Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

By Andrew F. Gregory; Christopher M. Tuckett | Go to book overview

14
Following in Paul’s Footsteps: Mimesis and
Power in Ignatius of Antioch

David M. Reis

1 Cor. 4. 20.

Although it is now a commonplace to acknowledge Ignatius’ debt to Pauline thought, scholars continue to debate the precise nature of this relationship. The paucity of direct quotations from the apostle might suggest that Ignatius was not familiar with a collection of letters, and at most had access to one or two. Yet the existence of quotations is not the sine qua non for establishing a relationship between authors, and many studies have recognized that the allusions and ‘echoes’ to Paul demonstrate that Ignatius made use of Pauline ideas at the conceptual level.1 This realization has unfortunately led to a certain methodological untidiness, as scholars search for a vocabulary for assessing Ignatius’ ‘Paulinisms’.2 Recent studies on the art of mimesis, however, have provided a tool that is particularly well suited for evaluating the complex relationship between Ignatius and Paul. Rather than focusing on the existence of direct quotations to establish links between authors, they have instead emphasized the method advised by the ancient rhetoricians.

1 E. Massaux, The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature before Saint Irenaeus, ed. A. J. Bellinzoni, i (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1990), 108: ‘the bishop of Antioch knows the apostle’s letters so well that he juggles, if i may say so, various Pauline texts to express his own thought’. For summaries of opinions on Ignatius’ use of Paul, see W. R. Schoedel, ‘Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch’, ANRW 2.27.1 (1993), 272–358, at pp. 307–9; C. Munier, ‘Oü en est la question d’ignace d’Antioche?: Bilan d’un siécle de recherches 1870–1988’, ANRW 2. 27. 1 (1993), 359–484, at pp. 391–3 For a list of parallels and allusions to New Testament authors in Ignatius, see Foster, CH. 7 in companion volume.

2 Even 1 Corinthians, the one Pauline letter that most commentators feel Ignatius knew, is treated in varying ways by Ignatius. As R. M. Grant (The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation and Commentary, i: An Introduction (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1964), 59) concludes, the bishop ‘used the letter in several different ways… sometimes he quoted, sometimes he alluded, sometimes he allusively quoted, and sometimes he quotingly alluded. Any idea of exactness in analysing his usage must be read in by the analyst. It does not exist in Ignatius’ own writings’.

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