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Martyrdom And The Desire For Mar

Ignatius of Antioch, Ep. ad Romanos, 4.

Ignatius was bishop of Antioch in the opening years of the second
century. According to tradition, he suffered martyrdom in Rome
under Trajan, circa 117. Having been sent from Antioch to Rome by
command of the Emperor, on his way he addressed letters to various
churches in Asia, exhorting them to seek unity and avoid heresy by
close union with the local bishop. His aim seems to have been
practical, to promote the welfare of the Christian communities
rather than the exaltation of the episcopal office itself. Doubts
have arisen as to the authenticity of these epistles on account of
the frequent references to the episcopate and to heresy. Further
difficulty has been caused by the fact that the epistles of
Ignatius appear in three forms or recensions, a longer Greek
recension forming a group of thirteen epistles, a short Greek of
seven epistles, and a still shorter Syriac version of only three.
After much fluctuation of opinion, due to the general
reconstruction of the history of the whole period, which has gone
through various marked changes, the opinion of scholars has been
steadily settling upon the short Greek recension of seven epistles
as authentic, especially since the critical re-examination of the
whole question by Zahn and Lightfoot.

I write to all the churches and impress on all, that I shall willingly die
for God unless ye hinder me. I beseech you not to show unseasonable
good-will toward me.(11) Permit me to be the food of wild beasts, through
whom it will be granted me to attain unto God. I am the wheat of God and I
am ground by the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread
of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb and
leave nothing of my body, so that when I have fallen asleep I may be
burdensome to no one. Then I shall be truly a disciple of Jesus Christ,
when the world sees not my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these
instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. Not as Peter and Paul(12)
do I issue commandments unto you. They were Apostles, I a condemned man;
they were free, I even until now a slave.(13) But if I suffer, I shall be
the freedman of Jesus Christ, and shall rise again free in Him. And now,
being in bonds, I learn not to desire anything.

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