Nitrian desert and deposited in the British Museum. One of these MSS. belongs to the 6th century, the other two are later. Summed up in a word, therefore, the Ignatian problem is this: which of these three recension's (if any) represents the actual work of Ignatius?
II. History of the Controversy.-The history of the controversy may be divided into three periods: (o) up to the discovery of the short recension in 1646; (b) between 1646 and the discovery of the Syriac recension in 1845; (c) from 1845 to the present day. In the first stage the controversy was theological rather than critical. The Reformation raised the question as to the authority of the papacy and the hierarchy. Roman Catholic scholars used the interpolated Ignatian Epistles very freely in their defence and derived many of their arguments from them, while Protestant scholars threw discredit on these Epistles. The Magdeburg centuriators expressed the gravest doubts as to their genuineness, and Calvin declared that “nothing was more foul than those fairy tales (naeniis) published under the name of Ignatiusl” It should be stated, however, that one Roman Catholic scholar, Denys Petau (Petavius), admitted that the letters were interpolated, while the Protestant Vedelius acknowledged the seven letters mentioned by Eusebius. In England the Ignatian Epistles took an important place in the episcopalian controversy in the 17th century. Their genuineness was defended by the leading Anglican writers, e.g. Whitgift, Hooker and Andrewes, and vigorously challenged by Dissenters, e.g. the five Presbyterian ministers who wrote under the name of Smectymnuus and John Milton? The second period is marked by the recognition of the superiority of the Vossian recension. This was speedily demonstrated, though some attempts were made, notably by Jean Morin or Morinus (about 1656), Whiston (in 1711) and Meier (in 1836), to resuscitate the long recension. Many Protestants still maintained that the new recension, like the old, was a forgery. The chief attack came from lean Daillé, who in his famous work (1666) drew up no fewer than sixty-six objections to the genuineness of the Ignatian literature. He was answered by Pearson, who in his Vindicioe epislolorum S. Igmztii (1672) completely vindicated the authenticity of the Vossian Epistles. No further attack of any importance was made till the time of Baur, who like Daillé rejected both recension's. In the third stage-inaugurated in 184 5 by Cureton's work-the controversy has ranged round the relative claims of the Vossian and the Curetonian recension's. Scholars have been divided into three camps, viz. (1) those who followed Cureton 'in maintaining that the three Syriac Epistles alone were the genuine work of Ignatius. Among them may be mentioned the names of Bunsen, A. Ritschl, R. .-. Lipsius, E. de Pressensé, H. Ewald, Milman, Bohringer. (2) Those who accepted the genuineness of the Vossian recension and regarded the Curetonian as an abbreviation of it, e.g. Petermann, Denzinger, Uhlhorn, Merx, and in more recent times Th. Zahn, I. B. Lightfoot, Ad. Harnack and F. X. Funk. (3) Those who denied the authenticity of both recension's, e.g. Baur and Hilgenfeld and in recent times van l"Ianen,2 Volteri and van Loon! The result of more than half a century's discussion has been to restore the Vossian recension to the premier position. III. The Origin of the Long Recerzsion.-The arguments against the genuineness of the long recension are decisive. (1) It conflicts with the statement of Eusebius. (2) The first trace of its use occurs in Anastasius of Antioch (A.1J. 598) and Stephen Gobarus (o. 575-6oc). (3) The ecclesiastical system of the letters implies a date not earlier than the 4th century. (4) The recension has been proved to be dependent on the Aposlolical C0)'lSfZ'l1ili01'l.S'. (5) The doctrinal atmosphere implies the existence of Arian and Apollinarian heresies. (6) The added passages reveal a difference in style which stamps them at once as interpolations. There are several different theories In his short treatise “Of Prelatical Episcopacy, " works iii. p. 72 (Pickering, 1851).
Theolagisch. Tijdsclzgt (1892), 625-633.
3 Ib. (1886) 114-136; ie Ignatianischen Briefs (1892). 4 Ib. (1893) 275~316.
with regard to the origin of the recension. Some, e.g. Leclerc, Newman and Zahn, think that the writer was an Arian and that the additions were made in the interest of Arianism. Funk, on the other hand, regards the writer as an Apollinarian. Lightfoot opposes both views and suggests that it is better “ to conceive of him as writing with a conciliatory aim.”
IV. T/wOI1jeclionstoiheCurel0nian Recciisioii.-The objections to the Syriac recension, though not so decisive, are strong enough to carry conviction with them. (1) We have the express statement of Eusebius that Ignatius wrote seven Epistles. (2) There are statements in Polycarp's Epistle which cannot be explained from the three Syriac Epistles. (3) The omitted portions are proved by Lightfoot after an elaborate analysis to be written in the same style as the rest of the epistles and could not therefore have been later interpolations. (4) The Curetonian letters are often abrupt and broken and show signs of abridgment. (5) The discovery of the Armenian version proves the existence of an earlier Syriac recension corresponding to the Vossian of which the Curetonian may be an abbreviation. It seems impossible to account for the 'origin of the Curetonian recension on theological grounds. The theory that the abridgment was made in the interests of Eutychianism or Monophysitism cannot be substantiated.
V. The Dale and Gehuineriess of the Vossian Epistles.-~We are left therefore' with the seven Epistles. Are they the genuine work of Ignatius, and, if so, at what date were they written? The main objections are as follows: (1) The conveyance of a condemned prisoner to Rome to be put to death in the amphitheatre is unlikely on historical grounds, and the route taken is improbable for geographical reasons. This objection has very little solid basis. (2) The heresies against which Ignatius contends imply the rise of the later Gnostic and Docetic sects. It is quite certain, however, that Docetism was in existence in the rst century (cf. 1 John), while many of the principles of Gnosticism were in vogue long before the great Gnostic sects arose (cf. the Pastoral Epistles). There is nothing in Ignatius which implies a knowledge of the teaching of Basilides or Valentinus. In fact, as Harnack says: “ No Christian writer after 140 could have described the false teachers in the way that Ignatius does.” (3) The ecclesiastical system of Ignatius is too developed to have arisen as early as the time of Trajan. At first sight this objection seems to be almost fatal. But we have to remember that the bishops of Ignatius are not bishops in the modern sense of the word at all, but simply pastors of churches. They are not mentioned at all in two Epistles, viz. Romans and Philippians, which seems to imply that this form of government was not universal. It is only when we read modern ecclesiastical ideas into Ignatius that the objection has much weight. To sum up, as Uhlhorn says: “The collective mass of internal evidence against the genuineness of the letters is insufficient to counterbalance the testimony of the Epistle of Polycarp in their favour. He who would prove the Epistles of Ignatius to be spurious must begin by proving the Epistle of Polycarp to be spurious, and such an undertaking is not likely to succeed.” This being so, there is no reason for rejecting the opinion of Eusebius that the Epistles were written in the reign of Trajan. Harnack, who formerly dated them about 140, now says that they were written in the latter years of Trajan, or possibly a little later (117-125). The majority of scholars place them a few years earlier (110»117).5 The letters of Ignatius unfortunately, unlike the Epistles of St Paul, contain scant autobiographical material. We are told absolutely nothing about the history of his career. The fact that like St Paul he describes himself as an EK-rpwpa (Rom. 9), and that he speaks of himself as “the last of the Antiochene Christians ” (Troll. 13; Smyrvi. xi.), seems to suggest that he had been converted from paganism somewhat late in life and that the process of conversion had been abrupt and violent. He bore the surname of Theophorus, i.e. “ God-clad ” or “ bearing 5 But there are still a few scholars, e.g. van Manen and Volter, who prefer a date about 150 or later; Van Loon goes as late as 175.
See article “ Old-Christian Literature, " Ency. Bib. iii. col. 3488.