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The Ignatian Epistles Entirely Spurious A Reply to the Right Rev. Dr. Lightfoot   By: (1806-1902)

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A Reply to The Right Rev. Dr. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham.


W. D. KILLEN, D.D. Professor of Ecclesiastical History, and Principal of the Presbyterian Theological Faculty, Ireland.

"As the account of the martyrdom of Ignatius may be justly suspected, so, too, the letters which presuppose the correctness of this suspicious legend do not wear at all a stamp of a distinct individuality of character, and of a man of these times addressing his last words to the Churches." AUGUSTUS NEANDER.



This little volume is respectfully submitted to the candid consideration of all who take an interest in theological inquiries, under the impression that it will throw some additional light on a subject which has long created much discussion. It has been called forth by the appearance of a treatise entitled, " The Apostolic Fathers , Part II. S. Ignatius, S. Polycarp. Revised Texts, with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and Translations, by J. B. Lightfoot, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D, Bishop of Durham." In this voluminous production the Right Reverend Author has maintained, not only that all the seven letters attributed by Eusebius to Ignatius are genuine, but also that "no Christian writings of the second century, and very few writings of antiquity, whether Christian or pagan, are so well authenticated." These positions, advocated with the utmost confidence by the learned prelate, are sure to be received with implicit confidence by a wide circle of readers; and I have felt impelled here openly to protest against them, inasmuch as I am satisfied that they cannot be accepted without overturning all the legitimate landmarks of historical criticism. I freely acknowledge the eminent services which Dr. Lightfoot has rendered to the Christian Church by his labours as a Commentator on Scripture, and it is therefore all the more important that the serious errors of a writer so distinguished should not be permitted to pass unchallenged. All who love the faith once delivered to the saints, may be expected to regard with deference the letters of a martyr who lived on the borders of the apostolic age; but these Ignatian Epistles betray indications of a very different original, for they reveal a spirit of which no enlightened Christian can approve, and promulgate principles which would sanction the boldest assumptions of ecclesiastical despotism. In a work published by me many years ago, I have pointed out the marks of their imposture; and I have since seen no cause to change my views. Regarding all these letters as forgeries from beginning to end, I have endeavoured, in the following pages, to expose the fallacy of the arguments by which Dr. Lightfoot has attempted their vindication.





The critical spirit stimulated by the Reformation The Ignatian Epistles as regarded by Calvin, Ussher, Vossius, Daillé, Pearson, Wake, and Cureton Dr. Lightfoot as a scholar and a commentator The valuable information supplied in his recent work His estimate of the parties who have pronounced judgment on the question of the Ignatian Epistles His verdict unfair His introduction of Lucian as a witness in his favour The story of Peregrinus Dr. Lightfoot's cardinal mistake in his treatment of this question.



Dr. Lightfoot makes a most unguarded statement as to the Ignatian Epistles The letter of Polycarp better authenticated The date assigned for the martyrdom of Ignatius The date of Polycarp's Epistle Written in the reign of Marcus Aurelius Not written in the reign of Trajan The Epistle of Polycarp has no reference to Ignatius of Antioch It refers to another Ignatius of another age and country It was written at a time of persecution The postscript to the letter of Polycarp quite misunderstood What is meant by letters being carried to Syria Psyria and Syria, two islands in the Aegaean Sea The errors of transcribers of the postscript The true meaning of the postscript What has led to the mistake as to the claims of the Ignatian Epistles The continued popularity of these Epistles among High Churchmen... Continue reading book >>

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