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§ 186. Clement of Alexandria.


(I.) Clementis Alex. Opera omnia Gr. et Lat. ed. Potter (bishop of Oxford). Oxon. 1715. 2 vols. Reprinted Venet. 1757. 2 vols. fol., and in Migne’s "Patr. Gr." vols. VIII. and IX., with various additions and the comments of Nic. Le Nourry. For an account of the MSS. and editions of Clement see Fabricius; Biblioth. Graeca, ed. Harles, vol. VII. 109 sqq.

Other edd. by Victorinus (Florence, 1550); Sylburg (Heidel b. 1592) Heinsius (Graeco-Latin., Leyden, 1616); Klotz (Leipz. 1831–34, 4 vols., only in Greek, and very incorrect); W. Dindorf (Oxf. 1868–69, 4 vols.).

English translation by Wm. Wilson in Clark’s "Ante-Nicene Library," vols. IV. and V. Edinb. 1867.

(II.) Eusebius: Hist. Eccl. V. 11; VI. 6, 11, 13. Hieronymus: De Vir. ill. 38; Photius: Biblioth. 109–111. See the Testimonia Veterum de Cl. collected in Potter’s ed. at the beginning of vol. I. and in Migne’s ed. VIII. 35–50.

(III.) Hofstede De Groot: Dissert. de Clem. Alex. Groning. 1826. A. F. Daehne: De γνώσειClem Al. Hal. 1831.

F. R. Eylert: Clem. v. Alex. als Philosoph und Dichter. Leipz. 1832.

Bishop Kaye: Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Clement of Alex. Lond. 1835.

Kling: Die Bedeutung des Clem. Alex. für die Entstehung der Theol. ("Stud. u. Krit." for 1841, No. 4).

H. J. Reinkens: De Clem. Alex. homine, scriptore, philosopho, theologo. Wratisl. (Breslau) 1851.

H. Reuter: Clementis Alex. Theol. moralis. Berl. 1853.

Laemmer.: Clem. Al. de Logo doctrina. Lips. 1855.

Abbé Cognat: Clement d’Alexandrie. Paris 1859.

J. H. Müller: Idées dogm. de Clement d’Alex. Strasb. 1861.

CH. E. Freppel. (R.C.): Clément d’Alexandrie. Paris, 1866, second ed. 1873.

C. Merk: Clemens v. Alex. in s. Abhängigkeit von der griech. Philosophie. Leipz. 1879.

Fr. Jul. Winter: Die Ethik des Clemens v. Alex. Leipz. 1882 (first part of Studien zur Gesch. der christl. Ethik).

Jacobi in Herzog2 III. 269–277, and Westcott in Smith and Wace l. 559–567.

Theod. Zahn: Supplementum Clementinum. Third Part of his Forschungen zur Gesch. des N. T. lichen Kanons. Erlangen 1884.


I. Titus Flavius Clemens14531453   453 Κλήμηνς. It is strange that he, and not his distinguished Roman namesake, should be called Flavius. Perhaps he was descended from a freedman of Titus Flavius Clemens, the nephew of the Emperor Vespasian and Consul in 95, who with his wife Domitilla was suddenly arrested and condemned on the charge of " atheism," i.e. Christianity, by his cousin, the emperor Domitian.453 sprang from Greece, probably from Athens. He was born about 150, and brought up in heathenism. He was versed in all branches of Hellenic literature and in all the existing systems of philosophy; but in these he found nothing to satisfy his thirst for truth. In his adult years, therefore, he embraced the Christian religion, and by long journeys East and West he sought the most distinguished teachers, "who preserved the tradition of pure saving doctrine, and implanted that genuine apostolic seed in the hearts of their pupils." He was captivated by Pantaenus in Egypt, who, says he, "like the Sicilian bee, plucked flowers from the apostolic and prophetic meadow, and filled the souls of his disciples with genuine, pure knowledge." He became presbyter in the church of Alexandria, and about a.d. 189 succeeded Pantaenus as president of the catechetical school of that city. Here he labored benignly some twelve years for the conversion of heathens and the education of the Christians, until, as it appears, the persecution under Septimius Severus in 202 compelled him to flee. After this we find him in Antioch, and last (211) with his former pupil, the bishop Alexander, in Jerusalem. Whether he returned thence to Alexandria is unknown. He died before the year 220, about the same time with Tertullian. He has no place, any more than Origen, among the saints of the Roman church, though he frequently bore this title of honor in ancient times. His name is found in early Western martyrologies, but was omitted in the martyrology issued by Clement VIII. at the suggestion of Baronius. Benedict XIV. elaborately defended the omission (1748), on the ground of unsoundness in doctrine.

II. Clement was the father of the Alexandrian Christian philosophy. He united thorough biblical and Hellenic learning with genius and speculative thought. He rose, In many points, far above the prejudices of his age, to more free and spiritual views. His theology, however, is not a unit, but a confused eclectic mixture of true Christian elements with many Stoic, Platonic, and Philonic ingredients. His writings are full of repetition, and quite lacking in clear, fixed method. He throws out his suggestive and often profound thoughts in fragments, or purposely veils them, especially in the Stromata, in a mysterious darkness, to conceal them from the exoteric multitude, and to stimulate the study of the initiated or philosophical Christians. He shows here an affinity with the heathen mystery cultus, and the Gnostic arcana. His extended knowledge of Grecian literature and rich quotations from the lost works of poets, philosophers, and historians give him importance also in investigations regarding classical antiquity. He lived in an age of transition when Christian thought was beginning to master and to assimilate the whole domain of human knowledge. "And when it is frankly admitted" (says Dr. Westcott) "that his style is generally deficient in terseness and elegance; that his method is desultory; that his learning is undigested: we can still thankfully admire his richness of information, his breadth of reading, his largeness of sympathy, his lofty aspirations, his noble conception of the office and capacities of the Faith."

III. The three leading works which he composed during his residence as teacher in Alexandria, between the years 190 and 195, represent the three stages in the discipline of the human race by the divine Logos, corresponding to the three degrees of knowledge required by the ancient in mystagogues,14541454    The ἀποκάθαρσις, and the μύησις, and the ἐπότεια, i.e. purification, initiation, vision.454 and are related to one another very much as apologetics, ethics, and dogmatics, or as faith, love, and mystic vision, or as the, stages of the Christian cultus up to the celebration of the sacramental mysteries. The "Exhortation to the Greeks,"14551455    Λόγος προτρεπτικός πρὸσ Ἕλληνας, Cohortatio ad Graecos, or ad Gentes.455 in three books, with almost a waste of learning, points out the unreasonableness and immorality, but also the nobler prophetic element, of heathenism, and seeks to lead the sinner to repentance and faith. The "Tutor" or "Educator"14561456    Παιδαγωγός. This part contains the hymn to Christ at the close.456 unfolds the Christian morality with constant reference to heathen practices, and exhorts to a holy walk, the end of which is likeness to God. The Educator is Christ, and the children whom he trains, are simple, sincere believers. The "Stromata" or "Miscellanies,"14571457    Στρωματεῖς, Stromata, or pieces of tapestry, which, when curiously woven, and in divers colors present an apt picture of such miscellaneous composition.457 in seven books (the eighth, containing, an imperfect treatise on logic, is spurious), furnishes a guide to the deeper knowledge of Christianity, but is without any methodical arrangement, a heterogeneous mixture of curiosities of history, beauties of poetry, reveries of philosophy, Christian truths and heretical errors (hence the name). He compares it to a thick-grown, shady mountain or garden, where fruitful and barren trees of all kinds, the cypress, the laurel, the ivy, the apple, the olive, the fig, stand confusedly grouped together, that many may remain hidden from the eye of the plunderer without escaping the notice of the laborer, who might transplant and arrange them in pleasing order. It was, probably, only a prelude to a more comprehensive theology. At the close the author portrays the ideal of the true gnostic, that is, the perfect Christian, assigning to him, among other traits, a stoical elevation above all sensuous affections. The inspiring thought of Clement is that Christianity satisfies all the intellectual and moral aspirations and wants of man.

Besides these principal works we have, from Clement also, an able and moderately ascetic treatise, on the right use of wealth.14581458    Τίς ὁ σωζόμενος πλούσιος, Quis dives salvus orsalvetur? an excellent commentary on the words of the Lord in Mark 10:17 sqq. A most practical topic for a rich city like Alexandria, or any other city and age especially our own, which calls for the largest exercise of liberality for literary and benevolent objects. See the tract in Potter’s ed. II. 935-961 (with a Latin version). It ends with the beautiful story of St. John and the young robber, which Eusebius has inserted in his Church History (III. 23).458 His ethical principles are those of the Hellenic philosophy, inspired by the genius of Christianity. He does not run into the excesses of asceticism, though evidently under its influence. His exegetical works,14591459    Ὑποτυπώσεις, Adumbrationes, Outlines, or a condensed survey of the contents of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. See the analysis of the fragments by Westcott, in Smith and Wace, III. 563 sq., and Zahn l.c. 64-103.459 as well as a controversial treatise on prophecy against the Montanists, and another on the passover, against the Judaizing practice in Asia Minor, are all lost, except some inconsiderable fragments.

To Clement we owe also the oldest Christian hymn that has come down to us; an elevated but somewhat turgid song of praise to the Logos, as the divine educator and leader of the human race.14601460    ὕμνος τοῦ σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ, written in an anapaestic measure. See § 66, p. 230. The other hymn added to the "Tutor" written in trimeter iambics, and addressed to the παιδαγωγός is of later date.460



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