|About the Book|
Hermas of Rome is one of the most elusive characters in early church history. He wrote the longest surviving document of the post-Apostolic age, and yet his life remains a mystery. Hermas, a liberated slave, wrote about obedience and faithfulness. HeMoreHermas of Rome is one of the most elusive characters in early church history. He wrote the longest surviving document of the post-Apostolic age, and yet his life remains a mystery. Hermas, a liberated slave, wrote about obedience and faithfulness. He lived at the close of the first century, and therefore, is distinguished with the title Apostolic Father, together with Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp. He was concerned primarily with the true nature of prophecy, and was deeply influenced by apocalypticism. His only extant work is The Shepherd, a complicated and composite work, the earliest known Christian allegory. Hermas wrote during an extended period of persecution, when various agents revealed visions to him at different times. The most pronounced agent takes the guise of a shepherd, from which the work takes its name. The Shepherd of Hermas was addressed to a Roman audience, and in the capital it reached an almost canonical status. The work was attached at the end of Codex Sinaiticus and was cited by early church writers. An academic and an ordained priest, W. E. Barnes understands the complexities of The Shepherd of Hermas. His expertise in Hebraic studies served him well in unraveling the apocalyptic message of the work. His pamphlet, Hermas: A Simple Christian of the Second Century, is a lecture he delivered on November 27, 1922, while he was Hulsean Professor at Cambridge. Barnes called the work a collection of allegories and reconstructed the circumstances under which it was composed. Despite its difficulty, he outlines the work for a modern audience at an introductory level. He intended the short book to be read by those who were unfamiliar with The Shepherd. Barnes summarized the role of Hermas as an early Christian prophet entrusted with a divine message, but recognizes him as a rather simple prophetic witness. To this work has been added an excellent review of C. Taylors work, The Witness of Hermas to the Four Gospels by John Massie-a valuable appendix. It first appeared in 1890 in the Critical Review.