Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Historical Theology

The Apostolic Fathers failed “to grasp the significance of the death of Christ.” In fact, none of the Apostolic Fathers cited Matt. 20:28; 26:28 or Mark 10:45.

I plan to read Neve, A History of Christian Thought but since this book was in my father’s library, I may in fact be rereading it. There is a bookmark at page 38 with my notes on how the influence of the Shepherd of Hermas led to a preaching of moralism in the Post-Apostolic Age. I had previously noted that repentance was an important concept in the penitential systems of the early and medieval church but did not discuss its possible connection with the Shepherd of Hermas.

Neve asks: “how are we to explain this preaching of moralism in the Post-Apostolic age, so shortly after the Gospel note of Paul has been heard.” Jewish and/or heathen influence?

"If you are able to do what is good, do not delay, for alms have power to release from death." (Polycarp). "Work with thy hands for the ransom of their sins." Barnabas, XIX, 10.

"If ye turn to the Lord with your heart and work righteousness the remaining days of your life, and serve Him strictly according to His will, He will heal your former sins." Hermas, Mandata, XII,6,2.

"Almsgiving is therefore excellent as a repentance for sins; fasting is better than prayer; but almsgiving is better than either, -- for almsgiving becomes lightening of the burden of sins." Homily of Clement, XVI, 4.

Jewish and/or heathen influence: excess of good works!!

Didache: "If you wear the entire yoke of Christ, you will be perfect; if not, then do what you can." VI, 2.

Hermas says: "If you can do more than what God commands, you will earn more glory for yourself and you will have more honor before God." Similitudo, V, 3, 3.

Therefore, the question needs to be asked if the reason for the lack of understanding of the Apostolic Fathers is that their understanding was based on the writings of Luke and/or their copy of Matthew and Mark did not include the ransom saying or Matthew’s connection of Jesus’s covenant blood with the remission of sins. A third possibility could be that Matthew and Mark did include these concepts but were published late enough that they had no influence on the writings of the Apostolic Fathers generally defined as 90-140 CE.

Copyrighted 2006


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