THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS (Late 1st - Mid 2nd cent.) Question on salvific luxury (SOLVED)

The Shepherd of Hermas presents itself as Hermas of Rome’s account of his visions of Christ in the form of a shepherd. The Muratorian Fragment says that it was written “recently” under the papacy of Pius I, the brother of Hermas, in 140-155 AD. The text can be found here:
On another Forum Thread, I discussed whether the document is an account of real visions or a literary fiction. (

(Question) What kind of salvific luxury is the Shepherd talking about in Book III, Similitude VI, Chapter 5, below?:

there are also acts of luxury which save men; for many who do good indulge in luxury, being carried away by their own pleasure: this luxury, however, is beneficial to the servants of God, and gains life for such a man; but the injurious acts of luxury before enumerated bring tortures and punishment upon them; and if they continue in them and do not repent, they bring death upon themselves. (Roberts’ and Donaldson’s translation)

The author elsewhere encourages fasting, and as he mentions in the paragraph above, there is other luxuriousness that he rejects.

Is the paragraph above talking about things like taking a vacation when someone is overstressed from work?

Roberts and Donaldson’s edition has this footnote:
16 [Ps. iv. 6,7,cxix. 14, lxxxiv. 10. Dr. Doddridge’s epigram on Dum Vivimus Vivamus will be brought to mind.]

The verses that he cites in the Psalms say:

Psalm 4:6-7
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.

Psalm 119:14
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

Psalm 84:10
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

I think he is simply talking about those who enjoy doing good works–where doing good gives them pleasure–ie it is not experienced as self-denial. He’s saying its not bad to actually take pleasure in or enjoy doing good.

Here’s a similar translation which I think gets the point across a little more:

5[65]:7 But there are habits of self-indulgence like-wise which save men; for many are self-indulgent in doing good, being carried away by the pleasure it gives to themselves. This self-indulgence then is expedient for the servants of God, and bringeth life to a man of this disposition; but the harmful self-indulgences afore-mentioned bring to men torments and punishments; and if they continue in them and repent not, they bring death upon themselves."

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It sounds like there could be a translation issue, Genesis. The Greek text says:

εἰσὶν δὲ καὶ τρυφαὶ σώζουσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους· πολλοὶ γὰρ ἀγαθὸν ἐργαζόμενοι τρυφῶσι τῇ ἑαυτῶν ἡδονῇ φερόμενοι. αὕτη οὖν ἡ τρυφὴ σύμφορός ἐστι τοῖς δούλοις τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ζωὴν περιποιεῖται τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ τοιούτῳ· αἱ δὲ βλαβεραὶ τρυφαὶ αἱ προειρημέναι βασάνους καὶ τιμωρίας αὐτοῖς περιποιοῦνται· ἐὰν δὲ ἐπιμένωσι καὶ μὴ μετανοήσωσι, θάνατον ἑαυτοῖς περιποιοῦνται.

Usually, the Loeb translations are very good quality, some of the best. K.Lake’s translation in the Loeb series is put next to the Greek and says:

But there are also luxuries which bring men salvation, for many who do good luxuriate and are carried away with their own pleasure.

This goes along with what you cited.

Great job solving this question, Genesis!

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