Learning Christ

Learning Christ

GREGORY VALL
Copyright Date: 2013
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hgzc0
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Learning Christ
    Book Description:

    Learning Christ represents a thorough reevaluation of Ignatius as author and theologian, demonstrating that his seven authentic letters present a sophisticated and cohesive vision of the economy of redemption. Gregory Vall argues that Ignatius’s thought represents a vital synthesis of Pauline, Johannine, and Matthean perspectives while anticipating important elements of later patristic theology. Topics treated in this volume include Ignatius’s soteriological anthropology, his Christology and nascent Trinitarianism, his nuanced understanding of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and his ecclesiology and eschatology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2159-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.2
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.3
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.4
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-26)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.5

    This book is a theological exploration of the economy of redemption, based on a historically informed exegesis of the seven authentic letters of the second-century bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch. Since my approach to early Christian literature does not fit neatly into any established methodology, this introduction will lay before the reader (1) my thesis and method, (2) an explanation of my hermeneutic and its bearing on historical theology, (3) some initial observations about Ignatius’s communicative intention and mode of discourse, (4) four principles for the theological interpretation of early Christian texts, and (5) an overview of the book’s...

  6. 1 SCRIPTURE AND ECONOMY
    (pp. 27-51)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.6

    Led through Asia Minor in the summer of A.D. 113 on the way to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius of Antioch stopped in the city of Philadelphia (modern Alaşehir, Turkey), where he was allowed to visit the local church and its bishop.¹ During his stay Ignatius found that some members of the community had fallen under the sway of teachers who were “interpreting Judaism” to them, that is, marshaling exegetical arguments for a Judaized form of Christianity. It is not clear exactly which Jewish practices these teachers were insisting on, but circumcision does not seem to have been one of...

  7. 2 ISSUES IN IGNATIAN SCHOLARSHIP
    (pp. 52-87)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.7

    Because God has revealed himself and redeemed humanity in and through a historical economy, the true theologian will want to make use of every legitimate means of access to that reality. Sifting through the mountains of accumulated textual, linguistic, and historical research into early Christianity, while developing a hermeneutic that will enable one to bring this research into a fruitful dialogue with the wisdom of the ancients and medievals, may be a laborious task, but it is indispensable to the theological endeavor in our day. Each age makes its own contribution to the advancement of human knowledge and thus “necessarily...

  8. 3 JESUS AND THE FATHER
    (pp. 88-117)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.8

    If Ignatius of Antioch were given an honorific title like those bestowed upon the doctors of the church, it might be Doctor Unitatis.¹ Indeed, he describes himself as “a man constituted for unity” (Phld.8:1). In the six letters sent to Christian communities in southwest Asia Minor, Ignatius’s overriding pastoral concern is to establish the unity of each local church under the authority of its bishop and over against the heretical teachers who threaten to divide the community. The unity of those who are “mingled” with the bishop derives from, and is a local manifestation of, the unity of the...

  9. 4 FLESH AND SPIRIT
    (pp. 118-158)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.9

    In the previous chapter we noted that Ignatius identifies the “union of flesh and spirit of Jesus Christ” as one of the primary dimensions of the unity that he wishes the churches to enjoy (Magn.1:2), and we interpreted that statement to mean that Christians can, by grace, possess a union in their own flesh-and-spirit humanity that flows from, and participates in, the flesh-and-spirit union that exists in Jesus Christ. Indeed, the economic-Christological union of “flesh and spirit” brings about the soteriological-anthropological union of “flesh and spirit” that is constitutive of “the newness of eternal life” (Eph.19:3). Having noted...

  10. 5 FAITH AND LOVE
    (pp. 159-199)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.10

    The nouns πίστις (“faith”) and ἀγάπη (“love”), along with their cognate verbs and adjectives, are ubiquitous in the Ignatian letters, occurring a grand total of 132 times.¹ Within the corpus of early Christian literature only the Pauline epistles contain a comparably dense concentration of these terms.² Moreover, Ignatius couples “faith” with “love” sixteen times, sometimes explicitly commenting on their correlation, and, as we have seen, he identifies the union of faith and love as one of the principal dimensions of unity in the programmatic formulations ofMagnesians1:2 and 13:1. Obviously no attempt to grasp his theology could hope to...

  11. 6 JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
    (pp. 200-255)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.11

    In the three previous chapters our exploration of the economy of redemption focused on three dimensions of unity, as suggested by the formulations found inMagnesians1:2 and 13:1. The present chapter and the four that follow will consider the specifically historical dimension of the economy, in hope of disclosing what Ignatius means by referring to certain events of redemptive history as “mysteries,” a term that he also applies to the eucharistic elements.¹

    Ignatius identifies Jesus Christ as “the door of the Father,” through whom all who would enter “the unity of God” must do so, and he lists among...

  12. 7 WORD AND SILENCE
    (pp. 256-283)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.12

    As Ignatius of Antioch sees it, the economy of redemption is fundamentally an economy of revelation. God has redeemed the world by “manifesting himself humanly for the newness of eternal life” (Eph.19:3). When human beings appropriate God’s self-revelation through faith and love, they become “children of the light of truth” (Phld.2:1) and “imitators of God” (Eph.1:1). And if they endure in this way of life to the end, they “attain God” (Magn.1:3). Because God himself is unity, the unity of Father and Son in the Spirit, imitating God involves embracing unity in all its dimensions. Jesus...

  13. 8 A LUMINOUS MYSTERY
    (pp. 284-300)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.13

    Ignatius of Antioch tells the Christians at Philadelphia that the gospel consists of three pillars: “the advent of the Savior . . . , his passion, and the resurrection” (Phld.9:2).¹ Similarly, he wants the Magnesians “to be fully convinced of the birth and the passion and the resurrection” of Christ (Magn.11:1). This threefold schema appears to be basic for Ignatius, but he can elaborate it in a variety of ways to suit his purposes. In one text, the reference to the incarnation includes explicit mention of both the conception and the birth of Christ as distinct moments (Eph....

  14. 9 CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
    (pp. 301-358)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.14

    The vital relationship between pastoral purpose and theological instruction, present throughout Ignatius’s letters, is nowhere more evident than in the realm of ecclesiology. Ignatius constantly brings doctrine to the service of his pragmatic pastoral concern to foster unity and right order within the churches. In one passage he virtually equates “good order” (εὐταxία) with “truth” (ἀλήθεια). To submit to the bishop is to “live according to the truth,” which also means to tolerate no heresy but to listen only to one who “speaks about Jesus Christ in truth” (Eph.6:2). The truth of doctrine concerns, above all, Jesus Christ, but...

  15. 10 UNITY AND ESCHATOLOGY
    (pp. 359-376)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.15

    “God promises union, which is himself” (Tral.11:2). Like many of Ignatius’s aphorisms, this one may be read as a summary of the gospel. What God offers to man—namely, “union”—is a participation in God’s own life. The entire economy of creation and redemption flows forth from the primordial Trinitarian unity and leads rational creatures to an eschatological participation in this same unity. The intrapersonal and interpersonal unity that God promises is at the same time also unity from God and unity with God. The economy comes from God and leads back to God, for he is άρχή and...

  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 377-386)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.16
  17. INDEX OF PRIMARY SOURCES
    (pp. 387-393)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.17
  18. INDEX OF GREEK WORDS AND PHRASES
    (pp. 394-396)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.18
  19. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 397-401)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.19
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 402-402)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hgzc0.20