There is probably no manuscript in the monastic libraries of Mount Athos which has a greater value than the fragments which are here reproduced; but a glance at the plates will show that this importance is due neither to age nor to beauty. Their sole interest is to be found in their contents and in their curious history in the nineteenth century. Though the Shepherd of Hermas was one of the most popular books in the earliest periods of church history, it so completely went out of fashion that we do not possess a single Greek manuscript of the complete text, and only two of any large portions. Of these two the famous Codex Sinaiticus is the older and more valuable, but unfortunately it only contains the first quarter of the book. The other is the manuscript originally containing the whole text in 10 leaves, of which the Athos fragments are now reproduced in this volume.
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Kirsopp Lake (1872–1946) was born in England. He was a biblical scholar, curate, and archaeologist. He taught early Christian literature at the University of Leiden and Harvard University.