This article challenges the common opinion that the Shepherd of Hermas gives evidence for the office of deacon in the early Christian communities in Rome (Vis. 3.5.1; Sim. 9.15.4; 9.26.2). It suggests that the mention of the διάκονοι within the context of Hermas’ call to µετάνοια as “admirable” respectively “despicable” believers makes it difficult to decide whether these examples are existing or imaginary figures. Moreover, it notes that the διάκονοι, unlike the presiding presbyters (Vis. 2.2.6-7; 2.4.2-3; 3.9.7), are not associated with the ἐκκλησία in Rome and not directly addressed. The article is meant to be a prelude to new enquiries into the development of offices in the early church.
Vigiliae Christianae – Brill
Published: Feb 9, 2018
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