THIS work has scarcely yet been twelve months before the public, but both in this country and in America and elsewhere it has been subjected to such wide and searching criticism by writers of all shades of opinion, that I may perhaps be permitted to make a few remarks, and to review some of my Reviewers. I must first, however, beg leave to express my gratitude to that large majority of my critics who have bestowed generous commendation upon the work, and liberally encouraged its completion. I have to thank others, who, differing totally from my conclusions, have nevertheless temperately argued against them, for the courtesy with which they have treated an opponent whose views must necessarily have offended them, and I can only say that, whilst such a course has commanded my unfeigned respect, it has certainly not diminished the attention with which I have followed their arguments.
The argument of "Supernatural Religion"
There are two serious misapprehensions of the purpose and line of argument of this work which I desire to correct. Some critics have objected that, if I had succeeded in establishing the proposition advanced in the first part, the second and third parts need not have been written: in fact, that the historical argument against miracles is only necessary in consequence of the failure of the philosophical. Now I contend that the historical is the necessary complement of the philosophical argument, and that both are equally requisite to completeness in dealing with the subject. The preliminary affirmation is not that miracles are impossible, but that they are antecedently incredible. The counter-allegation is that, although miracles may be antecedently incredible, they nevertheless actually took place. It is, therefore, necessary, not only to establish the antecedent incredibility, but to examine the validity of the allegation that certain miracles occurred, and this involves the historical enquiry into the evidence for the Gospels which occupies the second and third parts. Indeed, many will not acknowledge the case to be complete until other witnesses are questioned in a succeeding volume ...
The second point to which I desire to refer is a statement which has frequently been made that, in the second and third parts, I endeavour to prove that the four canonical Gospels were not written until the end of the second century. This error is of course closely connected with that which has just been discussed, but it is difficult to understand how anyone who had taken the slightest trouble to ascertain the nature of the argument, and to state it fairly, could have fallen into it. The fact is that no attempt is made to prove anything with regard to the Gospels. The evidence for them is merely examined, and it is found that, so far from their affording sufficient testimony to warrant belief in the actual occurrence of miracles declared to be antecedently incredible, there is not a certain trace even of the existence of the Gospels for a century and a half after those miracles are alleged to have occurred, and nothing whatever to attest their authenticity and truth. This is a very different thing from an endeavour to establish some special theory of my own, and it is because this line of argument has not been understood, that some critics have expressed surprise at the decisive rejection of mere conjectures and possibilities as evidence. In a case of such importance, no testimony which is not clear and indubitable could be of any value, but the evidence producible for the canonical Gospels falls very far short even of ordinary requirements, and in relation to miracles it is scarcely deserving of serious consideration.
It has been argued that, even if there be no evidence for our special gospels, I admit that gospels very similar must early have been in existence, and that these equally represent the same prevailing belief as the canonical Gospels: consequently that I merely change, without shaking, the witnesses. Those who advance this argument, however, totally overlook the fact that it is not the reality of the superstitious belief which is in question, but the reality of the miracles, and the sufficiency of the witnesses to establish them. What such objectors urge practically amounts to this: that we should believe in the actual occurrence of certain miracles contradictory to all experience, out of a mass of false miracles which are reported but never really took place, because some unknown persons in an ignorant and superstitious age, who give no evidence of personal knowledge, or of careful investigation, have written an account of them, and other persons, equally ignorant and superstitious, have believed them. I venture to say that no one who advances the argument to which I am referring can have realised the nature of the question at issue, and the relation of miracles to the order of nature.
The last of these general objections to which I need now refer is the statement, that the difficulty with regard to the Gospels commences precisely where my examination ends, and that I am bound to explain how, if no trace of their existence is previously discoverable, the four Gospels are suddenly found in general circulation at the end of the second century, and quoted as authoritative documents by such writers as Irenaeus. My reply is that it is totally unnecessary for me to account for this. No one acquainted with the history of pseudonymic literature in the second century, and with the rapid circulation and ready acceptance of spurious works tending to edification, could for a moment regard the canonical position of any Gospel at the end of that century either as evidence of its authenticity or early origin. That which concerns us chiefly is not evidence regarding the end of the second but the beginning of the first century. Even if we took the statements of Irenaeus and later Fathers, like the Alexandrian Clement, Tertullian and Origen, about the Gospels, they are absolutely without value except as personal opinion at a late date, for which no sufficient grounds are shown. Of the earlier history of those Gospels there is not a distinct trace, except of a nature which altogether discredits them as witnesses for miracles.
After having carefully weighed the arguments which have been advanced against this work, I venture to express strengthened conviction of the truth of its conclusions. The best and most powerful reasons which able divines and apologists have been able to bring forward against its main argument have, I submit, not only failed to shake it, but have, by inference, shown it to be unassailable. Very many of those who have professedly advanced against the citadel itself have practically attacked nothing but some outlying fort, which was scarcely worth defence, whilst others, who have seriously attempted an assault, have shown that the Church has no artillery capable of making a practicable breach in the rationalistic stronghold. I say this solely in reference to the argument which I have taken upon myself to represent, and in no sense of my own individual share in its maintenance.
I must now address myself more particularly to two of my critics who, with great ability and learning, have subjected this work to the most elaborate and microscopic criticism of which personal earnestness and official zeal are capable. I am sincerely obliged to Professor Lightfoot and Dr. Westcott for the minute attention they have bestowed upon my book. I had myself directly attacked the views of Dr. Westcott, and of course could only expect him to do his best or his worst against me in reply; and I am not surprised at the vigour with which Dr. Lightfoot has assailed a work so opposed to principles which he himself holds sacred, although I may be permitted to express my regret that he has not done so in a spirit more worthy of the cause which he defends. In spite of hostile criticism of very unusual minuteness and ability, no flaw or error has been pointed out which in the slightest degree affects my main argument, and I consider that every point yet objected to by Dr. Lightfoot, or indicated by Dr. Westcott, might be withdrawn without at all weakening my position. These objections, I may say, refer solely to details, and only follow side issues, but the attack, if impotent against the main position, has in many cases been insidiously directed against notes and passing references, and a plentiful sprinkling of such words as "misstatements" and "misrepresentations" along the line may have given it a formidable appearance and malicious effect, which render it worth while once for all to meet it in detail.
The Silence of Eusebius
The first point to which I shall refer is an elaborate argument by Dr. Lightfoot regarding the "Silence of Eusebius." [45:1] I had called attention to the importance of considering the silence of the Fathers, under certain conditions; [45:2] and I might, omitting his curious limitation, adopt Dr. Lightfoot's opening comment upon this as singularly descriptive of the state of the case: "In one province more especially, relating to the external evidences for the Gospels, silence occupies a prominent place." Dr. Lightfoot proposes to interrogate this "mysterious oracle," and he considers that "the response elicited will not be at all ambiguous." I might again agree with him, but that unambiguous response can scarcely be pronounced very satisfactory for the Gospels. Such silence may be very eloquent, but after all it is only the eloquence of--silence. I have not yet met with the argument anywhere that, because none of the early Fathers quote our Canonical Gospels, or say anything with regard to them, the fact is unambiguous evidence that they were well acquainted with them, and considered them apostolic and authoritative. Dr. Lightfoot's argument from Silence is, for the present at least, limited to Eusebius.
The point on which the argument turns is this: After examining the whole of the extant writings of the early Fathers, and finding them a complete blank as regards the canonical Gospels, if, by their use of apocryphal works and other indications, they are not evidence against them, I supplement this, in the case of Hegesippus, Papias, and Dionysius of Corinth, by the inference that, as Eusebius does not state that their lost works contained any evidence for the Gospels, they actually did not contain any. But before proceeding to discuss the point, it is necessary that a proper estimate should be formed of its importance to the main argument of my work. The evident labour which Professor Lightfoot has expended upon the preparation of his attack, the space devoted to it, and his own express words, would naturally lead most readers to suppose that it has almost a vital bearing upon my conclusions. Dr. Lightfoot says, after quoting the passages in which I appeal to the silence of Eusebius:--
"This indeed is the fundamental assumption which lies at the basis of his reasoning; and the reader will not need to be reminded how much of the argument falls to pieces if this basis should prove to be unsound. A wise master-builder would therefore have looked to his foundations first, and assured himself of their strength, before he piled up his fabric to this height. This our author has altogether neglected to do." [46:1]Towards the close of his article, after triumphantly expressing his belief that his "main conclusions are irrefragable," he further says:--
"If they are, then the reader will not fail to see how large a part of the argument in Supernatural Religion has crumbled to pieces." [46:2]I do not doubt that Dr. Lightfoot sincerely believes this, but he must allow me to say that he is thoroughly mistaken in his estimate of the importance of the point, and that, as regards this work, the representations made in the above passages are a very strange exaggeration. I am unfortunately too familiar, in connection with criticism on this book, with instances of vast expenditure of time and strength in attacking points to which I attach no importance whatever, and which in themselves have scarcely any value. When writers, after an amount of demonstration which must have conveyed the impression that vital interests were at stake, have, at least in their own opinion, proved that I have omitted to dot an "i," cross a "t," or insert an inverted comma, they have really left the question precisely where it was. Now, in the present instance, the whole extent of the argument which is based upon the silence of Eusebius is an inference regarding some lost works of three writers only, which might altogether be withdrawn without affecting the case. The object of my investigation is to discover what evidence actually exists in the works of early writers regarding our Gospels. In the fragments which remain of the works of three writers, Hegesippus, Papias, and Dionysius of Corinth, I do not find any evidence of acquaintance with these Gospels,-- the works mentioned by Papias being, I contend, different from the existing Gospels attributed to Matthew and Mark. Whether I am right or not in this does not affect the present discussion. It is an unquestioned fact that Eusebius does not mention that the lost works of these writers contained any reference to, or information about, the Gospels, nor have we any statement from any other author to that effect. The objection of Dr. Lightfoot is limited to a denial that the silence of Eusebius warrants the inference that, because he does not state that these writers made quotations from or references to undisputed canonical books, the lost works did not contain any; it does not, however, extend to interesting information regarding those books, which he admits it was the purpose of Eusebius to record. To give Dr. Lightfoot's statements, which I am examining, the fullest possible support, however, suppose that I abandon Eusebius altogether, and do not draw any inference of any kind from him beyond his positive statements, how would my case stand? Simply as complete as it well could be: Hegesippus, Papias, and Dionysius do not furnish any evidence in favour of the Gospels. The reader, therefore, will not fail to see how serious a misstatement Dr. Lightfoot has made, and how little the argument of Supernatural Religion would be affected even if he established much more than he has ed.
We may now proceed to consider Dr. Lightfoot's argument itself. He carefully and distinctly defines what he understands to be the declared intention of Eusebius in composing his history, as regards the mention or use of the disputed and undisputed canonical books in the writings of the Fathers, and in order to do him full justice I will quote his words, merely taking the liberty, for facility of reference, of dividing his statement into three paragraphs. He says:
"Eusebius therefore proposes to treat these two classes of writings in two different ways. This is the cardinal point of the passage.
"(1) Of the Antilegomena he pledges himself to record when any ancient writer employs any book belonging to their class (tines hopoiais kechrêntai);
"(2) but as regards the undisputed Canonical books, he only professes to mention them when such a writer has something to tell about them (tina peri tôn endiathêkôn eirêtai). Any anecdote of interest respecting them, as also respecting the others (tôn mê toioutôn), will be recorded.
"(3) But in their case he nowhere leads us to expect that he will allude to mere quotations, however numerous and however precise." [48:1]
In order to dispose of the only one of these points upon which we can differ, I will first refer to the third. Did Eusebius intend to point out mere quotations of the books which he considered undisputed? As a matter of fact, he actually did point such out in the case of the 1st Epistle of Peter and the 1st Epistle of John, which he repeatedly and in the most emphatic manner declared to be undisputed. [49:1] This is admitted by Dr. Lightfoot. That he omitted to mention a reference to the Epistle to the Corinthians in the Epistle of Clement of Rome, or the reference by Theophilus to the Gospel of John, and other supposed quotations, might be set down as much to oversight as intention. On the other hand, that he did mention disputed books is evidence only that he not only pledged himself to do so, but actually fulfilled his promise. Although much might be said upon this point, therefore, I consider it of so little importance that I do not intend to waste time in minutely discussing it. If my assertions with regard to the silence of Eusebius likewise include the supposition that he proposed to mention mere quotations of the "undisputed" books, they are so far from limited to this very subsidiary testimony that I should have no reluctance in waiving it altogether. Even if the most distinct quotations of this kind had occurred in the lost works of the three writers in question, they could have proved nothing beyond the mere existence of the book quoted, at the time that work was written, but would have done nothing to establish its authenticity and trustworthiness. In the evidential destitution of the Gospels, apologists would thankfully have received even such vague indications; indeed there is scarcely any other evidence, but something much more definite is required to establish the reality of miracles and Divine Revelation. If this point be, for the sake of argument, set aside, what is the position? We are not entitled to infer that there were no quotations from the Gospels in the works of Hegesippus, Papias, and Dionysius of Corinth, because Eusebius does not record them; but, on the other hand, we are still less entitled to infer that there were any.
The only inference which I care to draw from the silence of Eusebius is precisely that which Dr. Lightfoot admits that, both from his promise and practice, I am entitled to deduce: when any ancient writer "has something to tell about" the Gospels, any anecdote of interest respecting them," Eusebius will record it. This is the only information of the slightest value to this work which could be looked for in these writers. So far, therefore, from producing the destructive effect upon some of the arguments of Supernatural Religion, upon which he somewhat prematurely congratulates himself, Dr. Lightfoot's elaborate and learned article on the silence of Eusebius supports them in the most conclusive manner.
Before proceeding to speak more directly of the three writers under discussion, it may be well to glance a little at the procedure of Eusebius, and note, for those who care to go more closely into the matter, how he fulfils his promise to record what the Fathers have to tell about the Gospels. I may mention, in the first place, that Eusebius states what he himself knows of the composition of the Gospels and other canonical works. [50:1] Upon two occasions he quotes the account which Clement of Alexandria gives of the composition of Mark's Gospel, and also cites his statements regarding the other Gospels. [50:2] In like manner he records the information, such as it is, which Irenaeus has to impart about the four Gospels and other works, [50:3] and what Origen has to say concerning them. [50:4] Interrogating extant works, we find in fact that Eusebius does not neglect to quote anything useful or interesting regarding these books from early writers. Dr. Lightfoot says that Eusebius "restricts himself to the narrowest limits which justice to his subject will allow," and he illustrates this by the case of Irenaeus. He says: "Though he (Eusebius) gives the principal passage in this author relating to the Four Gospels (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. iii. 1, 1) he omits to mention others which contain interesting statements directly or indirectly affecting the question, e.g. that St. John wrote his Gospel to counteract the errors of Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. iii. 11, 1). " [51:1] I must explain, however, that the "interesting statement" omitted, which is not in the context of the part quoted, is not advanced as information derived from any authority, but only in the course of argument, and there is nothing to distinguish it from mere personal opinion, so that on this ground Eusebius may well have passed it over. Dr. Lightfoot further says: "Thus too when he quotes a few lines alluding to the unanimous tradition of the Asiatic Elders who were acquainted with St. John, [51:2] he omits the context, from which we find that this tradition had an important bearing on the authenticity of the fourth Gospel, for it declared that Christ's ministry extended much beyond a single year, thus confirming the obvious chronology of the Fourth Gospel against the apparent chronology of the Synoptists." [51:3] Nothing, however, could be further from the desire or intention of Eusebius than to represent any discordance between the Gospels, or to support the one at the expense of the others. On the contrary, he enters into an elaborate explanation in order to show that there is no discrepancy between them, affirming, and supporting his view by singular quotations, that it was evidently the intention of the three Synoptists only to write the doings of the Lord for one year after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and that John, having the other Gospels before him, wrote an account of the period not embraced by the other evangelists. [51:4] Moreover, the extraordinary assertions of Irenaeus not only contradict the Synoptics, but also the Fourth Gospel, and Eusebius certainly could not have felt much inclination to quote such opinions, even although Irenaeus seemed to base them upon traditions handed down by the Presbyters who were acquainted with John.It being, then, admitted that Eusebius not only pledges himself to record when any ancient writer has something to "tell about" the undisputed canonical books, but that, judged by the test of extant writings which we can examine, he actually does so, let us see the conclusions which we are entitled to draw in the case of the only three writers with regard to whom I have inferred anything from the "silence of Eusebius."
I need scarcely repeat that Eusebius held Hegesippus in very high estimation. He refers to him very frequently, and he clearly shows that he not only valued, but was intimately acquainted with, his writings. Eusebius quotes from the work of Hegesippus a very long account of the martyrdom of James; [52:1] he refers to Hegesippus as his authority for the statement that Simeon was a cousin (anepsios) of Jesus, Cleophas his father being, according to that author, the brother of Joseph; [52:2] he confirms a passage in the Epistle of Clement by reference to Hegesippus; [52:3] he quotes from Hegesippus a story regarding some members of the family of Jesus, of the race of David, who were brought before Domitian; [52:4] he cites his narrative of the martyrdom of Simeon, together with other matters concerning the early Church; [52:5] in another place he gives a laudatory account of Hegesippus and his writings; [52:6] shortly after he refers to the statement of Hegesippus that he was in Rome until the episcopate of Eleutherus, [52:7] and further speaks in praise of his work, mentions his observation on the Epistle of Clement, and quotes his remarks about the Church in Corinth, the succession of Roman bishops, the general state of the Church, the rise of heresies, and other matters. [52:8] I mention these numerous references to Hegesippus as I have noticed them in turning over the pages of Eusebius, but others may very probably have escaped me. Eusebius fulfils his pledge, and states what disputed works were used by Hegesippus and what he said about them, and one of these was the Gospel according to the Hebrews. He does not, however, record a single remark of any kind regarding our Gospels, and the legitimate inference, and it is the only one I care to draw, is, that Hegesippus did not say anything about them. I may simply add that, as that, as Eusebius quotes the account of Matthew and Mark from Papias, a man of whom he expresses something like contempt, and again refers to him in confirmation of the statement of the Alexandrian Clement regarding the composition of Mark's Gospel, [53:1] it would be against all reason, as well as opposed to his pledge and general practice, to suppose that Eusebius would have omitted to record any information given by Hegesippus, a writer with whom he was so well acquainted and of whom he speaks with so much respect.
I have said that Eusebius would more particularly have quoted anything with regard to the Fourth Gospel, and for those who care to go more closely into the point my reasons may be briefly given. No one can read Eusebius attentively without noting the peculiar care with which he speaks of John and his writings, and the substantially apologetic tone which he adopts in regard to them. Apart from any doubts expressed regarding the Gospel itself, the controversy as to the authenticity of the Apocalypse and second and third Epistles called by his name, with which Eusebius was so well acquainted, and the critical dilemma as to the impossibility of the same John having written both the Gospel and Apocalypse, regarding which he so fully quotes the argument of Dionysius of Alexandria, [53:2] evidently made him peculiarly interested in the subject, and his attention to the fourth Gospel was certainly not diminished by his recognition of the essential difference between that work and the three Synoptics. The first occasion on which he speaks of John, he records the tradition that he was banished to Patmos during the persecution under Domitian, and refers to the Apocalypse. He quotes Irenaeus in support of this tradition, and the composition of the work at the close of Domitian's reign. [54:1] He goes on to speak of the persecution under Domitian, and quotes Hegesippus as to a command given by that Emperor to slay all the posterity of David, [54:2] as also Tertullian's account, [54:3] winding up his extracts from the historians of the time by the statement that, after Nerva succeeded Domitian, and the Senate had revoked the cruel decrees of the latter, the Apostle John returned from exile in Patmos and, according to ecclesiastical tradition, settled at Ephesus. [54:4] He states that John, the beloved disciple, apostle and evangelist, governed the Churches of Asia after the death of Domitian and his return from Patmos, and that he was still living when Trajan succeeded Nerva, and for the truth of this he quotes passages from Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. [54:5] He then gives an account of the writings of John, and whilst asserting that the Gospel must be universally acknowledged as genuine, he says that it is rightly put last in order amongst the four, of the composition of which he gives an elaborate description. It is not necessary to quote his account of the fourth Gospel and of the occasion of its composition, which he states to have been John's receiving the other three Gospels, and, whilst admitting their truth, perceiving that they did not contain a narrative of the earlier history of Christ. For this reason, being entreated to do so, he wrote an account of the doings of Jesus before the Baptist was cast into prison. After some very extraordinary reasoning, Eusebius says that no one who carefully considers the points he mentions can think that the Gospels are at variance with each other, and he conjectures that John probably omitted the genealogies because Matthew and Luke had given them. [54:6] Without further anticipating what I have to say when speaking of Papias, it is clear, I think, that Eusebius, being aware of, and interested in, the peculiar difficulties connected with the writings attributed to John, not to put a still stronger case, and quoting traditions from later and consequently less weighty authorities, would certainly have recorded with more special readiness any information on the subject given by Hegesippus, whom he so frequently lays under contribution, had his writings contained any.
In regard to Papias the case is still clearer. We find that Eusebius quotes his account of the composition of Gospels by Matthew and Mark, [55:1] although he had already given a closely similar narrative regarding Mark from Clement of Alexandria, and appealed to Papias in confirmation of it. Is it either possible or permissible to suppose that, had Papias known anything of the other two Gospels, he would not have enquired about them from the Presbyters and recorded their information? And is it either possible or permissible to suppose that if Papias had recorded any similar information regarding the composition of the third and fourth Gospels, Eusebius would have omitted to quote it? Certainly not; and Dr. Lightfoot's article proves it. Eusebius had not only pledged himself to give such information, and does so in every case which we can test, but he fulfil it by actually quoting what Papias had to say about the Gospels. Even if he had been careless, his very reference to the first two Gospels must have reminded him of the claims of the rest. There are, however, special reasons which render it still more certain that had Papias had anything to tell about the Fourth Gospel,--and if there was a Fourth Gospel in his knowledge he must have had something, to tell about it,-- Eusebius would have recorded it. The first quotation he makes from Papias is the passage in which the Bishop of Hierapolis states the interest with which he had enquired about the words of the Presbyters, "what John or Matthew or what any other of the disciples of the Lord said, and what Aristion and the Presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, say." [55:2] Eusebius observes, and particularly points out, that the name of John is twice mentioned in the passage, the former, mentioned with Peter, James, and Matthew, and other Apostles, evidently being, he thinks, the Evangelist, and the latter being clearly distinguished by the designation of Presbyter. Eusebius states that this proves the truth of the assertion that there were two men of the name of John in Asia, and that two tombs were still shown at Ephesus bearing the name of John. Eusebius then proceeds to argue that probably the second of the two Johns, if not the first, was the man who saw the Revelation. What an occasion for quoting any information bearing at all on the subject from Papias, who had questioned those who had been acquainted with both! His attention is so pointedly turned to John at the very moment when he makes his quotations regarding Matthew and Mark, that I am fully warranted, both by the conclusions of Dr. Lightfoot and the peculiar circumstances of the case, in affirming that the silence of Eusebius proves that Papias said nothing about either the third or fourth Gospels.
I need not go on to discuss Dionysius of Corinth, for the same reasoning equally applies to his case. I have, therefore, only a few more words to say on the subject of Eusebius. Not content with what he intended to be destructive criticism, Dr. Lightfoot valiantly proceeds to the constructive and, "as a sober deduction from facts," makes the following statement, which he prints in italics: "The silence of Eusebius respecting early witnesses to the Fourth Gospel is an evidence in its favour." [56:1] Now, interpreted even by the rules laid down by Dr. Lightfoot himself, what does this silence really mean? It means, not that the early writers about whom he is supposed to be silent are witnesses about anything connected with the Fourth Gospel, but simply that if Eusebius noticed and did not record the mere use of that Gospel by anyone, he thereby indicates that he himself, in the fourth century, classed it amongst the undisputed books, the mere use of which he does not undertake to mention. The value of his opinion at so late a date is very small.
The Ignatian Epistles
Professor Lightfoot next makes a vehement attack upon me in connection with "The Ignatian Epistles," [57:1] which is equally abortive and limited to details. I do not intend to complain of the spirit in which the article is written, nor of its unfairness. On the whole I think that readers may safely be left to judge of the tone in which a controversy is carried on. Unfortunately, however, the perpetual accusation of misstatement brought against me in this article, and based upon minute criticism into which few care to follow, is apt to leave the impression that it is well-founded, for there is the very natural feeling in most right minds that no one would recklessly scatter such insinuations. It is this which alone makes such an attack dangerous. Now in a work like this, dealing with so many details, it must be obvious that it not possible altogether to escape errors. A critic or opponent is of course entitled to point these out, although, if he be high-minded or even alive to his own interests, I scarcely think that he will do so in a spirit of unfair detraction. But in doing this a writer is bound to be accurate, for if he be liberal of such accusations and it can be shown that his charges are unfounded, they recoil with double force upon himself. I propose, therefore, as it is impossible for me to reply to all such attacks, to follow Professor Lightfoot and Dr. Westcott, with some minuteness in their discussion of my treatment of the Ignatian Epistles, and once for all to show the grave misstatements to which they commit themselves.
Dr. Lightfoot does not ignore the character of the discussion upon which he enters, but it will be seen that his appreciation of its difficulty by no means inspires him with charitable emotions. He says: "The Ignatian question is the most perplexing which confronts the student of earlier Christian history. The literature is voluminous; the considerations involved are very wide, very varied, and very intricate. A writer, therefore, may well be pardoned if he betrays a want of familiarity with this subject. But in this case the reader naturally expects that the opinions at which he has arrived will be stated with some diffidence." [58:1] My critic objects that I express my opinions with decision. I shall hereafter justify this decision, but I would here point out that the very reasons which render it difficult for Dr. Lightfoot to form a final and decisive judgment on the question make it easy for me. It requires but little logical perception to recognize that Epistles, the authenticity of which it is so difficult to establish, cannot have much influence as testimony for the Gospels. The statement just quoted, however, is made the base of the attack, and war is declared in the following terms:
"The reader is naturally led to think that a writer would not use such very decided language unless he had obtained a thorough mastery of his subject; and when he finds the notes thronged with references to the most recondite sources of information, he at once credits the author with an 'exhaustive' knowledge of the literature bearing upon it. It becomes important therefore to enquire whether the writer shows that accurate acquaintance with the subject, which justifies us in attaching weight to his dicta as distinguished from his arguments." [59:1]
This sentence shows the scope of the discussion. My dicta, however, play a very subordinate part throughout, and even if no weight be attached to them-- and I have never desired that any should be--my argument would not be in the least degree affected.
The first point attacked, like most of those subsequently assailed, is one of mere critical history. I wrote: "The strongest internal, as well as other evidence, into which space forbids our going in detail, has led (1) the majority of critics to recognize the Syriac version as the most genuine form of the letters of Ignatius extant, and (2) this is admitted by most of those who nevertheless deny the authenticity of any of the epistles." [59:2]
Upon this Dr. Lightfoot remarks:--
"No statement could be more erroneous as a summary of the results of the Ignatian controversy since the publication of the Syriac epistles than this." 1
It will be admitted that this is pretty "decided language" for one who is preaching "diffidence." When we come to details, however, Dr. Lightfoot admits: "Those who maintain the genuineness of the Ignatian Epistles in one or other of the two forms, may be said to be almost evenly divided on this question of priority." He seems to consider that he sufficiently shows this when he mentions five or six critics on either side; but even on this modified interpretation of my statement its correctness may be literally maintained. To the five names quoted as recognising the priority of the Syriac Epistles may be added those of Milman, Böhringer, de Pressensé, and Dr. Tregelles, which immediately occur to me. But I must ask upon what ground he limits my remark to those who absolutely admit the genuineness? I certainly do not so limit it, but affirm that a majority prefer the three Curetonian Epistles, and that this majority is made up partly of those who, denying the authenticity of any of the letters, still consider the Syriac the purest and least adulterated form of the Epistles. This will be evident to anyone who reads the context. With regard to the latter (2) part of the sentence, I will at once say that "most" is a slip of the pen for "many," which I correct in this edition. [60:1] Many of those who deny or do not admit the authenticity prefer the Curetonian version. The Tübingen school are not unanimous on the point, and there are critics who do not belong to it. Bleek, for instance, who does not commit himself to belief, considers the priority of the Curetonian "im höchsten Grade wahrscheinlich." Volkmar, Lipsius, and Rumpf prefer them. Dr. Lightfoot says:
"The case of Lipsius is especially instructive, as illustrating this point. Having at one time maintained the priority and genuineness of the Curetonian letters, he has lately, if I rightly understand him, retracted his former opinion on both questions alike." [60:2]
Dr. Lightfoot, however, has not, rightly understood him. Lipsius has only withdrawn his opinion that the Syriac letters are authentic, but, whilst now asserting that in all their forms the Ignatian Epistles are spurious, he still maintains the priority of the Curetonian version. He first announced this change of view emphatically in 1873, when he added: "An dem relativ grössern Alter der syrischen Textgestalt gegenüber der kürzeren griechischen halte ich übrigens nach wie vor fest." [61:1] In the very paper to which Dr. Lightfoot refers, Lipsius also again says quite distinctly: "Ich bin noch jetzt überzeugt, dass der Syrer in zahlreichen Fällen den relativ ursprünglichsten Text bewahrt hat (vgl. meine Nachweise in 'Niedner's Zeitschr.' S. 15ff)." [61:2] With regard to the whole of this (2) point, it must be remembered that the only matter in question is simply a shade of opinion amongst critics who deny the authenticity of the Ignatian Epistles in all forms.
Dr. Lightfoot, however, goes on "to throw some light upon this point" by analysing my "general statement of the course of opinion on this subject given in an earlier passage." [61:3] The "light" which he throws seems to pass through so peculiar a medium, that I should be much rather tempted to call it darkness. I beg the reader to favour me with his attention to this matter, for here commences a serious attack upon the accuracy of my notes and statements, which is singularly full of error and misrepresentation. The general statement referred to and quoted is as follows:--
"These three Syriac epistles have been subjected to the severest scrutiny, and many of the ablest critics have pronounced them to be the only authentic Epistles of Ignatius, whilst others, who do not admit that even these are genuine letters emanating from Ignatius, prefer them to the version of seven Greek epistles, and consider them the most ancient form of the letters which we possess.(1) As early as the sixteenth century, however, the strongest doubts were expressed regarding the authenticity of any of the epistles ascribed to Ignatius. The Magdeburg Centuriators first attacked them, and Calvin declared (p. 260) them to be spurious,(1) an opinion fully shared by Chemnitz, Dallaeus, and others; and similar doubts, more or less definite, were expressed throughout the seventeenth century, (2) and onward to comparatively recent times,(3) although the means of forming a judgment were not then so complete as now. That the epistles were interpolated there was no doubt. Fuller examination and more comprehensive knowledge of the subject have confirmed earlier doubts, and a large mass of critics recognise that the authenticity of none of these epistles can be established, and that they can only be considered later and spurious compositions.(4)" [62:1]
In the first note (1) on p. 259 I referred to Bunsen, Bleek, Böhringer, Cureton, Ewald, Lipsius, Milman, Ritschl, and Weiss, and Dr. Lightfoot proceeds to analyse my statements as follows: and I at once put his explanation and my text in parallel columns, italicising parts of both to call more immediate attention to the point:
|Many of the ablest critics have pronounced them to be the only authentic Epistles of Ignatius, whilst others who do not admit that even these are genuine letters emanating from Ignatius, still prefer them to the version of seven Greek Epistles, and consider them the most ancient form of the letters which we possess.'||"These references, it will be observed, are given to illustrate more immediately, though perhaps not solely, the statement that writers 'who do not admit that even these (the Curetonian Epistles) are genuine letters emanating from Ignatius, still prefer them to the version of seven Greek Epistles, and consider them the most ancient form of the letters which we possess.'" [62:2]|
It must be evident to anyone who reads the context [62:3] that in this sentence I am stating opinions expressed in favour of the Curetonian Epistles, and that the note, which is naturally put at the end of that sentence, must be intended to represent this favourable opinion, whether of those who absolutely maintain the authenticity or merely the relative priority. Dr. Lightfoot quietly suppresses, in his comments, the main statement of the text which the note illustrates, and then "throws light" upon the point by the following remarks:--
Cureton, Bunsen, Böhringer, Ewald, Milman, Ritschl, and Weiss maintain both the priority and genuineness of the Syriac Epistles. Bleek will not commit himself to a distinct recognition of the letters in any form. Of the Vossian Epistles, he says: "Aber auch die Echtheit dieser Recension ist keineswegs sicher." He considers the priority of the Curetonian "in the highest degree probable."
Lipsius rejects all the Epistles, as I have already said, but maintains the priority of the Syriac.
|"The reader, therefore, will hardly be prepared to hear that not one of these nine writers condemns the Ignatian letters as spurious. Bleek alone leaves the matter in some uncertainty while inclining to Bunsen's view; the other eight distinctly maintain the genuineness of the Curetonian letters." [63:1]|
Dr. Lightfoot's statement, therefore, is a total misrepresentation of the of facts, and of that mischievous kind which does most subtle injury. Not one reader in twenty would take the trouble to investigate, but would receive from such positive assertions an impression that my note was totally wrong, when in fact it is literally correct.
Continuing his analysis, Dr. Lightfoot fights almost every inch of the ground in the very same style. He cannot contradict my statement that so early as the sixteenth century the strongest doubts were expressed regarding the authenticity of any of the Epistles ascribed to Ignatius, and that the Magdeburg Centuriators attacked them, and Calvin declared them to be spurious, [64:1] but Dr. Lightfoot says: "The criticisms of Calvin more especially refer to those passages which were found in the Long Recension alone." [64:2] Of course only the Long Recension was at that time known. Rivet replies to Campianus that Calvin's objections were not against Ignatius but the Jesuits who had corrupted him. [64:3] This is the usual retort theological, but as I have quoted the words of Calvin the reader may judge for himself. Dr. Lightfoot then says:
"The clause which follows contains a direct misstatement. Chemnitz did not fully share the opinion that they were spurious; on the contrary, he quotes them several times as authoritative; but he says that they 'seem to have been altered in many places to strengthen the position of the Papal power, &c.'" [64:4]
Pearson's statement here quoted must be received with reserve, for Chemnitz rather speaks sarcastically of those who quote these Epistles as evidence. In treating them as ancient documents or speaking of parts of them with respect, Chemnitz does nothing more than the Magdeburg Centuriators, but this is a very different thing from directly ascribing them to Ignatius himself. The Epistles in the "Long Recension were before Chemnitz both in the Latin and Greek forms. He says of them: "... multas habent non contemnendas sententias, praesertim sicut Graece leguntur. Admixta vero sunt et alia non pauca, quae profecto non referunt gravitatem Apostolicam. Adulteratas enim jam esse illas epistolas, vel inde colligitur." He then shows that quotations in ancient writers purporting to be taken from the Epistles of Ignatius are not found in these extant Epistles at all, and says: "De Epistolis igitur illis Ignatii, quae nunc ejus titulo feruntur, merito dubitamus: transformatae enim videntur in multis locis, ad stabiliendum statum regni Pontificii." [65:1] Even when he speaks in favour of them he "damns them with faint praise." The whole of the discussion turns upon the word "fully," and is an instance of the minute criticism of my critic, who evidently is not directly acquainted with Chemnitz. A shade more or less of doubt or certainty in conveying the impression received from the words of a writer is scarcely worth much indignation.
Dr. Lightfoot makes a very detailed attack upon my next two notes, and here again I must closely follow him. My note (2)p. 260 reads as follows:
"2By Bochartus, Aubertin, Blondel, Basnage, Casaubon, Cocus, Humfrey, Rivetus, Salmasius, Socinus (Faustus), Parker, Petau, &c. &c.; cf. Jacobson, 'Patr. Apost.' i. p. xxv; Cureton, 'Vindiciae Ignatianae,' 1846, appendix."
Upon this Dr. Lightfoot makes the following preliminary remarks:--
"But the most important point of all is the purpose for which they are quoted. 'Similar doubts' could only, I think, be interpreted from the context as doubts 'regarding the authenticity of any of the Epistles ascribed to Ignatius.'" [65:2]
As Dr. Lightfoot, in the first sentence just quoted, recognises what is "the most important point of all," it is a pity that, throughout the whole of the subsequent analysis of the references in question, he persistently ignores my very careful definition of "the purpose for which they are quoted." It is difficult, without entering into minute classifications, accurately to represent in a few words the opinions of a great number of writers, and briefly convey a fair idea of the course of critical judgment. Desirous, therefore, of embracing a large class--for both this note and the next, with mere difference of epoch, illustrate the same statement in the text--and not to overstate the case on my own side, I used what seemed to me a very moderate phrase, decreasing the force of the opinion of those who positively rejected the Epistles, and not unfairly representing the hesitation of those who did not fully accept them. I said, then, in guarded terms--and I italicise the part which Dr. Lightfoot chooses to suppress--that "similar doubts, more or less definite," were expressed by the writers referred to.
Dr. Lightfoot admits that Bochart directly condemns one Epistle, and would probably have condemned the rest also; that Aubertin, Blondel, Basnage, R. Parker, and Saumaise actually rejected all; and that Cook pronounces them "either supposititious or shamefully corrupted." So far, therefore, there can be no dispute. I will now take the rest in succession. Dr. Lightfoot says that Humfrey "considers that they have been interpolated and mutilated, but he believes them genuine in the main." Dr. Lightfoot has so completely warped the statement in the text, that he seems to demand nothing short of a total condemnation of the Epistles in the note, but had I intended to say that Humfrey and all of these writers definitely rejected the whole of the Epistles I should not have limited myself to merely saying that they expressed "doubts more or less definite,'' which Humfrey does. Dr. Lightfoot says that Socinus "denounces corruptions and anachronisms, but so far as I can see does not question a nucleus of genuine matter." His very denunciations, however, are certainly the expression of "doubts, more or less definite." "Casaubon, far from rejecting them altogether," Dr. Lightfoot says, "promises to defend the antiquity of some of the Epistles with new arguments." But I have never affirmed that he "rejected them altogether." Casaubon died before he fulfilled the promise referred to, so that we cannot determine what arguments he might have used. I must point out, however, that the antiquity does not necessarily involve the authenticity of a document. With regard to Rivet the case is different. I had overlooked the fact that in a subsequent edition of the work referred to, after receiving Archbishop Usher's edition on of the Short Recension, he had given his adhesion to "that form of the Epistles." [67:1] This fact is also mentioned by Pearson, and I ought to have observed it. [67:2] Petau, the last of the writers referred to, says: "Equidem haud abnuerim epistolas illius varie interpolatas et quibusdam additis mutatas, ac depravatas fuisse: tum aliquas esse supposititias: verum nullas omnino ab Ignatio Epistolas esse scriptas, id vero nimium temere affirmari sentio." He then goes on to mention the recent publication of the Vossian Epistles and the version of Usher, and the learned Jesuit Father has no more decided opinion to express than: "ut haec prudens, ac justa suspicio sit, illas esse genuinas Ignatii epistolas, quas antiquorum consensus illustribus testimoniis commendatas ac approbatas reliquit." [67:3]
The next note (3), p. 260, was only separated from the preceding for convenience of reference, and Dr. Lightfoot quotes and comments upon it as follows:--
"The next note (3), p. 260, is as follows:--
"'[Wotton, Praef. Clem. R. Epp. 1718]; J. Owen, Enquiry into Original Nature, &c., Evang. Church, Works, ed. Russel, 1826, vol. xx. p. 147; Oudin, Comm. de Script. Eccles. &c. 1722, p. 88; Lampe, Comm. analyt. ex Evang. Joan. 1724, i. p. 184; Lardner, Credibility, &c., Works, ii. p. 68 f.; Beausobre, Hist. Crit. de Manichée, &c. 1734, i. p. 378, note 3; Ernesti, N. Theol. Biblioth. 1761, ii. p. 489; [Mosheim, De Rebus Christ. p. 159 f.]; Weismann, Introd. in Memorab. Eccles. 1745, i. p. 137; Heumann, Conspect. Reipub. Lit. 1763, p. 492; Schroeckh, Chr. Kirchengesch. 1775, ii. p. 341; Griesbach, Opuscula Academ. 1824, i. p. 26; Rosenmüller, Hist. Interpr. Libr. Sacr. in Eccles. 1795, i. p. 116; Semler, Paraphr. in Epist II. Petri. 1784, Praef.; Kestner, Comm. de Eusebii H. E. condit. 1816, p. 63; Henke, Allg. Gesch. chr. Kirche, 1818, i. p. 96; Neander, K. G. 1843, ii. p. 1140 [cf. i. p. 327, Anm. 11; Baumgarten-Crusius, Lehrb. chr. Dogmengesch. 1832, p. 83; cf. Comp. chr. Dogmengesch. 1840, p. 79; [Niedner, Gesch. chr. K. p. 196; Thiersch, Die K. im ap. Zeit. p. 322; Hagenbach, K. G. i. p. 115 f.]; cf. Cureton, Vind. Ign. Append.; Ziegler, Versuch eine prag. Gesch. d. kirchl. Verfassungsformen, u.s.w. 1798, p. 16; J.E.C. Schmidt, Versuch üb. d. gedopp. Recens. d. Br. S. Ignat., in Henke's Mag. f. Rel. Phil. u.s.w. [1795; cf. Biblioth. f. Krit. u.s.w., N. T. i. p 463 ff. Urspr. kath. Kirche, II. i. p. 1 f.]; Handbuch Chr. K. G. i. p. 200.'
"The brackets are not the author's, but my own.
"This is doubtless one of those exhibitions of learning which have made such a deep impression on the reviewers. Certainly, as it stands, this note suggests a thorough acquaintance with all the by-paths of the Ignatian literature, and seems to represent the gleanings of many years' reading. It is important to observe, however, that every one of these references, except those which I have included in brackets, is given in the appendix to Cureton's 'Vindiciae Ignatianae,' where the passages are quoted in full. Thus two-thirds of this elaborate note might have been compiled in ten minutes. Our author has here and there transposed the order of the quotations, and confused it by so doing, for it is chronological in Cureton. But what purpose was served by thus importing into his notes a mass of borrowed and unsorted references? And, if he thought fit to do so, why was the key-reference to Cureton buried among the rest, so that it stands in immediate connection with some additional references on which it has no bearing?" [68:1]
I do not see any special virtue in the amount of time which might suffice, under some circumstances, to compile a note, although it is here advanced as an important point to observe, but I call attention to the unfair spirit in which Dr. Lightfoot's criticisms are made. I ask every just-minded reader to consider what right any critic has to insinuate, if not directly to say, that, because some of the references in a note are also given by Cureton, I simply took them from him, and thus "imported into my notes a mass of borrowed and unsorted references," and further to insinuate that I "here and there transposed the order" apparently to conceal the source? This is a kind of criticism which I very gladly relinquish entirely to my high-minded and reverend opponent. Now, as full quotations are given in Cureton's appendix, I should have been perfectly entitled to take references from it, had I pleased, and for the convenience of many readers I distinctly indicate Cureton's work, in the note, as a source to be compared. The fact is, however, that I did not take the references from Cureton, but in every case derived them from the works themselves, and if the note "seems to represent the gleanings of many years' reading," it certainly does not misrepresent the fact, for I took the trouble to make myself acquainted with the "by-paths of Ignatian literature." Now in analysing the references in this note it must be borne in mind that they illustrate the statement that "doubts, more or less definite," continued to be expressed regarding the Ignatian Epistles. I am much obliged to Dr. Lightfoot for drawing my attention to Wotton. His name is the first in the note, and it unfortunately was the last in a list on another point in my note-book, immediately preceding this one, and was by mistake included in it. I also frankly give up Weismann, whose doubts I find I had exaggerated, and proceed to examine Dr. Lightfoot's further statements. He says that Thiersch uses the Curetonian as genuine, and that his only doubt is whether he ought not to accept the Vossian. Thiersch, however, admits that he cannot quote either the seven or the three Epistles as genuine. He says distinctly: "These three Syriac Epistles lie under the suspicion that they are not an older text, but merely an epitome of the seven, for the other notes found in the same MS. seem to be excerpts. But on the other hand, the doubts regarding the genuineness of the seven Epistles, in the form in which they are known since Usher's time, are not yet entirely removed. For no MS. has yet been found which contains only the seven Epistles attested by Eusebius, a MS. such as lay before Eusebius." [70:1] Thiersch, therefore, does express "doubts, more or less definite." Dr. Lightfoot then continues: "Of the rest a considerable number, as, for instance, Lardner, Beausobre, Schroeckh, Griesbach, Kestner, Neander, and Baumgarten-Crusius, with different degrees of certainty or uncertainty, pronounce themselves in favour of a genuine nucleus." [70:2] The words which I have italicised are a mere paraphrase of my words descriptive of the doubts entertained. I must point out that a leaning towards belief in a genuine "nucleus" on the part of some of these writers, by no means excludes the expression of "doubts, more or less definite," which is all I quote them for. I will take each name in order.
Lardner says: "But whether the smaller (Vossian Epistles) themselves are the genuine writings of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, is a question that has been much disputed, and has employed the pens of the ablest critics. And whatever positiveness some may have shown on either side, I must own I have found it a very difficult question." The opinion which he expresses finally is merely: "it appears to me probable, that they are for the main part the genuine epistles of Ignatius."
Beausobre says: "Je ne veux, ni défendre, ni combattre l'authenticité des Lettres de St. Ignace. Si elles ne sont pas véritables, elles ne laissent pas d'être fort anciennes; et l'opinion, qui me paroit la plus raisonnable, est que les plus pures ont été interpolées."
Schroeckh says that along with the favourable considerations for the shorter (Vossian) Epistles, "many doubts arise which make them suspicious." He proceeds to point out many grave difficulties, and anachronisms which cast doubt both on individual epistles and upon the whole, and he remarks that a very common way of evading these and other difficulties is to affirm that all the passages which cannot be reconciled with the mode of thought of Ignatius are interpolations of a later time. He concludes with the pertinent observation: "However probable this is, it nevertheless remains as difficult to prove which are the interpolated passages." In fact it would be difficult to point out any writer who more thoroughly doubts, without definitely rejecting, all the Epistles.
Griesbach and Kestner both express "doubts more or less definite," but to make sufficient extracts to illustrate this would occupy too much space.
Neander.--Dr. Lightfoot has been misled by the short extract from the English translation of the first edition of Neander's History given by Cureton in his Appendix, has not attended to the brief German quotation from the second edition, and has not examined the original at all, or he would have seen that, so far from pronouncing "in favour of a genuine nucleus," Neander might well have been classed by me amongst those who distinctly reject the Ignatian Epistles, instead of being moderately quoted amongst those who merely express doubt. Neander says: "As the account of the martyrdom of Ignatius is very suspicious, so also the Epistles which suppose the correctness of this suspicious legend do not bear throughout the impress of a distinct individuality, and of a man of that time who is addressing his last words to the communities. A hierarchical purpose is not to be mistaken." In an earlier part of the work he still more emphatically says that, "in the so-called Ignatian Epistles," he recognises a decided "design" (Absichtlichkeit), and then he continues: "As the tradition regarding the journey of Ignatius to Rome, there to be cast to the wild beasts, seems to me for the above-mentioned reasons very suspicious, his Epistles, which presuppose the truth of this tradition, can no longer inspire me with faith in their authenticity." [72:1] He goes on to state additional grounds for disbelief.
Baumgarten-Crusius stated in one place, in regard to the seven Epistles, that it is no longer possible to ascertain how much of the extant may have formed part of the original Epistles, and in a note he excepts only the passages quoted by the Fathers. He seems to agree with Semler and others that the two Recensions are probably the result of manipulations of the original, the shorter form being more in ecclesiastical, the longer in dogmatic, interest. Some years later he remarked that enquiries into the Epistles, although not yet concluded, had rather tended towards the earlier view that the Shorter Recension was more original than the Long, but that even the shorter may have suffered, if not from manipulations (Ueberarbeitungen), from interpolations. This very cautious statement, it will be observed, is wholly relative, and does not in the least modify the previous conclusion that the original material of the letters cannot be ascertained.
Dr Lightfoot's objections regarding these seven writers are thoroughly unfounded, and in most cases glaringly erroneous.
He proceeds to the next "note (4)" with the same unhesitating vigour, and characterises it as "equally unfortunate." Wherever it has been possible, Dr. Lightfoot has succeeded in misrepresenting the "purpose" of my notes, although he has recognised how important it is to ascertain this correctly, and in this instance he has done so again. I will put my text and his explanation, upon the basis of which he analyses the note, in juxtaposition, italicising part of my own statement which he altogether disregards:--
|"Further examination and more comprehensive knowledge of the subject have confirmed earlier doubts, and a large mass of critics recognise that the authenticity of none of these Epistles can be established, and that they can only be considered later and spurious compositions."||"References to twenty authorities are then given, as belonging to the 'large mass of critics' who recognise that the Ignatian Epistles can only be considered later and spurious compositions.'" [73:1]|
There are here, in order to embrace a number of references, two approximate states of opinion represented: the first, which leaves the Epistles in permanent doubt, as sufficient evidence is not forthcoming to establish their authenticity; and the second, which positively pronounces them to be spurious. Out of the twenty authorities referred to, Dr. Lightfoot objects to six as contradictory or not confirming what he states to be the purpose of the note. He seems to consider that a reservation for the possibility of a genuine substratum which cannot be defined invalidates my reference. I maintain, however, that it does not. It is quite possible to consider that the authenticity of the extant letters cannot be established without denying that there may have been some original nucleus upon which these actual documents may have been based. I will analyse the six references.
Bleek.--Dr. Lightfoot says: "Of these Bleek (already cited in a previous note) expresses no definite opinion."
Dr. Lightfoot omits to mention that I do not refer to Bleek directly, but by "Cf." merely request consideration of his opinions. I have already partly stated Bleek's view. After pointing out some difficulties, he says generally: "It comes to this, that the origin of the Ignatian Epistles themselves is still very doubtful." He refuses to make use of a passage because it is only found in the Long Recension, and another which occurs in the Shorter Recension he does not consider evidence, because, first, he says, "The authenticity of this Recension also is by no means certain," and, next, the Cureton Epistles discredit the others. "Whether this Recension (the Curetonian) is more original than the shorter Greek is certainly not altogether certain, but … in the highest degree probable." In another place he refuses to make use of reminiscences in the "Ignatian Epistles," "because it is still very doubtful how the case stands as regards the authenticity and integrity of these Ignatian Epistles themselves, in the different Recensions in which we possess them." [75:1] In fact he did not consider that their authenticity could be established. I do not, however, include him here at all.
Gfrörer.--Dr. Lightfoot, again, omits to state that I do not cite this writer like the others, but by a "Cf." merely suggest a reference to his remarks.
Harless, according to Dr. Lightfoot, "avows that he must 'decidedly reject with the most considerable critics of older and more recent times' the opinion maintained by certain persons that the Epistles are 'altogether spurious,' and proceeds to treat a passage as genuine because it stands in the Vossian letters as well as in the Long Recension."
This is a mistake. Harless quotes a passage in connection with Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians with the distinct remark: "In this case the disadvantage of the uncertainty regarding the Recensions is in part removed through the circumstance that both Recensions have the passage." He recognises that the completeness of the proof that ecclesiastical tradition goes back beyond the time of Marcion is somewhat wanting from the uncertainty regarding the text of Ignatius. He did not, in fact, venture to consider the Ignatian Epistles evidence even for the first half of the second century.
Schliemann, Dr. Lightfoot states, "says that 'the external testimonies oblige him to recognise a genuine substratum,' though he is not satisfied with either existing recension."
Now what Schliemann says is this: "Certainly neither the Shorter and still less the Longer Recension in which we possess these Epistles can lay claim to authenticity. Only if we must, nevertheless, without doubt suppose a genuine substratum," &c. In a note he adds: "The external testimonies oblige me to recognise a genuine substratum--Polycarp already speaks of the same in Ch. xiii. of his Epistle. But that in their present form they do not proceed from Ignatius the contents sufficiently show."
Hase, according to Dr. Lightfoot, "commits himself to no opinion."
If he does not deliberately and directly do so, he indicates what that opinion is with sufficient clearness. The Long Recension, he says, bears the marks of later manipulation, and excites suspicion of an invention in favour of Episcopacy, and the shorter text is not fully attested either. The Curetonian Epistles with the shortest and least hierarchical text give the impression of an epitome. "But even if no authentic kernel lay at the basis of these Epistles, yet they would be a significant document at latest out of the middle of the second century." These last words are a clear admission of his opinion that the authenticity cannot be established.
Lechler candidly confesses that he commenced with a prejudice in favour of the authenticity of the Epistles in the Shorter Recension, but on reading them through, he says that an impression unfavourable to their authenticity was produced upon him which he had not been able to shake off. He proceeds to point out their internal improbability, and other difficulties connected with the supposed journey, which make it "still more improbable that Ignatius himself can really have written these Epistles in this situation." Lechler does not consider that the Curetonian Epistles strengthen the case; and although he admits that he cannot congratulate himself on the possession of "certainty and cheerfulness of conviction" of the inauthenticity of the Ignatian Epistles, he at least very clearly justifies the affirmation that the authenticity cannot be established.
Now what has been the result of this minute and prejudiced attack upon my notes? Out of nearly seventy critics and writers in connection with what is admitted to be one of the most intricate questions of Christian literature, it appears that--much to my regret--I have inserted one name totally by accident, overlooked that the doubts of another had been removed by the subsequent publication of the Short Recension and consequently erroneously classed him, and I withdraw a third whose doubts I consider that I have overrated. Mistakes to this extent in dealing with such a mass of references, or a difference of a shade more or less in the representation of critical opinions, not always clearly expressed, may, I hope, be excusable, and I can truly say that I am only too glad to correct such errors. On the other hand, a critic who attacks such references, in such a tone, and with such wholesale accusations of "misstatement" and "misrepresentation," was bound to be accurate, and I have shown that Dr. Lightfoot is not only inaccurate in matters of fact, but unfair in his statements of my purpose. I am happy, however, to be able to make use of his own words and say: "I may perhaps have fallen into some errors of detail, though I have endeavoured to avoid them, but the main conclusions are, I believe, irrefragable." [78:1]
There are further misstatements made by Dr. Lightfoot to which I must briefly refer before turning to other matters. He says, with unhesitating boldness:
"One highly important omission is significant. There is no mention, from first to last, of the Armenian version. Now it happens that this version (so far as regards the documentary evidence) has been felt to be the key to the position, and around it the battle has raged fiercely since its publication. One who (like our author) maintains the priority of the Curetonian letters, was especially bound to give it some consideration, for it furnishes the most formidable argument to his opponents. This version was given to the world by Petermann in 1849, the same year in which Cureton's later work, the Corpus Ignatianum, appeared, and therefore was unknown to him. Its bearing occupies a more or less prominent place in all, or nearly all, the writers who have specially discussed the Ignatian question during the last quarter of a century. This is true of Lipsius and Weiss and Hilgenfeld and Uhlhorn, whom he cites, not less than of Merx and Denzinger and Zahn, whom he neglects to cite. [78:2]
Now first as regards the facts. I do not maintain the priority of the Curetonian Epistles in this book myself; indeed I express no personal opinion whatever regarding them which is not contained in that general declaration of belief, the decision of which excites the wrath of my diffident critic, that the Epistles in no form have "any value as evidence for an earlier period than the end of the second or beginning of the third century, even if they have any value at all." I merely represent the opinion of others regarding those Epistles. Dr. Lightfoot very greatly exaggerates the importance attached to the Armenian version, and I call special attention to the passages in the above quotation which I have taken the liberty of italicising. I venture to say emphatically that, so far from being considered the "key of the position," this version has, with some exceptions, played a most subordinate and insignificant part in the controversy, and as Dr. Lightfoot has expressly mentioned certain writers, I will state how the case stands with regard to them. Weiss, Lipsius, Uhlhorn, Merx, and Zahn certainly "more or less prominently" deal with them. Denzinger, however, only refers to Petermann's publication, which appeared while his own brochure was passing through the press, in a short note at the end, and in again writing on the Ignatian question, two years after, [79:1] he does not even allude to the Armenian version. Beyond the barest historical reference to Petermann's work, Hilgenfeld does not discuss the Armenian version at all. So much for the writers actually mentioned by Dr. Lightfoot.
As for "the writers who have specially discussed the Ignatian question during the last quarter of a century:" Cureton apparently did not think it worth while to add anything regarding the Armenian version of Petermann after its appearance; Bunsen refutes Petermann's arguments in a few pages of his "Hippolytus;" [79:2] Baur, who wrote against Bunsen and the Curetonian letters, and, according to Dr. Lightfoot's representation, should have found this "the most formidable argument" against them, does not anywhere, subsequent to their publication, even allude to the Armenian Epistles; Ewald, in a note of a couple of lines, [79:3] refers to Petermann's Epistles as identical with a post-Eusebian manipulated form of the Epistles which he mentions in a sentence in his text; Dressel devotes a few unfavourable lines to them; [80:1] Hefele [80:2] supports them at somewhat greater length; but Bleek, Volkmar, Tischendorf, Böhringer, Scholten, and others have not thought them worthy of special notice; at any rate none of these nor any other writers of any weight have, so far as I am aware, introduced them into the controversy at all.
The argument itself did not seem to me of sufficient importance to drag into a discussion already too long and complicated, and I refer the reader to Bunsen's reply to it, from which, however, I may quote the following lines:
"But it appears to me scarcely serious to say: there are the Seven Letters in Armenian, and I maintain, they prove that Cureton's text is an incomplete extract, because, I think, I have found some Syriac idioms in the Armenian text! Well, if that is not a joke, it simply proves, according to ordinary logic, that the Seven Letters must have once been translated into Syriac. But how can it prove that the Greek original of this supposed Syriac version is the genuine text, and not an interpolated and partially forged one?" [80:3]
Dr. Lightfoot blames me for omitting to mention this argument, on the ground that "a discussion which, while assuming the priority of the Curetonian letters, ignores this version altogether, has omitted a vital problem of which it was bound to give an account." Now all this is sheer misrepresentation. I do not assume the priority of the Curetonian Epistles, and I examine all the passages contained in the seven Greek Epistles which have any bearing upon our Gospels.
Passing on to another point, I say:
"Seven Epistles have been selected out of fifteen extant, all equally purporting to be by Ignatius, simply because only that number were mentioned by Eusebius." [81:1]
Another passage is also quoted by Dr. Lightfoot, which will be found a little further on, where it is taken for facility of reference. Upon this he writes as follows:--
"This attempt to confound the seven Epistles mentioned by Eusebius with the other confessedly spurious Epistles, as if they presented themselves to us with the same credentials, ignores all the important facts bearing on the question. (1) Theodoret, a century after Eusebius, betrays no knowledge of any other Epistles, and there is no distinct trace of the use of the confessedly spurious Epistles till late in the sixth century at the earliest. (2) The confessedly spurious Epistles differ widely in style from the seven Epistles, and betray the same hand which interpolated the seven Epistles. In other words, they clearly formed part of the Long Recension in the first instance. (3) They abound in anachronisms which point to an age later than Eusebius, as the date of their composition." [81:2]
Although I do not really say in the above that no other pleas are advanced in favour of the seven Epistles, I contend that, reduced to its simplest form, the argument for that special number rests mainly, if not altogether, upon their mention by Eusebius. The very first reason (1) advanced by Dr. Lightfoot to refute me is a practical admission of the correctness of my statement, for the eight Epistles are put out of court because even Theodoret, a century after Eusebius, does not betray any knowledge of them, but the "silence of Eusebius," the earlier witness, is infinitely more important, and it merely receives some increase of significance from the silence of Theodoret. Suppose, however, that Eusebius had referred to any of them, how changed their position would have been! The Epistles referred to would have attained the exceptional distinction which his mention has conferred upon the rest. The fact is, moreover, that, throughout the controversy, the two divisions of Epistles are commonly designated the "prae-" and "post-Eusebian," making him the turning-point of the controversy. Indeed, further on, Dr. Lightfoot himself admits: "The testimony of Eusebius first differentiates them." [82:1] The argument (2 and 3) that the eight rejected Epistles betray anachronisms and interpolations, is no refutation of my statement, for the same accusation is brought by the majority of critics against the Vossian Epistles.
The fourth and last argument seems more directly addressed to a second paragraph quoted by Dr. Lightfoot, to which I refer above, and which I have reserved till now, as it requires more detailed notice. It is this:--
"It is a total mistake to suppose that the seven Epistles mentioned by Eusebius have been transmitted to us in any special way. These Epistles are mixed up in the Medicean and corresponding ancient Latin MSS. with the other eight Epistles, universally pronounced to be spurious, without distinction of any kind, and all have equal honour." [82:2]
I will at once give Dr. Lightfoot's comment on this, in contrast with the statement of a writer equally distinguished for learning and orthodoxy--Dr. Tregelles:--
|(4) It is not strictly true that the seven Epistles are mixed up with the confessedly spurious Epistles. In the Greek and Latin MSS., as also in the Armenian version, the spurious Epistles come after the others; and the circumstance, combined with the facts already mentioned, plainly shows that they were a later addition, borrowed from the Long Recension to complete the body of Ignatian letters." [83:1]||"It is a mistake to think of seven Ignatian Epistles in Greek having been transmitted to us, for no such seven exist, except through their having been selected by editors from the Medicean MS. which contains so much that is confessedly spurious;--a fact which some who imagine a diplomatic transmission of seven have overlooked." [83:2]|
I will further quote the words of Cureton, for, as Dr. Lightfoot advances nothing but assertions, it is well to meet him with the testimony of others rather than the mere reiteration of my own statement. Cureton says:
"Again, there is another circumstance which will naturally lead us to look with some suspicion upon the recension of the Epistles of St. Ignatius, as exhibited in the Medicean MS., and in the ancient Latin version corresponding with it, which is, that the Epistles presumed to be the genuine production of that holy Martyr are mixed up with others, which are almost universally allowed to be spurious. Both in the Greek and Latin MSS. all these are placed upon the same footing, and no distinction is drawn between them; and the only ground which has hitherto been assumed for their separation has been the specification of some of them by Eusebius and his omission of any mention of the others." [83:3]
"The external evidence from the testimony of manuscripts in favour of the rejected Greek Epistles, with the exception of that to the Philippians, is certainly greater than that in favour of those which have been received. They are found in all the manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, in the same form; while the others exhibit two distinct and very different recensions, if we except the Epistle to Polycarp, in which the variations are very few. Of these two recensions the shorter has been most generally received: the circumstance of its being shorter seems much to have influenced its reception; and the text of the Medicean Codex and of the two copies of the corresponding Latin version belonging to Caius College, Cambridge, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has been adopted... In all these there is no distinction whatever drawn between the former and latter Epistles: all are placed upon the same basis; and there is no ground whatever to conclude either that the arranger of the Greek recension or the translator of the Latin version esteemed one to be better or more genuine than another. Nor can any prejudice result to the Epistles to the Tarsians, to the Antiochians, and to Hero, from the circumstance of their being placed after the others in the collection; for they are evidently arranged in chronological order, and rank after the rest as having been written from Philippi, at which place Ignatius is said to have arrived after he had despatched the previous Letters. So far, therefore, as the evidence of all the existing copies, Latin as well as Greek, of both the recensions is to be considered, it is certainly in favour of the rejected Epistles, rather than of those which have been retained." [84:1]
Proceeding from counter-statements to actual facts, I will very briefly show the order in which these Epistles have been found in some of the principal MSS. One of the earliest published was the ancient Latin version of eleven Epistles edited by J. Faber Stapulensis in 1498, which was at least quoted in the ninth century, and which in the subjoined table I shall mark A, [84:2] and which also exhibits the order of Cod. Vat. 859, assigned to the eleventh century. [84:3] The next (B) is a Greek MS. edited by Valentinus Pacaeus in 1557, [84:4] and the order at the same time represents that of the Cod. Pal. 150. [84:5] The third (C) is the ancient Latin translation, referred to above, published by Archbishop Usher. [84:6] The fourth (D) is the celebrated Medicean MS. assigned to the eleventh century, and published by Vossius in 1646. [84:7] This also represents the order of the Cod. Casanatensis G. V. 14. [84:8] I italicise the rejected Epistles:
Mar. ad Ign.
Ign. ad Mar.
Mar. ad Ign.
Ign. ad Mar.
I have given the order in MSS. containing the "Long Recension" as well as the Vossian, because, however much some may desire to exclude them, the variety of arrangement is notable, and presents features which have an undeniable bearing upon this question. Taking the Vossian MS., it is obvious that, without any distinction whatever between the genuine and the spurious, it contains three of the false Epistles, and does not contain the so-called genuine Epistle to the Romans at all. The Epistle to the Romans, in fact, is, to use Dr. Lightfoot's own expression, "embedded in the Martyrology," which is as spurious as any of the epistles. This circumstance alone would justify the assertion which Dr. Lightfoot contradicts.
I must now, in order finally to dispose of this matter of notes, turn for a short time to consider objections raised by Dr. Westcott. Whilst I have to thank him for greater courtesy, I regret that I must point out serious errors into which he has fallen in his statements regarding my references, which, as matters of fact, admit of practical test. Before proceeding to them I may make one or two general observations. Dr. Westcott says:--
"I may perhaps express my surprise that a writer who is quite capable of thinking for himself should have considered it worth his while to burden his pages with lists of names and writings, arranged, for the most part, alphabetically, which have in very many cases no value whatever for a scholar, while they can only oppress the general reader with a vague feeling that all 'profound' critics are on one side. The questions to be discussed must be decided by evidence and by argument and not by authority." [86:1]Now the fact is that hitherto, in England, argument and evidence have almost been ignored in connection with the great question discussed in this work, and it has practically been decided by the authority of the Church, rendered doubly potent by force of habit and transmitted reverence. The orthodox works usually written on the subject have, to a very great extent, suppressed the objections raised by a mass of learned and independent critics, or treated them as insignificant, and worthy of little more than a passing word of pious indignation. At the same time, therefore, that I endeavour, to the best of my ability, to decide these questions by evidence and argument, in opposition to mere ecclesiastical authority, I refer readers desirous of further pursuing the subject to works where they may find them discussed. I must be permitted to add, that I do not consider I uselessly burden my pages by references to critics who confirm the views in the text or discuss them, for it is right that earnest thinkers should be told the state of opinion, and recognise that belief is not so easy and matter-of-course a thing as they have been led to suppose, or the unanimity quite so complete as English divines have often seemed to represent it. Dr. Westcott, however, omits to state that I as persistently refer to writers who oppose, as to those who favour, my own conclusions.
Dr. Westcott proceeds to make the accusation which I now desire to investigate. He says:
"Writers are quoted as holding on independent grounds an opinion which is involved in their characteristic assumptions. And more than this, the references are not unfrequently actually misleading. One example will show that I do not speak too strongly." [87:1]
Dr. Westcott has scrutinised this work with great minuteness, and, as I shall presently explain, he has selected his example with evident care. The idea of illustrating the vast mass of references in these volumes by a single instance is somewhat startling but to insinuate that a supposed contradiction pointed out in one note runs through the whole work, as he does, if I rightly understand his subsequent expressions, is scarcely worthy of Dr. Westcott, although I am sure he does not mean to be unfair. The example selected is as follows:
"'It has been demonstrated that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself on the 20th December, A.D. 115,3 when he was condemned to be cast to wild beasts in the amphitheatre, in consequence of the fanatical excitement produced by the earthquake which took place on the 13th of that month.4" [87:2]
"'The references in support of these statements are the following:--
"'3 Baur, Urspr. d. Episc., Tüb. Zeitschr. f. Theol. 1838, H. 3, p. 155, Anm.; Bretschneider, Probabilia, &c. p. 185; Bleek, Einl, N. T. p. 144; Guericke, Handbuch, K. G. i. p. 148; Hagenbach, K. G. i. p. 113 f.; Davidson, Introd. N. T. i. p. 19; Mayerhoff, Einl. petr. Schr. p. 79; Scholten, Die ält. Zeugnisse, pp. 40, 50 f.; Volkmar, Der Ursprung, p. 52; Handbuch Einl. Apocr. i. pp. 121 f., 136.
"'4 Volkmar, Handbuch Einl. Apocr. i. pp. 121 ff., 136 f.; Der Ursprung, p. 52 ff.; Baur, Ursp. d. Episc. Tüb. Zeitschr. f. Theol. 1838, H. 3, p. 149 f.; Gesch. chr. Kirche, 1863, i. p. 440, Amn. 1; Davidson, Introd. N. T. i, p. 19; Scholten, Die ält. Zeugnisse, p. 51 f.; cf. Francke, Zur Gesch. Trajans u.s.w. 1840, p. 253 f.; Hilgenfeld, Die ap. Väter, p, 214.'"
Upon this Dr. Westcott remarks:
Such an array of authorities, drawn from different schools, cannot but appear overwhelming; and the fact that about half of them are quoted twice over emphasises the implied precision of their testimony as to the two points affirmed." [88:1]
Dr. Westcott however, has either overlooked or omitted to state the fact that, although some of the writers are quoted twice, the two notes differ in almost every particular, many of the names in note 3 being absent from note 4, other names being inserted in the latter which do not appear in the former, an alteration being in most cases made in the place referred to, and the order in which the authorities are placed being significantly varied. For instance, in note 3, the reference to Volkmar is the last, but it is the first in note 4; whilst a similar transposition of order takes place in his works, and alterations are made in the pages. The references in note 3, in fact, are given for the date occurring in the course of the sentence, whilst those in note 4, placed at the end, are intended to support the whole statement which is made. I must, however, explain an omission, which is pretty obvious, but which I regret may have misled Dr. Westcott in regard to note 3, although it does not affect note 4. Readers are probably aware that there has been, amongst other points, a difference of opinion not only as to the place, but also the date of the martyrdom of Ignatius. I have in every other case carefully stated the question of date, and my omission in this instance is, I think, the only exception in the book. The fact is, that I had originally in the text the words which I now add to the note: "The martyrdom has been variously dated about A.D. 107, or 115-116. but whether assigning the event to Rome or to Antioch a majority of critics of all shades of opinion have adopted the later date." Thinking it unnecessary, under the circumstances, to burden the text with this, I removed it with the design of putting the statement at the head of note 3, with reference to "A.D. 115" in the text, but unfortunately an interruption at the time prevented the completion of this intention, as well as the addition of some fuller references to the writers quoted, which had been omitted, and the point, to my infinite regret, was overlooked. The whole of the authorities in note 3, therefore, do not support the apparent statement of martyrdom in Antioch, although they all confirm the date, for which I really referred to them. With this explanation, and marking the omitted references [89:1] by placing them within brackets, I proceed to analyse the two notes in contrast with Dr. Westcott's statements.
DR. WESTCOTT'S STATEMENTS.
Baur, Urspr. d. Episc., Tüb. Zeitschr. 1838, H.3 (p. 149, Anm.)
Baur states as the date of the Parthian war, and of Trajan's visit to Rome, "during which the above order" (the sentence against Ignatius) is said to have been given, A.D. 115 and not 107.
|"1. Baur, Urspr. d. Episc., Tüb. Zeitschr. 1838, ii. 3. p. 155, Anm. In this note, which is too long to quote, there is nothing, so far as I see, in any way bearing upon the history [90:1] except a passing supposition 'wenn ... Ignatius im J. 116 an ihn [Polycarp] ... schrieb ...'||
Ibid. p. 155, Anm.
After showing the extreme improbability of the circumstances under which the letters to the Smyrnaeans and to Polycarp are said to have been written, Baur points out the additional difficulty in regard to the latter that, if [Polycarp] died in A.D. 167 in his 86th year, and Ignatius wrote to him as already Bishop of Smyrna in A.D. 116, he must have become bishop at least in his 35th year, and continued so for upwards of half a century. The inference is clear that if Ignatius died so much earlier as A.D. 107 it involves the still greater improbability that Polycarp must have become Bishop of Smyrna at latest in his 26th year, which is scarcely to be maintained, and the later date is thus obviously supported.
(Ibid. Gesch. christl. Kirche, i. p. 440, Anm. 1.)
Baur supports the assertion that Ignatius suffered martyrdom in Antioch, A.D. 115.
|"2. Bretschneider, Probabilia, x. p. 185. 'Pergamus ad Ignatium 'qui circa annum cxvi obiisse dicitur.'||The same.|
|"3. Bleek, Einl. N. T. p. 144 [p. 142 ed. 1862] '… In den Briefen des Ignatius Bischofes von Antiochien, der unter Trajan gegen 115 zu Rom als Märtyrer starb.'||
Bleek, Einl. N. T. p. 144.
Ignatius suffered martyrdom at Rome under Trajan, A.D. 115.
|"4. Guericke, Handb. K. G. i. p. 148 [p. 177 ed. 3, 1838, the edition which I have used]. 'Ignatius, Bischoff von Antiochien (Euseb. "H. E." iii. 36), welcher wegen seines standhaften Bekenntnisses Christi unter Trajan 115 nach Rom geführt, und hier 116 im Colosseum von Löwen zerrissen wurde (vgl. § 23, i.)' [where the same statement is repeated].||
Guericke, Handbuch K. G. i. p. 148.
Ignatius was sent to Rome, under Trajan, A.D. 115, and was destroyed by lions in the Coliseum, A.D. 116.
|"5. Hagenbach, K. G. i. 113 f. [I have not been able to see the book referred to, but in his Lectures 'Die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte," [91:1] 1853 (pp. 122 ff.), Hagenbach mentions the difficulty which has been felt as to the execution at Rome, while an execution at Antioch might have been simpler and more impressive, and then quotes Gieseler's solution, and passes on with 'Wie dem such sei.']||
Hagenbach, K. G. 1869, p. 113. f.
"He (Ignatius) may have filled his office about 40 years when the Emperor, in the year 115 (according to others still earlier), came to Antioch. It was during his war against the Parthians." [Hagenbach states some of the arguments for and against the martyrdom in Antioch, and the journey to Rome, the former of which he seems to consider more probable.]
|"6. Davidson, Introd. N. T. i. p. 19. 'All [the Epistles of Ignatius] are posterior to Ignatius himself, who was not thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre at Rome by command of Trajan, but at Antioch on December 20, A.D. 115. The Epistles were written after 150 A.D.' [For these peremptory statements no authority whatever is adduced].||
Davidson, Introd. N. T. i. p. 19.
The same as opposite.
These "peremptory statements" are of course based upon what is considered satisfactory evidence, though it may not be adduced here.
|"7. Mayerhoff, Einl. petr. Schr. p. 79. '… Ignatius, der spätestens 117 zu Rom den Märtyrertod litt …'||
Mayerhoff, Einl. petr. Schr. p. 79.
Ignatius suffered martyrdom in Rome at latest A.D. 117.
|"8. Scholten, Die ält. Zeugnisse, p. 40, mentions 115 as the year of Ignatius' death: p. 50 f. The Ignatian letters are rejected partly 'weil sie eine Märtyrerreise des Ignatius nach Rom melden, deren schon früher erkanntes ungeschichtliches Wesen durch Volkmar's nicht ungegründete Vermuthung um so wahrscheinlicher wird. Darnach scheint nämlich Ignatius nicht zu Rom auf Befehl des sanftmüthigen Trajans, sondern zu Antiochia selbst, in Folge eines am dreizehnten December 115 eingetretenen Erdbebens, als Opfer eines abergläubischen Volkswahns am zwanzigsten December dieses Jahres im Amphitheater den wilden Thieren zur Beute überliefert worden zu sein.'||
Scholten, Die ält. Zeugnisse, p. 40, states A.D. 115 as the date of Ignatius' death. At p. 50 he repeats this statement, and gives his support to the view that his martyrdom took place in Antioch on the 20th December, A.D. 115.
|"9. Volkmar, Der Ursprung, p. 52 [p. 52 ff.] [92:1] [This book I have not been able to consult, but from secondary references I gather that it repeats the arguments given under the next reference.]||
Volkmar, Der Ursprung, p. 52, affirms the martyrdom at Antioch, 20th December, 115.
|"10. Volkmar, Haindb. Einl. Apocr. pp. 121 f., 136. 'Ein Haupt der Gemeinde zu Antiochia, Ignatius, wurde, während Trajan dortselbst überwinterte, am 20. December den Thieren vorgeworfen, in Folge der durch das Erdbeben vom 13. December 115 gegen die atheoi erwecktenVolkswuth, ein Opfer zugleich der Siegesfeste des Parthicus, welche die Judith-Erzählung (i. 16) andeutet, Dio (c. 24 f.; vgl. c. 10) voraussetzt …'||
Ibid. Handbuch Einl. Apocr. p. 121 f., affirms the martyrdom at Antioch, 20th December, 115.
|"P. 136. The same statement is repeated briefly." [93:1]||Ibid. p. 136. The same statement, with fuller chronological evidence.|
It will thus be seen that the whole of these authorities confirm the later date assigned to the martyrdom, and that Baur, in the note in which Dr. Westcott finds "nothing in any way bearing upon the history except a passing supposition," really advances a weighty argument for it and against the earlier date, and as Dr. Westcott considers, rightly, that argument should decide everything, I am surprised that he has not perceived the propriety of my referring to arguments as well as statements of evidence.
To sum up the opinions expressed, I may state that whilst all the nine writers support the later date, for which purpose they were quoted, three of them (Bleek, Guericke, and Mayerhoff) ascribe the martyrdom to Rome, one (Bretschneider) mentions no place, one (Hagenbach) is doubtful, but leans to Antioch, and the other four declare for the martyrdom in Antioch. Nothing, however, could show more conclusively the purpose of note 3, which I have explained, than this very contradiction, and the fact that I claim for the general statement in the text, regarding the martyrdom in Antioch itself in opposition to the legend of the journey to and death in Rome, only the authorities in note 4, which I shall now proceed to analyse in contrast with Dr. Westcott's statements, and here I beg the favour of the reader's attention.
DR. WESTCOTT'S STATEMENTS.
|1. Volkmar: see above.||
Volkmar, Handbuch Einl. Apocr. i. pp. 121 ff., 136 f.
It will be observed on turning to the passage "above" (10), to which Dr. Westcott refers, that he quotes a single sentence containing merely a concise statement of facts, and that no indication is given to the reader that there is anything beyond it. At p. 136 "the same statement is repeated briefly." Now either Dr. Westcott, whilst bringing a most serious charge against my work, based upon this "one example," has actually not taken the trouble to examine my reference to "pp. 121 ff., 136 f.," and p. 50 ff., to which he would have found himself there directed, or he has acted towards me with a want of fairness which I venture to say he will be the first to regret, when he considers the facts.
Would it be divined from the words opposite, and the sentence "above," that Volkmar enters into an elaborate argument, extending over a dozen closely printed pages, to prove that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself on the 20th December, A.D. 115, probably as a sacrifice to the superstitious fury of the people against the atheoi, excited by the earthquake which occurred on the thirteenth of that month? I shall not here attempt to give even an epitome of the reasoning, as I shall presently reproduce some of the arguments of Volkmar and others in a more condensed and consecutive form.
Ibid. Der Ursprung, p. 52 ff.
Volkmar repeats the affirmations which he had fully argued in the above work and elsewhere.
2. "Baur, Ursprung d. Episc., Tüb. Zeitschr. 1838, ii. H. 3, p. 149 f.
"In this passage Baur discusses generally the historical character of the martyrdom, which he considers, as a whole, to be 'doubtful and incredible.' To establish this result he notices the relation of Christianity to the Empire in the time of Trajan, which he regards as inconsistent with the condemnation of Ignatius; and the improbable circumstances of the journey. The personal characteristics, the letters, the history of Ignatius, are, in his opinion, all a mere creation of the imagination. The utmost he allows is that he may have suffered martyrdom." (P. 169.)
Baur, Urspr. d. Episc., Tüb. Zeitschr. 1838, H. 3, p. 149 f.
Baur enters into a long and minute examination of the historical character of the martyrdom of Ignatius, and of the Ignatian Epistles, and pronounces the whole to be fabulous, and more especially the representation of his sentence and martyr-journey to Rome. He shows that, while isolated cases of condemnation to death, under certain circumstances, which occurred during Trajan's reign may justify the mere tradition that he suffered martyrdom, there is no instance recorded in which a Christian was condemned to be sent to Rome to be cast to the beasts; that such a sentence is opposed to all historical data of the reign of Trajan, and to all that is known of his character and principles; and that the whole of the statements regarding the supposed journey directly discredit the story. The argument is much too long and elaborate to reproduce here, but I shall presently make use of some parts of it.
"3. Baur, Gesch. chr. Kirche, 1863, i. p. 440, Anm. 1.
"'Die Verurtheilung ad bestias und die Abführung dazu nach Rom ... mag auch unter Trajan nichts zu ungewöhnliches gewesen sein, aber ... bleibt ie Geschichte seines Märtyrerthums auch nach der Vertheidigung derselben von Lipsius ... höchst unwahrscheinlich. Das Factische ist wohl nur dass Ignatius im J. 115, als Trajan in Antiochien überwinterte, in Folge des Erdbebens in diesem Jahr, in Antiochien selbst als ein Opfer der Volkswuth zum Märtyrer wurde.'"
Ibid., Gesch. chr. Kirche, 1863, i. p. 440, Anm. 1.
"The reality is 'wohl nur' that in the year 115, when Trajan wintered in Antioch, Ignatius suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself, as a sacrifice to popular fury consequent on the earthquake of that year. The rest was developed out of the reference to Trajan for the glorification of martyrdom."
|4. Davidson: see above.||
Davidson, Introd. N. T., p. 19.
"All (the Epistles) are posterior to Ignatius himself, who was not thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre at Rome by command of Trajan, but at Antioch, on December 20th, A.D. 115."
5. Scholten: see above.
Scholten, Die ält. Zeugnisse, p. 51 f.
The Ignatian Epistles are declared to be spurious for various reasons, but partly "because they mention a martyr-journey of Ignatius to Rome, the unhistorical character of which, already earlier recognised (see Baur, Urspr. des Episc. 1838, p. 147 ff., Die Ign. Briefe, 1848; Schwegler, Nachap. Zeitalt. ii. p. 159 ff.; Hilgenfeld, Apost. Väter, p. 210 ff.; Réville, Le Lien, 1856, Nos. 18-22), is made all the more probable by Volkmar's not groundless conjecture. According to it Ignatius is reported to have become the prey of wild beasts on the 20th December, 115, not in the amphitheatre in Rome by the order of the mild Trajan, but in Antioch itself, as the victim of superstitious popular fury consequent on an earthquake which occurred on the 13th December of that year."
|6. "Francke, Zur Gesch. Trajan's, 1840 , p. 253 f. [A discussion of the date of the beginning of Trajan's Parthian war, which he fixes in A.D. 115, but he decides nothing directly as to the time of Ignatius' martyrdom.]"||Cf. Francke, Zur Gesch. Trajan's, 1840. This is a mere comparative reference to establish the important point of the date of the Parthian war and Trajan's visit to Antioch. Dr. Westcott omits the "Cf."|
|7. "Hilgenfeld, Die ap. Väter, p. 214 [pp. 210 ff.] Hilgenfeld points out the objections to the narrative in the Acts of the Martyrdom, the origin of which he refers to the period between Eusebius and Jerome: setting aside this detailed narrative he considers the historical character of the general statements in the letters. The mode of punishment by a provincial governor causes some difficulty: 'bedenklicher,' he continues, 'ist jedenfalls der andre Punct, die Versendung nach Rom.' Why was the punishment not carried out at Antioch? Would it be likely that under an Emperor like Trajan a prisoner like Ignatiuswould be sent to Rome to fight in the amphitheatre? The circumstances of the journey as described are most improbable. The account of the persecution itself is beset by difficulties. Having set out these objections he leaves the question, casting doubt (like Baur) upon the whole history, and gives no support to the bold affirmation of a martyrdom 'at Antioch on the 20th December, A.D. 115.'"||
Hilgenfeld, Die ap. Väter, p. 214 ff. Hilgenfeld strongly supports Baur's argument which is referred to above, and while declaring the whole story of Ignatius, and more especially the journey to Rome, incredible, he considers the mere fact that Ignatius suffered martyrdom the only point regarding which the possibility has been made out. He shows [97:1] that the martyrology states the 20th December as the day of Ignatius' death, and that his remains were buried at Antioch, where they still were in the days of Chrysostom and Jerome. He argues from all that is known of the reign and character of Trajan, that such a sentence from the Emperor himself is quite unsupported and inconceivable. A provincial Governor might have condemned him ad bestias, but in any case the transmission to Rome is more doubtful. He shows, however, that the whole story is inconsistent with historical facts, and the circumstances of the journey incredible.
It is impossible to give even a sketch of this argument, which extends over five long pages, but although Hilgenfeld does not directly refer to the theory of the martyrdom in Antioch itself, his reasoning forcibly points to that conclusion, and forms part of the converging trains of reasoning which result in that "demonstration" which I assert. I will presently make use of some of his arguments.
At the close of this analysis Dr. Westcott sums up the result as follows:
"In this case, therefore, again, Volkmar alone offers any arguments in support of the statement in the text; and the final result of the references is, that the alleged 'demonstration' is, at the most, what Scholten calls 'a not groundless conjecture.'" [98:1]
It is scarcely possible to imagine a more complete misrepresentation of the fact than the assertion that "Volkmar alone offers any arguments in support of the statement in the text," and it is incomprehensible upon any ordinary theory. My mere sketch cannot possibly convey an adequate idea of the elaborate arguments of Volkmar, Baur, and Hilgenfeld, but I hope to state their main features, a few pages on. With regard to Dr. Westcott's remark on the "alleged 'demonstration,'" it must be evident that when a writer states anything to be "demonstrated" he expresses his own belief. It is impossible to secure absolute unanimity of opinion, and the only question in such a case is whether I refer to writers, in connection with the circumstances which I affirm to be demonstrated, who advance arguments and evidence bearing upon it. A critic is quite at liberty to say that the arguments are insufficient, but he is not at liberty to deny that there are any arguments at all when the elaborate reasoning of men like Volkmar, Baur, and Hilgenfeld is referred to. Therefore, when he goes on to say:
"It seems quite needless to multiply comments on these results. Anyone who will candidly consider this analysis will, I believe, agree with me in thinking that such a style of annotation, which runs through the whole work, is justly characterised as frivolous and misleading"-- [99:1]
Dr. Westcott must excuse my retorting that, not my annotation, but his own criticism of it, endorsed by Professor Lightfoot, is "frivolous and misleading," and I venture to hope that this analysis, tedious as it has been, may once for all establish the propriety and substantial accuracy of my references.
As Dr. Westcott does not advance any further arguments of his own in regard to the Ignatian controversy, I may now return to Dr. Lightfoot, and complete my reply to his objections; but I must do so with extreme brevity, as I have already devoted too much space to this subject, and must now come to a close. To the argument that it is impossible to suppose that soldiers such as the "ten leopards" described in the Epistles would allow a prisoner, condemned to wild beasts for professing Christianity, deliberately to write long epistles at every stage of his journey, promulgating the very doctrines for which he was condemned, as well as to hold the freest intercourse with deputations from the various Churches, Dr. Lightfoot advances arguments, derived from Zahn, regarding the Roman procedure in cases that are said to be "known." These cases, however, are neither analogous, nor have they the force which is assumed. That Christians imprisoned for their religious belief should receive their nourishment, while in prison, from friends, is anything but extraordinary, and that bribes should secure access to them in many cases, and some mitigation of suffering, is possible. The case of Ignatius, however, is very different. If the meaning of oi kai euergetoumenoi cheirous ginontai be that, although receiving bribes, the "ten leopards" only became more cruel, the very reverse of the leniency and mild treatment ascribed to the Roman procedure is described by the writer himself as actually taking place, and certainly nothing approaching a parallel to the correspondence of pseudo-Ignatius can be pointed out in any known instance. The case of Saturus and Perpetua, even if true, is no confirmation, the circumstances being very different; [100:1] but in fact there is no evidence whatever that the extant history was written by either of them, [100:2] but on the contrary, I maintain, every reason to believe that it was not.
Dr. Lightfoot advances the instance of Paul as a case in point of a Christian prisoner treated with great consideration, and who "writes letters freely, receives visits from his friends, communicates with Churches and individuals as he desires." [101:1] It is scarcely possible to imagine two cases more dissimilar than those of pseudo-Ignatius and Paul, as narrated in the "Acts of the Apostles," although doubtless the story of the former has been framed upon some of the lines of the latter. Whilst Ignatius is condemned to be cast to the wild beasts as a Christian, Paul is not condemned at all, but stands in the position of a Roman citizen, rescued from infuriated Jews (xxiii. 27), repeatedly declared by his judges to have done nothing worthy of death or of bonds (xxv. 25, xxvi. 31), and who might have been set at liberty but that he had appealed to Caesar (xxv. 11 f., xxvi. 32). His position was one which secured the sympathy of the Roman soldiers. Ignatius "fights with beasts from Syria even unto Rome," and is cruelly treated by his "ten leopards," but Paul is represented as receiving very different treatment. Felix commands that his own people should be allowed to come and minister to him (xxiv. 23), and when the voyage is commenced it is said that Julius, who had charge of Paul, treated him courteously, and, gave him liberty to go to see his friends at Sidon (xxvii. 3). At Rome he was allowed to live by himself with a single soldier to guard him (xxviii. 16), and he continued for two years in his own hired house (xxviii. 28). These circumstances are totally different from those under which the Epistles of Ignatius are said to have been written.
"But the most powerful testimony," Dr. Lightfoot goes on to say, "is derived from the representations of a heathen writer." [101:2] The case of Peregrinus, to which he refers, seems to me even more unfortunate than that of Paul. Of Peregrinus himself, historically, we really know little or nothing, for the account of Lucian is scarcely received as serious by anyone. [102:1] Lucian narrates that this Peregrinus Proteus, a cynic philosopher, having been guilty of parricide and other crimes, found it convenient to leave his own country. In the course of his travels he fell in with Christians and learnt their doctrines, and, according to Lucian, the Christians soon were mere children in his hands, so that he became in his own person "prophet, high-priest, and ruler of a synagogue," and further "they spoke of him as a god, used him as a lawgiver, and elected him their chief man." [102:2] After a time he was put in prison for his new faith, which Lucian says was a real service to him afterwards in his impostures. During the time he was in prison he is said to have received those services from Christians which Dr. Lightfoot quotes. Peregrinus was afterwards set at liberty by the Governor of Syria, who loved philosophy, [102:3] and travelled about, living in great comfort at the expense of the Christians, until at last they quarrelled in consequence, Lucian thinks, of his eating some forbidden food. Finally, Peregrinus ended his career by throwing himself into the flames of a funeral pile during the Olympian games. An earthquake is said to have taken place at the time; a vulture flew out from the pile crying out with a human voice; and, shortly after, Peregrinus rose again and appeared clothed in white raiment, unhurt by the fire.
Now this writing, of which I have given the barest sketch, is a direct satire upon Christians, or even, as Baur affirms, "a parody of the history of Jesus." [102:4] There are no means of ascertaining that any of the events of the Christian career of Peregrinus were true, but it is obvious that Lucian's policy was to exaggerate the facility of access to prisoners, as well as the assiduity and attention of the Christians to Peregrinus, the ease with which they were duped being the chief point of the satire.
There is another circumstance which must be mentioned. Lucian's account of Peregrinus is claimed by supporters of the Ignatian Epistles as evidence for them. [103:1] "The singular correspondence in this narrative with the account of Ignatius, combined with some striking coincidences of expression," they argue, show "that Lucian was acquainted with the Ignatian history, if not with the Ignatian letters." These are the words of Dr. Lightfoot, although he guards himself, in referring to this argument, by the words "if it be true," and does not express his own opinion; but he goes on to say: "At all events it is conclusive for the matter in hand, as showing that Christian prisoners were treated in the very way described in these epistles." [103:2] On the contrary, it is in no case conclusive of anything. If it were true that Lucian employed, as the basis of his satire, the Ignatian Epistles and Martyrology, it is clear that his narrative cannot be used as independent testimony for the truth of the statements regarding the treatment of Christian prisoners. On the other hand, as this cannot be shown, his story remains a mere satire with very little historical value. Apart from all this, however, the case of Peregrinus, a man confined in prison for a short time, under a favourable governor, and not pursued with any severity, is no parallel to that of Ignatius condemned ad bestias and, according to his own express statement, cruelly treated by the "ten leopards;" and further the liberty of pseudo-Ignatius must greatly have exceeded all that is said of Peregrinus, if he was able to write such epistles, and hold such free intercourse as they represent.
I will now, in the briefest manner possible, indicate the arguments of the writers referred to in the note [104:1] attacked by Dr. Westcott, in which he cannot find any relevancy, but which, in my opinion, demonstrate that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself. The reader who wishes to go minutely into the matter must be good enough to consult the writers there cited, and I will only sketch the case here, without specifically indicating the source of each argument. Where I add any particulars I will, when necessary, give my authorities. The Ignatian Epistles and martyrologies set forth that, during a general persecution of Christians, in Syria at least, Ignatius was condemned by Trajan, when he wintered in Antioch during the Parthian War, to be taken to Rome and cast to wild beasts in the amphitheatre. Instead of being sent to Rome by the short sea voyage, he is represented as taken thither by the long and incomparably more difficult land route. The ten soldiers who guard him are described by himself as only rendered more cruel by the presents made to them to secure kind treatment for him, so that not in the amphitheatre only, but all the way from Syria to Rome, by night and day, by sea and land, he "fights with beasts." Notwithstanding this severity, the martyr freely receives deputations from the various Churches, who, far from being molested, are able to have constant intercourse with him, and even to accompany him on his journey. He not only converses with these freely, but he is represented as writing long epistles to the various Churches, which, instead of containing the last exhortations and farewell words which might be considered natural from the expectant martyr, are filled with advanced views of Church government, and the dignity of the episcopate. These circumstances, at the outset, excite grave suspicions of the truth of the documents and of the story which they set forth.
When we enquire whether the alleged facts of the case are supported by historical data, the reply is emphatically adverse. All that is known of the treatment of Christians during the reign of Trajan, as well as of the character of the Emperor, is opposed to the supposition that Ignatius could have been condemned by Trajan himself, or even by a provincial governor, to be taken to Rome and there cast to the beasts. It is well known that under Trajan there was no general persecution of Christians, although there may have been instances in which prominent members of the body were either punished or fell victims to popular fury and superstition. [105:1] An instance of this kind was the martyrdom of Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, reported by Hegesippus. He was not condemned ad bestias, however, and much less deported to Rome for the purpose. Why should Ignatius have been so exceptionally treated? In fact, even during the persecutions under Marcus Aurelius, although Christians in Syria were frequently enough cast to the beasts, there is no instance recorded in which anyone condemned to this fate was sent to Rome. Such a sentence is quite at variance with the clement character of Trajan and his principles of government. Neander, in a passage quoted by Baur, says: "As he (Trajan), like Pliny, considered Christianity mere fanaticism, he also probably thought that if severity were combined with clemency, if too much noise were not made about it, the open demonstration not left unpunished but also minds not stirred up by persecution, the fanatical enthusiasm would most easily cool down, and the matter by degrees come to an end." [106:1] This was certainly the policy which mainly characterised his reign. Now not only would this severe sentence have been contrary to such principles, but the agitation excited would have been enormously increased by sending the martyr a long journey by land through Asia, and allowing him to pass through some of the principal cities, hold constant intercourse with the various Christian communities, and address long epistles to them. With the fervid desire for martyrdom then prevalent, such a journey would have been a triumphal progress, spreading everywhere excitement and enthusiasm. It may not be out of place, as an indication of the results of impartial examination, to point out that Neander's inability to accept the Ignatian Epistles largely rests on his disbelief of the whole tradition of this sentence and martyr-journey. "We do not recognise the Emperor Trajan in this narrative" (the martyrology), he says, "therefore cannot but doubt everything which is related by this document, as well as that, during this reign, Christians can have been cast to the wild beasts." [106:2]
If, for a moment, we suppose that, instead of being condemned by Trajan himself, Ignatius received his sentence from a provincial governor, the story does not gain greater probability. It is not credible that such an official would have ventured to act so much in opposition to the spirit of the Emperor's government. Besides, if such a governor did pronounce so severe a sentence, why did he not execute it in Antioch? Why send the prisoner to Rome? By doing so he made all the more conspicuous a severity which was not likely to be pleasing to the clement Trajan. The cruelty which dictated a condemnation ad bestias would have been more gratified by execution on the spot, and there is besides no instance known, even during the following general persecution, of Christians being sent for execution in Rome. The transport to Rome is in no case credible, and the utmost that can be admitted is, that Ignatius, like Simeon of Jerusalem, may have been condemned to death during this reign, more especially if the event be associated with some sudden outbreak of superstitious fury against the Christians, to which the martyr may at once have fallen a victim. We are not without indications of such a cause operating in the case of Ignatius.
It is generally admitted that the date of Trajan's visit to Antioch is A.D. 115, when he wintered there during the Parthian War. An earthquake occurred on the 13th December of that year, which was well calculated to excite popular superstition. It may not be out of place to quote here the account of the earthquake given by Dean Milman, who, although he mentions a different date, and adheres to the martyrdom in Rome, still associates the condemnation of Ignatius with the earthquake. He says: "Nevertheless, at that time there were circumstances which account with singular likelihood for that sudden outburst of persecution in Antioch ... At this very time an earthquake, more than usually terrible and destructive, shook the cities of the East. Antioch suffered its most appalling ravages--Antioch, crowded with the legionaries prepared for the Emperor's invasion of the East, with ambassadors and tributary kings from all parts of the East. The city shook through all its streets; houses, palaces, theatres, temples fell crashing down. Many were killed: the Consul Pedo died of his hurts. The Emperor himself hardly escaped through a window, and took refuge in the Circus, where he passed some days in the open air. Whence this terrible blow but from the wrath of the Gods, who must be appeased by unusual sacrifices? This was towards the end of January; early in February the Christian Bishop, Ignatius, was arrested. We know how, during this century, at every period of public calamity, whatever that calamity might be, the cry of the panic-stricken Heathens was, 'The Christians to the lions!' It maybe that, in Trajan's humanity, in order to prevent a general massacre by the infuriated populace, or to give greater solemnity to the sacrifice, the execution was ordered to take place, not in Antioch, but in Rome." [108:1] I contend that these reasons, on the contrary, render execution in Antioch infinitely more probable. To continue, however: the earthquake occurred on the 13th, and the martyrdom of Ignatius took place on the 20th December, just a week after the earthquake. His remains, as we know from Chrysostom and others, were, as an actual fact, interred at Antioch. The natural inference is that the martyrdom, the only part of the Ignatian story which is credible, occurred not in Rome but in Antioch itself, in consequence of the superstitious fury against the atheoi aroused by the earthquake.
I will now go more into the details of the brief statements I have just made, and here we come for the first time to John Malalas. In the first place he mentions the occurrence of the earthquake on the 13th December. I will quote Dr. Lightfoot's own rendering of his further important statement. He says:--
"The words of John Malalas are: The same king Trajan was residing in the same city (Antioch) when the visitation of God (i.e. the earthquake) occurred. And at that time the holy Ignatius, the bishop of the city of Antioch, was martyred (or bore testimony, emarturêse) before him (epi autou); for he was exasperated against him, because he reviled him.'" [109:1]
Dr. Lightfoot endeavours in every way to discredit this statement. He argues that Malalas tells foolish stories about other matters, and, therefore, is not to be believed here; but so simple a piece of information may well be correctly conveyed by a writer who elsewhere may record stupid traditions. [109:2] If the narrative of foolish stories and fabulous traditions is to exclude belief in everything else stated by those who relate them, the whole of the Fathers are disposed of at one fell swoop, for they all do so. Dr. Lightfoot also asserts that the theory of the cause of the martyrdom advanced by Volkmar "receives no countenance from the story of Malalas, who gives a wholly different reason--the irritating language used to the Emperor." [109:3] On the other hand, it in no way contradicts it, for Ignatius can only have "reviled" Trajan when brought before him, and his being taken before him may well have been caused by the fury excited by the earthquake, even if the language of the Bishop influenced his condemnation; the whole statement of Malalas is in perfect harmony with the theory in its details, and in the main, of course, directly supports it. Then Dr. Lightfoot actually makes use of the following extraordinary argument:--
"But it may be worth while adding that the error of Malalas is capable of easy explanation. He has probably misinterpreted some earlier authority, whose language lent itself to misinterpretation. The words marturein, marturia, which were afterwards used especially of martyrdom, had in the earlier ages a wider sense, including other modes of witnessing to the faith: the expression epi Traianou again is ambiguous and might denote either 'during the reign of Trajan,' or 'in the presence of Trajan.' A blundering writer like Malalas might have stumbled over either expression." [110:1]
This is a favourite device. In case his abuse of poor Malalas should not sufficiently discredit him, Dr. Lightfoot attempts to explain away his language. It would be difficult indeed to show that the words marturein, marturia, already used in that sense in the New Testament, were not, at the date at which any record of the martyrdom of Ignatius which Malalas could have had before him was written, employed to express martyrdom, when applied to such a case, as Dr. Lightfoot indeed has in the first instance rendered the phrase. Even Zahn, whom Dr. Lightfoot so implicitly follows, emphatically decides against him on both points. "The epi autou together with tote can only signify 'coram Trajano' ('in the presence of Trajan'), and emarturêse only the execution." [110:2] Let anyone simply read over Dr. Lightfoot's own rendering, which I have quoted above, and he will see that such quibbles are excluded, and that, on the contrary, Malalas seems excellently well and directly to have interpreted his earlier authority.
That the statement of Malalas does not agree with the reports of the Fathers is no real objection, for we have good reason to believe that none of them had information from any other source than the Ignatian Epistles themselves, or tradition. Eusebius evidently had not. Irenaeus, Origen, and some later Fathers tell us nothing about him. Jerome and Chrysostom clearly take their accounts from these sources. Malalas is the first who, by his variation, proves that he had another and different authority before him, and in abandoning the martyr-journey to Rome, his account has infinitely greater apparent probability. Malalas lived at Antioch, which adds some weight to his statement. It is objected that so also did Chrysostom, and at an earlier period, and yet he repeats the Roman story. This, however, is no valid argument against Malalas. Chrysostom was too good a churchman to doubt the story of Epistles so much tending to edification, which were in wide circulation, and had been quoted by earlier Fathers. It is in no way surprising that, some two centuries and a half after the martyrdom, he should quietly have accepted the representations of the Epistles purporting to have been written by the martyr himself, and that their story should have shaped the prevailing tradition.
The remains of Ignatius, as we are informed by Chrysostom and Jerome, long remained interred in the cemetery of Antioch, but finally--in the time of Theodosius, it is said--were translated with great pomp and ceremony to a building which--such is the irony of events--had previously been a Temple of Fortune. The story told, of course, is that the relics of the martyr had been carefully collected in the Coliseum and carried from Rome to Antioch. After reposing there for some centuries, the relics, which are said to have been transported from Rome to Antioch, were, about the seventh century, carried back from Antioch to Rome. [111:1] The natural and more simple conclusion is that, instead of this double translation, the bones of Ignatius had always remained in Antioch, where he had suffered martyrdom, and the tradition that they had been brought back from Rome was merely the explanation which reconciled the fact of their actually being in Antioch with the legend of the Ignatian Epistles.
The 20th of December is the date assigned to the death of Ignatius in the Martyrology, [112:1] and Zahn admits that this interpretation is undeniable [112:2] Moreover, the anniversary of his death was celebrated on that day in the Greek Churches and throughout the East. In the Latin Church it is kept on the 1st of February. There can be little doubt that this was the day of the translation of the relics to Rome, and this was evidently the view of Ruinart, who, although he could not positively contradict the views of his own Church, says: "Ignatii festum Graeci vigesima die mensis Decembris celebrant, quo ipsum passum, fuisse Acta testantur; Latini vero die prima Februarii, an ob aliquam sacrarum ejus reliquiarum translationem? plures enim fuisse constat." [112:3] Zahn [112:4] states that the Feast of the translation in later calendars was celebrated on the 29th January, and he points out the evident ignorance which prevailed in the West regarding Ignatius. [112:5]
On the one hand, therefore, all the historical data which we possess regarding the reign and character of Trajan discredit the story that Ignatius was sent to Rome to be exposed to beasts in the Coliseum; and all the positive evidence which exists, independent of the Epistles themselves, tends to establish the fact that he suffered martyrdom in Antioch. On the other hand, all the evidence which is offered for the statement that Ignatius was sent to Rome is more or less directly based upon the representations of the letters, the authenticity of which is in discussion, and it is surrounded with improbabilities of every kind. And what is the value of any evidence emanating from the Ignatian Epistles and martyrologies? There are three martyrologies which, as Ewald says, are "the one more fabulous than the other." There are fifteen Epistles all equally purporting to be by Ignatius, and most of them handed down together in MSS., without any distinction. Three of these, in Latin only, are universally rejected, as are also other five Epistles, of which there are Greek, Latin, and other versions. Of the remaining seven there are two forms, one called the Long Recension and another shorter, known as the Vossian Epistles. The former is almost unanimously rejected as shamefully interpolated and falsified; and a majority of critics assert that the text of the Vossian Epistles is likewise very impure. Besides these there is a still shorter version of three Epistles only, the Curetonian, which many able critics declare to be the only genuine letters of Ignatius, whilst a still greater number, both from internal and external reasons, deny the authenticity of the Epistles in any form. The second and third centuries teem with pseudonymic literature, but I venture to say that pious fraud has never been more busy and conspicuous than in dealing with the Martyr of Antioch. The mere statement of the simple and acknowledged facts regarding the Ignatian Epistles is ample justification of the assertion, which so mightily offends Dr. Lightfoot, that "the whole of the Ignatian literature is a mass of falsification and fraud." Even my indignant critic himself has not ventured to use as genuine more than the three short Syriac letters [114:1] out of this mass of forgery, which he rebukes me for holding so cheap. Documents which lie under such grave and permanent suspicion cannot prove anything. As I have shown, however, the Vossian Epistles, whatever the value of their testimony, so far from supporting the claims advanced in favour of our Gospels, rather discredit them.
I have now minutely followed Dr. Lightfoot and Dr. Westcott in their attacks upon me in connection with Eusebius and the Ignatian Epistles, and I trust that I have shown once for all that the charges of "misrepresentation" and "misstatement," so lightly and liberally advanced, far from being well-founded, recoil upon themselves. It is impossible in a work like this, dealing with such voluminous materials, to escape errors of detail, as both of these gentlemen bear witness, but I have at least conscientiously endeavoured to be fair, and I venture to think that few writers have ever more fully laid before readers the actual means of judging of the accuracy of every statement which has been made.
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