ANF – The Martyrdom of Ignatius

This post is one of a series of reviews of the early Church Fathers, who are technically referred to as the Ante-Nicene Fathers (before the Council of Nicaea).  To find other reviews of these ancient writings, use the search bar on my blog and search for ANF.


The precise author of this is unknown, though the work itself indicates that it was written by someone accompanying Ignatius to Rome and his martyrdom.  If this is the case, then traditionally the author is assumed to be Philo, Agathopus, or Crocus.  Each of these individuals are mentioned in various of Ignatius’ letters as accompanying him on all or part of his journey.

However some modern scholars are skeptical of the ancientness of this document, pointing out that there are no references to it before the seventh century.  However an absence of references on hand today does not mean that it wasn’t referenced in writings we don’t have.  The sparseness of the account also leads other scholars to presume that it really was written by a contemporary of Ignatius.

After his various letters describing his deep desire to be martyred for the faith, the actual report of Ignatius’ death is very brief and devoid of detail.  He was presented to wild beasts to be torn apart on the 20th of December during the reign of Trajan.  Scholars differ as to the precise year, though the early 2nd century is the most likely (perhaps AD 107 or 116).  His remains amounted to nothing more than a few bones which were collected and sent to Antioch for preservation.


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