Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BETS 8:3 (Summer 1965) p. 117
The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation and Commentary. Vol. 1: An Introduction. By Robert M. Grant. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1964. Pp. xi plus 189 and bibliography. $4.00. Reviewed by John Warwick Montgomery, Professor and Chairman, Division of Church History and History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.
English readers are here introduced to a projected six-volume translation of the Apostolic Fathers, of which Vol. 2 will contain First and Second Clement (ed. Grant and H. H. Graham of Virginia Theological Seminary), Vol. 3, the Didache and Barnabas (ed. R. A. Kraft of Manchester), Vol. 4, Ignatius of Antioch (ed. Grant), Vol. 5, Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Poly-carp, and the Fragment of Papias (ed. W. R. Schoedel of Brown), and Vol. 6, Hermas (ed. G. F. Snyder of Bethany Biblical Seminary).
Vol. 1, by the general editor of the series and my former colleague on the University of Chicago Divinity School faculty, Robert M. Grant, might appear to be an objective background essay introducing the patristic texts which subsequent volumes will supply in translation. Unhappily, however, this is far from the case. Grant’s Introduction is a piece of special pleading for a particular approach to the Fathers in relation to the New Testament. The Reformers’ question, “Is true Christianity to be found in an ongoing, continuous tradition or in a book [the Bible] which provides a permanent norm?” is posed at the outset (p. 2), and Grant, opting for the former, re-soundly raps the Reformers for holding to the latter. For him, no qualitative line can be drawn between the canonical New Testament and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Thus Grant adds to the mass of current literature which opposes Sola Scriptura by subsuming it under the general rubric of Tradition—a position whose ecumenical overtones are not difficult to see. Doubtless we should not be surprised at Grant’s theological stance when we recall that Frederick W. Danker, himself hardly a thoroughgoing conservative, wrote of Grant’s A Historical Introduction to the New Testament (1964): “This introduction to the New Testament might well be titled ‘An Agnostic’s Credo,’ for one of its primary objectives is to demonstrate that there is much that we do not know about the historical circumstances surrounding the contents and the publication of the New Testament documents” (Christian Century, May 20, 1964).
Though there are values in Grant’s patristic introduction (e.g., a useful history of the interpretations of the Apostolic Fathers across the centuries, with bibliographical data on the discoveries of their various writings), the discriminating reader owes it to himself to study this book in the light of suc...
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