But as for me, I do not place my hopes in one who died for me in appearance, but in reality. For that which is false is quite abhorrent to the truth. Mary then did truly conceive a body which had God inhabiting it. And God the Word was truly born of a Virgin, having clothed Himself with a body of like passions with our own. He who forms all men in the womb was Himself really in the womb, and made for Himself a body of the seed of the Virgin, but without any intercourse of man. He was carried in the womb even as we are, for the usual period of time; and was really born, as we also are; and was in reality nourished with milk, and partook of common meat and drink, even as we do.
And when He had lived among men for thirty years, He was baptized by .John, really and not in appearance; and when He had preached the Gospel three years, and done signs and wonders, He who was Himself the Judge was judged by the Jews (falsely so called), and by Pilate the governor; was scourged, was smitten on the cheek, was spit upon. He wore a crown of thorns and a purple robe; He was condemned: He was crucified in reality and not in appearance, not in imagination, not in deceit.
He really died, and was buried, and rose from the dead, even as he prayed in a certain place, saying, “But do Thou, O Lord, raise me up again, and I shall recompense them.” And the Father, who always hears Him, answered and said, “Arise, O God, and judge the earth; for Thou shalt receive all the heathen for Thine inheritance.”
The Father therefore, who raised Him up, will also raise us up through Him, apart from whom no one will attain to true life. For says He, “I am the life; he that believeth in me, even though he die, shall live: and every one that liveth and believeth in me, even though he die, shall live for ever.” Do ye therefore flee from these ungodly heresies; for they are the inventions of the devil, that serpent who was the author of evil, and who by means of the woman deceived Adam, the father of our race.
–Ignatius of Antioch, letter to the Trallians
This is from the longer version of the letters, which continues to be the better written of the two versions. In its own right, it’s powerful and absolutely beautiful. However, it also brings up some interesting points:
In the second paragraph, he points out that, if Jesus’ crucifixion was somehow unreal then it was “in deceit.” If Jesus’ suffering was deceitful, what can you say about the reward that he purchased for us with his suffering? Was it deceitful also?
Same paragraph: This may be the first time somebody clearly said Jesus went into public ministry at 30 and died 3 years later. I had always assumed that was a sort-of summary number that was derived from the gospels relatively recently. Here we see it in print, what, 100 AD? Pretty nice. Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’m looking at the copy that has been fiddled with (again – what a phenomenal fiddler to bother with pseudonymity), but even if this isn’t Ignatius’ original text, how long ago was it modified? 300 at the latest?
At any rate, it’s good stuff, perfectly worthy of quoting in a pinch.