Are these really the words of Ignatius?

A splendid blog post at TrevinWax contains the following item:

Please pray for me,
that I may have both spiritual and physical strength to perform my duties;
that I may not only speak the truth but become the truth;
that I may not only be called a Christian, but also live like a Christian.
Yet I do not want people to look to me as an example,
for at best I can only be a pale reflection of Christ Jesus;
let people look away from the reflection and turn to the reality.
Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas,
but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ.
So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech,
but instead I may learn to speak with humility,
desiring only to impress people with Christ himself.

– Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 A. D. 

These are interesting sentiments, although I have a feeling that “Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas” is not what Ignatius would say.  But the lack of a source is troubling.  Where precisely does Ignatius say this?

So, where does this come from?  Well, the direct source is probably Janice Grana, 2000 Years since Bethlehem: Images of Christ through the centuries, Upper Room Books, 1999.  This contains these very words, but since I cannot access more than a snippet in Google books, I am none the wiser.

Does anyone recognise the words?


8 thoughts on “Are these really the words of Ignatius?

  1. I did some searching and found the following sentence in the Syriac version of Ignatius letter to the Romans chap 3 (

    Only pray ye for strength to be given to me from within and from without, that I may not only speak, but also may be willing, and that I may not merely be called a Christian, but also may be found to be [one]; for if I am found to be [so], I may then also be called [so].

    This would relate to the fourth line above. I wonder if these are phrases taken from Ignatius’ works that were joined together.

  2. Ah, but we don’t yet know what we’re dealing with. We’re starting with some lines in English, of unknown origin. Once we know how they relate to whatever ancient source they may have, we can determine their origin.

  3. That does indeed have a few points of contact with what I’ve read in Ignatius. Ignatius’ letters come down in three forms: a short, middle, and long recension. Lightfoot and lots of modern scholars accept the middle as more or less authentic. The long recension contains a bunch of expansions. My guess is that this comes from the long recension, but I don’t know if the long recension is available online anywhere. Most texts only publish the middle.

  4. Speculating, perhaps it’s a case of… let’s call it interprequoting — where person A quotes B’s interpretation of C as if it were an actual quote from C.

    For example many authors have quoted Alister McGrath (liberally) interpreting Calvin’s view of science vs. scripture as if it were a direct Calvin quote:

    “[Scripture] was never intended to provide us with an infallible repository of astronomical and medical information. The natural sciences are thus effectively emancipated from theological restrictions”

    McGrath –

    Interprequoters –

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