Ignatius of Antioch and the Historiography of Early Christianity
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Given, J. Gregory
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CitationGiven, J. Gregory. 2019. Ignatius of Antioch and the Historiography of Early Christianity. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation tracks the process by which scholarly consensus came to regard seven letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch as “authentic” and established them as stable orientation points for the Euro-American historiography of Early Christianity. My reassessment of the chief literary and manuscript witnesses to Ignatius’s letters shows that the generally accepted textual history of these letters is not only insufficient to account for the full range of evidence, but it also precludes other avenues for analyzing the complex textual fluidity of the Ignatian corpus. How, then, did Euro-American scholarship arrive at this consensus view? I address this question by following disputes over Ignatius’s letters from the sixteenth-century challenges of Reformers, through a seventeenth-century crisis over the status of bishops in England, to nineteenth-century responses to the “radical” criticism of the Tübingen School. This analysis shows that historical scholarship on the letters of Ignatius was tied up not only in academic arguments over the reconstruction of evidence, but also in political and ecclesiastical strife, colonial expropriation of cultural heritage, and theological debates, both among scholars and in the public square. In such contexts, successive generations of scholars applied their most up-to-date historical methods to craft an “authentic,” early second-century Ignatian witness, eventually arriving at a critically edited collection of seven letters, familiar today among the so-called “Apostolic Fathers.” This study makes it possible to reassess the status of the “authentic” sources of early Christianity and the “critical” texts that mediate them to us. In the case of Ignatius’s letters, one consequence is the restoration of the “corrupted” witnesses and “late” recensions to the archive of evidence for writing history, presenting the opportunity for more richly textured accounts of how stories, concepts, and structures of Christianity were formed and reformed over time, and how textual archives were assembled for differing purposes in various times and places, from the second century to today.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029602
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