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Chapter XVI.—The Epistle of Clement.

There is extant an epistle of this Clement706706    This epistle of Clement, which is still extant in two Greek mss., and in a Syriac version, consists of fifty-nine chapters, and is found in all editions of the Apostolic Fathers. It purports to have been written from the church at Rome to the church at Corinth, but bears the name of no author. Unanimous tradition, however (beginning with Dionysius of Corinth, in Eusebius, IV. 23), ascribes it to Clement, Bishop of Rome, and scholars, with hardly an exception, accept it as his work. It was, in all probability, written immediately after the persecution of Domitian, in the last years of the first century, and is one of the earliest, perhaps the very earliest, post-biblical works which we have. It was held in very high repute in the early Church, and in the Alexandrian Codex it stands among the canonical books as a part of the New Testament (though this is exceptional; cf. chap. 3, above, and chap. 25, below, in both of which this epistle is omitted, though Eusebius is giving lists of New Testament books, both accepted and disputed). We have had the epistle complete only since 1875, when Bryennios discovered a ms. containing it and other valuable works. Previously a part of the epistle had been wanting. In consequence the older editions have been superseded by the more recent. See appendix to Lightfoot’s edition (1877), which gives the recovered portions of the text; so, also, the later editions of Gebhardt and Harnack’s, and of Hilgenfeld’s Apostolic Fathers. The epistle is translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, I. p. 5–21. which is acknowledged to be genuine and is of considerable length and of remarkable merit.707707    μεγ€λη τε καὶ θαυμασία. He wrote it in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, when a sedition had arisen in the latter church.708708    See the epistle itself, especially chaps. 1 and 3. It was these seditions in the church at Corinth which occasioned the epistle. We know that this epistle also has been publicly used in a great many churches both in former times and in our own.709709    Compare the words of Dionysius of Corinth, in Bk. IV. chap. 23. Though the epistle was held in high esteem, it was not looked upon as a part of the New Testament canon. And of the fact that a sedition did take place in the church of Corinth at the time referred to Hegesippus is a trustworthy witness.710710    Hegesippus’ testimony upon this point is no longer extant.


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