LaVerdiere, Eugene. "Chapter Ten: One Flesh, One Cup, One Altar: The Eucharist in the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch." The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press (Pueblo), 1996, 148-166.
In Ignatius of Antioch LaVerdiere sees a description of the eucharist in a gentile setting, as Ignatius was "clearly of Gentile background" (LaVerdiere 1996, 149). We know very little about his life other than the fact that he died as a martyr between 110 and 115.
LaVerdiere finds in the seven letters of Ignatius a commitment to the centrality of the eucharist, holding the church together with the presence of Christ (LaVerdiere 1996, 149).
After noting the addressees of the letters, six to churches and one to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, LaVerdiere describes the likely sequence of composition of the letters, and their outlines, which are very similar to one another (LaVerdiere 1996, 150-151).
Ignatius references Pauline thought extensively, and also shows a great familiarity with Matthew and John. LaVerdiere notes that Ignatius does not distinghish between written and oral sources as he relates the message of the gospel (LaVerdiere 1996, 151).
LaVerdiere finds that "Ignatius refers to the Eucharist in every one of his letters except the letter to Polycarp" (LaVerdiere 1996, 152). Eucharistic imagery is focused on the Church coming together, on the altar, and the implications for spirituality and martyrdom. LaVerdiere visits the letters in turn, as they have slightly different emphases.
Ignatius recognized the eucharist as the sign of living as a Christian, celebrated on the Lord's Day, rather than the Jewish Sabbath (LaVerdiere 1996, 154). He saw it as part of Christian nourishment, received along with true doctrine. This all centers around God's altar, governed by God's authoritative teachers, the bishops, presbyters, and deacons (LaVerdiere 1996, 155). The food taken is not only doctrinal in nature, Ignatius sees Christ's flesh and blood as the imperishable food and drink, and related to not only Christ's sacrifice, but also, somehow, to Ignatius' impending death (LaVerdiere 1996, 156). Ignatius, in writing to the Ephesians, refers to "the altar" and "the place of Sacrifice" (V.2) in speaking of the Eucharist (LaVerdiere 1996, 157). This reference makes the gathering of the whole church for the eucharist that which is the expected means to receive nourishment. The assembly is of great importance (LaVerdiere 1996, 158). He considers the activity of breaking the bread to be "medicine of immortality…an antidote against death" (XX.2) (LaVerdiere 1996, 159). Ignatius distinguishes between the resurrected Christ being present in body (σῶμα) and flesh (σάρξ). In his letter to Smyrna he states that it is the fleshly presence of the resurrected Lord which is eaten and associates eucharist and the incarnation (LaVerdiere 1996, 162). Eucharistic nourishment, then, takes place in the context of the assembled church, is administered by those appointed by God, and involves a fleshly presence of Christ, eaten as eternal nourishment (LaVerdiere 1996, 163).