The Eschatology Of Ignatius Of Antioch: Christocentric And Historical -- By: Edward Fudge

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 15:4 (Fall 1972)
Article: The Eschatology Of Ignatius Of Antioch: Christocentric And Historical
Author: Edward Fudge

The Eschatology Of Ignatius Of Antioch:
Christocentric And Historical

Edward Fudge*

A local educational television station recently presented a panel discussion on the question, “Can one have Christianity without Christ?” One who has kept current in his theological reading will not be surprised to learn that every member of the panel except one tried very hard to justify an affirmative answer. As Carl F. H. Henry has noted, “The central problem of New Testament studies today is to delineate Jesus of Nazareth without dissolving Him as the Bultmannians did, without demeaning Him as many dialectical theologians did, and without reconstructing Him as nineteenth-century historicism did, so that it becomes clear why and how He is decisive for Christian faith.”1 The past two years of this journal have seen more articles on the historiography of the Scriptures of the Christian faith than any other topic.2 Clearly history is a live issue among theologians (and philosophers as well) who are alive to the thought patterns of recent decades.

It may be stated without dispute that our own eschatological interests and historical issues were, at least in principle and in some form, already “old hat” many centuries ago.3 The very meaning and significance of time have often demanded general attention in the face of national or international crises.4 The same issues pound at the consciousness of individual men when they are forced—by the death by a close relative, or on the heels of financial disaster—to stare straight at the limits of personal existence. In this paper, we will consider the thoughts of one such man, an early post-apostolic Christian. His deepest concerns were expressed in seven letters, written on the road to martyrdom.

According to Eusebius, Ignatius was second bishop of Antioch after

*Editor, The C.E.I. Publishing Company, Athens, Alabama, and minister of Holland’s Gin Church of Christ.

Peter. Condemned to death for being a Christian, he was led by ten soldiers from Antioch, via Asia Minor and Macedonia, to Rome. At the end of his journey waited an almost-certain death. At Smyrna, Ignatius was welcomed by the local church, with its bishop Polycarp, and by delegates of three other churches not on his route. From Smyrna he wrote four letters: to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians and to the church at Rome. Moving on to Troas, Ignatius heard that the Antioch persecution had ceased. From Troas, he wrote three more letters, to churc...

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