Scott Harrower on the Apostolic Fathers

On January 26, 2021, Scott Harrower, Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College, joined our Ad Fontes 2021 Patristics Reading Group to discuss the apostolic fathers. This lecture provided a bridge from the New Testament to the writings of Irenaeus, whose works we have been reading throughout the month. On February 4 at 7 PM EST, Brian Shelton will be joining us to discuss Irenaeus of Lyons and his major works: Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching and Against Heresies.

Dr. Harrower explains that the apostolic fathers are a group of eleven documents written around the same time as the New Testament or immediately after. The corpus includes (1) 1 Clement, (2) 2 Clement (sometimes called “An Ancient Christian Homily”), (3) the Didache (formally titled “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”), (4) the Epistle of Barnabas, (5) the seven letters of Ignatius, (6) Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, (7) the Martyrdom of Polycarp, (8) the Shepherd of Hermas, (9) the Epistle to Diognetus, (10) the fragments of Papias, (11) the fragments of the Apology of Quadratus.

For a written introduction to the apostolic fathers, Dr. Harrower recommended Everett Ferguson’s Church History Vol. 1, pp. 50-62.

For an accessible translation of the apostolic fathers, he recommended Rick Brannan’s The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation (Lexham Classics)This printed work includes an incredibly clear and concise introduction to the apostolic fathers and each book in the corpus. This material is taken from Brannan’s article “Apostolic Fathers” in the Lexham Bible Dictionary, which is free through Logos (no paid package needed).

For a more advanced study of the apostolic fathers, Dr. Scott Harrower is the co-editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the Apostolic Fathers.

Please consider purchasing Dr. Harrower’s other books, including God of All Comfort: A Trinitarian Response to the Horrors of This World and Trinity Without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology (co-authored with Michael F. Bird). Dr. Harrower has graciously offered to return to speak to us about one of these books. Stay tuned for more information.

Upcoming speakers for our Ad Fontes reading group include:

  • Brian Shelton, “Irenaeus of Lyons” — February 4 at 7 PM EST
  • Chris Bounds, “Tertullian” — February 26 at 2 PM EST
  • Tom McCall, “The Cappadocian Fathers” — TBA
  • Fred Sanders, “Hilary of Poitiers” — TBA

More information will be shared on our social media channels. Those who are registered for our reading group will also receive an email.

Scott Harrower
Scott is a Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College and an ordained Anglican minister. His PhD is in Systematic Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.