Suffering for our sakes: the soteriological thought process of Ignatius of Antioch
Leavenworth, James B.
This thesis provides a comprehensive account of the understanding of salvation in the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius' surviving writings date from the first quarter of the second century and are some of the few surviving writings from that period. They are indispensable for tracing developments in Christian thought and the evolution of theological ideas between the writings of the New Testament and the much better documented times of the third and fourth centuries. Since Ignatian soteriology has rarely been the focus of scholarly investigation, the present thesis examines the soteriological language employed by Ignatius of Antioch with the goal of weaving the dominant threads into a comprehensive and clear presentation of Ignatian soteriology. The argument of the thesis is therefore developed in three main sections with each arranged thematically to address a basic soteriological question. Part I opens by explaining why Ignatius believed humanity required salvation. Humanity’s threefold predicament with sin (Chapter 2), with the forces of evil (Chapter 3), and with death and the wrath of God (Chapter 4) all necessitated deliverance. Chapter 5 concludes by examining the way Ignatius segmented humanity based on one’s response to the incarnational gospel narrative that, if ignored, could result in misinterpreting many of the warning passages in the letters. Next, Part II addresses the question of what salvation entailed for Ignatius. After exploring Jesus Christ as the central savior figure in Chapter 6, Chapter 7 presents Ignatius’ varying descriptions of salvation. Chapter 8 then explores Ignatius’ primary conception of salvation as the reception of life. Part III concludes by examining how salvation was obtained. After exploring Ignatius’ description of faith as the means of salvation, the section concludes by evaluating several theories regarding additional avenues of salvation.