Heidegger's Bible Handbook: NT Apocrypha: The Shepherd of Hermas

19. Also, a book called The Shepherd, formerly attributed to Hermas, a disciple of Saint Paul, and variously commended by the Holy Fathers. Whether that be the same, which circulates today under that name, it is inquired, and its authority is impugned against Stapleton.


In the Bibliotheca Patrum, Tome V, Edition 3, under the name of Hermas, the disciple of Paul, of whom mention is made in Romans 16:14, there is to be read three books, which by the Holy Fathers are inscribed with, and everywhere cited under, the name Shepherd or Pastoral, and by Jerome, Prologo Galeato, are placed among the Ecclesiastical books, together with Judith and Tobit; unless Jerome there understood by Shepherd the third book of the Maccabees, as the Most Illustrious Junius conjectures. The first book is inscribed Church; and it sets forth visions given to the Author. The second, Shepherd; and it contains commandments for living, dictated to him by a certain venerable Figure, in appearance a Man, but wearing a Shepherd’s habit. The third is a book of Similitudes, through which it instructs. But whether that book, which the ancients called The Shepherd, and which they held in such high esteem, that they wanted it also to be read publicly in the Churches, and cited it proudly, is the same with those books, is doubted by some. But, that the second at least, which specifically is inscribed The Shepherd, is the same as that ancient Shepherd of Hermas, the citations of the ancients, which in that second book today are found in almost the same words, demonstrate. But whatever the case may be concerning that, that those three books, which go under the name of that Hermas and are extant today, were not a genuine writing of that pious and Christian Hermas, the disciple of Saint Paul, but the offspring of some other, and Apocryphal in any event, is not able to be doubted. The Writing of the Shepherd is judged by every Council of the Churches, even yours, among the Apocryphal, false, and forged writings, are the words of Tertullian the Montanist, thus addressing the Orthodox, Libero de Pudicitia, with Baronius also citing him, 159 AD, note 5. Galasius also, in the passage cited above, and the Expurgatory Indices, the Spanish, page 149, and also the Roman, page 171, relegated it to the Apocryphal writings. It does not breathe the Pauline spirit, although he professes himself to be a disciple of Paul. In the sixth chapter or commandment, he assigns a twofold character to every man, according the the opinion of the Gentiles, not of Paul or the Christians. In the eleventh vision of the first book, he makes an old woman a Sibyll, revealing many things to him. Therefore, the ancient appear imprudently to have held this book in such high esteem: and imprudently did Stapleton, Relectione Principiorum, Doctrine I, Controversy V, question 2, article 4, write concerning it in this manner: If the present Church should return the book of the Shepherd into the Canon of Sacred Scripture, no reason opposes, that we ought not admit it as Canonical, just like the Epistle of James. That is, if it should please the Pope, a book is able to be made Canonical at any time, even one, with the Roman Expurgatory Index as Judge, filled with heresies and fables.

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