Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

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

15
The Politics and Rhetoric of Discord and
Concord in Paul and Ignatius

Harry O. Maier

‘Ignatius was a man of the Greek city and… seems to have been relatively at home there.…[T]he spirit of popular Hellenistic culture remains more alive in his letters than is generally recognized.’1 One of the more ground-breaking aspects of William Schoedel’s commentary on Ignatius’ epistles is its attention to the ways in which the Ignatian corpus echoes the vocabulary and concepts characteristic of contemporary pagan political philosophy and civic culture. Scho edel has urged a reorientation toward politics and rhetoric as indispensable guides for situating Ignatius in his social and theological setting. He has thus sought to do for Ignatius what others have profitably done for 1 Clement in assessing its indebtedness to political rhetoric, especially that connected with the

.2 With a few exceptions, however, scholars have not followed Schoedel down this path-breaking trail.3 Almost twenty years after Schoedel’s commentary, Ignatius’ appropriation of themes common in Hellenistic political culture still awaits detailed exploration.

1 W. R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), 17.

2 O. M. Bakke, ‘Concord and Peace’: A Rhetorical Analysis of the First Letter of Clement with an Emphasis on the Language of Unity and Sedition, WUNT 2.143 (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), with discussion of earlier treatments.

3 A noteworthy exception is A. Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian, VCSup 45 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 210–50; also idem, ‘Ignatius of Antioch and the Imperial Cult’, VC 52 (1998), 30–58; see also idem, Ch. 16 below, which arrives at a complementary insistence on the importance of attention to concord themes and their ritual connections argued for here. For rhetorical political treatments, S. Carruth, ‘Praise for the Churches: The Rhetorical Function of the Opening Sections of the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch’, in E. Castelli and H. Taussig (eds.), Reimagining Christian Origins: A Colloquium Honoring Burton L. Mack (Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity, 1996), 295–310; D. L. Sullivan, ‘Establishing Orthodoxy: The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch as Epideictic Rhetoric’, Journal of Communication and Religion, 15 (1992), 71–86; Robert J. Stoops, ‘If I Suffer… Epistolary Authority in Ignatius of Antioch’, HTR 80 (1987), 161–78.

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