I am participating in the group Read the Fathers, so in order to help me maintain this discipline I will be sharing my favorite quotes and reflections every Saturday:
Moses’ Broken Covenant:
“Moses understood [the meaning of God], and cast the two tables out of his hands; and their covenant was broken, in order that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed upon our heart, in the hope which flows from believing in Him.” (Epistle of Barnabas IV)
Triple Meaning of Isaiah 53 (Jesus, Israel, and the Church):
“For it is written concerning Him, partly with reference to Israel, and partly to us; and [the Scripture] saith thus: ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: with His stripes we are healed. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb which is dumb before its shearer.'” (Epistle of Barnabas V)
The Mission of Christ:
“The prophets, having obtained grace from Him, prophesied concerning Him. And He (since it behooved Him to appear in flesh), that He might abolish death, and reveal the resurrection from the dead, endured [what and as He did], in order that He might fulfill the promise made unto the fathers, and by preparing a new people for Himself, might show, while He dwelt on earth, that He, when He has raised mankind, will also judge them. Moreover, teaching Israel, and doing so great miracles and signs, He preached [the truth] to him, and greatly loved him. But when He chose His own apostles who were to preach His Gospel, [He did so from among those] who were sinners above all sin, that He might show He came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”Then He manifested Himself to be the Son of God.” (Epistle of Barnabas V)
The Temple Stands:
“Let us inquire, then, if there still is a temple of God. There is—where He himself declared He would make and finish it. For it is written, “And it shall come to pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built in glory in the name of the Lord.” I find, therefore, that a temple does exist. Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to [the will of] God. But it shall be built, observe ye, in the name of the Lord, in order that the temple of the Lord may be built in glory. How? Learn [as follows]. Having received the forgiveness of sins, and placed our trust in the name of the Lord, we have become new creatures, formed again from the beginning. Wherefore in our habitation God truly dwells in us. How? His word of faith; His calling of promise; the wisdom of the statutes; the commands of the doctrine; He himself prophesying in us; He himself dwelling in us; opening to us who were enslaved by death the doors of the temple, that is, the mouth; and by giving us repentance introduced us into the incorruptible temple. He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwells in him, and speaks in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord.” (Epistle of Barnabas XVI)
“You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall you destroy it after it is born.” (Epistle of Barnabas XIX)
– Ignatius of Antioch was identified as the author of the following epistle, now understood as spurious: Epistle to the Tarsians, Epistle to the Antiochians, Epistle to Hero, Epistle to the Philippians, First and Second Epistle to St. John, Epistle to the Virgin Mary (with a reply), and Epistle to Mary at Neapolis. Also, a letter from Maria the Proselyte to Ignatius is included in this collection. There is much binitarian and trinitarian thought in these works. The concerns seem closer to the Nicene age (or later) than the Apostolic Fathers. The spurious epistles appear to be packed with references to Scripture, more than the authentic letters. Does this indicate more of a familiarity with the developing canon of Scripture? Does it expose these letters as less situational that the authentic ones?
– The correspondance with Mary is interesting. It is short, brief, and supports the apostolic witness of John. I wonder about the purpose of its composition as relates to Ignatius?
– The Martyrdom of Ignatius depicts Ignatius of Antioch’s martyrdom as occurring soon after Trajan became emperor (98-117 CE). The second chapter puts the death after Trajan’s ninth year, which would be around 107 CE. Eusebius places his death around 108 CE. Ignatius is depicted as desiring martyrdom. He has a trial before Trajan, defends Jesus as Lord against Trajan’s mockery, and when Trajan sentences him to die in Rome he rejoices. Chapter III claims Ignatius and Polycarp to have been disciples of the Apostle John.
– The Epistle of Barnabas is old enough to be attributed to Barnabas, Paul’s contemporary and partner in mission. Whether or not it was written by this man is debated (unlikely?), but it does give a peak into early Christianity. The themes are similar to the Epistle to the Hebrews (canonical) in that the Old Covenant is depicted as having ended with the New Covenant reigning. Judaism’s rites and rituals are depicted as foreshadowing the present, but obsolete now. This epistle is far more positive toward the Old Covenant’s role than the Epistle to Diognetus and it is allegorical in it’s approach.
– The fragments that remain from Papias‘ writings from The Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord have gained a lot of attention recently. I plan on dedicating a post to Papias next week, so I won’t be sharing anything about him here.
– Technically, our reading of Justin Martyr began this week, but I am going to move my thoughts and quotes from Justin to next week’s post.