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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Patristics and Hirsch

Depending on volume, I will try to share responses I receive and respond to them as appropriate. This one from Garet Robinson, a
Minister to Young Adults in a Baptists congregation, was nice to receive completely out of the blue this morning. I have never met Garet but in correspondence back to him I asked for and received permission to share his thoughts at the blog. He raises an area of concern that I mention in the essay but is worthy of a complete article, namely Hirsch’s view of patristic literature and scholarship as it pertains to the apostolic office. As I say in the essay, he usually skips over the patristic period and makes it seem as if the end of his vision of the apostolic person came as a result of Constantine and the "Christendom Church model" he believes was ushered in. However, it would not be fair to say that he always skips over the patristic literature and I mention an instant in the book that is quite striking where he acknowledges quite clearly that in the teaching of individuals as early as Igniatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome the end of the apostolic office was being propogated. His response, as detailed in my essay, is to accuse them of missing what he is convinced was the clear teaching of the apostles as summarized in Ephesians 4. So as early as Antioch and Clement he does acknowledge the official office of apostle was being spoken against. I will address this more in some later blogs. Here is the complete letter.

Dear Mr. Metzger, 

I wanted to write to commend you on your excellent review of Hirsch’s text in the most recent Books and Culture issue. 

Though I haven’t yet read Hirsch’s text you reviewed, his previous text On the Verge was troubling to me. I am curious if there was any trace of contemplation that the early church clearly ended the apostolic office by the end the first century? Has Hirsch dabbled at all in patristic literature? Much of my primary research has been specifically in this period and there seems to be a clear indication (which is noted in scholarship) that the official office of apostle ended, and was specifically done so by the early church, at the end of the first century. Sullivan in From Apostles to Bishops makes clear how this happened.

Anyways, a truly engaging article and you’ve done well to challenge Hirsch’s assumptions. I hope it gets a wide read. Have a wonderful day.

Grace and peace to you,
Garet Robinson

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