SSP: Why Study Patrick’s Scriptures?

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

“If we wish to sound the real depths of this great spiritual masterpiece, then, it is not enough to read it; we are advised to come to know, not only the sources, but also the context of its biblical quotations and significant biblical allusions, of which Patrick makes highly effective use in his Confessio.[1]

Major Roman Cities MapBefore proceeding to consideration of the historical Patrick, let us pause to briefly consider the value in studying Patrick’s Bible and his use of scripture. From a historical perspective, coming to better terms with Patrick’s Bible provides insights into the Bible on the edge the Roman Empire during the fifth century. Not only does Patrick offer a unique case study in the midst of a difficult time for the Western Roman Empire, but the situation in Ireland may prove paradigmatic for understanding the form, shape, and influence of the Christian Bible in other “border of the Empire” contexts. Continue reading


Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Bibliography

This post is the final in our series on Women in the Apostolic Fathers. For a complete copy of this paper, please email me at prahlowjj [at]

Ancient Syriac ManuscriptAncient Sources

Acts of Thecla. Edited and translated by Jeremy W. Barrier. The Acts of Paul and Thecla: A Critical Introduction and Commentary. WUNT 2, 270. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

Apostolic Constitutions. Edited and translated by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume 7: Fathers of the third and Fourth Centuries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951. Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Conclusions

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Apostolic FathersThrough consideration of several pericopes from the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, this study has argued that these authors conceived of women as having properly ordered roles in the Christian Church, roles which could include familial and visionary functions. In First Clement, biblical women were employed as examples for the congregation at Corinth. Second Clement reinforced the Pauline idea that the relationship between Christ and the Church was akin to that of husband and wife, both of whom contain fleshly and spiritual components. The epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp reveal an emphasis on church order and ecclesiastical hierarchy which affects how all Christians—both women and men—should live their lives. These epistles also demonstrate that women held positions of some standing in certain Christian communities, including groups of “virgins called widows”, house-holding women, traveling (diaconal?) women, and individually outstanding women. In the Shepherd of Hermas, women serve as revelers of God’s truths, images of the Church herself, and teachers of women and children. Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Visionary Women in Hermas (Part III)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.1-3[1]

Ἀπεκαλύφθη δέ μοι, ἀδελφοί, κοιμωμένῳ ὑπὸ νεανίσκου εὐειδεστάτου λέγοντός μοι· τὴν πρεσβυτέραν, παρ᾿ ἧς ἔλαβες τὸ βιβλίδιον, τίνα δοκεῖς εἶναι; ἐγώ φημι· τὴν Σίβυλλαν. πλανᾶσαι, φησίν, οὐκ ἔστιν. τίς οὖν ἐστιν; φημί. ἡ ἐκκλησία, φησίν. εἶπον αὐτῷ· διατί οὖν πρεσβυτέρα; ὅτι, φησίν, πάντων πρώτη ἐκτίσθη· διὰ τοῦτο πρεσβυτέρα, καὶ διὰ ταύτην ὁ κόσμος κατηρτίσθη. 2. μετέπειτα δὲ ὅρασιν εἶδον ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ μου. ἦλθεν ἡ πρεσβυτέρα καὶ ἠρώτησέν με εἰ ἤδη τὸ βιβλίον δέδωκα τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις. ἠρνησάμην δεδωκέναι. καλῶς, φησίν, πεποίηκας· ἔχω γὰρ ῥήματα προσθεῖναι. ὅταν οὖν ἀποτελέσω τὰ ῥήματα πάντα, διὰ σοῦ γνωρισθήσεται τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς πᾶσιν. 3. γράψεις οὖν δύο βιβλαρίδια καὶ πέμψεις ἓν Κλήμεντι καὶ ἓν Γραπτῇ. πέμψει οὖν Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται. Γραπτὴ δὲ νουθετήσει τὰς χήρας καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανούς. σὺ δὲ ἀναγνώσῃ εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας. While I was sleeping, brothers, I received a revelation from a very beautiful young man, who said to me: “The elderly woman from whom you received the little book—who do you think she is?” “The Sibyl,” I replied. “You are wrong,” he said; “it is not she.” “Who then is it?” I asked. “The church,” he said. I said to him, “Why then is she elderly?” “Because,” he said, “she was created first, before anything else. That is why she is elderly, and for her sake the world was created.” 2. And afterward I saw a vision in my house. The elderly woman came and asked if I had already given the book to the presbyters. I said that I had not. “You have done well,” she said. “For I have some words to add. Then, when I complete all the words, they will be made known through you to all those who are chosen. 3. And so, you will write two little books, sending one to Clement and the other to Grapte. Clement will send his to the foreign cities, for that is his commission. But Grapte will admonish the widows and orphans. And you will read yours in this city, with the presbyters who lead the church.”

Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Visionary Women in Hermas (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 1.2.2-4.1[1]

1.2 ταῦτά μου συμβουλευομένου καὶ διακρίνοντος ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου βλέπω κατέναντί μου καθέδραν λευκὴν ἐξ ἐρίων χιονίνων γεγονυῖαν μεγάλην· καὶ ἦλθεν γυνὴ πρεσβῦτις ἐν ἱματισμῷ λαμπροτάτῳ, ἔχουσα βιβλίον εἰς τὰς χεῖρας, καὶ ἐκάθισεν μόνη καὶ ἀσπάζεταί με· Ἑρμᾶ, χαῖρε. κἀγὼ λυπούμενος καὶ κλαίων εἶπον· κυρία, χαῖρε…. 3.3 μετὰ τὸ παῆναι αὐτῆς τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα λέγει μοι· θέλεις ἀκοῦσαί μου ἀναγινωσκούσης; λέγω κἀγώ· θέλω, κυρία. λέγει μοι· γενοῦ ἀκροατὴς καὶ ἄκουε τὰς δόξας τοῦ θεοῦ. ἤκουσα μεγάλως καὶ θαυμαστῶς ὃ οὐκ ἴσχυσα μνημονεῦσαι· πάντα γὰρ τὰ ῥήματα ἔκφρικτα, ἃ οὐ δύναται ἄνθρωπος βαστάσαι…. 4.1 Ὅτε οὖν ἐτέλεσεν ἀναγινώσκουσα καὶ ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῆς καθέδρας, ἦλθαν τέσσαρες νεανίαι καὶ ἦραν τὴν καθέδραν καὶ ἀπῆλθον πρὸς τὴν ἀνατολήν. 1.2 While I was mulling these things over in my heart and trying to reach a decision, I saw across from me a large white chair, made of wool, white as snow. And an elderly woman came, dressed in radiant clothes and holding a book in her hands. She sat down, alone, and addressed me, “Greetings, Hermas.” And I said, still upset and weeping, “Greetings Lady.” … 3.3 When she finished these words, she said to me, “Do you want to hear me read?” I replied to her, “Yes, Lady, I do.” She said to me, “Be a hearer and hear the glories of God.” I heard great and amazing matters that I could not remember. For all the words were terrifying, more than a person can bear…. 4.1 Then, when she finished reading and rose up from the chair, four young men came and took the chair and went away to the east.

Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Visionary Women in Hermas (Part I)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Shepherd of HermasPerhaps no other piece of early Christian literature gives women such prominent and significant roles as does the Shepherd of Hermas.[1] Of course, the visionary character of Hermas allows commentators to conclude little about the meanings of the visions and even less about the lives of real Roman women. Nonetheless, an investigation of some women in Hermas reveals the revelatory authority that females could have for some early Christians. Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Greetings in Ignatius and Polycarp

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Ignatius’s Epistle to Polycarp 8.2-3[1]

ἀσπάζομαι πάντας ἐξ ὀνόματος καὶ τὴν τοῦ Ἐπιτρόπου σὺν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτῆς καὶ τῶν τέκνων. ἀσπάζομαι Ἄτταλον τὸν ἀγαπητόν μου. ἀσπάζομαι τὸν μέλλοντα καταξιοῦσθαι τοῦ εἰς Συρίαν πορεύεσθαι. ἔσται ἡ χάρις μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ διὰ παντὸς καὶ τοῦ πέμποντος αὐτὸν Πολυκάρπου. 3. ἐρρῶσθαι ὑμᾶς διὰ παντὸς ἐν θεῷ ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ εὔχομαι, ἐν ᾧ διαμείνητε ἐν ἑνότητι θεοῦ καὶ ἐπισκοπῇ. ἀσπάζομαι Ἄλκην, τὸ ποθητόν μοι ὄνομα. ἔρρωσθε ἐν κυρίῳ. I greet all by name, and the wife of Epitropus, along with the entire household of her and her children. I greet Attalus, my beloved. I greet the one who is about to be deemed worthy to go to Syria. God’s grace will be with him constantly, and with Polycarp who sends him. 3. I bid you constant farewell in our God Jesus Christ. May you remain in him, in the unity and care that comes from God. I greet Alce, a name dear to me. Farewell in the Lord.

Continue reading

Women in the Apostolic Fathers: Familial Expectations in Ignatius (Part III)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

Ignatius’s Epistle to Polycarp 5.2[1]

εἴ τις δύναται ἐν ἁγνείᾳ μένειν εἰς τιμὴν τῆς σαρκὸς τοῦ κυρίου, ἐν ἀκαυχησίᾳ μενέτω. ἐὰν καυχήσηται, ἀπώλετο, καὶ ἐὰν γνωσθῇ πλέον τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, ἔφθαρται. πρέπει δὲ τοῖς γαμοῦσι καὶ ταῖς γαμουμέναις μετὰ γνώμης τοῦ ἐπισκόπου τὴν ἕνωσιν ποιεῖσθαι, ἵνα ὁ γάμος ᾖ κατὰ κύριον καὶ μὴ κατ᾿ ἐπιθυμίαν. πάντα εἰς τιμὴν θεοῦ γινέσθω. If anyone is able to honor the flesh of the Lord by maintaining a state of purity, let him do so without boasting. If he boasts, he has been destroyed, and if it becomes known to anyone beyond the bishop, he is ruined. But it is right for men and women who marry to make their union with the consent of the bishop, that their marriage may be for the Lord and not for passion. Let all things be done for the honor of God.

Continue reading