After showing that sacramental realism exists in neither Ignatius nor in John 6:51b-58, Frederick G. Klawiter argues that Ignatius’ eucharist contained a sacrificial wine libation (poured into a dish on the altar), symbolizing the pouring out of Jesus’ blood in his sacrificial death. Then, by drinking from the libation cup in the eucharist/agape meal, Christians sought unity of agape with one another and the crucified, risen Jesus—while anticipating the possibility of martyrdom.
Frederick G. Klawiter was formerly an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a professor in the department of religion, philosophy, and classics at Augustana University (Sioux Falls, South Dakota).
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Ignatius and the Issue of Sacramental Realism
Chapter 3 John 6:53—The Scandal of a Crucified Messiah as Divine Wisdom, and Martyrdom as “Eating his Flesh and Drinking his Blood”
Chapter 4 Martyrdom, Sacrificial Libation, and the Eucharist/Agape of Ignatius
Chapter 5 John 19:34—The Death of Jesus as a Sacrificial Libation and “Living Water”
Chapter 6 The Tomb of Polycarp: Sacrificial Libation and a Refrigerium
Chapter 7 Conclusion
Appendix: The Dating of Ignatius
In this provocative study of the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Klawiter masterfully combines early Eucharistic practice and theology with Ecclesiology and Martyrdom to give us a decidedly new vision and interpretation of St. Ignatius himself, within the context of Eucharistic origins. Challenging standard interpretations of Ignatius' theology of the Eucharist as being about Christ's Real Presence in the Bread and Cup Klawiter argues that it is the Ecclesial Body of Christ to which Ignatius actually refers. By drawing attention to the practice of sacrificial libations performed as part of the Eucharistic meals at the graves of the martyrs and in Ignatius language about his own impending martyrdom, Klawiter further argues that understanding the Eucharist as sacrifice is a traditional component of Eucharistic theology, which ought not be ignored today. I highly recommend this study.
The great strength of Martyrdom, Sacrificial Libation, and the Eucharist of Ignatius of Antioch is in restoring focus on the issue of martyrdom and sacrifice to the early church, especially in the aftermath of the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans during the Jewish Wars. Klawiter draws upon the past few decades of scholarship highlighting the theological and spiritual crisis that developed from the Temple’s destruction and how early Christian practices were, in fact, in continuity with late Second Temple Jewish theologies.