[This is part of a series of posts, for a list of all posts see Drobner's The Fathers of the Church]
I'll start off by saying that I don't plan on doing comprehensive blogging of this book; so there won't be a post for each part/chapter. But I made it through the introductory material and the first chapter, so I figured I'd post.
Initially, it's everything I expected. I've noted some titles in the bibliographies that I should probably track down at some point. And the explanations are decent.
I also understand that introductions, by their very nature, are complicated to write. That is, it is hard to be judicious when introducing material that may, when further studied, have several different layers or approaches. So, unsurprisingly, I can report that I'm not the happiest with the perspective taken when providing dates for NT books. Drobner places all gospels after 70 CE (Mark in 70 CE, Luke in 80, Matthew in 90-95, and John in 100). He also only sees six (6) authentic Paulines: First Thessalonians, Galatians, Corinthians (?), Philippians, Philemon and Romans.
I don't necessarily have a problem with his views (though I think he's wrong); I have a problem with them being presented as undisputed fact. But ... I say again ... I wasn't surprised; this sort of thing usually happens in handbooks/introductions like this. One item I was surprised at, though, was part of Drobner's description of an apocalypse. He contends that "Although there are 'no formal laws which are applicable to all apocalypses' and the apocalypse of John is accorded a special place among all the apocalypses, it is possible to discerna a number of enduring stylistic and content-related features" (Drobner 38). Ok, sure. But these aren't (and can't be) rules. Even so, his first item is very curious:
All apocalypses are written pseudonymously under the name of a significant male of the past who lends the work an authority that the author himself does not possess. This means that an apocalypse is always written from a perspective of fictitious anteriority, as a book that alleges to be ancient already and, because of being sealed up, has to be keppt secret until the predetermined time of the end (cf. Dan 12.9; Rev 6). (Drobner 38)
I can buy this statement from non-canonical works; but it is harder to swallow when one includes Biblical apocalypses like Daniel and Revelation. Does that mean that if I think John (whichever John you wish; the elder or the apostle) is responsible for Revelation that I therefore cannot hold that Revelation is an apocalypse (when it clearly is)?
That said, the section on the Epistle to Barnabas is good; as is that on Hermas. And again, the bibliographies are excellent.
Chapter Two, "Postapocalyptic Literature", looks good as well ... though I'll probably have dating qualms with Drobner's stance on the dating of Ignatius' epistles (Drobner's range is 105-135; I'd say 110 at the latest). But I'll write on that chapter after I read it ...