The Shepherd of Hermas is an account of visions by Hermas of Rome from Christ in the form of a Shepherd. It was a widespread early writing, since the Codex Sinaiticus included it and Clement of Alexandria used it. Origen believed it was written during Clement’s papacy (88-99 AD), and the document (in section 8:3) says to have Clement send it abroad. Paul sent greetings to a Christian Hermas in Rome (Rom 16:14). The Muratorian Fragment, however, says: “But Hermas wrote The Shepherd very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome [140-155 AD]. And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after their time.” The Catholic Encylopedia suggests: “Perhaps the most probable view is that the historical data in the book are fictitious; the author was really the brother of Pope Pius, and wrote during his brother’s pontificate… The writer wished to be thought to belong to the preceding generation — hence the name of Clement, the most famous of earlier popes, instead of the name Pius.” (newadvent.org/cathen/07268b.htm)
The document is here: earlychristianwritings.com/text/shepherd.html
(Question 1) Do you believe that Hermas deliberately thought up his document as part of a literary genre of apocalyptic revelatory visions in expectation of nearing End Times (eg. expecting the Second Coming to occur in the 2nd c. AD)? Or was he simply narrating actual divine supernatural visions, wherein actual divine beings came to him?
The Unam Sanctam Catholicam website says: “Though the book presents its teaching in the form of a vision, it is believed the vision is literary and not meant to be a record of an actual apparition, although there is no harm in taking the latter view.” (unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/79-history/356-shepherd-of-hermas.html)
(Question 2) What do you think about the Shepherd of Hermas’ passages about wavering in prayer and about doubts? The Shepherd says:
“if thou waver in thy heart, thou shalt surely receive none of thy petitions. For they that waver towards God, these are the doubtful-minded, and they never obtain any of their petitions. But they that are complete in the faith make all their petitions trusting in the Lord, and they receive, because they ask without wavering, nothing doubting”.
What about the time when the petitioner in the gospel asked Jesus for healing while recognizing his own doubt, saying “I believe, help my unbelief”(Mk 9:24)?
The Shepherd also says: “doubtful-mindedness is an earthly spirit from the devil, and hath no power.”
Isn’t having doubt an important part of discernment, like whether something is from God or not?