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The best edition of the Apostolic Fathers...,
This review is from: Apostolic Fathers, The: Greek Texts and English Translations (Paperback)Michael Holmes has updated the brilliant J.B. Lightfoot/J.R. Harmer translation of the Apostolic Fathers for the 21st century scholar and interested reader. The works which are included are: 1 Clement, II Clement (correctly labeled here as "An Ancient Christian Sermon"), the Letters of Ignatius (the seven genuine letters in the so-called middle recension), the Shepherd of Hermas, the Letter of Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Didache, The Epistle to Diognetus, The Epistle of Barnabas, and the numerous fragments of Papias. The critical Greek text is of course also included (with textual variants) in this edition, and so is the Latin when the text only survives as such.
For each book there are helpful footnotes, textual variants, introductory material, and a bibliography. There is a subject/author index, a scripture and non-canonical literature quotation section, and a few maps for those who wish to know, for instance, where exactly Ignatius' letter to the Trallians would have been read. Michael Holmes has also updated the translation and Greek texts based on recent findings and textual discoveries.
Overall, "The Apostolic Fathers" is a fine resource for the Patristic scholar. However the works are also useful for the non-scholar who wants to read about the infant, developing, and persecuted Church. As the title suggests, these writers lived close to the Apostolic Age; some (Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp) even probably knew an apostle or two. Their writings, theology, and ethics are important clues into developing Christian Orthodoxy. The affordable one-volume price, the modern translation, and updated Greek text render this book superior to the other translations of the Apostolic Fathers available, including Staniforth's, Lake's, and volume one of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (however the other editions certainly still have great value; the ANF set has the longer recension of Ignatius' letters, which the Holmes edition lacks). If you wish to begin a study of Christianity and Christian history, after reading the New Testament, start with these texts.