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Friday, December 1, 2023

Anti-Semitism at the turn of the 1st Century AD.

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antiochie
Ignatius of Antiochie, Neapolitan School of Painting, possibly Cesare Fracanzano (1605-1651) Galleria Borghese, Rome

Excerpts from THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF JUDAH: The Untold Story of Grace in the Second Temple Period, By Dr. Douglas Hamp, Chris Winters Steinle, Copyright 2021 by the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation, Phoenix, USA, Published by the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation. From Chapter 8: Antioch and Hellenistic Judaism

The Antiochian/Hellenistic (anti-Semitic) stance toward the Law was codified by the Church in the early part of the second century through the letters of Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch. It should be noted that around this same time, the heretic, Marcion, was also involved in the task of proving that Christianity and Judaism—grace and law—were mutually exclusive, and that they do not even proceed from the same deity. Dr. Hamp has written extensively on Marcionism’s continued detrimental effects on Christianity, despite the fact that Marcion was labeled a heretic by the Church![1] Ignatius, on the other hand, was sainted as a Christian martyr and his letters—practically canonized. The proclamations of Ignatius, who was considered to be one of the Apostolic Fathers, form the basis of what should properly be called, “Hellenistic Christianity.”

[1] For further study see: Haunted Theology and the Ghost of Marcion by Dr. Douglas Hamp.

Ignatius was a bishop of Antioch, said to be appointed by Peter and according to tradition was the successor to Evodius. Tradition also holds that Ignatius was a friend of Polycarp and that both young men had been disciples of John the Apostle. It is also supposed that Ignatius was one of the children Jesus took in His arms and blessed. Add, then, to these accolades a martyr’s death and it is obvious why so much weight was placed on the opinions of Ignatius. Quotes from the letters written by Ignatius while purportedly being extradited to Rome for execution are presented below, followed by commentary.

Ignatius to the Magnesians, Ch. 8[1]:

1 Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless.

For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace:

2 for the divine prophets lived after Christ Jesus. For this cause also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to the end that they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word that proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing unto Him that sent Him.

Verse 1 clearly juxtaposes Judaism with grace, implying that traditional Judaism—keeping the Law—is prima facia evidence that an individual has not received (saving) grace. Verse 2 begins by stating that the prophets lived (after the manner) of Jesus, that is by grace rather than by obedience to the Law. This is simply absurd on several levels. First, Jesus obeyed the Law to the extent that He could ask: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (Jn. 8:46). Furthermore, the prophets kept the law themselves. Secondly, Ignatius redirects “obedience” away from meaning “obedience to the Law” and defines the meaning of obedience as the belief that there is only one God—the very ploy of the Hellenistic Jews. Verse 2 ends with a true statement—that the Son was well-pleasing to the Father. But ending these phrases with a true statement does not somehow make the rest of the content true.

Ignatius to the Magnesians, Ch. 9

1 If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny – a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher --

2 if this be so, how shall we be able to live apart from Him? seeing that even the prophets, being His disciples, were expecting Him as their teacher through the Spirit. And for this cause He whom they rightly awaited, when He came, raised them from the dead.

These are some mighty big “ifs.” The assumption presented by Ignatius is that because God’s “ancient” Elect were looking forward to participating in Christ’s resurrection, they therefore, to that extent, were “no longer observing sabbaths.” He thereby implies that the saints of old were, at least, disobedient to the Law in their hearts. Seriously? Yet the Church did take this notion seriously. Moreover, Ignatius imposed this hypothetical on his hearers by threatening that those who wish to participate in the life of Christ must, likewise, forsake the sabbath and honor “the Lord’s day.”

At this point we should wonder: To what degree had the Antiochian Hellenist already ceased to comply with the third commandment? This doctrinal position seems to roll off the tongue at the beginning of the second century—perhaps shortly after John’s death. It is far more likely that the Hellenized Church did not fall far from the tree of the Hellenistic Jewish community. The whole gist of Hellenism was, after all, adapting to the customs of the international community. As observed by historian Emil Schürer: “They who then wanted to affect anything in the political world must of necessity stand on a more or less friendly footing with Hellenism.”[2]

Ignatius to the Magnesians, Ch. 10

1 Therefore let us not be insensible to His goodness. For if He should imitate us according to our deeds, we are lost. For this cause, seeing that we are become His disciples, let us learn to live as beseemeth Christianity. For whoso is called by another name besides this, is not of God.

Here we must interject between stanzas what is implied by Ignatius, but not stated outright—that those who are called “Jews” instead of “Christians” would not be “of God.”

2 Therefore put away the vile leaven which hath waxed stale and sour, and betake yourselves to the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, that none among you grow putrid, seeing that by your savour ye shall be proved.

3 It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity, wherein every tongue believed and was gathered together unto God.

Verse 3 begins by making it an abomination to speak of Messiah (who is the Lord—Acts 2:36) and, at the same time, to follow the Lord’s instructions. Whereas, the inverse of this statement is actually true. It is monstrous to speak of Jesus Christ while not obeying His commandments.

Next, Ignatius anthropomorphizes Judaism and Christianity and asserts, “Christianity did not believe in Judaism.” On the contrary, in Paul’s own words: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14, emphasis added). Indeed, Christian salvation is attained by the confession that Jesus is the same “LORD”—Gr. “Kurios”—of the Old Testament (Acts 10:9-10). Therefore, Christians believed in the Holy One of Israel and Jews continued to believe in the Holy One of Israel. And certainly, the words of the Lord are the final authority on this doctrine:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-20).

Jesus’ only criticism of the Jews of His day concerning obedience to the Law was that it should be carried out with the love of God, and not neglect or replace the love of God.

Ignatius’ blatantly blind and baseless antagonism toward the Jews stemmed from nothing, more nor less, than from the Hellenistic determination that Jewish Traditionalism opposed the will of God; while the Hellenistic—watered down, so to speak—approach to obeying God’s laws was the ordained method that should be adopted by the Church.

Judah’s internal strife during the Second Temple period was simply the result of the God-fearing Jews’ apprehension that further exile could only be avoided by obeying God’s laws. From the “Set Apart”—who became the Pharisees, to the Traditionalists, and finally, the Zealots, all of these movements were established to promote the pure observance and practice of God’s precepts. The Hellenists had determined that God’s laws were a burden, and had preferred, rather, to mingle with nations. In most cases, international forces were brought into the three major conflicts listed above by those who opposed the religious purists. And, in turn, the liberal factions compromised their faith by bending to the norms of the current world empire; be it Persian, Greek, Syrian, or Roman.

On Keeping the Passover

The following quotations should be self-explanatory. These precious early writings prove that the Apostles and their immediate appointees—the first overseers and pastors—did, in fact keep the Passover as required by the Law of God. Yes, the Early Church, not just in Judea but in the Asian churches of modern day Turkey, kept the Law.Emphasis added.

Eusebius, Church History, Book V.

Chapter 23. The Question then agitated concerning the Passover.

1. A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s Passover. It was therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be.

Chapter 24:

1. But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him:

2. We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate.

3. He fell asleep at Ephesus.

4. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr...

6. All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven.

7. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’ Acts 5:29

From Against Heresies, Book III, Ch. 2:4:

Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I [Irenaeus] also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time. CONTINUE READING The Forgotten Age of Judah at Amazon:

[1] IGNATIUS to the Magnesians, Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation.

[2] Shurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ, Div. 2, Vol. 2, P. 40.

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