Shepherd of Hermas – 8th Mandate

If there was any concern about these commandments getting too abstract, this eight mandate blows that completely away.  For although the command is very abstract (restrain yourself from doing evil works, and don’t restrain yourself from doing good works), the bulk of the text in this section is focused on listing examples of bad and good works!  Let’s look at these lists and compare them to what we see in Scripture.

Restrain yourself from evil deeds such as…

  • adultery & fornication (Gal. 5:19)
  • unlawful revelling (Gal. 5:21)
  • wicked luxury – when externals get excessive, cf. I Peter 3
  • indulgence in many kinds of foods and the extravagance of riches -“sensuality” in Gal. 5:19
  • boastfulness and haughtiness (Gal. 5:25)
  • insolence (Prov. 13:10)
  • lies (Ex. 20:16)
  • backbiting (spite) (Prov. 25:23)
  • hypocrisy (I Peter 2:1-3)
  • remembrance of wrong (Matt. 6:14)
  • slander (2nd Mandate)
  • also theft, lying, robbery, false witness, overreaching, wicked lust, deceit, vainglory, boastfulness, and all other similar vices.

Do not restrain yourself from doing good works such as…

Roman Catholic tradition has made some nice lists of good works which look quite similar to the Biblical lists, and do better at summing things up quickly than Hermas does:

Corporal Works of Mercy (corporal refers to bodily needs):

  1. To feed the hungry
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To shelter the homeless.
  4. To clothe the naked.
  5. To visit and ransom the captive, (prisoners).
  6. To visit the sick.
  7. To bury the dead.

Spiritual Acts of Mercy:

  1. Instruct the uninformed
  2. Counsel the doubtful;
  3. Admonish sinners;
  4. Bear wrongs patiently;
  5. Forgive offenses willingly;
  6. Comfort the afflicted;
  7. Pray for the living, the sick and the dead.

All of these are included in Hermas‘ exceedingly long lists except for #7 of each list.  Hermas doesn’t mention burying the dead or praying for anyone.  Of course, it’s fair to say that both of these things fall under the final category of “any other actions like these.”  Honestly, I’m much more fond of shorter categorized lists, like the Corporal & Spiritual Acts of Mercy lists, but sometimes it can be helpful to look at much longer stream-of-consciousness lists like in Hermas to remind myself of just how widely these good works can be specifically carried out.

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About Fr. Brench

I'm an Anglican Priest and a sci-fi geek. Therefore, I write about liturgy & spiritual formation, theology & biblical studies, and Doctor Who. But I keep those blogs separate so I don't confuse too many people!
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1 Response to Shepherd of Hermas – 8th Mandate

  1. Pingback: Shepherd of Hermas – 6th Similitude | Leorningcnihtes boc

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