A Quotation from St. Ignatius of Antioch

I’ve been working away (sort of hit and miss) on translating St. Ignatius of Antioch’s (ca. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117) Letter to the Ephesians. Here’s the quote:

There is one physician, of body and of spirit, begotten and unbegotten, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first subject to suffering and then incapable of suffering, Jesus Christ our Lord. (7:2)

First of all, here we see the vivid, living image of Christ as physician for our souls, one common today in Eastern Christianity.  There’s probably something moderately unorthodox in “begotten and unbegotten”, but I think it’s meant to express Jesus’ existence in both Eternity and Time.  We see him, the theandric wonder of God in man.

But my favourite is, “true life in death.”  Jesus is the true (or dependable — alethinos) life.  And his life has the power over death.  Death has lost its sting due to Christ.  All the hope of heaven is bundled up in him.  Alleluia!


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