Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Shepherd of Hermas--the 12 Mandates

Continuing to read in "The Story of Christian Spirituality," I dipped in The Shepherd of Hermas, which came close to being included in the New Testament. It consists of revelations, rules and parables--always a favorite for Christians of all eras. The book was written in Rome by a former slave who had no particular office in the early church. Hermas receives 5 visions while walking and then recorded his experiences; 12 mandates; and 10 parables. I have a translation in my Goodspeed "The Apostalic Fathers, an American Translation" (Harper, 1950), which I haven't found on the internet, but this one by Crombie from the mid 1800s sounds pretty good--doesn't seem to have the thees, thous and -eth (s) endings for verbs.

1) believe that God is one, that He has made all things and contains all things and is Himself alone uncontained.

2) simplicity keeps one from evil-speaking and encourages one to live according to God

3) love truth and by doing so one receives a spirit free from lies; abstain from lying and one lives with God

4) purity; healing for the one who sins; the baptized need to live sinless lives; no second repentence

5) long-suffering and prudent; power over all evil deeds; the Devil dwells in ill-temper. Keeping this command gives strength to keep the others

6) believe only the righteous and not the unrighteous angels

7) fear of the Lord is the means for keeping His commandments; do not fear the Devil

8) temperance and self-control--list of things to avoid: "theft, lying, robbery, false witness, covetousness, lust, deceit, vainglory, ostentation, and everything like them"; things one doesn't need to avoid: "faith, fear of the Lord, love, harmony, upright speech, truthfulness, endurance"--these bring blessings, and these will follow, waiting on widows, looking after orphas and needy people, delivering the slaves of God from distress, being hospitable, nonresistance to anyone, being quiet, being more needy than all men, revering the aged, practicing uprightness, observing brotherhood, putting up with insolence, being patient, not holding a grudge, encourageing the weary in heart, not casting out those who have stumbled from the faith, but converting and encouraging them, not oppressing debtors and those in need."

9) purity of heart--doubt is the worst and causes double-mindedness

10) grief is the sister of double-mindedness and corrupts man more than other evils; to combat grief, put on joyfulness, which always is acceptable to God; the joyful man does good deeds, has good thoughts and despises grief

11) don't listen to false prophets who are impudent and shameless and lead a life of luxury--if he accepts money, he's false; true prophet is meek, gentle and lowly minded

12) put away every evil desire--carnal desires are the worst; whoever believes these commandments can be kept will be able to keep them, and without keeping them there is no salvation.

Help with summary from Masterpieces of Christian Literature in Summary Form, edited by Frank Magill (Harper & Row, 1963)

Other patristic literature

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these! Happy New Year, Norma. :o)