Evangelical Textual Criticism

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shepherd of Hermas Notes

The Shepherd of Hermas was very popular and highly regarded in some circles in the early period.
a) it is present in Codex Sinaiticus (the British Library portion, after the Epistle of Barnabas, includes the Shepherd of Hermas up to Mandate iv.3.6; among the 'New Finds' at St Catherine’s Monastery there are Parables 6, 8.1–2; 9.xiv–xvi, xviii; Visions 1–5; Commands 1–4)
b) it was generally popular (e.g. Irenaeus quoted from it in Adv. Haer. II.xxx.9 and even designated it as "Scripture" in IV.xx.2)
c) Hermas is extant in 21 papyri (acc LDAB; Sept 2008), including ten from Oxyrhynchus, four of which were clearly substantial judging by the surviving pagination: P. Oxy 404 (III/IV); P. Oxy 1172 & 3526 (IV; page 71); P. Oxy 1599 (IV; page 73); P. Oxy 1783 (IV); P. Oxy 1828 (III); P. Oxy 3527 (III; page 83); P. Oxy 3528 (II/III; page 119); P. Oxy 4705 (III); P. Oxy 4706 (II); P. Oxy 4707 (III).
Of the others some early and substantial manuscripts include: P. Iand. I.4 (II/III); P. Mich 2.2 130 (III); P. Mich 2.2 129 (III; 31 folios); P. Berlin 5513 (III/IV); P. Bodmer 38 (IV/V; 22 folios).

In terms of manuscript attestation and patristic appreciation the evidence looks better than large parts of the New Testament.


  1. And a question I'd like to see entertained is: Is this attestation of Hermas to be expected?

  2. It would be nice also to have a follow up blogpost from Martin Heide, with a brief account of his research on the textual transmission of Hermas.

  3. Dear Tommy & Peter,
    my paper entitled "Labilität und Festigkeit des überlieferten Textes des Neuen Testaments und des Pastor Hermae,
    demonstriert an wichtigen Textzeugen" will appear in "Sacra Scripta" 1/2009. Meanwhile I could gather some additional insights from J.Royse's opus magnum, from D.C.Parkers Introduction, and from D.Jongkind's study. In brief: you will find that the average number of errors per thousand words is in the papyri of the Shepherd nearly double as high as in the New Testament papyri.

  4. Martin:

    Does this suggest that scribes were making a distinction between Scripture (later to become canonical books) and authoritative books (to be read but not on level of Scripture)? I wonder if the same phenomenon is the same in Barnabas.

    (By the way, can someone get rid of that WORD VERIFICATION procedure. I doubt you will have to worry about spammers or whomever.)

  5. It's so boring, though! I read through it in Greek last summer and virtually died. Jolly glad it didn't get into the canon.


  6. Yet evidently a number of people found it interesting in the early centuries.

    However, I think that any assessment of its popularity needs to take into account the fact that it was not widely translated.

  7. Hi,

    There is a fingerfehler of sorts here.

    "among the 'New Finds' at St Catherine’s Monastery there are Parables 6, 8.1–2; 9.xiv–xvi, xviii; Visions 1–5; Commands 1–4)"

    That list is not the New Finds, I think it is the total list, British Library and New Finds. I know tihs is an old post, but I just want to make sure it is spot-on for posterity.