Ignatius Epistles to St. John

The First Epistle to St John the Apostle

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Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.


(spurious Epistles to John the Apostle)

Ignatius, and the brethren who are with him, to John the holy presbyter.

We are deeply grieved at thy delay in strengthening us by thy addresses and consolations. If thy absence be prolonged, it will disappoint many of us. Hasten then to come, for we believe that it is expedient. There are also many of our women here, who are desirous to see Mary [the mother] of Jesus, and wish day by day to run off from us to you, that they may meet with her, and touch those breasts of hers which nourished the Lord Jesus, and may inquire of her respecting some rather secret matters. But Salome also, [the daughter of Anna,] whom thou lovest, who stayed with her five months at Jerusalem, and some other well-known persons, relate that she is full of all graces and all virtues, after the manner of a virgin, fruitful in virtue and grace. And, as they report, she is cheerful in persecutions and afflictions, free from murmuring in the midst of penury and want, grateful to those that injure her, and rejoices when exposed to troubles: she sympathizes with the wretched and the afflicted as sharing in their afflictions, and is not slow to come to their assistance. Moreover, she shines forth gloriously as contending in the fight of faith against the pernicious conflicts of vicious [1384] principles or conduct. She is the lady of our new religion and repentance, [1385] and the handmaid among the faithful of all works of piety. She is indeed devoted to the humble, and she humbles herself more devotedly than the devoted, and is wonderfully magnified by all, while at the same time she suffers detraction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Besides these points, many relate to us numerous other things regarding her. We do not, however, go so far as to believe all in every particular; nor do we mention such to thee. But, as we are informed by those who are worthy of credit, there is in Mary the mother of Jesus an angelic purity of nature allied with the nature of humanity. [1386] And such reports as these have greatly excited our emotions, and urge us eagerly to desire a sight of this (if it be lawful so to speak) heavenly prodigy and most sacred marvel. But do thou in haste comply with this our desire; and fare thou well. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1384] Literally, "of vices." [1385] Some mss. and editions seem with propriety to omit this word. [1386] Literally, "a nature of angelic purity is allied to human nature." .

A Second Epistle of Ignatius to St. John.

His friend [1387] Ignatius to John the holy presbyter.

If thou wilt give me leave, I desire to go up to Jerusalem, and see the faithful [1388] saints who are there, especially Mary the mother, whom they report to be an object of admiration and of affection to all. For who would not rejoice to behold and to address her who bore the true God from her [1389] own womb, provided he is a friend of our faith and religion? And in like manner [I desire to see] the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be very like Christ Jesus in appearance, [1390] in life, and in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb. They say that, if I see him, I see also Jesus Himself, as to all the features and aspect of His body. Moreover, [I desire to see] the other saints, both male and female. Alas! why do I delay? Why am I kept back? Kind [1391] teacher, bid me hasten [to fulfil my wish], and fare thou well. Amen.


Footnotes

[1387] Literally, "his own." [1388] Some omit this word. [1389] Literally, "of herself." Some read, instead of "de se," "deorum," when the translation will be, "the true God of gods." [1390] Or, "face." Some omit the word. [1391] Or, "good."
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