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§ 163. The Pseudo-Clementine Works.


The most complete collection of the genuine and spurious works of Clement in Migne’s Patrol. Graeca, Tom. I. and II.


The name of Clement has been forged upon several later writings, both orthodox and heretical, to give them the more currency by the weight of his name and position. These pseudo-Clementine works supplanted in the church of Rome the one genuine work of Clement, which passed into oblivion with the knowledge of the Greek language. They are as follows:

1. A Second Epistle to the Corinthians, falsely so called, formerly known only in part (12 chapters), since 1875 in full (20 chapters).12171217    Ed. in full by Bryennios, Const. 1875, p. 113-142 with Greek notes; by Funk, with a Latin version (I. 144-171), and by Lightfoot with an English version (380-390).217 It is greatly inferior to the First Epistle in contents and style, and of a later date, between 120 and 140, probably written in Corinth; hence its connection with it in MSS.12181218    It is first mentioned by Eusebius, but with the remark that it was not used by ancient writers )H. E. III. 38). Irenaeus, Clement of Alex., and Origen know only one Ep. of Clement. Dionysius of Corinth, in a letter to Bishop Soter of Rome, calls it, indeed, "the former" (προτέρα), but with reference to a later epistle of Soter to the Corinthians (Euseb. H. E. IV. 23). Bryennios, the discoverer of the complete copy, still vindicates the Clementine authorship of the homily, and so does Sprinzl (p. 28), but all other modern scholars give it up. Wocher (1830) assIgned it to Dionysius of Corinth, Hilgenfeld first to Soter of Rome, afterwards (Clem. Ep. ed. II. 1876, p. XLIX) to Clement of Alex. in his youth during his sojourn in Corinth, Harnack (1877) to a third Clement who lived in Rome between the Roman and the Alexandrian Clement, Lightfoot (App. p. 307) and Funk (Prol. xxxix) to an unknown Corinthian before a.d. 140, on account of the allusion to the Isthmian games (c. 7) and the connection with the Ep. of Clement. Comp. above p. 225.218 It is no epistle at all, but a homily addressed to "brothers and sisters." It is the oldest known specimen of a post-apostolic sermon, and herein alone lies its importance and value.12191219    Lightfoot (p. 317) calls it a testimony "of the lofty moral earnestness and triumphant faith which subdued a reluctant world, and laid it prostrate at the feet of the cross." but "almost worthless as a literary work."219 It is an earnest, though somewhat feeble exhortation to active Christianity and to fidelity in persecution, meantime contending with the Gnostic denial of the resurrection. It is orthodox in sentiment, calls Christ "God and the Judge of the living and the dead," and speaks of the great moral revolution wrought by him in these words (2 Cor. 1): "We were deficient in understanding, worshipping stocks and stones, gold and silver and brass, the works of men; and our whole life was nothing else but death.... Through Jesus Christ we have received sight, putting off by his will the cloud wherein we were wrapped. He mercifully saved us.... He called us when we were not, and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence."

2. Two Encyclical Letters on Virginity. They were first discovered by J. J. Wetstein in the library of the Remonstrants at Amsterdam, in a Syriac Version written a.d. 1470, and published as an appendix to his famous Greek Testament, 1752.12201220    Best edition with Latin version by Beelen: S. Clementis R. Epistolae binae, de Virginitate. Louvain, 1856. German translation by Zingerle (1827), French by Villecourt (1853), English in the "Ante-Nicene Library."220 They commend the unmarried life, and contain exhortations and rules to ascetics of both sexes. They show the early development of an asceticism which is foreign to the apostolic teaching and practice. While some Roman Catholic divines still defend the Clementine origin,12211221    Villecourt, Beelen, Möhler, Champagny, Brück.221 others with stronger arguments assign it to the middle or close of the second century.12221222    Mansi, Hefele, Alzog, Funk (Prol. XLII. sq.). Also all the Protestant critics except Wetstein, the discoverer. Lightfoot (l. c. p. 15 sq.) assIgns the document to the beginning of the third century. Eusebius nowhere mentions it.222

3. The Apostolical Constitutions and Canons.12231223    See § 56, p. 183 sqq.223 The so-called Liturgia S. Clementis is a part of the eighth book of the Constitutions.

4. The Pseudo-Clementina, or twenty Ebionitic homilies and their Catholic reproduction, the Recognitions.12241224    See § 114, p. 435 sqq.224

5. Five Decretal Letters, which pseudo-Isidore has placed at the head of his collection. Two of them are addressed to James, the Lord’s Brother, are older than the pseudo-Isidore, and date from the second or third century; the three others were fabricated by him. They form the basis for the most gigantic and audacious literary forgery of the middle ages—the Isidorian Decretals—which subserved the purposes of the papal hierarchy.12251225    They originated in the east of France between a.d. 829 and 847.225 The first Epistle to James gives an account of the appointment of Clement by Peter as his successor in the see of Rome, with directions concerning the functions of the church-officers and the general administration of the church. The second Epistle to James refers to the administration of the eucharist, church furniture, and other ritualistic matters. They are attached to the pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions. But it is remarkable that in the Homilies James of Jerusalem appears as the superior of Peter of Rome, who must give an account of his doings, and entrust to him his sermons for safe keeping.



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