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Aufsätze /Essays

Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor

by Allen Brent

The argument of this paper will be that the conceptualisation of church

order and organisation found in the Middle Recension of the Letters of
Ignatius of Antioch reflects the pagan political theology of the Greek city
states of Asia M inor in what has become known as the Second Sophistic1.
This term itself, first used by Philostratus, is currently applied to a fairly
distinct historical phenomenon2. Those who called themselves Sophists after
their education were to play by means of their distinctive kind of rhetoric
a significant political role in the societies of Hellenic Asia M inor3.
But what was the social reality that sophistic, rhetorical persuasion
sought to construct, perpetuate and extend? From about the time of the
Emperor Domitian, who died in 96, until the Severans and the circle of
Julia Domna, we find in such writers as Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides,
Philostratus, and Diogenes Laertius, combined with supporting epigraphic
and numismatic references, the following justification for the Hellenic
way of life:
The Greek city states of Asia M inor were united in a common Hellenic
civilisation that was, on Rome’s own admission, superior to its own4.
Philosophy itself was a wholly Greek discovery5. The citystates were au-
tonomous, self-governing communities, just as Athens had been in fourth
century during the period following victory in the Persian wars. Those
societies could hang together by force neither in their individual internal

1 I wish to express my indebtedness to some of the highly original arguments on Ignatius’ use
of Homonoia being advanced by J.-P. Lotz in a doctoral thesis being prepared by him
for publication.
2 Philostr., VS 481, who distinguished the άρχαία σοφιστική καί τα φιλοσοφούμενα with ή
δέ μετ’ εκείνην δεύτερα δε μάλλον ‫־‬ττροσρητέον, whose founder he considered Aeschines,
Demosthenes’ opponent, to have been. Discussed in S. Goldhill, Introduction, Setting
the Agenda, in: S. Goldhill (ed.), Being Greek under Rome. Cultural Identity, the Second
Sophistic, and the Development of Empire, Cambridge 2001,14. See also T. Whitmarsh,
‘Greece is the World’. Exile and Identity in the Second Sophistic, also in: Goldhill, Being
Greek, 270f.
3 G. Anderson, The Second Sophistic. A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire,
London 1993, chapter 1.
4 Verg., Aen. 6,847-853; Aristid., Or. 23,6-8.
5 D.L., Succ. 1.3. See also A. Brent, Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Cen-
tury. Communities in Tension before the Emergence of a Monarch-Bishop, SVigChr 31,
1995, 493-495.

ZAC, vol. 10, pp. 207-232 DOI 10.1515/Z A C .2006.016

© Walter de Gruyter 2007
208 Allen Brent

nor in their external relations with one another6. If force prevailed, then
the social bond, whether internal or international, was unnatural and un-
healthy7. Different components, whether in the constitution of the Greek
city states, or in different organs of government or in different social classes,
each had their role to play in the function of the whole. Their operation
for the mutual benefit of the whole was not that of the force of mechanical
compulsion but like that of members of a natural, organic body, or like
the music of an orchestra or choir, or like the divine harmony of the starry
heavens, or the perfectly rational and peaceful order of the city of the gods8.
Homonoia (ομόνοια) was the quality characterising the natural society for
human beings and described both the proper relationship between different
institutions within a city’s constitution, and that also between cities9.
Concordia or Homonoia was the quality that was to be secured by
treaty between rivals such as Ephesus, Smyrna, or Pergamon over the
Nekorate and other matters, without the means of force that overrode
the principle of autonomy. Thus such treaties between equals needed the
persuasion of rhetorically skilled ambassadors to bring them about. But
they also required the sacramental means for their completion whether
in the ritual of a joint sacrifice (συνθυσία) or in that of a procession in an
Homonoia festival. There the images, on coins or carried in procession,
were of the gods and goddesses who were the particular patrons and icons
of the particular cities concluding the treaty. A further, sacral means of
expressing and securing social cohesion was through initiation into the
mysteries that, though prized as into an elite, had public aspects in procès-
sions which contributed to the life of the city states and expressed their
Hellenic, cultural identity10. Such a visible cohesion of the city states of
Asia Minor was expressed in the Koinon or common Council as a politi-
cal union, and in the growth of international associations of mystery cults
such as those of the artists of Dionysus11.
The discourse of the Second Sophistic should not therefore be taken, like
that of the Apocalypse or the Sybiline Oracles, as a discourse expressing the
protest of the oppressed against the Imperial Power. After all, paradoxically,
what the dispute between Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamon was all about,
only to be resolved between autonomous equals by means of a Homonoia

6 Anderson, Second Sophistic (see note 3), chapter 5; R. Preston, Roman Questions, Greek
Answers. Plutarch and the Construction of Identity, in: Goldhill, Being Greek (see note 2),
86-119; Whitmarsh, ‘Greece is the World’ (see note 2), 271-275.
7 D. Chr., Oratio 38,12 regards στάσις as the opposite to ομόνοια, and likens this to a
disease in the human body, with the latter clearly equivalent to ύγιεία.
8 D. Chr., Oratio 39,2 and 4, writing on Concord following the cessation of civil strife in
9 A.R.R. Sheppard, Homonoia in the Greek Cities of the Roman Empire, Ancient Society
15-17, 1984-1986, 229-242.
10 Aristid., Or. 22,9f.
11 See also below, note 56.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 209

treaty with its issue of Homonoia coinage, was their title as Temple Keeper
(Neokoros) of the Imperial Cult12. There is therefore a discourse definitive
and creative of an Hellenistic cultural identity in process of development
that is in creative tension with the discourse of imperial power. 'Ομόνοια
as an expression of a discourse of cultural identity is in interaction with
ειρήνη as an expression of the discourse of imperial power.
Themes of autonomy and the city state, celebrated by sophistic rhetoric
as definitive of Hellenic identity, were of course continuing long standing
features of that culture from the fourth century B.C. onwards. But what
happened around the time of Domitian is that such themes were crystallized
into a new pattern of Hellenic identity advocated as part of a firm program
of political rhetoric and represented in the speeches of Dio Chrysostom
and Aelius Aristides. Since Domitian initiated certain critical changes in
the Imperial Cult13, it is no accident that Domitian’s coinage takes up the
theme of Homonoia or Concordia and expresses an underlying discourse
of Imperial Power that seeks to appropriate the autonomous assumptions
of ομόνοια to those of ειρήνη and imperial order14. As a result, the dis-
course of Hellenic identity was threatened with subversion to which the
rhetoric of Chrysostom and Aristides represents a re-assertive response.
Furthermore the Homonoia treaties regarding the Neokorate represent in
such a light the acceptance of the imperial title in terms that preserve Hel-
lenistic cultural identity: the only legitimate resolution of a conflict is not
within the emperor’s power alone when it is requested, but the Homonoia
treaty that assumes agreement freely entered into and reached between
autonomous and equal parties.
We have sketched here a broad statement as an introduction. Let us
begin with one example in which the general themes that I have outlined
find particular expression.

A. The Bequest o f lulius Demosthenes (SEG 38, 1462)

This inscription on four sides of a column concerned a bequest for a

music festival (αγών μουσικός) for the city of Oioanda. It records the
documents for the foundation, Hadrian’s permission given 19th August
124, Demosthenes’ original promise of 24th July of that year, the decree
of the 5th July 125, and their decree to send ambassadors to the Roman
governor in 125 or 126, and finally the governor’s subscriptio granting tax

12 SJ. Friesen, Twice Neokoros. Ephesus, Asia and the Cult of the Flavian Imperial Family,
EPRO 116, 1993, 165-168.
13 Suet., Dom. 4,4; see A. Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order,
SVigChr 45, 1999, 174-177.
14 Anderson, Second Sophistic (see note 3), 5-12; T. Schmitz, Bildung und Macht. Zur
sozialen und politischen Funktion der zweiten Sophistik in der griechischen Welt der
Kaiserzeit, Zet. 97, 1997, 18-31.
210 Allen Brent

exemption and the immunity from other magistracies for the Agonothete
also for that year.
Our main concern here will be with the details of the ceremony for the
procession and associated sacrifices. We refer to the following features:
i. The Agonothete wears a golden crown or στέφανος with impressed
images (τύποι) or έκτυπα πρόσωπα of “the emperor Nerva Trajan
Hadrian Caesar Augustus (Αυτοκράτορος Νέρουα Τραϊανού 'Αδρια[νου]
Kaíaapos Σεβαστού) and our Leader the ancestral god Apollo (και του
προκαθη[γετ]ου ή[μώ]ν πατρώου θεου ,Απόλλωνος)”15. The crown was
to be worn “in procession in company with the other magistrates (και
συμπομπεύοντα τοΤς άλλοις άρχουσιν)”16. Ignatius, as we shall see, was
to describe bishop, presbyterate, and deacons as in some sense τύποι
of divine persons17.
ii. There are also “ten sebastophoroi (σεβαστοφόροι)”, who “will carry
(βαστάσουσι) and lead forward (και προάξουσι) and escort (και προπομ-
πεύσουσι) the images of the emperors and the image of our ancestral
god Apollo (τάς σεβαστικάς εικόνας και την [του] πατρφου ήμών θεου
,Απόλλωνος), and the ... holy altar (καί τον ιερόν βωμόν)”18. Ignatius
was to call himself and members of his martyr procession θεοφόροι and
also “shrine bearers (ναοφόροι)”19.
iii. The customary sacrifices offered are not those of the city alone but of
associated villages, who join with the procession in order that it be-
comes a συνθυσία or joint sacrifice. The Agonothete makes public “the
names of those who participate in the common sacrifice (δηλουντος του
άγωνοθέτου τ[ού]ς τε συνθύσαντας), and join the common procession
(και τους συμπομπεύσαν[τας])”, and of those who do not, who are ac-
cordingly fined20. Ignatius regarded his martyr procession as leading
to a sacrifice (θυσία) to which the churches to whom he wrote sent
representatives and contributed to the cost21.
Thus the music festival of Demosthenes is accompanied by a procession,
ritual, and sacrifices that express the integration of villages within the gen-
eral culture of the principle city state. Furthermore, the role of the emperor

15 SEG 38, 1462, C. 52f.

16 SEG 38, 1462, C. 58.
17 Ign., Trail. 3,1 and Magn. 6 ,lf. Regarding the latter, I follow Lightfoot and Zahn in
adopting the reading τύπος (along with the [abridged] Syriac [S] and Armenian [A]) ver-
sions, and not τόττος, even though the latter is attested by both Greek and Latin versions
of the Middle Recension (G and L), as well as the Greek (g) and Latin (1) of the Long
18 SEG 38,1462, C. 51-54; 56-59; 61-64. For an alternative English translation, see S. Mitch-
ell, Festivals, Games, and Civic Life in Roman Asia Minor, JRS 80, 1990, 183-187.
19 Ign., Eph. 9,2, and prefaces to each letter.
20 SEG 38, 1462, C. 84.
21 Ign., Rom. 2,2; 4,2.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 211

in approving such a cult, the introduction of bearers of the emperor’s im-

age (σεβαστοφόροι) along with that of the city’s deity, Apollo, their τύποι
in the στέφανος worn by the Agonothete, and their εικόνες bourne along
with a portable altar by other image bearers are features suggestive of an
organisation of imagery creating and expressing symbiosis between the
cultural identity of the city state itself and the structures of wider impe-
rial power.
The term ομόνοια is not explicitly used here though this expresses the
ideal by which different parts of the constitution of the city state will work
in harmony, as indeed will different city states with each other. But the
sacrifice, which is called a συνθυσία22, is associated with festivals célébrât-
ing ομόνοια in other sources.

A l. 'Ομόνοιαand συνθυσία

In the famous dispute over the title πρώτη ,Ασίας και δις νεωκόρος Ephesus
invited to a common celebration (συνθυσία) both Pergamon and Smyrna,
and sought to make this a ομόνοια festival. Pergamon pretended to par-
ticipate, but denied this title to Ephesus in its decree on the συνθυσία23
and coins celebrating the ομόνοια festival were issued by all three states24.
Unlike in the case of the Demostheneia, the arrangements for both the
treaty, and the συνθυσία concluding it, were made through ambassadors,
since in this συνθυσία independent states as opposed to dependent villages
were involved25. Ignatius, as we shall see, was to call upon the churches
to elect ambassadors (θεοπρεσβευταί) as their representatives to join his
martyr procession with the proclamation that the church of Antioch in
Syria was at peace26.
Characteristically, the series of ομόνοια coins show, on their reverse,
representations of the deities associated with the two cities between which
Homonoia has been achieved, honouring each other. For example, we

22 The decree of the city council itself in SEG 38, 1462, C. 69 and 87.
23 Antoninus Pius, in 144, refers to: εν των περί τής συνθυσίας ψηφίσματι, in: C. Börker
(ed.), Die Inschriften von Ephesos, Bd. 5, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien
15, Bonn 1980, 1489, Ilf.; 1489A, 8f. and W. Dittenberger (ed.), Sylloge Inscriptionum
Graecarum, volumen tertium, Hildesheim 1960, 849, l l f . See also U. Kampmann, Die
Homonoia-Verbindungen der Stadt Pergamon oder der Versuch einer kleinasiatischen
Stadt, unter römischer Herrschaft eigenständige Politik zu betreiben, Saarbrücker Studien
zur Archäologie und alten Geschichte 9, Saarbrücken 1996, 30f.
24 P.R. Franke /M.K Nollé, Die Homonoia-Münzen Kleinasiens und der thrakischen Rand-
gebiete, Saarbrücker Studien zur Archäologie und alten Geschichte 10, Saarbrücken 1997,
38f., n. 305-316.
25 In SEG 38,1462, C. 100 and 102 ambassadors (‫־‬πρέσβεις) are elected but only to petition
the governor, Flavius Aper, for tax exemption for the festival, and not to negotiate the
conduct of the συνθυσία itself between local villages under the jurisdiction of the city
26 Ign., Philad. 10,If.; Smyrn. 11,1-3.
212 Allen Brent

have a commemoration of an agreement between Side and Alexandria,

during the reign of Valerian I (253-260), where, on the left side of the
image on the obverse of the coin, we have Athena standing with a lance,
as the divinity of Side, and, on the right, we have Isis, standing with a
sistrum in her right hand, and a sistula with Nile water in her left, as the
divinity of Alexandria27. Between them stand a round altar with a burn-
ing flame that suggests a festival and a sacrifice cementing the concord
between the two representative deities. On the reverse we have ΣΙΔΗΤΩΝ
ΑΛΕΧΑΝΔΡΕΩΝ ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ. We thus have portrayed a festival concluding
ομόνοια between Side and Alexandria28. We have a series of such coins
with these features29.
Here we have the συνθυσία of the Demosthenes inscription and related
epigraphy. Furthermore, we also have coins from both Side and Aspendos
from the same reign, showing Athena and Serapis, divinities of their re-
spective cities, with ομόνοια inscriptions30. Athene exemplifies, in various
epigraphic examples, the description προκαθεζόμενη θεός as sacral represen-
tative of her cities, which we shall see to parallel Ignatius’ description of a
cleric as προκαθήμενος εις τύπον31. It should be remembered that, although
these coins date from the mid third century onwards, the achievement of the
ομόνοια commemorated need not have been necessarily recent: they could
rather mark the annual festival commemorating a past agreement32.
The ambassadors seem to have had a ceremonial function regarding
these coins and their images or τύποι, to which we now turn.

A2. Όμόνοιααηά ambassadors bearing divine images

The role of the ambassador as representative of a city was also the role
of one who bore the image of the city’s god. It is not difficult to see why
this should be the case. If the god was in a sense bearer of the corporate

27 M.K. Nollé/J. Nollé, Vom feinen Spiel städtischer Diplomatie. Zu Zeremoniell und
Sinn kaiserlicher Homonoiafeste, ZPE 102, 1994, 244, and Abb. 2, 258; Franke/Nollé,
Homonoia-Münzen (see note 24), 195, n. 1924f., and taf. 89.
28 N ollé/Nollé, Vom feinen Spiel (see note 27), 241f.
29 J. Nollé, Side. Zur Geschichte einer kleinasiatischen Stadt in der römischen Kaiserzeit
im Spiegel ihrer Münzen, AW 21, 1990, 261, n. 108-118.
30 Franke/Nollé, Homonoia-Münzen (see note 24), 15, η. 82-87.
31 See also J. Nollé, Side im Altertum. Geschichte und Zeugnisse, Bd. 1, 1993, 195 Tep. 1.
and 200f. See also Nollé, Side (see note 29), 251, mentioning a coin (248 n. 23f.) with
the inscription: ΟΔΗ MYCTIC NEQKOPOC (“Side; keeper of the Temple mystery”).
32 Nollé, Side (see note 29), 261: “Side gab Homonoiamünzen nur in der Zeit Gordians III.
(238-244 n. Chr.) und Valerians I. (253-260 n. Chr.) aus, was allerdings nicht bedeu-
tet, dass die Freundschaftsverträge gerade in dieser Zeit geschlossen wurden. Sie kön-
nen durchaus älter sein; möglich ist, dass einige der Homonoiamünzen Jahrestage der
Freundschaftsverträge feiern. Zweifellos gehörte es zum Imponiergehabe der städtischen
Honoratioren, in bestimmten Situationen auf die weiterreichenden Beziehungen ihrer
Stadt aufmerksam zu machen”.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 213

personality of the city, then the ambassador in representing the city was
the representative also of the city’s god. The pagan representatives of the
Alexandrians, in their dispute with their Jewish neighbours, carried the
bust of Serapis when their case was heard before the tribunal of Trajan.
The Acts o f the Pagan Martyrs describes such ambassadors as: “each
were carrying their own gods (έκαστοι βαστάζοντες τούς ίδιους θεούς)”33.
Βαστάζειν is a technical term meaning “to carry in a procession’534.
Thus the deity in the hands of the ambassador can also be said to
lead the embassy. In Caracalla’s letter to Ephesus (200-205), we have the
emperor’s description of their ambassadors who congratulated him on
his Parthian victory. When he says: [αύ δε π]ροεπρέσβευεν ή πάτριος υμών
θεός ‫״‬Αρτεμις he means that “your ancestral goddess Artemis heads the
embassy,” because her image is literally carried at the embassy’s head35.
It may therefore have been the case that the ambassadors who concluded
the ομόνοια treaty carried the coins themselves as images of the divine,
iconographic representations of the city as part of the ritual of the embassy
whose conclusion was a συνθυσία in which the altar flames blazed in the
presence of such joint images of the two cities.
We would point out too that the word for such an impressed image on
a coin is τύπος. But we must remember that the images on the στέφανος
such as that of the Agonothete in Demosthenes procession are also called
τύποι or, in his particular instance, πρόσωπα έκτυπα.

B. Theology o f sacral representation (τύποι) and priesthood

Demosthenes’ Agonothete, as priest of the rite, like the ambassador in the

procession, was the representative of the divinity whose head dress he wore.
We note that one of the τύποι on his στέφανος was “τού προκαθη[γέτ]ου
ή[μώ]ν πατρώου θεού ,Απόλλωνος”36. Προκαθηγέτης is literally “the leader
of the procession,” and clearly Apollo here is considered to be literally
such because the priest who wears his image is leading his procession
as Agonothete. In another example, the priest who wears the mask of
Dionysus literally leads his procession. Here once again we see the way
in which the god as καθηγεμών of his procession shades into the figure of
the priest who represents the god37. Προηγέτης/προηγητής is used gener­

33 H.A. Musurillo, The Acts of the Pagan Martyrs, Acta Alexandrinorum, Oxford 1954,
8 (= P. Oxy. 1242).17f.
34 L. Robert, Le Serpent Glycon d’Abônouteichos à Athènes et Artémis d’Éphèse à Rome,
Opera Minora Selecta 5, 1989, 747-769 (= CRAI, 1981, 513-535).
35 SEG 31, 955; R. Merkelbach, Die Inschriften von Ephesos, Bd. 6, Inschriften griechischer
Städte aus Kleinasien 16, Bonn 1980, 2026, 16.
36 SEG 38, 1462, C. 52f.
37 L. Robert, Études Anatoliennes. Recherches sur les inscriptions grecques de l’Asie Mineure,
EtOr 5, Paris 1937, 30f., lines 7-9 and comment on 31.
214 Allen Brent

ally of someone who shows the way, but specifically it is also applied to
the gods38. But the office is also attributed to the priestly representative
of the god, as in the case of Aeschines, whom Demosthenes describes as:
“First Leader and Guide (εξαρχος και προηγεμών).” The term θιασάρχης
in Lucian’s satire of Peregrinus Proteus, portrait of a Christian leader with
Ignatian features, describes the function of Aeschynes as εξαρχος who was
“leading fine throngs (tous καλούς θιάσους άγων)”39.
We see therefore that, presupposed by the processional imagery and rit-
ual employed in Demosthenes’ festival, a pagan theology of representation
that is sacramental in that it symbolized what it effects, and effects what it
symbolises. The person of the human figure who leads the procession, and
enacts, in the case of Dionysus, the mystery drama, becomes merged with
the divinity whose τύπος he wears and displays prominently in his golden
στέφανος. But another image is being now incorporated and associated
with Apollo προκαθηγέτης, and that is the image of divine Hadrian. We
infer accordingly a discourse of political theology in which the discourse
of imperial authority and that of Hellenic autonomy are appropriating
themes from each other, and attempting to define authority relations in
ways that each find appropriate, yet retain a rough consistency with the
other. It is a consistency between the object of a joint sacrifice (συνθυσία)
that is ομόνοια, and that freely accepted order in which divine Hadrian
is by the rite made part, instead of an imposed imperial ειρήνη. The con-
fluences of discourse seem further emphasised in the officials who carry
portable images and a portable altar that are simply called σεβαστοφόροι
or bearers of the images of the dead and deified imperial family (σεβαστοί).
Ignatius, whilst committed to the principle of ομόνοια, will directly reject
the imperial claims as a goal for Christian societies40.
The rite had other consequences than simply the relationship with
the imperial power for symbolizing and thereby effecting an integration
of disparate groups within a common, Hellenic whole that was the aim
and ideal of the Koinon. The rite included a συνθυσία to which villages
contributed and in which they participated. That rite was one particular
example of a general rite seen otherwise in a ομόνοια treaty ending conflict
and rivalry between city states, and involving the election of ambassadors.
A theology of representation also involving the ritual acts of image bearing
were also involved there, and the gods who represented the rival cities,
in the hands of their ambassadors who bore them, were seen as joining
together in a common purpose for the salvation of both cities in the act
of making the treaty.

38 Aristid., Or. 41 (4),lf.

39 D., De Corona (18) 260.
40 Ign., Rom. 4,3; 6,1· See also Brent, Imperial Cult (see note 13), 229-233; A. Brent,
Ignatius of Antioch and the Imperial Cult, VigChr 49, 1998, 31-37.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 215

We shall now see how in such a social and cultural context the mind
of Ignatius of Antioch, unique and idiosyncratic in the context of the
early second century, was to commend cogently the unity of Christian
groups within and between themselves, in a relation marked by ομόνοια,
by means of the creation of an image projecting threefold hierarchy (or
better typology) that, in procession, could symbolize what it effected, and
effect what it symbolised.
Let us see now how such a pagan, cultural context forms the backcloth
to Ignatius’ project for Christian unity.

B l. Ignatius' problem

I regard Harrison’s point as sufficiently proven, that Ignatius was not

condemned as the result of a pagan process of persecution, but because
of his role in civil disturbances in a church of Antioch riven with fac-
tions. The redaction criticism to which Brown and Meier subjected the
Gospel o f M atthew has further exposed the factional character of the
Antiochene community41. Ignatius moved in chains on his way to Rome
across Asia M inor through or past cities with Christian communities like-
wise exhibiting a variety of organisations and claims, lacking any internal
coherence and clear cultural identity. How can the Christian name become
common or shared, how can it be κοινόν42? The ministry of the bishop
of Philadelphia (διακονία) was one “pertaining to the association (8is τό
κοινόν άνήκουσαν)”, in which ecclesial communities are united like secular
ones in a Koinon or Association by virtue of the function of the bishop’s
office43. Thus the church was “established in godly concord (ήδρασμενη
εν όμονοία θεού)”44.
Ignatius’ answer reflects that of the pagan political theology of the
Second Sophistic, as I have outlined it. They are to become a χορός or
choir, each part of which co-operates “in ... concord and symphonic
love (διά τούτο εν τή όμονοία υμών και συμφώνω άγάπη)”. The “pres-
bytery (πρεσβυτέριον)... is so joined to the bishop (outcos συνήρμοσται
τφ επισκοπώ) as cords to a lyre (cbs χορδαι κιθάρα)”45. As such Ignatius
parallels the musical metaphor of Dio Chrysostom in his Nicene Oration
On Homonoia where citizens in a state of faction (οι δε στασιάζοντες)

41 R.E. Brown/J.-P. Meier, Antioch and Rome. New Testament Cradles of Catholic Chris-
tianity, New York 1982, 45-79.
42 Ign., Philad. 5,2; 11,2; Eph. 1,2, with which cf. the farewell greeting in 21,2 (τη κοινή
ελττίδι ήμών). The fourth century Coptic fragments (C) add this phrase after Χριστώ in
Trail. 13,2, though this is taken to be a scribal addition on the basis of the Ephesian
43 Ign., Philad. 1,1.
44 Ign., Philad. inscr. See also below, note 102.
45 Ign., Eph. 4 ,If.
216 Allen Brent

are like a chorus singing out of tune (των άσυμφώνων χορών)46. At the
conclusion of his speech, at the cessation of civil strife (στάσις), 'Ομόνοια
was the very goddess, amongst others, to whom Dio Chrysostom was to
address his final prayer: “to expel faction and strife and jealousy (στάσιν
58 και έριδα και φιλονικίαν έκβαλεΐν)”47.
For Ignatius the true εκκλησία, like Dio’s “true city,” comes from the
ability of ο! διοικούντες to achieve ομόνοια. Ignatius parallels Dio’s image
of the χορός, in which the threefold order expresses ομόνοια. The test of
the true εκκλησία is that individuals have become what both he elsewhere,
like Dio here, calls a πλήθος48 through individuals (οι κατ’ άνδρα) acting εν
όμονοία, like those who hear the note and form a choir singing in unity.
In order to assist them, the institutions of the church, as true πόλις - the
episcopate, diaconate, and presbyterate - work similarly together in order
to symbolise what they effect and effect what they symbolise. We see here
a specific relationship between “in concord (εν ομόνοια)” and “in unity
(εν ενότητι)” within Ignatius’ concept of the threefold order (πρεσβυτέριον
ούτως συνήρμοσται τω επισκοπώ).
But how is this order to be effected, granted that it is not that of a
monarchical episcopate in which one institution of the constitution is
dominated by another by force but rather the mutual co-operation that is
ομόνοια? Ignatius’ reply is that you need to form not simply a choir, but a
choir that is part of the mystery procession of a cult association.

B2. Image bearing in mystery processions

It is as mystery cults that the churches can join his martyr procession
on its way to Rome. In writing to the Ephesians, Ignatius regards his
entourage, whom he calls συμμύσται, who are witnesses to the αίμα του
θεού in his person as θεοφόρος, and who accompany him to martyrdom,
as a procession49:
“You are all, therefore (εστέ 05v), fellow cult members (σύνοδοι πάντες),
God-bearers (θεοφόροι), and temple-bearers (και ναοφόροι), Christ-bearers
(χριστοφόροι), bearers of holy things (άγιοφόροι), in every way adorned
with the commandments of Jesus Christ (κατά πάντα κεκοσμημενοι εν
εντολαΐς Ίησου Χρίστου)50.”

46 See also before the Council of Prusa in D.Chr., or.36,1 in which a musical choir is seen
as the model for “where one shouldcall such acity state a real city, moderate, and wise,
and under law’s rule, because of their administrators (την τοιαύτην χρή καλεΐν σώφρονα
και νόμιμον και τφ οντι πόλιν ά‫־‬ττό των διοικούντων)”.
47 D. Chr., or. 39,8.
48 Ign., Magn. 6,1; Trail. 1,1; 8,2; Smyrn. 8,2. Cf. Acts 6,5; 15,2; Clem., Ad Cor. 54,2. For
ττολυιτληθία, see Eph. 1,3.
49 Ign., Eph. inscr.; 1,1; 12,2.
50 Ign., Eph. 9,2.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 217

W hat then were the models of social organisation and of authority as-
sociated with image bearing in both mystery cult, and in Ignatius’ εκκλησία?
In answer to this question, we shall focus on evidence for the term σύνοδος,
and participation in cults through the bearing of various images by those
whose roles are described with -φόρος adjectives.

Β 2 Λ . Σύνοδοι

The σύνοδοι are not merely “companions”, nor even the anachronous
“fellow pilgrims” of recent translations. One of the registers of meaning
of this term is “members of a common cult or guild”. The usual σύνοδος
appears as a plural here because the churches are joining his martyr procès-
sion through their representatives, and therefore each church individually
is viewed as its own cult. Furthermore, the terms has close associations
with mystery cults. We have, amongst many other examples, a letter (147)
of Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius whose introduction reads:
“ the gathering of the followers of the Brysean Dionysus
(συνόδω των περί τον Βρεισέα Διόνυσον), who are the gathering of those
initiated into the mysteries in Smyrna (συνόδω των εν Σμύρνη μυστών
Clearly in this inscription, σύνοδος refers to a mystery association
(σύνοδος των εν Σμύρνη μυστών)52, but in others sometimes of a guild of
merchants (τεχνεΐται), at other times that of musical performers (ξυστική
σύνοδος). Claudius Rufus was διάδοχος of the priesthood (άρχιερωσύνη) of
such a σύνοδος53. The ceremony of initiation involved deification, so that
the emperor Hadrian can become νέος Διόνυσος, and his favorite Alkinous
νεος θεός Έρμάων54.
Furthermore, in another inscription, a σύνοδος was concerned with
participating in a mystery play of the kind that was financed by Ulpius
Aelius Pompeianus55. The occasion of the drama was presumably in order
to effect the original decree that Hadrian be admitted and hence deified.
Thus Pompeianus had to summon (άνεκαλεσατο), with speed of urgency
(και τώ τε τάχει τής σπουδής), the players (τούς άγωνιστάς) already on their

51 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum (see note 23), 851, 7-9.26f. (= IGRR
1399). See also L. Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae, vol. 1, Rom 1969, n. 143
(Hadrian’s Cult Association [Antinous]); SEG 43, 773, 32f. Damoteles (Ephesus, 2nd
cent. B.C.). IG 5 /2 , 269, and 270; SEG 43, 1135.
52 See also Marcus Aurelius to Smyrna (between 161 and 166), IGRR 1400 (= CIG 3177), 9f.:
“to the cult gathering (τώ συνόδω) of the artists and initiates associated with Brysean
Dionysus, greeting (τών περί Βρεισέα Διόνυσον τεχνειτών και μυστών χαίρειν)”.
53 Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae 246 (see note 51), B.2-9 (= IG 14, 253)
(Cult of Herakles).
54 Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae (see note 51), n. 143 (Hadrian’s Cult As-
sociation [Antinous]).
55 SEG 6, 59 (= IGRR 3, 209).
218 Allen Brent

journey (όδεύοντας ήδη). Furthermore he needed to equip each participant,

and to assign each their roles (παντι μέρει του μυστηρίου [έπή]ρκεσεν) for
the mystery drama itself (τον άγώνα τον μυστικόν)56. Here too was the
social setting in which Aemilianus performed as a pantomime actor, with
masks (πρόσωπα), gestures (τύποι), and mime (μίμησις)57.
It is thus to such a mystery procession, with its own drama of initiation,
that Ignatius calls the Ephesians συμμύσται with the apostle Paul, as he
desires to follow the latter’s steps when “I attain to God (θεου επιτύχω)”58.
When he calls the churches to join in his procession, he calls them σύνοδοι
because they are for him Christian mystery cultic associations, organising
themselves into a mystery drama. Individual σύνοδοι are part of the or-
ganisation of one worldwide σύνοδος, like Hadrian’s σύνοδος τ[ών άπό τής
οικουμένη]ς περί τον Διόνυσον59 or, as Ignatius would prefer, “the catholic
church (ή καθολική εκκλησία)”60. He informs the Ephesians they are cult
associations (εστε σύνοδοι), and are to be anxious to join spectacle of his
martyrdom (ίστορήσαι εσπουδάσατε)61, just as Aelius Pompeianus would
act with anxious haste (τω τε τάχει τής σπουδής) in gathering the players
already on the road (όδεύοντας ήδη τούς άγωνιστάς) for Hadrian’s deifi-
cation, and provide them with equipment and roles for their parts in the
drama (παντι μέρει του μυστηρίου).
W hat specific analogy does Ignatius now draw between the religious
ritual of such a procession and his martyr’s entourage?

B2.2. Image bearers (θεοφόροι, χριστοφόροι, ναοφόροι, άγιοφόροι)

Let us note first of all that the processions with their members assigned
roles in a sacred drama involved not simply costumes and masks (πρόσωπα)
but also the bearing of images and the wearing of them in a high priestly
στέφανος. Ignatius is aware of this since he has called members of the
σύνοδοι joining his procession, as we have seen, God-bearers (θεοφόροι),
and temple-bearers (και ναοφόροι), Christ-bearers (χριστοφόροι), bearers

56 D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ,
1950, vol. II., 1477, note 24: “the άγών μυστικός mentioned ... was perhaps similar
to the pageant (or drama) given at Ephesus in honour of Dionysus, Zeus Panhellenius
and Hephaestus (I.B.M. 600), in which the actors took the parts of various divinities,
particularly those connected with Dionysus”.
57 T û t t o ç is used of the gestures or mime of an actor in Nonn. Epicus, D.4, 98-103.

58 Ign., Eph. 12,2.

59 SEG 6, 58,1-6; 6, 59,1-5: Decree of the sacred orchestral cult association of Hadrian
ψήφισμα τής ίεράς 'Αδριανής θυμελικής συνόδου), from those who from the whole world
support Dionysus and the Emperor, Trajan, Hadrian, Caesar, Augustus, the new Diony-
sus (τ[ών οπτό τής οικουμένη]s περί τόν Διό[νυσον και Αύτοκράτορα Τ]ραιανόν 'Αδριανόν
Καίσαρα Σεβαστόν νέον Διόνυσον), who are the craftsmen who wear the garlands of vie-
tory ([τε]χνειτων ίερονεικών στεφανειτών)‫״‬.
60 Ign., Smyrn. 8,2.
61 Ign., Eph. 1,5; 9,2.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 219

of holy things (άγιοφόροι), in every way adorned with the commandments

of Jesus Christ (κατά πάντα κεκοσμημένοι εν εντολαις Ίησου ΧριστοΟ)62. An
εκκλησία furthermore, even before it has, as σύνοδος, joined Ignatius’ pro-
cession, can be called άγιοφόρος: he writes to the Smyrnaeans as εκκλησίαν
άγιοφόρων. Ignatius also claims the title of θεοφόρος after his name in the
preface to every letter, and it is therefore with such an iconography of
spiritual authority that he writes.
Let us look at such image bearers, and their pagan parallels, as well as
to the vestments worn in procession.
'Αγιοφόρος was translated by Funk as a general moral description of
those who are “fruitful” or “fecund in sanctity”. But, as Camelot noted,
the real parallel is with sacred objects carried in procession, and reflects
pagan cultic practice. We wish to develop these cues into an account of
the pagan theology that Ignatius shares formally with his pagan con-
temporaries. These terms are not merely “des réminiscences de la langue
cultuelle païenne”, with no real or profound connection with the character
of Ignatius5 thought63.
We have an inscription from Ephesus recording a procession in hon-
our of Hadrian as Sebastos (σεβαστόν) and Pontifex Maximus (άρχιερή
μέγιστον) on the part of :“the priests and victors in the games, who bear
the sacred vestments of the great goddess Artemis, who heads the city (oi
τον [ίερ]όν κόσμον βαστά[ζον]τες τής μεγάλης θεάς [Άρτέμ]ιδος προ πόλ[ε]ως
ιερείς [καί ιερ]ονεΐκαι)”64. By analogy with such pagan processions, Ignatius
describes, as we saw, those who join his as “in every way adorned with
the commandments of Jesus Christ (κατά πάντα κεκοσμημένοι εν εντολαϊς
Ίησου Χρίστου)”. Certainly in the Isis mysteries “the foremost high priests
(antistites sacrorum proceres)” were what in Greek would be described
as θεοφόροι. But they were accompanied in procession by a priest who
“carried with both hands an altar (manibus ambabus gerebat altaría)”.
The altar in question clearly was miniature, and thus we have βοομοφόροι
as counterparts to Ignatius’s ναοφόροι, or άγιοφόροι65.
Thus the -φόροι adjectives here thus locate Ignatius’ Christian theology of
order in the pagan culture of mystery processions. We find these terms paral-

62 Above, note 40.

63 P.T. Camelot, Ignace antioche. Lettres. Polycarpe de Smyrne. Lettres. Martyre de Poly-
carpe, SC 1 0 ,1 9 5 8 ,1 5 4 (η. 1): “άγιοφόρος est sans doute à interpréter d’après Eph., 9,2
où les chrétiens sont comparés aux porteurs d’objets sacrés dans les processions. Les vases
sacrés que portent les chrétiens de Smyrne sont la grâce et les vertus (Lightfoot, Bauer).
Une autre interprétation, ferax sanctorum, ‘féconde en sainteté’, où ‘en saints’, (Funk)
parait moins vraisemblable. On l’a vu, en effet, le vocabulaire d’Ignace présente bien
des réminiscences de la langue cultuelle païenne”. This was a good comment as far as it
goes, but fails to locate specifically the bearers of the τύποι with the clerical orders.
64 CIG 2963, c.7-11 (as amended in L. Robert, Une nouvelle inscription grecque de Sardes.
Règlement de ^autorité perse relatif à un cuit de Zeus, Paris 1975, 324).
65 Apul., met. 11,10.
220 Allen Brent

leled in Robertas list of functionaries in religious rituals, where compounds

with -φόρος refer quite literally to those who carry sacred objects, such as
“ [minature] altar bearer (βωμοφόρος)” “casket bearer (κισταφόρος)”, “fire
bearer (πυρφόρος)”, “fan bearer (λικαφόρος)”, “basket bearer (κανηφόρος)”,
“bearer of olive shoots (θαλλοφόρος)”, “fallus bearer (φαλλοφόρος),” and
“god bearer (θεοφόρος)”. We find the latter term becoming σεβαστοφόρος
when, for example, the Dionysiac mysteries are assimilated with H adrian’s
Imperial Cult66. M ost of these are found in the Agrippinilla inscription
on the three sided marble pillar that was unearthed on the via Tusculana
between the via Labicana and the via Latina in Rome in 1926. Here we
have a list of names of a Dionysiac σύνοδος or θίασος, in columns, with
roles assigned to the various participants in the procession67.
Previously Ignatius had described the Ephesians when beginning to
form his procession as: “being imitators of God (μιμηταί όντες θεού), be-
ing inflamed by the blood of God (άναζωπυρήσαντες εν αΐματι θεου)”. We
have a marble relief on a base inscribed in memory of L. Lartius Anthus68,
who is a κιστοφόρος of the temple of M a‫־‬Bellone69. Indeed, like Ignatius’
θεοφόρος the title of his position and function in the cultic procession
is used almost like a cognomen. Lartius is depicted on the relief with a
laurel crown decorated with three medallions, with busts of divinities.
In his left hand are two double axes, and in his right a laurel twig with
which to sprinke the blood produced by self mutilation with the axes.
The cistus at his feet contained the vires of Attis, emblems of his suffer-
ing god, just as Ignatius was an image of the suffering God70. Thus the
worshippers of Attis could be described as roused to ecstasy or “inflamed
(άναζωπυρήσαντες)” by “the blood of god (εν αΐματι θεου)” in the drama
in which they participate through mimesis71.

66 L. Robert, Hellenica, vol. 2. Inscription Éphébique, Opera Minora Selecta Π, 1 9 6 9 ,1277f.

(= RPh 13, 1939, 124f.). See further Brent, Imperial Cult (see note 13), 238f.
67 Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae (see note 51), n. 160; cf. L. Robert, Recher-
ches Épigraphiques, VI. Inscriptions d’Athènes, Opera Minora Selecta 2, 1969, 839 note
6 (= REA 62, 1960, 323 note 6). See also Robert, Le Serpent (see note 34), 747-769
[= CRAI, 1981], 519-535.
68 CIL 6, 2233. See also E. Strong, Sepulchral Relief of a Priest of Bellona, Papers of the
British School at Rome 9,1920, 207: “L. Lartio Antho Cistophoro aedis Bellonae Pulvi-
nensis fecit C. Quinctius Rufinus Fratri et Domino suo pientissimo cui et monumentum
fecit interius agro Apollonis Argentei Quinctius Rufinus. (C. Quinctius Rufus has made
this for L. Lartius Anthus Cistophoros of the Temple of Bellona for his most pius brother,
for whom also Quinctius Rufinus made a monument in the neighbourhood of the field
of the silver Apollo)”.
69 Ma Bellone was the divine Mother in Cappadocia and Pontus, assimilated to the Roman
cult of Bellona from the time of Sulla when introduced at Rome. She was associated
nevertheless also with Magna Mater, see Strong, Sepulchral Relief (see note 68), 207.
70 Strong, Sepulchral Relief (see note 68), 208f. and plate 26. See also F. Cumont, Religions
orientales dans le paganisme romain, Paris 1929, 51 plate II.2, and L. Robert, Nouvelles
remarques sur l’«Édit d’Ériza», Opera Minora Selecta II, 1969, 967f. (= Bulletin de Cor-
respondance Hellénique, 1932, 263).
71 Ign., Eph. 1,1.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 221

But Ignatius did not understand his procession to martyrdom in the

arena alone by analogy with a mystery cult. If we look at his description
of the role of the three orders of clergy in the normal Sunday liturgy, we
find further analogies with the functions of those whose bear or wear
images in a mystery procession, namely his claim that the bishop, pres‫־‬
bytery and deacons are to create τύποι of persons or events in the drama
of Christ’s salvation.

C. Τύπος and the eucharist as the Christian drama o f replay

Ignatius had no concept of apostolic succession in a later Hegesippan or

Irenaean sense72. For him the bishop is not the successor of the apostles
but an icon of God the Father, the representatives of Jesus Christ being
the deacons. To flee divisions one must come to a congregation with the
threefold order, where the presbyters will be the representatives of the
apostles73. Thus we see for Ignatius that the threefold order is the remedy
for a divided society that is to act “in God’s concord (εν όμονοία θεού)”.
The threefold order represent the episcopal Father, council of the apost-
les, and diaconal Son. They do so by creating τύποι or images of each of
these three. As Ignatius says:
“Be eager to do all things in God’s concord (εν όμονοία θεού σπουδάζετε
πάντα πράσσειν) with the bishop pre-eminent in creating an image of God
(προκαθημένου του επισκόπου εις τύπον θεού) and the presbyters in creating
an image of the council of the apostles (και των πρεσβυτέρων εις τύπον
συνεδρίου των άποστόλων), and with the deacons ... entrusted with the
ministry of Jesus Christ (και των διακόνων των πεπιστευμένων διακονίαν
Ιησού Χρίστου)”74.
“Likewise let all revere the deacons (ομοίως εντρεπέσθωσαν τούς διακό-
vous) as Jesus Christ (cbs Ιησού Χριστού), even as they should do the
bishop who is the image of the Father (cbs και τον επίσκοπον όντα τύπον
τού πατρός), and the presbyters as God’s council (τούς δέ πρεσβυτέρους cbs
συνέδριον θεού) and as a band of apostles (και cbs σύνδεσμον άποστόλων):
without these a church cannot be summoned (xcopls τούτων εκκλησία ού

72 Τ. Lechner, Ignatius adversus Valentinianos? Chronologische und theologiegeschichtliche

Studien zu den Briefen des Ignatius von Antiochien, VigChr 47, 1999, 109-115.
73 Ign., Smyrn. 8,1: τούς δέ μερισμούς φεύγετε (flee divisions) ... πάντες τω επισκοπώ
ακολουθείτε ώς Ίησους Χρίστος τφ πατρί (All follow the bishop as Jesus Christ the Fa-
ther) καί τώ πρεσβυτερίω ώς τοις άποστόλοις (and the presbyterate as the apostles)...
or Philad. 5,1: προσφυγών ... τοίς άποστόλοις ώς πρεσβυτερίων εκκλησίας (fleeing to the
apostles as to the presbyterate of the church).
74 Ign., Magn. 6,1.
75 Ign., Trail. 3,1.
222 Allen Brent

Ignatius’ question does not relate, as did that of Irenaeus and He-
gesippus later, to showing, through a temporal sequence, a succession,
how the church order of the present originated with the apostles. Rather
his question is sociological or anthropological: how does a collection of
individual Christians become in space, time, and history a corporate and
cultural identity? How can being part of such a dramatic procession create
and sustain a new Christian social order εν όμονοία, like the procession in
the Demostheneia whose iconography integrated imperial with Dionysiac
divine elements?
They do so, Ignatius claims, by gathering together for a corporate,
eucharistic act in which one of them will stand as the Father-God’s im-
age, encircled by a seated presbyterate. Here is imaged the σύνδεσμος
άποστόλων, who received the Spirit in the Upper Room of the Johannine
Pentecost in which Jesus “breathed into (ενεφύσησεν)” the apostles the Holy
Spirit76. Thus the presbyterate becomes “a worthily woven spiritual crown
(άξιοπλόκου πνευματικοί) στεφάνου)”77. It is to this scene that Ignatius also
refers when he claims: “The Lord breathed incorruption on the church”78.
Here the deacons will go to and from the Father bishop like the Son who
comes from the Father and returns to him again, also in the words of the
Fourth Gospel79. The eucharist is therefore what Laechli described as a
drama of replay, in which what happened in time in the Upper Room is
made timelessly present by ritual enactment80.
But from where does Ignatius’ concept of what it is for a cleric to be
pre-eminent in creating an image (προκαθήμενος εις τύπον) come? In what
kind of discourse does such an expression have its natural home where
its meaning for Ignatius can be fathomed?

C l. Προκαθήμενος εις τύπον

Τύπος does not refer to an Old Testament type being fulfilled in the present
church such as we find for example in Barnabas, or the eucharist as fulfill-
ment of the Passover, as in Melito of Sardis. That is how the Didascaliast
understood Ignatius, quite falsely as I have argued elsewhere81. Rather,
τύπος should be interpreted within the context of image bearing or wear-
ing. In Josephus, we have an unambiguous reference to Rachael’s teraphim

76 John 20:22.
77 Ign., Magn. 13,1·
78 Ign., Eph. 17,1.
79 John 13:3, Jesus, who “had come from God and was returning to God (ά‫־‬π‫־‬ό τοΰ θεού
εξήλθεν καί πρός τόν θεόν ίπτάγει)‫״‬.
80 S. Laeuchli, The Drama of Replay, in: M. Friedman/T.P. Burke/S. Laeuchli (Hg.), Search-
ing in the Syntax of Things, Philadelphia 1972.
81 A. Brent, The Relations between Ignatius of Antioch and the Didascalia Apostolorum,
SecCen 8 /3 , 1991, 129-156.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 223

described as τύποι82. Amongst many other instances, a salient example was

in Demosthenes’ στέφανος where we have reference to τύποι in the adjec-
tival part of the expression πρόσωπα έκτυπα. We have many examples of
such στέφανοι where small busts are almost wholly formed and protrude
outwards. We may call these τύποι προκαθημένοι - they are images that
sit or protrude forward and thus are pre-eminent. We have here, I would
suggest, the origins of the image that Ignatius uses of the πρεσβυτέριον
προκαθημένον εις τύπον άποστόλων from a seated circle which reminds
him of a στέφανος that, like a garland, is άξιόπλοκος.
As in Demosthenes5procession, the leader or προκαθηγέτης in wearing
such a στέφανος represented the god whose image he wore. Similarly Ig-
natius’ clerics, in προκαθημένοι είς τύπον, were creating images in a drama
of replay. They neither wore nor bore actual images: they were rather
either wearing such images in their human flesh, or enacting them as if
they wore the actor’s mask or πρόσοοπον in a mystery play. Their re-enac-
tion of the eucharist, in the context of the Johannine Pentecost, involved
images of Father, Son, and spirit filled circle of the apostles manipulated
and associated like the images of Hadrian and Apollo in the στέφανος of
the Demostheneia.

C2. Προκαθηγέτης and προκαθη μένος

Cognate with the concept of προκαθηγέτης, who wore the στέφανος, were
also such terms as εξαρχος and προηγεμών, as Demosthenes the classical
orator had described Aeschines and his Dionysiac cult83. These terms re‫־‬
ferred to both the deities and to their priests with the role of the former
shading into the latter by virtue of the images that they wore or bore, at
the head of their processions. We observe moreover this physical empha-
sis of a term made by a προ-addition that nevertheless can also be used
abstractly, in the phrase προ πόλεως, of various divinities.
Robert pointed out that there is a logic that leads to the synonymous
use of terms such as προκαθη μένος with προεστώς, προκαθη γεμών, and
προκαθηγέτης, and this is expressed in the further description of a deity
being simply προ πόλεως, as “representative of the city”, on the grounds
that their image stands in front of the city, or the city’s processional festi-
val84. An inscription from Smyrna exemplifies this usage honouring Hadrian

82 J., AJ I 10 (322).
83 See note 37 above.
84 L. Robert, Fouilles d’Amyzon en Carie, tome 1. Exploration, Histoire monnaies et in-
scriptions, Commission des fouilles et missions archéologiques au ministère des relations
extérieures, Paris 1983,172 where he cites examples applying these terms, in addition to
Dionysus (Teos), to Asclepius (Cos), to Apollo (Calymna), to Apollo Diomedes (Miletus),
to Heracles (Heracleia at Salbake), to Artemis Astias (lasos). See also Robert, Etudes
Anatoliennes (see note 37), 26f.
224 Allen Brent

on his statue erected in 129, as Augustus Olympius (Σεβαστόν Όλύμπιον),

Saviour and Founder (σωτήρα και κτίστην), by “the mystery initiants of
great Dionysius Briseus, patron of the city (01 του μεγάλου προ πόλεως
Βρεισέως Διονύσου μύσται)”85. The divinity that represents the city was
not simply outside in front of, but also mystically in the city itself, as its
corporate essence. But indeed we find that priests of the deities in ques-
tion also can be described by this term. We have a sepulchral inscription
from Termessus recording one who was priest of perhaps Diana, and who
was, therefore, “the priest who stood for (or represented) the city (ο και
πρό πόλεως ίερεύς)”86.
We see once again, as with the (προ)καθηγέτης of Demosthenes’ inscrip-
tion, so now with πρό πόλεως itself, the divinity, and his or her represen-
tative, shade imperceptibly into one another. “As many as are priests and
priestesses who celebrate a sacrifice (όσοι αν ιερείς, ή όσαι ίερειαι πρό πόλεως
Ουσίαν συντελώσιν)”87, become the company “of the priests and priestesses
who represent the city (τών πρό πόλεως ίερέως ιερέων και ίερονεικών)”88.
Finally, we find that those initiants in mystery cults are described as repre-
sentatives of the city when they preside over the divination of the emperor.
We have the dedication of an altar to Hadrian between 119-129, by “the
initiants who represent the city (oi πρό πόλε cos μύσται), who made him
to sit with Dionysus (σύ[ν]-θρονον τών Διονύσων)”89.
Though Ignatius does not use these terms for the function of his three-
fold τύποι, he nevertheless does use προκαθήμενος, which we shall now
show to be part of this family of concepts in the discourse of the pagan

85 Ign. Smyrn. II 1,622,5-8. See also 729f. See also H. Engelmann (Hg.), Die Inschriften
von Kyme, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 5, Bonn 1976, 87 n. 37, 4-6;
Ign. Smyrn. II, 1, 655, If.; SEG 26, 943, 3-5 (= IG 12, 3, 522). See also 727, 3f. For
a commentary, see Robert, Fouilles d’Amyzon en Carie (see note 84), 172: “Mais une
série de cas est nette: la divinité ‫־‬ττρό ‫־‬ττόλεως est la grande divinité patronne de la ville et
son sanctuaire n’était pas ‘en dehors de la ville’, mais dans la ville.” For the discussion
between Boekh (CIG 2963) and Clerc over whether the term simply refers to the physi-
cal presence of the shrine of the divinity outside the city, or whether the sense was more
abstract and representational, see L. Robert/J. Robert, Inscriptions grecques de Lydie,
Hellenica 6, Limoges/Paris 1948, 79 and notes 2 and 3, who points instances where the
shrine was in fact in front of the city.
86 E. Kalinka (ed.), Tituli Asiae Minoris, collecti et editi auspiciis Academiae Litterarum
Vindobonensis, Wien 1901-1930, vol. 2, 695, 5f., and Robert, Fouilles d’Amyzon en
Carie (see note 84), 173. See also MAMA 8, 406, 5f.
87 SEG 26, 1307: Teos honorary decree fro Antiochus II 204-203 B.C., see R Hermann,
Antiochus der Große und Teos, Anadolu (= Anatolia) 9, 1965, 39, lines 77i. Cf. Robert,
Fouilles d’Amyzon en Carie (see note 84), 173, who says, of this phrase, “Ce ne pas
encore un exemple de l’expression ιερείς πρό πόλεως mais on s’en approche.” See also
G. Daux, Un passage du décret de Téos par Antiochos III, ZPE 12,3, 1973, 235f.
88 J. Robert/L. Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique 1977, 420 and cited in Robert, Fouilles
d’Amyzon en Carie (see note 84), 174. For other examples, see ibidem, 175f.
89 SEG 26, 1272, 7f.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 225

theology of the Second Sophistic. Joining this cluster of concepts in which

the divinity and the priest shade into each other as processional leader
is the term προκαθήμενος that he does use. From Pergamon 129 we have
a reference to: “Demeter and Kore (τή τε [Δή]μητρι και τή Κόρ[ή], the
goddesses who sit out pre-eminently over (ταΐς [π]ροκαθημέναις [θε]αις τής
πόλεως ήμ[ών])”90. Clearly if the meaning here is to “preside”, the point of
presidency is a quite visual one, in reference to their statues that stick out
pre-eminently from the landscape and thus predominate91. But here once
again the figure of the deities in question shade imperceptively into those
of their representative priests who also become προκαθήμενοι /ai by virtue
of the divine images that they bear92. We have a dedication of P. Aelius
Menekrates for Demeter and the god Men in which he declares that he has:
“consecrated a silver basket (καθιερώσαντα κάλαθον περιάργυρον) which he
has left behind for the mystery rites (τον λείποντα τοΐς μύστηpiois) and for
Men who sits over the village (και τω προκαθημένω τής κώμης Μηνί), a silver
symbol which will process before his mystery rites (σημήαν περιάργυρον
την προπομπεύσασαν των μυστηρίων αυτου)”93.
The θεός προκαθήμενος becomes visibly so, sitting or standing out pre-
eminently in his mystery procession, in the symbol or image that is borne
at the head of the procession.

90 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum (see note 23), 694, 50-54; A. Wilhelm,
Griechische Grabgedichte aus Kleinasien, in: Ders., Kleine Schriften, 2, Opuscula 8,
Akademieschriften zur griechischen Inschriftenkunde. Teil 2, Leipzig 1974, (339-412)
347. See also Brent, Imperial Cult (see note 13), 224-226.
91 SEG 37, 1403, 16-23. See also A. Invernizzi, Héraclès a Séleucie du Tigre, RAr 1, 1989,
65-113. A bronze statue of Herakles from Seleukeia on the Tigris, with a dedication car-
ried by the Parthian king Vologaeses IV from Mesene (Charakene) to Seleukeia (150-151).
There is a Greek inscription on the right thigh and a Parthian in Aramaic on the left. The
former reads: “This bronze image of the god Herakles (εΐκόνα τούτην χαλκήν Ήρακλέους
θεοΟ) which was removed by him from Mesena (την μετανεχθεϊσαν ύπ’ αύτου οπτό τής
Μεσήνης), he dedicated (άνέθηκεν) in this temple of the god Apollo (έν ίερφ τφδε θεοΟ
’Απόλλωνος) who sits out over the bronze gate (του χαλκής πύλης προκαθημένου).”
92 A decree from Side (c. 220) honouring Aurelius Mandrianus Longinus (143) because:
“... he acted as a priest together with his wife Aurelia Killaramontiane Ies (συνιερασάμενον
τή γυναικι αύτού I Άυρηλία Κιλλαρμωτιανή), for the goddess Athena who is pre-eminent
(τή προκαθεζομένη θεω ΆΟηνα), for a five yearly cycle (πενταετηρίδι)”. J. Nollé, Side im
Altertum (see note 31), 195, 3.2.1, lines 6-8.
93 R. Meric (Hg.), Die Inschriften von Ephesos, Bd. 7,1, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus
Kleinasien 17/1, Bonn 1981, 3252, 5-9. See also a funerary inscription from Galatia
in Wilhelm, Griechische Grabgedichte (see note 90), 346-348, (= JHS 306, no. 246 =
Kalinka, Tituli Asiae Minoris (see note 86), 174E, 12f.) prefers κώμης to κούρης which
I here follow: “You see Istele ( Ίστήλην εσοράς), engraven (καταζώγραφον), but note
(νόησον): she occupies the tomb (ή τύμβον κατέχει) of beautiful Tateia (Τατείας καλής
ΐερείης) the priestess of Artemis (Άρτέμιδος), of the queen’s village (κ[ώμ]ης βασιληΐδος)
which she sits over (ή προκάθηται): whom for the sake of his grief (ήν !στοργής ενεκεν) her
husband (άνήρ έός) here commemorates her (ενθάδ’ ετεισεν)”. See also J.G.C. Anderson,
Explorations in Galatia Cis Halym, Part 2, JHS 19, 1901, 306 n. 246.
226 Allen Brent

In the example of the Demostheneia we saw that the ritual of the pro-
cession and the manipulation of its imagery presupposed a discourse of
political theology in which the association of images on the στέφανος and
the joint sacrifice of the procession, contributed to by other, neighbouring
communities, celebrated ομόνοια or concord, the principle of the free and
rational operation in harmony between different parts of the constitution
of an individual city, or between different city states. Ignatius too will af-
firm that his purpose in what he proposes and exhorts is unity.

D. Image bearers9 ambassadors and the συνβυσία, and ομόνοια

W hat Ignatius claims about the character of the Christian cultus has
implications both for unity within the Christian εκκλησία and between
geographically separated εκκλησίαι within Asia Minor. Just as the pagan
procession with its images symbolised the ομόνοια that it effected and ef-
fected the ομόνοια that it symbolised, so does Ignatius’ gathering as χορός
for the eucharist, and the gathering of representatives of those churches
that contribute to and join his martyr procession.
At the close of Smyrnaeans, his farewell greeting appears to include the
churches that accompany him:
“I greet you from Smyrna (άσπάζομαι υμας άπό Σμύρνης), together
with the churches of God that accompany me (άμα ταΐς συμπαρούσαις μοι
εκκλησίαις του θεού) ... remain in your concord (διαμένετε εν τη όμονοία
Here the appeal of Ignatius with the churches that constitute his pro-
cession appear to be for the preservation of their internal concord, but
on the basis of a concord in which they all share. Note that the churches
are considered present in their clerical representatives, just as priests car-
rying τύποι or εικόνες of the patronal deity of the city represented the
corporate essence of the city. Ignatius frequently laid claim to being able,
as the result of a mystical interchange with the bishops that visit him in
prison on his way to martyrdom, to see the corporate personality, in their
individual persons, of the churches of which they are the representatives.
In bishop Onesimus he received their “whole corporateness (επει oOv την
πολυπληθίαν υμών)”, and prayed “that all of you may be like him (και
πάντας υμάς αυτώ εν όμοιότητι είναι)”95.
That Ignatius is not involved in mere metaphor or other figure of speech
is seen how he further characterises his “conversation of mind (συνήθεια)”
with bishop Onesimus, and the vision in his person of the corporate
Ephesian community: he was able to see their “whole community (την

94 Ign., Smyrn. 12,lf.

95 Ign., Eph. 1,3.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 227

πολυπληθίαν)”96, mystically, in the bishop’s person97. It is by such charis-

matic means that Ignatius identifies the bishop, and accordingly accepts
the validity of the ecclesial community that he has not seen. Thus the
επίσκοπος εν σαρκί bears in his flesh the τύπος of the gathered church,
in which the redemptive activity of the suffering Father God can be wit-
nessed. The divine activity of the Christian God is thus seen reflected in
the icons of the community, expressing their redeemed corporate life, just
like Tyche, or Diana, or the Genius Populi Romani, or Roma, expressed
the communal life divine of pagan communities98.
Likewise, in Polybius of Tralles, Ignatius could rejoice because: “I saw
your whole gathered church in him (ώστε με τό παν πλήθος υμών εν αύτώ
θεωρήσαι)”99. In his description of the Magnesian clergy, we find the three-
fold typology witnessed in relationship to the corporate personality of the
community100. In Damas, Bassus, Apollonius, and Zotion, as dramatis
personae (εν τοίς προγεγραμμένοις προσώποις), he saw the threefold iconic
representatives (τύποι) of the divine reality of the redemptive acts of Father,
Son and Spirit at work within them, and the eucharistic drama in which
they participate, in the manner that we have already discussed101. These
aforementioned persons were, after all, clerics sent as representatives of
their churches whose role Ignatius was to interpret as that of an ambas-
sador of a ομόνοια treaty in which peace within and between communities
had been obtained.

D l. ‘Ομόνοια, ambassadors and the clerical τύποι

In the preface to his letter to the Philadelphians, once again we find όμό-
voia as a quality of a community with a structure that is stamped with
the threefold order. Ignatius writes as θεοφόρος and therefore as τύπος

96 Πολυπληθία contained the word πλήθος, which is Ignatius’ usual theological term for the
gathered έκκλησία.
97 Ign., Eph. 5,1.
98 Nollé/Nollé, Vom feinen Spiel (see note 27), 251. For further examples for Tyche, see
Franke/Nollé, Homonoia-Münzen (see note 24) 1,104, n. 1025f. (Kyzikus and Ephesus,
Antoninus Pius); 107, n. 1044 (Laodicea with Pergamon, Hadrian); 88, n. 883 (Hierapolis
and Smyrna, Otacilia Severa [244-248]); 180, n. 1787f. (Smyrna and Philadelphia, Gord-
ian III [238-244]); 217, n. 2257-2262 (Smyrna and Tralles [Gordian III]); A. Burnett/M.
Amandry/P.P. Ripollès/I. Caradice (ed.), Roman Provincial Coinage, vol. 1, London/Paris
1992, 379 (plate 99), n. 2221.
99 Ign., Trail. 1,2.
100 Ign., Magn. 2,1: “Since then I was deemed worthy to see you (έπεί ουν άξιώθην ΐδεϊν υμάς)
through Damas your godly esteemed bishop (διά Δαμα του άξιοθέου ημών επισκόπου),
and your worthy presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius (και πρεσβυτέρων Βάσσου και Άπολ-
λωνίου), and my fellow slave, the deacon Zotion (καί του συνδούλου μου διακόνου Ζωτί
ωνος)...‫ ״‬For a further discussion of this question, see A. Brent, The Ignatian Epistles
and the Threefold Ecclesiastical Order, JRH 17, 1992, 18-32.
101 Ign., Magn. 6,1.
228 Allen Brent

“ to the church (εκκλησία) ... firmly established on the concord of

God (ήδρασμενη εν όμονοία θεοϋ)... to those who are in one body (εν êvi
ώσιν), with the bishop, and the presbyters, and deacons with him (συν
τφ επισκοπώ και toîç συν αυτω πρεσβυτέροις και διακόνοις), who have
been appointed by Jesus Christ’s decision (άποδεδειγμένοις εν γνώμη Ίησου
Χρίστου(‫ ״‬102.
Thus ομόνοια is a quality characterising a good social order, and is a
,)mark of a valid foundation (ήδρασμένη), as well as of unity (εν ενί ώσιν
vouchsafed by the possession of the threefold order. We note, too, that in
this passage αποδεδειγμένος is used in the sense of appointed to office for
which we have some stereotypical epigraphical examples103,
But as the farewell formula of Smyrnaeans made clear, ομόνοια was
also to be a quality of relationship between churches, and effected as a
-result of churches joining his martyr procession through clerical repre
sentatives. Moreover, those selfsame clerical representatives are described
as divine ambassadors when Ignatius describes to the Philadelphians the
arrangements in terms of which the peace of the church of Antioch was to
be secured. They are to elect a deacon “to conduct God’s embassy there
χειροτονήσαι διάκονον sis τό πρεσβευσαι εκεί θεου πρεσβείαν)”104. He will(
accordingly be called a “godly ambassador (θεοπρεσβύτην(” 105.
-Thus we find that the functions of the ambassadors bearing the im
ages of the deities that express the corporate personalities of their cities
find their counterparts in the clerics of Ignatius’ martyr procession. The
ομόνοια both symbolised and effected by the threefold order within their
individual εκκλησίαι through the τύποι that they wear and bear is now to
be achieved by means of that martyr procession between εκκλησίαι. The
ritual means for such ομόνοια as we have seen was a συνθυσία, which is
.clearly how he now understands his martyr-procession

D2. Ignatius9martyr-procession: συνθυσία and άντίψυχον

Although άντίψυχον occurs in the Maccabaean literature of martyrdom as

vicarious expiation, nevertheless Ignatius does not shrink from using for his
’martyrdom the directly pagan term for a sacrifice, namely θυσία. Ignatius
petition in Romans is that: “I may be found a sacrifice (θυσία ευρεθώ(” ,

102 Ign., Philad. inscr.

103 Of M. Aurelius Augianus Philetianus, in an honourary inscription from Prousias in Hy-
pium in Bithynia (215-217, we read, SEG 33, 1087, 17-19: "... that he was appointed
first as archon ([άπ]οδεδειγμένον πρώτον άρχοντα), and then as priest (και ιερέα), and
agonothete (και άγωνοθέτην) of the Olympian Zeus (του ,Ολυμπίου Διός)”. For ύπα-
t o ç αποδεδειγμένος, see OGIS 379, 5-11; 453, If.; Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum

Graecarum (see note 23), 887, for ό αποδεδειγμένος Ιπι του δικαστηρίου, 364, 15, or
άποδεδεχθεις πρεσβευτής υπό του δήμου, 413, 5.
104 Ign., Philad. 10,1.
105 Ign., Smyrn. 11,1-3.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 229

and his prayer is “to be poured out to God (του σπονδισθήναι θεώ), while
an altar is made ready (cos ετι θυσιατήριον έτοιμόν εστιν)”106. The martyr’s
bonds are what produce the prayer of the Christian cult that achieves the
restoration of the community in Antioch as a legal corporation107. The
martyr in chains (δεσμά) is being prepared for the ready altar at Rome as
an atoning sacrifice (άντίψυχον). He is the victim occupying the central
place in the procession that mediates through their prayer the peace of
the Antiochene community. Ignatius has in introducing these comments
already associated his bonds with a sacrifice on their behalf:
“My spirit and my bonds is the sacrifice of your atonement (άντίψυχον
υμών τό πνευμά μου και τά δεσμά μου ...)”108.
However, he makes clear that the “atoning sacrifice (άντίψυχον)” is only
efficacious “for those submissive to the bishop, presbyters, and deacons
(των υποτασσομένων τώ επισκοπώ πρεσβυτεροις διακόνοις)”109. Unlike those
who had, in internecine conflict, despised his episcopal claims in Syria,
and found his arrest as shameful to their community and its status, he
insists that the Smyrnaeans need not feel like this. In forming part of his
procession, they acknowledge that his sacrifice was producing peace rather
than war, and that they were not part of the dissension that had led to
his arrest and removal in Syria. Their faith is thus being made perfect or
complete (τέλειος) as a result of their appointment of the θεοπρεσβευτής as
part of the proper arrangements for the cult procession and its sacrifice110.
As he says to the Ephesians:
“I am the atoning sacrifice (άντίψυχον υμών εγώ) both of you and of
those whom you sent (και ών έπέμψατε) for God’s honour to Smyrna (εις
τιμήν θεου εις Σμύρνα)”111.

D3. Ignatius9procession and θυσία as περίψημα for Christian divisions

It is important to stress, moreover, that Ignatius identifies his sacrifice

(θυσία) as that of a social outcast, sacrificed to purify the community112,
and that his role is to remove the sins of their divisions:
“For when no strife has been fixed amongst you (όταν yàp μηδεμία
Ιρις ένήρεισται εν ΟμΤν), that is capable of tormenting you (ή δυναμενη υμάς
βασανίσαι), then you live in a godly way (apa κατά θεόν ζήτε). I am your

106 Ign., Rom. 2,2; 4,2.

107 Ign., Smyrn. 11,1.
108 Ign., Smyrn. 10,lf.; Polyc. 2,3.
109 Ign., Polyc. 6,1.
110 Ign., Smyrn. 11,2.
111 Ign., Eph. 21,1.
112 W. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch. A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch,
Philadelphia 1985, 63f.; F.W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and other Early Christian Literature, 3rdedition, Chicago/London 2000, 808, cites Phot.,
Bibl. 425,3.
230 Allen Brent

scapegoat (περίφημα υμών), and I consecrate myself for you (και άγνίζομαι
In the case of the Smyrnaeans, the prayer realising that end is to be
accompanied by the appointment of a godly ambassador (θεοπρεσβευτής),
and its completion is by an embassy that will go there to proclaim it. Only
in the sacramental context of their forming, in unity, such a mystery cult,
and in their prayer in such a context, can his own sacrifice have sacramen-
tal effect, and he be able to attain to God (ΐνα εν τή προσευχή υμών θεού
επιτύχω)114. The martyr’s bonds produce the prayer of the Christian cult
that achieves this restoration of corporateness115. Ignatius, as άντίψυχον,
is thus the scapegoat victim (περίφημα), occupying the central place in the
procession that mediates through their prayer the peace of the Antiochene
Just as Demosthenes’ joint sacrifice (συνθυσία) involved the election of
ambassadors to co-ordinate arrangements for the conclusion of which they
represented their cities, bearing the images of their gods, so too clerical
ambassadors are elected to proclaim that the church of Antioch is at peace.
They as bishops, priests, and deacons are the τύποι of the Father bishop,
the diaconal Son or the twelve, spirit filled apostles. The churches are con-
sidered to be essentially in their representatives, just as the ambassadors
bore divine images that expressed the corporate essence of their cities.
Their θυσία, which is Ignatius’ άντίψυχον, thus becomes a συνθυσία:
“Even the nearest churches sent bishops (ως και ai έγγιστα εκκλησίαι
επεμψαν επισκόπους), and others presbyters and deacons (ai δε πρεσβυτερους
και διακόνους)”116.
Because these were τύποι of the saving acts and persons of the Chris-
tian godhead, they could now be described by Ignatius as “the churches
of God that accompany me (άμα ταΐς συμπαρούσαις μοι έκκλησίαις τού
θεού)”. The ambassadorial bearers of sacred images were also the bearers
of the corporate personalities of their communities. In the συνθυσία they
celebrate and consecrate their ομόνοια.
Unity between the churches was his object in summoning the procès-
sion as he makes clear:
“I was therefore active in my own concern, namely as a man preoc-
cupied with unity (εγώ μεν ούν τό ίδιον εποίουν ώς άνθρωπος εις ενωσιν
When furthermore he speaks of heretics as λύκοι άπιστοι, as “having
no place in your unity (εν τη ενότητι ύμών ούχ εξουσιν τόπον)”118, he is

113 Ign., Eph. 8,1·

114 Ign., Eph. 1,1.
115 Ign., Smyrn. 11,2: τό ίδιον σωματεΐον.
116 Ign., Philad. 10,2.
117 Ign., Philad. 8,1.
118 Ign., Philad. 2,2.
Ignatius’ Pagan background in Second Century Asia Minor 231

clearly referring to the collective unity of all the εκκλησίαι who went ahead
of him (προήγον) from city to city (κατά πόλιν) in the persons of their
clerical representatives119.
Moreover the churches refresh with financial support the martyr pro-
cession just like the villages contributed financially to the συνθυσία in the
Demostheneia. Ignatius speaks of particular material support between
the church of Syria and that of Magnesia, where άγάπη expresses not
simply a spiritual bond, but an exchange of mutual material refreshment
(δροσισθήναι)120. Likewise, άναπαύειν is also used of material support121.
A more immediate parallel with Demosthenes’ συνθυσία, however, is the
combination of the quest for ομόνοια that involved a material contribution
to the συνθυσία. To the Trallians Ignatius claims that remaining “in your
concord (εν τη όμονοία υμών)” is to be expressed by “refreshing the (mar-
tyr) bishop (άναψύχειν τον επίσκοπον), together with the presbyters”122.
Ignatius’ συνθυσία is thus to achieve ομόνοια, with material support given
by churches who do not send clerical representatives, as the martyr procès-
sion assembles at Smyrna now fully formed on its way to Rome123.
As such the constitution of the church as a θίασος celebrating ομόνοια
universalised the individual εκκλησία as σύνοδος or cult association into
ή καθολική εκκλησία. W ithout the threefold τύποι or image bearers of the
threefold order there can be no Christian identity, no Christian equivalent
to the Koinon of Asia founded on the celebration of a common, Hellenic

E. Conclusion: Ignatius9 Theologian and Liturgist o f the Second Sophistic

We thus see the logic of the terms προκαθήμενος εις τύπον in the language
game of the Second Sophistic in terms of which Ignatius presents his
understanding of the theology of church order. His theology is a radical
re-adaptation of the pagan language of polytheism with its plastic images
and processions, behind whose drama of replay there stands a theology
of sacral representation. Lucian, in Peregrinus Proteus, saw a Christian
prophet like Ignatius of Antioch as a θιασάρχης. From what I have said,
Ignatius would have regarded Lucian as being very much “on message”:

119 Ign., Rom. 9,2. See also Polyc., ep. 3,3.

120 Ign., Magn. 14,1: “For I need your prayer united in God with your love (έπιδέομαι yàp
τής ήνωμένης υμών εν θεώ προσευχής και αγάπης) in order to be found worthy (εις τό
άξιωθηναι), that the church which is in Syria may bedewed through your church (τήν έν
Συρία εκκλησίαν διά τής εκκλησίας υμών δροσισθήναι)”.
121 Ign., Eph. 2,1: “Crocus ... whom I received as an example of your love (Κρόκος ... ov
έξεμπλάριον τής άφ’ υμών άγάπης άπελαβον), refreshed me in every way (κατά πάντα με
122 Ign., Trail. 12,2. See also Smyrn. 9,2; 10,1; 12,2; Rom. 10,2; Magn. 15.
123 Ign., Rom. 10,3.
232 Allen Brent

his account was hardly a pagan misunderstanding of Ignatius’ real inten-

Ignatius’ claim might of course be met with some pagan incredulity. If
asked where was the θυσία or sacrifice, he would have answered: “I am
your άντίψυχον being prepared for a ready altar in the Roman arena”. If
asked how he could be, he might appeal to the priest who wore the mask
of Dionysus in the mystery play, or the priest of Attis the κιστοφόρος with
the entrails of the god in the basket. If asked where was the τύπος of the
suffering Father-god, his reply would be “the τύπος is in my flesh, or in
the role that I play” and indeed in the flesh or in the role of any επίσκοπος
presiding at the eucharistic drama of replay, along with the τύπος of the
apostolic council and the diaconal images of the servant-Son. If asked where
were the image bearers for the procession, he could have replied “in those
who are προκαθήμενοι whether pre-eminent in the local church or in the
martyr procession as θεοφόροι, χριστοφόροι, άγιοφόροι and ναοφόροι, lead
by myself as Agonothete wearing the τύπος of the suffering Father God”.
If asked how this fulfilled his quest for ενοοσις or ένότης, he would reply
because, sacramentally, his θυσία, also a συνθυσία was effecting ομόνοια
between individual churches, just as the threefold order secured ομόνοια
within a church at a validly constituted eucharist. That ομόνοια, like the
principle of political co-operation securing Hellenic unity, achieved the
unity of ή καθολική εκκλησία124. Thus could result one worldwide σύνοδος,
like Hadrian’s σύνοδος τ[ών άπό τής οικουμένη]ς περί τον Διόνυσον125.


Die Vorstellungen des Ignatius von Antiochien über die Kirchenordnung und -Struktur
(zumindest in der sog. Mittleren Rezension) lassen sich besonders gut auf dem Hinter-
grund zeitgenössischer Vorstellungen politischer Theologie griechischer Stadtstaaten in
Kleinasien interpretieren. Diese stehen wiederum auf dem Hintergrund der sog. Zweiten
Sophistik. Das zeigt bereits die besondere Bedeutung der homonoia, wie sie etwa für
die Gründung der Stadt Oioanda durch Iulius Demosthenes unter Trajan nachweisbar
ist. Hierbei zeigt sich der Zusammenhang von homonoia und liturgischem Geschehen,
das in Prozessionen den Kaiser durch entsprechende Bilder und Opfer präsent werden
läßt. Auf diesem Hintergrund wird Ignatius’ Bemühen um die Ordnung in den Kirchen
theologisch verständlich: In Zusammenkünften und Prozessionen sowie der Ordnung des
Klerus (verstanden als ‫״‬Träger“ Gottes, Christi bzw. des Heiligen oder der 12 Apostel)
wird Christus als der Herr der universalen Kirche selbst präsent.

124 Ign., Smyrn. 8,2. See also above, note 51.

125 SEG 6, 58,1-6; 59,1-5. See also above, note 59.
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