While many Evangelicals have paid a great amount of attention to NT texts, few have considered the value of a set of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers.
The designation “Apostolic Fathers” refers to a circle of authors who are known, or are considered to have had personal relations with some of the apostles, but were not apostles themselves.
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This volume from Paul Hartog, Associate Professor at Faith Baptist Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, provides a significant contribution to our understanding of these two documents and also to our comprehension of Polycarp.It is part of an English language commentary series from Oxford Apostolic Fathers that provides significant explanation on these writings.These writers have been so influenced by the apostles that their writings are considered echoes of genuine apostolic teaching.They are the earliest Christian witnesses beyond the documents of the NT and are critical for our understanding of early Christianity.It is the most comprehensive and up to date introduction to these letters, distinguishing it from other volumes on Polycarp.
Equally extensive is the bibliography that comprises 31 pages.
An example of the depth and type of his investigation can be seen from his comment on 9.1, which concerns an exhortation to obey the word of righteousness.
This was seen in the lives of Ignatius, Zosimus, Rufus, and Paul.
When Hartog comments on the context of the exhortation, he notes that the instructions on righteousness in this epistle reach a climax within the dialogue regarding endurance and martyrdom.
He then refers to righteousness from earlier in the which is used to emphasize Paul himself, who stands at the end of the passage as a true hero.
This volume also provides a fresh English translation of these two documents. Several of these comments are lengthy, filling several full pages.