"the Shepherd" of hermas

quotes from the Shepherd of Hermas→

The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work held in high esteem by Christians in the early Church.   Early Christian writers such as Origen of Alexandria identified the author as Hermas of Dalmatia, who is mentioned in Romans 16:14.  Several ancient witnesses support an early dating and there is internal evidence for an early date in the language and theology of the work. The reference to an unknown Clement is presumed to be Clement of Rome, which would suggest a date c. 90 A.D.

The Muratorian fragment (a list written c. 170 AD that may be the earliest known canon of New Testament writings) identifies Hermas, the author of The Shepherd, as the brother of Pope Pius I, bishop of Rome, whose pontificate was not earlier than 140–155 AD.  This has led many scholars to date the Shepherd to late second century, although the reliability of the Muratorian fragments claim has been called into question by scholars as it seems to contradict most of the internal evidence within the Shepherd.  It would also seem to contradict the tendency of early Christians to consider The Shepherd to be written during Apostolic times, as it was considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus.  The Shepherd was very popular amongst Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries.  It is found in the Codex Sinaiticus and it is listed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of Paul in the Codex Claromontanus

Remarks made by early Church Fathers Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria give a sense of controversy about the Shepherd. Tertullian implies that Pope Callixtus I had quoted it as an authority, although not as Scripture, for he says: “I would admit your argument, if the writing of The Shepherd had deserved to be included in the Divine Instrument, and if it were not judged by every council of the Churches, even of your own Churches, among the apocryphal.” And again, he says that the Epistle of Barnabas, which is Tertullian’s name for the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews, is “more received among the Churches than the apocryphal epistle of the Shepherd”.  Though Clement of Alexandria constantly quotes with reverence from The Shepherd, which seems to him to be very useful, and inspired; yet he repeatedly apologizes on the ground that “some people despise it”. Origen makes this same claim in his ‘First Principles’, 4.2-3. Origen was a student of Clement and cites ‘the Shepherd’ at least three separate times in ‘First Principles’.  Cyprian of Carthage, however, makes no reference to this work, so it would seem to have been out of use in Africa during the early decades of the 3rd century.

Complete Work:

The Shepherd of HermasEnglish translation by J.B. Lightfoot

Quotes & Excerpts:

[The old woman told me:] “Every prayer should be accompanied with humility: fast, therefore, and you will obtain from the Lord what you beg.” I fasted therefore for one day (The Shepherd 1:3:10 [A.D. 80]).

But those who are weak and slothful in prayer hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do you not ask understanding of the Lord, and receive it from him?” (The Shepherd 3:5:4).

“‘I have heard, sir,’ said I [to the Shepherd], ‘from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins.’ He said to me, ‘You have heard rightly, for so it is’” (The Shepherd 4:3:1–2 [A.D. 80]).

“They had need [the Shepherd said] to come up through the water, so that they might be made alive, for they could not otherwise enter into the kingdom of God, except by putting away the mortality of their former life. These also, then, who had fallen asleep, received the seal of the Son of God and entered into the kingdom of God. For,’ he said, ‘before a man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead. But when he receives the seal he puts mortality aside and again receives life. The seal, therefore, is the water. They go down into the water dead [in sin], and come out of it alive” (The Shepherd 9:16:2-4).