The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament

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"Jefford serves as a salutary guide through a rich body of Christian writing that has long deserved a wider readership. Specialists and non-specialists alike will learn from Jefford's clear and engaging study."--Elizabeth A. Castelli, Barnard College, Columbia University
The apostolic fathers were authors of nonbiblical church writings of the first and early second centuries. These works are important because their authors, Clement I, Hermas, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, and the author of the Epistle of Barnabas, were contemporaries of the biblical writers. Expressing pastoral concern, their writings are similar in style to the New Testament. Some of their writings, in fact, were venerated as Scripture before the official canon was decided.

The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament provides a comparison of the apostolic fathers and the New Testament that is at once comprehensive and accessible. What genres (letters, miracle stories, etc.) appear in what ways? What apostolic fathers seem to reflect which passages in the New Testament? What themes appear in both bodies of literature? How did the apostolic fathers adopt and adapt images from the New Testament? How do the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers contribute to our understanding of how early Christians understood themselves in relation to the mother faith of Judaism?

Any attempt to compare the Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament faces the difficulty that each set of writings represents diverse authors and historical contexts within the early church. As a result, scholars who work in the field have typically restricted their research to individual authors and writings. Thus, it has been difficult to come to any general observations about the larger corpus. After carefully examining images, themes, and concepts found in the New Testament and the apostolic fathers, Jefford posits some general observations and insights about the beliefs of the early church.


Endorsements

"The anthology of second-century Christian writings that has come to travel under the collective name, the Apostolic Fathers, has long been a source of great interest to students of the New Testament and Christian origins. Comprised of a wide array of genres--from apocalypse to pastoral letters, from martyrology to church manual and theological polemic--the Apostolic Fathers flesh out many of the contours of the Christian movement in a critical period of social expansion and theological debate. Clayton Jefford's The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament provides a literary, historical, and theological map of this complex terrain, helping readers to navigate the topography of continuities and discontinuities of the second-century Christian engagement with scripture's complex legacy as they lived it in the emergent Christian community. Focusing particularly on questions of ethics and identity, Jefford serves as a salutary guide through a rich body of Christian writing that has long deserved a wider readership. Specialists and non-specialists alike will learn from Jefford's clear and engaging study of the theological and social labor performed by this eclectic collection of early Christian writing."--Elizabeth A. Castelli, associate professor of religion, Barnard College, Columbia University

"Following Jefford's earlier studies of the Apostolic Fathers, this extensive and engaging study of the various literary, religious, and ethical themes shared between the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers marks Jefford's emergence as a leading authority in the study of the Apostolic Fathers and the emergence of the Christian Church."--Charles A. Bobertz, professor of New Testament and early Christianity, School of Theology, St. John's University


The Author

  1. Clayton N. Jefford

    Clayton N. Jefford

    Clayton N. Jefford (PhD, Claremont Graduate School) is professor of scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Saint Meinrad, Indiana. He is the author of several books, including The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament and The...

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Reviews

"This text would be very helpful to seminary students or to those with (very!) little knowledge of its general topic--the relation of the New Testament to those writings classed as the Apostolic Fathers. Jefford has approached his topic and organized this book with the concerns of such readers in mind. Each chapter ends with some suggested books in English which take up the general topic in more detail. . . . His focus is . . . to provide a very gentle introduction while impressing the importance and relevance on students entirely new to the topic."--Toronto Journal of Theology