Trinitarianism In Didache, Barnabas, and the Shepherd: Sketchy, Scant, or Scandalous?

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Abstract

A survey of works on the development of nascent trinitarianism, especially in the last several decades, reveals that most treatments cut a wide path around three of the earliest Christian writings: Didache, Barnabas, and Shepherd of Hermas. Because these writings straddle the apostolic/post-apostolic eras (c. AD 50-150), they should be regarded as essential links in any historical account of the development of trinitarian theology. Nevertheless, these writings have sometimes been regarded as having sketchy, scant, or scandalous christologies and pneumatologies. This article argues that the typical critical estimations of these writings as nontrinitarian are under-supported by the textual evidence. Rather, Didache, Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas may very well presuppose a basic christocentric and trinitarian creation-redemption narrative. Far from scandalous, these texts provide a positive link in the continuity from seminal apostolic trinitarian thought to the later trinitarian growth of the second century.

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