I’m currently reading Stephen Neil and N.T. Wright’s excellent book, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986. It provides a fascinating narrative overview of the history of New Testament interpretation. One of the more interesting sections describes the history behind the use of the Apostolic Fathers, especially Ignatius, in churches. Neil says, “If you approved of episcopacy, Ignatius was just your man; if you disapproved of episcopacy, Ignatius just would not do.” Well, John Milton was one man who definitely disapproved of Ignatius and the episcopacy. He says,
“Had God intended that we should have sought any part of useful instruction from Ignatius, doubtless he would have not so ill-provided our knowledge as to send him to our hands in this broken and disjointed plight; and, if he intended no such thing, we do injuriously in thinking to taste better the pure evangelic manna by seasoning our mouths with the tainted scraps and fragments of an unknown table, and searching among the verminous and polluted rags dropt overworn from the toiling shoulders of the Time, with these defomedly to quilt and interlace the entire, the spotless, and undecaying robe of truth.”
— J. Milton, Of Prelactical Episcopacy (Works, vol. iii, p. 72)
It seems that Milton had a way with words and no doubt would have been a provocative blogger in our day.