Community Building in the Shepherd of Hermas

A Critical Study of Some Key Aspects


In Community Building in the Shepherd of Hermas , Mark Grundeken investigates key aspects of Christian community life as reflected upon in the early Christian writing the Shepherd of Hermas (2nd century C.E.). Grundeken’s thematic study deals with various topics: the community’s identity, including its (alleged) ‘Jewish Christianness’, (lack of) resurrection belief, sectarian tendencies and its relation to the authorities and to the emperor cult; social features, encompassing gender roles and charity; and rituals such as baptism, metanoia, Eucharistic meals, the Sunday collection, dancing (and singing), the ‘holy kiss’ and reading of Scripture. The many fruitful entries prove Hermas to be one of the main texts for studying the development of community building in the early church.
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Biographical Note

Mark Grundeken, Ph.D. (2013), KU Leuven, is Akademischer Rat at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He has published several articles on early Christianity and edited with Joseph Verheyden the volume Early Christian Communities between Ideal and Reality (Mohr Siebeck, 2015).

Review Quotes

This is a careful and balanced treatment of a difficult text. It helps to illuminate certain dimensions of the community that its author constructed or envisioned, and is a model of careful and sober historical analysis.
Andrew Gregory, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 2017

Table of contents


1. Jewish Christianity
2. Resurrection Belief
3. Sectarianism
4. The Roman Empire
5. Women
6. “Charity”
7. Baptism and Metanoia
8. Community Meals
9. The Sunday Collection
10. Dancing (and Singing)
11. The “Holy Kiss”
General Conclusions


All interested in early Christian community life, including its identity formation, social outlook and rituals, and anyone concerned with the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.