Christmas Greetings Friends and Family!
At Forest Park
We hope that this Christmas letter finds you adequately recovering from your holiday festivities and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new year. We had grand plans for this year’s Christmas letter. “Perhaps a Christmas poem,” we told ourselves. “But even if it’s not that creative, we can certainly write a detailed, thoughtful, and picture filled letter. At the very least, we’ll get it out on time. Maybe even as a ‘real’ letter this year.” But alas, the busyness of the Christmas season claimed our ambitious plans and presented us only with this electronic missive for our fourth family Christmas letter. Continue reading
This post is part of our ongoing series examining Early Christian Authority.
Even after nearly 2000 years, the Shepherd of Hermas remains an intriguing set of apocalyptic writings from the early Church. The central concern of Hermas revolves around post-baptismal sin: What can Christians do if they have fallen into sin after their baptism? In answering this question, Hermas writes down five visions, twelve commandments, and ten parables, many of which he recounts in terms of divine visions and conversations with an angelic figure called the Shepherd (hence the title of the book). The Shepherd remains the longest extant text of early Christianity, much longer than a number of New Testament books, and was included in many early canonical lists and codices, including Codex Sinaiticus and some contemporaries of Eusebius and Athanasius. Ultimately, the Shepherd was rejected as canonical, due at least in part to its not being written by an apostle (as argued in the Muratorian Canon). Hermas may have been the brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome from around 140 to 154, and Origen argues that he was the Hermas mentioned in Romans 16.14. Additionally, Hermas mentions someone named Clement in V8.2, which may be a reference to Clement of Rome. Most scholars agree that the Shepherd was likely written between 110-140 CE, perhaps over a period of time. Such as early date fits the writings widespread use in both East and West, as well as the claims to usefulness by the Church Fathers despite its ultimate non-canonical status. Continue reading