The Shepherd of Hermas: A New Translation and Commentary

By Michael Svigel and Caroline P. Buie

An essential volume for understanding the ancient Shepherd of Hermas text.

ISBN: 9780227180198


A notoriously puzzling text, the Shepherd of Hermas has been as challenging to scholars as it was revered in the patristic period. This volume offers a new lucid translation, recreating the original colloquial tone of the work to help dispel some of the mystery and misunderstanding surrounding this work. With introductory essays exploring authorship, genre, and theological and practical content, this volume draws out the powerful images and practical principles which remain relevant for readers.

Accompanied by a commentary that unpacks the meanings of this ancient text, this volume allows the Shepherd of Hermas’ unique voice to be illuminated and understood.

Additional information


Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Michael J. Svigel is Chair and Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Caroline P. Buie is Director of Educational Technology and Adjunct Professor in Theological Studies and Church History at Criswell College, Dallas.


Series Preface
Foreword by Carolyn Osiek
List of Abbreviations
List of Tables

Part I: Introductory Articles
1. Introduction to the Shepherd of Hermas
2. The Use of Jewish and Christian Writings in the Shepherd of
3. The Theology of the Shepherd of Hermas

Part II: Translation and Commentary
Note on the Translation and Commentary

The Visions
Vision 1: Exposure of Hidden Sin
Vision 2: One Year Later on the Road to Cumae
Excursus 1: Eschatology of Vision 2: The Lady’s Little Book
Vision 3: A Lofty Vision of the Church
Excursus 2: Eschatology of Vision 3: Tossed Aside at the Tower
Vision 4: A Test for Hermas
Excursus 3: Eschatology of Vision 4: Beating the Beast
Vision 5: The Shepherd Arrives
Transition from the Visions to the Mandates
Rhetorical Analysis of Vision 5

The Mandates
Introduction to the Mandates
Structure of the Mandates
Mandate 1: Faith in the Creator God
Mandate 2: Innocence and Sincerity
Mandate 3: Truthfulness
Mandate 4: Purity in Marriage and Faith
On Marital Relations and Repentance
Post-Baptismal Sin in Mandate 4
The Apostolic Fathers on Sin and Repentance

Mandate 5: Dueling Dispositions and the Virtue of Patience
Mandate 6: Two Paths and Dueling Angels
Mandate 7: Reminder to Fear the Lord
Mandate 8: The Necessity of Self-Control
Mandate 9: Harmful Effects of Double-Mindedness
Mandate 10: Grief, the Sister of Double-Mindedness
Mandate 11: Discernment of Prophets
Excursus 4: Was Hermas a Prophet?
Mandate 12: Good and Evil Desires
Conclusion to the Mandates: Basic Catechesis

The Similitudes
Similitude 1: Living between Two Cities
Similitude 2: The Elm and the Vine
Similitudes 3 & 4: Winter Trees and Summer Trees
Similitude 5: Proper Fasting and the Parable of the Servant
The Structure of Similitude 5
History of Scholarship on Similitude 5
Excursus 5: Trinitarianism in Shepherd of Hermas
Similitude 5.1: An Incomplete Fast
Similitude 5.2: The Main Parable
Similitude 5.3: First Perspective of the Main Parable
Similitude 5.4–5: A Pause to Reflect
Similitude 5.6: A Second Perspective on the Parable
Similitude 5.7: Benefits and Application of the Parable

Similitudes 6 & 7: Suffering and Luxury
Similitude 8: An Angel and a Tree
Similitude 9: A New Vision of the Tower
Similitude 10: Epilogue
Conclusion to the Similitudes
Conclusion to the Shepherd of Hermas

Index of Selected Topics and Themes
Index of Modern Authors
Ancient Document Index

Endorsements and Reviews

Michael Svigel and Caroline Buie bring fresh perspective to the enigmatic Shepherd of Hermas. Their review of issues is thorough and clear; their translation is alive and captivating; their illustrations are informative and precise; their conclusions are thoughtful and considered. I welcome this commentary and highly recommend it to students new to the field and scholars of patristic literature alike!
Clayton N. Jefford, Professor of Scripture, Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology

Michael Svigel and Caroline Buie prove once again that when given the respect they deserve through close reading, early Christian writings still deliver rich rewards. With a sensitive and contemporary translation paired with commentary based in exegetical, synthetical, and historical analysis, Svigel and Buie provide a theologically helpful study guide for the Shepherd of Hermas.
D. Jeffrey Bingham, Professor of Historical Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Shepherd of Hermas is a long and sometimes winding road. Michael Svigel and Caroline Buie guide us along this road with readable translation and expert commentary. Their excurses explore the intricacies of the more complicated passages and relationships of the work. If you are working with the Shepherd of Hermas, Svigel and Buie deserve to be on your list of works to consult.
Rick Brannan, Editor of The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation