Absolutely Essential Passages from the Apostolic Fathers that You Need to Read

35873453Earlier tonight, I had the privilege to have dinner with a cousin of mine who I haven’t seen for 20 years. As my family was leaving (getting kids into a minivan can be a chore), he told me he bought my book on the Apostolic Fathers (yay!) but that he hadn’t been able to reallyl get into it (sad face).

I get it though. I thought a minute and recommended a few passages: Didache and Diognetus 5–6. But there are more, at least from my perspective. Here’s my quick list after thinking about it for a bit:

  • 1 Clement 59–61
  • 2 Clement 1
  • Didache 1–3; 7–9; 16
  • Diognetus 5–6
  • Ignatius to the Ephesians 9
  • Ignatius to the Philadelpheans 8
  • Polycarp to the Philippians 7
  • Barnabas 18–20 (cf. Didache 1–5)
  • Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 1.1–4 and Vision 4.1–3
  • Martrydom of Polycarp 9–11

What did I miss, and why? Add your recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


3 thoughts on “Absolutely Essential Passages from the Apostolic Fathers that You Need to Read

    • Thanks for the feedback, Jeff. Maybe I’ll get to the “why” in a later post. I just think these read well. Diognetus 5-6 is a classic explanation of how Christians differ from others. The Martyrdom of Polycarp passage has Polycarp in the stadium, interacting with the proconsul with rhetorical gusto. 2 Clement 1 is simply one of the most beautiful things I’ve read. The 1 Clement passage is a prayer, and an amazing one at that. The first Hermas passage is the opening, when he spies women bathing in a river but maintains that he didn’t sin (and he gets called on it); the second is an encounter between Hermas and a dragon-like creature. I just thought they were good passages for a quick list like this. They’re good quick reads to show that these documents aren’t dry, dusty, boring tomes.

      Liked by 1 person

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