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The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1: I Clement, II Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache (Loeb Classical Library) (Volume I) [Hardcover]

Bart D. Ehrman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 14, 2004 0674996070 978-0674996076

The writings of the Apostolic Fathers give a rich and diverse picture of Christian life and thought in the period immediately after New Testament times. Some of them were accorded almost Scriptural authority in the early Church. This new Loeb edition of these essential texts reflects current idiom and the latest scholarship.

Here are the Letters of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, among the most famous documents of early Christianity; these letters, addressing core theological questions, were written to a half dozen different congregations while Ignatius was en route to Rome as a prisoner, condemned to die in the wild-beast arena. Also in this collection is a letter to the Philippian church by Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and friend of Ignatius, as well as an account of Polycarp's martyrdom. There are several kinds of texts in the Apostolic Fathers collection, representing different religious outlooks. The manual called the Didache sets forth precepts for religious instruction, worship, and ministry. The Epistle of Barnabas searches the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, for testimony in support of Christianity and against Judaism. Probably the most widely read in the early Christian centuries was The Shepherd of Hermas, a book of revelations that develops a doctrine of repentance.

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The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1: I Clement, II Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache (Loeb Classical Library) (Volume I) + Apostolic Fathers: Volume II. Epistle of Barnabas. Papias and Quadratus. Epistle to Diognetus. The Shepherd of Hermas (Loeb Classical Library No. 25N) + Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Books I-V (Loeb Classical Library, No. 153) (Volume I)
Price for all three: $67.68

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Editorial Reviews


Ehrman's new Loeb Library edition of The Apostolic Fathers (a title unknown before the 17th century) presents a scholarly edition, with a lively translation, of Christian writings that circulated before the Biblical canon was established. (Tom D'Evelyn Christian Science Monitor 2003-12-23)

Bart Ehrman's new text and translation of the Apostolic Fathers in the Loeb series is an excellent example of solid scholarship presented in an accessible and engaging manner…Ehrman's general introduction contains a helpful bibliography, and is complemented by lively and accessible introductions to each individual text…This is a fine introduction to some important texts, and a worthy successor to the edition of Kirsopp Lake that it now supersedes. (Andrew Gregory Themelios 2004-10-01)

The Apostolic Fathers is a greatly needed and valuable contribution to the field of early Christian literature. The outlined contemporary discussions will enhance one's understanding not only of the texts but of the current methodology and views regarding the reading of the works. The two volumes are highly recommended for graduate students and scholars. (Despina Prassas New England Classical Journal)

About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Product Details

  • Series: Loeb Classical Library (Book 24)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674996070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674996076
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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How did the New Testament come to be formed? What books were left out? What did some of those books say? These are some of the questions on the minds of many curious people today. Too often, local congregations ignore these questions, to the detriment of the church. But these questions about Christian origins are very, very real in the hearts and minds of many people today.

Now, from one of the most significant writers about Christian origins today comes a completely new edition of the Apostolic Fathers -- the letters of Clement, the letters of Ignatius, the letter of Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the fragments of Papias and Quadratus, the Epistle to Diognetus, and the Shepherd of Hermas. These were early Christian writings that are generally attributed to church leaders of the late first and early second centuries CE (and, in most cases, are probably authentic). Clement, for example, was an early leader in Rome (circa 96 CE); Ignatius wrote a number of letters to churches in various cities (circa 110 CE), sort of following in the footsteps of Paul.

This two-volume set replaces the classic edition of the Apostolic Fathers in the Loeb Classical Library edited by Kirsopp Lake nearly a century ago. As with all books in the Loeb Classical Library, the original (in this case, Greek) text is presented on the left-hand pages, and an English translation is presented on the right. The text is extremely readable, and the introductions to each of the books are clear, succinct, and to the point.

Some of these books almost made it into the New Testament! The epistles of Clement are found in some early New Testament manuscripts and were widely read in the early churches.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstandings about the Loeb Series April 25, 2012
By Nichael
I think there is some misunderstand about what this book, and its sibling volume, contain and what they represent.

For example, some of the reviews mention the skimpy nature of the commentary, and that half content of the book --i.e. it contains both English and Greek text-- is unnecessary and not of use to most readers and similar misgivings.

It is possible that Amazon has not done a good job of explaining the purpose of volumes in Loeb Library but, briefly, the Loeb Library publishes scholarly editions of classical --Greek and Latin-- texts, with a parallel translation into English which is supported by a decent set of textual notes (i.e. indicating variants in the existing manuscript-history). While most books in the series include a brief introductory, there is nothing on the scale of a complete commentary.

In short, these are _not_ intended to be detailed commentaries or "readers" editions. Rather, they are intended for readers (mainly scholars) who require a solid version of the original text.

This is probably too late for folks who have bought these volumes while wanting something else. But as a word to future buyers, if you are looking for a excellent, inexpensive (at least compared to a full-blown textual-edition), compact (approx pocket-sized) well-bound edition which have been prepared by a world-class scholar, you would hard-pressed to do better than the Loeb Library. (Of course, if you are in their target audience, I probably don't need to tell you that. ;-) )
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68 of 108 people found the following review helpful
The Apostolic Fathers, the collection of writings historically ascribed to the generation immediately after the apostles and the writing of the New Testament, have long been available in the Loeb Classical Library in an edition by Kirsopp Lake. A new 2003 edition by Bart Ehrman gives a contemporary translation and strikingly different commentary. This first volume contains the general introduction, the first and second writings of Clement, the letters of Ignatius, the epistle to the Philippians and the martyrdom of Polycarp, and the Didache.

The typesetting is quite different from the Lake edition. The Greek text is now set in ZephGreek, a typeface similar to, though not identical with, that of UBS's Greek New Testament. Those who thought the Greek text of the Lake edition too dark may find this easier on the eyes. However, I was rather unhappy to see that footnotes are now used in lieu of margin notes, which I feel interferes with the smooth flow of text.

Unfortunately, Bart Ehrman's commentary on these writings is very disappointing. Ehrman is one of those contemporary scholars who believes that Christianity was originally a diverse scene of competing and equally valid philosophies, until an orthodox form won out. He suggests that Marcion and other notorious heretics were unfairly condemned, and doesn't view the history of the Church as the maintenance and defence of a tradition handed down by Christ himself but rather mere accident. People who know Ehrman's notorious earlier work such as THE ORTHODOX CORRUPTION OF SCRIPTURE know exactly what to expect in his remarks on the provenance and context of these writings.
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