Ignatius Progress

I worked quite a bit on my Ignatius paper today, and got quite a bit done. Today was devoted to his rhetoric, and I collected several pages worth of epithets, metaphors, antithesis, and other rhetorical features from his letter to the Romans. The man could certainly be rhetorical ;-).

I also learned that “Asianism” as a rhetorical school is a much more slippery term than I originally thought. I’ve read that Ignatius belongs to this school (and after today I’d agree), but what we know about this school seems to come mostly through critics. Cicero talks about it some, as he as accused of being an “Asianist.” Basically this school of rhetoric was particularly fond of emotional appeals. Their speeches were almost poetic, containing lots of antithesis, startling metaphors/epithets, and rhythm (the hardest word to spell ever!).

Ignatius definitely exhibits features of this school. He loves startling metaphors and antithesis. Just read Romans 5. If you highlight both of those features you’ve highlighted most of the letter. He can heap up epithets with the best of them (something John Chrysostom was fond of too). The salutation of Romans is almost entirely one big epithet (well, many epithets) describing the Roman Church. He also seems to use assonance, though I need to review my reconstructed koine pronunciation before I mention that ;-). I also particularly like his paronomasia, or word play.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Ignatius’ rhetoric is how he frequently directs his audience to Christ. Many of his metaphors evoke the liturgy. Wheat, Bread, and Drink come up quite often. He urges the Romans to become a chorus, singing by Jesus Christ to God the Father. These elements are brilliant rhetorical moves. After all, he’s drawing on a powerful set of shared experiences. However, I do think they’re theologically sound because they’re rooted in the Church’s practice, which is ultimately rooted in the Cross via the Bread and Wine.

That does, of course, bring me to the next task. Rhetoric its fine and dandy, but if what he’s arguing for isn’t sound, then the rhetoric is in vain! Fortunately, I think you can make a good theological case here from Paul’s letters. However, I need to finish the rhetoric first ;-).

Off to sleep!


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