Help interpreting a writing from St. Ignatius of Antioch

Hi all,

Someone recently brought to my attention chapter 11 of Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Trallians. It runs like this (shorter and longer recensions included):

Shorter recension(emphasis in bold):
Flee, therefore, those evil offshoots [of Satan], which produce death-bearing fruit, whereof if any one tastes, he instantly dies. For these men are not the planting of the Father. For if they were, they would appear as branches of the cross, and their fruit would be incorruptible. By it He calls you through His passion, as being His members. The head, therefore, cannot be born by itself, without its members; God, who is [the Saviour] Himself, having promised their union.

Longer recension:
Do ye also avoid those wicked offshoots of his, Simon his firstborn son, and Menander, and Basilides, and all his wicked mob of followers, the worshippers of a man, whom also the prophet Jeremiah pronounces accursed. Flee also the impure Nicolaitanes, falsely so called, who are lovers of pleasure, and given to calumnious speeches. Avoid also the children of the evil one, Theodotus and Cleobulus, who produce death-bearing fruit, whereof if any one tastes, he instantly dies, and that not a mere temporary death, but one that shall endure for ever. These men are not the planting of the Father, but are an accursed brood. And says the Lord, “Let every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted be rooted up.” For if they had been branches of the Father, they would not have been “enemies of the cross of Christ,” but rather of those who “killed the Lord of glory.” But now, by denying the cross, and being ashamed of the passion, they cover the transgression of the Jews, those fighters against God, those murderers of the Lord; for it were too little to style them merely murderers of the prophets. But Christ invites you to [share in] His immortality, by His passion and resurrection, inasmuch as ye are His members.

I included the longer recension, because while it’s generally agreed that the longer recensions of St. Ignatius’ epistles are spurious, I feel it’s useful to see how the longer recension makes sense of it and expands upon it.

Basically, what the other guy was asking about, does this passage seem to imply that it was the Father Who suffered on the Cross, as well as Christ? If this is the case, then a sort of Sabellianism could be drawn from this passage. Can anyone shed some light on the subject–perhaps why the Father is mentioned, but (presumably) the Son is only mentioned through pronouns, thus making it possible to interpret it as the Father undergoing the Passion?

In context with the previous chapters (divisions into chapters are a more recent addition), he is certainly speaking of Christ and not the Father (except for the planting). Also, Christ (not the Father) is always referred to as the head in the Scriptures. The problem is that we divide things into chapters for greater ease of reading. Also, the ancient writers did not use proper nouns as often as we do; they made more use of pronouns. :slight_smile:

  1. Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.
  2. But if, as some that are without God, that is, the unbelieving, say, that He only seemed to suffer (they themselves only seeming to exist), then why am I in bonds? Why do I long to be exposed to the wild beasts? Do I therefore die in vain? Am I not then guilty of falsehood against [the cross of] the Lord?
  3. Flee, therefore, those evil offshoots [of Satan], which produce death-bearing fruit, whereof if any one tastes, he instantly dies. For these men are not the planting of the Father. For if they were, they would appear as branches of the cross, and their fruit would be incorruptible. By it He calls you through His passion, as being His members. The head, therefore, cannot be born by itself, without its members; God, who is [the Saviour] Himself, having promised their union.

Ahh, that makes more sense. Thank you very much! :slight_smile:

No problem! :thumbsup:

Also He, the Father, calls you through His, the Son’s, passion. A pronoun problem.

peace
steve

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