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Wednesday 23 September 2015

Supernatural Evil in the Apostolic Fathers (5): The Martyrdom of Polycarp

The Martyrdom of Polycarp is a theologized account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (whose Epistle to the Philippians was the subject of the previous post in this series). This is the earliest extant example of the 'martyr-acts' genre in Christian literature.1 Probably the majority of scholars date the work to the mid-150s A.D.,2 which would be very soon after the events it describes (some scholars date the work as late as 177).3 If the majority view is correct, then the document was probably written by members of Polycarp's own flock in Smyrna,4 people who knew him and his teachings very well. Thus, as was noted previously, the view of Satan reflected in the Martyrdom is a useful proxy for interpreting Polycarp's own reference to Satan in his Epistle to the Philippians 7.1.

What then is the view of Satan reflected in the Martyrdom of Polycarp? This document contains two references to Satan, one under the familiar title ho diabolos ('the devil') and a second under the title ho antikeimenos ('the opposing one') and, possibly, ho ponēros ('the evil one') along with some modifying adjectives (see below).

Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.4(3.1)

The first reference occurs in Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.4 (or 3.1),5 which reads as follows:
And in a similar manner those who were condemned to the wild beasts endured terrible punishments: they were forced to lie on sharp shells and afflicted with various other forms of torture in order that he might, if possible, by means of the unceasing punishment compel them to deny their faith; for the devil (ho diabolos) tried many things against them. 6
That ho diabolos refers to the devil here and not to some human accuser is an interpretation that appears to enjoy unanimous support among scholars.7 As Ehrman writes, in the Martyrdom "the struggle between antagonistic pagan mobs and Christians is actually a cosmic battle between the devil and God." 8 Hartog explains:
In Mart. Pol’s perspective, the devil himself lies in the shadows behind the persecution (2.4-3.1). This view, that the devil (or demons) incited persecution, was not uncommon in the period.9
In support of the last sentence, Hartog cites Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 5.57; 63; 2 Apology 8; Dialogue with Trypho 18.39; 131.2 (texts which are roughly contemporaneous with the Martyrdom of Polycarp). To these could also be added 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 2:10, 12:17, 13:7;10 Ignatius, Magnesians 1.2, Romans 5.3, 7.1; and Ascension of Isaiah 11.41.11 In short, there is considerable precedent for the theological concept that the devil was responsible for persecution of Christians.12 As Russell explains,
The early church perceived martyrdom as a struggle of the athletes of Christ against the servants of the Devil. The Devil was generally believed responsible for the attitude of both the government and the mob.13
The oddity in the above text is that the 'he' who hoped to compel the Christians to deny their faith has not been mentioned previously. It would be stylistically awkward to refer to an unnamed individual and only subsequently identify him (as the devil). In the Greek there is no pronoun standing for 'he'; it needs to be supplied in translation because there is a third person singular verb with no explicit subject. Interestingly, though, in all but one Greek manuscripts of the Martyrdom, a subject is explicitly mentioned here: ho turannos ('the tyrant'). The two most recent critical texts of the Martyrdom both agree that ho turannos was not part of the original text but was added, perhaps to smooth out the stylistic awkwardness mentioned above.14  

That ho turannos could be the original reading cannot be discounted: this is the view taken in Lake's older critical text15 and is more recently noted as a possibility by Lieu.16 If this were the case, however, it would not imply that no supernatural devil is in view. Lieu thinks that in this case 'the tyrant' would be a title used of the devil. In support of this, one can point to a passage in the Martyrium of Lyon, another second-century martyr-acts, which also refers to 'tyranny' in the context of a reference to the devil's role in persecution.17

A second possibility (if ho turannos is authentic) is that it refers to a human persecutor (presumably the proconsul mentioned later in 3.1) whose torments are given a theological interpretation: the devil was ultimately behind them. This is exactly the idea stated by Russell above. As we will see, this "notion of the devil acting through a human agent"18 is also present in the second reference to the devil in this document.

Hence, the possible reference to 'the tyrant' in Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.4 gives us no reason to doubt the scholarly consensus that ho diabolos in this text carries its usual technical meaning, 'the devil'.

Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.1

The second reference to Satan in this document occurs at 17.1, which is translated by Ehrman as follows:
But the jealous and envious Evil One (ho de antizēlos kai baskanos ponēros), the enemy of the race of the upright (ho antikeimenos tō genei tōn dikaōn), having seen the greatness of Polycarp’s death as a martyr and the irreproachable way of life that he had from the beginning – and that he had received the crown of immortality and was awarded with the incontestable prize – made certain that his poor body was not taken away by us, even though many were desiring to do so and to have a share in [Or: to commune with; or: to have fellowship with] his holy flesh.19
The following two verses elaborate how the Jews instigate the magistrate not to hand over Polycarp’s body lest the Christians begin to worship him, and explain that Christians worship the Son of God and not martyrs.

In the mid-twentieth century there was considerable scholarly debate over the internal integrity of the Martyrdom of Polycarp. However, recent scholars have tended to argue that the book is "a unified whole, written at one time by one author"20 with the exception of the epilogue of chapter 22 and possibly 21.  Schoedel notes that "although serious doubts have been entertained about the integrity of MartPol, critical opinion is now moving in the opposite direction."21 One of the passages which has been seen as likely a later interpolation is Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.2 or 17.2-3.22 However, to my knowledge not one scholar has argued that 17.1 is an interpolation. Indeed, the fact that nearly suggested interpolations begin at 17.2 implies that the authenticity of 17.1 is regarded as unimpeachable.

There are, however, several textual variants in 17.1a, where the Satanological language is found.23 However, the fact that the critical texts of Holmes24 and Ehrman25 agree perfectly in this clause apart from the kai prior to ponēros (retained by Holmes but omitted by Ehrman) suggests we can have some confidence in the original wording.

Gokey notes four possibilities for translating the first clause.26 (1) Antizēlos and baskanos could be attributive adjectives modifying the substantive ho...ponēros: "the jealous and envious evil one…" (2) ponēros and baskanos could be attributive adjectives modifying the substantive ho antizēlos: "the jealous one, envious and evil…" (3) All three terms could be predicative adjectives: “the jealous and envious and evil,…” (4) All three could be substantives: "the jealous one and envious one and evil one…" 27

In any case, the presence of the article, together with the emphatic, multifaceted designation, indicates that the individual referred to is the jealous, envious and evil one par excellence; the enemy of Christians par excellence. ‘Evil one’ is a relatively common designation for Satan in early Christian texts.28 By contrast, the terms antizēlos and baskanos do not occur in the NT. Baskanos "often occurs as a modifier of δαίμων on sepulchral inscriptions… and has common associations with magic".29 Bartelink suggests that "the same terms that were earlier applied to demons [by pagans] could be taken over without any difference and be applied to evil spirits which were known to Christendom."30

On the background to ho antikeimenos, see the previous post on 1 Clement 51.1. However, one further significant parallel should be noted here: the Martyrium of Lyon. This text is quoted at length in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 5.1. It purports to be an encyclical letter from Gaul and is "generally dated 177"31 and thus temporally near to Martyrdom of Polycarp (see above for parallel to MartPol 2.4-3.1). Goodine & Mitchell note that "scholars have overwhelmingly viewed it as authentic."32 Dehandschutter states, "Some correspondences [in the Martyrium] with [Martyrdom of Polycarp] are uncontroversially explained as the influence of the latter on the former."33

Significantly, the Martyrium refers to the instigator of the Gallic martyrdom three times as ho antikeimenos (5.1.5; 5.1.23; 5.1.42),34 and also as tou ponērou (5.1.6), tou diabolou (5.1.25; 5.1.27 [twice; anarthrous in the second instance]), diabolikou (5.1.35),35 tou satana (5.1.14; 5.1.16),36 and, possibly, argiou thēros (5.1.57).37 The way these terms are used leaves no doubt as to their supernatural referent.38 The ferocity of ho antikeimenos gives the Christians a foretaste of his imminent advent, doubtless a reference to the eschatological trial or antichrist event.39  Human persecutors are the "followers" of ho antikeimenos.40 The Christians’ unbelieving servants make false accusations against them because they are "ensnared by Satan."41  Ho antikeimenos had been vanquished by the sufferings of Christ.42 The Satanology of the Martyrium, read in light of the parallels with Martyrdom of Polycarp (probably written only two decades earlier), portends a strong likelihood that the language in Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.4 and 17.1 was understood by its earliest readers to refer to Satan.

Within MartPol 17.1, a further indication that ho antikeimenos is a supernatural figure is 
…having seen the greatness of Polycarp’s death as a martyr and the irreproachable way of life that he had from the beginning – and that he had received the crown of immortality and was awarded with the incontestable prize…
This portion of text, which contains no textual variants, states that ho antikeimenos had seen Polycarp’s way of life from the beginning, which consisted of 86 years in Christ’s service (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9.3). It further states that ho antikeimenos had seen that Polycarp had received immortality. Obviously neither of these statements could be made concerning the Roman proconsul or any other human but only concerning a transcendent being.43

Hence, despite uncertainties surrounding the integrity and text of Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.2-3, we can conclude that the referent of Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.1a is not "unclear".44 The referent is Satan, as most scholars agree.45

The Martyrdom of Polycarp is yet another witness to early Christian belief in a supernatural devil. It occurs in a document written by the church shepherded by Polycarp, probably very soon after his death. We thus have a chain of tradition from Ignatius to Polycarp to Polycarp's flock to Lyon (and, indirectly, Irenaeus) showing that this belief was widely held in the second-century church.


  • 1 Middleton, P. (2011). Martyrdom: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Bloomsbury. p. 6; Rhee, H. (2005). Early Christian Literature: Christ and Culture in the Second and Third Centuries. New York: Routledge, p. 40. .
  • 2 Ehrman, B. (2003). (Ed. & trans.). The Apostolic Fathers (Vol. 1). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p. 362.
  • 3 ibid.
  • 4 Indeed, the prescript of the Martyrdom of Polycarp states that it is addressed by the church of Smyrna to the church of Philomelia.
  • 5 Note that the clause which mentions ho diabolos falls within 2.4 in Holmes’ text but commences 3.1 in Ehrman’s (op. cit., p. 371).
  • 6 Holmes, M.W. (2007) The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, p. 309.
  • 7 Schoedel, W.R. (1964). The Apostolic Fathers: Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Fragments of Papias (Vol. 5). R.M. Grant (Ed.), Nashville: Thomas Nelson, pp. 56-57; Holmes, op. cit., p. 309; Ehrman, op. cit., p. 371; Lieu, J.M. (2002). Accusations of Jewish Persecution in Early Christian Sources. In Neither Jew nor Greek? Constructing Early Christianity (pp. 135-150). London: T&T Clark, p. 145; Lieu, J.M. (2003). Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century. London: Bloomsbury, p. 65; Jefford, C.N. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction. Grand Rapids: Baker, pp. 93-94; Hartog, P. (2013). Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 230; Buschmann, G. (1998). Das Martyrium des Polykarp: Ubersetzt und Erklart. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 108-113.
  • 8 Ehrman, op. cit., p. 360.
  • 9 Hartog, op. cit., p. 230.
  • 10 Foerster, W. (1971/1995). satanas. In G. Kittel & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. 7) (pp. 151-163). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 161.
  • 11 Of all of these texts, probably Ignatius, Romans 5.3, parallels Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.4 most strikingly. Both of these passages describe various types of torture including wild beasts and bodily mutilation before attributing these torments to the devil. This parallel is particularly significant given the tradition-historical links between Polycarp and Ignatius, and the fact that Ignatius clearly regards the devil as a supernatural being (as discussed previously in this series).
  • 12 It is possible that this concept originated with the contention in Jesus traditions that the devil was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 22:3, 53; John 13:2, 27; cf. 1 Cor 2:8).
  • 13 Russell, J.B. (1981/1987). Satan: The Early Christian Tradition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 37.
  • 14 If it strikes the reader as odd that textual critics should favour a reading preserved in only one manuscript, consider this: "The single most important principle of modern textual criticism is that manuscripts must be weighed not counted. This means that it is the quality of the manuscripts not their quantity that is decisive in text critical decisions" (Wettlaufer, R.D. (2013). No Longer Written: The Use of Conjectural Emendation in the Restoration of the Text of the New Testament, the Epistle of James as a Case Study. Leiden: Brill, p. 18).
  • 15 Lake, K. (1917). The Apostolic Fathers, with an English Translation. London: William Heinemann, p. 316.
  • 16 Lieu, 2002, op. cit., p. 145.
  • 17 "When the tyrant’s tortures (tōn turannikōn kolastēriōn) had been overcome by Christ through the perseverance of the blessed saints, the Devil thought up other devices: imprisonment in filth and darkness, stretching feet in stocks to the fifth hole, and other atrocities that angry jailers, full of the Devil, inflict on prisoners." (quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.1.27, trans. Maier, P.L. (1999). Eusebius – the Church History: A New Translation with Commentary. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, p. 174)
  • 18 Setzer, C.J. (2009). Jewish Responses to early Christians. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, p. 113, commenting on Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.1.
  • 19 Ehrman, op. cit., p. 391.
  • 20 Ehrman, op. cit., p. 361.
  • 21 Schoedel, W.R. (1993). Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch. In W. Haase (Ed.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.27.I (pp. 272-358). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 353. Similarly, Buschmann, op. cit., p. 327: "So wird denn in der jüngeren Forschung die Authentizität von MartPol 17f. nicht mehr bezweifelt."
  • 22 Von Campenhausen, the main challenger of the integrity of the Martyrdom, argued for a number of interpolations in MartPol, including the material from 17.2-18 (Von Campenhausen, H. (1957). Bearbeitungen und Interpolationen des Polykarpmartyriums. In H. von Campenhausen (Ed.), Aus der Frühzeit des Christentums, Studien zur Kirchengeschichte des ersten und zweiten Jahrhunderts (pp. 253-301). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, pp. 275-277). Some scholars have regarded 17.2-3 in particular as an interpolation since it "fits badly with the syntax of the surrounding material" (Setzer, op. cit., p. 113) and because 17.2d-3 is missing in two manuscripts (as noted above). Dehandschutter argues for the integrity of chapters 17-18, accepting only the name of Alce in 17.2 as an interpolation (Dehandschutter, B. (1993). The Martyrium Polycarpi: A Century of Research. In W. Haase (Ed.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.27.I (pp. 485-522). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 497). Setzer regards 17.2 as "probably interpolated" (op. cit.). Schoedel argues broadly for the integrity of the document but brackets a number of passages as secondary, including 17.2-3 (1993, op. cit., p. 252).  He holds that the text reads quite naturally if 17.2-3 are removed. Gibson notes that the Jews would then appear abruptly in 18.1 (Gibson, E.L. (2003). The Jews and Christians in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. In A.H. Becker & A.Y. Reed (Eds.), The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (pp. 145-158). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, p. 156).  However, this abruptness in the original text may explain why a later editor felt the need to provide a back story.
  • 23 Where Eusebius and five Greek manuscripts read antizēlos, Parisinus reads antidikos (cf. 1Pet 5.8) and Mosquensis reads antikeimenos. Two Greek manuscripts (Chalcensis and Vindobonensis) add daimōn after ponēros.
  • 24 Holmes, op. cit., p. 324.
  • 25 Ehrman, op. cit., p. 390.
  • 26 Gokey, F.X. (1961). The Terminology for the Devil and Evil Spirits in the Apostolic Fathers. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, pp. 95-96 n. 10.
  • 27 Five Greek manuscripts, including Mosquensis, add kai before ponēros, but it is not retained by Ehrman. In the absence of this kai, the first option is clearly correct, in which case ho...ponēros is a designation for Satan. If kai is present, it is less clear whether the three terms are adjectival or substantival.
  • 28 cf. Matt. 5.37; 6.13; 13.38; 13.39; John 17.15; Eph. 6.16; 2 Thess. 3.3; 1 John 2.13; 2.14; 3.12; 5.18; 5.19; Didache 8.2; Epistle of Barnabas 2.10; 21.3
  • 29 Gokey, op. cit., p. 97 n. 10.
  • 30 Bartelink, G.J. (1952). Lexicologisch-semantische studie over de taal van de Apostolische Vaders. Utrecht: Nijmegen, pp. 80-81
  • 31 Dehandschutter, op. cit., p. 502.
  • 32 Goodine, E.A. & Mitchell, M.W. (2005). The Persuasiveness of a Woman: The Mistranslation and Misinterpretation of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica 5.1.41. Journal of Early Christian Studies, 13(1), 1-19. Here pp. 1-2 n. 1. They do note two scholars who have questioned its authenticity.
  • 33 Dehandschutter, op. cit.
  • 34 Bartelink, G.J.M. (1987). ΑΝΤΙΚΕΙΜΕΝΟΣ (Widersacher) als Teufels- und Dämonenbezeichnung. Sacris Erudiri, 30, 205-224. Here p. 212.
  • 35 An adjective pertaining to the devil: diabolikou logismou, “the Devil’s promptings” (trans. Maier, op. cit., p. 175).
  • 36 Here following the critical text of Lake, K. (1926). Eusebius – Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 1: Books 1-5. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • 37 This reference to incitement of the pagan persecutors by "wild beast" has been understood by some to be a reference to Satan (Maier op. cit., p. 177; Grant, R.M. (2006). Irenaeus of Lyons. London: Routledge, p. 5; Stouck, M.-A. (1999). Medieval Saints: A Reader. Peterborough: Broadview Press, p. 17, who make this identification explicit; Roberts, A. & Donaldson, J. (1886/2007). The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. New York: Cosimo, p. 783; Schaff, P. (1890/2007). Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Vol. 1. New York: Cosimo, p. 217; Frilingos, C.A. (2013). Spectacles of Empire: Monsters, Martyrs, and the Book of Revelation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, p. 99, who capitalize ‘Beast’ and so clearly take it to mean more than a natural animal). Typical of these is Grant: "Incited by a wild beast [the Devil] wild and barbarous tribes could hardly stop". However, others appear to understand the phrase with reference to a natural animal (Musurillo, H. (1972). The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, in Kraemer, R.S. (2004). Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 355, Weidmann, F.W. (2000). The Martyrs of Lyons. In R. Valantasis (Ed.), Religions of Late Antiquity in Practice (pp. 398-412). Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 410; Kannengiesser, C. (1986). Early Christian Spirituality: Sources of early Christian thought. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, p. 48; Ehrman, B.D. (1999). After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 40). Typical of this interpretation is Kannengiesser’s translation: "because a wild and barbarous people once inflamed by a wild beast are not easily held in check." Given the absence of the article, this writer is inclined to follow the latter sense.
  • 38 See the summary in Goodine & Mitchell, op. cit., p. 11 n. 25, who describe the terminology for Satan used in the text, regarding it as reflecting a dualism similar to that in the Gospel of John and in Revelation.
  • 39 "For the Adversary (ho antikeimenos), in a foretaste of his own imminent advent (parousian autou), attacked us with all his might" (Ecclesiastical History 5.1.5, trans. Maier, op. cit., p. 171). Parousia is the word used frequently in the NT to refer to Christ’s second advent (Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; 2:8; Jas 5:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28). The word is used of an antichrist figure in 2 Thess. 2:9.
  • 40 Ecclesiastical History 5.1.5 (trans. Maier, op. cit., p. 171).
  • 41 Ecclesiastical History 5.1.14 (trans. Maier, op. cit., p. 172).
  • 42 Ecclesiastical History 5.1.23.
  • 43 Buschmann (op. cit., p. 111) argues that Martyrdom of Polycarp reflects a dualism with affinities to the Two Ways or Two Angels teaching: "Dem Dualismus von Leben und Tod entspricht in MartPol 3,1a der Gegensatz von Gott und Teufel (vgl. Barn 18,1). Das Martyrium gilt schlechthin als siegreicher Kampf mit dem Teufel (vgl. MartPol 3,1; 19,2; HermSim 8,3,6)."
  • 44 as claimed by Gibson, op. cit., p. 154.
  • 45 Lunn-Rockcliffe, S. (2015). Diabolical Motivations: The Devil in Ecclesiastical Histories from Eusebius to Evagrius. In H. Elton & G. Greatrex (Eds.), Shifting Genres in Late Antiquity (pp. 119-134). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, p. 123; Hartog, op. cit., p. 317; Nicklas, T. (2014). Jews and Christians? Second-Century ‘Christian’ Perspectives on the ‘Parting of the Ways’. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, p. 55; Lieu, 2003, op. cit., p. 65; Jefford, op. cit., pp. 93-94; Boyd, J.W. (1975). Satan and Māra: Christian and Buddhist Symbols of Evil. Leiden: Brill, p. 33; Setzer, op. cit., p. 113; Arndt, W., Danker, F.W. & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 89; Lampe, G.W.H. (1961). A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 154; Buschmann, op. cit., p. 327; Bartelink, 1987, op. cit., pp. 211-212; Bobichon, P. (2003b). Dialogue avec Tryphon: Introduction, Texte Grec, Traduction (Vol. 2). Fribourg: Université de Fribourg, p. 864 n. 8; Lindemann, A. (1992). Die Clemensbriefe. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, p. 149.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Supernatural Evil in the Apostolic Fathers (4): Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp was probably born about 70 A.D. and was martyred at the age of 86 in the mid-second century. He was bishop of the church at Smyrna for a significant amount of time.1 The details of his martyrdom are preserved in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the earliest surviving text from the Christian martyr-acts genre (a text which will be discussed in an upcoming post in this series). His importance to church history can be seen from the fact that his "life and ministry spanned the time between the end of the apostolic era and the emergence of catholic Christianity".2 Although Polycarp was apparently a prolific writer, only one work survives under his name: a letter to the Philippians. Some think the extant text actually incorporates two distinct letters, with chapters 13-14 being "a brief cover note written to accompany a copy of the letters of Ignatius which Polycarp sent to Philippi", and chapters 1-12 being "Polycarp's response to a later 'crisis letter' from Philippi, penned several years after Ignatius's martyrdom."3 However, Holmes thinks the document is "more likely a single unified letter than it is a combination of two."4 The dating of the letter is dependent on the dating of the martyrdom and letters of Ignatius (on which see the previous post).

The two most common terms for Satan in early Christian literature, ho diabolos and ho satanas, both occur in one passage in the letter which constitutes a threefold denunciation of heresy:
For anyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist (antichristos estin); and whoever does not confess the witness of the cross is from the devil (ek tou diabolou estin); and whoever distorts the words of the Lord for his own passions, saying that there is neither resurrection nor judgment – this one is the firstborn of Satan (houtos prōtotokos esti tou satana). (Polycarp to the Philippians 7.1)5
The synonymous parallelism implies that ho diabolos and ho satanas are equivalent terms. The same cannot be said for antichristos since it lacks the article and is not in the genitive case.

The reader will immediately notice the verbal parallel between the first clause and 1 John 4:2-3 (compare 2 John 7). Some scholars argue on this basis that Polycarp is under "influence from the Johannine epistles",6 while others have suggested that Polycarp and the Johannine epistles draw on "a common anti-gnostic ecclesiastical tradition."7

While the Gospel and letters of John do not use the expression “firstborn of Satan”, it does use the expression “of the devil” (ek tou diabolou, John 8:44; cf. ek tou ponērou, 1 John 3:12) and uses paternal/filial imagery for the devil’s relationship with evil humans (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10). Hence, Johannine Satanology provides a useful proxy from which to reconstruct Polycarp’s Satanology. The validity of this approach is reinforced by the form of Philippians 7.1, which appears to be a well-established confessional, even liturgical, formula.8

The Satanology of the Johannine literature is widely agreed to reflect a cosmic dualism in which Satan is set over the forces of evil opposed to God.9 Moreover, the view of Gnosticism presupposed in Philippians 7.1 is arguably similar to the view of heresy expressed in Rev. 2:24.10  Again, Philippians 6.3 (the verse prior to 7.1) uses the term apoplanōsi for the activities of false teachers; Dochhorn notes that this word has a Satanological connotation (cf. Rev. 12:9; 20:2).11 The evidence before us suggests that Polycarp shared the same view of Satan as these writers.

A further proxy for Polycarp’s Satanology is found in Ignatius of Antioch. It appears from both this letter and from Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp that the two men were well acquainted and held each other in high regard (Ignatius, Polycarp 1.1, 2.3, 7.2-3; Polycarp, Philippians 1.1; 9.1).12 Ignatius entrusts Polycarp with the task of writing letters on his behalf to churches to which he did not have a chance to write (Ignatius, Polycarp 8.1), while Polycarp says he has forwarded letters of Ignatius to the Philippians who “will be able to profit greatly from them, for they deal with faith and endurance and all edification that is suitable in our Lord” (Polycarp, Philippians 13.2). Inasmuch as “Ignatius plays the role of a mentor” toward Polycarp,13  it is quite plausible that he has influenced Polycarp theologically. One can therefore to some extent justify interpreting ho diabolos and ho satanas in Philippians 7.1 through the lenses of the Ignatian letters (which, as we have seen, witness to a cosmological Satanology).

Yet another proxy is available in the clearly mythological view of Satan in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (2.4(3.1); 17.1; these texts will be studied in the next post in this series). This document claims to have been written by the church at Smyrna (Martyrdom of Polycarp prescript), of which Polycarp had been bishop (Ignatius, Polycarp prescript; Martyrdom of Polycarp 16.2) until his late martyrdom. It is reasonable to assume that the document would reflect the view of Satan which the bishop himself had taught in Smyrna.

Furthermore, Irenaus of Lyons claimed to have been mentored by Polycarp (Against Heresies 3.3.4).14 Irenaeus clearly had a well-developed Satanology,15 and he refers to Polycarp having used the expression “firstborn of Satan” for Marcion (Against Heresies 3.3.4). Papias, who was a companion of Polycarp according to Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5.33.4), also believed in a fall of angels, and although his writings are lost for the most part, there is some evidence (albeit of disputed authenticity) that he believed in Satan as well (the fragments of Papias will be discussed in a subsequent post).

Thus, both those likely to have influenced Polycarp and those likely to have been influenced by Polycarp reflect a cosmological, personal view of Satan. This gives further support to such a reading of the Satanological language in Philippians 7.1.

A final observation is in order with respect to the expression “firstborn of Satan.” Dahl argues that Philippians 7.1 and John 8.44 both depend on a Jewish tradition which held that Cain was the offspring of a union between Satan and Eve (cf. 1 John 3.8).16 This tradition may lie ultimately behind the phraseology, but both John and Polycarp apply the term to contemporary opponents, who are Satan’s children through spiritual, and not physical, heredity (1 John 4.4). Filial imagery for those under Satan’s control is known from other early Christian traditions as well (Matt. 13:38; Acts 13:10).

In summary, there is good evidence that Polycarp of Smyrna stood firmly within the early Christian tradition which used the terms 'devil' and 'Satan' to refer to a personal supernatural enemy.


  • 1 For introductory details on Polycarp and his Letter to the Philippians, see Holmes, M. (2006). Polycarp of Smyrna, Letter to the Philippians. The Expository Times, 118, 53-63; Ehrman, B.D. (2003). The Apostolic Fathers (Vol. 1). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 324-331.
  • 2 Holmes, op. cit., p. 53.
  • 3 ibid., p. 60.
  • 4 ibid., p. 62.
  • 5 Ehrman, op. cit., pp. 342-343, text and translation.
  • 6 Dochhorn, J. (2007a). Mit Kain kam der Tod in die Welt. Zur Auslegung von SapSal 2,24 in 1 Clem 3,4; 4,1-7, mit einem Seitenblick auf Polykarp, Phil. 7,1 und Theophilus, Ad. Autol. II, 29,3-4. Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde älteren Kirche, 98(1), 150-159. Here p. 155; apparently also Ehrman, op. cit., p. 343 n. 27.
  • 7 Hartog, P. (2013). Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 127; Gokey, F.X. (1961). The Terminology for the Devil and Evil Spirits in the Apostolic Fathers. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, p. 92 n. 2. Hartog argues that since ‘firstborn of Satan’ is parallel to ‘antichrist’ and ‘of the devil’ which are both “traditional epithets”, therefore ‘firstborn of Satan’ must also be “a common label.” (Hartog, P. (2002). Polycarp and the New Testament: The Occasion, Rhetoric, Theme, and Unity of the Epistle to the Philippians and Its Allusions to New Testament Literature. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, p. 102.
  • 8 So Ludemann, G. (1996). Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 176; Gokey, op. cit., p. 177.
  • 9 Stuckenbruck, L.T. (2011). ‘Protect them from the Evil One’ (John 17:15) Light from the Dead Sea Scrolls. In M.L. Coloe & T. Thatcher (Eds.), John, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Sixty Years of Discovery and Debate (pp. 139-160). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature; Jobes, K.H. (2014). 1, 2, and 3 John. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, pp. 65-67; Lieu, J. (1991). The Theology of the Johannine Epistles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 83; Barton, S.C. (2008). Johannine Dualism and Contemporary Pluralism. In R. Bauckham & C. Mosser (Eds.), The Gospel of John and Christian Theology (pp. 3-18). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 14; Kovacs, J.L. (1995). ‘Now Shall the Ruler of This World Be Drive Out’: Jesus’ Death as Cosmic Battle in John 12:20-36. Journal of Biblical Literature, 114(2), 227-247; Löfstedt, T. (2009). The Ruler of This World. Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok, 74, 55-79.
  • 10 The similarity is noted by Fiorenza, who interprets Rev. 2:24 to mean that “the probable claim of the Nicolaitans to know the deep mysteries of God is according to [the author of Revelation] knowledge not of divine but of demonic realities” (Fiorenza, E.S. (1973). Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book of Revelation and Paul. Journal of Biblical Literature, 92(4), 565-581. Here p. 569 n. 25).
  • 11 Dochhorn, op. cit., pp. 154-155.
  • 12 “Polycarp worked with Ignatius, compiling and preserving his letters, and Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp reflects their friendship and mutual respect” (Gray, L. (2010). Polycarp. Ignatius of Antioch. In G.T. Kurian & J.D. Smith III (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Vol. 2 (pp. 527-528). Lanham: Scarecrow Press, p. 528). Commenting on these texts from Ignatius, Polycarp, Schoedel writes, “Ignatius knows Polycarp’s ‘godly purpose’ – Polycarp’s firm guidance of the church in Smyrna and his support of Ignatius in this connection” (Schoedel, W.R. (1985). Ignatius of Antioch. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, p. 258). He further notes, “Polycarp’s unquestioned worthiness in this connection may be taken as a reflection of the superiority that Ignatius attributes to the churches who support him (see on Ignatius, Ephesians 11.2-12.1)” (op. cit., p. 279 n. 10). Hence, what seems to be implicit here is that Polycarp was a loyal supporter of Ignatius.
  • 13 House, M.A. (2010). Ignatius of Antioch. In G.T. Kurian & J.D. Smith III (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Vol. 2 (pp. 381-382). Lanham: Scarecrow Press, p. 381.
  • 14 “Polycarp…mentored Irenaeus” (Gray, op. cit., p. 528), and “Irenaeus regarded Polycarp as the most important living link between Christ and himself” (Grant, R.M. (2006). Irenaeus of Lyons. London: Routledge, p. 36).
  • 15 See e.g. Russell J.B. (1987). Satan: The Early Christian Tradition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 46, 82ff. For primary sources, see Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.10.1, 3.7-8, 4.40-41, 5.23-25.
  • 16 Dahl, N.A. (1964). Der Erstgeborene Satans und der Vater des Teufels (Polyk. 7.1 and Joh 8.44). In W. Eltester & F.H. Kettler (Eds.), Apophoreta: Festschrift für Ernst Haenchen zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtstag am 10. Dezember 1964 (pp. 70-84). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 71; so also Dochhorn, op. cit., pp. 155-157; Lieu, J.M. (2003). Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century. London: Bloomsbury, p. 243.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Supernatural Evil in the Apostolic Fathers (3): Ignatius of Antioch

The Epistles of Ignatius are seven letters attributed to Ignatius, a Bishop of Antioch who is purported to have written them while on his way to martyrdom in Rome. The letters are generally dated to the early or mid second century. Some or all of the letters appear in three different recensions, of which the 'middle' recension is regarded as closest to the original text. Six of these are addressed to churches (at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna) and one to an individual (Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna).1

The Devil in Ignatius' Letters

Ignatius' letters refer to the devil (ho diabolos, four times: Ign. Ephesians 10.3; Ign. Trallians 8.1; Ign. Romans 5.3; Ign. Smyrnaeans 9.1) and Satan (ho satanas, once: Ign. Ephesians 13.1), and to the same concept by another title, 'the ruler of this age' (ho archōn tou aiōnos toutou, six times: Ign. Ephesians 17.1; 19.1; Ign. Magnesians 1.2; Ign. Trallians 4.2; Ign. Romans 7.1; Ign. Philadelphians 6.2). These references are spread across six of the seven letters; the letter to Polycarp is the only one in which none of these terms occur.2

Ignatius' terminology stands in continuity with other early Christian literature. ho satanas and ho diabolos are the two most common designations for Satan in the New Testament, while referring to Satan as a 'ruler' is also common (Matthew 12.24-29; Mark 3.22-27; Luke 11.15-21; John 12.31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2.2; Epistle of Barnabas 4.13; 18.2; Ascension of Isaiah 1.3; 2.4; 4.2-4; 10.29). There are other texts where the concept of rulership is applied to Satan without the word 'ruler' being used (Hermas, Similitudes 1.3-6?; Luke 4:5; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19).

The exact term 'the ruler of this age' does not occur in the New Testament, but it closely parallels a term used for Satan in the Gospel of John: 'the ruler of this world' (ho archōn tou kosmou toutou, John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; John is very fond of the word kosmos).3 Gokey,4 however, thinks the closest prototype for Ignatius' term is Paul's plural term 'the rulers of this age' (hoi archontes tou aiōnos toutou) in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8.5 Ignatius' terminology can be seen as a conflation of the plural term found in 1 Cor. 2:6-8 with the singular 'the god of this age' (ho theos tou aiōnos toutou) found in 2 Cor. 4:4 (which most scholars regard as a reference to Satan).6

The Satan figure in Ignatius' epistles is clearly a supernatural personal being (a point conceded even by Christadelphian apologist Jonathan Burke).7 For instance, in IgnEph 19.1 we read,
The virginity of Mary and her giving birth escaped the notice of the ruler of this age; so too did the death of the Lord – three mysteries of a cry which were accomplished in the silence of God.
This clearly does not refer to a human ruler. Is it unclear why a human ruler should have been interested in Mary's virginity or giving birth. Moreover, there is no specific human ruler of any relevance who was in power from the time of Jesus' birth until his death (and indeed until the time of Ignatius' writing). Additional evidence for the supernatural nature of the Ignatian Satan can be seen in the association of Satan’s powers with heavenly warfare (IgnEph 13.1-2), and the implicit identification of the devil with the heavenly, invisible realms (IgnTral 4.2-5.2; IgnRom 5.3).

The range of functions and novelty of ideas associated with Satan suggests a robust Satanology on Ignatius’ part. Satan is at once a seducer and a bully. He is behind the persecution of the church (IgnMag 1.2; IgnRom 5.3; 7.1), but also behind false doctrine and insubordination within the church (IgnEph 17.1; IgnSmyrn 9.1), as well as temptation more generally (IgnTral 8.1; IgnPhld 6.2). Moreover, he may be thwarted by unity in the church (IgnEph 13.1) and by humility (IgnTral 4.2). It is disputed whether the metaphor "weed of the devil" (IgnEph 10.3) refers to heresy8 (note the use of plant imagery for heresy in IgnTral 6.1; cf. IgnPhld 3.1) or whether "the concern is more general."9

Does Ignatius' belief in a supernatural devil mean he has abandoned belief in non-supernatural sources of wickedness known from the New Testament, such as 'the flesh' and 'the world'? Not at all. In an apparent allusion to Romans 8:5, 8,10 Ignatius states, “Those who belong to the flesh cannot do spiritual things” (IgnEph 8.2). Those who live according to the flesh will die, and those who corrupt the faith are “filthy” (IgnEph 16.2; cf. IgnRom 8.3). The Magnesians are instructed, “No one should consider his neighbour in a fleshly way, but you should love one another in Jesus Christ at all times” (IgnMag 6.2). The Trallians are commended because “you appear to me not to live in a human way but according to Jesus Christ” (IgnTral 2.1).

He warns the Ephesians against "wild animals...raving dogs" who "bear the name in wicked deceit,"  (IgnEph 7.1) and the Philadelphians about "seemingly trustworthy wolves [who] use wicked pleasure to capture those who run in God's race" (IgnPhld 2.2). Both of these images suggest an animalistic model of human sinfulness.

Moreover, Ignatius can, in a typically Pauline manner, personify sinful attributes. The Romans are told, “Let no envy dwell among you… My passion has been crucified” (IgnRom 7.2). Thus envy is personified as an unwanted guest, and passion as a victim of crucifixion. In IgnPoly 4.3, Ignatius warns against setting slaves free through the common fund lest they become "slaves of lust." Here, 'lust' is personified as an evil master. Finally, in IgnMag 5.2 Ignatius represents a dualistic conflict between God and "this world."

Broadly speaking, Ignatius' understanding of sin stands in continuity with the New Testament. Thus, the fact that he can hold individual (the flesh), corporate (the world) and supernatural (the devil) sources of sin in tension suggests this is not foreign to early Christian thought. Accordingly, we have no reason to assume that when New Testament writers refer to the devil, they are simply referring to the flesh or the world by another term.

Ignatius' prescribed responses to sin and evil also stand in continuity with the New Testament. His clear belief in a supernatural devil and in demons (see below) have not resulted in a special emphasis on exorcism, for instance (which he never mentions). Instead, the main antidotes for sin are just those found in New Testament epistles, such as prayer, repentance, holiness, self-control, humility, gentleness, fellowship, unity and the like (IgnEph 10.1-3; 13.1-2; IgnTral 4.2; 8.1; IgnPhld 6.211). Striking are the statements in IgnEph 13.1-2 that when the church comes together, war is waged in heaven and Satan’s powers are vanquished; and in IgnTral 4.2, "And so I need humility, by which the ruler of this age is destroyed." All of this shows that these kinds of responses to evil are perfectly compatible with belief in a supernatural devil.

Ignatius' letters are helpful in reconstructing Christian beliefs about Satan not only after but also within the New Testament period, for the following reason. In his letters to established Christian congregations in six different locations spanning Asia, Greece, and Italy, Ignatius shows no hint that his depiction of Satan is in any way innovative or controversial (we would hardly expect a condemned man on his way to execution to be developing theological novelties). He does not attempt to explain or justify his Satanology but simply assumes that these churches shared the same understanding. What is remarkable about this is that four of the six cities to which he wrote were recipients of New Testament letters which mention Satan or the devil (Ephesus: Eph. 4:27; 6:11; Philadelphia: Rev. 3:9; Smyrna: Rev. 2:9-10; Rome: Rom. 16:20). Revelation may have been written as little as two decades prior to Ignatius' letters.

Hence, within a fairly short window of time (although we cannot be exact as to how short), we have New Testament references to Satan/the devil (where the meaning is assumed to be understood by the audience), and Ignatius' references to Satan/the devil (where the meaning is assumed to be understood by the same audience). The obvious inference is that the same meaning of Satan/the devil was generally understood by all of these writers and audiences. Indeed, there is absolutely no evidence of any dispute in the early church over the meaning of the terms 'Satan' or 'devil'. Since it is admitted that Ignatius understood Satan/the devil to be a supernatural being, the inference is that at least some of the New Testament writers (John of Patmos and, in all probability, Paul) did as well. The only alternative is to argue that the early Christian understanding of Satan radically changed between the time Revelation was written and the time Ignatius' epistles were written; and that this change took place seamlessly and without leaving any record of controversy. This is not a very plausible hypothesis!

Other supernatural evil beings in Ignatius' Letters

There is one passage in Ignatius' letters which, properly understood, implies a belief in demons. In IgnSmyrn 2.1, he warns concerning heretics who deny a physical resurrection that they themselves will become daimonikois. This term is variously translated 'demonic', 'like the demons' or 'demonlike'.12 BDAG lexicon defines the word as “pertaining to being like a spirit or phantom”.13 Ignatius is not necessarily equating post-mortem existence with being a demon but with being like a demon. In similar fashion, in IgnSmyrn 3.2, Ignatius quotes an otherwise unknown Jesus tradition comparable to Luke 24:39 but distinct in terminology, saying that in a resurrection appearance Jesus told the disciples, "Reach out, touch me and see that I am not a bodiless demon (daimonion asōmaton)."

It has been argued by some that the word 'demon' here has a neutral connotation like 'phantom' and does not carry the negative sense which it normally has in the New Testament.14 However, closer study of the passage reveals that the negative sense is there. Schoedel argues that the terminology in 2.1 is prompted by that in 3.2. He explains the background as follows:
the docetists apparently spoke of the resurrection positively and probably taught a spiritualized version of it; and thus Ignatius’ reference to their becoming bodiless and demonic must also have functioned to make the point not only that they would lack bodily substance (which would not have concerned them) but also that what they thought of as a rarefied spiritual state would in fact be ‘demonic’ in character.15
Schoedel goes on to explain the key to Ignatius’ rhetoric:
the wordplay did not involve the term ‘spiritual’ but had to do with the use of the term ‘demonic’ (phantom-like) in the saying of Jesus, taken more or less accurately as the key to docetic theology by Ignatius, and his use of the same term in a different sense (anti-divine) to express disapproval.16
Hence, the demonology that Ignatius presupposes here is not merely about ghosts but something more sinister. In a more detailed study of this text, Proctor comes to a similar conclusion. He argues that Ignatius exhibits “an ‘apocalyptic’ daimonology, where daimons were understood as part of a pervasive onslaught of evil powers” whose origin was rooted in the Watchers myth.17 Commenting specifically on the claims that ‘demon’ is a neutral term synonymous with ‘phantom’ in IgnSmyrn, Proctor states:
To put it succinctly, daimons are almost exclusively evil within early Christian literature, and carried increasingly sinister undertones within ‘pagan’ Greek literature at the time when Ignatius’ letters would have been composed and initially interpreted.  In light of this larger tradition, it is highly improbable that Ignatius’ opponents (or other Christians) would equate the risen Jesus with a daimon, and such usage does not correspond to the docetic terminology attested in our ancient sources (i.e., ‘phantasmal,’ ‘angelic,’ and ‘pneumatic’).18
Hence, for Ignatius, “Jesus’ denial that he is a ‘bodiless daimon’ functions as a rhetorical absurdity, implying that Ignatius’ opponents equate the risen Jesus with an (evil) daimon.”19

Proctor goes on to note that Gnostic texts often value bodiless existence, so that if Ignatius had condemned his docetic opponents to a phantasmal afterlife, “it likely would have been met with indifference.” Instead, Ignatius associates docetic Christians “with daimons, entities that were not only bodiless, but also, within Christian circles, malevolent, monstrous, and destined for a morose afterlife.”20

Hence, when read in the context of Ignatius’ rhetorical purpose, ‘demon’ is seen to refer to a supernatural being with a decidedly negative connotation, as elsewhere in early Christian tradition.

Ignatius' letters also imply a belief in other supernatural evil beings analogous to the much-debated 'powers' of the Pauline corpus. The statement in IgnRom 5.3, “May nothing visible or invisible (τῶν ὁρατῶν καὶ ἀοράτων) show any envy toward me, that I may attain to Jesus Christ”, made in the immediate context of a reference to the devil, implies the existence of two distinct, populated realms: the visible and the invisible. This distinction parallels Col 1:16, which uses it to make exhaustive the list of creatures created through the Son. ‘Invisibility’ as a defining characteristic of the spirit world appears elsewhere in the Pauline corpus and in Hebrews, chiefly as an attribute of God (Rom 1.20; 1Tim 1.17; Heb 11.3; 11.27; cf. Matt 6.6; 6.18; 2Cor 4.18).

A further reference to such invisible beings is found in IgnSmyrn 6.1: “Judgment is prepared even for the heavenly beings, for the glory of the angels, and for the rulers both visible and invisible, if they do not believe in the blood of Christ.” Ignatius, like Col 1:16, affirms the existence of invisible ‘rulers’. He equates them with angelic, heavenly beings who are, at least potentially, subject to unbelief and judgment (cf. Rom 8.38; 1 Cor. 6.3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). Ignatius also regards invisibility as a characteristic of God (IgnMag 3.2; IgnPoly 3.2). It is possible that the 'aeons' of IgnEph 19.2 are also to be understood as supernatural beings.21


Ignatius' letters provide us with evidence that a supernatural understanding of Satan and demons was in place as established theology in major Christian centres (e.g. Antioch, Asia, Rome) by the early to mid second century. Given that the same terminology is used in the New Testament, and that there is no evidence of dispute or polemic in the early church concerning the correct understanding of these terms, we have a compelling argument that Ignatius' understanding of Satan and demons as supernatural personal beings represents the view shared by Christians from the beginning.


  • 1 For introductory issues (date, authorship, recensions, etc.) see Ehrman, B.D. (2003). The Apostolic Fathers (Vol. I). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 203-217; Foster, P. (2006). The Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (Part 1). The Expository Times, 117(12), 487-495; Foster, P. (2006). The Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (Part 2). The Expository Times, 118(1), 2-11. Ehrman, op. cit., is the critical text relied on here, and translations are from him, unless otherwise indicated.
  • 2 The absence of any reference to Satan in Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp provides a useful corrective to arguments from silence which claim that, because a document does not refer to Satan, its author had no place for Satan in his theology. To the contrary, Ignatius clearly had a place for Satan in his theology, yet he did not consider it obligatory to mention this concept in every letter he wrote.
  • 3 For studies of 'the ruler of this world' in the Gospel of John, see Kovacs, J.L. (1995). ‘Now Shall the Ruler of This World Be Drive Out’: Jesus’ Death as Cosmic Battle in John 12:20-36. Journal of Biblical Literature, 114(2), 227-247; Löfstedt, T. (2009). The Ruler of This World. Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok, 74, 55-79.
  • 4 Gokey, F.X. (1961). The Terminology for the Devil and Evil Spirits in the Apostolic Fathers. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, p. 75 n. 2.
  • 5 It is disputed amongst scholars whether 'the rulers of the age' in 1 Cor. 2:6-8 refer to demonic or angelic beings, earthly political rulers, or both. See Aune, D.E. (1999). "Archōn". In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P.W. Van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (pp. 82-85). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 84.
  • 6 Harris, M.J. (2005). The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. University Park: Penn State Press, p. 328 n. 49, states that almost all commentators interpret 'the god of this age' as a reference to Satan.
  • 7 Burke, J. (2015). Then the Devil Left: Satan’s lack of presence in the Apostolic Fathers [WWW]. Available at http://www.academia.edu/10324205/Then_the_Devil_Left_Satan_s_lack_of_presence_in_the_Apostolic_Fathers (Accessed 22 May 2015), p. 37, states, "Ignatius treats the diabolos as a supernatural evil being."
  • 8 Gokey, op. cit., p. 77 n. 6.
  • 9 Schoedel, W.R. (1985). Ignatius of Antioch. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, pp. 69-70.
  • 10 Ehrman, op. cit., p. 227 n. 2, acknowledges this as the source of Ignatius' statement here.
  • 11 Schoedel, op. cit., p. 203, comments on IgnPhld 6.2, “The main effect of the devil’s activity is to negate ‘love.’ Common worship is the cure (cf. [IgnEph] 13.” Commenting on IgnTral 8.1, idem., pp. 149-150, writes, “The ability of the Trallians to resist Satan is described in terms of a renewal of faith and love” and “The corollary of the self-renewal of the Trallians against the snares of the devil (that is, against pride) is now stated: having nothing against one’s neighbor.”
  • 12 Translating 'demonic' are Schoedel, op. cit., p. 225; Holmes, M.W. (2007). The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, p. 251. Translating 'like the demons' is Ehrman, op. cit., p. 297. Translating 'demonlike' are Gokey, op. cit., p. 71; Sibinga, J.S. (1966). Ignatius and Matthew. Novum Testamentum, 8(2), 263-283, here p. 273.
  • 13 Arndt, W., Danker, F.W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 210.
  • 14 Mitchell, M.W. (2010). Bodiless Demons and Written Gospels: Reflections on ‘The Gospel According to the Hebrews’ in the Apostolic Fathers. Novum Testamentum, 52(3), 221-240, here p. 224.
  • 15 Schoedel, op. cit., pp. 225-226.
  • 16 Schoedel, op. cit., p. 226 n. 5.
  • 17 Proctor, T.W. (2013). Bodiless Docetists and the Daimonic Jesus: Daimonological Discourse and Anti-Docetic Polemic in Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrnaeans. Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, 14(1), 183-204, here p. 185 (note: page numbers for Proctor are approximate since I do not have access to the published version but only a pre-submission draft available on academia.edu).
  • 18 Proctor, op. cit., p. 196.
  • 19 Proctor, op. cit., p. 187.
  • 20 Proctor, op. cit., p. 200.
  • 21 Schoedel, op. cit., p. 91 n. 24.