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2013/04/02

Final of “Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius”: Tackling New Questions

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This post continues from The (Apellean) Gospel of Peregrinus and concludes the series.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

Links to all posts in this series are collated at: Roger Parvus: Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius

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In posts two through six I showed why Peregrinus should be regarded as the author of the so-called Ignatian letters. In posts seven through eleven I argued that he was an Apellean Christian.

In this post I will tie up some loose ends, adding some thoughts regarding the date of his letters, and taking a somewhat speculative last look at his community, the Apelleans.

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Apelles

Apelles: Canvas Poster Print

Contents of this post

WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL LETTERS WRITTEN?

  • Terminus ante quem
  • Terminus post quem
  • ca 145 CE?
  • Or late 130s?

MODIFYING THE LETTERS: WHEN? WHY? WHO?

  • Between Irenaeus and Origen
  • How did he come by the letters?
  •  The evidence pointing to Theophilus of Antioch

WHAT BECAME OF THE APELLEAN GOSPEL?

  •  Basis of the Gospel of John?
  •  Gnostic threads in the Gospel of John
  •  Opposing views of the world in the Fourth Gospel
  •  Why the Gospel’s hostility to the Jews and Judaism
  •  Why no Passover or Baptism in John’s Gospel
  •  The missing Ascension in the Fourth Gospel
  •  Identifying the Paraclete (the mysterious witness to Jesus) : The Holy Spirit or Paul?
  •  Identifying the Beloved Disciple: Paul?
  •  Paul not a persecutor
  •  Paul (“little one”) the boy disciple?
  •  Paul or John?
  •  Affairs at Ephesus and Smyrna

AND WHAT BECAME OF THE APELLEANS?

  •  Identifying the woman taken in adultery?
  •  Returning to the fold

CONCLUSION

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WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL LETTERS WRITTEN?

Using the chronological indications that Lucian provides in his sketch of Peregrinus, the year of the would-be martyr’s arrest can only be very roughly pegged to have occurred sometime between 130 and 150 CE. (more…)

2013/03/24

The Author of the So-Called Ignatians was an Apellean Christian

Filed under: Ignatius,Parvus: Letters Ignatius,Roger Parvus — Roger Parvus @ 6:04 pm
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This post continues from The Teachings of Apelles, Marcion’s Apostate

All posts so far in this series: Roger Parvus: Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius

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From this survey of the teaching of Apelles it can be seen how closely his doctrine matches the combination of beliefs exhibited by the author of the letters. The most straightforward way to account for this is to conclude that their author, Peregrinus, was an Apellean.

Explanatory power of the thesis (more…)

2013/03/17

Writing Ignatius into History (How the Peregrinus thesis solves many problems)

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This post is a continuation of Making Sense of the Letters and Travels of Ignatius (Peregrinus?)

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

All posts so far in this series: Roger Parvus: Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius

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So far I have called attention to the many similarities between Peregrinus and the author of the so-called Ignatians.

Failed explanations for the similarities

I have explained that, to account for the similarities, it is not enough to simply claim that Lucian, for his portrait of Peregrinus, probably borrowed from Ignatius.

Ignatius of Antiochie

Ignatius of Antiochie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not enough, for instance,

  • to say with William Schoedel that “Lucian (as Lightfoot and others have suggested) probably had Ignatius in mind when he wrote the following concerning Peregrinus: ‘They say that he sent letters to almost all the famous cities more or less as testaments, counsels, and laws; and he appointed … certain of his companions as ambassadors. . .  for the purpose, calling them messengers of the dead and couriers of the shades . . . ” (Ignatius of Antioch, p. 279). . . .
  • Or to say with Allen Brent that “Lucian, as he describes Peregrinus, endows him with many of the characteristics of Ignatius as typical of an imprisoned Christian martyr.” (Ignatius of Antioch – A Martyr Bishop and the origin of the Episcopacy, p. 50).

That explanation doesn’t work. That kind of borrowing by Lucian would only have compromised his ridicule of Peregrinus. He couldn’t have expected to convincingly expose Peregrinus by substituting a lot of characteristics from someone else, especially when he was writing so soon after the demise of his target. People would have noticed that his portrait was false.

More convincing explanations

But I have also now shown that the letters themselves contain puzzling features that point to a different explanation for the similarities. The similarities exist because the letters were in fact written by Peregrinus, but the puzzles exist because changes were later made to the letters to disguise his authorship.

lucian_peregrinusFortunately, with help from TDOP, enough telltale traces of the true provenance of the letters remain so that the puzzles can be solved.

  • Authorship by Peregrinus provides a more convincing reason for the urgency of the request that Ambassadors of God be sent from Asia to Antioch.
  • And that request for Asian Ambassadors matches up with the presence of Asian delegates in Syria who, according to Lucian, helped, defended and encouraged Peregrinus.
  • My theory also provides a more convincing reason for the request that a most God-pleasing council be convoked.
  • And it can plausibly reconstruct the circumstances of Peregrinus’ arrest and detect the route that was originally in the letters.
  • It can give a definite meaning to the otherwise vague expression “May I have the joy of you.”
  • Moreover the theory can explain, for instance, why the name of Polycarp is not found in the letter to the Smyrneans, but is found awkwardly lodged in another letter.
  • And why, for instance, only in the so-called letter to Rome is there no mention of a bishop, presbyters and deacons.
  • And it can explain the ‘filtering out’ that has occurred in the church addressed by that letter.

Other lesser anomalies find similarly satisfying solutions.

And, of course, since Peregrinus at some point became an apostate, there is an overall plausible reason why a later Christian would have needed to disguise the letters if he wanted to use them.

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Second Century Witness — or Lack Thereof — to an Ignatius of Antioch

My theory can explain too, why the name ‘Ignatius’—with a single questionable exception to be considered shortly—is nowhere to be found in any second-century Christian writings outside of the letter collection itself. (more…)

2013/02/24

Invitations to Watch a Martrydom: The Letters of Ignatius (or Peregrinus) continued

This post is a continuation of Solving a Puzzle (or four) in the Letters of Ignatius: The Christian Years of Peregrinus

IN MY PREVIOUS POST I argued that the Asian delegates to Antioch mentioned in the letters to Philadelphia and to Smyrna should be identified as being part of the Asian delegations that, according to Lucian, were sent to encourage Peregrinus when he was imprisoned by the governor of Syria.

The author of the letters was Peregrinus, I maintain, and when he wrote them he himself was being led in chains to Antioch for imprisonment and— he hoped—martyrdom.

And having heard that the recent factional turmoil in the church of Antioch had ceased, he wanted the churches in Philadelphia, Smyrna and other cities in Asia to appoint delegates to go Antioch for his martyrdom.

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THIS POST will inspect the other letter that he wrote after learning that peace had been restored in the Antiochene church.
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That letter is the letter to Polycarp, and although it was written at the same time as the letters to Philadelphia and Smyrna, it differs from them in several significant particulars. As will be seen, these differences are the clue to its true character.

Solving the many puzzles of this letter will confirm that the would-be martyr was indeed being led to Antioch, not Rome.

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The Letter to Polycarp

Polycarp is identified as the bishop of Smyrna in the letter addressed to him but, strangely, not in the letter to the Smyrneans that was written at practically the same time.

one would never guess that the two men had just parted

The prisoner wrote the two letters just a short while after his departure from Smyrna, having visited with Polycarp and his church during his stop there. Yet, from the kind of advice contained in the first five chapters of the letter to Polycarp, one would never guess that the two men had just parted. One could legitimately wonder why they didn’t discuss the material in those chapters when they talked face-to-face presumably just days before. And the advice to Polycarp regarding his responsibilities to the members of his church who are widows, or married, or slaves (IgnPoly 4 & 5) looks like advice for a newly installed bishop.

It looks like most blessed Polycarp has been forced into a text where he was not originally present.

(more…)

2013/02/16

Solving a Puzzle (or four) in the Letters of Ignatius: The Christian Years of Peregrinus

Filed under: Ignatius,Parvus: Letters Ignatius,Roger Parvus — Roger Parvus @ 11:17 am
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This post is a continuation of The Letters of Ignatius: Originally Written By Peregrinus?

In my previous post I showed that Peregrinus, as described by Lucian, bears great resemblance to the man who wrote the letters commonly ascribed to Ignatius of Antioch, and I proposed that the reason for their similarity is that the real author of the letters was Peregrinus.

In his adult life he was first a Christian, but later abandoned Christianity to become a Cynic philosopher. So, some of the similarities noted are those that existed between those two periods of his life.

Similarities

Glory-seeking

According to Lucian, what characterized Peregrinus was that he “always did and said everything with a view to glory and the praise of the multitude.” (TDOP 42, Harmon).

And his glory-seeking was already clearly present in his Christian days when the governor of Syria freed him because he realized that Peregrinus “would gladly die in order that he might leave behind him a reputation for it.” (TDOP 14, Harmon). So I see it as quite plausible that many of the ways he pursued glory as a Cynic would be similar to the ways he pursued it earlier as a Christian.

Publicity letters

When, as a Cynic, he sought to die a fiery death, he sent out letters to publicize the event. Earlier, I maintain, when he sought to die a martyr’s death as a Christian, he sent out letters too, among which are the seven so-called Ignatians.

Bestowing titles on his messengers

As a Cynic enamored of death, he gave titles to the messengers who spread the news of his upcoming leap to glory. I submit that the similar titles present in the letter collection are an indication that earlier, as a Christian enamored of martyrdom, he had already engaged in that practice. The specific titles were different, of course, because of the difference in his affiliation. But the very idea of giving titles to the messengers is the same.

Desire to imitate the gods into the invisible realm

And as a Cynic he proclaimed his desire to dissolve into thin air via fire so as to imitate Heracles. To this would correspond his earlier proclamation, as a Christian, that he desired to be visible no more, and to be — courtesy of a painful execution by the Romans — an imitator of the passion of his God.

A new name

And, as I see it, his adoption of new names to mark important moments in his life was not something he only began once he became a Cynic. No, the greeting at the head of each of the seven letters from “Ignatius who is also Theophorus” shows that it was already there during his Christian period. His becoming a prisoner in chains for Christ was one of those moments that called for a new name. (In a later post I will come back to this and look more closely at the name he took to mark the occasion).

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An Objection

One could object at this point that Lucian did not appear to notice the specific parallels I have indicated between Peregrinus the Christian and Peregrinus the Cynic.

(more…)

2013/02/11

The Letters of Ignatius: Originally Written By Peregrinus?

Filed under: Ignatius,Parvus: Letters Ignatius,Roger Parvus — Roger Parvus @ 12:03 am
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This post is a continuation of The Letters of Ignatius: Originally Written By a Follower of an Ex-Marcionite?

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I. PEREGRINUS WROTE THE SO-CALLED IGNATIAN LETTERS

My first contention is that the real author of the Ignatians was Peregrinus Proteus. Before examining the letters themselves it will help to first review what is known about him.

Almost all of our information about him comes from Lucian of Samosata’s satire, The Death of Peregrinus. (I will indicate quotes from this work by the abbreviation ‘TDOP’ and will use the translations of either A. M. Harmon or Lionel Casson).

Lucian was a contemporary of Peregrinus. They were at one point passengers on the same ship. And Lucian was present at Peregrinus’ spectacular self-immolation. He considered Peregrinus to be a charlatan and a vain publicity seeker. We need to keep that in mind and be aware that to some extent Lucian’s portrait of Peregrinus may be a caricature. However, Donald Dudley’s assessment is representative of that generally held by scholars, that

though one must always suspect Lucian’s imputation of motives, somewhat more reliance can be placed in his mere statements of fact… It is therefore a fair assumption that the main outlines of Peregrinus’ career as given by Lucian are trustworthy. (A History of Cynicism, pp. 171-172)

Peregrinus

Peregrinus is thought to have been born at the beginning of the second century. His hometown was Parium on the Hellespont.

Parium of Hellespont

Parium on the Hellespont

Of his early life little is known. After the death of his father—a death neighbors suspected the son had caused by strangulation—Peregrinus imposed on himself a sentence of banishment from Parium and took to the road.

A wandering we will go

The name ‘Peregrinus’ means ‘wanderer,’ and it is possible that it was not his given name, but rather a name he chose for himself when he began his self-imposed exile. Later, at other turning points in his life, he assumed other names (Proteus and Phoenix). Lucian mockingly calls him “He with the most names of all the Cynics.”

Onward Christian soldier

During his wanderings Peregrinus visited Palestine and became a Christian. He soon attained a position of authority among them, becoming their “prophet, cult-leader, head of the synagogue, and everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained some of their books and even composed many…” (TDOP 11. Harmon).

Locked up (more…)

2013/02/02

The Letters of Ignatius: Originally Written By a Follower of an Ex-Marcionite?

Filed under: Ignatius,Roger Parvus — Roger Parvus @ 9:51 am
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In 2011 Roger Parvus posted a series here arguing that the letters of Ignatius were in fact composed by a follower of a breakaway sect from Marcionism. Roger’s thesis builds upon ideas advanced by earlier scholars that the letters of Ignatius show signs of the teachings of someone closely related to Marcionism, such as Apelles, a former disciple of Marcion. Roger also revisits and develops an idea that first appeared a century ago in scholarly publications that the author of the original letters was in fact that colorful character Peregrinus, the subject of a satire by Lucian.

Since then, Roger has nuanced some of those posts, and I also have learned a little about more effective ways to present lengthy posts in a relatively quick-and-easy-to-follow layout on a blog page. So I will be posting a new series of the revised version of Roger’s posts over coming months. I will also add another easy-reference index page in the right hand margin similar to the one I have set up for Earl Doherty’s responses to Bart Ehrman.


THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

I am genuinely grateful to Neil for allowing me to present on his blog a series of posts explaining my theory about the letters commonly attributed to Ignatius of Antioch. It should be understood that his permission does not imply that he concurs with the theory or any part of it. These posts will be a condensed, revised version of the main arguments contained in my self-published book A New Look at the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch and other Apellean Writings.

In particular I will argue

Author: Peregrinus
Religion: follower of Apelles (ex-Marcionite)
Reviser: an unknown proto-Catholic
  1. that the seven Ignatian letters that comprise the middle recension were originally letters written by Peregrinus c. 145 CE,
  2. that he was an Apellean Christian i.e. a follower of the ex-Marcionite Apelles, and
  3. that later, towards the end of the second century, the letters were modified by a proto-Catholic Christian.
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The authenticity of the letters has been questioned by many in the last three hundred years . . . Christian pseudepigraphical writing was not rare.

By way of preliminaries I would first point out that the kind of scenario I am proposing for the letters should not be dismissed out of hand. The authenticity of the letters has been questioned by many in the last three hundred years.

And it is a fact that there exist versions of them that are acknowledged as spurious by all (e.g. the longer recension of the letters) and that early Christians at some point composed entire Ignatian letters that all scholars recognize as spurious (e.g. the letters of Ignatius to Mary; and to Hero; and to the Tarsians). It is likewise a fact that already in the second century many Christians, with perhaps the best of intentions, were engaged in less-than-straightforward literary efforts. Christian pseudepigraphical writing was not rare and even produced works that made it into the New Testament.

The scenario I am proposing for the Ignatians is similar. I am proposing that some letters written by Peregrinus were later reworked, so that the lofty sentiments they contain would be safe and suitable to inspire other Christians facing persecution by the state. (more…)

2011/09/22

[10] THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 10th and final post in the series

Filed under: Parvus: Letters Ignatius,Roger Parvus — Roger Parvus @ 7:16 pm
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10th and final post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

In posts one through five I showed why Peregrinus should be regarded as the author of the so-called Ignatian letters. In posts six through nine I argued that he was an Apellean Christian. In this post I will tie up some loose ends, adding some thoughts regarding the date of his letters, and taking a somewhat speculative last look at his community, the Apelleans.

WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL LETTERS WRITTEN?

Using the chronological indications that Lucian provides in his sketch of Peregrinus, the year of the would-be martyr’s arrest can only be very roughly pegged to have occurred sometime between 130 and 150 CE. Peregrinus was a Cynic by the time of the Olympic games held in 153 (see note 22 of Harmon’s translation of “The Death of Peregrinus’). And at least a few years must be allowed for his dismissal by the Christians and his trips to Egypt and to Rome (“The Death of Peregrinus,” 16-18). That would yield a terminus ante quem of 150 CE for his arrest and the composition of the letters. The terminus post quem is more difficult to pin down. G.A. Harrar, in his “Studies in the Roman Province of Syria,” would tentatively date the arrest to no earlier than 135 CE (p. 28). But since Lucian provides little guidance on that point, I would add a few years cushion to what Harrar proposed and thus arrive at a comfortable 130 to 150 CE window.

If the year of Marcion’s break with Rome were known with certainty, the date that Peregrinus composed his letters could be further narrowed down, for the schism mentioned in IgnPhil. 3:3 appears to be related to that break. (more…)

2011/08/31

[8] THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 8th post in the series

Filed under: Parvus: Letters Ignatius — Roger Parvus @ 12:38 pm
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Relief from a scribe's tomb found in Flavia Solva

Image via Wikipedia

8th post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

When I presented my first contention—that the real author of the Ignatians was Peregrinus—I argued that a proto-Catholic editor/interpolator later, probably around 200 CE, made changes to the letters to disguise Peregrinus’ authorship. To make the letters acceptable for use by his church he had to remove the apostate Peregrinus from them.  In the last two posts I have presented my second contention: that the branch of Christianity to which the author of the letters belonged was Apellean. If this second contention is correct, it is to be expected that the proto-Catholic editor/interpolator had to also make some doctrinal modifications to the letters. For although Apellean beliefs, compared to those of Marcion, were definitely closer to those held by the proto-Catholics, some would have still been unacceptable, especially to the proto-Catholic church of the year 200. Doctrinal positions had hardened in the 50 years that had passed since Peregrinus wrote the letters. The church was becoming more dogmatic as is evidenced by the appearance of the so-called Apostles Creed sometime toward the end of the second century. Thus the need for occasional interventions in the letters to make them safe for proto-Catholic consumption. The changes made to remove Peregrinus from the letters were often remarkably careless. We will see that some of the doctrinal corrections were careless too.

In the passages that follow I have bolded and put in brackets ( i.e. [ ] ) the parts that seem to be proto-Catholic modifications of the text. And I have put within curly braces (i.e. { } ) words that they would have had to delete to accommodate their modifications.    (more…)

2011/08/08

[5] THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 5th post in the series

5th post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

So far I have called attention to the many similarities between Peregrinus and the author of the so-called Ignatians. I have explained that, to account for the similarities, it is not enough to simply claim that Lucian, for his portrait of Peregrinus, probably borrowed from Ignatius. It is not enough, for instance, to say with William Schoedel that “Lucian (as Lightfoot and others have suggested) probably had Ignatius in mind when he wrote the following concerning Peregrinus: ‘They say that he sent letters to almost all the famous cities more or less as testaments, counsels, and laws; and he appointed … certain of his companions as ambassadors… for the purpose, calling them messengers of the dead and couriers of the shades…” (“Ignatius of Antioch,” p. 279). Or to say with Allen Brent that “Lucian, as he describes Peregrinus, endows him with many of the characteristics of Ignatius as typical of an imprisoned Christian martyr.” (“Ignatius of Antioch – A Martyr Bishop and the origin of the Episcopacy,” p. 50). That explanation doesn’t work. That kind of borrowing by Lucian would only have compromised his ridicule of Peregrinus. He couldn’t have expected to convincingly expose Peregrinus by substituting a lot of characteristics from someone else, especially when he was writing so soon after the demise of his target. People would have noticed that his portrait was false.

But I have also now shown that the letters themselves contain puzzling features that point to a different explanation for the similarities. The similarities exist because the letters were in fact written by Peregrinus, but the puzzles exist because changes were later made to the letters to disguise his authorship. Fortunately, with help from TDOP, enough telltale traces of the true provenance of the letters remain so that the puzzles can be solved. Authorship by Peregrinus provides a more convincing reason for the urgency of the request that Ambassadors of God be sent from Asia to Antioch. And that request for Asian Ambassadors matches up with the presence of Asian delegates in Syria who, according to Lucian, helped, defended and encouraged Peregrinus. My theory also provides a more convincing reason for the request that a most God-pleasing council be convoked. And it can plausibly reconstruct the circumstances of Peregrinus’ arrest and detect the route that was originally in the letters. It can give a definite meaning to the otherwise vague expression “May I have the joy of you.” Moreover the theory can explain, for instance, why the name of Polycarp is not found in the letter to the Smyrneans, but is found awkwardly lodged in another letter. And why, for instance, only in the so-called letter to Rome is there no mention of a bishop, presbyters and deacons. And it can explain the ‘filtering out’ that has occurred in the church addressed by that letter. Other lesser anomalies find similarly satisfying solutions. And, of course, since Peregrinus at some point became an apostate, there is an overall plausible reason why a later Christian would have needed to disguise the letters if he wanted to use them.

SECOND CENTURY WITNESS – OR LACK THEREOF – TO AN IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (more…)

2011/07/27

[4] THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 4th post in the series

Filed under: Parvus: Letters Ignatius — Roger Parvus @ 1:04 pm
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Revised 31 July 20:30 CST — see shaded paragraphs

4th post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

In my previous post I argued that the so-called letter to Polycarp was originally a letter from Peregrinus to the man who, after restoring order in the church of Antioch, had been installed as that church’s new bishop. The letter was one of three that the prisoner wrote after learning that the dissension in the church in Antioch had come to an end. In the other two letters – those addressed to Smyrna and Philadelphia – he urgently requested that Ambassadors of God be appointed to go to Antioch to rejoice with that church. In the so-called letter to Polycarp, on the other hand, there is an urgent request for the convocation of a most God-pleasing council and, in connection with it, the appointment of a Courier of God. This most God-pleasing council, I maintain, was convened in Antioch – not Smyrna — and it is one and the same with the gathering mentioned in Lucian’s TDOP that drew delegates “even from cities in Asia to succour, defend and encourage” the would-be martyr Peregrinus. The letters to Philadelphia, Smyrna and to Polycarp purport to have been written from the port city of Troas while the prisoner was waiting to board ship. But, as we will see shortly, they were probably written while he was waiting at a different port.

The other letters in the collection – to Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles and Rome — were written before the prisoner knew the outcome of the in-fighting at Antioch. Because the four letters in this group would have been written at least a few days before the three letters in the other group I will refer to them, for the sake of brevity, as set 1 and will call the others set 2.

The set 1 letters were written in Smyrna during a stop there by the prisoner’s military escorts. The bishops of three of the churches addressed by those letters – Ephesus, Magnesia and Tralles – had traveled, accompanied by a few other members of their flocks, to visit with the prisoner at Smyrna. The letters written to their churches were likely carried back by them when they made their return trips. I see no serious reason to question that these three letters were in fact addressed to the churches they purport to address. I cannot say the same about the other set l letter: Romans.

THE LETTER TO THE ROMANS (more…)

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