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1. The Alexandrian Catechetical School. Clement of Alexandria.657657 Guericke, De schola, quæ Alex. floruit catechetica 1824, 1825. Vacherot, Hist. crit. de l’école d’Alex., 1846-51. Reinkens, De Clemente Alex., 1850. Redepenning, Origenes Thl. I. p. 57 ff. Læmmer, Clem. Al. de Logo doctrina, 1855. Reuter, Clem. theolog. moralis, 1853. Cognat, Clement d’Alex. Paris, 1859. Westcott, Origen and the beginnings of Christian Philosophy (Contemporary Review, May 1879). Winter, Die Ethik des Clemens von Alex., 1882. Merk, Cl. Alex. in seiner Abhängigkeit von der griech. Philosophie, Leipzig, 1879 (see besides Overbeck, Theol. Lit. Ztg., 1879. No. 20 and cf. above all his disquisitions in the treatise “Ueber. die Anfänge der patristischen Litteratur,” Hist. Ztschr. N. F., Vol. XII., pp. 455-472 Zahn, Forschungen, Vol. III. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, Oxford, 1886. Kremmer, De catal. heurematum, Lips. 1890. Wendland, Quæst. Musonianæ, Berol. 1886. Bratke, Die Stellung des Clem. Alex. z. antiken Mysterienwesen (Stud. u. Krit. 1888, p. 647 ff.). On Alexander of Jerusalem see Routh, Reliq. Sacr. T. II. p. 161 sq.; on Julius Africanus see Gelzer, Sextus Jul. Afr. I. Thl., 1880, p. 1 ff., Spitta, Der Brief des Jul. Afr. an Aristides, Halle 1877, and my article in the Real-Encykl. On Bardesanes see Hilgenfeld, B., der letzte Gnostiker, 1864, and Hort’s article in the Dictionary of Christian Biography. On the labours in scientific theology on the part of the so-called Alogi in Asia Minor and of the Roman Theodotianists see Epiph. hær. 51, Euseb., H. E. V. 28 and my article “Monarchianismus” in the R.-Encykl. f. protest. Theol. 2nd. ed., Vol. X., pp 183 ff., 188 ff. On the tendencies even of orthodox Christians to scientific theology see Tertull., de præscr. hær. 8 ff. (cf. the first words of c. 8: “Venio itaque ad illum articulum, quem et nostri prætendunt ad ineundam curiositatem. Scriptum est, inquiunt, Quærite et invenietis” etc.).
“The work of Irenæus still leaves it undecided whether the form of the world’s literature, as found in the Christian Church, 320is destined only to remain a weapon to combat its enemies, or is to become an instrument of peaceful labour within its own territory.” With these words Overbeck has introduced his examination of Clement of Alexandria’s great masterpiece from the standpoint of the historian of literature. They may be also applied to the history of theology. As we have shown, Irenæus, Tertullian (and Hippolytus) made use of philosophical theology to expel heretical elements; but all the theological expositions that this interest suggested to them as necessary, were in their view part of the faith itself. At least we find in their works absolutely no clear expression of the fact that faith is one thing and theology another, though rudimentary indications of such distinctions are found. Moreover, their adherence to the early-Christian eschatology in its entirety, as well as their rejection of a qualitative distinction between simple believers and ‘Gnostics’, proved that they themselves were deceived as to the scope of their theological speculations, and that moreover their Christian interest was virtually satisfied with subjection to the authority of tradition, with the early-Christian hopes, and with the rules for a holy life. But since about the time of Commodus, and in some cases even earlier, we can observe, even in ecclesiastical circles, the 321growing independence and might of the aspiration for a scientific knowledge and treatment of the Christian religion, that is of Christian tradition.658658This manner of expression is indeed liable to be misunderstood, because it suggests the idea that something new was taking place. As a matter of fact the scientific labours in the Church were merely a continuation of the Gnostic schools under altered circumstances, that is, under the sway of a tradition which was now more clearly defined and more firmly fenced round as a noli me tangere. There is a wish to maintain this tradition in its entirety and hence the Gnostic theses are rejected. The selection from tradition, made in opposition to Gnosticism — though indeed in accordance with its methods — and declared to be apostolic, is accepted. But there is a desire to treat the given material in a strictly scientific manner, just as the Gnostics had formerly done, that is, on the one hand to establish it by a critical and historical exegesis, and on the other to give it a philosophical form and bring it into harmony with the spirit of the times. Along with this we also find the wish to incorporate the thoughts of Paul which now possessed divine authority.659659 This was begun in the Church by Irenæus and Tertullian and continued by the Alexandrians. They, however, not only adopted theologoumena from Paulinism, but also acquired from Paul a more ardent feeling of religious freedom as well as a deeper reverence for love and knowledge as contrasted with lower morality. Accordingly schools and scholastic unions now make their appearance afresh, the old schools having been expelled from the Church.660660We are not able to form a clear idea of the school of Justin. In the year 180 the schools of the Valentinians, Carpocratians, Tatian etc. were all outside the Church. In Asia Minor such efforts had already begun shortly before the time when the canon of holy apostolic tradition was fixed by the ecclesiastical authorities (Alogi). From the history of Clement of Alexandria, the life of bishop Alexander, after-wards bishop of Jerusalem, and subsequently from the history of Origen (we may also mention Firmilian of Cæsarea), we learn that there was in Cappadocia about the year 200 a circle of ecclesiastics who zealously applied themselves to scientific pursuits. Bardesanes, a man of high repute, laboured in the Christian kingdom of Edessa about the same time. He wrote treatises on philosophical theology, which indeed, judged by a Western standard, could not be accounted orthodox, and directed a theological school which maintained its ground in the third 322century and attained great importance.661661On the school of Edessa see Assemani, Bibl. orient., T. III., P. II., p. 924; Von Lengerke, De Ephraemi arte hermen., p. 86 sq.; Kihn, Die Bedeutung der antiochenischen Schule etc., pp. 32 f. 79 f., Zahn, Tatian’s Diatessaron, p. 54. About the middle of the 3rd century Macarius, of whom Lucian the Martyr was a disciple, taught at this school. Special attention was given to the exegesis of the Holy Scriptures. In Palestine, during the time of Heliogabalus and Alexander (Severus), Julius Africanus composed a series of books on scientific theology, which were specifically different from the writings of Irenæus and Tertullian; but which on the other hand show the closest relationship in point of form to the treatises of the so-called Gnostics. His inquiries into the relationship of the genealogies of Jesus and into certain parts of the Greek Apocalypse of Daniel showed that the Church’s attention had been drawn to problems of historical criticism. In his chronography the apologetic interest is subordinate to the historical, and in his Κεστοί, dedicated to Alexander Severus (Hippolytus had already dedicated a treatise on the resurrection to the wife of Heliogabalus), we see fewer traces of the Christian than of the Greek scholar. Alexander of Ælia and Theoktistus of Cæsarea, the occupants of the two most important sees in Palestine, were, contemporaneously with him, zealous patrons of an independent science of theology. Even at that early time the former founded an important theological library; and the fragments of his letters preserved to us prove that he had caught not only the language, but also the scientific spirit of the age. In Rome, at the beginning of the third century, there was a scientific school where textual criticism of the Bible was pursued and where the works of Aristotle, Theophrastus, Euclid, and Galen were zealously read and utilised. Finally, the works of Tertullian show us that, even among the Christians of Carthage, there was no lack of such as wished to naturalise the pursuit of science within the Church; and Eusebius (H. E. V. 27) has transmitted to us the titles of a series of scientific works dating as far back as the year 200 and ascribed to ecclesiastics of that period.
Whilst all these phenomena, which collectively belong to the close of the second and beginning of the third century, show 323that it was indeed possible to suppress heresy in the Church, but not the impulse from which it sprang, the most striking proof of this conclusion is the existence of the so-called school of catechists in Alexandria. We cannot now trace the origin of this school, which first comes under our notice in the year 190,662662Overbeck, l.c., p. 455, has very rightly remarked: “The origin of the Alexandrian school of catechists is not a portion of the Church history of the 2nd century, that has somehow been left in the dark by a mere accident; but a part of the well-defined dark region on the map of the ecclesiastical historian of this period, which contains the beginnings of all the fundamental institutions of the Church as well as those of the Alexandrian school of catechists, a school which was the first attempt to formulate the relationship of Christianity to secular science.” We are, moreover, still in a state of complete uncertainty as to the personality and teaching of Pantænus (with regard to him see Zahn, “Forschungen” Vol. III., pp. 64 ff. 77 ff.). We can form an idea of the school of catechists from the 6th Book of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History and from the works of Clement and Origen. but we know that the struggle of the Church with heresy was concluded in Alexandria at a later period than in the West. We know further that the school of catechists extended its labours to Palestine and Cappadocia as early as the year 200, and, to all appearance, originated or encouraged scientific pursuits there.663663On the connection of Julius Africanus with this school see Eusebius, VI. 31, As to his relations with Origen see the correspondence. Julius Africanus had, moreover, relations with Edessa. He mentions Clement in his chronicles. On the connection of Alexander and the Cappadocian circle with Pantænus, Clement, and Origen, see the 6th Book of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. Alexander and Origen were disciples of Pantænus. Finally, we know that the existence of this school was threatened in the fourth decade of the third century; but Heraclas was shrewd enough to reconcile the ecclesiastical and scientific interests.664664See my article “Heraklas” in the Real-Encyklopädie. In the Alexandrian school of catechists the whole of Greek science was taught and made to serve the purpose of Christian apologetics. Its first teacher, who is well known to us from the writings he has left, is Clement of Alexandria.665665We have the most complete materials in Zahn, “Forschungen” Vol. III. pp. 17-176. The best estimate of the great tripartite work (Protrepticus, Pædagogus, Stromateis) is found in Overbeck, l.c. The titles of Clement’s remaining works, which are lost to us or only preserved in fragments, show how comprehensive his scientific labours were. His main work is epoch-making. “Clement’s intention is nothing 324less than an introduction to Christianity, or, speaking more correctly and in accordance with the spirit of his work, an initiation into it. The task that Clement sets himself is an introduction to what is inmost and highest in Christianity itself. He aims, so to speak, at first making Christians perfect Christians by means of a work of literature. By means of such a work he wished not merely to repeat to the Christian what life has already done for him as it is, but to elevate him to something still higher than what has been revealed to him by the forms of initiation that the Church has created for herself in the course of a history already dating back a century and a half.” To Clement therefore Gnosis, that is, the (Greek) philosophy of religion, is not only a means of refuting heathenism and heresy, but at the same time of ascertaining and setting forth what is highest and inmost in Christianity. He views it as such, however, because, apart from evangelical sayings, the Church tradition, both collectively and in its details, is something foreign to him; he has subjected himself to its authority, but he can only make it intellectually his own after subjecting it to a scientific and philosophical treatment.666666This applies quite as much to the old principles of Christian morality as to the traditional faith. With respect to the first we may refer to the treatise: “Quis dives salvetur”, and to the 2nd and 3rd Books of the Pædagogus. His great work, which has rightly been called the boldest literary undertaking in the history of the Church,667667Clement was also conscious of the novelty of his undertaking; see Overbeck, l.c., p. 464 f. The respect enjoyed by Clement as a master is shown by the letters of Alexander of Jerusalem. See Euseb., H. E. VI. 11 and specially VI. 14. Here both Pantænus and Clement are called “Father “, but whilst the former receives the title, ὁ μακάριος ὡς ἀληθῶς καὶ κύριος, the latter is called: ὁ ιἑρὸς Κλήμης, κύριός μου γενόμενος καὶ ὠφελήσας με. is consequently the first attempt to use Holy Scripture and the Church tradition together with the assumption that Christ as the Reason of the world is the source of all truth, as the basis of a presentation of Christianity which at once addresses itself to the cultured by satisfying the scientific demand for a philosophical ethic and theory of the world, and at the same time reveals to the believer the rich content of his faith. Here then is found, in form and content, the scientific Christian doctrine of religion which, while not contradicting the faith, does 325not merely support or explain it in a few places, but raises it to another and higher intellectual sphere, namely, out of the province of authority and obedience into that of clear knowledge and inward, intellectual assent emanating from love to God.668668Strom. VI. 14, 109 πλέον ἐστὶν τοῦ πιστεῦσαι τὸ γνῶναι. Pistis is γνῶσις σύντομος τῶν κατεπειγόντων (VII. 10. 57, see the whole chapter), Gnosis is ἀπόδειξις τῶν διὰ πίστεως παρειλημμένων τῇ πίστει ἐποικοδομουμένη (l.c.), τελείωσις ἀνθρώπου (l.c.), πίστις ἐπιστημονική (II. 11.48). Clement cannot imagine that the Christian faith, as found in tradition, can of itself produce the union of intellectual independence and devotion to God which he regards as moral perfection. He is too much of a Greek philosopher for that, and believes that this aim is only reached through knowledge. But in so far as this is only the deciphering of the secrets revealed in the Holy Scriptures through the Logos, secrets which the believer also gains possession of by subjecting himself to them, all knowledge is a reflection of the divine revelation. The lofty ethical and religious ideal of the man made perfect in fellowship with God, which Greek philosophy had developed since the time of Plato and to which it had subordinated the whole scientific knowledge of the world, was adopted and heightened by Clement, and associated not only with Jesus Christ but also with ecclesiastical Christianity. But, whilst connecting it with the Church tradition, he did not shrink from the boldest remodelling of the latter, because the preservation of its wording was to him a sufficient guarantee of the Christian character of the speculation.669669We have here more particularly to consider those paragraphs of the Stromateis where Clement describes the perfect Gnostic: the latter elevates himself by dispassionate love to God, is raised above everything earthly, has rid himself of ignorance, the root of all evil, and already lives a life like that of the angels. See Strom. VI. 9. 71, 72: Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεῖ τι ἀυτῷ πρὸς ἐξομοίωσιν τῷ καλῷ καὶ ἀγαθῷ εἶναι· οὐδὲ ἄρα σιλεῖ τινὰ τὴν κοινὴν ταύτην σιλίαν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κτίστην διὰ τῶν κτισμάτων, Οὔτ᾽ οὖν ἐπιθυμίᾳ καὶ ὁρέξει τινὶ περιπίπτει οὔτε ἐνδεής ἐστι κατά γε τὴν ψυχὴν τῶν ἄλλων τινός συνὼν ἤδη δι᾽ ἀγάπης τῷ ἐραστῷ, ᾧ δὴ ᾠκείωται κατὰ τὴν αἵρεσιν καὶ τῇ ἐξ ἀσκήσεως ἕξει, τούτῳ προσεχέστερον συνεγγίζων, μακάριος ὢστε ἕνεκά γε τούτων ἐξυμοιοῦσθαι βιάζεται τῷ διδασκάλῳ εἰς ἀπαθείαν. Strom. VII. 69-83: VI. 14, 113: οὗτως δύναμιν λαβοῦσα κυριακὴν ἡ ψυχὴ μελετᾷ εἶναι Θεός, κακόν μὲν ὀυδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν ἀγνοίας εἶναι νομίζουσα. The whole 7th Book should be read.
In Clement, then, ecclesiastical Christianity reached the stage that Judaism had attained in Philo, and no doubt the latter 326exercised great influence over him.670670Philo is quoted by Clement several times and still more frequently made use of without acknowledgment. See the copious citations in Siegfried, Philo von Alexandrien, pp. 343-351. In addition to this Clement made use of many Greek philosophers or quoted them without acknowledgment, e.g., Musonius. Moreover, Clement stands on the ground that Justin had already trodden, but he has advanced far beyond this Apologist. His superiority to Justin not only consists in the fact that he changed the apologetic task that the latter had in his mind into a systematic and positive one; but above all in the circumstance that he transformed the tradition of the Christian Church, which in his days was far more extensive and more firmly established than in Justin’s time, into a real scientific dogmatic; whereas Justin neutralised the greater part of this tradition by including it in the scheme of the proof from prophecy. By elevating the idea of the Logos who is Christ into the highest principle in the religious explanation of the world and in the exposition of Christianity, Clement gave to this idea a much more concrete and copious content than Justin did. Christianity is the doctrine of the creation, training, and redemption of mankind by the Logos, whose work culminates in the perfect Gnostics. The philosophy of the Greeks, in so far as it possessed the Logos, is declared to be a counterpart of the Old Testament law;671671Like Philo and Justin, Clement also no doubt at times asserts that the Greek philosophers pilfered from the Old Testament; but see Strom. I. 5. 28 sq.: πάντων μὲν ἄιτιος τῶν καλῶν ὁ Θεός, ἀλλὰ τῶν μὲν κατὰ προηγούμενον ὡς τῆς τε διαθήκης τῆς παλαιᾶς καὶ τῆς νεάς, τῶν δὲ κατ᾽ ἐπακολούθημα ὡς τῆς σιλοσοσίας. τάχα δὲ καὶ προηγουμένως τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἐδόθη τότε πρὶν ἢ τὸν κύριον καλέσαι καὶ τοὺς Ἕλληνας. ἐπαιδαγώγει γὰρ καί ἀυτὴ τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν ὡς ὁ γόμος τοὺς Ἑβραίους εἰς Χριστόν. and the facts contained in the Church tradition are either subordinated to the philosophical dogmatic or receive a new interpretation expressly suited to it. The idea of the Logos has a content which is on the one hand so wide that he is found wherever man rises above the level of nature, and on the other so concrete that an authentic knowledge of him can only be obtained from historical revelation. The Logos is essentially the rational law of the world and the teacher; but in Christ he is at the same time officiating priest, and the blessings he bestows are a series of holy initiations which 327alone contain the possibility of man’s raising himself to the divine life.672672 See Bratke’s instructive treatise cited above. While this is already clear evidence of Clement’s affinity to Gnostic teachers, especially the Valentinians, the same similarity may also be traced in the whole conception of the task (Christianity as theology), in the determination of the formal principle (inclusive of the recourse to esoteric tradition; see above, p. 35 f.),673673The fact that Clement appeals in support of the Gnosis to an esoteric tradition (Strom. VI. 7. 61: VI. 8. 68: VII. 10. 55) proves how much this writer, belonging as he did to a sceptical age, underestimated the efficacy of all human thought in determining the ultimate truth of things. The existence of sacred writings containing all truth was not even enough for him; the content of these writings had also to be guaranteed by divine communication. But no doubt the ultimate cause of this, as of all similar cases of scepticism, was the dim perception that ethics and religion do not at all come within the sphere of the intellectual, and that the intellect can produce nothing of religious value. As, however, in consequence of philosophical tradition, neither Philo, nor the Gnostics, nor Clement, nor the Neoplatonists were able to shake themselves free from the intellectual scheme, those things which-as they instinctively felt, but did not recognise — could really not be ascertained by knowledge at all received from them the name of suprarational and were traced to divine revelation. We may say that the extinction or pernicious extravagancies to which Greek philosophy was subjected in Neoplatonism, and the absurdities into which the Christian dogmatic was led, arose from the fact that the tradition of placing the ethical and religious feelings and the development of character within the sphere of knowledge, as had been the case for nearly a thousand years, could not be got rid of, though the incongruity was no doubt felt. Contempt for empiricism, scepticism, the extravagancies of religious metaphysics which finally become mythology, have their origin here. Knowledge still continues to be viewed as the highest possession; it is, however, no longer knowledge, but character and feeling; and it must be nourished by the fancy in order to be able to assert itself as knowledge. and in the solution of the problems. But Clement’s great superiority to Valentinus is shown not only in his contriving to preserve in all points his connection with the faith of the main body of Christendom, but still more in his power of mastering so many problems by the aid of a single principle, that is, in the art of giving the most comprehensive presentation with the most insignificant means. Both facts are indeed most closely connected. The rejection of all conceptions that could not be verified from Holy Scripture, or at least easily reconciled with it, as well as his optimism, opposed as this was to Gnostic pessimism, proved perhaps the most effective means of persuading the Church to recognise the Christian character of a dogmatic that was at least half inimical to ecclesiastical Christianity. Through 328Clement theology became the crowning stage of piety, the highest philosophy of the Greeks was placed under the protection and guarantee of the Church, and the whole Hellenic civilisation was thus at the same time legitimised within Christianity. The Logos is Christ, but the Logos is at the same time the moral and rational in all stages of development. The Logos is the teacher, not only in cases where an intelligent self-restraint, as understood by the ancients, bridles the passions and instincts and wards off excesses of all sorts; but also, and here of course the revelation is of a higher kind, wherever love to God alone determines the whole life and exalts man above everything sensuous and finite.674674Clement was not a Neoplatonic mystic in the strict sense of the word. When he describes the highest ethical ideal, ecstasy is wanting; and the freshness with which he describes Quietism shows that he himself was no Quietist. See on this point Bigg’s third lecture, l.c., particularly p. 98 f. “. . . The silent prayer of the Quietist is in fact ecstasy, of which there is not a trace in Clement. For Clement shrank from his own conclusions. Though the father of all the Mystics he is no Mystic himself. He did not enter the “enchanted garden”, which he opened for others. If he talks of “flaying the sacrifice”, of leaving sense behind, of Epopteia, this is but the parlance of his school. The instrument to which he looks for growth in knowledge is not trance, but disciplined reason. Hence Gnosis, when once obtained, is indefectible, not like the rapture which Plotinus enjoyed but four times during his acquaintance with Porphyry, which in the experience of Theresa never lasted more than half an hour. The Gnostic is no Visionary, no Theurgist, no Antinomian.” What Gnostic moralists merely regarded as contrasts Clement, the Christian and Greek, was able to view as stages; and thus he succeeded in conceiving the motley society that already represented the Church of his time as a unity, as the humanity trained by one and the same Logos, the Pedagogue. His speculation did not drive him out of the Church; it rather enabled him to understand the multiplicity of forms she contained and to estimate their relative justification; nay, it finally led him to include the history of pre-Christian humanity in the system he regarded as a unity, and to form a theory of universal history satisfactory to his mind.675675What a bold and joyous thinker Clement was is shown by the almost audacious remark in Strom. IV. 22. 136: εἰ γοῦν τις καθ᾽ ὑπόθεσιν προθείη τῷ γνωστικῷ πότερον ἑλέσθαι βούλοιτο τὴν γνῶσιν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἢ τὴν σωτηρίαν τὴν αἰωνίαν, εἴη δὲ ταῦτα κεχωρισμένα παντὸς μᾶλλον ἐν ταυτότητε ὅντα, οὐδὲ καθ᾽ ὁτιοῦν διστάσας ἕλοιτ᾽ ἂν τὴν γνῶσιν τοῦ Θεοῦ. If we compare this theory with the 329rudimentary ideas of a similar kind in Irenæus, we see clearly the meagreness and want of freedom, the uncertainty and narrowness, in the case of the latter. In the Christian faith as he understood it and as amalgamated by him with Greek culture, Clement found intellectual freedom and independence, deliverance from all external authority. We need not here directly discuss what apparatus he used for this end. Irenæus again remained entangled in his apparatus, and much as he speaks of the novum testamentum libertatis, his great work little conveys the impression that its author has really attained intellectual freedom. Clement was the first to grasp the task of future theology. According to him this task consists in utilising the historical traditions, through which we have become what we are, and the Christian communion, which is imperative upon us as being the only moral and religious one, in order to attain freedom and independence of our own life by the aid of the Gospel; and in showing this Gospel to be the highest revelation by the Logos, who has given evidence of himself whenever man rises above the level of nature and who is consequently to be traced throughout the whole history of humanity.
But does the Christianity of Clement correspond to the Gospel? We can only give a qualified affirmation to this question. For the danger of secularisation is evident, since apostasy from the Gospel would be completely accomplished as soon as the ideal of the self-sufficient Greek sage came to supplant the feeling that man lives by the grace of God. But the danger of secularisation lies in the cramped conception of Irenæus, who sets up authorities which have nothing to do with the Gospel, and creates facts of salvation which have a no less deadening effect though in a different way. If the Gospel is meant to give freedom and peace in God, and to accustom us to an eternal life in union with Christ Clement understood this meaning. He could justly say to his opponents: “If the things we say appear to some people diverse from the Scriptures of the Lord, let them know that they draw inspiration and life therefrom and, making these their starting-point give their meaning only, not their letter” (κἂν ἑτεροῖα τισι τῶν πολλῶν καταφαίνηται τὰ ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν λεγόμενα τῶν κυριακῶν γραφῶν, ἰστέον ὅτι ἐκεῖθεν ἀναπνεῖ τε καὶ ζῇ καὶ τὰς 330ἀσορμὰς ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν ἔχοντα τὸν νοῦν μόνον, οὐ τὴν λέξιν, παριστᾶν ἐπαγγελλέται).676676 Strom. VII. 1. 1. In several passages of his main work Clement refers to those churchmen who viewed the practical and speculative concentration of Church tradition as dangerous and questioned the use of philosophy at all. See Strom. VI. 10. 80: πολλοὶ καθάπερ οἱ παῖδες τὰ μορμολυκεῖα, οὕτως δεδίασι τὴν ἑλληνικὴν σιλοσοσίαν, σοβούμενοι μὴ ἀπαγάγῃ αὐτούς. VI. 11. 93. No doubt Clement conceives the aim of the whole traditionary material to be that of Greek philosophy, but we cannot fail to perceive that this aim is blended with the object which the Gospel puts before us, namely, to be rich in God and to receive strength and life from him. The goodness of God and the responsibility of man are the central ideas of Clement and the Alexandrians; they also occupy the foremost place in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this is certain we must avoid that searching of the heart which undertakes to fix how far he was influenced by the Gospel and how far by philosophy.
But, while so judging, we cannot deny that the Church tradition was here completely transformed into a Greek philosophy of religion on a historical basis, nor do we certify the Christian character of Clement’s “dogmas” in acknowledging the evangelical spirit of his practical position. What would be left of Christianity, if the practical aim, given by Clement to this religious philosophy, were lost? A depotentiated system which could absolutely no longer be called Christian. On the other hand there were many valuable features in the ecclesiastical regula literally interpreted; and the attempts of Irenæus to extract an authoritative religious meaning from the literal sense of Church tradition and of New Testament passages must be regarded as conservative efforts of the most valuable kind. No doubt Irenæus and his theological confrères did not themselves find in Christianity that freedom which is its highest aim; but on the other hand they preserved and rescued valuable material for succeeding times. If some day trust in the methods of religious philosophy vanishes, men will revert to history, which will still be recognisable in the preserved tradition, as prized by Irenæus and the rest, whereas it will have almost perished in the artificial interpretations due to the speculations of religious philosophers.
The importance that the Alexandrian school was to attain in 331the history of dogma is not associated with Clement, but with his disciple Origen.677677Eusebius, H. E. VI. 14. 8, tells us that Origen was a disciple of Clement. This was not because Clement was more heterodox than Origen, for that is not the case, so far as the Stromateis is concerned at least;678678Clement’s authority in the Church continued much longer than that of Origen See Zahn, “Forschungen” III. p. 140 f. The heterodox opinions advanced by Clement in the Hypotyposes are for the most part only known to us in an exaggerated form from the report of Photius. but because the latter exerted an incomparably greater influence than the former; and, with an energy perhaps unexampled in the history of the Church, already mapped out all the provinces of theology by his own unaided efforts. Another reason is that Clement did not possess the Church tradition in its fixed Catholic forms as Origen did (see above, chapter 2), and, as his Stromateis shows, he was as yet incapable of forming a theological system. What he offers is portions of a theological Christian dogmatic and speculative ethic. These indeed are no fragments in so far as they are all produced according to a definite method and have the same object in view, but they still want unity. On the other hand Origen succeeded in forming a complete system inasmuch as he not only had a Catholic tradition of fixed limits and definite type to fall back upon as a basis; but was also enabled by the previous efforts of Clement to furnish a methodical treatment of this tradition.679679In ecclesiastical antiquity all systematising was merely relative and limited, because the complex of sacred writings enjoyed a different authority from that which it possessed in the following period. Here the reference of a theologoumenon to a passage of Scripture was of itself sufficient, and the manifold and incongruous doctrines were felt as a unity in so far as they could all be verified from Holy Scriptures. Thus the fact that the Holy Scriptures were regarded as a series of divine oracles guaranteed, as it were, a transcendental unity of the doctrines, and, in certain circumstances, relieved the framer of the system of a great part of his task. Hitherto little justice has been done to this view of the, history of dogma, though it is the only solution of a series of otherwise insoluble problems. We cannot for example understand the theology of Augustine, and necessarily create for ourselves the most difficult problems by our own fault, if we make no use of that theory. In Origen’s dogmatic and that of subsequent Church Fathers — so far as we can speak of a dogmatic in their case — the unity lies partly in the canon of Holy Scripture and partly in the ultimate aim; but these two principles interfere with each other. As far as the Stromateis of Clement is concerned, Overbeck (l.c.) has furnished the explanation of its striking plan. Moreover, how would it have been conceivable that the riches of Holy Scripture, as presented to the philosophers who allegorised the books, could have been mastered, problems and all, at the first attempt. Now a sharp eye indeed perceives that Origen 332personally no longer possessed such a complete and bold religious theory of the world as Clement did, for he was already more tightly fettered by the Church tradition, some details of which here and there led him into compromises that remind us of Irenæus; but it was in connection with his work that the development of the following period took place. It is therefore sufficient, within the framework of the history of dogma, to refer to Clement as the bold forerunner of Origen, and, in setting forth the theology of the latter, to compare it in important points with the doctrines of Clement.
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