Another Dip [4.5]

I gave you-all a head-fake in the last installment because I said out next installment in this series was going to be Ignatius to the Philippians. Before I get to that, let’s keep something in mind: this series is not as simple as it seems on the surface. One of the big reasons you don’t see a lot of books on this subject is because the primary question – which is, “What did the Ante-Nicene Fathers write?” – is somewhat complicated. It’s not that we don’t know who they are: it’s that there are a lot of issues regarding which letters are real and which are fakes. In Schaff’s ANF, for example, he lists all the genuine letters and all the forgeries but for the most part separates which are which in the intro to the sections.

See: the forgeries have some value as historic documents when they are properly dated, but they’re not very useful for determining what the alleged author had in mind because the alleged author is not the actual author. That seems rudimentary, but it’s part of the reason this series goes so slow: I’d rather talk about the non-phony letters and discourses than all of them as if they all had the same kind of usefulness, but sorting through takes time and attention.

Which, by the way, is why Ignatius to the Philippians was a head-fake: I personally had not been reading far enough ahead, and if it had not been for an alert reader (Jason Engwer) I might have made a research error because I got in a rush to get the next item up in the series. Ignatius to the Philippians is a forgery, so it will not be the next letter in the series.

As I said up above, if this was an easy walk, every kook with a baptismal axe to grind would have his own survey of ECFs posted and QED’d. And because what I do full-time is not research ECFs or church history, I appreciate your patience.

Part 5 of this series will be up this week.