Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

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

16
Ignatius and Polycarp: The Transformation
of New Testament Traditions in the Context
of Mystery Cults

Allen Brent

The letters of Ignatius of Antioch, written putatively by the bishop of Antioch in Syria,1 are a key indicator of the provenance of the Gospel of Matthew from that city. Those letters, however, also, make some references, and some tantalizing allusions,2 to the world of the writer of the Apocalypse, as they do to that of the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles.3 If they are genuine, then Polycarp’s Philippians is uninterpolated, and refers to Ignatius’ martyr procession as the cause of their collection by the former into a corpus Ignatianum.4 But in that letter we find, curiously, the church order of the

1 The Lightfoot-Zahn consensus stands against R. Hübner,’ Thesen zur Echtheit und Datierung der sieben Briefe des Ignatius von Antiochien’, ZAC 1 (1997), 42–70, and T. Lechner, Ignatius adversus Valentinianos? Chronologische und theologiegeschichtliche Studien zu den Briefen des Ignatius von Antiochien, VCSup 47 (Leiden: Brill, 1999); see A. Lindemann, ‘Antwort auf die Thesen zur Echtheit und Datierung der sieben Briefe des Ignatius von Antiochien’, ZAC 1 (1997), 185–94; G. Schollgen, ‘Die Ignatien als pseudepigraphisches Brief-corpus: Anmerkung zu den Thesen von Reinhard M. Hübner’, ZAC 2 (1998), 16–25; M. J. Edwards, ‘Ignatius and the Second Century: An Answer to R. Hübner’, ZAC 2 (1998), 214–26; H. J. Vogt, ‘Bemerkungen zur Echtheit der Ignatiusbriefe’, in ZAC 3 (1999), 50–63.

2 I use ‘reference’ and ‘allusion’ in the context of the methodological axis set out by Gregory and Tuckett (Ch. 4 in companion volume), on a continuum (direct quotation/citation/ allusion/echo/reminiscence). Where the methodological point is critical, I reproduce these terms in italics. My use of the terms holds whether they apply to the oral tradition of the communities in question prior to its appearance in NT texts, or to the written text itself in the fluidity of its early composition; see the defence by Peterson (Ch. 2 in companion volume), of Koester, Ch. 2 in this volume.

3 For the Johannine parallels with Ignatius, see C. E. Hill, The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 427–46 See also Foster, Ch. 7 in companion volume

4 For Polycarp’s Philippians as interpolated by the alleged forger of the Middle Recension, see Lechner, Ignatius adversus Valentinianos, 48–65, but see in reply W. Schoedel, ‘Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch’, ANRW 2. 27. 1 (1993), 272–358, with which cf. P. N. Harrison, Polycarp’s Two Epistles to the Philippians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936).

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