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Apostolic Fathers.

Significant Christian writers and writings of the time immediately after the NT. See also Fathers of the Church; Patristics, 3.

1. Clement I (Clemens Romeanus; Clement of Rome). Disciple of Peter and Paul; bp. Rome, 92–101 acc. to Eusebius* of Caesarea (acc. to others ca. 88—ca. 97 or ca. 90—ca. 99); said to have been consecrated by Peter, to be the Clement of Ph 4:3, and to have been martyred in the Crimea; well read in the OT but not always clear in understanding Pauline grace. Of many works ascribed to him only 1 Clement to the Corinthians (in which he tries to persuade rebellious mems. of the cong. to obey presbyters appointed by approved men) is regarded authentic (ca. 95/96). See also Clementines.

2. Ignatius of Antioch. 3d bp. of Antioch; martyred, acc. to tradition (Eusebius, HE, III, xxxvi), under Trajan, ca. 112. On his journey to Rome he wrote 7 letters (to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Philadelphians, Smyrneans, Polycarp, and the Romans) that stress respect for bps. and oppose Docetism* and Judaizing tendencies. The letter to the Romans pleads with the Christians there not to prevent his martyrdom. The integrity of the epistles (of which there are various recensions) is established. They show Ignatius' determination to encourage the “monarchial episcopate” and influenced later developments in the ch. See also Apocrypha, C 4.

3. Polycarp (ca. 69—ca. 156). Bp. Smyrna; disciple of John and friend of Ignatius; supported Asiatic view of celebration of Easter at Rome; martyrdom at the stake during persecution under Antoninus Pius; described in a letter by the Smyrneans to the ch. of Philomelium. Surviving work is a “letter to the Phillippians” (perhaps a combination of two letters). See also Acta martyrum; Infants, B 1; Persecution of Christians, 3.

4. Papias (ca. 150). Bp. of Hierapolis; disciple of John (?); friend of Polycarp; Eusebius accused him of chiliasm and other “strange sayings.” Wrote Exposition of the Lord's Oracles, of which fragments remain. These treat the origin of Matthew and Mark. His statement concerning “presbyter John” occupies a prominent place in the isagogical discussion of the Fourth Gospel.

5. Shepherd of Hermas. Acc. to best scholarship written between 105 and 135 by a Roman Christian, Hermas, identified as the brother of Pius, bp. of Rome. Contains 5 visions, 12 mandates, 10 similitudes. Central thought is exhortation to repentance in view of impending Parousia. Assures 2d repentance for sins after Baptism. Though of slight literary merit, it was highly esteemed in early ch. and included at times in canon.

6. Barnabas, Epistle of. Originated in Egypt ca. 130; characterized by extreme allegorical interpretation of OT; enabled Christians to find Christ in every incident of OT Written to Christians in danger of lapsing into Judaism. Ascription to Barnabas of NT considered false by modern scholars. See also Federal Theology.

7. Epistle to Diognetus. Beautiful in style, this epistle is one of the earliest productions of the ch. which survives. Addressed to Diognetus,* perhaps the teacher of Marcus Aurelius. Last 2 chapters are by another hand (Hippolytus?). Compares relation of Christians and world with that of soul and body.

8. The Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles). Written ca. 150 (some scholars hold that parts of it were written as early as 50); discovered by P. Bryennions* 1873; it was intended for use in instruction prior to Baptism. The first part (1–6) presents under the image of the two ways of life and death moral precepts which the catechumen was to know before Baptism. The 2d part (perhaps for after Baptism) gives instructions regarding Baptism, fasts, prayers, Eucharist, and “offices.” The use of a somewhat different document in Barnabas and variant recensions indicate that the source for the Didache was some early Christian document for converts (perhaps based on a manual for Jewish proselytes). EL, HTM

See also Christian Church, History of the, I 2; Discernment of Spirits; Golden Rule.

J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, ed. and completed J. R. Harmer (London, 1926); The Apostolic Fathers, ed. and tr. K. Lake, 2 vols. (London, 1925, 1930; T. F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (Edinburgh, 1948); Committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology, The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (Oxford, 1905); J. P. Quasten, Patrology, I (Westminster, Maryland, 1950); The Apostolic Fathers, A New Translation and Commentary, ed. R. M. Grant, 6 vols. in progress (Camden, 1964– ).


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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