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Ignatius of Antioch & Polycarp of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary (Early Christian Fathers Series)

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Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were two of the greatest leaders of Christianity in the first half of the second century. Both suffered martyrdom: Ignatius in Rome during the reign of Trajan, and Polycarp in Smyrna some time in the mid-century. The letters of Ignatius advance the teachings of Christ and the apostles on such important subjects as church unity, th Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were two of the greatest leaders of Christianity in the first half of the second century. Both suffered martyrdom: Ignatius in Rome during the reign of Trajan, and Polycarp in Smyrna some time in the mid-century. The letters of Ignatius advance the teachings of Christ and the apostles on such important subjects as church unity, the Eucharist, and the governmental structure of the church. The Martyrdom of Polycarp represents one of the earliest and most inspiring accounts of a Christian martyr that we possess. Their combined writings provide a unique window on the faith, life and practice of Christians in the second century. Careful reading of these writings demonstrates the unique place that the early fathers of the church hold in establishing the foundations of historic Christianity. Their relevance for contemporary ecumenical discussions is beyond dispute.


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Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were two of the greatest leaders of Christianity in the first half of the second century. Both suffered martyrdom: Ignatius in Rome during the reign of Trajan, and Polycarp in Smyrna some time in the mid-century. The letters of Ignatius advance the teachings of Christ and the apostles on such important subjects as church unity, th Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were two of the greatest leaders of Christianity in the first half of the second century. Both suffered martyrdom: Ignatius in Rome during the reign of Trajan, and Polycarp in Smyrna some time in the mid-century. The letters of Ignatius advance the teachings of Christ and the apostles on such important subjects as church unity, the Eucharist, and the governmental structure of the church. The Martyrdom of Polycarp represents one of the earliest and most inspiring accounts of a Christian martyr that we possess. Their combined writings provide a unique window on the faith, life and practice of Christians in the second century. Careful reading of these writings demonstrates the unique place that the early fathers of the church hold in establishing the foundations of historic Christianity. Their relevance for contemporary ecumenical discussions is beyond dispute.

41 review for Ignatius of Antioch & Polycarp of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary (Early Christian Fathers Series)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Genni

    Ignatius draws heavily on the genius of Paul. So much so that at times it seems to be almost a paraphrase. Not that I Blame him, but to the casual reader, they may dismiss his writings as irrelevant, seeming so similar. In reading carefully though, it seems to this amateur reader that there are a couple of focuses in Ignatius that differentiate him from Paul. The first is a fascinating focus on the bishops and the presbytery. Ignatius is almost constantly exhorting the church to obey the bishop an Ignatius draws heavily on the genius of Paul. So much so that at times it seems to be almost a paraphrase. Not that I Blame him, but to the casual reader, they may dismiss his writings as irrelevant, seeming so similar. In reading carefully though, it seems to this amateur reader that there are a couple of focuses in Ignatius that differentiate him from Paul. The first is a fascinating focus on the bishops and the presbytery. Ignatius is almost constantly exhorting the church to obey the bishop and clergy. The reason this is so interesting to me is because I grew up in an evangelical home. To read this writing that dates 30-40 years after Jerusalem fell, it strikes me that there is a heavy focus on church hierarchy, as is found in the Catholic church. What does this assumed position mean, so close after the NT writings? The second focus is an almost obsession with martyrdom. Ignatius would probably say that I am reading him incorrectly and that his focus is on gaining Jesus Christ. Maybe. Although Paul was certainly willing to die, and did, Paul's maryrdom talk is mostly metaphorical for the "death" he experiences in this life. Ignatius is intense in his talk about physically going to Rome to die. Almost as though he were talking himself into it. The entire letter to the Romans is occupied thus. Other than these, one thing that occurred to me was a curious lack of references to the "end times". Seriously, there was almost nothing. I found one and it went as follows: "So, since I have seen the entire congregation in the aforementioned persons, I exhort you to be diligent to practice everything in harmony with God, as the bishop leads in the place of God and the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles and of the deacons-those sweetest to me-who have been entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ who was with the Father before all ages and has appeared at the end [of the world]." Fascinating. For Ignatius, The end of the world, or ages, was when Christ came, past tense. Something to file away for future reference concerning preterism. Concerning this specific edition, Kenneth Howell provides a few short essays at the beginning on the book that are useful in providing context for the letters. For anyine interested in the early church fathers and their view of Scriptures.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mina

    St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp's writings are truly important to the understanding of early Christianity. It is sad however, that the author took every chance he got at proclaiming the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church in his commentaries. It has really undermined his credibility, and even his translations of the actual texts. I do not recommend reading this book or any other book by Dr. Kenneth. I have read two of his books so far, and he takes a very biased view in his interpretations, and St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp's writings are truly important to the understanding of early Christianity. It is sad however, that the author took every chance he got at proclaiming the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church in his commentaries. It has really undermined his credibility, and even his translations of the actual texts. I do not recommend reading this book or any other book by Dr. Kenneth. I have read two of his books so far, and he takes a very biased view in his interpretations, and possibly in his translations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Sullivan

    My first introduction to the Fathers. I am surprised at how well it bridges from Paul's writings to the later writings of the Church. Perhaps I shouldn't be. I am looking forward to continuing learning from the Fathers and making my way forward I. Time through the life of the Church. My first introduction to the Fathers. I am surprised at how well it bridges from Paul's writings to the later writings of the Church. Perhaps I shouldn't be. I am looking forward to continuing learning from the Fathers and making my way forward I. Time through the life of the Church.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    A good translation of these two post-Apostolic fathers. Copious footnotes and introductory materials explain Howell's translation choices and offers alternate translations as well. A good translation of these two post-Apostolic fathers. Copious footnotes and introductory materials explain Howell's translation choices and offers alternate translations as well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cara

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pattie Simmons

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Goodgame

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pattie Simmons

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gisela

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Grantham

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kolby Golliher

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jared

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

  17. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard W.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Holly Fernandez

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Bowen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mack Blankenship

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lego Ergo Sum

  24. 5 out of 5

    C. Michael

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Fisher

  26. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Shovlin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catholic Word

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Good

  31. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

  32. 4 out of 5

    Ben Wanamaker

  33. 5 out of 5

    Phuong Foulsham

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shelita Barice

  35. 5 out of 5

    LenZ

  36. 4 out of 5

    Gizachew Derib

  37. 5 out of 5

    Seth Bobbink

  38. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  39. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Stampfli

  40. 5 out of 5

    Ann Warren

  41. 4 out of 5

    Darren Cary

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