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History in the Bible

Mar 6, 2022

My second ep about the apostolic fathers, those who followed the disciples. Here I discuss the anonymous authors of the epistle of Barnabas, the gospel of Peter, and the Shepherd of Hermas. All of them were candidates for inclusion in the New Testament. We should be grateful that the virulent anti-Jewishness of the epistle of Barnabas never made it. The gospel of Peter was a best-seller, more popular than the gospel of Mark. It gives an account of the actual resurrection, which none of our canonical gospels do. And what a whacky account it is! The Shepherd was often referred to by the fathers, and is to this day popular with Christians. The Shepherd brims with homely homilies and sermons. The final father is the famously long-lived Bishop Polycarp. It is said that he was mentored by the disciple John, and corresponded with Ignatius. He may have known the great Christian figures of the mid-second century: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Marcion, and Montanus. If that is so, Polycarp was the man who joined the disciples to the fathers of the imperial church.