Tuesday Jun 30, 2020

Ignatius in Chains

No, not a glam metal band, but a martyr of the second century and one of the first post-New Testament writers whose works survive. In the episode we take a look at the first heresies to erupt in Christianity—first analyzing just what counts as a "heresy" and why the concept remains a useful one—namely, Ebionitism and Docetism. Ignatius en route to Rome as a prisoner elucidates for us just why it matter so much that God really took flesh in Jesus Christ, and that his flesh was really crucified, and that his crucified flesh was really raised... just as Ignatius himself was really in chains and was really going to be devoured by the wild beasts.


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1. You can read the seven extant letters of Ignatius here. Note that only the shorter version of each paragraph is authentic—the longer version is probably an expansion by later authors/editors.

2. Dad's Divine Complexity, ch. 2, discusses the formation of the New Testament canon in light of the martyrological witness, not least of all Ignatius's. If you've been interested in picking up one of Dad's books but don't know where to start (or are nervous about committing to 900 pages), start with this one—it'll give you a great overall read on the development of Christian theology and how it completely remade the way we think about God.

3. For a little taste of my learning about the nature of the church from being a missionary in Japan, take a look at this short piece, "Dispatch from a Bewildered Missionary in Japan."

4. Here's some info on the exchange between Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan about the wacky sect of Christians.

5. We talked more about martyrdom's "agency" in the face of suffering in the episode on Perpetua and Felicitas. See also the Martyrdom of Polycarp.

6. William R. Farmer and Denis M. Farkasfalvy, The Formation of the New Testament Canon

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