Category Archives: james ussher

Ussher Thesis Abstract

The Gospel Witness published a copy of my master of theology thesis abstract in their October edition, I reprint it here:

Whenever I have a conversation about James Ussher (1581-1656), the subject of my recent master of theology thesis, the question about his view of the earth’s age comes up. Ussher is famous for nominating October 23, 4004 BC as the date that God created the heavens and earth. While biblical genealogy was an important aspect of Ussher’s studies, it would be an over-simplification to think that his Annals of the World is his most important work. In the nineteenth-century Ussher’s Works were compiled into seventeen volumes that ranged across a large territory of scholarship including church government, Pelagianism, the Septuagint, and the veracity of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. Ussher was a biblical-theologian as well as a master text-critic, philologist and patrologist.

It is this last aspect of Ussher studies that I worked on for my thesis. In particular, I studied a document that he published entitled Immanuel, or, The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God (1638). This short tract is a clear exposition of the person and work of Christ that is well-situated within the western theological tradition. My purpose was to trace the patristic language of Immanuel, evaluating how Ussher used key terminology that was crystallized at the Council of Chalcedon (451). In addition to this I also produced a critical edition of Immanuel comparing the eleven editions that had been published in Ussher’s lifetime.

This work was completed under the supervision of Michael Haykin, to whom I am profoundly thankful for all of the help that he offered. My readers were Dennis Ngien of Tyndale Seminary and Crawford Gribben of Trinity College Dublin. My experience both in terms of the research/writing and the defence was exceptional. I experienced great love and care from my brothers in Christ as I was challenged and encouraged in terms of the work I had done and the future course of continued education that I should take. Thank are also due to TBS for providing an environment where learning and piety are wed that makes academic studies profitable for both the academy and the church.


Leave a comment

Filed under crawford gribben, dennis ngien, ignatius, james ussher, michael haykin, puritans, tbs

Allis on Ussher and Genealogy

O.T. Allis (1880-1973)

O.T. Allis (1880-1973)

“At this point, however, the defender of the Mosaic tradition is met with the claim that the new discoveries of archaeology as to the duration of man’s existence on the earth have proved too much and so overthrown the chronology of the Old Testament. The date 4004 B.C. for the starting point of human history is declared to be a preposterous one and is cited as conclusive evidence that Old Testament chronology is hopelessly unscientific. It is to be noted, therefore, that this date which still appears in some editions of the Authorized Version was calculated by Archbishop Ussher about 1650 A.D. and was first placed in the margin of the version in 1701. It is no part of the text. It rests in the main upon the assumption that the genealogies in Gen. v. and xi. are intended to supply the reader with the materials for an exact chronology of the entire extent of human history from creation to the birth of Abram. Against this assumption is the fact that no such use of these genealogies is ever made in the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament. And is has long been recognized by conservative scholars that there are other serious objections in the Bible itself to this widely accepted view. The chronology of Genesis is quite in accord with the view that man had lived on earth many centuries before 4004 B.C.”

–cited in Oswald T. Allis, The Five Books of Moses 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1949), 238-239.

Leave a comment

Filed under apologetics, higher criticism, james ussher, old testament, pentateuch, quotes

James Ussher – ODNB – Alexander Gordon – 1921-22

USSHER, JAMES (1581-1656), arch-
bishop of Armagh, second but elder surviv-
ing son of Arland (Arnoldus) Ussher (d.
12 Aug. 1598), clerk of the Irish court ol
chancery, by his wife Margaret (d. Novem-
ber 1626), daughter of James Stanyhurst
[see under STANYHURST, RICHARD], was born
in Nicholas Street, parish of St. Nicholas
Within, Dublin, on 4 Jan. 1580-1.  Continue reading 

1 Comment

Filed under articles, church history, history, ignatius, ireland, james ussher, puritans, Resources

Christmas According to James Ussher

That blessed wombe of hers was the Bride-chamber, wherein the holy Ghost did knit that indissoluble knot betwixt our humane nature and his Deity: the Son of God assuming into the unity of his person that which before hee was not; and yet without change (for so must God still bee) remaining that which he was, whereby it came to passe, that this holy thing which was borne of her, was indeed and in truth to be called the SON OF GOD. Which wonderfull connexion of two so infinitely differing natures in the unity of one person, how it was there effected; is an inquisition fitter for an Angelicall intelligence, than for our shallow capacity to looke after, to which purpose also wee may observe, that in the fabrick of the Ark of the Covenant, the posture of the faces of theCerubims toward the Mercy-seat (the type of our Savior) was such, as would point unto us, that these are the things which the Angels desire to stoop and look into.

(James Ussher, Immanuel, or, On the Incarnation of the Son of God [1638]).

Leave a comment

Filed under christology, james ussher, puritans, quotes

Tentative Thesis Bibliography

For some reason I can’t get the footnotes to appear in my post on my thesis proposal. For an idea of the works that I’m using, here is my bibliography. A huge thanks is due to Crawford Gribben for most of the Ussher resources! This bibliography has already grown and will continue to do so – especially in terms of primary sources from the Patristic and Post-Reformation periods.

Continue reading


Filed under james ussher, me, research, Resources

The Athanasius of Our Century: Thesis Proposal

I just found out today that my thesis proposal for the master of theology program at Toronto Baptist Seminary was accepted. I will defend it (DV) in either late March or early December. My supervisor is Michael Haykin and hopefully Crawford Gribben and Dennis Ngien will be readers. This is all very exciting!

“The Athanasius of Our Century”: An Evaluation of James Ussher’s Immanuel In Light of Patristic Christology

Though he is relatively unknown today, James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh was one of seventeenth-century Britain’s most influential figures. If in the twenty-first-century Ussher is known at all, it would largely be due to his famous chronology Annales veteris et novi testamenti (1650-1654), a work of immense learning for its day and still popular amongst young earth creationists for its dating of the world’s creation at 4004 BC. If Ussher is to be remembered only for this singular writing project and not for his other important contributions to the academy and the church, the annals of history have played him a bad card. Ussher was nothing short of a prodigious scholar and committed churchman and it is this reputation that should be retained.

Continue reading


Filed under church history, james ussher, me, patristics, puritans, tbs

Post-Reformation Digital Library

The H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies (I have their mug) at Calvin College and Seminary host the Post-Reformation Digital Library. It is a collection of documents from every thinker in the Reformed and Lutheran tradition from the Magisterial Reformation to probably the mid-eighteenth century. This included works by the Reformed orthodox as well as heretical groups such as the Socinians and Unitarians. There is also a good selection of secondary source material and links to sites dealing with patristic and medieval literature. This is a great one-stop-place for everything related to the study of this tradition and era. Most of what they’ve amassed comes from Google Books, so not a lot of it is newly scanned material. But it is great to have it all in one place. Here’s the material by Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656):

1 Comment

Filed under james ussher, puritans, reformed theology, research, Resources

The Irish Puritans Review

I had sent in a review of Crawford Gribben’s The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church (Evangelical Press, 2003) to the Discerning Reader in July and forgot to post it here. Click here if you’d like to check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under books, crawford gribben, discerning reader, ireland, james ussher, reviews

Libraries of Seventeenth Century Primates

Long Room

Long Room

Dr. Andrew Cambers of the University of Exeter has a 26 page report on the libraries of post-Reformation Primates in the British Isles. Of interest to myself is the section on James Ussher’s personal library of some 10,000 volumes which formed the bedrock of Trinity College Dublin’s library. Also included are Cranmer, Parker, Wolsey, Loftus, etc. It is hosted by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York.

Check out: “Archbishops and their Books: Ecclesiastical Libraries in Post-Reformation Britain.”


Filed under books, james ussher, puritans, research, Resources

RHS Ussher Bibliography

Wowzers, the Royal Historical Society has a website dedicated to bibliographical searching. I searched Ussher and some good stuff came up. Here’s the Ussher list.

Leave a comment

Filed under james ussher, research, Resources

Ussher’s Motto

Alan Ford, in his outstanding biography James Ussher: Theology, History, and Politics in Early-Modern Ireland and England (Oxford, 2007) records Ussher’s motto as follows:
Vae mihi si non evangelizavero” – “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” – 1 Corinthians 9:16.


Leave a comment

Filed under james ussher, quotes

Calvin By The Book

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Genevan Reformer, John Calvin. Celebrations of various stripes are held throughout the world this year. One such celebration is at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at Robarts Library, University of Toronto. This summer they are hosting “Calvin by the Book: A Literary Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin.”

I was doing research today at Robarts when I happened upon a poster for “Calvin by the book,” so I decided to check it out. There, available for free, was a collection of rare first edition works by Calvin in Latin and French, as well as a decent collection of Reformation era works by people like Luther, Musculus, Perkins, Arminius, etc. Pearce J. Carefoote is the director of the exhibit and he kindly met with me and explained the nature of the collection. He was very kind and informative (he gave me some scholarship suggestions!).

Knowing that they have a significant number of works by James Ussher, I decided to ask to see a couple. What a thrill it is to be able to handle writings that were around from his day! I looked through Ussher’s Answer to a Challenge, which was a reply to a Jesuit named William Malone on the question of the Roman church’s doctrinal antiquity. I also looked at Ussher’s first published work, Gravissimae quaestionis (1613). Both have significance for my research.

As I toured around the Library, I looked at the pictures hanging on the wall and was delighted to see one that had reference to Ussher. In a frame were a couple of prints of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Wentworth was a contemporary of Ussher, and though the two had interaction, Wentworth was something of a disability to Ussher. Eventually, in England, Wentworth was executed. As a sign of Ussher’s character, he accompanied Wentworth to the execution and stayed with him as he died. There was a sketch of the execution, though the figures in it are akin to stickmen. The legend indicates with an {A} where Ussher is located: right next to the head of the executioners axe!

If you get the chance, I would highly recommend checking out “Calvin by the Book,” it’s a great piece of history. It’s on until September.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, james ussher, john calvin, toronto, university of toronto

Ussher and Me

I first heard of James Ussher in 2003 when Dr. Haykin gave me a copy of Crawford Gribben’s The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church. Dr. Haykin and I have a shared interest in things Irish, so it was a welcomed gift. I remember travelling to Grand Rapids with Dr. Haykin in the winter of ’03 and we stayed at Joel Beeke’s in-laws, where I read The Irish Puritans before bed. I also took advantage of Dr. Beeke’s library and read through some of Ussher’s Works at the old PRTS library. As well, a PRTS student named Terry Klaver had also read Crawford’s book and we had some good discussions. Afterwards, Terry sent me a PDF of Ussher’s Body of Divinity in the mail (now published by SGCB). If memory serves, Dr. Haykin and I also spent some time at the Calvin Seminary library where I read up on Irish church history.

In the late spring of 2004 I had the joy of going with Dr. Haykin to Britain. While in Ireland, I got to meet Crawford and his wife Pauline. Crawford was nothing but encouraging in the hopes of recruiting another Ussher fan. I was thrilled and this sealed the deal for me in terms of developing an interest in Ussher. I think touring Trinity College, Dublin with Crawford solidified things. Later he and I met up again where he gave me a DVD containing PDF’s of Ussher’s Works. I feel like so much has been handed to me. God is faithful.

In the summer of 2004, as a bachelor-party gift, Greg McManus gave me a copy of R. Buick Knox’s biography of Ussher entitled James Ussher: Archbishop of Armagh. Greg and I had for a few years shared a strong interest in things Puritan. Greg has maintained and developed his interest in John Owen. Early on I waffled between who to study. For a while, after being kicked in the ecclesial pants by The Reformed Pastor, I thought of Baxter. Afterwards, largely due to Greg’s interest in Owen, I thought of studying Thomas Goodwin. It wasn’t until reading Crawford’s book that Ussher became a serious topic.

After dialoging with Dr. Haykin about my future, and his strong suggestion that I don’t neglect the Fathers, I came into contact with Alan Ford through email. He teaches at Nottingham and is the author of the recent definitive biography of Ussher called James Ussher: Theology, History, and Politics in Early-Modern Ireland and England. Prof. Ford suggested looking at Ussher’s debates that he had with some Jesuits in Ireland over the early church Pelagian controversy. This then set me on a journey to study Augustine and Pelagianism, which I did my master of divinity thesis on. Dr. Haykin supervised and also had me read on Ignatius of Antioch, due to Ussher’s research on the authenticity of the Ignatian corpus.

This past year I began a master of theology in Puritan history. Having written papers on the English Reformation and Puritanism, I am now officially starting Ussher studies. It is 2009 and my interests in Ussher were started in 2003. It’s been six years before I could finally do some serious study on him!! But I’m thankful to finally get here. I just polished off Crawford’s biography for the second time – I appreciate it all the more now that I’ve read it after years of study. I am currently in the middle of Knox’s biography. After this I’ll turn to Ford, though I am currently reading his book The Protestant Reformation in Ireland 1590-1641.

This summer I will go through Ussher’s Works with an eye to his writings in ecclesiastical history, particularly patristics. My thesis, due in September, will be on Ussher as a patristic historian. This will hopefully get me prepared for a doctoral thesis on Ussher and the Pelagian controversy. All of this, of course, is in the Lord’s good timing.


Filed under church history, crawford gribben, friends, james ussher, michael haykin, puritans, research, tbs

Irish History Online

Either late this year, or early next year, I will step into the waters of early-modern Irish history. My primary focus will be James Ussher and his interpretation of patristic history. A friend of mine, Tom Powers, suggested a number of good books to look at – namely those by Ciaran Brady, Steven Ellis and Nicholas Canny – and what looks to be an indispensable website. The Irish History Online website is a database that records the bibliographic information for any book or article on this subject. This coupled with the Ussher Project website will put me in good stead.

Leave a comment

Filed under history, ireland, james ussher, puritans

The Authenticity of Ignatius’ Seven Letters

I wrote this over the summer for a reading seminar I did on Ignatius of Antioch. Dr. Haykin supervised my work. I had great fun researching this very important church father and the transmission of his writings.


The authenticity of the seven letters of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (c. 34-c.107),

[1] has been debated throughout the history of the church, particularly in the seventeenth century.[2] John Milton best captures the complexity of the debate in his satirical question, “In the midst therefore of so many forgeries where shall we fixe to dare say this is Ignatius? as for his stile, who knows it? So disfigur’d and interrupted as it is.”[3] While most contemporary scholars are in agreement that the so-called middle recension of letters is authentic, there have been some who have argued otherwise.[4] The purpose of this paper will be to survey the historical scholarship pertaining to the letters and how the conclusion was reached that the middle recension is the true collection. Particular attention to the role of James Ussher will also be paid in the discussion of the middle recension.

It has been recognised since the work of Lightfoot that there are three different classifications of letters, called recensions, that claim to be of Ignatian character.

[5] In chronological order the first is the middle recension, containing the seven authentic letters, referred to in Eusebius’ Church History.[6] The second is the long recension that appeared in the latter part of the fourth century. The third, known as the short recension was not discovered until the middle of the nineteenth century. In the following the short recension will be discussed first, followed by the long and concluding with greater attention to detail regarding the middle.

Short Recension
The short recension is so-labelled because of the brevity of its form and because the letters “lack phrases, sentences, and even long sections that appear in the text of the uninterpolated seven.”
[7] It is thought to be a précis of the middle recension, specifically the letters to Polycarp, Ephesians and Romans with a paragraph from Trallians. Schoedel surmises that the summary was constructed for monastic purposes.[8] Corwin compares the letter to the Ephesians in the short and middle recensions showing that the former is one-third the length of the latter.[9]
The short recension exists only in a Syriac text.
[10] William Cureton was the first to publish it in his Antient Syriac Version of the Epistles of Saint Ignatius to St. Polycarp, the Ephesians and Romans (1845) after the letters had been brought from the Nitrian desert to the British Museum. It was Cureton’s argument that these were the genuine letters and that Eusebius had not been absolutely certain of the letters (middle recension) he referenced.[11] Both Theodor Zahn[12] and J. B. Lightfoot argued against Cureton’s thesis in favour of the middle recension. Most scholars since their time have followed in their footsteps, dismissing Cureton’s arguments.
The most decisive blow levelled by Lightfoot against Cureton is the comparison he made between the short recension and fragments of a Syriac translation of the middle recension. “It is strange that Cureton should not have been struck by the close resemblance between the Syriac fragments (S1, S2, S3) and the Syriac version of the three epistles in the Short recension (S).”
[13] Lightfoot felt that the coincidences between them were so strong that the only possible conclusion was that one had to be derived from the other. If it can be shown that the short is dependent upon the middle, “all the evidence for the genuineness for the Short recension disappears.”[14] Lightfoot observes, “Cureton failed to see the resemblance, and therefore did not enter into this question, though it was one of paramount importance to him, inasmuch as his theory of the genuineness of the Short recension stands or falls as it is answered.”[15] For Lightfoot, it makes more sense to think that a Syrian had found a copy of the middle recension and summarised it for one reason or another, than to think that it was expanded upon in forgery: “This is the more obvious explanation.”[16] Quoting C. C. Richardson, Brown says, “In the works of Theodor Zahn and of J. B. Lightfoot it was ‘convincingly shown that Cureton’s text represents a rather crude abridgment of the original letters.’”[17]

Long Recension
The long recension owns its name because it is the largest collection of letters, thirteen in all, vying for a spot in the Ignatian corpus. Schoedel claims that it first appeared in the late fourth century and was first referenced by the monophysite Stephen Gorbarus in 570 AD.

[18] The long recension contains the seven letters found in the middle recension, namely those to the churches in Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna and Rome and to the bishop Polycarp. Yet, these seven differ from the middle recension as they have been interpolated with texts that expand the length of the letters. Accompanying these are five additional letters addressed to the churches in Tarsus, Antioch and Philippi as well as to a man named Hero (said to be Ignatius’ replacement in Antioch[19]) and a woman named Mary of Cassabola. There is also included a letter from Mary to Ignatius. Manuscripts for the long recension exist only in Greek and Latin.[20]
Of its style, excluding the letter from Mary, Brown observes,
These twelve letters bear a remarkable resemblance to the pattern of Paul’s corpus…There is an inner consistency of form, notably in the salutations and farewell greetings, and there is considerable homogeneity of thought, doctrine, and exhortation. The amount of writing is extensive enough for an application of the customary linguistic or stylistic tests.

This description differs widely from the letters of the middle recension, which were apparently written in haste. Corwin describes the writings as “broken, marred occasionally with uncompleted sentences and above all lacking in connected argument. Nowhere is there development of ideas in measured, logical sequence.”

[22] By noting the style Corwin does not seek to “dispose of the letters as inconsequential,” rather, the hurriedness of their style speaks to the external conditions suffered by Ignatius as he travelled in chains from Antioch to Rome. The letters of the middle recension, over and against the long, “bear the clear marks of having been written under external as well as internal pressures.”[23] Therefore, the structure and form of the long recension described by Brown militate against their being the genuine letters.
The authenticity of the long recension has been the subject of “learned and acrimonious” debate.
[24] During the fourth century when the long recension first came into existence, the church was embroiled in a monophysite controversy regarding Christ’s two natures.[25] Much of the interpolated texts were anachronistic[26] having “reflected the religious and social realities of the time.”[27] Yet the long recension came to dominate in the medieval period, displacing the authentic letters.[28]
In the seventeenth century a debate over ecclesiastical polity erupted and Ignatius was again a key figure. Because his letters were the first in the early church to offer a tripartite distinction between the offices of bishop, elder and deacon,
[29] those in favour of mono-episcopalian church order sought to establish an early date for his letters to demonstrate the antiquity of their view. Many of non-conformist background argued against this, hoping to either discredit Ignatian authorship of the letters altogether, or at least demonstrate that they were of a later date. A casualty of this debate was the spurious collection of letters and interpolations that contributed to the long recension whose true nature was realised. More detail on how this razing occurred is provided in the discussion of the middle recension.

Middle Recension
The middle recension contains seven letters, in uninterpolated form, that constitute modern collections of the letters of Ignatius

[30] and are widely recognised as authentic. They exist in Greek (Codex Mediceo-Laurentianus), Latin and Armenian versions as well as fragments in Coptic and Syriac.[31] An early reference to them can be found in the Church History of Eusebius of Caesarea, who records Ignatius as the second bishop of Antioch after Euodius with Hero succeeding him.[32] The historian also draws attention to references to the letters by Irenaeus and Polycarp in their writings.
The authenticity of the long recension held sway throughout the medieval period. In 1623, when Nicholaus Vedelius published a text that contained the middle recension with an appendix of spurious letters attached, scholars began to question the long recension. Vedelius was of the opinion that even the Eusebian letters were interpolated and were dependent upon the Apostolic Constitutions that had been written long after Ignatius lived.
[33] As much as he tried, Vedelius could not establish the original text of letters.[34] It was not until the work of an Irish primate that serious headway could be made in determining which letters were the ones that came from Ignatius’ own hand.
James Ussher (1581-1656), bishop of Armagh in Ireland, is memorialised for his Annals of the World that set the date of the world’s creation at 4004 BC. Unfortunately, Ussher’s brilliance as a theologian and historian has been overshadowed by contemporary creation/evolution rhetoric. Alan Ford, in the introduction to his biography of Ussher begins with a lengthy list of quotations from various figures in history that showered accolades upon the Irish theologian.
[35] To cite but one, Robert Huntington, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, who said that Ussher was “one of the greatest scholars, which the reformed churches or the Irish nation ever bred.”[36]
One discipline that Ussher was regarded to be an expert in was patristic history.
[37] Often engaged in debates with various Roman Catholic theologians, Ussher defended the antiquity of protestant thought by tracing it throughout the early church.[38] As the debate over the authenticity and date of Ignatius’ letters continued in the seventeenth century, Ussher was one of the key scholars to offer an opinion.[39] Most importantly, it was Ussher who made a major contribution to the final laying aside of the long recension.
In the thirteenth century Robert Grossteste (c. 1250), bishop of Lincoln, published works containing various Latin quotations of Ignatius. In the fourteenth century more quotations were to be found in the writings of John Tyssington (c. 1381) and William Wodeford (c. 1396). Upon reading them, Ussher recognised that these quotations coincided with the ones found in Eusebius, and differed with the long recension.
[40] Because English writers quoted them, Ussher concluded that the Latin text of Ignatius’ letters must be housed in an English library. His search paid off as Ussher discovered two Latin manuscripts of the letters. As he studied them, Ussher discovered that the translation was likely by Grossteste himself. Notes in the margin betrayed an English author: “Incus est instrumentum fabri; dicitur Anglice anfeld (anvil).”[41] There were also comparisons made in the notes between the Latin translation and the original Greek. Knowing that Grossteste was one of the foremost Greek scholars in England at the time, he was the best candidate for translator.[42] Lightfoot himself determined that Grossteste was the author by accurately comparing a manuscript from Tours that testified to be authored by the bishop of Lincoln.[43]
The seven letters of the Latin translation were enough to convince Ussher that six of the seven were genuine; he rejected the letter to Polycarp thinking it false. Ussher came to this conclusion because of a statement from Jerome who argued that the Polycarp letter was inauthentic. In 1644 he published Polycarp et Ignatii Epistolae offering his conclusions to the greater scholarly community. Ussher’s work was so significant, moving criticism of the Ignatian corpus “beyond the speculative stage”
[44] that at the time of publishing, Oxford University made an engraving of Ussher to be placed at the beginning of his edition of Ignatius.[45] Of his importance, Lightfoot could say, “To the critical genius of Ussher belongs the honour of restoring the true Ignatius.”[46]
In 1646 Isaac Voss published a short form of the Greek text found in the Medicean Library in Florence. Although the letter to the Romans was absent, it was later included as authentic after it had been found in a Latin manuscript of the “Acts of Ignatius” published by T. Ruinart in 1689 in his Acta Martryum Sincera.
[47] The work of these seventeenth century scholars essentially closed the door on the question of which were the authentic letters. The final work of Zahn and especially Lightfoot placed final confirmation in the minds of scholars that they can rest assured that the seven letters of the middle recension are indeed those written by Ignatius of Antioch.
[1] To the Ephesians, To the Magnesians, To the Trallians, To the Romans, To the Philadelphians, To the Smyrnaeans, To Polycarp.
[2] For a survey of this debate see Virginia Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1960), 1-30; William R. Schoedel, “Introduction” in Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, William R. Schoedel, ed., Helmut Koester (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 1985), 1-7; Christine Trevett, A Study of Ignatius of Antioch in Syria and Asia Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 29 (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), 9-15.
[3] John Milton, Of Prelatical Episcopacy, 1641 cited in Trevett, A Study of Ignatius in Syria and Asia, 10.
[4] For instance Josep Rius-Camps, The Four Authentic Letters of Ignatius, The Martyr Christianismos 2 (Rome: Pontificum Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1979). For a response to Rius-Camps and others see William R. Schoedel, “Are the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch Authentic?” in Religious Studies Review 6.3 (July 1980): 196-201; and Trevett, A Study of Ignatius of Antioch in Syria and Asia, 11-15.
[5] J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp (London: Macmillan, 1889; reprinted Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989).
[6] Paul L. Maier, Eusebius The Church History: A New Translation with Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1999), 123-125.
[7] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 5.
[8] Schoedel, “Introduction,” 3.
[9] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 5.
[10] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 72-73.
[11] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 5.
[12] Theodor Zahn, Ignatius von Antiochen (Gotha: Perthes, 1873).
[13] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 104.
[14] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 105.
[15] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 105.
[16] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 105.
[17] Milton Perry Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius: A study of linguistic criteria (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1963), xiii.
[18] Schoedel, “Introduction,” 2.
[19] Maier, Eusebius The Church History, 125.
[20] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 4.
[21] Brown, Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xi.
[22] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 19.
[23] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 20.
[24] Stephen Neill and Tom Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1986 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, reprinted 2003), 44.
[25] For more on monophysitism see Iain R. Torrance, “Monophysitism” in The Dictionary of Historical Theology ed. Trevor A. Hart (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2000), 378-380.
[26] Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xii.
[27] Schoedel, “Introduction,” 2.
[28] Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xiii; Schoedel, “Introduction,” 2.
[29] Ephesians 3.1-6.1; Magnesians 3.1-4.1; 6.1-7.2; Trallians 2.1-3.2; Smyrnaeans 8.1-9.1; Polycarp 1.2-1.2.
[30] For instance, Bart D. Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers: Volume 1 Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003).
[31] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 73; Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 4. Schoedel, “Introduction,” 3, notes an Arabic text close in relation to the Syriac.
[32] Maier, Eusebius The Church History, 123-125.
[33] Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xii; Trevett, A Study of Ignatius of Antioch in Syria and Asia, 9.
[34] Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 5.
[35] Alan Ford, James Ussher: Theology, History, and Politics in Early-Modern Ireland and England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 1-4.
[36] Ford, James Ussher, 3.
[37] J. E. L. Oulton, “Ussher’s Work as a Patristic Scholar and Church Historian” in Hermathena LXXXVIII (November 1956): 3-11.
[38] For instance An answer to a challenge made by a Jesuite in Ireland (Dublin, 1624).
[39] Ford, James Ussher, 237.
[40] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 76; Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xii; Corwin, St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch, 5.
[41] “The anvil destroys the workman’s tool; says the Englishman’s anvil.”
[42] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 76.
[43] Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 76-77.
[44] Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xii.
[45] Oulton, “Ussher’s Work as a Patristic Scholar and Church Historian,” 9.
[46] Cited in Oulton, “Ussher’s Work as a Patristic Scholar and Church Historian,” 9.
[47] Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius, xii.


Filed under articles, church history, ignatius, james ussher, me, patristics, tbs, textual criticism

Body of Divinity Reprinted

The great Irish Puritan James Ussher’s Body of Divinity has recently been reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books and is available for purchase at their site. Of course, it has an introduction by the great Irish historian Crawford Gribben.
Ussher was a theological and intellectual giant who maintained that wonderful balance of scholarship and piety. He is a man well-worth studying and I recommend him to anyone interested in the Puritan period. I’m thankful that SGCB is making more of Ussher’s work available – maybe he will no longer be remembered as “that guy who dated the world.”
[HT: AOmin]


Filed under books, crawford gribben, james ussher, puritans

Bonar on Ussher

The following is an account of the character of the seventeenth century Irish Puritan James Ussher observed in the way he died, written by the great Scottish Presbyterian of the nineteenth century Horatius Bonar.

Archbishop Ussher’s Example

Few men ever lived a life so busy and so devoted to God as Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh. His learning, habits of business, station, friends, all contributed to keep his hands every moment full; and then his was a soul that seemed continually to hear a voice saying: “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.” Early, too, did he begin, for at ten years of age he was hopefully converted by a sermon preached on Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” He was a painstaking, laborious preacher of the Word for fifty-five years.
Yet hear him on his death-bed! How he clings to Christ’s righteousness alone, and sees in himself, even after such a life, only sin and want. The last words he was heard to utter were about one o’clock in the afternoon, and these words were uttered in a loud voice: “But, Lord, in special forgive me my sins of omission.” It was omissions, says his biographer, he begged forgiveness of with his most fervent last breath – he who was never known to omit an hour, but who employed the shred ends of his life for his great Lord and Master! The very day he took his last sickness, he rose up from writing one of his great works and went out to visit a sick woman, to whom he spoke so fitly and fully that you would have taken him to have spoken of heaven before he came there. Yet this man was oppressed with a sense of his omissions!
Reader, what think you of yourself – your undone duties, your unimproved hourse, times of prayer omitted, your shrinking from unpleasant work and putting it on others, your being content to sit under your vine and fig tree without using all efforts for the souls of others? “Lord, in special forgive me my sins of omission!”

Horatius Bonar, Words to Winners of Souls (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1995), 35-36.


Filed under horatius bonar, ireland, james ussher, puritans, quotes

Ussher on Solid Ground

Solid Ground Christian Books is finally publishing their reprint of James Ussher’s Body of Divinity. This has been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I do, however, have a facsimile of the original (tks., C G great intro). But this newer, fancier one’ll be cool.
For those who don’t know, in about a year and half’s time (DV), Ussher will become one of my closes friends – for at least three years.


Filed under books, crawford gribben, james ussher, puritans

What about the Irish??

As I was using the Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals ed. Timothy Larsen (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003) today, I realised that two significant Irish theologians were absent. There were no entries for either James Ussher, the 17th century Irish Puritan, or Alexander Carson, the 19th century Irish Particular Baptist.
The Irish are always neglected. Sad.


Filed under alexander carson, books, ireland, james ussher

Ussher on Patristics

“His influence in the field of patristic studies has been more permanent. He was a voracious reader of the Fathers. He knew the works of all the major figures such as Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, Jerome, and Gregory of Nazianzus, but he also knew and made reference to many less celebrated figures such as Ephraem Syrus, Euthymius, Georgius Syncellus, Melito of Sardis, Eusebius of Emesa, Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Cyrene, Procopius, Gaeus, and Polychromius. The range of his patristic references shows an amazing industry at a time when editions with a critical apparatus and a scholarly introduction were rare.”

R. Buick Knox, James Ussher: Archbishop of Armagh (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1967), 101.

Leave a comment

Filed under church history, james ussher, patristics, puritans, quotes