Andrew C. Clark on Apostleship: Evidence From the New Testament and Early Christian Literature

The following article is now available on-line in PDF:

Andrew C. Clark, “Apostleship: Evidence From the New Testament and Early Christian Literature,” Vox Evangelica 19 (1989): 49-82.

An interesting an wide-ranging study of what it the term “apostle” meant in the early church. The summary reads:

W Bauer comments that in early Christian literature generally, ‘the number twelve stands so fast that exceedingly often twelve disciples are spoken of where actually only eleven can be meant eg Gospel of Peter 5:9; Ascension of Isaiah 3:17; 4:3; 11:29; Kerygma Petrou’. Much is said in the apocryphal Acts and Epistles of the various views and activities of the apostles after the ascension, especially of their missionary work throughout the world. Paul is not deliberately excluded from the number, but ‘it was only when Marcion and later Jewish Christianity began to play Paul against the earliest apostles that thought was given to the circle of apostles, and the Early Catholic Church maintained that “the twelve and Paul” qualified as apostles’. As regards the apostolic writings, it was probably the rise of Montanus, who advocated ‘the new prophecy’, that is the continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit as in apostolic times, that raised the hermeneutical question of the status of apostolic and post-apostolic writings respectively. Gerald Bray comments that ‘Tertullian is the first Christian writer to regard the apostolic age as definitely over, and to quote the writings of the apostles on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures as a matter of course’. He points out, however, that ‘the fact that he could do this without argument shows that the apostolic writings must have been regarded as Scripture even before his time’.