Re: Critical Text of Apostolic Fathers

From: Michael Holmes (
Date: Tue Dec 01 1998 - 11:23:37 EST

B-Greek colleagues,
Regarding the recent questions about critical editions of the Apostolic
Fathers, perhaps the following comments will be of some use.

1. J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, _The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and
English Translations of Their Writings_, 2nd ed. edited and revised by
Michael W. Holmes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992).
--This is currently (to the best of my knowledge) the most up to date
critical *text* of the AF, accompanied by a selective, but not
insubstantial, critical apparatus that draws on the evidence of virtually
all known direct witnesses as of about 1990. The review of this volume in
_Journal of Early Christian Studies_ 3 (1995) concluded that this edition
"undoubtedly should be recognized as a superior colection of materials when
placed in comparison with the commonly used edition ... by Kirsopp Lake
(Loeb 24/25)". Unfortunately (and, one hopes, temporarily) now out of
print. [Although CBD may still have a few copies in stock?]

2. _Die Apostolischen VŠter_: neubearbeitung der Funkschen Ausgabe von K.
Bihlmeyer. 3d. ed. with a Nachtrag by W. Schneemelcher. Tuebingen: J. C. B.
Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1956.
--Popularly referred to as "Funk-Bihlmeyer," for years this has been the
"standard" critical edition of the AF (except for the Shepherd of Hermas,
which it does not contain). The quality of the text varies from book to
book: in some cases it offers a critical text, while in others (e.g.,
Ignatius) it basically prints the text of a selected manuscript. The
critical apparatus is larger than the one in the Lightfoot/Holmes edition,
but still selective, and much of what is included is (IMO) inconsequential
textual trivia.

3. _Die Apostolischen VŠter_. Griechisch-deutsche Parallelausgabe auf der
Grundlage der Ausgaben von Franz Xaver Funk/Karl Bihlmeyer und Molly
Whittaker, etc., ed. by Andreas Lindemann and Henning Paulsen. Tuebingen:
J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1992.
--This is the volume about which Steven Cox inquired. As the subtitle
suggests, the Greek text is a [photomechanical] reprint of the text of
Funk-Bihlmeyer and, for Hermas, Molly Whittaker [on which see below],
accompanied by a German translation.

4. _Patrum Apostolicorum Opera_, etc., ed. by Oscar Gebhardt, Adolph
Harnack, and Theodor Zahn (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1876-78) [my copy is
bound as a single volume; originally issued in three fascicles (the first of
which had two parts) between 1876 and 1878.]
--This is to the AF what Tischendorf's 8th ed. is to the NT: a massive
critical edition that presents a critical text (with a Latin trans. on the
facing page) accompanied by a major critical apparatus. Like Tischendorf,
it is now severely dated, in that it does not include any of the evidence
discovered during the last century, but also like Tischendorf, it includes
evidence still not to be found anywhere else, and thus remains
indispensible, esp. for the older (and in some cases, still the only)
evidence for these texts.

The following entries deal with individual documents included in the AF:

5. Molly Whittaker, _Der Hirt des Hermas_, 2d ed. (Berlin: Adademie-Verlag,
--Part of the renowned GCS series of critical texts, this offers a critical
text of the document together with a very full and extensive critical apparatus.

6. H. G. Meecham, _The Epistle to Diognetus_ (Manchester: Manchester U.
Press, 1949). Greek text (with facing English translation), extensive
critical apparatus [which, since the document survived in a single,
now-destroyed MS, consists largely of conjectural emendations], and
voluminous notes on the text.

7. The various volumes in the "Sources Chretiennes" series of critical
texts. Each vol. presents the Greek text (with a French translation on the
facing page) and a critical apparatus. Works in the series include 1 Clement
(A. Jaubert, 1971); Ignatius, Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp (P.-Th.
Camelot, 1969); the Didache (Rordorf and Tuilier, 1978); Epistle of Barnabas
(Kraft and Prigent, 1971); the Shepherd of Hermas (R. Joly, 1968); Letter to
Diognetus (H. I. Marrou, 1965). The depth and extent of the apparatus
varies widely, from very brief and highly selective (e.g., the vol. on
Ignatius and Polycarp) to extremely detailed and wide-ranging (Bob Kraft, on

To Larry Swain's original question ["I was wondering if anyone knoew of a
critical edition of the Greek text of the Apostolic Fathers? Preferably
still in print?"], the answer is probably to see #2 above, Funk-Bihlmeyer.
For a critical apparatus more extensive than this, one will have to resort
to #4, dated as it is, or a volume that deals with an individual document.

Michael Holmes
Bethel College

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