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The Apostolic Fathers and Paul

Todd D. Still and David E. Wilhite, eds., The Apostolic Fathers and Paul, Pauline and Patristic Scholars in Debate (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 256 pages, ISBN 9780567672308.

Todd Still and David Wilhite are editing a series of books on Paul’s reception among the church fathers. The point of the series appears to be that of allowing expertise in Paul and expertise in the patristic writings to mingle and sharpen each other in a new appreciation of Paul’s early reception. The work under review is the second volume to appear in the series.

A proper education in the New Testament usually includes a foray into the Apostolic Fathers (viz. 1 & 2 Clement, Epistle of Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, the epistles of Ignatius, the Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, and the Epistle to Diognetus), so working with the latter probably did not require any retooling on the part of the NT scholars involved in this project. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to discern which contributors are primarily NT scholars and which patristic scholars merely on the basis of their writings in this volume. (This is less true of the first volume in the series, which is about Tertullian.)

Todd D. Still, The William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University

David E. Wilhite, Professor of Christian Theology at George W. Truett Seminary

The book includes eleven chapters on Paul’s reception among the Apostolic Fathers, along with an Introduction by Wilhite and an Afterword by Andrew Gregory. The chapters include discussions of all the Apostolic Fathers, including those that make no overt uses of Paul. In addition to the editors and Gregory, contributors include L. Stephanie Cobb, David J. Downs, David L. Eastman, Paul Foster, Paul Hartog, Clayton N. Jefford, Harry O. Meier, James Carleton Paget, and Clare K. Rothschild. A great deal is packed into these chapters, and the discussion benefits throughout from recent scholarship’s improved understanding of the more sophisticated ways in which early exegetes (including the NT authors) used Scripture. While this volume cannot take the place of an introduction to the Apostolic Fathers, it provides a good introduction to the transition from the apostolic to the subapostolic periods. Included in that is a sharpened understanding of how the Pauline corpus traveled as a unit, and how the New Testament came to be viewed as Scripture.

Reviewed by John C. Poirier


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Category: In Depth, Summer 2017

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), is an independent scholar who has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is the author of The Invention of the Inspired Text: Philological Windows on the Theopneustia of Scripture (2021).

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