Bardy, G. (Trans. P.W. Singleton). "Chapter One: The Writings." The Church at the End of the First Century. London: Sands & Co. 1938, 5-38.
In the beginning of his attempt to draw a picture of Christianity at the end of the first century, Bardy reviews a number of writings. He observes that these works, in general, are contemporary witnesses to the events and settings they describe (Bardy 1938, 5).
By the year 150, Papias had written a five book Exegesis of the Discourses of the Lord. Bardy provides the prologue, as preserved by Eusebius (Bardy 1938, 5-6). The text refers to ta desire to recall what the Lord had said, based on eyewitness accounts. The rest of the Exegesis is lost apart from some brief quotations in Irenaeus and Eusebius (Bardy 1938, 6).
Hegesippus, before 180, wrote a book of Commentaries, describing the succession of leadership in different churches (Bardy 1938, 6). His intention was to establish how and where sound, apostolic doctrine was preserved. Some fragments have been preserved by Eusebius, particularly pertaining to the Christian communities in Palestine (Bardy 1938, 7).
Bardy considers the canonical writings attributed to St. John to be part of the testimony pertaining to the end of the first century, as they were written later than the other New Testament writings (Bardy 1938, 8). The apocalypse, likely written during the reign of Domitian, followed patterns which were in common use at the time (Bardy 1938, 9). Apocalyptic writings both encouraged those enduring troubles and warned against coming judgment. Bardy places the writing of John's Gospel after that of Revelation, after the end of Domitian's reign and the release of prisoners from Patmos (Bardy 1938, 11). John's Gospel takes a purposely spiritual and historic tone, demonstrating that Jesus is the truly incarnate Son of God. Bardy dates the Johanine Epistles to the same period as the Gospel. He takes the first to be the mst important due to its emphasis on the divinity and Messiahship of Jesus (Bardy 1938, 13).
The letter of St. Clement to the Corinthians is "the oldest Chrsitian document, which can be definitively dated, outside the writings of the New Testament" (Bardy 1938, 15). Though the letter is formally from the church at Rome, it is unanimously ascribed to Clement, the third successor of Peter as bishop in Rome. The letter not only speaks to the schisms and dissension in Corinth, but it aso indicates the close relationship between the two communities (Bardy 1938, 16).
Ignatius, likely the third bishop of Antioch (Bardy 1938, 17) in a time of persecution early in the second century was condemned to be taken to Rome and be executed (Bardy 1938, 18). Bardy notes the letters of Ignatius were written as Ignatius was en route to Rome. He expresses willingness, even eagerness, to die as a Christian (Bardy 1938, 19). It is clear from his letters that there is a liturgy in place, that orthodoxy and heresy are known, and that bishops are recognized as those who govern the church in all places (Bardy 1938, 20).
Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was visited by ignatius as he passed through. He wrote an account of Ignatius' letters and some general advice based on a request by some Christians in Philippi (Bardy 1938, 20). Polycarp was a disciple of John, had been made bishop of Smyrna at a young age, and continued in that role until his death in 155 or 156. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp (Bardy 1938, 21). His letter to the Philippians is a wealth of information about community organization around A.D. 100.
In contrast to the works cited earlier, little is known about the date or composition of the Didache (Bardy 1938, 21). It was early treated not as Scripture, but as suitable for reading and instruction. Around the fourth century it largely fell out of use. It was lost until the late 19th century (Bardy 1938, 22). Bardy describes the content in some deatil. He notes the archaic nature and the Jewish rootes of the eucharistic prayers, though he does not elaborate on them in detail (Bardy 1938, 22-23).
Bardy notes the Epistle of Barnabas also contains a teaching of the ways of life and death, similar to that of the Didache (Bardy 1938, 24). The epistle takes an allegorical approach to God's Law, saying that the reason Jews had been rejected by God was due to their failure to interpret Scripture as an allegory (Bardy 1938, 26). Deating of the letter is challenging. However, Bardy notes the sixth chapter speaks of the temple. This indicates to him a time of reconstruction and re-assertion of Jewish independence, possibly in the time of Hadrian (Bardy 1938, 27).
Bardy goes on to speak of a number of apocryphal Gospels (Bardy 1938, 28ff). The Gospel according to the Hebrews probably dates to the end of the first century. Though Jerome claims to have translated it from Aramaic into both Greek and Latin, it is known only by small, fragmentary quotes. The Gospel according to the Egyptians may be slightly more recent than the former. It takes a strongly ascetic view, as far as we can tell from the few fragments we have (Bardy 1938, 31). Finally, the Gospel of Peter, of which we have approximately sixty verses, was probably written prior to 13-140 (Bardy 1938, 32). It has an interest in defending the power of Jesus, even by introducing new and supernatural details into the account of the resurrection.
Bardy concludes the chapter with an account of the Odes of Solomon, which were known in a Gnostic work and then Lactantius, and then were rediscovered in 1909 (Bardy 1938, 33). The work most likely dates from the last quarter of the 1st century. Bardy finds a Johanine spirit in the work, which he quotes at some length (Bardy 1938, 33-35).