Phillip Fackler, “Forging Christianity: Jews and Christians in Pseudo-Ignatius,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2017.
The early Christian writer, Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 107 ce) did not mince words about the issues that concerned him. He criticized people who denied Jesus’ divinity, warned against churches without bishops, raised suspicions about people who were too bookish in their piety, and railed against “Sabbatizers.” In his formulation, even ancient Israel’s prophets rejected the Sabbath (lit. sabbatizontes) and instead lived “according to the Lord’s day.”  That is, they revered Sunday and its association with Jesus rather than observing Sabbath.
Those familiar with Christian thought, especially certain readings of Paul, may understand a rejection of “Jewish” practice to be a crucial component of Christian thought, then or now. Curiously, however, the most careful ancient reader of Ignatius saw things rather differently. Sometime near the end of the fourth century, an anonymous scribe carefully read and revised the Ignatian epistles, extensively amending many of the letters and adding a few of his own in Ignatius’s name. This “Pseudo-Ignatius” amends the earlier text to support the view that Christians should observe Sabbath. What distinguishes Jews and Christians is not observing Sabbath but how they do so. Christians should not “keep Sabbath Jewishly,” that is, “rejoicing in leisure.” Instead, the scribe tells his readers: “Let each of you [Christians] keep Sabbath spiritually, rejoicing in study of laws, not relaxation of the body; marveling at the craftsmanship of God, not eating day-old food and drinking lukewarm drinks or walking with counted steps and rejoicing in senseless dancing and clapping.”  The Sabbath, rather than being “Jewish,” properly belongs to Christians—at least as long as it’s done right.
These two formulations of the Ignatian letters—a likely second-century one typically treated as authentic or original and the other altered by a scribe in the fourth century—give us very different pictures of early Christianity, especially as it is related to Judaism and Judaizing (i.e., people practicing their Christianity in too “Jewish” of a way).  Unfortunately, the scholarly habit of focusing on original or authentic texts and their authors has obscured the evidence for early Christianity such later versions supply. Furthermore, the focus on authors misdirects us from the ways in which the reproduction of specific texts and personas depended on factors far removed from an original author’s intent. The scholarly energy put into finding original authors, meanings, and contexts has led us to ignore the perhaps much more valuable evidence found in the histories of reproduction and dissemination of these texts in their varied forms.
My project thus asks what it might look like to focus on the effects of texts and textual production, to analyze not only the rhetoric of texts within specific social contexts but also to account for the multiple agents, practices, and material limitations that affect dissemination and reproduction.
By looking at the letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch, my project was able to raise broader questions about authorship, the effects of textual production, and religious identity. These letters are particularly useful for addressing these questions because: (1) they have played an important role in scholarship on early Christianity (especially in the second century) and the history of Jewish–Christian relations, and (2) the letters exist in multiple recensions, gave rise to new literary productions into the Middle Ages, and have a well-documented history of citation and allusion. In my analysis, I demonstrated some of the textual practices by which absolutist language of Jewish/Christian difference was amplified in new historical contexts. Ultimately, I argued that material limitations on textual production (e.g., storage, copying, and circulation) provided the elasticity of memory necessary for antiquarians, scholars, and Christian cultural elites to collect and frame the patrimony of early Christians in ways that produced Christian distinctiveness.
In Chapters 1 and 2, I developed close comparisons of a second-century Ignatian letter with its fourth-century counterpart. Chapter 1 compared the recensions of Magnesians and Chapter 2 the recensions of Philadelphians, both of which are frequently cited in studies of early Jewish–Christian relations. These comparisons showed the scribe of the fourth-century version at work, and explored the ways in which both difference and similarity contributed to new readings of the text. By attending to difference, I showed how the fourth-century scribe’s interventions mapped contemporary expectations of scriptural literacy, episcopacy, Christology, and an idealized Christian community onto an earlier textual tradition. Such differences also created a new epistolary structure within which to analyze the portions of the letters that remained unchanged. Copying and alteration worked together to create a version of the letters that closely conformed to fourth- and fifth-century ideologies of Christian history. I suggested that the decisions about alteration and retention emerge not only from the intent of a single scribe but also from the interplay of individual goals with institutional, ideological, and other constraints. Whatever the scribe’s intent, the effects of textual change and retention forged a chain of intelligibility between the second and fourth centuries, marking Ignatius as familiar, authoritative, and relevant to fourth-century Christians and early Christian communities as intelligible in fourth-century terms and categories.
In Chapter 3, I asked how these patterns might inform the way we understand the role of texts like the Ignatian corpus in scholarly debates about how, when, and where Judaism and Christianity come to be distinct traditions. Rather than adjudicating the extent to which the second-century version mirrors social realia or is a rhetorical construction, I used the fourth-century version as a test case for exploring the effects of the earlier version’s rhetoric about the distinctiveness of Christianismos from Ioudaismos on later readers. I argued that the fourth-century version’s increased attention to Jewishness is itself symptomatic of an increasing concern with correct cognition as the essential or defining mode of religious adherence. My analysis showed that the scribe of the fourth-century version shared with contemporary historians and homilists a pedagogical orientation to early Christian texts, a sense that texts survive to teach readers something. In this relationship to texts, the anti-Jewish rhetoric of the second-century version gained a new purchase, providing one tool by which people could be taught to think of themselves in Christian terms. Writing Judaism became a means to create and police individual Christian subjectivity.
This argument emerges out of critiques of the “Parting of the Ways” model of Jewish–Christian relations. In their critiques, scholars such as Annette Reed and Daniel Boyarin, among numerous others, raised questions about how and when certain ways of categorizing identity arise as well as the other strategies of distinction and categorization that remain invisible when we privilege the Jewish/Christian binary. My research pushes forward on these questions, using the Ignatian corpus as one tool to explore how categories and ideas of Jewish–Christian difference were transmitted and transformed at difference times and places.
In Chapter 4, I pulled back from textual details to examine the longer history of textual composition and transmission which made the interventions of the fourth-century scribe possible and plausible, eventually allowing the later version to largely eclipse the second-century version on which it was constructed. I argued that reading practices rooted in exemplarity and traditions about Ignatius’s martyrdom were sufficient to guarantee the material survival of the letters apart from any concern or interest in the letters’ contents. The letters served a monumental function in a fashion analogous to statuary or other material objects that commemorated exemplary action. This gap between the existence of the letters and what they said afforded fourth- and fifth-century writers ample room to deploy Ignatius in creative and constructive ways with little concern for what he actually wrote. From this, new Ignatian memories emerged, such as martyrdom accounts and new recensions of the letters. It is in these memories that Ignatius began to emerge as an authority for didactic and theological activity.
With its focus on texts, rhetoric, and identity, my research builds on prior humanistic scholarship on the social construction of religious identity. However, by attending to the effects of rhetoric on later acts of remembering, reading, and writing, I try to decenter the agency of the author, calling attention to the variety of practices of education, text-making, and social reproduction without which the act of inscription remains powerless. In doing this, I draw on scholarship on ancient education and reading, scribal culture, the history of the book, and the sociology of science. Each of these strands of scholarship helps us to better understand the habits that undergird reading and writing in antiquity, and the potentialities and limitations imposed by the material form of the text. Rhetoric, no matter how vivid, depends on an assemblage of actors and textual practices in order to have an effect. It is my hope that greater attention to the effects of rhetoric will help scholars open new questions about the formation of tradition and cultural memory and help us see often overlooked texts in a new light.
 Magnesians 9.1, LCL
 Magnesians 9.3–5 (Long Recension), ANF
 There is ample bibliography related to this issue that cannot be discussed here. For a helpful starting place, see Steve Mason, “Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” JSJ 38.4 (2007): 457-512. For a broader contextualization of such terms, see now Cynthia M. Baker, Jew (Trenton, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016) and the forum discussion of it on Maginalia Review of Books at http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/introduction-forum-on-cynthia-baker-jew/
Phillip Fackler received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and now serves as Director of the Writing Center and an instructor in the Humanities at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC. You can follow him on twitter: @phackler