Over the past months, I’ve been reviewing (off and on and, admittedly, more off than on) two different introductions to the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The two introductions are:
Here’s my context: I’m considering teaching “Introduction to the Writings of the Apostolic Fathers” as an online class through MEMRA, perhaps sometime in fall or winter 2011. I need a text to use along with an edition of the Apostolic Fathers themselves. The edition is easy (Holmes, of course). The introduction is the harder part. Any class participants will likely have very little pre-existing knowledge about the fathers. Because MEMRA is not a structured program of instruction like some schools, I can’t really count on any prerequisites. So I have to assume and start with a blank slate.
Both of these books are good; but Jefford is better for my situation. The format, while initially not to my liking, is a Q&A format that actually works as a true introduction. Pratscher is more of an academic introduction and (on my estimation) seems to be written to an audience that already has a strong NT academic background: think advanced undergrad or grad student with a good understanding of NT stuff who needs to be brought up to date quickly. Pratscher is a new translation of the German edition, so much of the bibliography cites stuff in German, less than optimal for my teaching context.
While I personally learned a lot reading and reviewing Pratscher, I think Jefford is better for my context. So that’s what we’ll use. If you’re interested in more details on the course, zap me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.