Studia Sinaitica 5 (1896) pp. xiv-xvii.


The Recognitions of the Roman Clement are too well known in their Latin as well as in their English dress to need any introduction to the scholar. They have been extant hitherto only in the Latin translation of Rufinus of Aquileia, who died A.D. 4101. It was first published by Sichardus (Basle, 1526) and since then by Cotelier (Apostolic Fathers, Paris, 1672), and by Gersdorf (Leipzig, 1838). A Syriac translation was also  |xv published by de Lagarde in 1861, from two MSS. in the British Museum, the older of which was written at Edessa, A.D. 411. The Greek original used by Rufinus was prefaced by a letter from Clement to James the Lord's brother, bishop of Jerusalem, which Rufinus left out, believing it to be of a later date.

The Arabic text given in this volume is contained in the MS. No. 508 of the Sinai Catalogue, and is, compared to Rufinus's Latin text, a very short narrative. It omits almost wholly the discourses of Peter and his discussions with Simon and others. It would therefore be out of place here to do more than allude to the question of the priority of the Recognitions or of the Clementine Homilies to one another, a question which has been debated with so much acumen by A. Schliemann, Hilgenfeld, Uhlhorn, Ritschl, Lehmann, Lipsius and others. Suffice it to say that through the labours of Uhlhorn, Hilgenfeld and Ritschl, it is now pretty generally acknowledged that, as Lehmann suggested, the three first books of the Recognitions are the original document from which the Homilies were composed, and that Books iv.-x. of the Recognitions were afterwards added from the Homilies (Lehmann, Die Clementinischen Schriften, p. 21). 

As to the date of the text and its origin, we have internal evidence only to rely upon, though it is evident from the date of the Syriac MS. Add. 12,150 in the British Museum that it cannot be later than the fourth Century. Hilgenfeld has pointed out that Matthidia was the name of the sister of Trajan, mother-in-law of Hadrian; and that the name Faustina was borne by the wife of Antoninus Pius, as well as by her daughter, the wife of Marcus Aurelius. The busts of these two ladies may be seen in the British Museum. This suggests a date between A.D. 150 and 170. The Recognitions, or a document closely allied to them, are quoted by Origen, Philocalia, c. XXIII., Commentary on Genesis 21, which was written A.D. 231.

[… Greek quotation from Origen…] |xvi

Then follows a long quotation, evidently from the Greek text translated by Rufinus, Book x. a.10, 11, 12-23. It is given full by Robinson, The Philocalia of Origen, Cambridge, l893. 

All writers on the subject seem to agree that Syria is the place of the origin of these documents, and that the author was a Jewish-Christian, who held doctrines distinctly Ebionistic. This Arabic text does not go so deeply into questions of dogma as the Latin or even the Syriac texts; yet even here we have the superstitious reverence attached to water both in baptism and ablutions; also the refusal of baptized Christians to eat with unbaptized Christians; insomuch that Peter is represented as continuing in the same narrow frame of mind for which his brother-Apostle found it necessary to rebuke him (Galatians ii. 11-14.). The Arabic text is, however, free from the outrageously heathenish idea that Faustinian's face was changed by Simon Magus to look like his own; and the still more heathenish idea that an Apostle could be guilty of a pious fraud by turning the metamorphosis to account. 

A. Schliemann has also pointed out that the hierarchical ideas in the Recognitions point to a Jewish Ebionistic origin. Peter appoints a bishop off-hand, and also presbyters and deacons, the former of whom are of the mystical number twelve. It deserves to be noticed, however, that this Arabic text does not take its actors to Rome, but seems to imply that they remained in Syria; and it therefore does not attribute to Peter any breach of the covenant made with Paul (Gal. ii. 9). Nor does it contain any mention of James the bishop of Jerusalem, to whom the Greek text used by Rufinus was addressed. 

It is quite possible that this Arabic text is an epitome by some Arab Christian monk who was more fascinated by the interest of the narrative than anxious to edify his brethren by translating the discourses. If so, we must grant that he has shewn considerable literary skill, and has fully appreciated the |xvii dramatic side of his documents. As to the story itself, there is nothing absolutely impossible in it. Communication between Rome and Athens was comparatively frequent in the days of the Empire; and if mere tent-makers like Priscilla and Aquila could have interests in several cities and countries, there is nothing unlikely in a noble Roman lady taking her children to Athens for their education and her own convenience. The only circumstance that in my humble judgment seems somewhat improbable, is that Faustinian should have been for several days in the Island of Aradus, and have time to carry on a philosophical discussion with Peter's young followers: and yet that he and his wife should have needed Peter's intervention to recognize one another.

[Margaret Dunlop GIBSON]

[Note: the remainder of the introduction, dealing with another epitome of this work, in British Library Ms. Add. 9965, also translated in Studia Sinaitica, is omitted.]

1. Rufinus states in the preface to his work that he undertook it at the request of Sylvia (the Pilgrim to Mount Sinai).

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