καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἐλπίζειν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀναμένειν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσώθησαν, ἐν ἑνότητι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὄντες, ἀξιαγάπητοι καὶ ἀξιοθαύμαστοι ἅγιοι, ὑπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεμαρτυρημένοι καὶ συνηριθμημένοι ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τῆς κοινῆς ἐλπίδος.
6:1 But if any one propound Judaism unto you, hear him not: for it is better to hear Christianity from a man who is circumcised than Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either the one or the other speak not concerning Jesus Christ, I look on them as tombstones and graves of the dead, whereon are inscribed only the names of men.
...
Ἐὰν δέ τις Ἰουδαϊσμὸν ἑρμηνεύῃ ὑμῖν, μὴ ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ. Ἄμεινον γάρ ἐστιν παρὰ ἀνδρὸς περιτομὴν ἔχοντος Χριστιανισμὸν ἀκούειν, ἢ παρὰ ἀκροβύστου Ἰουδαϊσμόν. Ἐὰν δὲ ἀμφότεροι περὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ λαλῶσιν, οὗτοι ἐμοὶ στῆλαί εἰσιν καὶ τάφοι νεκρῶν, ἐφ' οἷς γέγραπται μόνον ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων.
...

The prophets were dead, and some traditional sites of the graves of these dead where they were supposedly interred could be visited. By contrast, according to Ignatius, "Jesus Christ" is resurrected and living. This explains the choice of this invective against those who referred to the prophets and the scriptures alone as the source of their doctrine.

The fact that they would "speak not concerning Jesus Christ" (considered more than just a man and living) means that they would refer to "only the names of men" (μόνον ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων) who are dead. This supports further that the use of names was in question.

And since they did refer to the Old Testament scriptures (where the idea of a Christ figure read therein was an idea spread beyond the confines of Christianity in the second century), and since we know of literature that doesn't use the name of Jesus but which is in some ways adjacent to Christianity, and given the argument overall, I am reiterating my thought here that this likely refers to those who wouldn't speak about Jesus. There remain other possibilities, I would suppose, as usual.

It's possible that they would have accepted other ways of referring to a second divine figure, which would bring their thought in proximity to the teachings held by the author of this letter. That could cause schism for Christians.
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Re: "Christian-adjacent" Hellenistic Jews with a second divine figure

Post by Peter Kirby »

In support of the idea that a debate could arise about whether the name of Jesus could be supported from the scriptures, here is this. This is an early Christian interpretation that finds the name Jesus in the scriptures. By itself, it doesn't reveal a debate.

Barnabas 9:7
For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hundred In the eighteen 'I' stands for ten, 'H' for eight. Here thou hast JESUS. And because the cross in the 'T' was to have grace, He saith also three hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross.

But since not everyone would have accepted this kind of interpretation, it's plausible that a debate could have arisen about whether the name Jesus could be found (in a theologically significant context, e.g. concerning a second divine figure) in the scriptures. That is, if there were people who also spoke about a second divine figure but who wouldn't use the name of Jesus, and there were such people. If these two groups came into competition -- "Jesus" divine intermediary people and non-"Jesus" divine intermediary people -- a dispute could arise between them, which included the interpretation of the scriptures.

We don't catch the particulars of whatever debate there was over the prophets and the scriptures behind the Ignatian epistle. So we don't know whether Ignatius used this interpretation; indeed, not having as many references to fall back on (as the Epistle of Barnabas) could have led him to be unpersuasive to some. It's possible for example that Ignatius referred to other supposed prophecies that didn't specifically involve the name of Jesus being in the scriptures to make his point. If so, then what we see develop in Barnabas could possibly have been discovered as a supposedly better way of arguing the point.
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Re: Further evidence that Ignatius faced old deniers of the historicity of Jesus

Post by Giuseppe »

I am uploading the Loisy's reply in pdf.
It seems that Loisy didn't go so far as Peter about the speculation on the identity of the Ignatius's opponents (in the specific case) but both Peter and Loisy share a hope in common: that the rest of the epistle to the Philadelphians may help to reveal at least partially a such identity. Whereas Reinach at contrary sees a possible support to his interpretation in the ignorance of the "prince of this world" about the death of Jesus (in Ephesians). Loisy replies that a such ignorance by Satan is based exclusively on 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, but Loisy is neglecting the mythicist interpretation of that pauline passage, so the difference escaped to him, that Paul placed the crucifixion in heaven (i.e. Satan for Paul ignored what would be happened in heaven) while, once the earthly context was attributed to that passage, not only Satan but also his human tools (Romans and Jews) had to be described as ignorant about the death of Jesus on the earth, with the collateral result that the absence of any mention of Jesus in the archives of public memories was provvidentially and theologically expected.
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Re: "Christian-adjacent" Hellenistic Jews with a second divine figure

Post by Peter Kirby »

One more clue here, which can be only supplementary.
Peter Kirby wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:29 pm
9:2 But the Gospel hath a singular preeminence in the advent of the Saviour, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and His passion and resurrection. For the beloved Prophets in their preaching pointed to Him; but the Gospel is the completion of immortality. All things together are good, if ye believe through love. 9:2 Ἐξαίρετον δέ τι ἔχει τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ σωτῆρος, κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸ πάθος αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν. Οἱ γὰρ ἀγαπητοὶ προφῆται κατήγγειλαν εἰς αὐτόν· τὸ δὲ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπάρτισμά ἐστιν ἀφθαρσίας. Πάντα ὁμοῦ καλά ἐστιν, ἐὰν ἐν ἀγάπῃ πιστεύητε.

It seems safe to say that Ignatius would characterize these schismatics as not accepting "the Gospel" that Ignatius is preaching. So Ignatius is left to emphasize the importance of "the Gospel" (which I do not understand to be naming a text according to Ignatius, instead referring to "the Good News" of some kind).

Language regarding "the savior" (τοῦ σωτῆρος) is not exclusively Christian. It's also one of the more common designations of a non-"Jesus" intermediary divinity. This can be read as using this common language regarding "the savior" if it were also accepted among his opponents here. Ignatius would be defending the importance -- what Lightfoot translates as "singular preeminence" -- of "the Good News" about "Jesus Christ" when thinking of the savior.
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Re: Further evidence that Ignatius faced old deniers of the historicity of Jesus

Post by Giuseppe »

Dr Carrier's answer via mail:

That’s a very old exchange, wildly obsolete now. There isn’t enough to hang any hat on, unfortunately. Even at best it is inconclusive what he means; and at worst, means why Loisy says: they want to find it written in the scriptures and don’t, he says it’s there, they tell him to prove it.

For me, the only reason to consider it "at best inconclusive" is that Ignatius mentioned such presumed anti-Christian deniers among various other Christian enemies.

At any case, it seems that even for Celsus's Jew, the Jewish polemic was along the lines of the alternative dating: your Jesus was crucified with an other numerous group, i.e. the 800 victims crucified by Alexander Janneus.
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