Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 13. Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.” sec. 159-204.
§ 164. Ignatius of Antioch.
After an annotated bibliography on the letters of Ignatius and the martyrology, Schaff continues by discussing Ignatius’ life in brief (Schaff 2014, 20676). A contemporary of Clement of Rome, Ignatius was head of the Church in Antioch, the leading community of Christianity among the Gentiles. Because of Antioch’s heretical tendencies, the Church there had an emphasis on both orthodox doctrine and sound organization (Schaff 2014, 20685). There is conflicting information, but it appears Ignatius probably had a strong influence and possibly an appointment to leadership from Peter, Paul, and John. Ignatius’ martyrdom was widely considered important by early Christians (Schaff 2014, 20692). Schaff notes that according to the martyrdom Ignatius was condemned by Trajan in Antioch in 107-108, and that he was transported to Rome to face lions in the Coliseum. The difficulty with this account is that we don’t think Trajan was in Antioch until 114-115 (Schaff 2014, 20700). Schaff suspects the condemnation was performed by a governor rather than by Trajan himself.
On the way to Rome, Ignatius wrote seven letters to churches, with four written from Smyrna and the other three from Troas (Schaff 2014, 20707). The letters exist in a shorter and longer form, of which Schaff considers the shorter much more likely to be authentic. There is also a Syriac version of three of the letters. The different versions preserve the same organizational pattern (Schaff 2014, 20722).
Ignatius not only considers it an honor to die for Christ, but also emphasizes the importance of submitting to the authority of bishops (Schaff 2014, 20722). His style of writing is very forceful and brief, showing a great love for Christ. It is his great honor to be permitted to die for Christ. Therefore, he urges that people make no attempt to rescue him (Schaff 2014, 20730). Schaff considers that he seems to desire death in an almost fanatical manner. He also violates normal decorum by urging Polycarp, doubtless his senior, to strive after zeal and godliness (Schaff 2014, 20745). The emphasis on the authority of bishops has widely been considered suspect by those who think episcopal authority was not safe or was not recognized at such an early time (Schaff 2014, 20753).