What Justification?


Jonathon Lookadoo, "What Justification? Pauline Reception and the Interpretation of Phld. 8.2," Religions 15 (2024): 405


Lookadoo, Jonathon. "What Justification? Pauline Reception and the Interpretation of Phld. 8.2." Religions 15 (2024): 405

Publication life cycle / General notes

Lookadoo engages TFT in The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (#1948-017).

"...Rudolf Bultmann and Thomas Torrance concur that Ignatius’s language at the end of Phld. 8.2 is a reworking of Paul’s terminology, but they both evaluate Ignatius’s understanding of Paul negatively.... Torrance maintains that Ignatius’s use of justification is hindered by his misunderstanding of the Pauline doctrine of grace (Torrance 1948, pp. 67–70).... These scholars share a belief that Ignatius’s language about justification is directly patterned after Paul. However, they argue that Ignatius has altered, misunderstood, or otherwise departed from Paul’s understanding of justification by faith..."


While studies of how Paul and the Pauline letters were received in early Christianity continue to appear at an ever-quickening rate, there are still corners of early Christian literature that remain underexplored with regard to Pauline reception. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch would not usually be included in the underexplored category, but this article argues that one statement within Ignatius’s letters is deserving of more careful attention vis-à-vis its relationship to Pauline themes and terminology. After showing that interpretations of Ignatius’s Philadelphians (Phld.) 8.2 have typically run along two opposing tracks, the article argues that both ways of interpreting Ignatius’s letter fail to do justice to his rhetoric in the letter. The article proposes an alternative way of reading Ignatius’s justification language in Phld. 8.2. Whereas Paul wrote about justification before God, Ignatius desires to be proven right in the eyes of his Philadelphian readers, with whom he has had a dispute. The article concludes by offering ways to account for the different meanings evidenced in the letters of Ignatius and Paul while also endeavouring to explain the purpose for which Ignatius employs terminology that is similar to that of Paul. In the final clause of Phld. 8.2, Pauline terminology provides Ignatius not with his doctrinal substance but rather with authoritative rhetoric that evokes the Apostle.

Keywords: Ignatius of Antioch; justification; letter to the Philadelphians; Paul; Pauline reception; reception history.

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