Sunday, 3 May 2015

John-Paul Lotz: Naming Names: Witnesses, memory and authority in the Ignatian letters

Theories about the authenticity of the middle recension of Ignatius 7 letters have recently focused on questions of pseudepigraphy relating to alleged anacronisms of theology , gaps in the sources, or problems with the manuscript tradition. With internal and external historical evidence failing to offer definitive persuasions to either side of the debate,  a look at the internal narrative construction of the letters may shed further light on the question of the authenticity of the corpus.   An evaluation of the internally coherency of the letters and their inter-textual relation to each other may reveal aspects that would have been difficult for a forger to construct.  In particular, the 20 names that are named by Ignatius will be evaluated and compared to see if any of these help us with the corpus’ inter-textual setting. This short paper will seek to introduce questions as to why Ignatius might have been motivated to list the names of so many degrees of persons- bishops, presbyters, deacons, messengers, widows, hosts, friends?  It will also seek to make some connection between the letter (letters?) of Polycarp and the names that it also bears witness to with the Ignatian corpus and context  The role of regional memories surrounding the martyr shrines of Polycarp in Smyrna and of Ignatius in Rome will be briefly brought into purview in order to demonstrate the role of witnesses as an early Christian ‘signature’ on the traumatic events its collective memory.

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