- Hardcover: 832 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic; 3 edition (November 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080103468X
- ISBN-13: 978-0801034688
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations 3rd Edition
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About the Author
Michael W. Holmes (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is executive director of the Scholars Initiative
at the Museum of the Bible. He previously served as professor of biblical studies and early Christianity at Bethel University. Holmies is the author or editor of several books, including a commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. A leading scholar of the Apostolic Fathers, he is currently writing a major critical commentary on Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians and The Martyrdom of Polycarp.
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1. It is one of the only diglot versions - in the original Greek plus (a very good) English translations - good for checking the translation
2. It provides another point of view (a much more modern and balanced one) about the origin and provenance of the various documents in the extensive introductions and notes to each author and their associated documents
3. The Greek is koine Greek almost the same as the NT koine Greek and good for practicing with a text outside the NT
4. Most existing translations are rather dated and stilted. The translation here are up-to-date and accurate
5. Better researched texts are used than the Cleveland-Coxe versions giving a good counter-balance to those venerable volumes
The book binding is very sturdy; the book lies flat on the table; it is a good convenient size and a highly legible font/print. The documents included are:
* 1 Clement
* 2 Clement
* 7 Letters of Ignatius: Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, Smyrneans, Polycarp
* Letter of Polycarp to Philipians
* Martyrdom of Polycarp
* The Didache
* Epistle of Barnabas
* Shepherd of hermas
* Epistle to Diognetus and the fragment of Quadratus
* Fragments of Papias
I have just finished the volume for the first time as I write this, and have to give it five stars, as it was well worth the money both for the Greek (which is at times very similar to the NT Koine) and the insight into some of the early prominent church writers.
The physical book itself is a sturdy green volume, with attractive Greek font on the left pages, corresponding to the English translation on the right side. Please note there are a very few sections, mostly in the last fifty pages or so, that have no extant Greek, and instead have Latin on the left - or even Arabic, Armenian and Syriac in spots! As stated previously (and by other reviewers), this is great Koine practice for anyone looking for complimentary texts to the GNT and LXX.
As far as the content, and whether any of it belongs in the NT, I offer my two cents based on first perusal, though it does not affect the five stars. I have to believe that it is completely correct for all of these texts to have been excluded from the NT, for two reasons. Firstly, the NT is based on eye witness accounts, or those (Mark, Luke etc) that were evidently close to eye witnesses, and as such, none of these texts would belong, as 'second generation' writings or later. Secondly, to me it appears evident that these various texts are not as inspired as the NT canon. I don't say this to disrespect or dishonor any of these writers any more than saying a contemporary christian writer does not belong in the NT - to me, they can at times be as edifying as any other gifted writer in these past two thousand years. However, there seem to be clear indications in each text of a lack of full inspiration (if I may use such a clumsy term).
1 Clement, though stylistically reminiscent of scripture to me, appears to believe and validate the pagan legend of the Phoenix in chapter 25, given as an example of resurrection, but told in such a manner as to champion its veracity.
Ignatius, though immensely admirable in his fervor and zeal, holds an overly elevated view of the overseer, constantly referring to the position with comments like: "...do everything in Godly harmony, with the bishop in the place of God", or: "as the Lord did nothing without the Father...so you must not do anything without the bishop and the presbyters". Such an excessive and singular view of the overseers position and responsibility is clearly at odds with the Lord's admonition that we are all brethren of one another, and that the Lord Himself is our head (though indeed, those who labor in the word are worthy of a certain special honor).
The Didache has some interesting instruction, but also some absurdities, such as "Let every apostle who comes to you be welcomed as if he were the Lord. But he is not to stay for more than one day, unless there is a need, in which case he may stay for another. But if he stays three days, he is a false prophet." Even ignoring the puzzling command to judge the genuineness of an apostle by his length of accommodation, this does not tally with what the Lord Himself said to his disciples when sending them out, telling them not to move from house to house when they entered a city, but to stay in one place. A mere one page later, the text goes on to say, regarding people coming in the name of the Lord: "But he must not stay with you for more than two, or if necessary, three days," adding a full day onto the true prophet accommodation allowance!
In another place, the Didache says: "..do not let your fasts coincide with those of the hypocrites. They fast on Monday and Thursday, so you must fast on Wednesday and Friday." I can't agree that early believers were to fast on two specific days of the week instead of at the direction of the Spirit! To be fair, the Didache is also full of many simple, profound commandments, such as "Do not be one who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving", and though I could go on with regards to negative examples, I do not want to stray into irreverence - even if I do not regard these texts to be worthy of the NT, they are (to varying degrees) still very much worthy of our perusal and contemplation. They can arise to splendid heights - Clement's own 'love chapter' - 1 Clement 49, has a pure beauty and inspiration that is more than reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 13, which no doubt influenced it:
"Let the one who has love in Christ do that which Christ commands. Who is able to describe the bond of God's love? Who is sufficient to speak of the majesty of its beauty? The height to which love leads up is indescribable! Love joins us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love bears all things, is long suffering in all things. In love there is nothing coarse, nothing haughty. Love has no schism, love is not in rebellion, love does everything in harmony. In love all the elect of God have been made perfect. Without love nothing is pleasing to God. In love God has received us to Himself. Because of the love He had for us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us in accordance with the will of God - his flesh for our flesh, His soul for our souls."
The Shepherd of Hermas is an intriguing series of visions and interpretations that give much food for thought. My personal impression was (again) that the text is not at an NT level of inspiration, but there are many profound insights contained in it's 100+ chapters, especially (for me) the vision of the twelve mountains. Beyond this, I found many nuggets in the various texts that offered tantalizing glimpses into the mind of some of the early writers and the views of that era in church history.
I highly recommend this volume - Michael Holmes and Baker Academic have put together a remarkably fine book in appearance and content!
The Third Edition:
I have a second edition paperback print and was very happy to discover this hard covered edition. The chapter-verse style layout is improved and the pages are bible thin so it sits open easily.
And the format of this book is near perfect. I panned the second edition simply because my paperback fell apart and was hard to hold open. This edition lays flat and feels great in your hand. It uses thin paper so the book is small and portable and yet the font size is still fairly large. The only thing I don't like about the third edition is that the font is a little smaller than the second edition, whose font was perfect, and this font is a little different, not quite as pleasing on the eye Also, the second edition had pure white paper whereas this edition is somewhat yellow. Still, you can't have everything. The font on this text is probably bigger and nice than say the Loeb Classical Library, and here you get all the texts in one volume which is only a little bit bigger than Loeb. This is a must have for NT Greekers!