The Shepherd of Hermas.

Counted among the apostolic fathers.

Attributed author(s).

Text(s) available.
None on site.
Skeptik (Greek only).

Shepherd of Hermas, Visions 1-2 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Visions 3-5 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Mandates 1-12 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Parables 1-6 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Parables 7-8 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Parable 9.1-12 (Greek only).
Shepherd of Hermas, Parables 9.13-33; 10 (Greek only).
Early Christian Writings: Shepherd of Hermas (English only).

Useful links.
Shepherd of Hermas at Early Christian Writings.
Shepherd of Hermas in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The Shepherd, a text reckoned among the apostolic fathers, was written by a Christian named Hermas, probably in Italy. For about three centuries it was probably the most popular Christian text outside those eventually canonized in the New Testament.

By far the longest work among the apostolic fathers, it is divided into three categories: Visions, Mandates, and Parables (or Similitudes). It therefore differs in its reference system from the rest of the texts of the apostolic fathers, which follow the format of chapter and verse like the New Testament books. The Shepherd is traditionally divided into sections (including one of the three categories), chapters, and verses. There is, however, a modern alternative to this more archaic, yet more familiar, textual division system. The new system renumbers the chapters to continue right across the old section divisions, thus ignoring them completely and resulting in a system that mirrors that of the rest of the apostolic fathers. The verses within each chapter remain the same. These two systems may be tabulated as follows:

Section. Chapter(s).
Vision 1. 1-4.
2. 5-8.
3. 9-21.
4. 22-24.
5. 25.
Mandate 1. 26.
2. 27.
3. 28.
4. 29-32.
5. 33-34.
6. 35-36.
7. 37.
8. 38.
9. 39.
10. 40-42.
11. 43.
12. 44-49.
Parable 1. 50.
2. 51.
3. 52.
4. 53.
5. 54-60.
6. 61-65.
7. 66.
8. 67-77.
9. 78-110.
10. 111-114.

The Shepherd bears the distinction of being the only known ancient text to quote from the lost book of Eldad and Modad.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.20.2 (Greek from Eusebius, History of the Church 5.8.7b, and the Shepherd itself, Mandate 1.1.1):

Bene igitur pronuntiavit scriptura quae dicit: Primo omnium crede quoniam unus est deus, qui omnia contituit et consummavit, et fecit ex eo quod non erat, ut essent omnia.

Καλως ουν η γραφη η λεγουσα· Πρωτον παντων πιστευσον οτι εις εστιν ο θεος ο τα παντα κτισας και καταρτισας,* και ποιησας εκ του μη οντος εις το ειναι τα παντα.

* Eusebius proceeds only thus far.

Well, then, did the scripture pronounce which says: First of all believe that there is one God, who has constituted and consummated all things, and made all things to be from that which was not.

Eusebius, History of the Church 5.8.7b:

Ου μονον δε οιδεν αλλα και αποδεχεται την του ποιμενος γραφην, λεγων· Καλως ουν η γραφη η λεγουσα· Πρωτον παντων πιστευσον οτι εις εστιν ο θεος ο τα παντα κτισας και καταρτισας, και τα εξης.

And [Irenaeus] not only knows but also receives the Shepherd, writing as follows: Well did the scripture speak, saying: First of all believe that God is one, who has created and completed all things, and the rest.

Muratorian canon, lines 73-77:

Pastorem vero nuperrime temporibus nostris in urbe Roma Hermas conscripsit, sedente cathedra urbis Romae ecclesiae Pio ep{i}s{copo} frater eius.

However, Hermas composed the Shepherd recently, in our own times, in the city of Rome, while his brother Pius the bishop was sitting in the [episcopal] chair of the city of Rome.

The Liberian catalogue, century IV, on Pius I:

Sub huius episcopatu frater eius Ermes librum scripsit in quo mandatum continetur quod ei praecepit angelus, cum venit ad illum in habitu pastoris.

Under his episcopate his brother Hermes wrote a book in which is contained a mandate which an angel commanded him, when he had come to him in the garb of a shepherd.

The Book of Popes (Latin liber pontificalis), Felician catalogue, century VI, on Pius:

Pius, natione Italus ex patre Rufino, frater Pastoris, de civitate Aquileia, sedit ann{os} XVIII, mens{es} IIII, dies III. fuit temporibus Antonii Pii a consulatu Clari et Severi. sub huius episcopatu frater ipsius* Hermis librum scripsit in quo mandatum continetur quod praecepit angelus domini, cum venit ad eum in habitu pastoris et praecipit ei ut sanctum paschae die dominica celebraretur.

* The Cononian catalogue of this work, century VII, lacks the words frater ipsius.

Pius, an Italian from his father Rufinus by birth, the brother of Pastor, from the city of Aquileia, sat [as pope] for eighteen years, four months, and three days. This was in the times of Antonius Pius from the consulship of Clarus and Severus. Under his episcopate his brother Hermes wrote a book in which is contained a mandate which an angel of the Lord commanded, when he had come to him in the garb of a shepherd and commanded him that the holy Passover be celebrated on the day of the Lord.

Our extant text of the Shepherd, of course, actually has nothing to say about the Quartodeciman controversy.

Succession of popes at Rome: Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.3, writing of Clement of Rome (Eusebius, History of the Church 5.6.4); Hegesippus according to Eusebius, History of the Church 4.22.3.

Hermas and Pastor are conflated in a poem attributed to Tertullian against Marcion (listed among the spurious works at the Tertullian Project) as follows:

Post hunc deinde Pius, Hermas cui germine frater angelicus pastor, quia tradita verba locutus.

Then after him Pius, whose biological brother was Hermas, the angelic shepherd, because he spoke the words delivered to him.


According to Bart Ehrman (on pages 169-172 of volume 2 of the Loeb edition of the apostolic fathers) and Michael Holmes (on pages 191-193 of The Apostolic Fathers) the following manuscripts are extant for the Shepherd of Hermas:

Athous (A), century XV, Greek (contains chapters 1.1-107.2).
Bodmer papyrus 38 (B), century IV or V, Greek (contains chapters 1-21).
Paris 1143 patristic florilegium (F), century XIII, Greek fragments containing 52.8-10; 56.4-9; 66.4-5; 100.3-5; and 110.1-3, published by E. Lappa-Zizicas in 1965.
Michigan papyrus 129 (M), century III, Greek (contains 51.8-82.1).
Sinaiticus (S), century IV, Greek (contains 1.1-31.6).
Amherst papyrus II 190, century V or VI, Greek, in seven fragments (contains 2.2-3.1; 20.3 and 21.3; 44.1, 3; 27.1-2, 4-5; 89.2-3, 5; 94.1, 3-4; 107.1-2, 3-4).
Berlin papyrus 5104, century V, Greek (contains 32.4-33.2; 32.3-4).
Berlin papyrus 5513, century III, Greek (contains 51.7-10; 53.2-5).
Berlin papyrus 6789, century VI, Greek (contains 67.1-12).
Berlin papyrus 13272, century IV, Greek (contains 54.5-55.2; 55.4-6).
Hamburg papyrus 24, century IV or V, Greek (contains 53.6-54.5).
Michigan papyrus 130, century II, Greek (contains 27.6-28.1).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 5, century III or IV, Greek (contains 43.9-10).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 404, century III or IV, Greek (contains 113.2-5; 114.3-4).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 1172, century IV, Greek (contains 51.4-10).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 1599, century IV, Greek (contains 72.4-74.3).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 1873, century IV, Greek (contains 39.2-3, 4-5).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 1828, century III, Greek (contains 65.3, 5).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 3526, century IV, Greek (contains 34.3-35.2).
Oxyrhynchus papyrus 3527, century III, Greek (contains 70.1-71.2).
Latin Vulgate version (L1), including Sangallensis 151, century X; Augiensis 183, century IX; Oxoniensis Bodleianus L. M. 488, century XII; and a reconstructed archetype (Z) of about ten extant manuscripts. This version forms the base text for 107.3-114.5, not extant in Greek.
Latin Palatine version (L2) in two manuscripts of century XV.
Ethiopic version (E).
Coptic Akhmimic version (C1), century IV.
Coptic Sahidic version (C2), century V.
Middle Persion version.
Georgian version, from a lost Arabic version.