Sunday, February 21, 2010

(There were no classes February 7 or 14, because of snow)

Ignatius to Smyrna

Ignatius is in Troas, and he writes back to Smyrna (present-day Izmir) which he had recently visited.

He seems concerned with Docetic tendancies at Smyrna, and essays a joke that if Christ only "seemed" to exist, than his own trials only "seemed" to be. More seriously he even expresses the hope that his opponents, once they have lost their mortal bodies, will be left as demons. Docetists, it seems, refused communion and abstained from prayer. In language reminiscent of the Epistle of James -- "I will show you my faith by what I do" -- Ignatius notes that they "have no regard for love, no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed, of the bond or the free, of the hungry or the thirsty".

He uses the term "Catholic Church" for the first time, though Protestants prefer to believe that he was referring to the Church Universal. Ignatius also states that only bishops can baptize or celebrate communion; this is not in accord with current Catholic practice, but john pointed out that he may be writing in a time when "bishop" and "priest' were synonymous.