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  • Writer's pictureJason Borges

Maps of Ignatius’ Journey Through Asia

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Ignatius of Antioch was convicted in Antioch and then marched to his death in Rome around 115 AD. During his journey, several churches in Asia sent leaders to visit him.

In the course of my doctoral research on Ignatius, I felt that the extant maps of Ignatius suffered from two problems: They did not accurately represent his route and/or they neglected the travel of people who visited Ignatius. So, I worked with A.D. Riddle to create a new map. This post analyzes the five known maps about Ignatius, and then introduces my own.

1. J.B. Lightfoot

Lightfoot produced his monumental commentary on Ignatius and Polycarp in 1885, and it remains indispensable. His map appears in Apostolic Fathers, volume II, part 2, section 2, page 729. The map shows both of the main options for Ignatius to reach the Lycus Valley: overland through Cilician gates, or sailing into Pamphylia. Lightfoot has Ignatius sailing from Smyrna to Troas, and he shows the route of Ignatius’ messengers through the Meander Valley.

 J.B. Lightfoot

2. Michael Holmes

Holmes’ Greek-English text of the Apostolic Fathers is a popular version for many readers today. His black-white map on page 803 follows the Lightfoot map, though Holmes’ version has fewer toponyms and less topographical detail.

Michael Holmes

3. Virginia Corwin

Corwin’s early and insightful monograph has a basic map of Ignatius’ route (St. Ignatius and Christianity in Antioch [New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1960], 15). She shows only the land route and makes it a point to show it passing through many NT/Pauline cities. Her route terminates in Smyrna (though Ignatius continued to Troas and Philippi) and does not show any other travel.

Virginia Corwin

4. HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History

The HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History (New York: HarperOne, 2008, page 77) features the most inaccurate map of Ignatius’ journey. His journey starts in Hierapolis, not Antioch! The route then passes through Sardis and Pergamum, though those cities are never mentioned in Ignatius’ letters. Moreover, the route bypasses Philadelphia and Smyrna, the cities that we know for sure Ignatius visited. The value of this map is more comedic than historical. In fairness, the map focuses on the spread of Christianity, not just Ignatius’ route, which the map probably should not have included.

Harper Collins Atlas of Bible History

5. Cavan Concannon

Concannon's innovative map depicts the network connectivity of the various church groups. The map sacrifices geographical details to capture the full extent of the travel surrounding Ignatius’ journey. This is a major improvement upon previous maps with a single line across Asia. However, the map is not easily readable because the key is not clear. The map is from “Early Christian Connectivity and Ecclesial Assemblages in Ignatius of Antioch,” in Across the Corrupting Sea: Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean, edited by Cavan Concannon and Lindsey A. Mazurek (London: Routledge, 2016), page 73.

Cavan Concannon

6. Jason Borges

My dissertation includes a full chapter outlining the routes (and meaning) of travel events associated with Ignatius’ journey, so I cannot explain all my interpretative decisions here. The goal of my map was to accurately display all the travel journeys. I believe that Ignatius most likely traveled across land, even from Smyrna to Troas, as the map depicts. We included several three-pronged arrows to depict generic travel events: unidentified churches that Ignatius visited en route (#6), Ignatius’ letters to additional churches (#9), the visit of Syrian churches to the church in Antioch (#11), and Polycarp’s presumed letters to other Asian churches (#14). The first version of the map had 24 separate lines, but the area around Ephesus and Smyrna was too convoluted. So, we consolidated several of the journeys, such as the visit and return of leaders from Ephesus, Magnesia, and Tralles, into a single line.

I’m glad to make this map publicly available for others to use without permission or cost. Until my dissertation is published, cite the source as

Jason Borges


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