Reception of Shephard of Hermas

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rgprice
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Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by rgprice » Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:41 am

Clearly the Shephard of Hermas is a fictional allegory, but how was it understood by second and third century Christians? Was it taken as an allegory or did they interpret it literally?

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MrMacSon
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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:36 pm

Jörg Rüpke discusses Shepherd of Hermas in Pantheon: a New History of Roman [Era] Religion, 2018

After briefly noting (in chapter VII §4, 'Places where Religion was Experienced') -

Hermas, reports having important visions not only on lonely roads or at workplaces remote from the city, but also in his own bedroom [78: Shepherd 8.1, 9.1; on the text, Peterson 1959, Hellholm 1980, Rüpke 2005b, 2015b]

- Rüpke wrote a fuller description (in X §4. 'Prophetesses and Visionaries'), starting by calling Shepherd of Hermas an

.
"apocalyptic text “revelatory” of the occult, far less radical [than oracular texts, “Sybilline books,” and apocalypses such as 4 Ezra, Enoch, and the Apocalypse of St. John, all of them with a clearly anti-Roman bent, just as their predecessors had had an anti-Hellenistic bent. Their authors were likely members of the former elite, who no longer shared in governing and now therefore branded the regime with the stigma of foreign rule. In order to be rid of unwanted but authoritative texts such as these, Augustus and Tiberius examined and burned thousands of them. But a substantial number were back in circulation by the time of the Great Fire of Rome in 64]

"but [Hermas was] all the more popular, [making] its advent in Rome shortly before the middle of the second century. It was a substantial text, released in several stages (probably because of continuing demand), and the author—if, that is, we are to believe the first-person narrator (and he set store by being believed)—was the Hermas briefly mentioned above (Ch. 8.4).

"This Hermas faced the problem shared by every “seer”: how to make his message credible as authentic revelation. The problem was all the more acute for an author who was not backed by an institution, such as a shrine of Asclepius or an oracle. And, if his text was destined merely to be read, he even had to forgo the impact of his own persuasive presence as a speaker. It was for this reason that the eponymous John of the Apocalypse, in what was a slightly older text, identified with a probably real name, also supported his claimed authority on prophetic tradition and astrology [57]. Hermas, on the other hand, began on a more aggressively autobiographical note, even down to his frailties and details of his living and working environment [58]. He then developed the idea of apocalypse stage by stage on the basis of contemporary reflections concerning the possibility of divination by visions [59].

"This author allows us a rare insight into the problems of visionary communication in the presence of others [60: on the following see Gordon, 2013b]. In the spirit of contemporary philosophical tracts, Hermas’s text is evidently targeted at individual listeners and readers, to whom he offers the possibility of self-development. It was to this end that he initially sought entry to institutional settings, so as to have his text read out as a heavenly missive within a circle of presbyteroi and episkopoi [61: Shepherd 8.3]. He perhaps used another circle to admonish one Maximus, known to his audience [62: Shepherd 7.4; see Leutzsch 1989, 70–71]. A woman called Grapte was to read the text out to widows and orphans, and a Clement to disseminate it in letter form [63: Shepherd 8.3].

"That recipients urged the author on to ever new visions, copied his work, and quickly translated it into Latin and the languages of Syria and Egypt, demonstrates the success of this reading therapy aimed at individual transformation within the “congregation” (ekklesia), and at both spiritual and behavioral change (metanoia). Only occasionally does the author allow the reader to see that he is thinking of followers of Christ, who know what a Sybil is, but perceive her as something other.

"Other than whom? Hermas assumed that his first hearers and readers were familiar with Roman institutions, such as the military, and with Italic economy and agriculture. Critical, however, was their being “citizens” [64]. As was typical for citizens of an empire, Hermas’s audience already had what amounted to double citizenship. They were at the very least inhabitants of Rome, and Hermas was now trying to awaken them to a further relationship with a heavenly city, an alternative to the Jerusalem that was definitively lost. Contemporary texts from the eastern Mediterranean urged their readers to foresee Rome’s apocalyptic destruction, which they themselves as individuals might bring about by adopting a new lifestyle [65: Apocalypse 17–18; 4 Esra 11–12; Sibylline Oracles 5.408–27; Jones 2011].

"As opposed to the fantasies he spun for his audiences in distant provinces, Hermas had also to address an audience that lived in this very Rome, and beheld with wonder an infrastructure recast in flawless marble by the Flavians [66]. So, in the images he uses, he relies not on that other city, but on an architectural feature that was universally conceivable in perfect or (at least) perfectible form: a tower. He gives his female oracular figure a Roman magisterial throne, and has her accompanied by six youths after the fashion of official attendants [67: Shepherd 9 (visio 3.1), 4, and vis 1.4.1 and 3; vis 3.1.6 and 10.1].

"These were not end-time alternatives, but mental images, conceptions to be nurtured in the here and now. There was not even any need for built structures: the concern expressed is for widows and orphans, and for the winning of souls in this earthly city with which the pastoral habitations of his audience’s other city coexist [68: Shepherd 50.8–10]. To increasingly individualized addressees, it was vital not to hold out the prospect of a popular uprising. Such individuals might in any event arrive at unusual, deviant decisions: Perpetua was represented at the beginning of the third century as a visionary who used dream images to legitimize a radical departure from familiar social roles, including that of motherhood [69].

"Visionaries were not an exceptional phenomenon (fig. 59). But the sources of their revelations might vary greatly: they could come from a god in the form of a snake, like Glycon; from the one God; from new interpretations of older inspired texts; and, of course, as per the standard accusation, from the repository of the visionary’s own imagination, evil nature, and deceitfulness. Lucian, Celsus, and those who understood Montanus and his female acolytes as prophets (naturally, false ones) were in agreement about the frequency of such phenomena: religious authority, in both textual and personal form, was apparently easily obtained: perhaps not more easily than before, but by people from different social milieus. Observers, in any case, were seeing religious communication more frequently as dissident."

Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon (pp. 310-313). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

57. Satake 2008, 126; Malina 2002; see Taeger and Bienert 2006, 162–63.

58. Osiek 1999, 24; Rüpke 2013b.

59. Rüpke 2005b.

64. Lieu 2004, 243. Cf. Cicero, On the laws 2.5, and the discussions of the Alexandrian Jews in Josephus, Against Apion 2.6, and Diognetus 5–6.

66. On the Flavians: Boyle and Dominik 2003; cf. Rüpke 2012i for a somewhat earlier text in Rome, and Nasrallah 2010 for eastern Mediterranean cities. Cf., on the other hand, modes of reference in John’s Apocalypse, Karrer 2012.

69. Waldner 2012.

.

The following list of references from the bibliography refer to some cited in the footnotes or otherwise have Hermas in their title -

Hellholm, D. 1980. Das Visionenbuch des Hermas als Apokalypse: Formgeschichtliche und texttheoretische Studien zu einer literarischen Gattung 1: Methodologische Vorüberlegungen und makrostrukturelle Textanalyse. Textanalyse. Coniectanea biblica, New Testament Series 13:1. Lund.

Gordon (2013b) “Individuality, Selfhood and Power in the Second Century: The Mystagogue as a Mediator of Religious Options,” in J. Rüpke and G. Woolf, eds., Religious Dimensions of the Self in the Second Century CE. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum 76. Tübingen. 146–71.

Jones, K. R. (2011) Jewish Reactions to the Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70: Apocalypses and Related Pseudepigrapha, Suppl. to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 151. Leiden.

Leutzsch, M. (1989) Die Wahrnehmung sozialer Wirklichkeit im “Hirten des Hermas”, Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 150. Göttingen.

Lieu, J. M. 2004. Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World. Oxford.

Lipsett, B. D. (2011) Desiring Conversion : Hermas, Thecla, Aseneth. New York.

Magnay, A. (2015) “From Material Place to Imagined Space: Emergent Christian Community as Thirdspace in the ‘Shepherd of Hermas’,” in M.R.C. Grundeken and J. Verheyden, eds., Early Christian Communities between Ideal and Reality. WUNT. Tübingen. 143–60.

Malina, B. J. 2002. Die Offenbarung des Johannes: Sternvisionen und Himmelsreisen. Stuttgart.

Miller, P. C. (1988) “ ‘All the Words were Frightful’: Salvation by Dreams in the ‘Shepherd of Hermas’.” Vigiliae Christianae 42: 327–38.

Osiek, C. (1999) Shepherd of Hermas: A Commentary. Hermeneia. Minneapolis.

Peterson, E. (1959) “Beiträge zur Interpretation der Visionen im Pastor Hermae.” In E. Peterson, Frühkirche, Judentum und Gnosis: Studien und Untersuchungen. Freiburg i. Br. 254–70.

Rüpke, J. (1999) “Apokalyptische Salzberge: Zum sozialen Ort und zur literarischen Strategie des ‘Hirten des Hermas’.” Archiv für Religiongeschichte 1: 148–60.

Rüpke, J. (2005) “Der Hirte des Hermas: Plausibilisierungs- und Legitimierungsstrategien im Übergang von Antike und Christentum.” Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 8: 276–98.

Rüpke, J. 2013) “Fighting for Differences: Forms and Limits of Religious Individuality in the ‘Shepherd of Hermas’,” in J. Rüpke, ed., The Individual in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford. 315–41.

Rüpke, J. (2015) “Der Hirte des Hermas: Visionsliteratur als Anleitung zu religiöser Praxis in Textproduktion und -rezeption.” In P. Eich et al., eds., Alejandro, Aníbal y Constantino. Tres personajes históricos y una vida dedicada a conocerlos mejor (Homenaje a Pedro Barceló en su jubilación académica)—Alexander, Hannibal und Constantin. Drei historische Persönlichkeiten und ein Forscher, der sich ihnen widmet (Festschrift für Pedro Barceló). Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l’Antiquité, Lyon.

Satake, A. 2008. Die Offenbarung des Johannes. Göttingen.

Taeger, J.-W., and D. C. Bienert. 2006. Johanneische Perspektiven: Aufsätze zur Johannesapokalypse und zum johanneischen Krei,s 1984–2003. Göttingen.

Waldner (2012) “Vision, Prophecy, and Authority in the Passio Perpetuae,” in J. N. Bremmer and M. Formisano, eds., Perpetua’s Passions: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis. Oxford. 201–19.

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:24 pm

fwiw, -

.
nobody could overlook the fact that, at least from the late first until the early third century AD, Rome was the symbolic and intellectual center of the Roman Empire. It was here that every school, every network of any size wanted to have some sort of presence; it was here that ideas were conveyed with great rapidity across cultural divides.

This Roman intellectual arena was as open as Alexandria’s had once been and would be again. For this very reason, Rome invited polemic and efforts to limit its influence. The Oracula Sibyllina condemned the place; texts with Hermes as their principal interlocutor decried the notion of the Syrian Orontes joining its flood to the Tiber, a confluence already lamented by Juvenal in the first century AD (if not explicitly in relation to religion), with the assertion that Egypt was “the whole world’s temple” [159: Asclepius 24; Juv. 3.62.]. Not only did many of the texts that later found their way into the New Testament canon arise in Rome, but Greek priests like Plutarch and Appian could be found there, also philosophers like Epictetus, Cornutus, and Marcus Aurelius, and religious intellectuals like Marcion, Justin, and Valentinus, scholars from Palestine like Matthatias, even priests of Isis from Alexandria. Here the emperor encouraged the worship of particular gods with games and temples and by showing preference for their networks. Here operated the lobbyists of the Jerusalem sect no less than those of the Syrian cults of Baal.

Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon (p. 362). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by rgprice » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:25 pm

thank you, very helpful.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:35 pm

Dr Carrier writes the following about the reception of the Shepherd of Hermas in his article "The Formation of the New Testament Canon (2000)", based on the works of Metzger and others:
https://infidels.org/library/modern/ric ... canon.html

As all this is going on, however, one of the first written texts to become universally popular and an object of praise among Christians is none other than the book of Hermas, a.k.a. "The Sheppherd," an unusual (to us) collection of "visions, mandates, and similitudes" (the names of the three books that comprise it). This was written at some time in the 2nd century, and we have papyrus fragments from that very century to prove it (M 63-4). It may date even from the 1st century (cf. op. cit. n. 1), but references inside and outside the text create likely dates ranging from 95 to 154 A.D. (both Origen and Jerome thought the author was the very Hermas known to Paul, i.e. Romans 16.14), but it is probably more likely later than earlier in that range.

So popular the Sheppherd was that it was widely regarded as inspired--it was actually included, along with the Epistle of Barnabas, as the final book in the oldest NT codex that survives intact, the Codex Sinaiticus (c. 300 A.D.). But even the book of Hermas never names or quotes exactly any NT text. It contains many statements which resemble those in various NT books, but this could just as well reflect a common oral tradition. It is noteworthy that the only book actually named by Hermas is an apocryphal Jewish text, the Book of Eldad and Modat. In contrast, it is notable that none of the Gospels or canonical Epistles ever name any book of any kind apart from Jude--which cites another apocryphal text, the Book of Enoch (vv. 14-15)...

Moreover, Irenaeus includes the book of Hermas as holy scripture, a part of the NT (Against All Heresies 4.20.2)...

... Origin also declares that the Gospel of Peter and the Book of James (the Protoevangelium Jacobi) are also trustworthy and approved by the church, and he puts some trust in the Gospel of the Hebrews, and even calls the book of Hermas "divinely inspired" (c. 244-6 A.D., Commentary on Romans 10.31)...

Tertullian generally accepts the traditional canon, including Hermas, until his conversion to Montanism, at which point he declares it false (another example of doctrine driving decisions regarding canonicity, as opposed to objective historical investigation; M 159-60), and tells a story, somehow never mentioned before, that its author was kicked out of the church for composing a lie...

Two nearly-complete Bibles survive from the 4th century which some believe may be copies of this imperial standard text: the Codex Sinaiticus, which has the four Gospels, Acts, fourteen Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews), seven Catholic Epistles, the Revelation of John, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the book of Hermas, and the Vaticanus Codex, which appears to contain the same material in the same order, although both texts are incomplete (Sinaiticus breaks off in the middle of Hermas, Vaticanus in the middle of Hebrews). We may wonder what books, if any, were appended after Hermas...


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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:33 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:35 pm

Dr Carrier writes the following about the reception of the Shepherd of Hermas in his article "The Formation of the New Testament Canon (2000)", based on the works of Metzger and others: https://infidels.org/library/modern/ric ... canon.html

As all this is going on, however, one of the first written texts to become universally popular and an object of praise among Christians is none other than the book of Hermas, a.k.a. "The Shepherd," an unusual (to us) collection of "visions, mandates, and similitudes" (the names of the three books that comprise it). This was written at some time in the 2nd century, and we have papyrus fragments from that very century to prove it (M 63-4). It may date even from the 1st century (cf. op. cit. n. 1), but references inside and outside the text create likely dates ranging from 95 to 154 AD (both Origen and Jerome thought the author was the very Hermas known to Paul, i.e. Romans 16.14), but it is probably more likely later than earlier in that range.

This account aligns with Rüpke's, though he doesn't make mention of Church Fathers' mention of Hermas in Pantheon, afaik.

eta: Rüpke noted Shepherd was "released in several stages (probably because of continuing demand)", so that might account for its three parts.

On has to wonder why "both Origen and Jerome thought the author was the very Hermas known to Paul, i.e. Romans 16.14" -

"Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them."


And it is worth noting Shepherd of Hermas was included in the codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, as is Tertullian acceptance of Hermas until his conversion to Montanism -

So popular [was] the Sheppherd that it was widely regarded as inspired--it was actually included, along with the Epistle of Barnabas, as the final book in the oldest NT codex that survives intact, Codex Sinaiticus (c. 300 AD). But even the book of Hermas never names or quotes exactly any NT text. It contains many statements which resemble those in various NT books, but this could just as well reflect a common oral tradition. It is noteworthy that the only book actually named by Hermas is an apocryphal Jewish text, the Book of Eldad and Modat. In contrast, it is notable that none of the Gospels or canonical Epistles ever name any book of any kind apart from Jude--which cites another apocryphal text, the Book of Enoch (vv. 14-15) ...

Moreover, Irenaeus includes the book of Hermas as holy scripture, a part of the NT (Against All Heresies 4.20.2) ...

... Origen also declares that the Gospel of Peter and the Book of James (the Protoevangelium Jacobi) are also trustworthy and approved by the church, and he puts some trust in the Gospel of the Hebrews, and even calls the book of Hermas "divinely inspired" (c. 244-6 AD, Commentary on Romans 10.31) ...

Tertullian generally accepts the traditional canon, including Hermas, until his conversion to Montanism, at which point he declares it false (another example of doctrine driving decisions regarding canonicity, as opposed to objective historical investigation; M 159-60), and tells a story, somehow never mentioned before, that its author was kicked out of the church for composing a lie ...

Two nearly-complete Bibles survive from the 4th century which some believe may be copies of this imperial standard text: Codex Sinaiticus, which has the four Gospels, Acts, fourteen Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews), seven Catholic Epistles, the Revelation of John, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the book of Hermas; and Codex Vaticanus, which appears to contain the same material in the same order, although both texts are incomplete (Sinaiticus breaks off in the middle of Hermas, Vaticanus in the middle of Hebrews). We may wonder what books, if any, were appended after Hermas ...

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by rgprice » Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:46 pm

I'm inclined to think that the Shephard predates any Gospels. I think this was part of the basis of Roman Christianity prior to Marcion, and it wasn't until Marcion that attention started to get paid to Gospels.

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:53 pm

rgprice wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:46 pm
I'm inclined to think that the Shephard predates any Gospels. I think this was part of the basis of Roman Christianity prior to Marcion, and it wasn't until Marcion that attention started to get paid to Gospels.
I considered that option for a long time, but a closer look at the parable of the vineyard has convinced me otherwise. The version of the parable in the Shepherd is manifestly a mishmash of parables from the canonical gospels, especially Matthew. I mean, this one is not even a close call; it is obvious once the parallels are consulted. It is certainly possible, even probable, that the versions of the texts the Shepherd drew upon are not quite what we have in hand today, but the Shepherd drew on something like the gospel of Matthew, or at least on something which contained a number of Matthew's parables written with Matthew's now distinct wording.

Obviously, one might propose that the parable of the vineyard is a late entry into the text of the Shepherd and that earlier layers lacked this kind of connection with the gospels. But the extant version of the Shepherd depends upon something similar to the Gospel of Matthew.

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:03 pm

I've reproduced Earl Doherty's thoughts on the Shepherd of Hermas from his "Jesus: Neither God Nor Man". Doherty points out that the work is but one of those from the period that doesn't include "Jesus", "Christ", or details about a ministry of a human on earth. This focus on divine figures acting in heavenly realms can be seen in many of the Jewish intertestamental writings of the time. I've highlighted key sentences below:

Page 72

Outside the New Testament, several documents judged to be Christian show no sign of a Christ who died and was resurrected. We have already encountered one of these, the Didache. Others include the Shepherd of Hermas and the Odes of Solomon.

Page 101

In fact, that very cosmological shift of setting can be seen in many of the Jewish intertestamental writings, presenting divine figures and salvific forces operating in the spiritual realm of the heavens, as in the Similitudes of Enoch, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Ascension of Isaiah and other writings to be examined; in the New Testament itself, the Epistle to the Hebrews presents a spiritual sacrifice by Christ in a heavenly sanctuary.

Page 271

Hermas treats the "church," the body of believers, as a mystical entity. It is God himself who has created the church (Vision 1, 1:6), including its pre-existent prototype in heaven. There is constant reference to the "elect of God," with no tradition about a church established by Jesus. Nothing which could fit the Gospel ministry is referred to. The writer can speak of "apostles" but never associate them with an historical figure who appointed them; there is no tradition of anything going back to such a figure. Instead, "apostles and teachers preach the name of the Son of God" (Parable 9, 16:5), in the same way that Paul and other Christian prophets preach the divine Christ.

The central section of the Shepherd discusses a great list of moral rules, some resembling the teachings of the Gospels, but no attribution is made to Jesus. A passage in the Fifth Parable (6:3) has the Son "cleansing the sins of the people," but this precedes his "showing them the ways of life and giving them the Law," and the former is never presented in terms of sacrifice or atonement. The 'giving of the Law' is through spiritual channels, for a later Parable states that the angel Michael (who in Parable 9 is yet another figure equated with the Son of God) has "put the Law into the hearts of those who believe." There is no preaching by an historical Son in evidence anywhere in this work...

...

This writer is rooted in Hellenistic-Jewish mythology with its picture of a heaven in which different forces form part of the workings of divinity. The Son is one of many figures in a class photo which includes the Holy Spirit and angels of several ranks, and these are occasionally allowed to merge into one another.

As Charles Talbert puts it (op.cit., p.432), "the Savior is described basically in terms of an angelology which has coalesced with the categories of Son and Spirit." The word "category" is apt, for Hermas is dealing with philosophical concepts here, not an historical figure who was God's incarnation. Had he possessed any idea of the Son as a human personality who had walked the earth in recent memory, suffered and died and resurrected outside Jerusalem to redeem humanity, he could never have buried him in this densely obscure heavenly construct and allowed the entire picture 'recorded' in the Gospels to evaporate into the mystical wind.

Despite (or perhaps: because of) the lack of a human Jesus Christ in the text, it was highly regarded by early Christians and almost made it into canon.

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Re: Reception of Shephard of Hermas

Post by rgprice » Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:41 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:53 pm
rgprice wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:46 pm
I'm inclined to think that the Shephard predates any Gospels. I think this was part of the basis of Roman Christianity prior to Marcion, and it wasn't until Marcion that attention started to get paid to Gospels.
I considered that option for a long time, but a closer look at the parable of the vineyard has convinced me otherwise. The version of the parable in the Shepherd is manifestly a mishmash of parables from the canonical gospels, especially Matthew. I mean, this one is not even a close call; it is obvious once the parallels are consulted. It is certainly possible, even probable, that the versions of the texts the Shepherd drew upon are not quite what we have in hand today, but the Shepherd drew on something like the gospel of Matthew, or at least on something which contained a number of Matthew's parables written with Matthew's now distinct wording.

Obviously, one might propose that the parable of the vineyard is a late entry into the text of the Shepherd and that earlier layers lacked this kind of connection with the gospels. But the extant version of the Shepherd depends upon something similar to the Gospel of Matthew.
Certainly a valid conclusion, however.... Given that Hermas may have been built in multiple layers over time, is it still not possible that some version of Hermas exited prior to the writing of that parable and the vineyard is a later revision/addition?

Also, regarding parallels with Ephesians, let's also consider the possibility that the relationship goes the other way, with Ephesians having been influenced by the Shephard.

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