Hermas (freedman)

Hermas (freedman)

Hermas was a well-to-do freedman who lived in Ancient Rome in 3 A.D. He was a brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome about the middle of the second century. He was an earnest simple-minded Christian, with little education or culture, but typical, no doubt, of many in the Church of his day. Some later writers confuse him with the Hermas mentioned in Romans xvi, 14. Hermas the freedman was the character and, by some estimations, the author of the work titled The Shepherd of Hermas, which, in the early Church, was often classed among the "Scriptures," i. e., among what we call the canonical books of the New Testament.

These three are (a) the Muratorian fragment, (b) the Liberian catalogue of popes, in a portion which dates from 235 (Hippolytus?), (c) the poem of Pseudo-Tertullian against Marcion, of the third or fourth century.

  • (a) "Pastorem uero nuperrime temporibus nostris in urbe Roma Herma conscripsit, sedente cathedra urbis Romae ecclesiae Pio episcopo fratre ejus. Et ideo legi eum quidem oportet, se publicare uero in ecclesia populo neque inter prophetas completos numero, neque inter apostolos in fine temporum, potest" - "And very recently, in our own times, in the city of Rome, Herma wrote the Pastor, when his brother Pius, the bishop, sat upon the chair of the Church of the city of Rome. And therefore that (book) ought to be perused, but it cannot be publicly read to the people assembled in church, neither among the Prophets, whose number is complete, nor among the Apostles (who came) in the end of times."
  • (b) "Sub hujus (Pii) episcopatu frater ejus Ermes librum scripsit, in quo mandatum continetur quae (quod) praecepit ei angelus, cum venit ad illum in habitu Pastoris" - "Under his (Pius's) episcopate, his brother Ermes wrote a book in which are contained the precepts which the angel delivered to him, coming to him in the guise of a Shepherd."
  • (c) "Post hunc deinde Pius, Hermas cui germine frater angelicus Pastor, quia tradita verba locutus." - "Then, after him, Pius, whose brother according to the flesh was Hermas, the angelic shepherd, because he spoke the words given to him."

The statement that Hermas wrote during his brother's Pius pontificate may similarly be an inference from the fact that it was in a list of popes, against the name of Pius, that the writer found the information that Hermas was that pope's brother. He may have been an elder brother of the pope, who was probably an old man in 140. Hence it is quite possible that Hermas might have been past thirty when Clement died, at the time of his first and second visions.


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