THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS
This book is thus entitled, because it was
composed by Hermas, brother to Pope Pius I (bishop of
Rome in A.D. 140-155); and because the Angel, who bears
the principal part in it, is represented in the form
and habit of a shepherd. The book is actually three
books: Visions, Commands, and Similitudes. The
Church's reaction to it has always been mixed:
Irenaeus quoted it under the very name of
Scripture. Origen thought it a most useful writing and
that it was divinely inspired. Eusebius said that,
though it was not esteemed canonical, it was read
publicly in the churches, which is corroborated by
Athanasius cited it as a most useful work, and
observed that though it was not strictly canonical, the
Fathers appointed it to be read for direction and
confirmation in faith and piety.
Jerome, notwithstanding this, and that he
applauded it in his catalog of writers, in his comments
upon it afterwards, termed it apocryphal and foolish.
Tertullian praised it when he was a Catholic, and
abused it when he became a Montanist.
Although Pope Gelasius I (A.D. 492-496) ranked it
among the apocryphal books, it is found attached to
some of the most ancient manuscripts of the New
Archbishop of Canterbury Wake, believing it the
genuine work of an apostolic Father, preserved it for
English readers by the translation used here, in which
he rendered the books not only more exact, but in
greater purity than they had before appeared. The
Archbishop procured Dr. Grabe to entirely collate the
old Latin version with an ancient manuscript in the
Lambeth library; and the learned prelate himself still
further improved the whole from a multitude of
fragments of the original Greek never before used for
Certain sections may sometimes seem tedious, but
after reading the three books one is left with a
charming impression that is never quite forgotten.
THE FIRST BOOK OF HERMAS, CALLED VISIONS
1. Against filthy and proud thoughts, 20. also the neglect of
Hermas in chastising his children.
1. He who had bred me up sold a certain young maid at Rome
whom when I saw many years later, I remembered her, and began to
love her as a sister. It happened some time afterwards, that I
saw her bathing in the Tiber River, and I reached out my hand to
her and brought her out of the river.
2. And when I saw her I thought to myself, saying, How
happy should I be if I had such a wife, both for beauty and
manners. This I thought to myself, nor did I think any more.
But not long after as I was walking and musing on these thoughts,
I began to admire this creature of God, thinking how noble and
beautiful she was.
3. And when I had walked a little, I fell asleep. And the
spirit caught me away and carried me toward the right-hand
through a certain place through which no man could pass. It was
a place among rocks, very steep, and impassable even for water.
4. When I was beyond this place, I came to a plain.
Falling down upon my knees there, I began to pray to the Lord,
and to confess my sins.
5. And as I was praying, the heaven was opened, and I saw
the woman whom I had coveted, saluting me from heaven and saying,
Hermas, hail! And I looking upon her, answered, Lady, what are
you doing here? She answered, I have been brought up here to
accuse you of sin before the Lord.
6. Lady, I said, will you accuse me? No, she said, but
hear the words I am about to speak to you. God who dwells in
heaven, and has made all things out of nothing, and has
multiplied them for his Holy Church's sake, is angry with you
because you have sinned against me.
7. And I answering said to her, Lady, if I have sinned
against you, tell me where, or in what place, or when did I ever
speak an improper or dishonest word to you?
8. Have I not always esteemed you as a lady? Have I not
always reverenced you as a sister? Why then do you imagine these
wicked things against me?
9. Then she, smiling upon me, said: An indecent desire has
risen up in your heart. Does it not seem to you to be an ill
thing for a righteous man to have an evil desire rise up in his
10. It is indeed a sin, and that a very great one, to such
a one; for a righteous man thinks that which is righteous. And
while he does so, and walks uprightly, he shall have the Lord in
heaven favorable to him in all his business.
11. But as for those who think wickedly in their hearts
take to themselves death and captivity, and especially those who
love this present world and glory in their riches, and do not
regard the good things that are to come; their souls wander up
and down, and know not where to settle.
12. Now this is the case of such as are double-minded, who
trust not in the Lord, and despise and neglect their own life.
13. But pray to the Lord, and he will heal your sins, and
the sins of your whole house, and of all his saints.
The reason the otherwise righteous Hermas is
accused of sin and "evil desire" is because he is a
prosperous middleaged businessman who is married with
14. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
soon as she had spoken these words the heavens were shut, and I
remained utterly swallowed up with sadness and fear. I said to
myself, If this be laid against me for sin, how can I be saved?
15. Or how shall I ever be able to entreat the Lord for my
many and great sins? With what words shall I beseech him to be
merciful to me?
16. As I was thinking over these things, and meditating in
myself upon them, behold a chair was set over opposite me of the
whitest wool, as bright as snow.
17. And here came an old woman in a bright garment, having
a book in her hand, and sat alone, and saluted me, saying,
Hermas, hail! And I, being full of sorrow and weeping, answered,
18. And she said to me, Why are you sad, Hermas, who are
accustomed to be patient, and modest, and always cheerful? I
answered and said to her, Lady, a reproach has been laid to my
charge by an excellent woman, who tells me that I have sinned
19. Far be any such thing from the servant of God. But it
may be the desire of her has risen up in your heart. For indeed
such a thought makes the servants of God guilty of sin.
20. Nor ought such a detestable thought to be in the
servant of God; nor should he who is approved by the Spirit
desire that which is evil; but especially Hermas, who restrains
himself from all wicked lusts, and is full of all simplicity, and
of great innocence.
21. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
Nevertheless the Lord is not so much angry with you for your own
sake, as upon the account of your house, which has committed
wickedness against the Lord, and against their parents.
22. And because out of your fondness towards your sons, you
have not admonished your house but have permitted them to live
wickedly; for this cause the Lord is angry with you, but he will
heal all the evils that are done in your house. For through
their sins and iniquities, you are wholly consumed in secular
Now the real source of his sin is revealed: he has
23. But now the mercy of God has taken compassion upon you,
and upon your house, and has greatly comforted you in glory.
Only as for you, do not wander astray, but be of an even mind,
and comfort your house.
24. As the workman brings forth his work and offers it to
whomever he pleases, so you must cut off a great sin by teaching
every day what is just. Therefore do not cease to admonish your
sons, for the Lord knows that they will repent with all their
heart, and they will be written in the book of life.
25. And when she had said this, she added to me: Will you
hear me read? I answered her, Lady, I will.
26. Hear then, she said, and opening the book she read
gloriously, greatly, and wonderfully, such things as I could not
keep in my memory. For they were disturbing words, such as no
man could bear.
27. Nevertheless I committed her last words to my
remembrance, for they were but few, and of great use to us.
28. Behold the mighty Lord, who by his invisible power and
with his excellent wisdom made the world, and by his glorious
counsel beautified his creature, and with the word of his
strength fixed the heaven and founded the earth upon the waters,
and by this powerful virtue established his Holy Church, which he
29. Behold he will remove the heavens, and the mountains,
the hills, and the seas; and all things will be made level for
his elect so that he may present to them the promise which he has
promised, with much honor and joy; if so be that they will keep
the commandments of God they have received with great faith.
30. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
when she had made an end of reading, she rose out of the chair;
and behold four young men came and carried the chair to the east.
31. And she called me to her and touched my breast, and
said to me, Did my reading please you? I answered, Lady, these
last things please me, but what went before was severe and hard.
32. She said to me, These last things are for the
righteous, but the foregoing for the revolters and heathen.
33. And as she was talking with me, two men appeared and
took her upon their shoulders and went to the east where the
34. And she went cheerfully away. As she was going, she
said to me, Hermas, be of good cheer.
Hermas writes of one vision after another. Either
he actually had these visions, or he is a creative
writer indeed. In defense of the veridical nature of
these visions, it should be noted that they are
anything but self-serving; on the contrary, Hermes is
constantly criticized by the angel for his inquisitive
but dense mind. In any case, one might ask, Why all
these visions? Perhaps we can appreciate them as we do
our own multi-media presentations, in which all the
senses are involved and the images serve as a memory
aid for the lessons presented, which if told in a
straight narrative, like a long lecture, would soon be
forgotten. A vision (or a vivid description of one) is
not soon easily forgotten.
Again, of his neglect in correcting his talkative wife; and of
his lewd sons.
1. As I was on the way to Cuma, about the same time that I
went the year before, I began to call to mind the vision I
formerly had. And again the spirit carried me away and brought
me into the same place where I had been the year before.
2. And when I was come into the place, I fell down upon my
knees and began to pray to the Lord, and to glorify his name that
he had esteemed me worthy and had revealed to me my former sins.
3. And when I arose from prayer, behold I saw opposite me
the old woman I had seen the last year, walking and reading in a
4. And she said to me, Can you tell these things to the
elect of God? I answered and said to her, Lady I cannot retain
so many things in my memory, but give me the book, and I will
write them down.
5. Take it, she said, and see that you return it to me.
6. As soon as I had received it, I went aside into a
certain place of the field, and transcribed every letter, for I
found no syllables.
7. And as soon as I had finished what was written in the
book, the book was suddenly caught out of my hand, but I did not
see by whom.
8. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After
fifteen days, when I had fasted and entreated the Lord with all
earnestness, the knowledge of the writing was revealed to me.
Now the writing was this:
9. O Hermas! Your offspring have sinned against the Lord
and have betrayed their parents through their great wickedness.
And they have been called the betrayers of their parents, but
have gone on in their treachery.
10. And now have they added lewdness to their other sins,
and the pollutions of their indecency: thus they have filled up
the measure of their iniquities. But you upbraid your sons with
all these words, and your wife, which will be your sister, and
let her learn to refrain her tongue, with which she calumniates.
Presumably "which will be your sister" means his
wife will become a Christian, or a better one.
Compare with: "A foolish son [is] the calamity of
his father: and the contentions of a wife [are] a
continual dropping." (Proverbs 19:13)
11. And when she will hear these things, she will refrain
herself, and will obtain mercy.
12. And they also will be instructed, after you will have
reproached them with these words, which the Lord has commanded to
be revealed to you.
13. Then they will be forgiven their sins, which they have
heretofore committed, and so will the sins of all the saints who
have sinned even to this day, if they will repent with all their
hearts, and remove all doubts out of their hearts.
14. For the Lord has sworn by his glory concerning his
elect, having determined this very time, that if any one will sin
after it, he will not be saved.
15. For the repentance of the righteous has its end, and
the days of repentance are fulfilled to all the saints, but there
is repentance to the heathen even to the last day.
Christian standards always have been higher than
Christians want to acknowledge, and even one who has
risen to the heights can fall the farthest. Compare
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine
of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying
again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and
of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and
of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead,
and of eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God
permit. For [it is] impossible for those who were once
enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and
were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted
the good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto
repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son
of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame."
The only satisfactory and safe course is forward,
onward, upward -- from repentance, baptism, etc., for
if one "falls away" from Christ and apostatizes, there
is no other way to turn for salvation. Tertullian, the
Montanists, and other ancient schismatics used this
fearsomely enigmatic passage from the Epistle to the
Hebrews to argue there is no repentance from apostasy.
The Church holds that those who apostatize may repent
and be brought back into the Church after a period of
repentance (Canons VIII, X and XIV of 1 Nicea; Canon II
of St. Gregory of Nyssa; and the Canons of the Council
of Ancyra, A.D. 314). Nevertheless, such "second
conversions" are difficult and rare -- thus this sober
Peter touches the same theme in discussing false
teachers and false brethren, but it often takes time to
reveal who is false. Compare with: "For if after they
have escaped the pollutions of the world through the
knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are
again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end
is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been
better for them not to have known the way of
righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to
turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
But it is happened unto them according to the true
proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again;
and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the
mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22; the dog-and-vomit reference
is from Proverbs 26:11)
16. You will therefore say to those who are over the church
to order their ways in righteousness, so that they may fully
receive the promise with much glory.
17. Stand fast therefore, you who work righteousness and
continue to do it, that your departure may be with the holy
18. Happy are you, as many as will endure the great trial
that is at hand, and whoever will not deny his life.
19. For the Lord has sworn by his Son that whoever, being
afraid of his life, denies his Son and him, he will also deny him
in the world that is to come.
Compare with: "But whosoever shall deny me before
men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in
heaven." (Matthew 10:33)
The phrase "the world that is to come" may be
translated "the days that are coming." The "great
trial that is at hand" in verse 18 may refer to coming
20. But those who will never deny him, he will of his
exceeding great mercy be favorable to them.
21. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] But
you, O Hermas, remember not the injuries your sons have done,
neither neglect your sister, but take care that they amend their
That is, his wife, a sister in Christ.
22. For they will be instructed by this doctrine, if you
will not be mindful of what they have done wickedly.
23. For the remembrance of evils works death, but the
forgetting of them life eternal.
Compare "for the remembrance of evils works
death..." with Hebrews 10:1-4, in which it is argued
that continual animal sacrifices of Judaism (and the
same would apply to the Roman practice) never remove
the consciousness of sins, but keep reminding of them
to no avail.
Hermas is urged not to hold a grudge against his
wife or sons, but to forgive those who have sinned
against him (Luke 11:4), to forgive them as Christ has
forgiven him (Ephesians 4:32), and to be reconciled to
them in Christian love, which covers a multitude of
sins (1 Peter 4:8).
24. But you, O Hermas, have undergone a great many worldly
troubles for the offenses of your house, because you have
neglected them as matters that did not belong to you, and you are
wholly taken up with your great business.
25. Nevertheless, you will be saved because you have not
departed from the living God, and your simplicity and singular
continence will preserve you, if you will continue in them.
26. Yes, they will save all those who do such things, and
walk in innocence and simplicity.
27. They who are of this kind will prevail against all
impiety and continue until life eternal.
28. Happy are all they who do righteousness; they will not
be consumed forever.
29. But you will say, Behold there is a great time of
affliction coming. If it seem good to you, deny him again.
30. The Lord is near to them who turn to him, as it is
written in the book of Heldam and Modal, who prophesied to the
people of Israel in the wilderness.
The reference is to Eldad and Medad, found in
Numbers 11:26, 27.
31. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
Moreover, brethren, it was revealed to me, as I was sleeping, by
a very considerate young man, saying to me, What did you think of
that old woman from whom you received the book; who is she? I
answered, A Sybil.
A sybil was a female diviner of the future.
32. You are mistaken, he said, she is not. I replied, Who
is she then, sir? He answered me, It is the Church of God.
33. And I said to him, Why then does she appear old? He
said, She is therefore an old woman, because she was the first of
all the creation, and the world was made for her.
34. After this I saw a vision in my own house: the old
woman whom I had seen before came to me and asked me whether I
had yet delivered her book to the elders of the church. I
answered that I had not yet.
35. She replied, You have done well, for I have certain
words more to tell you. But when I shall have finished all the
words, they will be clearly understood by the elect.
36. And you will write two books, and send one to Clement
and one to Grapte. Clement will send it to the foreign cities,
because it is permitted to him so to do, but Grapte will admonish
the widows and orphans.
Since it is unlikely the Clement who was pope from
A.D. 88-97 is meant, the identity of these men is
37. But you will read in this city with the elders of the
Of the building of the church triumphant, and of the several
sorts of reprobates.
1. The vision which I saw, brethren, was this:
2. When I had often fasted and prayed to the Lord so that
he would give me the revelation he had promised by the old woman
to show to me, the same night she appeared and said to me:
3. Because you thus afflict yourself and are so desirous to
know all things, come into the field, wherever you choose, and
about the sixth hour, I will appear to you and show you what you
The sixth hour means noon. (The day began at 6 a.m., the first hour.)
4. I asked her, saying: Lady, into what part of the field?
She answered, wherever you prefer, only choose a good and a
private place. And before I began to speak and tell her the
place, she said to me, I will come there.
5. I was therefore, brethren, in the field, and I observed
the hours and came into the place where I had appointed her to
6. And I beheld a bench placed there. It was a linen
pillow, and over it spread a covering of fine linen.
7. When I saw these things arranged in this manner and that
there was nobody in the place, I began to be astonished, and
because I was alone, my hair stood on end and a kind of horror
8. But, being come to myself, and calling to mind the glory
of God and taking courage, I fell down upon my knees and began
again to confess my sins as before.
9. And while I was doing this, the old woman came there
with the six young men whom I had seen before, and stood behind
me as I was praying, and heard me praying and confessing my sins
to the Lord.
10. And touching me, she said: Stop praying now only for
your sins; pray also for righteousness, that you may receive a
part of her in your house.
11. And she lifted me up from the place and took me by the
hand, and brought me to the seat and said to the young men, Go,
12. And soon as they were departed, and we were alone, she
said to me, Sit here. I answered her, Lady, let those who are
elder sit first. She replied, Sit down as I bid you.
13. And when I would have sat on the right side, she did
not permit me, but made a sign to me with her hand that I should
sit on the left.
14. As I was therefore musing and full of sorrow that she
would not allow me to sit on the right side, she said to me,
Hermas, why are you sad?
15. The place which is on the right hand is theirs who have
already attained to God and have suffered for his name's sake.
But there is yet a great deal remaining to you before you can sit
16. But continue as you do in your sincerity, and you will
sit with them, as will all others who do their works and will
bear what they have borne.
17. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] I
said to her, Lady, I would know what it is that they have
suffered? Hear then, she said: wild beasts, floggings,
imprisonments, and crosses for his name's sake.
18. For this reason the right hand of holiness belongs to
them and to all others as many as will suffer for the name of
God, but the left belongs to the rest.
19. However the gifts and the promises belong to both, to
them on the right, and to those on the left hand; only that
sitting on the right hand they have some glory above the others.
20. But you are desirous to sit on the right hand with
them, and yet your defects are many. But you will be purged from
your defects, just as also all who do not doubt will be cleansed
from all the sins they have committed to this day.
21. And when she had said this, she would have departed.
22. Therefore, falling down before her feet, I began to
entreat her for the Lord's sake that she would show me the vision
she had promised.
23. Then she again took me by the hand and lifted me up,
and made me sit upon the seat on the left side, and holding up a
certain bright wand, said to me, See that great thing? I
replied, Lady I see nothing.
24. She answered, Do you not see opposite you a great tower
with bright square stones built upon the water?
25. For the tower was built upon a square by these six
young men who came with her.
26. But many thousands of other men brought stones; some
drew them out of the deep, others carried them from the ground,
and gave them to the six young men. And they took them and
27. As for those stones that were pulled out of the deep,
they put them all into the building, for they were polished, and
their squares exactly corresponded to one another that one was
joined to the other so that there was no space to be seen where
they joined, so much so that the whole tower appeared to be built
as if it were of one stone.
28. But as for the other stones that were taken off from
the ground, some of them they rejected, others they fitted into
29. As for those that were rejected, some they cut out and
cast at a distance from the tower, but many others of them lay
round about the tower, which they made no use of in the building.
30. For some of these were rough, others had clefts in
them, others were white and round, not proper for the building of
31. But I saw the other stones cast afar off from the tower
and falling into the highway, and yet not continuing in the way,
but were rolled from the way into a desert place.
32. Others I saw falling into the fire and burning; others
fell near the water, yet could not roll themselves into it,
though very desirous to fall into the water.
33. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
when she had showed me these things she would have departed, but
I said to her, Lady, what does it profit me to see these things
and not understand what they mean?
34. She answered and said to me, You are very shrewd to
desire to know those things which relate to the tower. Yes, I
said, Lady, so that I may declare them to the brethren, and they
may rejoice, and hearing these things may glorify God with great
35. Then she said, Many indeed will hear them, and when
they will have heard them, some will rejoice, and others weep.
And yet even these, if they will repent, will rejoice too.
36. Hear therefore what I shall say concerning the parable
of the tower, and after this do not any longer be importunate
with me about the revelation.
37. For these revelations have an end, seeing they are
fulfilled. But you do not desist to desire revelations, for you
are very persistent.
38. As for the tower which you see built, it is myself,
namely the Church, which appeared to you both now and before.
Therefore ask what you will concerning the tower, and I will
reveal it to you, so that you may rejoice with the saints.
39. I said to her, Lady, because you have thought me once
worthy to receive from you the revelation of all these things,
declare them to me.
40. She answered me, Whatever is fit to be revealed to you
will be revealed; only let your heart be with the Lord, and do
not doubt whatever you will see.
41. I asked her, Lady, why is the tower built upon the
water? She replied, I said before to you that you were very wise
to inquire diligently concerning the building, therefore you will
find the truth.
42. Hear therefore why the tower is built upon the water:
because your life is and will be saved by water. For it
[baptism] is founded by the word of the almighty and honorable
name, and is supported by the invisible power and virtue of God.
The water refers to baptism according to the
interpretation following in verses 75, 76. See also
43. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And I
answering, said to her, These things are very admirable, but
Lady, who are those six men that build?
44. She said, They are the angels of God who were first
appointed, and to whom the Lord has delivered all his creatures,
to frame and build them up, and to rule over them. For by these
the building of the tower will be finished.
Compare with: "...built upon the foundation of the
apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the
chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly
framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the
Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an
habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21)
45. And who are the rest who bring them stones?
46. They also are the holy angels of the Lord, but the
others are more excellent than these. When the whole building of
the tower will be finished, they will all feast together beside
the tower, and will glorify God because the structure of the
tower is finished.
47. I asked her, saying, I would know the condition of the
stones, and the meaning of them, what it is?
48. She answering, said to me, Are you better than all
others that this should be revealed to you? For others are both
before you, and better than you are, to whom these visions should
be made manifest.
49. Nevertheless, that the name of God may be glorified, it
has been and will be revealed to you for the sake of those who
are doubtful, and wonder in their hearts whether these things are
so or not.
50. Tell them that all these things are true, and that
there is nothing in them that is not true; but all are firm and
51. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Hear
now then concerning the stones that are in the building.
52. The square and white stones which agree exactly in
their joints, are the apostles, and bishops, and doctors, and
ministers, who through the mercy of God have come in, and
governed, and taught and ministered holily and modestly to the
elect of God, both those who have fallen asleep and those who yet
remain, who have always agreed with them, and have had peace
within themselves, and have heard each other.
53. For this reason their joints exactly meet together in
the building of the tower.
54. They which are dug out of the deep and put into the
building, and whose joints agree with the other stones that are
already built, are those who have suffered for the sake of the
Lord's name and are already fallen asleep.
55. And what are the other stones, Lady, that are brought
from the earth? I would know what are they.
56. She answered, They that lie upon the ground and are not
polished, are those which God has approved because they have
walked in the law of the Lord and directed their ways in his
57. They that are brought and put in the building of the
tower are the young in faith and the faithful. And these are
admonished by the angels to do well because iniquity is not found
58. But who are those whom they rejected and laid beside
59. They are such as have sinned and are willing to repent;
for this reason they are not cast far from the tower, because
they will be useful for the building, if they will repent.
60. They therefore that are yet to repent, if they will
repent, will become strong in the faith; that is, if they repent
now, while the tower is building. For if the building will be
finished, then there will be no place for them to be put in, but
they will be rejected, for he only has this privilege who will
now be put into the tower.
61. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] But
would you know who they are that were cut out, and cast afar off
from the tower? Lady, I said, I desire it.
62. They are the children of iniquity, who believed only in
hypocrisy, but departed not from their evil ways; for this they
will not be saved, because they are not of any use in the
building by reason of their sins.
63. Therefore they are cut out and cast afar off, because
of the anger of the Lord, and because they have provoked him to
anger against them.
64. As for the great number of other stones you have seen
placed about the tower but not put into the buildings, those that
are rugged are they who have known the truth, but have not
continued in it, nor been joined to the saints, and therefore are
of no use.
65. Those that have clefts in them are they that keep up
discord in their hearts against each other and live not in peace,
who are friendly when present with their brethren, but as soon as
they are departed from one another, their wickedness still
continues in their hearts: these are the clefts which are seen in
66. Those that are maimed and short are they who indeed
have believed but still are in great measure full of wickedness;
this is the reason they are maimed and not whole.
67. But what are the white and round stones, Lady, and
which are not suitable for the building of the tower?
68. She answering said to me, How long will you continue
foolish and without understanding, asking everything and
69. They are such as have faith indeed, but have the riches
of this present world besides. When therefore any tribulations
arise, for the sake of their riches and traffic, they deny the
70. I answering, said to her, When therefore will they be
profitable to the Lord? She said, When their riches in which
they take delight will be cut away, then they will be profitable
to the Lord for his building.
71. As a round stone's bulk cannot be made square unless it
be cut away and part discarded, so they who are rich in this
world, unless their riches be pared off, cannot be made
profitable to the Lord.
72. Learn this from your own experience, for you also once
were one of those stones: when you were rich you were
unprofitable, but now you are profitable and fit for the life
which you have undertaken;
73. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
for the rest of the stones which you saw cast afar off from the
tower, and running in the way, and tumbled out of the way into
desert places, they are such as have believed indeed, but through
their doubting have forsaken the true way, thinking they could
find a better. But they wander and are miserable, going into
74. Then for those stones which fell into the fire and were
burned, they are those who have finally departed from the living
God; nor does it ever come into their hearts to repent, by reason
of the affection which they bear to their lusts and wickedness
which they commit.
75. And what are the rest which fell by the water, and
could not roll into the water?
76. They are such as have heard the word and were willing
to be baptized in the name of the Lord, but considering the great
holiness which the truth requires, have withdrawn themselves and
walked again after their wicked lusts.
77. Thus she finished the explication of the tower.
78. But I still being earnest, asked her, Is there
repentance allowed to all those stones which are thus cast away
and were not suitable to the building of the tower, and will they
find a place in this tower?
79. They may repent, she said, but they cannot come into
this tower. They will be placed in a much lower rank, and this
after they will have been afflicted and fulfilled the days of
80. They will be removed because they have received the
word of righteousness; if they will have a true sense in their
hearts of what they have done amiss, then they will be delivered
from their afflictions.
81. But if they will not have this sense in their hearts,
they will not be saved because of the hardness of their hearts.
82. When I had finished asking her concerning all these
things, she said to me, Will you see somewhat else? And being
desirous of seeing it, I became very cheerful of countenance.
83. She therefore looking back upon me, and smiling a
little, said to me, do you see seven women about the tower?
Lady, I said, I see them.
84. This tower, she replied, is supported by them,
according to the command of the Lord: hear therefore the effects
85. The first of them, who holds fast with her hand, is
called Faith, for by her the elect will be saved. The next, who
is ready for action and looks valiant, is named Abstinence: she
is the daughter of Faith.
86. Whoever therefore will follow her will be happy in all
his life, because he will abstain from all evil works, believing
that if he will restrain himself from all concupiscence, he will
be the heir of eternal life. And what, Lady, I said, are the
87. She replied, They are the daughters of one another.
The first of them is called Simplicity, the next Innocence, the
third Modesty, then Discipline, and the last of all is Charity.
When therefore you will have fulfilled the works of their mother,
you will be able to do all things.
88. Lady, I said, I would know what particular virtue every
one of these has.
89. Hear then, she replied: they have equal virtues, and
their virtues are knit together, and follow one another as they
90. From Faith proceeds Abstinence; from Abstinence,
Simplicity; from Simplicity, Innocence; from Innocence, Modesty;
from Modesty, Discipline and Charity. Therefore the works of
these are holy, and chaste, and right.
91. Whoever therefore will serve these and hold fast to
their works, he will have his dwelling in the tower with the
saints of God.
92. Then I asked her concerning the times, whether the end
was now at hand.
93. But she cried out with a loud voice, saying, O foolish
man! Do you not see the tower yet being built? When therefore
the tower will be finished, and built, it will have an end; and
indeed it will soon be accomplished.
94. But do not ask me any more. What has been said may
suffice you and all the saints for the refreshment of your
spirits. For these things have not been revealed to you only,
but that you may make them manifest to all.
95. Therefore, O Hermas, after three days you must
understand these words which I begin to speak to you, that you
may speak them in the ears of the saints; so that when they will
have heard and done them, they may be cleansed from their
iniquities, and you together with them.
96. Hear me therefore, O my sons! I have brought you up in
much simplicity, and innocence, and modesty for the love of God,
which has dropped down upon you in righteousness, that you should
be sanctified and justified from all sin and wickedness; but you
will not cease from your evil doings.
97. Now therefore pay attention to me, and have peace one
with another, and visit one with another, and receive one
another, and do not enjoy the creatures of God alone.
98. Give freely to those in need. For some by too free
feeding contract an infirmity in their flesh and do injury to
their bodies; while the flesh of others, who do not have food,
withers away, because they lack sufficient nourishment, and their
bodies are consumed.
99. This intemperance is hurtful to you who have, and do
not communicate to them that need. Prepare for the judgment that
is about to come upon you.
100. You who are the more eminent, search out them who are
hungry while the tower is yet unfinished. For when the tower
will be finished, you will be willing to do good but will not
find any place in it.
101. Beware, therefore, you who glory in your riches, for
fear perhaps they groan who are in need, and their sighing come
up to God, and you be shut out with your goods without the gate
of the tower.
102. Behold I now warn you who are set over the church and
love the highest seats, do not be like those who work mischief.
103. And they indeed carry about their poison in boxes, but
you contain your poison and infection in your hearts, and will
not purge them. Mix your sense with a pure heart, so you may
find mercy with the Great King.
104. Take heed, my children, that your dissensions do not
deprive you of your lives. How will you instruct the elect of
God, when you yourselves need correction? Therefore admonish one
another and be at peace among yourselves, that I, standing before
your Father, may give an account of you to the Lord.
105. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] When
she had ended talking with me, the six young men that built came
and carried her to the tower; and four others took up the seat on
which she had sat, and they also went away again to the tower. I
did not see the faces of these, for their backs were towards me.
106. As she was going away, I asked her that she would
reveal to me what concerned the three forms in which she had
appeared to me.
107. But she answering said to me, Concerning these things
you must ask some other, that they may be revealed to you.
108. Now, brethren, in the first vision the last year, she
appeared to me exceeding old, and sitting in a chair.
109. In another vision, she indeed had a youthful face, but
her flesh and hair were old; but she talked with me standing, and
was more cheerful than the first time.
110. In the third vision, she was in all respects much
younger, and appealing to the eye; only she had the hair of an
aged person; yet she looked cheerful, and sat upon a seat.
111. I was therefore very sad concerning these things,
until I might understand the vision.
112. Then I saw the same old woman in a vision of the night
saying to me, All prayer needs humiliation. Fast, therefore, and
you will learn what you ask from the Lord. I fasted therefore
113. The same night a young man appeared to me and said,
Why do you thus often desire revelations in your prayers? Take
heed that by asking many things, you hurt not the body. Let
these revelations suffice you.
114. Can you see more notable revelations than those you
have already received?
115. I answered and said to him, Sir, I only ask this one
thing upon the account of the three figures of the old woman who
appeared to me, that the revelation may be complete.
116. He answered me, You are not without understanding, but
your doubts make you so because you do not have your heart with
117. I replied and said, But we shall learn these things
more carefully from you.
118. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Hear
then, he said, concerning the figures about which you inquire.
119. In the first vision she appeared to you in the shape
of an old woman sitting in a chair, because your old spirit was
decayed and without strength by reason of the debilitation and
doubtfulness of your heart.
120. For as they who are old have no hope of renewing
themselves, nor expect anything but their departure; so you,
being weakened through your worldly affairs, gave yourself up to
sloth, and did not cast away your solicitude from yourself upon
the Lord; so your sense was confused, and you became broken by
Compare "cast away your solicitude from yourself
upon the Lord" with: "Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
121. But, Sir, I would know why she sat upon a chair?
122. He answered, Because everyone who is weak sits upon a
chair because of his infirmity, so that his weakness may be
upheld. Consider therefore the figure of the first vision.
123. In the second vision you saw her standing and having a
youthful face and more cheerful than before, but her flesh and
her hair were ancient. Hear, he said, this parable also.
124. When anyone grows old, he despairs of himself by
reason of his infirmity and poverty, and expects nothing but the
last day of his life.
125. But suddenly an inheritance is left to him, and he
hears of it, and rises; and becoming cheerful, he puts on new
strength. Now he no longer sits down, but stands, and is
delivered from his former sorrow, and does not sit, but acts
126. So you, having heard the revelation which God revealed
to you because God had compassion upon you and renewed your
spirit, both laid aside your infirmities, and strength came to
you, and you grew strong in the faith. And God, seeing your
127. For this reason he showed you the building of the
tower and will show other things to you, if you will have peace
with all your heart among each other.
128. But in the third vision you saw her yet younger, fair
and cheerful, and of a serene countenance.
129. For as if some good news comes to him who is sad, he
immediately forgets his sadness and regards nothing else but the
good news which he has heard, and for the rest he is comforted,
and his spirit is renewed through the joy which he has received.
Likewise you have been refreshed in your spirit by seeing these
130. And when you saw her sitting upon a bench, it denotes
a strong position, because a bench has four feet and stands
strongly. And even the world itself is upheld by the four
Meaning the four elements in ancient Greek
thought: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
131. Therefore they who repent perfectly will be young, and
they who turn from their sins with their whole heart will be
Compare with: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine
iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth
thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with
lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy
mouth with good [things]; so [that] thy youth is
renewed like the eagle's." (Psalm 103:5); "But they
that wait upon the Lord shall renew [their] strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall
run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not
faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
132. And now that you have the revelation fully, ask no
more to have anything further revealed to you.
133. But if anything is to be revealed, it will be made
plain to you.
Of the trial and tribulation that is about to come upon men.
1. I saw a vision, brethren, twenty days after the former
vision: a representation of the tribulation that is at hand. I
was walking in the field.
2. Now from the public way to the place where I went is
about ten furlongs; it is a way very little frequented:
Ten furlongs is one and a fourth miles.
3. As I was walking alone, I entreated the Lord that he
would confirm the revelations he had showed me by his Holy
4. And would grant repentance to all his servants who had
been offended, so his great and honorable name might be
glorified, and because he thought me worthy to show his wonders,
and, that I might honor him and give thanks to him.
5. And behold somewhat like a voice answered me, Doubt not,
Hermas. I began to think and say within myself, Why should I
doubt, seeing I am thus settled by the Lord and have seen such
6. I had gone but a little farther, brethren, when behold I
saw a dust rise up to heaven. I began to say within myself, Is
there a drove of cattle coming, that raises such a dust?
7. It was about a furlong off from me. And behold I saw
the dust rise more and more, so much that I began to suspect that
there was something extraordinary in it.
8. The sun shone a little, and behold, I saw a great beast,
as it were a whale, and fiery locusts came out of his mouth. The
height of the beast was about a hundred feet, and he had a head
like a large earthen vessel.
9. I began to weep, and to pray to the Lord that he would
deliver me from it. Then I called to mind the words which I had
heard: Doubt not, Hermas.
10. Therefore, brethren, putting on a divine faith, and
remembering who it was that had taught me great things, I
delivered myself bodily to the beast.
11. Now the beast came on in such a manner, as if it could
have devoured a city at once.
12. I came near to it, and the beast extended its whole
bulk upon the ground, and put forth nothing but its tongue, nor
once moved itself till I had quite passed by it.
13. Now the beast had upon its head four colors: first
black, then a red and bloody color, then a golden, and then a
14. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After
I had passed by it and was gone forward about thirty feet, behold
there met me a certain virgin, well adorned as if she had just
come out of her bridal chamber, all in white, having on white
shoes, a veil down her face, and covered with shining hair.
15. Now I knew by my former visions that it was the Church,
and thereupon I grew more cheerful. She saluted me saying, Hail,
O Man! I returned the salutation, saying, Lady, Hail!
16. She answering said to me, Did nothing meet you, O man?
I replied, Lady, there met me such a beast as seemed able to
devour a whole people, but by the power of God and through his
singular mercy, I escaped it.
17. You escaped it well, she said, because you cast your
whole care upon God, and opened your heart to him, believing that
you could be safe only by his great and honorable name.
18. For this reason the Lord sent his angel who is over the
beast, whose name is Hegrin, and stopped his mouth, that he
should not devour you. You have escaped a great trial through
your faith, and because you did not doubt for such a terrible
19. Therefore go and relate to the elect of God the great
things that he has done for you. And you will say to them that
this beast is the figure of the trial that is about to come.
20. If therefore you will have prepared yourselves, you may
escape it, if your heart be pure and without spot, and if you
will serve God all the rest of your days without complaint.
21. Cast all your cares upon the Lord, and he will govern
them. Believe in God, you doubtful, because he can do all
things; he can both turn away his wrath from you, and send you
help and security.
22. Woe to the doubtful, to those who will hear these words
and will despise them: it would be better for them if they had
not been born.
23. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then
I asked her concerning the four colors which the beast had upon
its head. But she answered me saying, Again you are curious in
asking concerning these things. But I said to her, Lady, show me
what they are.
24. Hear, she said: The black which you saw denotes the
world in which you dwell. The fiery and bloody color signifies
that this age must be destroyed by fire and blood.
25. You who have escaped out of it are the golden part.
For as gold is made profitable by fire, so you who dwell among
the men of this world are also to be tried in a similar manner.
Compare with: "Beloved, think it not strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as
though some strange thing happened unto you: But
rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's
sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye
may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:12,
26. They therefore who will be verified by them will be
purged and will endure to the end. And as gold by this trial is
cleansed and loses its dross, so you also will cast away all
sorrow and trouble, and be made pure for the building of the
Compare with: "And I will turn my hand upon thee,
and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy
tin." (Isaiah 1:25)
27. But the white color denotes a time of the world that is
to come, in which the elect of God will dwell because the elect
of God will be pure and without blemish until life eternal.
Compare with: "...which have not defiled their
garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for
they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be
clothed in white raiment." (Revelation 3:4, 5);
"...what are these which are arrayed in white robes??
and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou
knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came
out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes,
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
(Revelation 7:13, 14)
28. Therefore you must not cease to speak these things in
the ears of the saints. Here you have the figure of the great
tribulation about to come, which, if you please, will be nothing
to you. Keep therefore in mind the things I have said to you.
29. When she had spoken this, she departed. I did not see
where she went, but suddenly I heard a noise, and I turned back
afraid, for I thought the beast was coming toward me.