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INTRODUCTION nHE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS is longer than the rest of the Apostolic Fathers and quite distinctive in form and content. The external division into five Visions, - twelve Mandates and ten Parables does not rest on valid internal reasons. Both Mandates and Parables are also visionary in character, and the ninth Parable is only a more pointed repetition of the Visions,1 as the author himself clearly points out in one of the Visions.2 In accordance with these directions of the author himself, the more apt division of the work would be: (1) Vision 1 to Vision 4; (2) Vision 5 to the end of the ninth Parable. The conclusion of the work is supplied by the tenth Parable. In the first of the two divisions mentioned above, from the first to the fourth Vision, the Church_ appears to Hermas as a venerable lady, who in the successive Visions gradually sheds the marks of age, until at the end of the fourth Vision she appears as a young woman, dressed in bridal apparel, a symbol of God's elect. There then comes on the scene the angel of penance, sent by the most exalted angel. His shepherd's dress and his remark, 'I am the shepherd to whom you have been committed,' have given the name Shepherd of Hermas to the work. The Shepherd is basically an exhortation to penance in apocalyptic form. In the first Vision the Church appears to Hermas and bids him do penance for his own sins and for I ct Parahie 9.1.1. 2 Vision 5.5. 225 226 THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS the transgressions of his household. In the following he receives a booklet to transcribe, which comments on the necessity of doing penance and gives some detailed indications about the coming persecution. After the third Vision, Herrnas is to spread the booklet among the faithful. In this Vision the elderly lady points out the fortunes of the Church under the symbolism of the tower from which useless stones are excluded, just as sinners who do no penance are excluded from the Church. The urgency of penance is also stressed because of the little time left for it. Finally, in the fourth Vision, Herrnas is shown by the elderly lady a symbol of the coming trials and persecutions of the Church, a huge monster 'who came on with a rush capable of destroying a city.' Then the Church appears as a youthful bride, symbol of the cleanness and purity of God's elect. The deeper explanation of the foregoing is given Herrnas in the Mandates and Parables which he is commanded to write down by the angel of penance. The Mandates command belief in (1) one God, (2) simplicity of heart, (3) love of truth, (4) chastity and the sanctity of marriage, (5) meekness. The sixth Mandate makes clear the characteristics of the angel of justice and of the angel of wickedness. In the following, (7) fear of God, (8) continence and (9) confident prayer are enjoined. The Mandates close with admonitions (10) against sadness, (11) false prophets and (12) covetousness. Throughout, the Mandates are not severe, stressing the avoidance of sadness and despair of salvation, and encouraging the faithful to drive the Devil from their hearts. Especially toward the end, the Parables are quite similar to the Mandates in their didactic character. (1) Man has not INTRODUCTION 227 in this world a 'lasting city' and should not attach his heart to transitory goods. (2) The rich should give to the poor and the poor in return should give the alms of his prayer for the benefactor. They thus mutually support each other as the elm does the "ine. (3 and 4) Just as the difference between dead and living trees is not discernible in winter, so the difference between sinners and just is apparent, not in this world, but in the world to come. The following three make interesting observations on fasting and the meritoriousness of good works (5), on luxury and deceit (6) and on the value of penance (7). In the eigth Parable the Archangel Michael is presented as cutting branches from a huge elm and presenting a branch to one and all. The elm is a symbol of the Church; the branches typify the various classes of the good and the bad. The branches of the good are in bloom; those of the bad are withered and have to be watered abundantly on being planted in the ground...


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