About a week or so ago I talked about translating the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library. Some people have asked me to say more about the Apostolic Fathers. It may be useful to devote a couple of posts to this collection: when were these authors first gathered together? Who decides which books should be included in the corpus? On what grounds? Etc. For much of this I draw from the Introduction in my edition.
The term “apostolic father” first occurs in the Hogedos of Anastasius, the seventh-century anti-monophysite abbot of St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai, who spoke of “the apostolic father Dionysius the Areopagite.” Somewhat ironically, the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, allegedly the convert of the apostle Paul (Acts 17:34), have never been included in modern collections of the Apostolic Fathers: since the sixteenth century they have been recognized as forgeries of later times (possibly the early sixth century). (They are still fascinating reading: but they are not writings by someone from the generation after the apostles.) In any event, neither Anastasius nor any other author prior to the seventeenth century referred to an entire corpus of writings (or authors) as the “Apostolic Fathers.”
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