Papers presented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2019: Volume 7: Clement of Alexandria [1 ed.] 9042947543, 9789042947542, 9789042947559

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Papers presented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2019: Volume 7: Clement of Alexandria [1 ed.]
 9042947543, 9789042947542, 9789042947559

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Papers presented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2019 Edited by MARKUS VINZENT Volume 7:

Clement of Alexandria Edited by VÍT HUŠEK




STUDIA PATRISTICA Editor: Markus VINZENT, King’s College London, UK and Max Weber Centre, University of Erfurt, Germany

Board of Directors (2019): Carol HARRISON, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK Mark EDWARDS, Professor of Early Christian Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK Neil MCLYNN, University Lecturer in Later Roman History, Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford, UK Philip BOOTH, A.G. Leventis Associate Professor in Eastern Christianity, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, UK Sophie LUNN-ROCKLIFFE, Lecturer in Patristics, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK Morwenna LUDLOW, Professor, Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, UK Ioannis PAPADOGIANNAKIS, Senior Lecturer in Patristics, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London, UK Markus VINZENT, Professor of the History of Theology, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London, UK Josef LÖSSL, Professor of Historical Theology and Intellectual History, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University, UK Lewis AYRES, Professor of Catholic and Historical Theology, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK John BEHR, Regius Chair in Humanity, The School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History, University of Aberdeen, UK Anthony DUPONT, Research Professor in Christian Antiquity, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium Patricia CINER (as president of AIEP), Professor, Universidad de San Juan-Universidad Católica de Cuyo, Argentina Clayton JEFFORD (as president of NAPS), Professor of Scripture, Seminary and School of Theology, Saint Meinrad, IN, USA


Papers presented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2019 Edited by MARKUS VINZENT Volume 7:

Clement of Alexandria Edited by VÍT HUŠEK



© Peeters Publishers — Louvain — Belgium 2021 All rights reserved, including the right to translate or to reproduce this book or parts thereof in any form. D/2021/0602/144 ISBN: 978-90-429-4754-2 eISBN: 978-90-429-4755-9 A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. Printed in Belgium by Peeters, Leuven

Table of Contents Vít HUŠEK Introduction .........................................................................................


CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, THE NEW TESTAMENT TEXT AND NON-CANONICAL TRADITIONS Dietmar WYRWA Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien .........................................................................................


Jana PLÁTOVÁ Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John .......................................


Veronika ČERNUŠKOVÁ Delimitation and Context of References to the Apocalypse of Peter in Clement of Alexandria’s Eclogae Propheticae ..............................


Sami YLI-KARJANMAA Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation and Some Comparisons with Philo .....................................................


Ilaria L.E. RAMELLI Clement and Metensomatosis: Comments on Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s Paper ....................................................................................................


Piotr ASHWIN-SIEJKOWSKI Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians .....................................................................................................


Miklós GYURKOVICS ‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’ 111 Laura RIZZERIO Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition as a Tool to Fight the Gnostics ........................................... 127 Vít HUŠEK Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae ..... 145


Table of Contents

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA – MISCELLANEA Daniel J. CROSBY The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos: Dragons and Materiality in the Protrepticus of Clement of Alexandria ........................................................... 157 Emily R. CAIN Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria ....................................................................................................... 167 David D.M. KING The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Clement of Alexandria’s Quis Dives Salvetur................................................................... 177 Manabu AKIYAMA Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino 187 Dimitrios PAPANIKOLAOU Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism................................................ 197


see ASS. Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen Philologisch-historische Klasse, Göttingen. Analecta Bollandiana, Brussels. Antike und Christentum, ed. F.J. Dölger, Münster. Antiquité classique, Louvain. Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum, ed. E. Schwartz, Berlin. Ancient Christian Writers, ed. J. Quasten and J.C. Plumpe, Westminster (Md.)/London. Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge, Paris. American Journal of Ancient History, Cambridge, Mass. American Journal of Philology, Baltimore. Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht, Mainz. Abhandlungen der königlichen Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin. Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi (Bulletin du Cange), Paris/Brussels. Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft, Regensburg. Analecta Bollandiana, Brussels. Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Edinburgh. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Buffalo/New York. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, ed H. Temporini et al., Berlin. Anatolian Studies, London. Année théologique augustinienne, Paris. Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, ed. R.E. Charles, Oxford. Archivum Romanicum, Florence. Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, Berlin/Leipzig. Acta Sanctorum, ed. the Bollandists, Brussels. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments, Zürich. Augustinianum, Rome. Augustinian Studies, Villanova (USA). Athanasius Werke, ed. H.-G. Opitz et al., Berlin. Archäologische Zeitung, Berlin. Bibliothèque augustinienne, Paris. Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, New Haven, Conn. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edn F.W. Danker, Chicago. Bibliothèque de l’École des Hautes Études, Paris. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, Louvain. Benediktinisches Geistesleben, St. Ottilien. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca, Brussels. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Antiquae et Mediae Aetatis, Brussels.




Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis, Brussels. Beiträge zur historischen Theologie, Tübingen. Bursians Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Leipzig. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Manchester. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter, ed. F.X. Reithmayr and V. Thalhofer, Kempten. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter, ed. O. Bardenhewer, Th. Schermann, and C. Weyman, Kempten/Munich. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter. Zweite Reihe, ed. O. Bardenhewer, J. Zellinger, and J. Martin, Munich. Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique, Toulouse. Bonner Jahrbücher, Bonn. Bibliotheca sacra, London. Bolletino di studi latini, Naples. Beiträge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten Testament, Leipzig/Stuttgart. Byzantion, Leuven. Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Leipzig. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, Berlin. Cahiers Archéologique, Paris. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Washington. Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis, Turnhout/Paris. Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum, Turnhout/Paris. Corpus Christianorum, Series Graeca, Turnhout/Paris. Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, Turnhout/Paris. Church History, Chicago. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Berlin. Classical Philology, Chicago. Clavis Patrum Graecorum, ed. M. Geerard, vols. I-VI, Turnhout. Clavis Patrum Latinorum (SE 3), ed. E. Dekkers and A. Gaar, Turnhout. Classical Quarterly, London/Oxford. The Classical Review, London/Oxford. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Louvain. Aeth = Scriptores Aethiopici Ar = Scriptores Arabici Arm = Scriptores Armeniaci Copt = Scriptores Coptici Iber = Scriptores Iberici Syr = Scriptores Syri Subs = Subsidia Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Vienna. Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, Bonn. Collectanea Theologica, Lvov. Collection des Universités de France publiée sous le patronage de l’Association Guillaume Budé, Paris. Catholic World, New York. Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, ed. J. Hastings, Edinburgh.




see DAL Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. F. Cabrol, H. Leclercq, Paris. Dictionnaire de la Bible, Paris. Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplément, Paris. Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines, ed. W. Smith and H. Wace, 4 vols, London. Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastique, ed. A. Baudrillart, Paris. Didaskalia, Lisbon. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Cambridge, Mass., subsequently Washington, D.C. Dumbarton Oaks Studies, Cambridge, Mass., subsequently Washington, D.C. Downside Review, Stratton on the Fosse, Bath. H.J. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, ed., Enchiridion Symbolorum, Barcelona/Freiburg i.B./Rome. Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, ed. M. Viller, S.J., and others, Paris. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. A. Vacant, E. Mangenot, and E. Amann, Paris. Études augustiniennes, Paris. Enciclopedia Cattolica, Rome. Eastern Churches Quarterly, Ramsgate. Estudios eclesiasticos, Madrid. Encyclopedia of the Early Church, ed. A. Di Berardino, Cambridge. Evangelisch-Katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, Neukirchen. Enchiridion Fontium Historiae Ecclesiasticae Antiquae, ed. Ueding-Kirch, 6th ed., Barcelona. Échos d’Orient, Paris. Études Byzantines, Paris. Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Louvain. Exegetisches Wörterbuch zum NT, ed. H.R. Balz et al., Stuttgart. The Expository Times, Edinburgh. The Fathers of the Church, New York. Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, Berlin. Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte, Göttingen. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments, Göttingen. Festschrift. Freiburger theologische Studien, Freiburg i.B. Frankfurter theologische Studien, Frankfurt a.M. Freiburger Zeitschrift für Theologie und Philosophie, Freiburg/Switzerland. Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller, Leipzig/Berlin. Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit, Stuttgart. Grande Lessico del Nuovo Testamento, Genoa. Gregorii Nysseni Opera, Leiden. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, Cambridge, Mass.



Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, Offenburg. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament. Tübingen. Harvard Dissertations in Religion, Missoula. Historisches Jahrbuch der Görresgesellschaft, successively Munich, Cologne and Munich/Freiburg i.B. Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, Tübingen. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament, Tübingen. Handbuch der Orientalistik, Leiden. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard Theological Review, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard Theological Studies, Cambridge, Mass. Historische Zeitschrift, Munich/Berlin. The International Critical Commentary of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, Edinburgh. Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, ed. E. Diehl, Berlin. Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, ed. H. Dessau, Berlin. Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, Münster. Journal of Biblical Literature, Philadelphia, Pa., then various places. Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Berlin. Journal of Early Christian Studies, Baltimore. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, London. Journal of Jewish Studies, London. Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie, Kassel. Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie, Leipzig/Freiburg i.B. Jewish Quarterly Review, Philadelphia. Journal of Roman Studies, London. Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period, Leiden. Journal of the Society of Oriental Research, Chicago. Journal of Theological Studies, Oxford. Kommentar zu den apostolischen Vätern, Göttingen. Kerk en Theologie, ’s Gravenhage. Kirchliches Jahrbuch für die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, Gütersloh. The Loeb Classical Library, London/Cambridge, Mass. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, Buffalo/New York. Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Oxford. H.G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, new (9th) edn H.S. Jones, Oxford. Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, Freiburg i.B. Septuagint. Moyen-Âge, Brussels. Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua, London. J.D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, Florence, 1759-1798. Reprint and continuation: Paris/Leipzig, 1901-1927. Münsterische Beiträge zur Theologie, Münster.




Miscelanea Comillas, Comillas/Santander. Monumenta germaniae historica. Hanover/Berlin. Mediaevalia Lovaniensia, Louvain. See PG. Mélanges de science religieuse, Lille. Münchener theologische Zeitschrift, Munich. Le Muséon, Louvain. Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition, Stuttgart. Nachrichten der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Nag Hammadi (and Manichaean) Studies, Leiden. New International Version. New King James Version. Novum Testamentum, Leiden. See LNPF. New Revised Standard Version. Nouvelle Revue Théologique, Tournai/Louvain/Paris. Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen, Münster. Novum Testamentum Supplements, Leiden. New Testament Studies, Cambridge/Washington. New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents, Leiden/Boston. Orbis biblicus et orientalis, Freiburg, Switz., then Louvain. Orientalia Christiana Analecta, Rome. Orientalia Christiana Periodica, Rome. Oxford Early Christian Studies, Oxford. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, Louvain. Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica, Louvain. Orientalia. Commentarii editi a Pontificio Instituto Biblico, Rome. Oriens Christianus, Leipzig, then Wiesbaden. L’Orient Syrien, Paris. Migne, Patrologia, series graeca. A Patristic Greek Lexicon, ed. G.L. Lampe, Oxford. Migne, Patrologia, series latina. The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, ed. A.H.M. Jones et al., Cambridge. Migne, Patrologia, series latina. Supplementum ed. A. Hamman. Patrologia Orientalis, Paris. Paulys Realenzyklopädie der classischen Alterthumswissenschaft, Stuttgart. Patrologia Syriaca, Paris. Papyrologische Texte und Abhandlungen, Bonn. Princeton Theological Review, Princeton. Patristische Texte und Studien, Berlin. Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. G. Wissowa, Stuttgart. Questions liturgiques et paroissiales, Louvain. Questions liturgiques, Louvain. Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana, Rome. Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, Stuttgart.

XII RAM RAug RBen RB(ibl) RE


Revue d’ascétique et de mystique, Paris. Recherches Augustiniennes, Paris. Revue Bénédictine, Maredsous. Revue biblique, Paris. Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche, founded by J.J. Herzog, 3e ed. A. Hauck, Leipzig. REA(ug) Revue des études Augustiniennes, Paris. REB Revue des études byzantines, Paris. RED Rerum ecclesiasticarum documenta, Rome. RÉL Revue des études latines, Paris. REG Revue des études grecques, Paris. RevSR Revue des sciences religieuses, Strasbourg. RevThom Revue thomiste, Toulouse. RFIC Rivista di filologia e d’istruzione classica, Turin. RGG Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. Gunkel-Zscharnack, Tübingen RHE Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, Louvain. RhMus Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, Bonn. RHR Revue de l’histoire des religions, Paris. RHT Revue d’Histoire des Textes, Paris. RMAL Revue du Moyen-Âge Latin, Paris. ROC Revue de l’Orient chrétien, Paris. RPh Revue de philologie, Paris. RQ Römische Quartalschrift, Freiburg i.B. RQH Revue des questions historiques, Paris. RSLR Rivista di storia e letteratura religiosa, Florence. RSPT, RSPh Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, Paris. RSR Recherches de science religieuse, Paris. RTAM Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale, Louvain. RthL Revue théologique de Louvain, Louvain. RTM Rivista di teologia morale, Bologna. Sal Salesianum, Roma. SBA Schweizerische Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft, Basel. SBS Stuttgarter Bibelstudien, Stuttgart. ScEc Sciences ecclésiastiques, Bruges. SCh, SC Sources chrétiennes, Paris. SD Studies and Documents, ed. K. Lake and S. Lake. London/Philadelphia. SE Sacris Erudiri, Bruges. SDHI Studia et documenta historiae et iuris, Roma. SH Subsidia Hagiographica, Brussels. SHA Scriptores Historiae Augustae. SJMS Speculum. Journal of Mediaeval Studies, Cambridge, Mass. SM Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerordens und seiner Zweige, Munich. SO Symbolae Osloenses, Oslo. SP Studia Patristica, successively Berlin, Kalamazoo, Leuven. SPM Stromata Patristica et Mediaevalia, ed. C. Mohrmann and J. Quasten, Utrecht.




Sammlung ausgewählter Quellenschriften zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte, Tübingen. Schriften und Quellen der Alten Welt, Berlin. Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Louvain. Studi Medievali, Turin. Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, ed. J. von Arnim, Leipzig. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich. Teologia espiritual, Valencia. Theologie und Glaube, Paderborn. Theologische Jahrbücher, Leipzig. Theologische Literaturzeitung, Leipzig. Theologie und Philosophie, Freiburg i.B. Theologische Quartalschrift, Tübingen. Theologische Rundschau, Tübingen. Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament, Stuttgart. Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, Stuttgart. Theologische Zeitschrift, Basel. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Lancaster, Pa. Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Berlin. Theological Studies, New York and various places; now Washington, DC. Trierer theologische Zeitschrift, Trier. Texte und Untersuchungen, Leipzig/Berlin. Union Seminary Quarterly Review, New York. Vigiliae Christianae, Amsterdam. Vetera Christianorum, Bari (Italy). Vetus Testamentum, Leiden. Word Biblical Commentary, Waco. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, Tübingen. Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, Vienna. Yale University Press, New Haven. Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum, Berlin. Zeitschrift für Aszese und Mystik, Innsbruck, then Würzburg. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Giessen, then Berlin. Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins, Leipzig. Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Gotha, then Stuttgart. Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie, Vienna. Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, Giessen, then Berlin. Zeitschrift für Rechtsgeschichte, Weimar. Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, Tübingen.

Introduction Vít HUŠEK, Olomouc, Czech Republic

This volume collects the revised versions of the papers on Titus Flavius Clemens of Alexandria (ca. 150 – ca. 215), the eminent Christian philosopher, apologist and biblical exegete, presented at the 2019 Oxford Patristic Conference. The papers testify to the ongoing scholarly interest in various aspects of Clement’s work, thought, sources and legacy. The first eight papers of the volume were delivered and discussed on August 20-21 at the workshop ‘Clement of Alexandria, the New Testament text and non-canonical traditions’ (Part I: D. Wyrwa, J. Plátová, V. Černušková, S. Yli-Karjanmaa, P. Ashwin-Siejkowski, M. Gyurkovics, L. Rizzerio and V. Hušek), five more papers were given at sessions dedicated to Clement as short communications (Part II: D.J. Crosby, E.R. Cain, D.D.M. King, M. Akiyama and D. Papanikolaou). Part I: Clement of Alexandria, the New Testament Text and Non-Canonical Traditions Clement is primarily known as the author of the celebrated ‘trilogy’ (Protrepticus, Paedagogus, Stromata). His lesser-known texts (Stromata VIII, Excerpta ex Theodoto, Eclogae propheticae and Hypotyposes), also called the ‘metaStromatic material’1 or ‘the other Clement of Alexandria’2 have only met with more focused scholarly attention in recent decades. The aim of the workshop was to continue with the discussions from the 2015 Oxford Patristics conference (workshop ‘The Other Clement of Alexandria: New Perspectives’)3 and the 2014 Olomouc colloquium (Clement’s Biblical Exegesis).4 The focus of the discussions was on the role of individual New Testament books in Clement’s theology and exegesis, Clement’s reception and interpretation of apocryphal, non-canonical and ‘heterodox’ sources, the relationship between exegesis and 1

M. Havrda, The So-Called Eighth Stromateus by Clement of Alexandria: Early Christian Reception of Greek Scientific Methodology, Philosophia Antiqua 144 (Leiden, Boston, 2016), VIII. 2 B.G. Bucur, ‘The Place of the Hypotyposeis in the Clementine Corpus: An Apology for “the Other Clement of Alexandria”’, JECS 17 (2009), 313. 3 The papers from this workshop were published in Studia Patristica 79 (Leuven, 2017). 4 V. Černušková, J.L. Kovacs and J. Plátová (eds), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis. Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29–31, 2014), Vigiliae Christianae Supplement 139 (Leiden, Boston, 2017).

Studia Patristica CX, 1-5. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



philosophy in Clement’s anti-gnostic program and the afterlife of Clement’s exegetical works in the Arabic Gospel catenae. Dietmar Wyrwa launched the workshop with his contribution under the title: ‘Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien’. Wyrwa investigated Clement’s understanding of several basic concepts of Pauline theology with regard to Clement’s conviction that the Epistle to the Hebrews was also written by Paul. Clement’s reading of the Pauline corpus, through the lens of the Hebrews, results in a shift in theological emphasis: the Pauline paradigm of two aiones is transformed into one universal salvation history, the emphasis on the eschatological future shifts to the other-wordly realm above and the motif of spiritual growth and the understanding of faith are modified. It is remarkable how Clement uses the title of the great High-Priest for Christ (which is absent in Paul) to express various aspects of the mediatory role of Christ, but surprisingly avoided the idea of Christ’s sacrifice. Jana Plátová focused on ‘Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John’. The author starts with the observation that 1John plays an important role in Clement’s thought but is only directly cited by him rarely. The article is divided into two parts. The first part is a comprehensive overview of all Clement’s references to 1John (quotations, paraphrases, allusions and quotations with commentary). Two quotations are analysed in detail (references to 1John 1:6-7 and 5:16-7) where Clement does not quote the biblical text verbatim but slightly modifies it. The second part describes four important motifs of Clement’s thought which are rooted in the theology of 1John: the metaphor of the light and the credibility of the Christian Gnostic, Clement’s understanding of ‘detachment’ from the world, the role of love and fearlessness and the Gnostic’s likeness to God. Veronika Černušková gave the paper ‘Delimitation and Context of References to the Apocalypse of Peter in Clement of Alexandria’s Eclogae Propheticae’. She focused on the passage Eclogae 38-50 and analysed references to the apocryphal Apocalypse of Peter. Clement often refers to the Apocalypse of Peter in connection with the exegesis of Psalm 17/18 and 18/19 and the Book of Wisdom, within his discussion on judgement, punishment and cleansing of sin, which are topics widely discussed in Clement’s Stromata. An important result of the paper is a list of certain, probable and possible references to the Apocalypse of Peter in Ecl. 38-50. Finally, the author contributes to the discussion on the nature of Eclogae and Clement’s intention with the excerpts preserved in this enigmatic work. Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s paper ‘Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation and Some Comparisons with Philo’ contributes to the discussion about patristic views on reincarnation. Closely following his previous research on Philo of Alexandria, the author argues that Clement’s position on the doctrine of reincarnation was positive, although Clement was reluctant



to express his attitude openly. The author’s claim is based on the interpretation of the passages from Stromata and Paedagogus which relate to pre-existence of souls, the resurrection of the body and Clement’s views on salvation and punishment after death. This view is also supported by Clement’s quotations from Plato’s accounts of reincarnation and his use of Plato’s reincarnational language. Clement’s reluctance to adhere openly to the reincarnational doctrines is understandable due to the hostile attitude to the doctrine by some contemporary Christian authors. The paper is supplemented by a response by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli ‘Clement and Metensomatosis: Comments on Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s Paper’ with a number of inspiring observations about the discussed passages from Stromata and Clement’s quotations from Plato. Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski’s contribution is entitled ‘Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians’. The author re-examines the possible relationship between two Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas and a passage from the Gospel of the Egyptians quoted by Clement in Stromata. The similarities of these texts are discussed against the background of the growing encratic tendencies among some Christians in the 2nd century. Assuming that early Christian groups moved from early moderate asceticism to later radical or extreme (as also attested to in the Cynic and Neopythagorean schools of that time), one can conclude that this movement was also reflected in the reception and interpretation of the Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas. Miklós Gyurkovics addresses the question of ‘Non-canonical Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s Psychology’. More specifically, he focuses on Clement’s views of the human soul in Stromata II in contrast with the Gnostic teachings of Basilides, Isidore and Valentinus and with some Pythagorean views. In Stromata II, Clement reports on the Gnostic views of the human soul, predestination and free will, moral responsibility, the image of God in man, human passions and the influence of demons. Clement’s report on Gnostic anthropology is in some aspects biased and inaccurate and it seems apparent that his aim is not to present a complete doctrine of his opponents. Clement instead uses quotations from the Gnostic doctrines as a starting point for the exposition of his own views of the human soul. In Clement’s view, the human soul was created in the image of God and did not become evil (in nature) even after the act of voluntary sinning, and is still destined to become divine by union with God, thanks to purification in baptism, healing and the education of Christ. Laura Rizzerio turns to the complex question of faith and reason. Her contribution ‘Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition as a Tool to Fight the Gnostics’ focuses on Clement’s understanding of the term philosophia and the relationship between philosophy and biblical tradition in his polemic against the Gnostics. For Clement, philosophy is an important (or even necessary) instrument in our search for the truth. Its role is to prepare people for the reception of Christ’s teaching and it is like a path that leads to the truth, although with some limitations (Stromata I). Furthermore,



philosophy is presented as a useful discipline in the search for truth and as a generic term for a certain type of practical wisdom (Stromata VI). Finally, philosophy used in connection with the biblical tradition serves in the fight against the Gnostic heretics. Vít Hušek presented the final paper ‘Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae’. Hušek analysed five scholia attributed to Clement in two manuscripts of the Arabic Gospel catena, Vat. ar. 452 and 410, and compared the texts with the Coptic version of the catena. The author concluded that scholia on John 14:3-7 and 14:21-3 are attributed to Clement mistakenly; these are abbreviated paraphrases of Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John and John Chrysostom’s Homilies on John, respectively. The source of the other three scholia (two scholia on John 1:37 and one on John 2:1) remains unclear. With regard to the stylistic similarities with Clement’s Adumbrationes and several of Clement’s scholia on John 1, the author suggests that these three scholia be included into a list of Clement’s fragments of uncertain origin. Part II: Clement of Alexandria – Miscellanea Daniel J. Crosby’s paper ‘The “New Song” of Eunomos: Dragons and Materiality in the Protrepticus of Clement of Alexandria’ discusses Clement’s reading of the traditional myth of Eunomos in the opening sections of his Protrepticus. The author argues that Clement’s innovations – especially the roles of the cicada and the aetiology of the Pythian Games – are intentional, purposeful and play an important role in Clement’s exposition on materiality as developed in the rest of the Paedagogus. Emily R. Cain turns towards Clement’s baptismal metaphor in the Paedagogus. The article ‘Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria’ analyses Clement’s use of the Epicurean epistemology in the metaphor of cataract surgery. In Clement’s exposition, the removal of the cataract in baptism is the first step in a process of transformation, growth in knowledge and deification. Cain argues that Clement is well aware of the limits of Epicurean epistemology and his description of the knowledge of God is given in terms of Platonic epistemology. David D.M. King gave the paper ‘The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Clement of Alexandria’s Quis Dives Salvetur’. Clement’s exegesis of the gospel periscope of the Rich Young Ruler was composed for wealthy Alexandrian Christians, which is why Clement mitigated the radicality of the gospel story. The author demonstrates that Clement does so not only in his exegesis but also makes subtle but important changes to the biblical text. Clement claimed that he was following the Markan version but in fact he composed a text from all the synoptic gospels that most suited his purpose, sometimes even introducing new words.



Manabu Akiyama’s paper ‘Prudenza e lo “spirito di percezione” secondo Clemente Alessandrino’ examined Clement’s interpretation of the passage from Plato’s Theaetetus on ‘becoming like God’. While Fathers of the Church often quoted this passage in connection with the doctrine of deification, Clement related the ‘faculty of prudence’, ‘spirit of perception’ and ‘spirit of wisdom’ to the perfection of the Gnostic. Dimitrios Papanikolaou examined the issue of ‘Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism’. Clement’s short note on Buddha in Stromata I is positive and demonstrates that Clement had some knowledge of Buddha’s personality, but seemed ignorant of Buddha’s precepts. The author analyses the passage and discusses the possible sources of Clement’s knowledge on the Indian teacher.




Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien Dietmar WYRWA, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin, Germany

ABSTRACT According to the elders Clement thinks that the Epistle to the Hebrews is a letter by Paul, originally written in Hebrew, but translated by Luke into Greek. This article wants to explore the consequences of this view and show how some of Paul’s basic concepts get a more or less different emphasis, while read in the light of Epistle to the Hebrews. First Clement’s quotations of Hebrews are investigated with regard to his technique and his purpose. A closer comparison reveals his intellectual background as well as his theological position. As Hebrews does, he transforms the paradigm of two aiones, used by Paul, into the view of one universal salvation history. Likewise and again agreeing with Hebrews, he gives a more distinctive stress to the other-wordly realm above in comparison to Paul’s prevailing eschatological orientation to the future. This goes together with the idea of the ecclesia ab Abel and the various forms of the one covenant of God with his people. Another major theme is his conception of spiritual growth, expressed in the metaphor of milk and strong meat, and particularly his notion of faith, which in a decisive point is related more to Paul and John, though it takes the famous formula of Hebr. 11 for a starting point. The most prominent issue however, Clement adopts from Hebrews, is the sovereign title of the great High-Priest for Christ, which is missing in Paul altogether. Clement wants to express in this way the mediatory functions of Christ in respect to its cosmological and anthropological implications, especially such of soteriology, epistemology, liturgy and eschatology. But astonishing enough, the central core of the whole complex, the idea of Christ’s sacrifice in terms of the High-Priest’s offering, is totally absent in Clement. This finally raises the question, what the death of Christ meant to him and in which way he treats the doctrine of atonement. At the end of the paper there is only an outlook at a further development of the motive of the High-Priest, which does not stem from Hebrews, but has parallels in Philo, in Gnostic literature and in Plotinus, namely the gnostic ascent of the soul of the perfect man, who moves upwards to the contemplation of God.

Wenn in der neueren Forschung Clemens’ bibelexegetische Beiträge untersucht wurden, dann stand neben grundsätzlichen hermeneutischen Fragen1 sein 1 Grundlegend immer noch Claude Mondésert, Clément d’Alexandrie. Introduction à l’étude de sa pensée religieuse à partir de l’Écriture, Théologie 4 (Paris, 1944). Wichtige Beiträge zu

Studia Patristica CX, 9-33. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



Verhältnis zu einzelnen, besonders neutestamentlichen Texten im Vordergrund2, aber seine Bezugnahmen auf den Hebräerbrief wurden mehr oder weniger übergangen. Damit hat sich die patristische Forschung jedoch ein lohnendes Themenfeld ihrer Arbeit entgehen lassen. Auch wenn Clemens keine zusammenhängende kommentarartige Erklärung des Hebräerbriefes gegeben hat, so steht der Hebräerbrief in Clemens’ Oeuvre mit seinen ca. 108 Zitationen, die die Biblia Patristica auflistet, etwa gleichauf mit dem 1. Petrusbrief und überragt noch leicht die Johannesbriefe, deutlicher jedoch die Apostelgeschichte. Es steht also genügend Material zur Verfügung, um der Frage speziell nach Clemens’ Rezeption dieses Briefes einmal gesondert nachzugehen und zu erhellen, in welchem Umfang, mit Hilfe welcher Zitationstechniken und mit welchen Zielsetzungen Clemens diesen Brief, sei es mehr beiläufig, sei es gezielt und namentlich ausgewiesen, aufgenommen und verarbeitet hat. Eine Voraussetzung ist dabei allerdings zu beachten. Nach dem glaubwürdigen Zeugnis des Eusebius hat Clemens den Hebräerbrief als ein Schriftstück des Apostels Paulus verstanden. Damit ist grundsätzlich impliziert, dass Clemens den Hebräerbrief im Einklang mit der gesamten Theologie des Apostels gelesen hat. Doch sollte andererseits eine geschärfte Aufmerksamkeit darauf gerichtet werden, ob sich nicht doch irgendwelche Anzeichen erkennen lassen, dass Clemens einen wie auch immer gearteten Unterschied zwischen dem Gebrauch des Hebräerbriefes und dem des sonstigen Corpus Paulinum gemacht hat. Aber nicht nur aus diesem Grund ist eine gesonderte Beschäftigung mit Clemens’ Rezeption des Hebräerbriefes von Interesse. Es ist vor allem der geistesgeschichtliche Hintergrund des Briefes, der mehr und mehr in den Fokus der Überlegungen gerückt ist. Die neuere Forschung zum Hebräerbrief hat immer deutlicher ein mittelplatonisches Grundkonzept für die Theologie des Hebräerbriefes herausgearbeitet3, und man Clemens’ Bibelhermeneutik enthält auch die für jede Beschäftigung mit Clemens unverzichtbare Studie von André Méhat, Étude sur les ‚Stromates‘ de Clément d’Alexandrie, Patristica Sorbonensia 7 (Paris, 1966), 195-205 u.ö. 2 Einen Forschungsbericht neuesten Datums zu Arbeiten über Clemens’ Schriftgebrauch bietet Judith L. Kovacs, ‘Introduction. Clement as Scriptural Exegete: Overview and History of Research’, in Veronika Černuškova, Judith L. Kovacs und Jana Plátová (Hrg.), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29-31, 2014), VChr Suppl. 139 (Leiden, Boston, 2017), 1-37. Dazu kommt die wertvolle Bibliographie von Jana Plátová, Comprehensive Bibliography on Clement’s Scripural Interpretation, ebd. 38-52. Diese Bibliographie führt diejenige von Annewies van den Hoek weiter: Annewies van den Hoek, Stromateis Book VII in the Light of Recent Scholarship: Approches and Perspectives (with Bibliography), in: Matyáš Havrda, Vit Hušek, Jana Plátová (Hrg.), The Seventh Book of the Stromateis. Proceedings of the Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, October 21-23, 2010), SVigChr 117 (Leiden, Boston, 2012), 3-36. Ausführlicher hat die Forschungsgeschichte zum Schriftgebrauch und speziell zur Paulusrezeption bei Clemens aufgearbeitet Ulrich Schneider, Theologie als christliche Philosophie. Zur Bedeutung der biblischen Botschaft im Denken des Clemens von Alexandria, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 73 (Berlin, New York, 1999), 6-37. 3 Knut Backhaus, ‘Per Christum in Deum. Zur theozentrischen Funktion der Christologie im Hebräerbrief’, in Thomas Söding (Hrg.), Der lebendige Gott. Studien zur Theologie des Neuen Testaments. FS Wilhelm Thüsing, Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen 31 (Münster, 1996), 258-84,

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


meinte in ihm sogar „the beginnings of Christian philosophy“ festmachen zu können.4 Insofern ist bei aller Vielschichtigkeit und Weiträumigkeit, die Clemens’ literarischen Adaptionen zu eigen ist, das Augenmerk darauf zu richten, ob er, der ja selbst vom Mittelplatonismus geprägt ist, hier etwas Verwandtes wahrgenommen hat. Wenn derartige Querverbindungen sich bestätigen, und sei es auch nur untergründig, dann wäre weiter zu fragen, welche Rückwirkungen es auf sein Paulusbild hat, inwiefern es sein Paulusbild bestätigt oder modifiziert, wenn Clemens den Hebräerbrief dem theologischen Gehalt nach als authentischen Paulusbrief liest. Eusebius, wie gesagt, teilt Hist. Eccl. VI 14, 2-4 mit, dass Clemens – zweifellos gestützt auf Traditionen der Ältesten – in den Hypotyposen den Hebräerbrief dem Apostel Paulus zugeschrieben habe: Paulus habe ihn in hebräischer Sprache geschrieben und Lukas ihn ins Griechische übersetzt.5 Paulus habe ihn an die Hebräer gerichtet; dass er im Briefkopf seinen Namen verschweige, sei aus Vorsicht vor Anfeindungen und aus Bescheidenheit geschehen. Speziell für diese Erklärung beruft sich Clemens auf den seligen Presbyter, d.h. höchst wahrscheinlich auf Pantänus.6 Und in den Stromata notiert er, dass die angeschriebenen Hebräer, eine Zielgruppe, die er beispielsweise von den Adressaten des Philipperbriefes zu unterscheiden weiß (Str. IV 101,1-3), im christlichen Glauben verzagt und wankelmütig geworden und zur Gesetzesobservanz, in der sie groß geworden sind (Str. V 62,2), zurückzukehren bereit seien (Str. VI 62,2). Deshalb scheue sich der Apostel nicht, sie zu ermahnen, zu bestärken und zur Sinnesänderung zu führen. In der heutigen Exegese wird diese Zuschreibung an Paulus bekanntlich verworfen, und auch unmittelbare oder gar literarische Beziehungen des anonym bleibenden Autors Ad Hebraeos zu einer wie auch immer zu denkenden „Paulusschule“ werden in Abrede gestellt. Die thematischen Berührungen, die es mit den echten Paulusbriefen gibt7, sind als generell verbreitetes Traditionsgut, wieder in Ders., Der sprechende Gott. Gesammelte Studien zum Hebräerbrief, WUNT 240 (Tübingen, 2009), 49-75; Wilfried Eisele, Ein unerschütterliches Reich. Die mittelplatonische Umformung des Parusiegedankens im Hebräerbrief, BZNW 116 (Berlin, New York, 2003). 4 Schon im Titel James W. Thompson, The Beginnings of Christian Philosophy. The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Catholic Biblical Quaterly Monograph Series 13 (Washington DC, 1982). 5 Albert Vanhoye, ‘Hebräerbrief’, TRE 14 (1985), 494, paraphrasiert die Nachricht zu Unrecht im Sinn von „eine(r) von Lukas verfaßte(n) freie(n) Bearbeitung eines Briefes, den Paulus in Hebräisch geschrieben habe“. μεθερμενεύσαντα ἐκδοῦναι τοῖς ῞Ελλησι hat einfach die Bedeutung von „die Übersetzung für Griechen veröffentlichen“, vgl. Tiziano Dorandi und S. Sohn, ‘Ausgabe’, DNP 2 (1997/1999), 330f. Richtig Theodor Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur III. Theil: Supplementum Clementinum (Erlangen, 1884), 95. „Lediglich als Uebersetzer, nicht als Redactor gilt ihm Lucas“. Ebenso zuletzt Clare K. Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon. The History and Significance of the Pauline Attribution of Hebrews, WUNT 235 (Tübingen, 2009), 36-8. 6 So Th. Zahn, Forschungen (1884 [wie Anm. 5]), 159. 7 Listenartige Aufstellungen finden sich bei Lincoln D. Hurst, The Epistle to the Hebrews. Its Background of Thought, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 65 (Cambridge,



nicht als direkte Abhängigkeiten zu werten. Insofern wird in der gegenwärtigen Forschung mit traditionsgeschichtlichen Kontinuitäten innerhalb einer breiteren urchristlich theologischen Pluralität gerechnet, wobei anzunehmen ist, dass, falls der Segenswunsch am Schluss nicht als sekundärer Zusatz auszuscheiden ist, sozialgeschichtliche Konkretisierungen derartige vermittelnde Kommunikationsprozesse gefördert haben.8 Entsprechend wird der Adressatenkreis heute in der Regel etwas anders bestimmt; nicht verunsicherte Christen jüdischer Herkunft dürften gezielt im Blick gewesen sein, sondern eher allgemein Christen der zweiten oder dritten Generation, die, mitbedingt durch gesellschaftliche Drangsalierungen, in ihrem Glauben schwach geworden sind und rückfällig zu werden drohen.9 I. Clemens allerding hat keinen Zweifel daran gelassen, dass er den Brief für paulinisch hält. Als solchen behandelt er ihn nicht nur in der genannten Einleitungsnotiz, sondern ohne Einschränkung überall in seinen Schriften. Aufschlussreich ist, dass er häufig Stellen aus dem Hebräerbrief mit solchen aus dem Corpus Paulinum unter ausdrücklicher Namensnennung zusammenstellt. Es sind regelrechte Zitationsnester, kumulative Zusammenballungen, wo meist nur mit einer knappen Überleitung ein Zitat auf das andere folgt, sowohl aus den paulinischen Briefen als auch aus dem Hebräerbrief, in denen nach Clemens’ 1990), 108f, sowie detaillierter bei C.K. Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon (2009 [wie Anm. 5]), 106-16, die indessen für engere Beziehungen im Rahmen von Pseudepigraphie plädiert. 8 Knut Backhaus, ‘Der Hebräerbrief und die Paulus-Schule’, Biblische Zeitschrift 37 (1993), 183-208; wieder in Ders., Der sprechende Gott (2009 [wie Anm. 3]), 21-48. Ähnlich Martin Karrer, Der Brief an die Hebräer. Kapitel 1,1-5,10, ÖTK 20/1 (Gütersloh, 2002), 45f. Zustimmend mit einer Einschränkung auch Christian Grappe, ‘Hébreux et la tradition paulinienne’, in Jens Schröter, Simon Butticaz, Andreas Dettwiler und Clarissa Paul (Hrg.), Receptions of Paul in Early Christianity. The Person of Paul and His Writings Through the Eyes of His Early Interpreters, BZNW 234 (Berlin, Boston, 2018), 461-83, 477. Die Einschränkung betrifft den Schluss des Schreibens, Hebr 13:19.22-5, den Ch. Grappe wie schon vor ihm viele andere für einen sekundären Zusatz, der die paulinische Autorschaft sichern soll, hält, so etwa auch Erich Grässer, An die Hebräer. Erster Teilband: Hebr 1-6, EKKNT XVII/1 (Zürich, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1990), 17f, und Ders., An die Hebräer. Dritter Teilband: Hebr 10-25, EKKNT XVII/3 (Zürich, NeukirchenVluyn, 1997), 409f. Eine Aufzählung der Verfechter der einen oder der anderen Möglichkeit bietet C.K. Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon (2009 [wie Anm. 5]), 46-67. 9 Einschränkend M. Karrer, Der Brief an die Hebräer (2002 [wie Anm. 8]), 47f, und Ders. ‘Hebrews, Epistle to the ’, Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception 11 (2015), 680-9, 682: „… Hebrews is often read as addressing those weak in faith… All the admonishings can also be interpreted rhetorically…“. Andererseits versucht Jörg Rüpke, ‘Starting sacrifice in the beyond. Flavian innovations in the concept of priesthood and their repercussions in the treatise „To the Hebrews“’, RHR 229 (2012), 5-30, den Brief in einem konkreten sozialgeschichtlichen und religionsgeschichtlichen Kontext zu verorten.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


Verständnis hier wie da stets Paulus, „der göttliche Apostel“, „der heilige Apostel“, „der selige Apostel“ oder einfach „der Apostel“, wie er meist genannt wird, spricht.10 Die einschlägigen Passagen seien hier kurz aufgeführt, sie mögen auch ein Licht auf die hochentwickelte Zitationstechnik, die Clemens meisterlich beherrscht, werfen. In Str. I 53,1-4 findet sich ein solches Nest von Pauluszitationen, darunter auch ein Zitat aus dem Hebräerbrief: Phil 1:9f – Gal 4:3.1f – Gal 4:30 – Hebr 5:14.13 – 1Thess 5:21 – 1Cor 2:15. Das Hebräerzitat (das Motiv von Milch und fester Speise), hier in umgekehrter Reihenfolge, stammt aus einem paränetischen Kontext, und in paränetisch-kohortativen Sinn gebraucht es auch Clemens. Der verbindende Gesichtspunkt aller Zitationen ist geistiges Wachstum, zu dem die Leser und Leserinnen angespornt werden sollen. In Str. II 8,4 beginnt mit Hebr 11:1 eine längere Sequenz zur Bestimmung des Glaubens, die mindestens bis Str. II 13,1 reicht. Ausdrücklich auf den Apostel wird die Definition des Glaubens von Hebr 11:1 zurückgeführt und mit Hebr 11:2.6a kombiniert. Dann folgen eine Sammlung von philosophischen Definitionen und die Zurückweisung des gnostischen πίστις-Verständnisses. Aber mit Str. II 12,2 wird der Faden des Hebräerbriefes wieder aufgenommen. Nun wird Hebr 11:3f, mit der Bemerkung „sagt der Apostel“, nachgeliefert, um dann jedoch mit der Wendung καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ἕως gleich mehrere Verse bis Hebr 11:25 zu überspringen. Offenbar setzt Clemens voraus, dass der Leser den vollen Text kennt oder nachschlagen kann. Das Phänomen begegnet mehrmals und nicht nur bei biblischen Zitationen11. Nach einem kurzen Fazit schließt die Sequenz im Stil einer Präterition mit Hebr 11:32, wobei erneut mit den Worten καὶ τὰ τούτοις ἑπόμενα auf die Fortsetzung nur verwiesen wird. Die Sprachhaltung ist zunächst apologetisch gegen pagane Herabwürdigungen des Glaubens, dann polemisch gegen gnostische Fehldeutungen gerichtet, schließlich aber überwiegt der Charakter einer lehrhaften Darstellung mit einem leichten kohortativen Nebenton. Interessanterweise wird der Faden von Hebr 11 in Str. IV 102 wieder aufgenommen, so dass die Thematik des Glaubens auf diese Weise mit dem Konzept des wahren Gnostikers verklammert wird und der appellierende Redegestus noch deutlicher hervortritt. 10 Z.B. ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος in Str. II 8,4; IV 101, ὁ θεσπέσιος ἀπόστολος in Str. I 94,3; V 60,1, ὁ ἅγιος ἀπόστολος in Protr. 81,2; Str. V 65,4, ὁ μακάριος ἀπόστολος in Protr. 83,3; Str. I 49,3, ὁ καλὸς ἀπόστολος in Str. V 15,3. 11 Markierte Auslassung finden sich beispielsweise ebenfalls im Zitat von Rom 12:9-21 in Str. II 42,1, im Zitat von Ez 34 in Str. II 69,3, im Zitat von Prov 8:17 in Str. II 83,2, im Zitat von Eph 5:5-11 in Str. III 28,6 oder im Zitat von 1Clem 1,2f in Str. IV 105,2 u.ö., aber auch bei klassischen Autoren wie etwa bei Menander in Str. II 141,2, bei Plato in Str. IV 44,3, bei Demostenes in Str. VI 23,7, bei Hesiod in Str. VI 26,3. Die breite Streuung der betroffenen Autoren zeigt, was auch durch andere Gesichtspunkte grundsätzlich nahegelegt wird, dass dieses Verfahren nicht auf das Konto der Kopisten geht. In Str. VII 84,3f erklärt zudem Clemens anlässlich des Zitates von 1Cor 6:1f selbst, dass er angesichts der Länge der einschlägigen Perikope nur eine Paraphrase in Auswahl geben wird.



In Str. II 134,1-4 sind in eine Kette von namentlich ausgewiesenen Paulusreminiszenzen und Paulusstellen drei Anspielungen auf den Hebräerbrief eingeflossen: Rom 8:23 – Hebr 4:14 – Hebr 2:11 – Rom 8:17 – Rom 6:22 – Rom 5:4f – Hebr 4:1 u.ö. Thema des Kapitels ist das höchste Ziel, das den Gläubigen bereitet ist, d.h. die eschatologische Vollendung, und dazu erklärt Clemens, dass Paulus diese auch ἀνάπαυσις – richtig wäre κατάπαυσις – nennt (gemeint ist offenbar Hebr 4:1 u.ö.). Die Thematik des höchsten Ziels wird weitergeführt in Str. II 136,1-6, wo zusammengestellt sind: Gal 5:5f – Hebr 6:11.20 – Prov 1:33 – 1Cor 11:1 – Plato, Theaet. 176b. Wiederum stößt man hier auf eine Aussparung im Zitat des Hebräerbriefes, wo Clemens von V.11, mit ἕως übergeleitet, zu V.20 springt. Auch hier setzt er offenbar voraus, dass die Leser über den vollen Wortlaut informiert sind oder sich informieren können. Das Leitmotiv des Abschnittes ist die Hoffnung auf die eschatologische Vollendung; der ursprünglich paränetische Sprachduktus der Stelle ist jedoch zugunsten einer lehrhaften Ausführung verblasst. In Str. IV 101,1-103,2 werden als Paulusäußerungen versammelt: Phil 4:11-3 – Hebr 10:32-9 (mit Isa 26:20 und Hab 2:31) – Hebr 11:36-40; 11:4012,2 – Hebr 11:26f, worauf dann in Str. IV 103, 12-4 Stellen aus Sapientia Salomonis folgen: Sap 3:2-4 – Sap 3:5 – Sap 3:6-8. Die Sammlung soll zeigen, dass Paulus an vielen Stellen den Maßstab für den wahren Gnostiker vorgegeben habe (Erduldung von Entbehrungen und Verfolgungen), wobei wie im ursprünglichen Kontext der Hebräerbriefzitate auch ein paränetisch-kohortativer Nebensinn impliziert ist. In Hebr 10:34 liest Clemens, wie der Codex Sinaiticus und andere, τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου (gegen τοῖς δεσμοῖς der besten Zeugen), so dass die paulinische Autorschaft stärker suggeriert wird. Sodann wird mit Hebr 11 der Faden von Str. II 13,1 wieder aufgenommen, außerdem gibt Clemens zu Hebr 11:39 einen zutreffenden kurzen exegetischen Kommentar. Die Sapientia spricht dann von den Auszeichnungen des Märtyrers, der ja als Vollkommener gilt. In Str. IV 128,1-129,1 sind als Worte des Apostels zusammengestellt Tit 2:3-5 – Hebr 12:14.16.15 – Hebr 13:4. Der Abschnitt gibt die für die Frauen bestimmte Paränese aus der Haustafel des Titusbriefes und die auf den Gemeindezusammenhalt zielende Paränese des Hebräerbriefes, gipfelnd in der Eheparänese, wieder. Übrigens steht schon unmittelbar vorher in Str. IV 126,1 die Eheparänese von 1Tim 4:5 und Hebr 10:22f zusammen, doch hier ohne Nennung des Apostels. In Str. V 62,2-4 ist ein Zitat von Hebr 5:12-6:1 eingebunden in eine längere, den Kolosserbrief entlang schreitende Serie von Paulusstellen, die von Str. V 60,1 bis 62,4 reicht: Eph 3:3-5 – Col 1:9-11 – Col 1:25-7 – Col 3:10 – Col 1:28 – 1Cor 8:7 – Col 2:2f – Col 4:2 – 1Cor 8:7 – Col 4:3f – Hebr 5:12-6:1. Der Abschnitt eröffnet die weitreichenden Ausführungen zum Geheimnis Gottes, wobei hier die Gedankenführung beim sog. Revelationsschema einsetzt und,

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


unter Berücksichtigung des esoterischen Charakters der Erkenntnis, zur Unterscheidung zwischen einer niederen Stufe der Anfangsunterweisung und der höheren Stufe der vollkommenen Erkenntnis gelangt (erneut das Motiv von Milch und fester Speise). Man wird nicht fehl gehen, in dem Zitat aus dem Hebräerbrief auch einen paränetisch-kohortativen Ton zu vernehmen, zumal schon in Str. I 53,3 mit dieser Absicht aus der Passage zitiert war. In Str. V 65,4-66,3 ist nochmals der Gedanke der Esoterik mit 1Cor 2:6f – 1Cor 3:1-3 aufgenommen und in die Perspektive der spirituell gedeuteten Eucharistie gestellt. Dass bei der Kommentierung des Motivs von Milch und fester Speise auch Hebr 5:13f mitgedacht ist, lässt sich literarisch, wenn auch nicht zwingend erweisen, so doch sehr wahrscheinlich machen.12 In Str. VI 62,1-3 sind mit Col 2:8 – Hebr 5:12 – Col 2:8 Ermahnung zusammengestellt, die beinhalten, nicht von der Höhe der Wahrheitserkenntnis zurückzufallen zu den Vorstufen der Wahrheit und den Anfangsstufen, sei es zur Philosophie oder zur Gesetzesobservanz (noch einmal das Motiv von Milch und fester Speise). In erster Linie sind diese Ausführungen als exegetische Belehrung gemeint, dass Paulus die Philosophie nicht grundsätzlich verurteilt habe; sie dürften im weiteren Umkreis der Auseinandersetzungen mit den „simpliciores“ zu sehen sein, die jegliche philosophische Beschäftigung abgelehnt haben.13 Schließlich muss noch ein Passus aus dem Protrepticus genannt werden, Protr. 82,1-85,3, wo neben Anspielungen auf die Evangelien und andere Literaturwerke auch in dichter Häufung Stellen aus dem Hebräerbrief und dem Corpus Paulinum z.T. nur in stillschweigenden Anspielungen eingearbeitet sind: Hebr 12:5 (= Prov 3:11) – Hebr 12:21 (= Deut 9:19) – Hebr 12:23.22 – Röm 8:29 – Eph 4:17-9 – Eph 5:14 – Hebr 3:7-9 (= Ps 94:7-9) – Hebr 3:9-11 (= Ps 94:9-11) – 1Tim 1:4 – Hebr 3:10 (= Ps 94:10) – 1Tim 2:4 – 1Tim 4:8. Mit großer rhetorischer Verve kleidet Clemens seinen protreptischen Appell in Worte der Schrift, so dass es die Schrift selbst ist, die die Leser und Leserinnen zur Bekehrung aufruft. Dabei zeichnet er den Kontrast zwischen denen, die sich Gott und dem Heil im Glauben zuwenden, und denen, die sich dem Aufruf verschließen und den Glauben verweigern, wofür paradigmatisch die Wüstengeneration des alten Israel steht. Eindrücklich ist an diesem Passus abzulesen, wie Clemens die Intertextualität, die im Hebräerbrief bekanntlich eine herausragende Rolle spielt, nicht nur wahrzunehmen vermag, sondern mit ihr auch gezielt arbeitet. Die Stelle Hebr 3:7-11 = Ps 94:7-11 führt er mit dem Lemma 12 Während die Gegenüberstellung γάλα – βρῶμα auf 1Cor 3:2 zurückweist, stammt die Formulierung τῶν τελείων τροφή offenbar aus Hebr 5:14. Im Kontext von 1Cor 3 müsste man bis auf 1Cor 2:6 zurückgehen, um auf das Stichwort τέλειος zu stoßen. 13 So Judith L. Kovacs, ‘Reading the „Divinely Inspired“ Paul: Clement of Alexandria in Conversation with „Heterodox“ Christians, Simple Believers, and Greek Philosophers’, in V. Černuškova, J.L. Kovacs und J. Plátová (Hrg.), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis (2017 [wie Anm. 2]), 325-43, 334.



ein, λέγει γάρ που ἡ γραφή, so dass man nicht unbedingt ein Zitat aus dem Hebräerbrief erwartet. Wenn er dann aber mit exegetischen Bemerkungen den gegenwärtigen Anredecharakter des Psalmwortes hervorhebt und das „heute“ als ewigen Tag Gottes, letztlich als den Logos, durch den wir Gott schauen, deutet, dann ist das nicht mehr durch Ps 94 motiviert, sondern eben durch Hebr 3:13; 4:7. Ebenso ergibt sich nicht aus Ps 94, sondern aus Hebr 3:9f, dass die Zeitbestimmung „40 Jahre lang“ auf „und sie schauten meine Werke“ zu beziehen ist, und nicht auf „(Gott) ergrimmte über dieses Geschlecht“ (gegen den Urtext und Hebr 3:17). Zuletzt verlässt er aber dann doch den Skopus des Hebräerbriefes, denn dass Gott ihnen verwehrt, in seine Ruhe einzugehen, versteht er nicht in Bezug auf die endzeitliche Ruhe, sondern auf die Landnahme Kanaans, die der Wüstengeneration wegen ihres Unglaubens verwehrt war und erst unter Moses Nachfolger erfolgte, als die Israeliten erkannten, dass Rettung nur im Glauben möglich ist (vgl. Deut 12:9f; Jos 1:1-6). Der erste Eindruck, der sich ergibt, wenn man diese Zitatnester im Ganzen überschaut, ist der, dass Clemens durchaus nicht konsequent die Stellen zusammenbringt, die man als Parallelen oder Similia erwarten könnte und die in der exegetischen Literatur stets auch als solche genannt werden.14 Dieser Eindruck wird nicht unterlaufen, wenn man die zahlreichen stillschweigenden Anspielungen mitberücksichtigt, was hier nur gelegentlich geschehen ist. Natürlich hängt das auch damit zusammen, dass Clemens die Deuteropaulinen ebenfalls als genuin paulinische Zeugnisse behandelt, aber offensichtlich verfolgt er mit seinen Zitatanhäufungen kein antiquarisch dokumentierendes Interesse. Ohne auf Vollständigkeit und strikte Deckungsgleichheit zu achten, greift er eher assoziativ auf, was ihm gerade für seinen Gedankengang passend erscheint, wobei er gern dem Leitfaden eines bestimmten Paulustextes folgt und diesen entsprechend auffüllt. Dabei hat sich immer wieder ein paränetisch-adhortativer Redegestus oder der Stil lehrhafter Ausführungen als vorherrschend erwiesen, andere Sprechhaltungen wie etwa kritische Auseinandersetzungen hallen nur entfernt nach oder begegnen allenfalls ganz am Rande wie in einem hier noch nicht aufgeführten Einzelzitat.15 Das ist nun höchst bemerkenswert. Denn wie der Hebräerbrief selbst in erhabenem, aber ruhigem, unaufgeregtem Ton ganz auf Paränese und Lehrentfaltung zugeschnitten ist im Unterschied zu den genuinen Paulusbriefen, die die heiße Atmosphäre des Ringens und des Kampfes 14

S. oben Anm. 7. Es handelt sich um die Stelle Hebr 1:3 (der Sohn als Gepräge der Herrlichkeit des Vaters), die in Str. VII 58,4 klar antignostisch gewendet ist. Ansonsten können höchstens zwei von den oben aufgeführten Zitationen als Grenzfälle angesehen werden: Str. II 8,4 mit Hebr 11:1 – doch spricht die Fortsetzung dagegen – und Str. VI 62,2 mit Hebr 5:12. Darüber hinaus kann Str. VII 93,4 nicht in antihäretischer Hinsicht beansprucht werden, weil die Anspielung an Hebr 6:4; 4:6 nicht zweifelsfrei ist, auch nicht in Paed. I 25,2 mit Ps 2:7 (= Hebr 1:5, 5:5). In der Polemik gegen die paganen Religionen spielt der Hebräerbrief keine Rolle, ebenfalls nicht in der Auseinandersetzung mit dem Judentum, so Str. II 42,4-43,4. 15

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


atmen, so spiegeln sich diese Merkmale noch in Clemens’ Paulusrezeption wider. Zitationen aus dem Corpus Paulinum setzt Clemens in seinen Diskussionen auf allen Seiten ein; er benutzt sie in der protreptischen Missionsstrategie, er verwertet sie in der Konfrontation mit paganen Gegnern, er gebraucht sie im antihäretischen Kampf, er beruft sich auf sie in der Auseinandersetzung mit den „simpliciores“, und natürlich zieht er sie für die positive Entfaltung seines theologischen Programms heran.16 Aber der Hebräerbrief ist nirgendwo in den Passagen heftiger, kritischer Auseinandersetzungen wirklich präsent. Bezeichnend ist, dass im dritten Buch der Stromata, wo die Bestreitung häretischer Positionen ihren Höhepunkt erreicht, Spuren eines Rekurses auf ihn nahezu ganz fehlen.17 Einzig und allein in paränetisch-kohortativen sowie in lehrhaften Kontexten, also in seiner ureigensten Materie, hat der Brief an die Hebräer seinen Ort, hier aber mit vollem Gewicht. II. Wenn Clemens’ Aufnahme des Hebräerbriefes nach der inhaltlich-theologischen Seite betrachtet werden soll, dann empfiehlt es sich, auch die bloßen Anspielungen, die Clemens eher beiläufig in seinen Text hat einfließen lassen, zu berücksichtigen, denn auch sie können von Fall zu Fall wichtige Aspekte zum Gesamtbild beitragen. Das trifft bereits für die Frage nach dem Weltverständnis zu, diesem weitesten Horizont, der für den geistigen Hintergrund des Denkens eines Autors am aufschlussreichsten ist. Etwas schematisierend kann man sagen, dass im Hebräerbrief an die Stelle des zeitlich gedachten, apokalyptischen Zwei-Äonen-Schemas, das bei Paulus zwar nicht ungebrochen, aber systematisch strukturbildend im Hintergrund steht – zu erinnern sei nur an Gal 1:4; 1Cor 2:6; 2Cor 4:4 oder 1Cor 7:31 –, das räumlich vertikale Zwei-SphärenSchema des Platonismus tritt, nämlich einer unwandelbaren, intelligiblen Sphäre des immer währenden Seins einerseits und der wandelbaren, vergänglichen Sphäre der irdischen Lebenswirklichkeit andererseits. Der Hauptbeleg, an dem dieses Schema eindeutig greifbar wird, ist Hebr 12:26-8,18 aber gerade diese Stelle zitiert Clemens nicht. Jedoch hat er eine Reihe von Anspielungen auf sinngemäße Wendungen integriert, die zeigen, dass er nicht nur mit dieser Weltsicht vertraut ist, sondern diese auch im Hebräerbrief wiedererkennt. Die jenseitige Sphäre ist gemeint, wenn er mit Hebr 12:22f, also mit Worten aus dem unmittelbaren Kontext des Hauptbeleges, von ἡ πρωτότοκος ἐκκλησία, von πρωτότοκα τὰ ἐναπογεγραμμένα ἐν οὐρανοῖς und von μυριάσιν ἀγγέλλων συμπανηγυρίζοντα spricht, denn der Zugang dorthin ist nicht rein zukünftig, 16

Das hat sehr schön J.L. Kovacs, ‘Reading’ (2017 [wie Anm. 13]), 325-43, herausgearbeitet. Lediglich zwei unpolemische Reminiszenzen, Str. III 59,4 mit Hebr 9:14 und Str. III 69,4 mit Hebr 2:11, können genannt werden. 18 Vgl. W. Eisele, Ein unerschütterliches Reich (2003 [wie Anm. 3]), 113-25. 17



sondern bereits in der Gegenwart eröffnet (Protr. 82,6; vgl. q.d.s. 21,2), wie denn auch Clemens’ Sprachgebrauch vom „oberen Jerusalem“ bzw. „himmlischen Jerusalem“ eine Transponierung des ursprünglich apokalyptischen Motivs in platonische Metaphorik impliziert, ohne jedoch den Zukunftsaspekt völlig abzulegen (Paed. I 45,1; Str. IV 172,1: „mein Jerusalem“19; vgl. Protr. 108,4). In einer mit platonischen Reminiszenzen gesättigten Beschreibung des in die Höhe strebenden Gebetsgestus heißt es in Anspielung auf Hebr 10:34; 11:16 πόθῳ τῶν κρειττόνων und in Anspielung auf Hebr 9:25 ἐπὶ ἅγια χωρεῖν (Str. VII 40,1), jeweils bezogen auf die jenseitige Welt. Und komplementär gemäß den ontologischen Prämissen des zeitgenössischen Platonismus, wonach die irdische Welt der niedere Bereich des Werden und Vergehens ist, aber zugleich in Rücksicht auf ein grundsätzlich christliches Existential, kann es hienieden, wie Clemens versichert, keine bleibende Stadt geben, sondern nur die irdische Heimatlosigkeit nach Hebr 13:14 (Paed. III 41,1) und die Existenzweise von „Fremdlingen und Gästen“ nach Hebr 11:13 (Str. III 95,3 hier mit dem ὡς μή von 1Cor 7:29-31; Str. VII 77,3. 78,3). III. Ein weiterer größerer Themenkomplex, den Clemens mit Zitationen aus dem Hebräerbrief begleitet, ist die Einheit der Heilsgeschichte, wobei sachgemäß darin der Gedanke des wandernden Gottesvolkes eingeschlossen ist. Ein umfassendes und ins Einzelne gehendes Verständnis der biblischen Heilsgeschichte hat der Apostel Paulus nicht besessen. Zwar liegen in seiner Deutung Abrahams als Vater des Glaubens und Träger der Verheißung (Rom 4:11; Gal 3:16) und des 480 Jahre nach ihm zwischeneingekommenen Mosegesetzes (Gal 3:17.19) gewisse Möglichkeiten einer solchen Betrachtung, wozu auch der Komplex der Bundestreue Gottes gegenüber Israel zu rechnen ist (Rom 11:25-32), doch hat Paulus diese Ansätze nicht in eigenständigem Interesse weiterverfolgt. Zu sperrig wirkt sich offenbar das apokalyptische Äonen-Schema aus, wonach auch die biblische Geschichte unter dem alten Äon beschlossen ist, der durch Christus grundsätzlich abgetan ist. Anders dagegen der Autor Ad Hebraeos. Dass er ein ausgeprägtes heilsgeschichtliches Interesse hat, gibt er bereits mit dem Proömium seines Schreibens zu erkennen, wo er in wuchtigen Worten absteckt, wie Gott im Horizont von Schöpfung und Vollendung vormals zu den Vätern durch die Propheten gesprochen hat und in den letzten Zeiten zu uns durch den Sohn (Hebr 1:1-4). Heilsgeschichtlich motiviert ist es, wenn er eine eigentümliche Bundestheologie entwickelt – auch diese nicht ohne platonische Implikationen –, 19

Es dürfte so gut wie sicher sein, dass Clemens im anschließenden doxographischen Kephalaion, Str. IV 172,2, οὐρανός nicht, wie es stoischem Verständnis entspräche, als Synonym für κόσμος verstanden hat, sondern als Bezeichnung für das Jenseits.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


wonach der erste, im Irdischen angesiedelte und der Zeitlichkeit unterworfene Bund durch einen neueren, besseren, d.h. ewigen Bund überlagert wird, zu dessen Mittler Christus in seiner Passion und Erhöhung geworden ist (Hebr 8:1-13). Wie stark dieses Verständnis wiederum sich heilsgeschichtlich konkretisiert, wird an dem großen Paradigmenkatalog, der die Wolke der Glaubenszeugen nennt, greifbar, denn er bildet das Grundmotiv der Pilgerschaft des wandernden Bundesvolkes, dieser ecclesia ab Abel, die sich auf dem Weg in die himmlische Herrlichkeit befindet, exemplarisch ab (Hebr 11:1-40). Keinen anderen Gedanken hat Clemens häufiger aus dem Hebräerbrief wiederholt als das πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως von Hebr 1:1. Unter den neun Zitationen insgesamt nimmt er an vier Stellen die Wendung explizit in heilsgeschichtlicher Bedeutung auf, so wie sie im Hebräerbrief gemeint war (Str. VI 58,2; 106,4; Str. VII 95,3; Adumb. I 4,10; vgl. Ecl. 23,1),20 und genau wie dort betont er, dass dieses vielfache und vielgestaltige Sprechen Gottes von Anbeginn der Erschaffung der Welt an bis in die Gegenwart zu uns und darüber hinaus bis zur Vollendung von allem reicht. Immer ist es ein Sprechen Gottes durch den Sohn, den Logos-Christus, das auf das eine einzige Ziel der Errettung der Menschen gerichtet ist. Deshalb spricht Clemens in der Terminologie der Bundestheologie auch von „einem einzigen heilbringenden Bund“ (μἰα … τῷ ὄντι διαθήκη ἡ σωτήριος) und von „einer einzigen unwandelbaren Gabe des Heils, verliehen von einem einzigen Gott durch einen einzigen Heiland“ (Str. VI 106,3f; vgl. Str. VII 107,5). Clemens zögert nicht, diesen Bund als einen ewigen Bund, der die ewige Heilsgabe schenkt, zu qualifizieren, und die Fortsetzung dieser Aussage liest sich wie eine Ekphrasis dessen, was mit πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως alles gemeint sein kann (Protr. 94,1). Doch ist dieser eine Bund verschieden wahrgenommen worden, je nach den Gegebenheiten bei verschiedenen Geschlechtern, zu verschiedenen Zeiten und auch der Art seiner irdischen Gaben nach (Str. VI 106,3f; 166,5 vgl. Str. II 29,2). Demgemäß rechnet Clemens mit bestimmten heilsgeschichtlichen Epochen und unterscheidet im Anschluss an markante Zäsuren auch mehrere Bundesschlüsse Gottes. Es mag eher ungewöhnlich klingen, wenn er vier Bundesschlüsse veranschlagt, die durch die Vermittlung der protoktistischen Engel unter Adam, Noah, Abraham und Mose wirksam wurden (Ecl. 51,1); dies sei die heilige Vierheit der alten Bündnisse (Str. V 34,4; vgl. Str. V 35,1).21 Vertrauter ist es, wenn er Gesetz, Propheten und Apostel oder Gesetz, Propheten und Evangelium zusammenstellt (Str. V 38,5; Str. VI 167,1; Str. III 8,5; 76,1), aber am geläufigsten ist die 20 Eine etwas anders nuancierte Verwendung der besagten Wortverbindung, wo aber ein heilsgeschichtlicher Hintergrund immer noch durchscheinen kann, hebt auf die verschiedenen Erziehungsweisen des Logos-Christus ab: Protr. 8,3; Paed. III 43,2; Str. I 27,1; Str. V 35,1; Str. VI 81,6. 21 Dass das 2. Jahrhundert reich an heilsgeschichtlichen Entwürfen gewesen sein muss, bezeugt vor allem Irenäus, vgl. D. Wyrwa, ‘Irenäus von Lyon (um 135 – um 200)’, in G.M. Hoff und U.H.J. Körtner (Hrg.), Arbeitsbuch Theologiegeschichte. Diskurse. Akteure. Wissensformen, Bd. 1 (Stuttgart, 2012), 23-44, 32.



Unterscheidung von zwei Bünden, dem alten und dem neuen (Str. II 29,2; Paed. I 59,1).22 Des näheren hat Clemens eine recht genaue Vorstellung, wie die Verhältnisbestimmung zwischen den verschiedenen Bünden auszusehen hat. Zwar übernimmt er das traditionelle Schema von Verheißung und Erfüllung (Str. III 46,2; Str. IV 134,3f; Str. V 55,1-3) oder spricht von Vorstufen und Endziel (Str. VI 167,1), wobei er darauf insistiert, dass die Bünde nicht in Widerspruch zu einander stehen, sondern gemäß der kirchlichen Richtschnur sich in Übereinstimmung und Harmonie befinden (Str. VI 125,3). Doch im Grunde treffen diese Kategorien noch nicht das Entscheidende. Es scheint vielmehr, dass Clemens dem Auctor ad Hebraeos verpflichtet ist, wenn er die von daher bekannte, letztlich platonische Gegenüberstellung von Schatten und Wirklichkeit, von Abbild und Wahrheit (vgl. Hebr 8:5; 9:23; 10:1) als Schlüssel zur Interpretation der Zuordnung gebraucht. So heißt es, das Gesetz – und man darf das gleichwertig für den alten Bund lesen – ist Abbild und Schatten der Wahrheit (Str. VI 58,3).23 Die Vorstellung wäre also die, dass Gott bei sich mit seinem Sohn einen einzigen, ewigen Bund für die Menschheit beschlossen hat (vgl. Paed. I 59,3; Str. VII 107,5) und dass dieser in der irdischen Welt repräsentiert wurde jeweils als Abbild und Schatten in der Vielheit der temporären heilsgeschichtlichen Bünde, bis mit der Erscheinung Jesu Christi im neuen Bund die Wahrheit des einen, ewigen Bundes selbst gegenwärtig geworden ist. Die alten Bünde sind demnach zwar im neuen aufgehoben, aber ihre Verheißungen mitnichten annulliert, sondern nach wie vor in Kraft, weil die Vielzahl der Bünde δυνάμει nur ein Bund sind und letztlich eine und dieselbe Heilsgabe, nämlich die eschatologische Ruhe im Angesicht Gottes, zusprechen (Str. II 29,2, vgl. Str. II 28,6). Bundestheologisch wäre dann die nächste Folge des Heilswerkes Christi darin zu sehen, dass die Scheidewand zwischen Israel und den Heidenvölkern niedergerissen ist (Str. VI 106,4 mit Eph 2:14). IV. Mit dem Gedanken der Bundesschlüsse Gottes ist wie im Hebräerbrief so auch bei Clemens das Konzept der Pilgerschaft des wandernden Gottesvolkes eng verknüpft. Vorauszuschicken ist wiederum entsprechend, dass Clemens die Ekklesiologie transzendental begründet hat. Kirche ist für ihn ihrem Wesen nach eine einzige, die wahre, wirklich alte, katholische Kirche, denn Gott hat 22 Zu erwähnen ist in diesem Zusammenhang auch, dass Clemens die griechische Philosophie ebenfalls als einen Bund Gottes mit den Griechen, wenngleich nicht auf der gleichen Stufe wie das mosaische Gesetz für die Juden, ansprechen kann (Str. VI 42,1-3; 67,1). 23 Alain Le Boulluec, ‘L’interprétation de la Bible et le «genre symbolique»’, in V. Černuškova, J.L. Kovacs und J. Plátová (Hrg.), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis (2017 [wie Anm. 2]), 55-79, 61, erklärt zur Stelle, dass das Gesetz wegen seiner symbolischen Art Schatten der Wahrheit sei. Das ist sicher zutreffend, aber ein Passus wie Paed. I 59,1-60,3 zeigt, dass die Aussage auch in die Bundesthematik hineinreicht, zumal in Paed. I 60,3 ebenfalls die Kategorie vom Schattenriss begegnet.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


sie vor Erschaffung der Welt durch den Sohn gegründet und vor allen Zeiten diejenigen, die zu ihr gehören, erkannt und in sie eingeschrieben (Str. VII 92,3; 107,3-6).24 So ist sie die oberste, die himmlische Kirche (Str. IV 66,1; VII 108,1), und zu ihr verhält sich die irdische Kirche – wiederum nach platonischem Schema – wie das Abbild (εἰκών) zum Urbild (Str. IV 66,1). In der hiesigen Welt ist sie indessen dadurch in Erscheinung getreten, dass Gott seine Verheißungen immer wieder Menschen zugesprochen hat (vgl. Protr. 115,2), die sich im Glauben in die Existenzweise der Orientierung auf die nicht-sichtbare Wirklichkeit haben versetzen lassen und als Pilgernde, als Fremdlinge und Beisassen hienieden, auf das jenseitige Gut der Verheißung hinbewegt haben. In dieser Perspektive hat Clemens, durchaus sachgemäß, die große Paradigmenreihe der alten Glaubenszeugen aus Hebr 11 aufgenommen. Obwohl er den Katalog an den beiden Stellen, wo er daraus zitiert, im Ganzen präsent halten will, greift er nur einige besonders markante Eckpunkte wörtlich heraus, um mit überleitenden Bemerkungen eigene Akzente zu setzen. Zum einen sucht er der an sich kaum spezifisch Christliches bietenden Aufzählung eine etwas merklichere christologische Note zu geben. So qualifiziert er einleitend den in freier Entscheidung gewählten Glauben als durch die Stimme des Herrn, d.h. durch den Logos-Christus gewirkten Glauben, und die Aussage, dass die Schöpfung, die selbst ein Zeugnis für Gott ablegt, durch das Wort Gottes im Sinne der Wortschöpfung (also nicht im hypostatischen Sinn) bereitet worden ist, bezieht er auf den Logos-Christus als Schöpfungsmittler, durch den alles geworden ist (Str. II 12,1f). Ebenso dürfte er christologisch verstanden haben, dass Abel, der erste Glaubenszeuge, durch seinen Glauben immer noch spricht, obwohl er gestorben ist (Hebr 11:4; vgl. Gen 4:10), denn in anderem Zusammenhang deutet er das Blut Abels, das zu Gott schreit, als Stimme, die ruft, und bezieht sie typologisch auf das Leiden Christi (Paed. I 47,4). Diese Deutung dürfte vermutlich auch hier im Hintergrund mitschwingen (Str. II 12,2). Dass schließlich der letzte Satz in dieser Sequenz „indem wir hinblicken auf Jesus, den Anführer und Vollender des Glaubens“ für ihn ein besonderes, noch näher zu qualifizierendes Gewicht hat, bedarf keines weiteren Beweises, aber er fügt nachträglich noch das Beispiel des Glaubenszeugen Mose hinzu, offenbar aus keinem anderen Grund als deshalb, weil von ihm gesagt ist, „er hielt die Schmach Christi für einen größeren Reichtum als die Schätze Ägyptens“, und somit der Katalog selbst die Deutung auf Christus bietet (Str. IV 103,1f mit Hebr 12:2; 11:26). Die andere Absicht, die Clemens mit seiner Auswahl aus der Paradigmenaufzählung der alten Glaubenszeugen und seiner Kommentierung verfolgt, besteht darin, auf Anhieb erkennbar zu machen, dass die Glaubensväter zusammen mit den Gläubigen der Gegenwart als wanderndes Gottesvolkes verbunden sind, mit anderen Worten, dass sie und dass wir Glieder der einen ecclesia ab Abel sind. Deshalb steht Abel, der wegen seines Glaubens 24

Vgl. zu diesem Komplex A. Méhat, Étude (1966 [wie Anm. 1]), 484.



Gerechte, an der Spitze. Deshalb bemerkt Clemens anlässlich der Unterscheidung der Zeit vor dem Gesetz und der späteren, näher bei uns stehenden Geschichte25 des alten Bundesvolkes, dass diese Zeugen der Glaube gerecht machte und sie in die göttliche Verheißung einsetzte (vgl. Hebr 6:12.17), und zwar schon vor dem Gesetz wie auch sinngemäß danach (Str. II 12,2-13,1). Und wenn Clemens an späterer Stelle (Str. IV 102,1-103,1)26 den Faden von Hebr 11 wieder aufnehmend, nach der Beschreibung der Leiderfahrungen der glaubenstreuen Makkabäer auf den irritierenden Satz stößt, „und diese alle, denen ein gutes Zeugnis um des Glaubens willen ausgestellt worden ist, haben die Verheißungen Gottes nicht erlangt“ (Hebr 11:39), dann zögert er nicht, hier ein unüberhörbares Signal für die pilgernde ecclesia ab Abel zu geben. Den fraglichen Satz erklärt er als rhetorische Figur der Aposiopese, so dass mitzuhören ist „sie nicht allein“,27 und zum Beweis für die Richtigkeit seiner Interpretation schließt er sogleich den folgenden Vers an: „… weil Gott im Hinblick auf uns etwas Besseres (sc. nicht zeitliche Güter, sondern das ewige Heilsgut) vorgesehen hat, damit sie nicht ohne uns zur Vollendung gelangen sollten“ (Hebr 11:40).28 Was Clemens’ Auslegung also besagen will, ist, dass die Väter des alten Bundes und die Gläubigen heute gemeinsam in die eine Verheißungsgeschichte des ewigen Bundes, in die ecclesia ab Abel, hineingehören und deshalb auch nur gemeinsam das Erbe der ewigen Heilsgabe empfangen werden. So wie wir gegenwärtig noch unterwegs auf der Wanderschaft sind, so befinden sich die Glaubensahnen noch im Wartestand, um am Ende der Zeiten gemeinsam mit uns die Vollendung zu erlangen. V. Die zweithäufigste Anführung, die Clemens dem Hebräerbrief entnimmt, ist die Metaphorik von Milch und fester Speise. Sein ganzes Verständnis vom geistigen Wachstum des Gläubigen ist darin wie in einem Brennspiegel fokussiert, so dass sich sachlich noch weitere Zitationen und Reminiszenzen anschließen 25

Zur Stelle Hebr 11:32 vgl. E. Grässer, An die Hebräer. Dritter Teilband (1997 [wie Anm. 8]), 189: „… aus einer der eigenen Situation zeitlich angenäherten und inhaltlich vergleichbaren späten Phase der Geschichte Israels…“. Clemens liegt also mit seiner Erklärung ἐκ τῆς παρ‘ ἡμῖν ἱστορίας ganz richtig. 26 Die Wendung σμῆνος ὑποδειγμάτων θείων in Str. IV 102,1 ist platonisch inspiriert, vgl. z.B. Plato, Men. 72a u.ö. 27 Die Bemerkung von O. Stählin z.St., in Des Clemens von Alexandreia ausgewählte Schriften aus dem Griechischen übersetzt, IV. Band, BKV II. Reihe Bd. 19 (München, 1937), 71 Anm. 1, führt in die Irre. 28 Zusätzlich schiebt Clemens noch eine kurze Zwischenbemerkung, nämlich das philosophischtheologische Grundaxiom, dass Gott gut ist, zwischen die beiden Zitathälften ein (vgl. Plato, Tim. 29e), womit gegeben ist, dass Gott nicht aus Missgunst den Vätern die Vollendung versagt habe, sondern alles zum größtmöglichen Besten lenkt. Anderswo bedient sich Clemens biblischer Sprache: „treu ist der, der die Verheißungen gegeben hat“ (Hebr 10:23; 11:11 in Str. IV 126,1; Str. VI 77,1).

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


können. Bekanntlich gehört das in der Diatribe verbreitete Bild von Milch und fester Speise – und analog die Unterscheidung von Unmündigen und Vollkommenen – zu den bekanntesten Beispielen, wo Berührungen zwischen den Paulusbriefen und dem Hebräerbrief wahrzunehmen sind. Sie liegen allerdings in verschiedenen Fluchtlinien. Paulus sieht sich gegenüber den Korinthern zur Rechtfertigung gezwungen, warum er ihnen bei seiner Missionspredigt die Weisheit, über die er verfügt, vorenthalten habe, und er verteidigt sich gewissermaßen pädagogisch damit, dass sie damals noch Anfänger im Glauben waren und, wie ihr Wandel zeigt, es auch jetzt noch sind. Die Weisheit, die Paulus meint und die die Korinther noch nicht vertragen konnten, ist aber nicht eine höhere Stufe des Christseins, sondern nichts anderes als die Kreuzespredigt selbst, die den Gekreuzigten als den Herrn der Herrlichkeit erweist (1Cor 3:1-3).29 Andererseits hält es der Auctor ad Hebraeos nicht für sinnvoll, seinen verunsicherten und stumpf gewordenen Adressaten noch einmal die Anfangsgründe der katechetischen Unterweisung zu wiederholen, sondern um sie im Glauben zu stärken und geistig weiterzubringen, trägt er ihnen als Vollkommenheitslehre eine Neuauslegung des Bekenntnisses zum gekreuzigten und erhöhten Christus, die Lehre vom Hohepriestertum Christi, vor (Hebr 5:11-6:3).30 Ohne diese jeweils besonderen Profilierungen bei Paulus und dem Hebräerbrief näher zu beachten, ja ohne überhaupt diese Berührungen eigens zu nennen, integriert Clemens seinerseits das Motiv von Milch und fester Speise nahtlos in seine einer christlichen Paideia zuarbeitenden Konzeption von Pistis und Gnosis,31 wonach der schlichte, noch unreflektierte Glaube durch die in theologisch-philosophischer Arbeit gewonnene, höhere Erkenntnis übergipfelt wird. Milch steht demzufolge für die erste Nahrung der Seele, für die Anfangskatechese, aufgrund deren die Christen und Christinnen zum Glauben gekommen sind und gemäß der sie handeln.32 Auf dieser Stufe ist der Glaube sich selbst noch nicht rational durchsichtig geworden. Erst auf der mit der festen Nahrung 29 Dieter Zeller, Der erste Brief an die Korinther, KEK 5 (Göttingen, 2010), 150-5, vgl. auch Samuel Vollenweider, ‘„Mitten auf dem Areopag“. Überlegungen zu den Schnittstellen zwischen antiker Philosophie und Neuem Testament’, Early Christianity 3 (2012) 296-320, 311-3. 30 E. Grässer, An die Hebräer. Erster Teilband (1990 [wie Anm. 8]), 333f; Th. Söding, ‘Zuversicht und Geduld im Schauen auf Jesus. Zum Glaubensbegriff des Hebräerbriefes’, ZNW 82 (1991), 214-41, 219; Knut Backhaus, Der Hebräerbrief, Regensburger Neues Testament (Regensburg, 2009), 212-20. 31 Es kann hier nicht der Ort sein, die clementinische Konzeption von Pistis und Gnosis zu skizzieren, fürs erste vgl. Salvatore R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria. A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford, 1971), 118-42, sowie D. Wyrwa, ‘Clemens von Alexandrien’, in Ch. Riedweg, Ch. Horn und D. Wyrwa (Hrg.), Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosopie, Antike 5/1: Philosophie der Kaiserzeit und der Spätantike (Basel, 2018), 927-57, 936-8, 951-5. 32 Abweichend davon hat Clemens in Paed. I 34,3-45,4 im Anschluss an 1Cor 3:1f mindestens fünf verschiedene Deutungen für die für Unmündige passende Milch gegeben, die alle darauf abzielen, abwertende Konnotationen von Kindschaft, speziell von geistiger Kindschaft, fernzuhalten. Der Hebräerbrief kommt hier nicht zur Sprache.



bezeichneten höheren Stufe der geistigen Durchdringung der Glaubenswahrheit, die auch in der Sprache der Mysterienreligionen epoptische Schau heißen kann, vermag der Glaube sich vor sich selbst Rechenschaft zu geben und in eigener theologischer Forschung der Erkenntnis Gottes teilhaftig zu werden (Str. I 53,3; Str. V 62,2; 66,2; Str. VI 62,2). Entsprechend spielt Clemens wiederholt auf die genau aus diesem Zusammenhang stammende Wendung τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα im Blick auf den theologisch Gebildeten, den rechtgläubigen Gnostiker an, während er dies Häretikern abspricht (Str. I 35,4; Str. VII 2,3; 94,6 mit Hebr 5:14). Dass der geistige Wachstumsprozess nicht nur eine intellektuelle Seite hat, sondern ebenso sittliche Aspekte (von der Metriopathie zur Apathie) wie psychologische (von der Furcht zur Liebe), miteinschließt, kann hier nur angemerkt werden. In Sinne eines solchen Fortschrittsgedankens komponiert Clemens gern unter Verwendung verschiedener Traditionselemente eine Stufenfolge, die vom bloßen Diener über den treuen Diener (nach Hebr 3:5), den Freund Gottes (nach Jac 2:23; Joh 15:15) bis zur vollkommenen Sohnschaft (nach Rom 8:23) sich erhebt (Str. I 173,6; Str. II 134,2.4; Str. III 69,4; Str. IV 42,4; Str. VII 5,6; 19,2; 21,2). VI. Steht der Glaube am Anfang des längeren geistlichen Weges hin zur Vollkommenheit, so darf an dieser Stelle ein komparatistischer Blick, wie Clemens sein Glaubensverständnisses im Verhältnis zu Paulus und dem Auctor ad Hebraeos exponiert, nicht unterbleiben, zumal er an hervorgehobener Stelle, zu Beginn der Sequenz über den Glauben, die in mehrerer Hinsicht recht erstaunliche Definition des Glaubensbegriffs von Hebr 11, eine sog. Kontext-Definition, wörtlich aufgreift. Diese Beschreibung des Hebräerbriefes versteht den Glauben nicht wie Paulus unmittelbar christologisch bezogen als Glauben an Christus im Sinne der Rechtfertigung des Gottlosen ohne Werke des Gesetzes – so etwa Rom 3:21f.28; Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9 –, sondern eher als auf Gott bezogene Grundhaltung auf dem Weg des Gläubigen, der zur Vollendung des Gerechtfertigten führt.33 Die Formel, die der Autor Ad Hebraeos dazu einbringt, ist jedoch philologisch mehrdeutig und entsprechend umstritten.34 Sie 33 Wenn der Hebräerbrief nirgends vom Glauben an Jesus Christus spricht, so macht Th. Söding, ‘Zuversicht und Geduld’ (1991 [wie Anm. 30]), 234, auf die entsprechende Wendung des Schauens auf den Hohepriester Jesus Christus (Hebr 2:9; 12:2) aufmerksam. Das weckt natürlich platonische Erinnerungen. 34 Die Interpretationsschwierigkeiten erwachsen vor allem daraus, dass die Prädikatsnomina nicht eindeutig sind und dass unklar ist, wie sich die beiden Satzhälften zueinander verhalten. E. Grässer, An die Hebräer. Dritter Teilband (1997 [wie Anm. 8]), 92ff, versteht den Vers als „explizierenden Parallelismus“ bzw. das zweite Glied als „epexegetische Apposition“, ähnlich J.W. Thompson, Beginnings (1982 [wie Anm. 4]), 69-75; und K. Backhaus, Der Hebräerbrief

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


besagt, der Glaube ist ὑπόστασις („darunter Stehen“, „sich darunter Stellen“)35, und er ist ἔλεγχος („Beweis“). Als ὑπόστασις ist der Glaube bestimmt durch das, was erhofft wird, als ἔλεγχος richtet er sich auf Dinge, die man nicht sieht, wobei wiederum die schon bekannte, dem mittelplatonischen Weltbild geschuldete Verschmelzung der zeitlich-räumlichen Dimensionen der eschatologischen Heilsgüter zutage tritt (Hebr 11:1).36 Wenn man in der Formel eine gewisse bipolare Zuordnung erkennen darf, dann würde ersteres in Richtung „fides qua“, und letzteres in Richtung „fides quae“ tendieren. Von der Glaubenshaltung, der „fides qua“, handelt wenig später die Aussage: „… stark bleiben (sc. kraft des Glaubens) wie einer, der den Unsichtbaren schaut“ (Hebr 11:27), und vom Glaubensinhalt, der „fides quae“, gleich darauf die beiläufige Aussage: „… glauben, dass Gott ist und er denen, die ihn suchen, Entlohner wird“ (Hebr 11:6). Wieder ist beide Male das zeitgenössische philosophische Kolorit unverkennbar. Von vornherein ist zu erwarten, dass Clemens’ Glaubensverständnis, natürlich im großen Stil ausgebaut, stärker auf der Linie des Hebräerbriefes als bei Paulus liegt, aber ganz ist das doch nicht der Fall.37 Ein Stück weit lassen sich auch bei Clemens Glaubenshaltung und Glaubensinhalt unterscheiden, so wenn er die besagte Formel unter zwei Aspekten einleitet: der Glaube sei πρόληψις ἑκούσιος und θεοσεβείας συγκατάθεσις (Str. II 8,4). D.h. psychologisch betrachtet, als „fides qua“, ist der Glaube in seinem Anfangsstadium eine in freier Willensentscheidung vollzogene Vorwegnahme, eine πρόληψις38, die auf Bekräftigung und Erfüllung angelegt ist (vgl. Str. II 28,1f; Str. V 86,1), und inhaltlich, als „fides quae“, ist der Glaube die zustimmende Anerkennung, die συγκατάθεσις zur Gottesfurcht, verstanden im Sinne einer vorgreifenden Umschreibung für die christliche Religion (vgl. Str. VII 57,3).39 Derart vorbereitet, (2009 [wie Anm. 30]), 383: „… ist davon auszugehen, dass sie sich … gegenseitig erklären“. Als Bezeichnung von zwei verschiedenen Aspekten verstehen den Vers W. Eisele, Ein unerschütterliches Reich (2003 [wie Anm. 3]), 107-11, und M. Karrer, Der Brief an die Hebräer. Kapitel 5,1113,25, ÖTK 20/2 (Gütersloh, 2008), 273f. 35 Es empfiehlt sich bei der lexikalischen Grundbedeutung zu bleiben, um die Aussage nicht vorschnell auf eine bestimmte Sinnebene festzulegen. Zum lexikalischen Befund vgl. Helmut Köster, ‘ὑπόστασις’, TWBNT VIII (1969), 571-88 (besonders: 571f und 584-7, abweichend zum oben vorgeschlagenen Verständnis); sowie Jürgen Hammerstaedt, ‘Hypostasis (ὑπόστασις)’, RAC 16 (1994), 986-1035, 999f mit Diskussion verschiedener Interpretationen. 36 Am plausibelsten scheint mir die Übersetzung von Th. Söding, ‘Zuversicht und Geduld’ (1991 [wie Anm. 30]), 226: „Glaube heißt, unter dem zu stehen, worauf zu hoffen ist, der Wirklichkeit überführt zu sein, die man nicht sieht“. 37 Eine erhellende Skizze von Clemens’ Glaubensverständnis bietet Eric Osborn, Clement of Alexandria (Cambridge, 2005), 155-96, der Clemens’ diesbezüglichen Schriftbezug hauptsächlich an drei Stellen, an 1Cor 1-3, an Rom 1 und an Hebr 11, festmacht. 38 Zum Begriff πρόληψις vgl. S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria (1971 [wie Anm. 31]), 12931. 39 Die Paraphrase des Satzes bei Clemens, die M. Karrer, Der Brief an die Hebräer (2008 [wie Anm. 34]), 272, bietet, wird dem griechischen Text nicht gerecht: „Glaube sei nach Hebr 11,1



kommt die Glaubens-Formel des Hebräerbriefes in dieser bipolaren Deutung zum Zuge: ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. Die einleitenden Stichworte zeigen aber auch noch etwas anderes. Indem sie jeweils das Anfängliche, das Vorgreifende betonen, bringen sie zum Ausdruck, dass in Clemens’ Augen die Glaubens-Formel des Hebräerbriefes noch keine vollumfängliche, erschöpfende Definition des Glaubens, wohl aber eine durch die Autorität des Apostels empfohlene, erste Annäherung darstellt. Deshalb steht sie auch gleich am Anfang der ganzen Sequenz. So gewiss sie den Glauben aus der Perspektive der eschatologischen Hoffnungsgüter umschreibt, so ist das Verständnis des Glaubens auf dem Wege dorthin Clemens zufolge doch reicher ausgestaltet. Der Glaube ist, wie er festgestellt hat, wirklich eine Tat des freien Willens (vgl. Str. V 86,1; Str. VII 8,1; 16,2; 42,4), aber er ist von der Anrede Gottes in der Predigt geweckt (Str. II 25,1-3 mit Rom 10:14-7; vgl. Str. V 2,1; 4,1; Str. II 12,1: durch die Stimme des Herrn), er empfängt in der Taufe den hl. Geist (Paed. I 30,2; Str. V 88,2; VI 134.2; 155,4) und wird auch weiterhin vom göttlichen Beistand getragen (Str. I 38,5; Str. II 31,1; 48,4). Glaube und Verheißung gehören zusammen (Paed. I 29,3; Str. II 28,2). Hat der Glaube von Anfang an Furcht vor Strafe40 und Hoffnung auf Lohn41 bei sich (Str. II 27,1; 30,3f; Str. VI 98,3;), so ist er, was sich schon im Hebräerbrief abzeichnete,42 selbst eine Tugend und die Grundlage und Wurzel aller Tugenden (Str. II 23,5; 31,3; 45,1; 55,3 mit freier Adaption von Hermas, Vis. III 8,3). Indessen ist der Glaube kein starr in sich verharrender Habitus; er wächst weiter, er entwickelt sich, gewinnt größere innere Festigkeit (Str. I 52,1; Str. VII 57,3; 85,2) und drängt von sich aus zur volleren geistigen Erfassung der Glaubenswahrheit (Str. I 51,4; Str. V 11,1; Str. VI 152). Clemens’ innovativer, höchst eigener Beitrag zur Reflexion der Glaubensthematik besteht darin, dass er die wissenschaftstheoretische Beweislehre i.W. des Peripatos für die epistemologische Verteidigung und Entfaltung des Glaubensbegriffs fruchtbar gemacht hat. Das kann hier nicht weiter verfolgt werden,43 doch ist im Blick auf die Überhöhung des Glaubens durch die gnostische Erkenntnis festzuhalten, dass Clemens im Gegensatz zur häretischen Gnosis eine wechselseitige Verschränkung von Glauben und Gnosis annimmt (Str. II 16,2: πιστὴ τοίνυν ἡ γνῶσις, γνωστὴ δὲ ἡ πίστις…; Str. V 1,3) und diese auch in Rom 1:17: „Die Gerechtigkeit Gottes ist im Evangelium offenbart ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν“ angedeutet … Vorwegnahme (prolepsis) des unsichtbar Erhofften in der spezifischen Evidenz der Frömmigkeit (sygkatathesis theosebeias)“. 40 Ausdrücklich ist der Rückblick auf die Wüstengeneration auf Furcht abgestellt, Protr. 82,3; 84,5 mit Hebr 12:21 (= Deut 9:19), ebenso in demselben Zusammenhang Protr. 82,1 mit Hebr 12:5 (= Prov 3:11). Auch Str. I 32,2 mit Hebr 12:5f (= Prov 3:11f) gehört zum Stichwort Furcht hierher, ebenso die Ausführungen zur zweiten Buße, Hebr 10:26f in Str. II 56,2. 58,1. 41 Dazu Str. VI 75,2 mit Anspielung auf Hebr 11:6. 42 K. Backhaus, Der Hebräerbrief (2009 [wie Anm. 30]), 382. 43 Vgl. E. Osborn, Clement of Alexandria (2005 [wie Anm. 37]), 182-96.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


findet. Der Apostel, so erklärt Clemens, verkünde einen doppelten Glauben, bzw. richtiger, einen einzigen, der jedoch ausbaufähig ist und der schon in seiner Anfangsstufe das ganze Heil umfasst und auch in der vollendeten Entwicklungsform niemals seine elementare Basis von sich abstößt (Str. V 2,3-6; vgl. Str. II 31,2; 51,3). Mit solcher dynamischen Konzeption des Glaubensbegriffs ist Clemens weit über das, was der Auctor ad Hebraeos, aber auch was Paulus intendiert hatte, hinausgegangen. Andererseits sind jedoch ein, zwei Aspekte in Clemens’ Glaubensverständnis zu nennen, in denen er näher bei Paulus stehen dürfte, sich aber deutlicher vom Hebräerbrief entfernt. Der anonyme Verfasser bestimmte, wie angedeutet, den Glauben strikt theozentrisch. Nirgends spricht er vom Glauben an Jesus Christus, vielmehr stellt er Jesus selbst als Glaubenden, als Anführer und Vollender des Glaubens, dar, auf den die Adressaten hinblicken sollen (Hebr 12:2). Auch Clemens kann gelegentlich theozentrisch vom Glauben sprechen und dabei ggf. philosophische Formulierungen gebrauchen, die solchen des Hebräerbriefes nahe stehen (Str. IV 143,3; VII 55,2; vgl. Paed. I 1,2; Str. II 48,4), wie er ja auch das Wort von Jesus als Anführer und Vollender des Glaubens direkt zitiert hat (Str. IV 103,1). Aber das sind mehr oder weniger verständliche Ausnahmen. Von der Struktur her ist sein Glaubensbegriff eindeutig christozentrisch. Aller Glaube an Gott, das ist sein Grundgedanke, ist durch Jesus Christus, den Herrn, vermittelt.44 Durch sein Heilswerk sind wir zum Glauben an Gott gekommen, ihm hängen wir im Glauben an (Paed. I 10,1; 43,4). Im Glauben an ihn werden wir umgeschaffen, indem er bald anspornt, bald erzieht und erhebt (Str. VI 50,6). Er ist das Fundament des Glaubens und zugleich der darauf errichtete Bau der Erkenntnis; Christus ist – ein unüberbietbares Zeugnis von Clemens’ Christozentrismus – beides, Anfang und Ende (Str. VII 55,5; Str. II 31,3; Str. V 26,4; Str. VI 122,2). Etwas Weiteres kommt hinzu. Während im Hebräerbrief die Liebe im prägnanten theologischen Sinn keine Rolle spielt,45 stellt sie bei Clemens ein wesentliches, integrales Element in seinem Glaubensverständnis dar. Diese Sicht ist zweifellos paulinisch-johanneischem Einfluss zuzuschreiben, wie denn Clemens einschlägige Stellen dazu aus den paulinischen Briefen und der johanneischen Literatur in großer Zahl selbst zitiert.46 Was immer er zum geistlichen Wesen der Liebe zu sagen weiß, er verankert dies im Geheimnis der innergöttlichen Liebe des trinitarischen 44 So zurecht Walther Völker, Der wahre Gnostiker nach Clemens Alexandrinus, TU 57 (Berlin, Leipzig, 1952), 230. 45 In dem scheinbar nach der Trias, Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, aufgebauten Abschnitt Hebr 10:22-5 bedeutet die Liebe soziales Handeln im innergemeindlichen Rahmen, ebenso Hebr 6:10. Die Ermahnung von Hebr 10:22f ist wörtlich aufgenommen in Str. IV 126,1. 46 Um nur eine ganz kleine Auswahl charakteristischer Proben zu nennen: Rom 5:5 in Str. II 134,1f; Rom 8:39 in Str. IV 96,1f; für 1Cor 13:13 zählt die Biblia Patristica fünf Stellen auf; dann Joh 16:27, 17:23 in Paed. I 8,2; für die Passage 1Joh 4:7-18 nennt die Biblia Patristica 17 Belege.



Gottes und in dem aus überfließender Liebe entsprungenen Erlösungswerk Christi, das uns seine Liebe entgegenbringt (q.d.s. 37,1-4; 29,4; Str. VI 70,2; Str. VII 8,1). Diese uns erzeigte und uns geschenkte Liebe Gottes umschließt nun das gesamte geistige Leben der Gläubigen (Str. II 53,2). In immer neuen Variationen entwirft Clemens aufeinander aufbauende Abfolgen von religiösen Grundhaltungen und versucht, darin die Liebe organisch zu platzieren, um gleichsam experimentierend die Vielfalt ihrer Realisierungen einzufangen und den Reichtum des geistlichen Lebens auszuleuchten. In mehreren Anläufen geht er den Wechselbeziehungen in der Einheit von Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung nach, wobei bald die Liebe als Grundlage des Glaubens, bald als Folge erscheint (Str. II 30,2f. 39,2); und besonders widmet er sich dem Verhältnis von Liebe und Erkenntnis, wobei wiederum die Liebe bald die Voraussetzung der Erkenntnis, bald die Vollendung der Erkenntnis darstellt (Str. IV 54,1;136,5: als Zwischenstufe zwischen Glaube und Erkennen; Str. VII 57,4). Auch das kann hier nicht weiterverfolgt werden,47 doch ein für Clemens’ Glaubensverständnis zentrales Ergebnis aus den zusammengetragenen Beobachtungen, das auch von Clemens selbst so benannt wird, lässt sich festhalten. In einer letzten personalen Tiefe ist der Glaube für ihn das Band der Liebe in der Gemeinschaft und Vereinigung mit Christus (Str. VI 73,3; 76,1; 104,1; Str. VII 44,5; 56,1; 57,4; vgl. Paed. I 10,1: „das festeste Tau des Glaubens an Christus“). VII. Das führt hinüber zu einem letzten größeren Themenkomplex, der noch anzusprechen ist, zu Clemens’ Wahrnehmung der Christologie des Hebräerbriefes. Zunächst scheint alles ganz einfach. Sachgemäß übernimmt Clemens die solennen Aussagen zur Präexistenz des Gottessohnes und der Schöpfungsmittlerschaft des Präexistenten und baut sie in seine Logos-Theologie ein (Str. II 11,2; Str. VII 16,6; 58,4). Philologisch ist interessant, dass er in Str. VII 58,4 die Satzglieder von Hebr 1:3 möglicherweise sogar bewusst zusammenzieht, also χαρακτὴρ τῆς δόξης τοῦ πατρός statt ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ liest, um das Wortspiel mit τὸν … χαρακτηρίσαντα zu gewinnen – der Sohn ist das Prägemal, das die Lehre der Wahrheit einprägt – und so, über den Hebräerbrief hinausgehend, die antignostische Spitze anzuschließen, dass Gott und der Vater einer ist (vgl. Eph 4:6) und er allein der Allmächtige ist. Und es entspricht dem paradoxalen Anliegen des Auctors ad Hebraeos, unter der Bedingung der göttlichen Würde soteriologisch das Humanum Christi stark zu machen, wenn Clemens im Blick auf die Erniedrigung 47

Verwiesen sei auf A. Méhat, Étude (1966 [wie Anm. 1]), 475-88, der darauf aufmerksam macht, wie Clemens die Mehrdeutigkeit seiner Terminologie nutzt, um immer neue Zuordnungen in der Beschreibung des geistlichen Lebens zu finden.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


des Gottessohnes davon spricht, dass er sich nicht schämte, die Gläubigen Brüder zu nennen, bzw. ihr Bruder sein wollte (Hebr 2:11), obwohl er der Menschen Herr sein konnte (Paed. I 85,2; Str. II 134,2; Str. III 69,4), und dass er zum Mitempfinden mit uns fähig ist, weil er die Schwachheit des Fleisches in eigenem Leiden erfahren hat (Hebr 4:15 in Paed. I 62,2). Diffuser wird das Bild, das Clemens hinterlässt, wenn man sich dem eigentlichen Hauptgegenstand des Briefes zuwendet, dem, was der Autor Ad Hebraeos seinen Adressaten als Vollkommenheitslehre unterbreitet, der Lehre vom Hohepriestertum Christi. In der christologischen Dynamik von Präexistenz, Erniedrigung und Erhöhung richtet sich diese Lehre auf die Entfaltung des Aspekts der Erhöhung, indem sie eine Neuauslegung des überlieferten Christusbekenntnisses in kultischen Kategorien bietet. Christus ist demnach der wahre Hohepriester, der sich durch seinen irdischen Tod den Weg in das ewige, himmlische Heiligtum gebahnt und dort sein eigenes Blut zum Opfer dargebracht hat, so dass er dadurch selbst die Initiation für den himmlischen Kult empfängt und die Gläubigen befähigt, ihm, dem Vorläufer, dem Anführer und Vollender des Glaubens, zu folgen und als Geweihte vor Gott zu treten. Dieses komplexe Gedankengefüge ist im Neuen Testament singulär, weil nirgendwo sonst die kultische Betrachtung so konsequent durchgeführt ist wie hier.48 Was nun Clemens’ Beziehung zu diesen Textpassagen in Hebr 7-10 samt einigen Präludierungen betrifft, so ist auffällig, dass seine Zitationen punktuell auf Einzelmomente zurückgreifen, von Fall zu Fall gewiss wichtige Momente, wie auf den Hoheitstitel Hohepriester, auf die rätselhafte Gestalt Melchisedek oder auf eine Reminiszenz an den levitischen Tempeldienst, dass aber die große Gedankenformation insgesamt nicht zutage tritt. Das soll kurz vorgeführt sein. In Str. V 39,2; 40,2 finden sich christliche Einschübe in einem Kontext von allegorischen Auslegungen des Jerusalemer Heiligtums und des levitischen Tempeldienstes, die Clemens weitgehend von Philo übernommen hat.49 Ein Einschub bezieht sich auf das Versöhnungsfest, das ja im Hintergrund der Hohepriesterchristologie des Hebräerbriefes steht. Demnach verweise der Ritus des Festes, dass der Hohepriester in das Allerheiligste eintritt, dort sein linnenes Gewand ablegt und nach einer Waschung ein anderes Kleid anlegt (Lev 16:23f) auf die Inkarnation des Herrn, „der ein Gewand ablegt und ein anderes anlegt, wenn er in die Sinnenwelt herabsteigt“ (Str. V 40,2f). Entsprechend gibt Clemens die Tradition wieder, dass das priesterliche Obergewand Aarons (Exod 28:4) eine Prophezeiung auf die Inkarnation sei, „durch die der Herr unmittelbar für die Welt sichtbar wurde“ (Str. V 39,2). 48 Vgl. des Näheren die Skizze von K. Backhaus, ‘„Licht vom Licht“. Die Präexistenz Christi im Hebräerbrief’, in R. Laufen (Hrg.), Gottes ewiger Sohn. Die Präexistenz Christi (Paderborn, 1997), 95-114, wieder in K. Backhaus, Der sprechende Gott (2009 [wie Anm. 3]), 77-99. 49 Annewies van den Hoek, Clement of Alexandria and his use of Philo in the Stromateis. An Early Christian reshaping of a Jewish model, SVigChr 3 (Leiden, New York, 1988), 116-47.



In Str. II 21,1-22,1 stellt Clemens nach Art der Paradoxa Stoicorum eine Liste von Auszeichnungen und Ämtern, die Christi Würde beschreiben, zusammen. Mit Hebr 3:3 hält er fest, dass unser Heiland jede menschliche Natur überragt, und zählt dann ihm zukommende Ehrenprädikate auf: er ist schön, er ist König, er ist reich, er ist einzig Hohepriester, er ist Gesetzgeber und er ist adlig. Das Amt des Hohepriesters bestimmt er näher dahingehend, dass „er allein der wahren Gottesverehrung kundig ist, der Friedenskönig Melchisedek (Hebr 7:1f), der unter allen am fähigsten ist, das Menschengeschlecht zu führen“. In Str. IV 161,2f unterbreitet Clemens eine freie Assoziationsfolge zum Stichwort Gerechtigkeit, die er als ‚Friede des Lebens‘ und ‚Standhaftigkeit‘ bestimmt, wozu der Herr mit Mk 5:34 aufgefordert habe. Dann heißt es: „Salem wird mit ‚Friede‘ übersetzt, als dessen König unser Heiland beschrieben ist, weil Mose ihn ‚Melchisedek, König von Salem, Priester des höchsten Gottes‘ (Gen 14:18; Hebr 7:1f) nennt, ihn, der den Wein und das Brot, die geheiligte Speise, als Vorbild der Eucharistie darbot. Und Melchisedek wird mit ‚gerechter König‘ (Hebr 7:2) übersetzt, und so stimmen die beiden Wörter ‚Gerechtigkeit‘ und ‚Frieden‘ überein“. In Protr. 120,1f beinhaltet der Schlussappell des Werkes den Gedanken der soteriologischen Mittlerschaft Christi, dass der Herr die Gläubigen dem Vater anvertraut und dass er als der eine große Hohepriester für sie betet (Hebr 7:25; vgl. Rom 8:34) und sie zu sich ruft. In Str. II 45,7 besteht die Mittlerschaft des hohepriesterlichen Logos darin, dass durch ihn, der das wahrhaft Schöne und Gerechte aufscheinen lässt, der Dienst an Gott in Erkennen und Handeln vollzogen wird. In Str. II 134,2 erklärt Clemens, dass auf der höchsten Stufe des geistigen Lebens die Gläubigen den Vater durch den großen Hohepriester verherrlichen, der uns Brüder und Miterben zu heißen (Hebr 2:11) gewürdigt hat. In Str. VII 13,2; 45,2 besteht die Mittlerschaft Christi darin, dass die vollkommenen Gnostiker durch den großen Hohepriester Zugang zu Gott finden bzw. in den Vorhof des Vaters in engster Gemeinschaft mit dem großen Hohepriester gelangen. In Str. VII 9,1-3 beschreibt Clemens den Logos-Christus als Mittler der kosmischen Weltverwaltung, die von der höchsten Spitze der väterlichen δύναμις bis zu den niedrigsten Stufen der Schöpfung reicht. Sie wird mit dem stoischen Terminus διοίκησις bezeichnet, wobei Philo im Hintergrund steht.50 Die kosmische Mittlerschaft des Logos-Christus vollzieht sich in zwei Richtungen, von oben nach unten vermöge göttlicher Aufsicht (ἐξέτασις) und von unten nach oben durch die Blickrichtung der Geschöpfe (πάντων … ἀφορώντων). Der Mittler selbst, der Logos-Christus, heißt aber „der große Hohepriester“. 50


Vgl. z.B. Philo, Fug. 108-12, und A. van den Hoek, Use of Philo (1988 [wie Anm. 49]),

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


In Str. VI 153,4 begegnet dasselbe Konzept der kosmischen Mittlerschaft des Logos-Christus, diesmal am ursprünglich stoischen Terminus πρόνοια festgemacht und mit dem biblischen Bild vom herabfließenden Salböl Aarons (Ps 132:2) illustriert. Wieder heißt der Mittler „der große Hohepriester“, er wird näher bestimmt mit Joh 1:3. Die somit präsentierte Übersicht enthüllt eine sehr große Vielfalt an Variationen, wie Clemens sich den Hauptgedanken des Hebräerbriefes, das Motiv von der Hohepriesterschaft Christi, angeeignet hat. Es ist geradezu erstaunlich, wie breit das Spektrum gefasst ist; es erstreckt sich von prophetisch-typologischen und staatstheoretischen Applikationen über pädagogisch-didaktische, ethische und epistemologische Gebiete, schließt soteriologische, liturgische und eschatologische Aspekte ein und reicht zuletzt noch bis in kosmologische Dimensionen, um stets die Mittlerfunktion des Logos-Christus zu artikulieren. So groß indessen der Reichtum auch ist, ein ganzer Bereich fehlt völlig, und zwar die kultische Deutung des Todes Christi nach dem Ritus des Versöhnungstages. Weder steuert Clemens dazu ein Zitat bei, noch lässt er eine Anspielung darauf einfließen. Angesichts der Tatsache, dass gerade diese Thematik für den Autor Ad Hebraeos die zentrale ist und sich Clemens durchweg als recht guter Kenner des Briefes erweist, von dem er ansonsten auch reichlich Gebrauch macht, kann das kein Zufall sein. Ein Detail mag verräterisch sein. Clemens zitiert in Str. III 59,4 Hebr 9:14: „Es ist schön …, jede Begierde zu ertöten und sein Gewissen von den toten Werken zu reinigen, um dem lebendigen Gott zu dienen‘“. Der Auctor ad Hebraeos hatte diese Wirkungen dem Blut Christi zugeschrieben, er hatte erklärt: „… um so mehr wird das Blut Christi, der durch den ewigen Geist sich selbst Gott makellos dargebracht hat, unser Gewissen von den toten Werken reinigen, um dem lebendigen Gott zu dienen“. Es ist also in Clemens’ Wiedergabe gerade nicht das Blut Christi, das von den toten Werken reinigt. Offenbar ist er in seiner Rezeption des Hebräerbriefes der opfertheologischen Deutung des Todes Jesu konsequent aus dem Weg gegangen. Das führt zu der letzten entscheidenden Frage, welche Bedeutung Clemens dem Tod Christi grundsätzlich beigemessen hat. Es ist bekannt, dass Clemens’ Versöhnungslehre noch kaum entwickelt ist, was sicherlich auch innere Gründe hat.51 Einerseits ist er sehr kritisch gegen kultische Opfer und materielle Darbringungen eingestellt, was ganz auf der Linie der Kultkritik der biblischen Propheten liegt,52 aber auch unter gebildeten Zeitgenossen, wenigstens was 51 Henry Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition. Studies in Justin, Clement, and Origen (Oxford, 1966), 144: „Clement’s doctrine of the Atonement is undeveloped, though he quotes Biblical language about ransom and propitiation, and calls Christ the lamb of God“. 52 Vgl. Peter von Knorre, Vergeblicher Gottesdienst: die kultpolemischen Texte im Alten Testament, Stuttgarter biblische Beiträge 65 (Stuttgart, 2010). Natürlich hat auch die metaphorische Verwendung von Kultterminologie im Neuen Testament, wie Rom 12:1; Phil 2:17; 1Petr 2:5 etc., diese Einstellung befördert.



Tieropfer betrifft, zunehmend Verbreitung findet.53 Er ist geneigt, den Opferbegriff generell zu spiritualisieren54: Das wahre, Gott wohlgefällige Opfer ist ein zerknirschtes Herz (Paed. III 90,3f mit Ps 50:19; Str. II 78,4), es ist das Ablegen allen weltlichen Sinnens und Trachtens und das Töten der eigenen Leidenschaften (Str. V 67,1; Str. VII 14,1f), es sind die reinen Gebete (Str. VII 31,7f). Andererseits wiederholt er auf breiter Basis neutestamentliche Aussagen über das Kreuz und den Tod Christi (Paed. I 85,2; Str. V 72,3), über sein Opfer (Paed. III 98,2; Str. IV 107,8; Str. V 70,4), über das Lamm, das für uns geschlachtet worden ist (Str. V 66,5), Aussagen, die freilich gelegentlich auch abgeschwächt oder umgedeutet werden (vgl. Adumb. III 1,7: das Blut, das uns reinigt, bezeichne die Lehre des Herrn, die sehr stark ist). Vielleicht ist die Lösung in einer Richtung zu suchen, die eine bemerkenswerte Formulierung im Anschluß an Eph 5:2 andeutet: „Wenn man nun sagt, dass der Hohepriester, der Herr, Gott ein wohlriechendes Rauchopfer darbringt (Eph 5:2), so darf man darunter nicht ein Opfer und einen Wohlgeruch von Räucherwerk verstehen, sondern muss es in dem Sinne auffassen, dass der Herr die Gabe der Liebe, den geistlichen Wohlgeruch, auf dem Altar darbringt“ (Paed. II 67,1). Zu beachten ist, dass die Kategorie des materiellen, kultischen Opfers, die der Epheserbrief im vollen Sinn positiv festgehalten hat, hier rückhaltlos spiritualisiert wird.55 Das dürfte bedeuten, dass Clemens sehr wohl bereit ist, das am Kreuz vergossene Blut Christi als reales Geschehen zu akzeptieren – und wie könnte es anders sein, dass er aber den meritorischen Charakter des Heilswerkes Christi nicht in der äußeren, materiellen Aufopferung, sondern in seiner inneren geistigen Hingabe der Liebe erblickt. Zum Schluss noch ein Ausblick. Clemens kennt noch eine ganz andere Deutung des Eintritts des Hohepriesters in das Allerheiligste, die zwar an Hebr 9:6f in Verbindung mit Lev 16:4.23f anknüpft, aber weit über den Horizont des Hebräerbriefes hinausführt. In zwei sehr dichten Passagen, Str. V 39,3-40,2 und Exc. ex Theod. 27,1-6, bezieht er den Titel „Hohepriester“ nicht auf den Logos-Christus, sondern auf den „wahren Gnostiker“ und deutet die rituellen 53 Vgl. Jan N. Bremmer, ‘Transformation and Decline of Sacrifice in Imperial Rome and Late Antiquity’, in M. Blömer und B. Eckhardt (Hrg.), Transformationen paganer Religion in der Kaiserzeit: Rahmenbedingungen und Konzepte, Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 72 (Berlin, Boston, 2018), 215-56. 54 Zum gesamten Komplex s. Everett Ferguson, ‘Spiritual Sacrifice in Early Christianity and its Environment’, ANRW II 23,2 (1980), 1151-89 (zu den Alexandrinern ebd. 1179-84), und Frances Young, The Use of Sacrifical Ideas in Greek Christian Writers from the New Testament to John Chrysostom, Patristic Monograph Series 5 (Cambridge, MA, 1979). Zum speziellen Aspekt der frühchristlichen Polemik gegen die paganen Kulte s. Marco Rizzi, ‘Il sacrificio pagano nella polemica dell’apologetica cristiana del II seculo’, Annali di storia dell’esegesi 18 (2001), 197-209. 55 Das ist ein scharfer Kontrast zu Hebr 9:22: „Und nahezu wird alles mit Blut gereinigt nach dem Gesetz, und ohne Blutvergießen geschieht keine Vergebung“, eine Stelle, die Clemens denn auch nicht zitiert hat.

Der Hebräerbrief und die Hohepriesterchristologie bei Clemens von Alexandrien


Vollzüge allegorisch als Schritte des kontemplativen Aufstiegs des Gnostikers in die intelligible Welt und darüber hinaus zu Gott. Für diese Auslegung lassen sich teilweise Parallelen bei Philo56, in gnostischer Literatur57 und bei Plotin58 nennen, aber das kann hier nicht weiter ausgeführt werden.59

56 Philo, Leg. all. II 56; Ebr. 135f; wie zu erwarten, spiritualisiert Philo das Blutvergießen am Tempel, Spec. leg. I 205; Her 182f, während er gleichzeitig den realen Kult verteidigt, Migr. 92f; Ebr. 87. 57 Exc. ex Theod. 38,1-3. S. R.C. Lilla, Clement (1971 [wie Anm. 31], 175-81, möchte das fragliche Stück, Exc. ex Theod. 27, mit nicht überzeugenden Argumenten einer gnostischen Quelle zuweisen, vgl. E. Osborn. Clement of Alexandria (2005 [wie Anm. 37]), 210f. 58 Plotin, Enn. I 6 [1] 7,1-9. 59 S. die einschlägigen Kommentare zu Str. V 39,3-40,2 von Alain Le Boulluec, in Clément d’Alexandrie, Les Stromates. Stromate V, Tome II, par A. Le Boulluec, SC 279 (Paris, 1981), 158-66, und zu Exc. ex Theod. 27,1-6 von Francois Sagnard in Clément d’Alexandrie, Extraits de Théodote. Texte grec, introduction, traduction et notes de F. Sagnard, SC 23 (Paris, 1970), 113-9, 220-3. Vgl. zur Thematik des Priesters bei Clemens insgesamt L. Rizzerio, ‘Le «Prêtre véritable» chez Clément d’Alexandrie’, in A. Motte, P. Marchetti und P. Pietquin (Hrg.), La figure du prêtre dans les grandes traditions religieuses, Collection d’Études Classiques 20 (Louvain, Namur, Paris, Dudley, MA, 2005), 143-55.

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John Jana PLÁTOVÁ, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic

ABSTRACT The aim of the article1 is to point out the presence of theology from 1John in Clement’s thinking. The first part presents results of an analysis of all references (i.e. quotation, paraphrasis, allusion, and quotation with commentary). It analyses which verses from 1John are referred to by Clement most frequently, and in which parts of his work these quotations appear. Two quotations are dealt with in greater detail (1John 1:6-7 in Strom. III 4,32,2 and 1John 5:16-7 in Strom. II 15,66,4-5): these cases manifest a shift in meaning compared to the original. The second part of the article provides an example of four areas illustrating how Clement adopts in his thinking some important motifs from 1John, regardless of whether and how often these are explicitly cited: (1) 1John 1:5 and the credibility of Clement’s Christian Gnostic; (2) 1John 2:15 and Clement’s specification of the concept of the world; (3) 1John 4:18 and Clement’s order of virtues – Gnostic’s love and fearlessness; (4) 1John 4:17 (also 3:18; 5:14 and 3:16) and Gnostic’s likeness to God. The article also includes an Appendix containing an overview of all references to 1John including the opening words, ordered according to Clement’s works, as well as according to the order of verses in 1John.

In his work, Clement cites all the books of the New Testament apart from Philemon, 2Peter and James. It is known that he pays particular attention to some of the epistles (including 1 and 2John). His comments on these have been preserved in the Latin translation and are included in Stählin’s edition as fragment of the treatise Hypotyposes under the name Adumbrationes. The aim of this contribution is to demonstrate that 1John plays an important role in Clement’s thinking, although directly cited fairly rarely.2 As is apparent from an overview of the references to Johannine epistles (see the Appendix), apart from the quotations belonging to Adumbrationes, 1John is cited only twice in the third book of Paedagogus, twice in the homily Quis dives salvetur? and eight times in the entire Stromata. 2John is not cited at all.

1 This article is a result of research funded by the Czech Science Foundation as project GA ČR 18-09922S ‘Biblical Exegesis of the Other Clement of Alexandria’. 2 As regards references to resources, I rely on general conclusions formulated by Annewies van den Hoek, ‘Techniques of Quotation in Clement of Alexandria: A View of Ancient Literary Working Methods’, VigChr 50 (1996), 223-43.

Studia Patristica CX, 35-52. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



More recent research, focused on Clement’s biblical exegesis, is described in detail by Judith L. Kovacs.3 When focusing on studies addressing Clement’s reading of the individual biblical texts, it is apparent that there are rather few studies on the Johannine corpus, and the existing ones instead deal with the theology in the Prologue to the Gospel of John;4 an article focusing on the Book of Revelation is an exception.5 The area of Johanine epistles in Clement’s works has not been comprehensively investigated yet. The first part of my contribution points out several particular findings derived from an analysis of quotations and paraphrases of 1 and 2John. The second part attempts to point out what verses and motifs in 1John play an especially important role in Clement’s thinking, regardless of whether they are explicitly cited or not. Part I. Analysis of References to 1 and 2John The analysis of quotations and paraphrases of 1 and 2John was based primarily on Stählin’s index,6 but the data included in it was not adopted without a critical review. For this contribution, I elaborated my own list (see Appendix), in which I use the following classifications: word-for-word quotation, paraphrasis, allusion, and quotation with commentary. This list also includes the respective introductory phrases.7 I also considered the information conveyed in the Adumbrationes. Bearing in mind certain purification tendencies of Cassiodorus, I regard Adumbrationes as an authentic text by Clement and unique (in fact the first) evidence of Christian exegesis of the Catholic Epistles.8 There are several interesting findings derived from an analysis of the references: 3 See Judith L. Kovacs, ‘Clement as Scriptural Exegete: Overview and History of Research’, in Veronika Černušková, Judith L. Kovacs and Jana Plátová (eds), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis. Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29-31, 2014), SVigChr 139 (Leiden, Boston, 2016), 1-37. 4 See Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski, ‘Clement of Alexandria’s Reception of the Gospel of John: Context, Creative Exegesis and Purpose’, in Clement’s Biblical Exegesis (2016), 259-76; Miklós Gyurkovics, ‘The Philosophical Problem of Place in Clement’s Exegesis of the Prolog to the Gospel of John’, in ibid. 277-91. 5 See Bogdan G. Bucur, ‘Hierarchy, Prophecy, and the Angelomorphic Spirit: A Contribution to the Study of the Book of Revelation’s Wirkungsgeschichte’, JBL 127 (2008), 173-94. 6 See Clemens Alexandrinus IV, ed. Otto Stählin, Ludwig Früchtel and Ursula Treu, GCS 39 (Berlin, 19802), LXXIV-LXXX and 1-66, esp. 25-6. 7 My differentiation of references was inspired (not, however, adopted without adjustments) by Annewies van den Hoek, ‘Clement of Alexandria and the Book of Proverbs’, and Veronika Černušková, ‘Four Desires: Clement of Alexandria and the Sermon on the Mount’, both in Clement’s Biblical Exegesis (2016), 181-216 and 217-58. See also the similar classification in my ‘Clement of Alexandria and the Book of Psalms’, Adamantius 26 (2021), in preparation. 8 From my point of view, a rather problematic treatise is that by Davide Dainese, ‘Clement’s Exegesis of 1 John in the Adumbrationes’, in Clement’s Biblical Exegesis (2016), 292-324, who

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


(1) Apart from Adumbrationes, quotations from 1John appear with a greater frequency in four passages (see Appendix, Table 1): in the last two chapters of the third book of Paedogogus, at the height of the homily Quis dives salvetur?, in a counter-Gnostic polemic in the third book of the Stromata, and in the part discussing the perfection of a Gnostic in the fourth book of the Stromata. All these cases are exposed parts (ends of chapters or books), and the words of the apostle John serve here as a certain last authority. Unlike with the quotations from Pauline epistles, Clement did not feel the necessity to advocate or explain the quotations from the apostle John. (2) References to some verses appear multiple times across various works, which demonstrates their importance within Clement’s thinking (see Appendix, Table 2). This applies especially to the following verses: 1John 1:5-7 (‘God is light … If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth’); 1John 4:8.16 (‘God is love’); 1John 4:18 (‘perfect love drives out fear’) and 1John 5:3 (‘this is love for God: to keep his commands’).9 (3) Quotations from 1John are usually used in combination with other authorities. It is worth pointing out the repeated combination of 1John with the verse from 1Pet. 4:8: ‘Love covers over a multitude of sins’, which may be found twice in the Stromata, once in the homily QDS, where both quotations are inserted in Paul’s Hymn to Love in 1Cor. 13.10 (4) Clement’s quotations from the text of 1John are surprisingly verbatim: if his wording differs from the presently known preserved text of the New Testament, these differences are minor and may be explained as grammatical variants not causing any shift in meaning. An exception is the text 1John 1:67, cited in Strom. III 4,32,2, where Clement’s adjustment to the biblical text is more significant.11 The seventh verse of the original text of the epistle speaks about the consequence of being with God, i.e. a mutual fellowship with one another (κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ ἀλλήλων), while Clement adjusts it to κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ (‘we have a fellowship with him’, i.e. with God). A similar meaning shift may be found in Adumbrationes: in some verses, the calls into question the generally adopted opinion that Adumbrationes are part of Hypotyposes. Dainese’s conclusions are also regarded sceptically in Dietmar Wyrwa’s review, ZAC 22/2 (2018), 331-6. 9 For 1John and other biblical books, I have used the NIV translation. 10 See 1John 3:14 and 1Pet. 4:8 in Strom. I 27,173,6; 1John 5:16-7 and 1Pet. 4:8 in Strom. II 15,65,3-66,5; 1John 4:18, 1Pet. 4:8 and 1Cor. 12:31-13:13 in QDS 38,1-2. 11 See 1John 1:6-7 in Strom. III 4,32,2: καὶ ἐὰν εἴπωμεν, φησὶν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ, ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ, τουτέστι μετὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτὸς ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας. For Clement’s text I have used the Stählin’s edition: Clemens Alexandrinus I-IV, ed. Otto Stählin, Ludwig Früchtel and Ursula Treu, GCS 12, 17, 39 and 52 (Berlin, 19722, 19702, 19802 and 19854).



grammatical categories of person and number (3rd person singular or plural instead of 2nd person plural),12 which is a consequence of Clement’s understanding of 1John not as a letter addressed to a particular religious community, but as guidance, which is incorporated into his own theory of a perfect Gnostic addressed in the 3rd person. The spiritual rise of an individual is a topic more important for Clement than the growth of the Christian community. (5) Another quotation which I deem remarkable is 1John 5:16-7 in Strom. II 15,66,4-5. These are two verses differentiating between two types of sin: those resulting in death, and those not resulting in it. This quotation is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, notice the initial expression demonstrating Clement’s acquaintance with 2John: ‘It seems that even John teaches about the difference between sins in his bigger letter (ἐν τῇ μείζονι ἐπιστολῇ)’.13 Another interesting point is a slight difference in the following text cited by Clement: while the text from the New Testament says in verse 16 ‘you should pray that he (i.e. God) would give (δώσει) him life’, Clement states ‘he should pray that he would save (σώσει) his life’. Who is meant to be the ‘giver’ or ‘savior’? While the text of the epistle cannot seemingly refer to anyone else than God as ‘the giver of life’, it seems that Clement understood the text rather in the sense that Christians themselves may save a human life with their intercession. What is most interesting, however, is the context of the above-mentioned verse and the reason why Clement includes it in the 13-5 chapter of the second book of the Stromata, where he discusses sin and the possibility of forgiveness. At the beginning, he clearly states in accordance with 1John 3:9 that those who have been forgiven their sins (τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν) upon their baptism, may not sin anymore (οὐκέτι ἁμαρτάνειν χρή). He then, however, considers the possibility of a repeated repentance (μετάνοιαν δευτέραν) and subsequent forgiveness (συγγνώμη) of a misdemeanour (πλημμελήμα) a Christian involuntarily committed after baptism.14 He elaborates on this suggestion in an extensive treatise on various categories of improper actions, taken almost without reservations from Aristotle’s Ethics (without providing the reference, however). Firstly, he follows 12

See e.g. Adumbr. III,2,18-29. See 1John 5:16-7 in Strom. II 15,66,4-5: φαίνεται δὲ καὶ Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ μείζονι ἐπιστολῇ τὰς διαφορὰς τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἐκδιδάσκων ἐν τούτοις· ἐάν τις ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον, αἰτήσει, καὶ σώσει αὐτῷ ζωήν, τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσι μὴ πρὸς θάνατον εἶπεν· ἔστι γὰρ ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον· οὐ περὶ ἐκείνης λέγω, ἵνα ἐρωτήσῃ τις. πᾶσα ἀδικία ἁμαρτία ἐστί, καὶ ἔστιν ἁμαρτία μὴ πρὸς θάνατον. The conclusion is normally drawn from the mention of the bigger, or longer letter that Clement knew at least two of John’s epistles. Cf. e.g. Charles E. Hill, The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church (Oxford, 2004), 123-4; from the commentaries to the New Testament cf. e.g. Francois Vouga, Die Johannesbriefe, Handbuch zum NT 15/III (Tübingen, 1990), 2. The information is somewhat inaccurate and misleading in Bruce M. Metzger’s book The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford, 1987) – we make reference to the German translation Der Kanon des Neuen Testaments. Entstehung, Entwicklung, Bedeutung (Düsseldorf, 1993), 132 –, which includes 2John among the epistles not cited by Clement. 14 See Strom. II 13,56,1-58,1. 13

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


Aristotle’s example and distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary actions, and then continues with a classification of three types of voluntary improper actions: sin (ἁμάρτημα) based on a wrong desire, error (ἀτύχημα) based on a wrong choice, and crime (ἀδίκημα) based on a wrong intention/ purpose.15 Clement subsequently mentions several biblical places, perhaps to confirm the Aristotelian classification with Christian authorities as well. In the middle of this list, where the main role is played by Ps. 1:1, Clement somehow illogically includes the verses of 1John 5:16-7 on the distinction between sins resulting in death, and those not resulting in it.16 While there is at least a hint of the three-level division in the other cited passages (mostly from the Old Testament), in the case of 1John this does not apply – the text of the epistle clearly defines two, not three levels of sin. What is consequently the reason behind the inclusion of this verse? Clement in all probability liked the apostle’s words a little too much and cared so much for them as to include them in the review of authorities, even though they were actually not related in any way to Aristotle’s distinction between three types of improper actions. Part II. Theology in 1John as an Implicit Part of Clement’s Teaching About the True Gnostic In his teachings, Clement was inspired in particular by certain verses or motifs from 1John. I classified them into four areas that are mutually related and frequently even intertwined. 1. ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all’ (1John 1:5). The Metaphor of Light and The Credibility of a Gnostic The metaphor of light is no novum in Christian literature; apart from 1John, it appears several times elsewhere in the New Testament.17 The idea of God – Light plays a fundamental role in Clement’s Protrepticus, where based on the Prologue to the Gospel of John, the unbelieving listeners are presented with the second Person of God as the ‘true Light’.18 This idea is then developed into a treatise on the participation of Christians in the Light of God: Baptism is understood by Clement as enlightenment;19 by participating in God the Christian (Gnostic) gains a certain inner (intelligible) light which likens them to 15 See Strom. II 14,60,1-15,64,5 (with the quotation from Aristotle, Eth. Nic. III 1-4). See also Elisabeth Clark, Clement’s use of Aristotle (New York, Toronto, 1977), 45-65. 16 See 1John in Strom. II 15,66,4-5 (cited above). 17 See e.g. 2Cor. 4:6; John 1:4.9; 3:19 and 1Tim. 6:16. 18 See Protr. 1,2,2-3; 1,10,1; 6,68,4; 8,77,2-3; 9,84,6; 9,86,2; 9,88,2; 10,98,4; 11,113,1-114,3 and 12,119,3-120,1. 19 See Protr. 10,94,2; Paed. I 6,25,1; 6,26,1-2; 6,27,3 and 6,30,1; Ecl. proph. 5,2-3.



spiritual beings – angels, and even to God himself.20 In addition, the idea of the Light of God permeating the human soul is especially important in Clement’s reasoning on how God ‘sees’ and ‘hears’ people’s prayers.21 What seems more important (and more relevant in relation not to Johannine theology in general, but directly to 1John) is the elaboration of this metaphor on the ethical plane. This is obvious already from the interpretation of verse 1John 1:5 in Adumbrationes; according to Clement, the words ‘God is light, in him there is no darkness at all’ may be related both to God and to humans and their actions.22 A typical feature of 1John is a range of statements regarding the credibility of a Christian, often in the form of a conditional sentence. The image of God as the Light has certain consequences for humans: their life or existence becomes transparent in God and every deception is ‘seen through’. If a Christian claims to be sinless or to have knowledge of or love of God, to be ‘in the light’ and maintain a fellowship with God, but his behaviour does not correspond to these claims (he is ‘walking in the dark’, i.e. does not obey the commandments and feels hatred towards his brothers), such a person is a liar and as such is not credible.23 In contrast, the one who actually knows God (and ‘remains in God’) can be identified by the fact that he does not sin and keeps God’s commandments, strives to imitate God with their life, confesses Jesus as the Son of God, and has taken the gift of the Holy Spirit.24 Some of these verses are directly cited by Clement in his works; the most significant one being an unusually long quotation of 1John 2:2-6 at the end of Paedagogus, which Clement attributed to the Instructor himself.25 The credibility of a true Gnostic (unlike those who only claim themselves to be Gnostics) is also an important topic for Clement in the third book of the Stromata which deals with a polemic with the followers of sects regarding the issue of sexual abstinence. Addressing those who consider themselves highly spiritual persons – Gnostics, but do not even obey the basic commandments, Clement uses a number of pejorative epithets, and calls them liars with the help of the particular verses from 1John.26 The same topic also appears in the seventh book of the Stromata, which deals with piety and prayer, at least in two of the parts. Firstly, it is the passage about the oath in the eight chapter, where Clement extensively documents that a true Gnostic does not need to take an oath, particularly for the reason that his 20 See Strom. III 5,44,3; V 5,29,6; VI 12,104,1-13,105,1; VII 10,57,5; Ecl. proph. 32,3-33,1; 56,3-5. 21 See Strom. VII 7,37,1-6. 22 1John 1:5 in Adumbr. III,1,5. 23 See 1John 1:6.8.10; 2:4.9; 4,20. 24 See 1John 2:3.5.6; 3:6.9.24; 4:7.13.15; 5:1-3.18. 25 See 1John 2:2-6 in Paed. III 12,98,2-3. 26 See 1John 1:6-7 in Strom. III 4,32,2; 1John 2:24 in Strom. III 5,44,5; in a similar way 1John 4:7 and 5:3 in Paed. III 11,82,1; 1John 5:1-3 in Strom. IV 16,100,5.

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


life itself is sufficiently transparent.27 The second passage is the final polemic unmasking the ignorance, folly and cowardice of some ‘sectarians’.28 Clement says about their soul that ‘it is not able to clearly distinguish between the light of truth, and even misses that which is lying at its feet’.29 These self-proclaimed tutors deceive not only themselves, but by ‘obscuring the truth’ also deceive those who blindly follow them.30 The call for sincerity occurs even in the homily Quis dives salvetur?. Clement warns his listeners, from the very beginning, against adulation for wealthy Christians in hope of benefit and appreciation.31 As an alternative approach, he offers the exemplary character of an uncorrupt spiritual leader, who educates his fellow brothers in the truth and for the truth.32 The credibility of a Christian who can lead others presupposes transcending thinking ‘from this world’, a purity of faith and intention and strong love.33 Using the words of the Gospel, Clement labels such Christians as ‘the light of the world’.34 2. ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world’ (1John 2:15). Detachment from the World; Clement’s Specification of the Concept of ‘the World’ 1John often speaks about ‘the world’ and the secular manner of thinking. According to 1John 2:15-7, the ‘world’ (κόσμος), existence ‘in the world’ (ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ) and everything coming ‘from the world’ (τὰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου) is connected to desire (lust; ἐπιθυμία) and is contrasted with God the Father, His love and doing His will (θέλημα). From this perspective, the concept of ‘the world’ is used further in 1John metaphorically as a label for an area where false prophets and ‘the Antichrist/Antichrists’ come from. Although Clement uses the term ‘Antichrist’ quite rarely,35 the idea of detachment from the world in the sense of renouncing desire is very important to him.36 It is always supplemented, however, with a note that this detachment or asceticism is not a manifestation of contempt of the world, but the result of a free decision and an understanding that the things of God matter particularly here, in this created world. In his comments to 1John (= Adumbrationes III), Clement explicitly speaks about the two possible meanings of the word kosmos in three passages. The ‘world’ in 1John does not refer to a cosmological label for the tangible 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

See Strom. VII 8,50,1-9,52,6. See Strom. VII 15,89,1-17,108,2. See Strom. VII 16,99,1. See Strom. VII 15,92,4-6. See QDS 1,1-3. See QDS 1,4-5; 3,1.3-6; 35,2; 41,1-7. See e.g. QDS 1,5; 35,2 and 41,6. Matt. 5:13-4 in QDS 36,1. Only Strom. III 6,45,1-2 and Exc. ex Theod. 9,1. Except for the passage cited below see e.g. Paed. I 5,16,3-17,1.



world, God’s creation, which is positively good; it is used here in the metaphorical sense for labelling a certain manner of living based on passions: concupiscentia carnis et oculorum et ambitio saeculi.37 An example of such an attitude refuting the secular manner of actions, while appreciating the creation, may be Clement’s text in the form of a prayer from the end of the fourth book of the Stromata: But I shall free myself from lust, let him say, O Lord, for the sake of alliance with You. For the economy of creation is good, and all things are well administered: nothing happens without a cause. I must be in what is Yours, O Omnipotent One. And if I am there, I am near You. And I would be free of fear that I may be able to draw near to You, and to be satisfied with little, practising Your just choice between things good and things like.38

The similarity with the First Epistle of John is visible here: ‘do not love the world’ and ‘its desire’, and do ‘God’s will’; thus you will be close to God and will imitate Him in this world, to which He is the Creator and the Lord. Clement’s repetitive notes regarding the two meanings of the word ‘world’ should be understood as part of Clement’s counter-Gnostic polemic aiming, among other things, at advocating a positive approach to the world which is understood as the work of the good Creator. The words ‘do not love the world’ thus cannot advocate hatred, whether towards oneself and one’s own body, towards other people, or to the creation itself. Many polemic passages can be found especially in the third book of the Stromata. They are targeted against Marcion’s disciples who distort Plato’s teachings,39 in general against the so-called ‘Encratites’.40 It is not a coincidence that this particular book includes direct quotations from 1John more than other books of the Stromata (see Appendix, Table 1). 3. ‘Perfect love drives out fear’ (1John 4:18). Clement’s Order of Virtues; Adoptive God’s Childhood as a Reason for the Gnostic’s Fearlessness Verse 1John 4:18 is directly cited by Clement three times: in Adumbrationes, in the fourth book of the Stromata, and in QDS (see Appendix, Table 2). In Adumbrationes, the words ‘perfect love drives out fear’ are followed by only 37

See Adumbr. III,2,15-6; 3,1 and 5,19. See Strom. IV 23,148,2: αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἐμὲ λύσομαι (cf. Homer, Il. X 378) τῆς ἐπιθυμίας, φήσει, διὰ τὴν πρὸς σὲ οἰκείωσιν, κύριε. καλὴ γὰρ ἡ κτισθεῖσα δὴ οἰκονομία καὶ πάντα εὖ διοικεῖται, οὐδὲν ἀναιτίως γίνεται, ἐν τοῖς σοῖς εἶναί με δεῖ, παντοκράτορ· κἂν ἐνταῦθα ὦ, παρὰ σοί εἰμι· ἀδεὴς δ᾽ εἶναι θέλω, ἵνα σοὶ συνεγγίζειν δυνηθῶ, καὶ ὀλίγοις ἀρκεῖσθαι, μελετῶν τὴν σὴν ἐκλογὴν τὴν δικαίαν τῶν καλῶν ἀπὸ τῶν ὁμοίων. I have used the translation of William Wilson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. See also Paed. I 12,98,3 and Strom. VII 14,88,6. 39 See Strom. III 3,12,1-3. 40 See Strom. III 6,45-56; 7,60,1; 9,63,1; 9,67,1-2; 10,70,4, etc. 38

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


a short commentary. What is, however, worth noticing is the fact that this verse is the only one from the fourth chapter that is included here.41 In the fourth book of the Stromata, Clement cites 1John 4:18 together with other references to 1John (3:18-9; 4:16 and 5:3) within a longer passage describing the qualities of a true Gnostic according to the apostle Paul.42 In the homily QDS, the quotation of 1John 4:18 is inserted, together with 1Pet. 4:8, in Paul’s Hymn to Love.43 It seems, however, that apart from these direct quotations, the verse 1John 4:18 forms the basis for the entire Clement’s order of virtues. The first appearance of this motif is at the end of the first book of the Stromata, which deals with the educational function of the Law. At the end of this passage, Clement outlines the path of spiritual progress, where the lowest level is occupied by ‘God’s slaves’, then there are ‘faithful servants’, and finally ‘God’s sons’ (or ‘friends’). While the attitude of slaves and servants towards God is to a significant extent determined by fear, the attitude of sons and friends is characterized by love, which first comes from God (because His love ‘covers over a multitude of sins’), but is reciprocated by humans, who ‘grow in love’. The transition from fear to love is documented in the text with a Johannine metaphor ‘to pass from death/darkness into life’.44 Although verse 4:18 is not mentioned explicitly in this passage, it seems that its message is what Clements intends to express: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’. This transition from fear to love is further elaborated in the second book, which deals with the basic Christian virtues in the following order: faith, fear (of God), hope and pity, abstinence and patience, love and knowledge.45 The problem lies in the fact that according to the stoic conception, fear (φόβος) together with sorrow (λύπη), desire (ἐπιθυμία) and delight (ἡδονή) form the four basic passions (πάθη) that are described as irrational impulses of the soul, and as such are certainly undesirable. Clement faces the challenge of explaining to a reader with a philosophical education in what sense fear may be the ‘beginning of wisdom’ (according to Prov. 1:7). He therefore distinguishes between the two forms of φόβος: the first one is the virtue accompanying faith, and if necessary for the ‘philosophers’, they may call it ‘prudence’ (εὐλάβεια); the second form 41

See Adumbr. III,4,18. See Strom. IV 13,92,2-16,104,2, esp. IV 16,100,5. 43 See QDS 38,1-2. 44 See 1Pet. 4:8 and 1John 3:14 in Strom. I 27,173,6: ἔξεστι δὲ μὴ εἶναι ἀπειθείας υἱόν, ἀλλὰ μεταβαίνειν ἐκ τοῦ σκότους εἰς ζωὴν καὶ παραθέντα τῇ σοφίᾳ τὴν ἀκοὴν νόμιμον εἶναι θεοῦ δοῦλον μὲν τὰ πρῶτα, ἔπειτα δὲ πιστὸν γενέσθαι θεράποντα, φοβούμενον κύριον τὸν θεόν, εἰ δέ τις ἐπαναβαίη, τοῖς υἱοῖς ἐγκαταλέγεσθαι, ἐπὰν δὲ ἀγάπη καλύψῃ πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν, μακαρίας ἐλπίδος τελείωσιν αὐξηθέντα ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐκδέχεσθαι τοῦτον ἐγκαταταγέντα τῇ ἐκλεκτῇ υἱοθεσίᾳ τῇ φίλῃ κεκλημένῃ τοῦ θεοῦ, ᾄδοντα ἤδη τὴν εὐχὴν καὶ λέγοντα· γενέσθω μοι κύριος εἰς θεόν. See also Strom. II 9,45,3; VII 11,62,7 and 13,82,7. 45 See Strom. II 6,31,1 and 9,45,1. 42



is ordinary fear (horror, ἔκπληξις).46 Clement strives for advocating ‘fear’ in the sense of sensible, consciously chosen, ‘reverence before God’ (εὐλάβεια) or respect towards the beloved Father, as a way which, in combination with faith, pity, and hope, leads to a more perfect attitude – i.e. love for God.47 As much as this rational fear is desirable for the believers, it is only the beginning of the way of spiritual progress of a true Gnostic, not the end. Apart from Stromata, this process is also described in Eclogae and Paedagogus.48 The metaphor of the parental relationship is connected with the overall style of both 1John and Clement. Only a few books of the New Testament use the expression ‘children’ (τεκνία/τέκνα or παιδία) as often as 1John. In the majority of cases (1John 2:1.12-4.28; 3:7.18 and 5:21), the author of the epistle uses the substantives τεκνία or παιδία when addressing his recipients. In the remaining cases (1John 3:1-3:10; 5:2), the word ‘children’ is used in the expression ‘God’s children’ (τέκνα θεοῦ) and labels the identity of a Christian – or more precisely of the Christian community (in fact, the expression ‘God’s children’ is used in 1John exclusively in plural). Clement also frequently addresses his listeners as children. This applies in particular to Protrepticus (ὦ νεολαία ἡ ἐμή, παιδία/παῖδες), Paedagogus (ὦ παῖδες ὑμεῖς) and Quis dives salvetur? (τέκνα).49 Similarly to 1John, this addressing serves two functions: Clement expresses the basic identity of a Christian – the relationship of humans as children to God as a parent, and also intends to suggest his relationship of spiritual fathership to his listeners (students). The antithesis to ‘God’s children’ in 1John is the expression ‘Devil’s children’. Although Clement tends to avoid the character of the Devil in his works, one can see a similar rhetoric as with the author of 1John: while strongly admonishing his adversaries and being sharp to them, he uses various expressions for children (often diminutives) for those who detach themselves from the ill teachings and adhere to the gospel of the true Word, manifesting clear affection or even maternal tenderness for them.50 The motif of ‘God’s children’ or ‘adoptive sonhood’ and the preference of love over fear of God is related to the attitude expressed in 1John with the word 46 See Strom. II 7,32,1-4 and 8,40,1-3. Clement also explicitly distinguishes between two types of fear in Paed. I 9,87,1-2. 47 See Strom. II 12,53,2-5. 48 See Ecl. proph. 19,1 and Paed. I 7,59,2. About this topic see also Judith L. Kovacs, ‘To exhibit silently: What Clement of Alexandria leaves unsaid in his Protreptikos’, ETJ 3/2 (2017), 257-87. 49 See e.g. Protr. 9,82,4-83,1; Paed. I 1,1,1; 1,4,1 and III 12,99,1; QDS 37,1-2 and 41,5. Another interesting finding is the fact that the typically Paulinian term υἱοθεσία (see e.g. Rom. 8:15.23; 19:4; Gal. 4:5-6; Eph. 1:5) is used by Clement in Paedagogus on four occasions only, one of which is a quotation from the apostle Paul: see Paed. I 5,21,2; 6,33,4 (quotations of Gal. 4:1-5); 12,98,2 and III 6,45,1. In Protrepticus, this term does not appear at all. Clement seems to be fonder of speaking about ‘children’ or ‘childhood’ in accordance with 1John; he pays great attention to explaining the gospel expression ‘little ones’ – see Paed. I 5,12-24. 50 See the peak of this motif in QDS 37,1-2.

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


παρρησία. This expression, commonly used in classical Greek literature to express ‘openness’ or ‘freedom of speech’ to the public, is used in 1John in relation to the attitude of humans before God. It is an attitude of the brave faith of a Christian who has no need to fear of being ashamed when facing Divine Judgement, being aware of God’s love for humans.51 Although this expression also appears in Clement’s works in its original meaning, as ‘the courage to say the truth in public’, sometimes even in the sense of a certain ‘flippancy’,52 the meaning that is more important in relation to 1John is the one describing the relationship between the human and God. In the seventh book of the Stromata, Clement speaks about a Gnostic whose soul is entirely detached from passions thanks to his knowledge and ‘guided to life, or good actions, so it may fearlessly tell God (εἴπῃ μετὰ παρρησίας πρὸς τὸν θεόν): I live the way You want me to’.53 A Gnostic is thus one who has renounced passions (including fear), who acts in accordance with God’s will, and thus can ‘fearlessly’ stand before God and ‘boast’ his good actions. His ‘fearlessness’ (‘courage’, ‘boldness’ or ‘brave confidence’, παρρησία) is subsequently manifested even in prayer, especially in intercessional prayer for others.54 4. ‘In this world we are like Jesus’ (1John 4:17). Clement’s Christian Gnostic and his Likeness to God Clement’s conception of likeness to God is widely known to be based on biblical as well as Platonian grounds. A fundamental role is played by the verse from Gen. 1:26 speaking about God’s creation of man ‘in our image, according to our likeness’ (ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ᾽ εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθ᾽ ὁμοίωσιν).55 Apart from this one, however, Clement also likes to use a formulation from Plato’s Theaetetus 176ab ‘likeness to God as far as possible’ (ὁμοίωσις θεῷ κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν);56 his conception is also influenced by additional texts by Plato 51

See 1John 2:28; 3:21; 4:17 and 5:14. See e.g. Paed. I 9,83,1 (about Paul and his words in Gal. 4:16); I 11,97,3 bis (about the Instructor); II 5,48,2.3; III 12,86,1; Strom. II 1,2,4 (quotation of Prov. 10:10); II 8,36,2 and 20,114,3 (a quotation from gnostic Valentinos); III 9,65,2 (quotation of Phil. 1:20-4); IV 16,101,3 (quotation of Heb. 10:32-9); VII 7,44,8; 16,103,2; QDS 8,4; 35,1 and 41,1.3. 53 Strom. VII 12,71,3. 54 See e.g. Strom. VII 7,46,3-9. 55 See e.g. Protr. 4,59,2; 10,98,3; 12,122,4; Paed. I 2,4,2; 3,9,1; 11,97,2; 12,98,2; III 11,66,2; 12,101,1; Strom. I 11,52,3; II 8,38,5; 19,97,1; 19,100,3-4; 19,102,6; 22,131,5; 22,133,3; 22,134,2; III 10,69,4; IV 6,30,1; 13,90,3; 22,137,1; 26,171,4; V 5,29,1; 14,94,4; VI 14,114,415,115,1; 16,136,3; VII 3,16,6; 14,86,2; Exc. ex Theod. 50,1; 54,2; Ecl. proph. 33,1-2; QDS 36,2. See also Augustin Mayer, Das Gottesbild im Menschen nach Clemens von Alexandrien, SA 15 (Roma, 1942). 56 See e.g. Protr. 9,86,2; 10,98,2-4 and 12,122,4; Paed. I 2,4,2; III 1,1,1; 12,101,1; Strom. I 11,52,3; II 18,81,1; 19,100,3-4; 19,102,6; 22,131,5; 22,136,6; III 5,42,1.5; IV 22,139,4; 23,152,3; 26,168,2; V 14,95,1; VI 7,56,2; 12,97,1; 12,104,2; 14,114,4; 17,150,3; VII 1,3,6; 3,16,6; 14,84,2; 14,86,5; Ecl. proph. 33,1-2; QDS 7,3. 52



from The Republic and Timaios.57 Clement’s idea of the ‘true Gnostic’ is nevertheless Christian. There are other biblical verses (apart from Gen. 1:26) that play an important role in his conception of likeness to God: two verses from the Old Testament – Deut. 13:4/5 (‘It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him…’)58 and Ps. 81/82:6 (‘I said, You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High’);59 three verses from the Pauline corpus – 1Cor. 11:1 (‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’),60 1Cor. 3:16 (‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?’)61 and Rom. 4:11 (‘a seal of the righteousness’);62 further the pericope about the love for enemies in Matt. 5:43-6 (par.)63 and Luke 14:11 (‘For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’).64 Apart from these verses, however, Clement’s conception of likeness to God includes several specific emphases which are closely related to the theology of 1John. This is beyond doubt even due to the fact that multiple verses from 1John are cited in the fourth book of Stromata particularly in the passage dealing with the perfection of a Gnostic (see Appendix, Table 1).65 It seems that some of the Apostle’s verses were particularly important to Clement, whether cited explicitly, alluded to covertly, or being the basis of his teachings. Firstly, it is verse 1John 4:17: ‘In this world we are like Him (Jesus)’. The likeness to God takes place, as suggested in the verse, already now, ‘in this world’. It is not restricted to some elite, nor is it a matter of life after death. It has already been made clear that Clement took great pains to advocate in his comments on 1John (Adumbrationes) the positive approach to the world in front of the supporters of gnostic groups (see Part II.2). Another important verse is 1John 3:18: ‘… let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth’. The life of the true gnostic as one who has known God is only credible when his knowledge is followed by his acts. 57 See Dietmar Wyrwa, Die christliche Platonaneignung in den Stromateis des Clemens von Alexandrien (Berlin, New York, 1983), 173-89; Tatjana Aleknienė, ‘La piété véritable: de l’Euthyphron de Platon à la piété gnostique dans le livre 7 des Stromates de Clément d’Alexandrie’, VigChr 60 (2006), 447-60; Hubert Merki, ῾Ομοίωσις Θεῷ: Von den platonischen Angleichung an Gott zur Gottähnlichkeit bei Gregor von Nyssa (Freiburg, 1952), 44-60; Salvatore R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria. A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford, 1971), 106-17. 58 See Strom. II 19,100,4 and V 14,94,6. 59 See Protr. 12,123,1; Paed. I 6,26,1; Strom. II 20,125,5; IV 23,149,8; VI 16,146,2 and VII 10,56,6. 60 See Strom. II 22,136,5-6. 61 See Strom. III 7,59,4; IV 22,137,3; 25,161,2; VII 5,29,4; 11,64,7; 13,82,2-3. 62 See Strom. VI 12,103-4. 63 See e.g. Strom. II 1,2,2; 19,100,4; III 2,6,2; IV 14,95,1; 22,137,2-3; V 2,18,7; VI 3,29,2; 12,104,2-3; 14,114,6; VII 13,81,3; 14,85,2; 14,86,5; 14,88,4.6; Paed. I 8,70,3; 8,72,2-3; 9,88,2; III 12,88,1 and 12,92,3; etc. 64 See Strom. II 22,132,1. 65 See 1John 3:18; 4:16.18 and 5:3 in Strom. IV 16,100,4-5.

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


This is manifested in Clement’s thinking in two areas: firstly, it is the emphasis on the inseparability of theory and practice; secondly, it is the role Clement attributes to doing good within the spiritual life. The inseparability of a Gnostic’s contemplation (θεωρία or γνῶσις) and actions (πρᾶξις) is explicitly mentioned by Clement in relation to the likeness to God in the second book of Stromata,66 as well as in multiple other instances.67 The perfection requires more than abstaining from doing evil (asceticism); it is necessary to begin doing good. Doing good, referred to in the majority of cases with the term εὐποιία (or also εὐεργεσία or ἀγαθοποιία) is not random; in a perfect person it becomes a permanent quality (ἕξις εὐποιίας).68 The motivation for doing good is not one’s own benefit, but the good itself. A Gnostic ‘does good and fine deeds quicker than he talks about them’69 and his effort is genuine. Clement relates doing good and the likeness to God in many passages throughout various works.70 Doing good is specified more precisely in an intercession prayer for others, which in Clement’s conception possesses the following qualities: (1) it belongs not only to the area of theoretic contemplation (θεωρία), but being εὐποιία belongs also to the practical area (πρᾶξις). As such, it is a kind of performative word, imitating the action of Christ; (2) it has a prophetic character; (3) and therefore, in accordance with 1John 5:14 (‘This is the confidence that we have in him … he listens to us’), it is always heard out,71 since the fruit of a Gnostic’s dwelling with God and his likeness to God is the ability of more precise comprehension, which also involves an understanding of God’s will. The difference compared to the attitude of a common believer, who fulfils God’s will as a mere servant executing the Lord’s orders, is that a Gnostic knows what his Lord does (and wants to do); He is no longer his Lord (with reference to John 15:15), but a friend.72 Thanks to a close familiarity with God and His will, a Gnostic therefore possesses a certain prophetic competence,73 which enables him to foresee the future to a certain extent; that is also why his intercession prayer cannot be ignored. The gnostic likeness to God reaches its peak at the moment when a Gnostic forgives his (and simultaneously God’s) enemies and prays for the good for them. The crowning of likeness to God is the moment of death. The words said in prayer may then be sealed with the act of utmost love following the example 66

See Strom. II 10,47,4. See Strom. VII 16,102,2; also Strom. I 25,166,2-3; IV 6,39,1-2; 7,49,7; and QDS 27,3-28,1. 68 See Strom. VI 7,60,3; etc. 69 Strom. VII 12,80,1. 70 See e.g. Strom. II 19,102,2; IV 22,137,1; VI 7,60,3; Paed. III 1,1,1; etc. 71 See Strom. VI 9,76,4-78,1; VII 7,41,3; 7,43,1-5; 12,73,1-2; 12,78,4-79,1; QDS 34,1 and so on. 72 See Strom. VII 12,78,4-79,1. 73 See Strom. VI 7,61,1; 8,70,4 (with the quotation of Sap. 8:8); 9,78,5-6; 11,92,3; VII 12,79,2-4. 67



of Jesus Christ: giving one’s life for a brother. Clement finds an example of such behaviour not only in 1John 3:16 (‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’), but also in the old Christian tradition documenting the life and activities of the apostle, which Clement uses at the end of QDS.74 Disregarding his age and following the example of Christ, the apostle John decides to save the sinner, whose church community represented by the local presbyter has given up on him, perceiving him as a spiritually ‘dead’ person. The apostle fights for the young man fearlessly through fasting and intercession prayers and at the end he does not even hesitate to ‘give his life’ for him.75 Conclusion Clement’s teaching is in consonance with 1John in many aspects; the apostle’s words are a great authority for Clement. Although he shifts the message of 1John to the level of individual piety, there are many common features: he uses the same metaphors, addresses the readers in the same (or very similar) way, and formulates his teachings on the basis of a polemic of the emerging Christianity with heterodox movements, with Gnosticism. The qualities of a true Gnostic are formulated by Clement in accordance with, and probably also as a result of, inspiration by this particular epistle from the New Testament. A true Gnostic is credible. He is not from the world, but in the world, and in this world he also imitates God in His love for people. Knowledge of God is manifested particularly in his actions. A true Gnostic is not afraid of God; in contrast, what he maintains with God is a close relationship of son-like love. He knows God and therefore is not afraid of asking for anything that is in accordance with His will in his prayers. Although citing John’s epistles only sporadically, Clement clearly maintained an interest in them, as documented among other things by the notes preserved in the Latin translation, which are valuable evidence of the emerging Christian exegesis (the very first Christian commentary to 1 and 2John). Clement does not question the apostle’s authorship of 1 and 2John; apart from the canonical epistles, he also mentions the non-canonical tradition about the apostle John. Clement includes this tradition in his works without any trait of doubt regarding its authenticity or moral qualities. He considers it an important source of the memories of an apostle whose words as well as actions are a great model example for a Christian. 74 See QDS 42. Clement’s obvious affection for the apostle John even corresponds to the fact that 1John is cited three times in the crucial part of the homily (see 1John 3:14-5; 4:8(=16).18 in QDS 37-8). 75 QDS 42,13.

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


Appendix Table 1: Overwiev of the References to 1 and 2John in the sequence of Clement’s works Legenda: Q – word-for-word quotation of the biblical text; P – paraphrasis, i.e. reference to the verse, which is cited in a reduced or altered form; A – allusion, i.e. free reference to the biblical text; C – commentary; the biblical verse is not only cited but also commented

Adumbrationes III 1,1 III 1,2 III 1,5 III 1,5 III 1,7 III 1,10 III 2,1 III 2,2 III 2,3 III 2,5 III 2,7 III 2,8 III 2,9 III 2,10 III 2,12-4 III 2,13 III 2,14 III 2,14 III 2,15-6 III 2,17 III 18-29 III 3,1 III 3,2 III 3,8 III 3,9 III 3,10 III 3,15 III 3,16 III 3,20 III 3,21 III 3,24 III 4,18 III 5,6-8 III 5,14 III 5,19 III 5,20 IV 1

1John 1:1 1John 1:2 1John 1:5 1John 4:16 (=4:8) 1John 1:6-7 1John 1:10 1John 2:1 1John 2:2 1John 2:3 1John 2:5 1John 2:7 1John 2:8 1John 2:9 1John 2:10 1John 2:12-4 1John 1:1 1John 5:19 1John 5:21 1John 2:15-6 1John 2:17 1John 2:18-29 1John 3:1 1John 3:2 1John 3:8 1John 3:9 1John 3:10 1John 3:15 1John 3:16 1John 3:20 1John 3:21 1John 3:24 1John 4:18 1John 5:6-8 1John 5:14 1John 5:19 1John 5:20 2John 1

Q, C Q, C Q, C A Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C A A A (?) Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C


50 IV IV 10-1

2John 5-9 2John 10-1

P Q, C

1John 5:6-8 1John 3:2n 1John 4:7 1John 5:3 1John 2:2-6


Paedagogus II 2,19,4-5 III 1,1,1 III 11,82,1 III 11,82,1 III 12,98,2-3

φησὶν Ἰωάννης ὥς φησιν ὁ Ἰωάννης

Quis dives salvetur? 27,5 36,2-3 37,2 37,6

1John 4:19 1John 3:9 1John 4:16 (=4:8) 1John 3:14-5


38,2 42,13

1John 4:18 1John 3:16


I 27,173,6 II 15,66,4-5

1John 3:14 1John 5:16-7


III 4,32,2 III 5,42,6 III 5,44,5 III 6,45,1-2

1John 1:6-7 1John 3:3 1John 2:4 1John 2:18-9


IV 16,100,4 IV 16,100,5 IV 16,100,5 IV 16,100,5 IV 18,113,4 V 1,13,1 V 14,100,4 VII 7,41,3 VII 7,46,3-9

1John 3:18-9 1John 4:16 (=4:8) 1John 4:18 1John 5:3 1John 4:16 (=4:8) 1John 4:16 (=4:8) 1John 1:5 1John 5:14 1John 4:17

Q A Q Q A A A (?) A A

1John 4:3


θείως γε καὶ ἐπιπνόως ὁ Ἰωάννης … φησί


Fragments Fr. 35 (Stählin)

Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ μείζονι ἐπιστολῇ ἐκδιδάσκων … εἶπεν φησὶν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ φησίν Ἰωάννης λέγει πρῶτον μὲν τὸ τοῦ ἀποστόλου Ἰωάννου φησὶν Ἰωάννης διδάσκων

Clement of Alexandria’s Reading of 1John


Table 2: Overwiev of the References to 1 and 2John in the sequence of the biblical verses Legenda: Q – word-for-word quotation of the biblical text; P – paraphrasis, i.e. reference to the verse, which is cited in a reduced or altered form; A – allusion, i.e. free reference to the biblical text; C – commentary; the biblical verse is not only cited but also commented

1John 1:1 1:2 1:5 1:6-7 1:10 2:1 2:2 2:3 2:4 2:5 2:2-6 2:7 2:8 2:9 2:10 2:12-4 2:15-6 2:17 2:18-9 2:18-29 3:1 3:2 3:2n 3:3 3:8 3:9 3:10 3:14 3:14-5 3:15 3:16 3:18-9 3:20

Adumbr. III 1,1 Adumbr. III 2,13 Adumbr. III 1,2 Adumbr. III 1,5 Strom. V 14,100,4 Strom. III 4,32,2 Adumbr. III 1,7 Adumbr. III 1,10 Adumbr. III 2,1 Adumbr. III 2,2 Adumbr. III 2,3 Strom. III 5,44,5 Adumbr. III 2,5 Paed. III 12,98,2-3 Adumbr. III 2,7 Adumbr. III 2,8 Adumbr. III 2,9 Adumbr. III 2,10 Adumbr. III 2,12-4 Adumbr. III 2,15-6 Adumbr. III 2,17 Strom. III 6,45,1-2 Adumbr. III 18-29 Adumbr. III 3,1 Adumbr. III 3,2 Paed. III 1,1,1 Strom. III 5,42,6 Adumbr. III 3,8 Adumbr. III 3,9 QDS 36,2-3 Adumbr. III 3,10 Strom. I 27,173,6 QDS 37,6

Q, C A Q, C Q, C A (?) Q Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q Q, C Q Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q, C Q Q, C Q, C Q, C A Q Q, C Q, C A Q, C P Q

Adumbr. III 3,15 Adumbr. III 3,16 QDS 42,13 Strom. IV 16,100,4 Adumbr. III 3,20

Q, C Q, C A Q Q, C

φησὶν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ

Ἰωάννης λέγει ὥς φησιν ὁ Ἰωάννης

πρῶτον μὲν τὸ τοῦ ἀποστόλου Ἰωάννου


θείως γε καὶ ἐπιπνόως ὁ Ἰωάννης … φησί

φησὶν Ἰωάννης διδάσκων


52 3:21 3:24 4:3 4:7 4:16 (=4:8)

4:17 4:18

4:19 5:3 5:6-8 5:14 5:16-7 5:19 5:20 5:21

Adumbr. III 3,21 Adumbr. III 3,24 Fr. 35 (Stählin) Paed. III 12,82,1 Strom. IV 16,100,5 Strom. IV 16,113,4 Strom. V 1,13,1 QDS 37,2 Adumbr. III 1,5 Strom. VII 7,46,3-9 Strom. IV 16,100,5 QDS 38,2 Adumbr. III 4,18 QDS 27,5 Paed. III 11,82,1 Strom. IV 16,100,5 Adumbr. III 5,6-8 Paed. II 2,19,4-5 Adumbr. III 5,14 Strom. VII 7,41,3 Strom. II 15,66,4-5

Q Q, C C P A A A A A A Q Q Q, C A Q Q Q, C A Q, C A Q

Adumbr. Adumbr. Adumbr. Adumbr.

Q, C A Q, C A (?)


5,19 2,14 5,20 2,14

2John 1 5-9 10-1

Adumbr. IV 1 Adumbr. IV Adumbr. IV 10-1

Q, C P Q, C

φησὶν Ἰωάννης

Ἰωάννης ἐν τῇ μείζονι ἐπιστολῇ ἐκδιδάσκων … εἶπεν

Delimitation and Context of References to the Apocalypse of Peter in Clement of Alexandria’s Eclogae Propheticae Veronika ČERNUŠKOVÁ, Olomouc, Czech Republic

ABSTRACT The so-called Eclogae propheticae, the last section of the fragmentary text that follows the seventh book of the Stromateis in the manuscript, consists of a set of exegetical notes on selected passages in the Scripture. This article focuses on the passage Ecl. 38-50, which includes esp. references to Psalm 17, to the Book of Wisdom and also to the Apocalypse of Peter. The references to the Apocalypse of Peter are analysed, their number and delimitation are questioned and individual ideas contained in their context are compared with Clement’s statements in Stromateis. The article contains the Greek text of Ecl. 38-50 with the sure, probable and possible references to the Apocalypse of Peter highlighted.

Introduction Our perception of the Apocalypse of Peter (PA),1 a New Testament apocryphon written between 133 and 135, stems mainly from its extant Ethiopic version, which appears to be an ancient translation of a complete text. As this translation is probably not based on the Greek original, but on an Arabic translation, it cannot be reliable in every detail.2 Unfortunately, only two brief fragments of the original Greek version have survived – the Oxford fragment and the Rainer fragment.

1 The English translation of the Apocalypse of Peter cited here is J. Keith Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1993), 608-9. I quote Stromata in (a slightly adjusted) translation of William Wilson, The Writings of Clement of Alexandria (Edinburgh, 1867). The Septuagint citations are from Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (eds), A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford, 2007). Biblical references are in italics. 2 See e.g. Richard Bauckham, ‘The Apocalypse of Peter. A Jewish Christian Apocalypse from the Time of Bar Kokhba’, in id. (ed.), The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, Novum Testamentum Supplements 93 (Leiden, 1998), 160-258, 162-5; Caspar Detlef and Gustav Müller, ‘Offenbarung des Petrus’, in Wilhelm Schneemelcher (ed.), Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, II, 5th ed. (Tübingen, 1989), 565. Paolo Marrassini, ‘L’Apocalisse di Pietro’, in Yaqob Beyene, Rodolfo Fattovich, Paolo Marrassini and Alessandro Triulzi (eds), Etiopia e oltre. Studi in onore di Lanfranco Ricci (Napoli, 1994), 171-232.

Studia Patristica CX, 53-73. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



The longer Greek fragment, discovered at Akhmim, Upper Egypt, seems to be a mere secondary, reworded version of the original.3 This makes the testimony of the Apocalypse of Peter of the Church Fathers all the more valuable. According to Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-220) ‘briefly interprets the entire canon of Scripture, without omitting the disputed books – that is, the Epistle of Jude and the other Catholic epistles, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Apocalypse of Peter’ in his exegetical work Hypotyposes.4 The work of the Hypotyposes has not survived in a complete form, and the fragments available do not contain interpretations of the Apocalypse of Peter. Several references to the Apocalypse of Peter do however occur in another of Clement’s text, which is traditionally called Eclogae Propheticae.5 The references are quite remarkable, since they are the oldest evidence of the text of the relevant parts of the Apocalypse of Peter. The aim of this article is to introduce the Eclogae Propheticae references to the Apocalypse of Peter in the context in which they were used by Clement, and discuss their delimitations more precisely than ever before.6 Eclogae is far from being a comprehensive work. Together with the so-called Book 8 of the Stromata and Excerpta ex Theodoto, it is part of an enigmatic text added to the Stromata I-VII in its only extant manuscript, the Codex Laurentianus V 3. The whole of this ‘meta-Stromatic material’ looks like concise notes; the purpose and origin, however, of these notes is questionable.7 It is likely that these were Clement’s preparatory notes perhaps for the Hypotyposes, perhaps for the Stromata itself or for another intended work.8 3 See e.g. Enrico Norelli, ‘Situation des apocryphes pétriniens’, Apocrypha 1 (1990), 31-83, 53-6. For more on the relationship between the Ethiopic and the Akhmim versions, see Fred Lapham, Peter. The Myth, the Man and the Writings. A Study of Early Petrine Text and Tradition (London, New York, 2003), 195-7. 4 Hist. eccl. VI 14,1. 5 I quote the Greek text of Ecl. from: Clemente Alessandrino, Estratti Profetici, Bibliotheca Patristica 4, introduzione, testo greco, traduzione et note di Carlo Nardi (Florence, 1985). I draw attention to any potential differences from the edition of Clements Alexandrinus, dritter Band: Stromata VII und VIII, Excerpta ex Theodoto, Eclogae propheticae, Quis dives salvetur, Fragmente, GCS 17, 1st ed., ed. Otto Stählin (Leipzig, 1909), and 2nd ed., ed. id., Ludwig Früchtel and Ursula Treu (Berlin, 1970) in the footnotes. Nardi adapts Stählin’s edition: he respects the manuscript reading much more in comparison with Stählin, who tends to cover obscure passages with emendations and supplements. 6 Ambiguity concerning the delimitation of Clement’s references to the Apocalypse of Peter is particularly noted by Dennis D. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened: A Study of the Greek (Ethiopic) Apocalypse of Peter, Dissertation series, Society of Biblical Literature 97 (Atlanta, GA, 1988), 26. 7 The concept of ‘meta-Stromatic material’ was introduced by Matyáš Havrda, The So-Called Eight Stromateus by Clement of Alexandria: Early Christian Reception of Greek Scientific Methodology (Leiden, 2016), VIII. 8 See M. Havrda, The So-Called Eight Stromateus (2016), 18-25; Veronika Černušková, ‘The Eclogae Propheticae on the Value of Suffering: A Copyist’s Excerpts or Clement’s Preparatory

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


This ‘meta-Stromatic material’ contains many quotations and paraphrases of the resources Clement had worked with, supplemented by his brief and succinct commentary and sometimes including references to the Scripture. While Clement evidently concords with some of his resources and names their authors (e.g. the Pantaenus reference in Ecl. 56,2), he explicitly rejects others in this text, whether he names the authors or when he does not (e.g. Tatian in Ecl. 38,1 or ‘they’ in Ecl. 26,5), or he avoids evaluating them in Eclogae altogether, but stands in clear opposition to them in other works (e.g. ‘elders’ in Ecl. 9-11).9

The context of the Apocalypse of Peter references in Eclogae propheticae Although not mentioned by the modern Apocalypse of Peter editions, Ecl. 38-9 seems to contain two allusions to the Apocalypse of Peter included in Clement’s reference to Tatian, following his reservations on Tatian’s claim about the Creator and the emphasis on the Creator’s sovereignty.

Notes?’, SP 79 (2017), 161-70; Judith L. Kovacs, Clement of Alexandria and the Valentinian Gnostics (diss. Columbia University, 1978), 1.13; Carlo Nardi, ‘Introduzione’, in Clemente Alessandrino, Estratti Profetici (Firenze, 1985), 11-2; A. van den Hoek, ‘Techniques of Quotation in Clement of Alexandria. A View of Ancient Literary Working Metods’, VigChr 50 (1996), 223-43, 242, n. 78; André Méhat, Étude sur les Stromates de Clément d’Alexandrie (Paris, 1966), 23-40, 517; Henry Chadwick, Alexandrian Christianity (Londres, 1954), 17; Johannes Quasten, Patrology II (Utrecht, 1953), 15; François Sagnard, Clément d’Alexandrie: Extraits de Théodote, SC 23 (Paris, 1948), 7; Claude Mondésert, Clément d’Alexandrie. Introduction à l’étude de sa pensée religieuse à partir de l’Écriture (Paris, 1944), 253, 255; Giuseppe Lazzati, Introduzione allo studio di Clemente Alessandrino (Milan, 1938), 35; Robert P. Casey, The Excerpta ex Theodoto of Clement of Alexandria (London, 1934), 4.14; Johannes Munck, Untersuchungen über Klemens von Alexandria (Stuttgart, 1933), 180; Otto Stählin, Clemens von Alexandrien ausgewählte Schriften aus dem griechischen übersetzt, BKV 20, 2nd ed. (München, 1938), 114 n. 1; Richard B. Tollinton, Clement of Alexandria. A Study in Christian Liberalism I (London, 1914), 203-4; Adolf Harnack, Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius II, 2nd ed. (Leipzig, 1904), 17-8. Another hypothesis states that these were notes made by the copist of Clement’s not extant works. See Pierre Nautin, ‘La fin des Stromates et les Hypotyposes de Clement d’Alexandrie’, VigChr 30 (1976), 268-302. Nautin builds on the hypothesis of Theodor Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur 3: Supplementum Clementinum (Erlangen, 1884), 117-30. The conclusions drawn by Nautin are adopted (with reservations) by Alain Le Boulluec, ‘Extraits d’œuvres de Clement d’Alexandrie: la transmission et le sens de leur titres’, in Jean-Claude Fredouille et al. (eds), Titres et articulations du texte dans les œuvres antiques. Actes du colloque international de Chantilly 13-15 decembre 1994 (Paris, 1997), 287-300; Eric F. Osborn, Clement of Alexandria (Cambridge, 2005), 206-7; Michel Cambe, Avenir solaire et angélique des justes. Le psaume 19 (18) commenté par Clément d’Alexandrie (Strasbourg, 2009), 12; Bogdan Bucur, Angelomorphic Pneumatology. Clement of Alexandria and Other Early Christian Witnesses, SVigChr 95 (Leiden, 2009), 9-10. 9 See V. Černušková, ‘The Eclogae Propheticae on the Value of Suffering’ (2017), 32.


56 Ecl. 38,2-39:

Apocalypse of Peter, Ethiopic 7,1-6:

Tatianos said that the punishments for blasphemy, gossiping and licentious speech are there for the sake of the punished and chastened/educated (παιδευόμενοι) persons.

Then shall men and women come to the place prepared for them. By their tongues wherewith they have blasphemed the way of righteousness shall they be hanged up. There is spread under them unquenchable fire so that they do not escape it.

He used to say that women are also punished because of their hair and decoration by a power appointed to that, by which the strength was imparted to Samson’s hair (Judg. 16:17). This power punishes the women, who seduce men to adultery by decoration of hair.10

Behold another place: there is a pit, great and full. In it are those who have denied righteousness: and angels of punishment chastise them and there they kindle upon them the fire of their torment. And again behold two women: they hang them up by their neck and by their hair; they shall cast them into the pit. These are those who plaited their hair, not to make themselves beautiful but to turn them to fornication, that they might ensnare the souls of men to perdition. Apocalypse of Peter, Akhmim 22-4: And some there were hanging by their tongues; and these were the ones who blasphemed the way of righteousness, and under them was laid fire flaming and tormenting them. And there was a great lake full of flaming mire, wherein were certain men who had turned away from righteousness; and angels, tormentors, were set over them. And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that mire which boiled up; and these were the ones who adorned themselves for adultery.

The first allusion of Tatian to the Apocalypse of Peter is, in all probability, the utterance: ‘women are also punished because of their hair and decoration’;11 10

Tatian, fr. 7 (Whittaker). This is argued by C. Nardi, Estratti Profetici (1985), 128. Although M.R. James (not referenced by Nardi) considers Ecl. 38-9 as possible allusions to the Apocalypse of Peter, he holds that the allusion most likely lies in the sentence ‘punishes the women, who seduce men to adultery by decoration of hair’; see M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’, JTS 12 (1911), 11

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


the preceding statement on punishments for licentious words could also be referencing the Apocalypse of Peter. The assumption that both are allusions to the Apocalypse of Peter is supported by the fact that the order of punishments for blasphemy and seduction corresponds to the Ethiopic and Akhmim version of the Apocalypse of Peter. The question is whether the reference to the story of Samson and the testimony of an authority in charge of chastising vain women could have been part of the original Apocalypse of Peter. The original Greek text could have contained at least some mention of a being punishing vain women, which would refer to the ‘angels, tormentors’ mentioned in the Akhmim version. It is also not apparent, which of Tatian’s work is the source of these notes. The expression ἔφασκεν, ‘he used to say’, suggests that it is, at least in part, seemingly a report of the spoken word rather than an excerpt from a piece of writing.12 Two more passages from the Apocalypse of Peter are included in the following chapters of the Eclogae. They concern the fate of abandoned infants and aborted children and punishment for their mothers. The first quotation (Ecl. 41) is located in the passage which immediately follows the above mentioned reference to Tatian and together they form an introduction to the concise exegesis of Psalm 17/18, which concludes with a commented reference to Ps. 18/19:11 (cited according to The Shepherd of Hermas). Clement then digresses to the topic of spirits and passions: Ecl. 46: Spirits: passions present in a soul are called spirits, but they are not spirits by nature, as in that case a man affected by a passion would be a legion of demons (Luke 8:30; Mark 5:9), but because of the instigation. When the soul changes and admits more and more types of badness it is said that it took spirits upon itself.

He then suddenly returns to the Apocalypse of Peter, resuming with an explanation of an ‘old man’13 who claims that the embryo is indeed a living creature (Ecl. 50). The digression to spirits (Ecl. 46) is not such a free association, as it may seem within the interpretation of Psalms to the readers of Eclogae. Clement may simply be continuing his exegesis, making a note on Ps. 18/19:13-4, where the psalmist begs to be purified from hidden transgressions and saved from strangers (see also Ecl. 43). Readers of Stromata will recall Clement’s critique of Basilides and his followers, where he speaks of the ‘heterogeneous 36-54, 362-83, 573-83, 374-5. Clement also comments on women seducing men by adorning their hair in Paed. III 11,3. 12 M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 375. Some scholars find probable that Tatian was one of Clement’s teachers mentioned in Strom. I 1,11,1, see e.g. A. van den Hoek, ‘Techniques of Quotation in Clement of Alexandria’ (1996), 232. 13 It is assumed that the old man was Pantaenus, whom Clement only references directly once (Ecl. 56,2). See Ecl. 50,1; Hypot. fr. 22 and 24/III [Adumbr. ad 1John 1:1]; Strom. I 1,11,2.



natures of spirits’ and, in addition, about a ‘host of spirits’ resembling a ‘legion of demons’ referred to in Ecl. 46, in an allusion to Luke 8:30 (Mark 5:9).14 Strom. II 20,112,1-113,2: The adherents of Basilides are in the habit of calling the passions appendages: saying that these are in essence certain spirits attached to the rational soul, through some original perturbation and confusion; and that, again, other bastard and heterogeneous natures of spirits grow on to them, like that of the wolf, the ape, the lion, the goat, whose properties showing themselves around the soul, they say, assimilate the lusts of the soul to the likeness of the animals. For they imitate the actions of those whose properties they bear. And not only are they associated with the impulses and perceptions of the irrational animals, but they affect the motions and the beauties of plants, on account of their bearing also the properties of plants attached to them. They have also the properties of a particular state, as the hardness of steel. But against this dogma we shall argue subsequently, when we treat of the soul. At present this only needs to be pointed out, that man, according to Basilides, preserves the appearance of a wooden horse, according to the poetic myth, embracing as he does in one body a host of such different spirits.

Thus there is a link between Ecl. 38-45, commenting on guilt, judgement, and (purgatory) punishment, and Ecl. 46-7, dedicated to ‘spirits’: the purification of human beings from sins. Similarly, the following chapters 48-9, citing the Apocalypse of Peter, are also notes on purification from guilt and its consequences and deal with certain spiritual beings: Ecl. 40-1:

Apocalypse of Peter, Ethiopic 8:

People are honoured by effluence of good (see Plato, Phaedr. 251b) and exactly by the same way [sc. by effluence of good]15 they are injured. God’s judgement is good: it consists first of differentiating the faithful from the unfaithful (Matt. 25:3146), then of the prejudgement – made, so that people do not fall under the greater judgement – and the educative judgement. The Scripture says that infants exposed by parents are passed on to a tutelary angel (τημελοῦχος ἄγγελος), by whom they are educated/chastised and made to grow up (ὑφ᾿ οὗ παιδεύεσθαί τε καὶ αὔξειν). It says: And they will be like the faithful who live one hundred years in this world (see Wis. 4:8.13). Therefore Peter in the Apocalypse says: And a flash of fire leaps

And near this flame there is a pit, great and very deep, and into it flows from above all manner of torment, foulness, and excrement. And women are swallowed up therein up to their necks and tormented with great pain. These are they who caused their children to be born untimely and have corrupted the work of God who created them. Opposite them shall be another place where their children sit alive and cry to God. And flashes of lightning go forth from those children and pierce the eyes of those who for fornication’s sake have caused their destruction. Other men and women shall stand above them, naked and their children stand opposite them in a place of delight, and

14 See Antonio Orbe, ‘Los “appendices” de Basílides. Un capítulo de filosofía gnóstica’, Gregorianum 57 (1976), 81-107, 251-84; Winrich A. Löhr, Basilides und seine Schule (Tübingen, 1996), 78-100. 15 Stählin adds: … οὕτως καὶ κακοῦνται. This emendation is not justified.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


from those infants and smites the eyes of the women, since the righteous will run about as sparks through the stubble and they judge nations (Wis. 3:7-8).

sign and cry to God because of their parents saying, ‘These are they who despised and cursed and transgressed your commandments and delivered us to death; they have cursed the angel that formed us Ecl. 48-9: and have hanged us up and begrudged us to light which you have given to all Divine Providence does not direct only creatures.’ And the milk of their mothers those in the flesh. For example, Peter in flowing from their breasts shall congeal the Apocalypse says: Aborted infants will and from it shall come beasts devouring 16 receive the better trial (πείρα). They are flesh, which shall come forth and turn and delivered to a tutelary angel (τημελοῦχος torment them forever with their husbands ἄγγελος), so that after they partake of because they forsook the commandments knowledge, they may obtain the better of God and slew their children. As for abode, having suffered what they would their children, they shall be delivered to have suffered had they been in the body. the angel Temlakos. And those who slew The other infants (τὰ ἕτερα) will obtain them shall be tormented eternally, for God only salvation: they have mercy shown to wills it so. them because they were wronged and will continue without chastisement (κόλασις), Apocalypse of Peter, Akhmim 25-6: receiving that as a reward. The milk, which flows from the women’s breasts And I saw the murderers and those who and congeals, says Peter in Apocalypse, were accomplices cast into a gorge full of will engender small carnivorous beasts. evil, creeping things, and smitten by those And these are running back upon the beasts, writhing about in the torment. And women and eat them. By these words upon them were set worms like clouds of [Peter] teaches that the punishments arise darkness. And the souls of those who were as consequences of sins. He says that the murdered stood and looked upon the punishments are produced by sins, as the torment of those murderers and said, ‘O nation was sold because of their sins (see God, righteous is your judgement.’ e.g. Judg. 2:14) and they were bitten by And near the place I saw another gorge snakes because of their distrust in Christ, wherein the discharge and excrement of as the Apostle says (1Cor. 10:9). those who were in torment ran down, and became like a lake there. And women sat there up to their necks in the filth, and over against them many children born out of time sat crying; and from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes; and these were those who conceived out of wedlock and caused abortion.

References to Apocalypse of Peter in Ecl. 41 advocate God’s goodness: God is only good, his judgement is also good, even though this effluence of good may bring painful punishment to humans. This applies to all types of God’s 16 Stählin corrects to μοίρα according to Plato, Phaedr. 248e. C. Nardi, Estratti profetici (1985), 80, returns to the manuscript reading and offers ‘esperienza’.



judgement: educative judgement, concerning the faithful; prejudgement, warning against being condemned for a serious breach of faithfulness; and final judgement, ultimately distinguishing between the faithful and the unfaithful.17 Infants who died immediately after birth, according to Ecl. 41, also need this judgement given by ‘the effluence of good’: education. It is rendered through a tutelary (τημελοῦχος) angel and compensates for the long life in faith they would have lived on earth had they not been murdered. The judgement of their mothers also includes the fact that they are exposed to good: they are hit by the dazzling radiance of the righteous – their children. The second citation (Ecl. 48-9) is specified in a similar context: God’s providence is not limited by the physical death of humans, and no one is excluded. Therefore, as with children who died due to being denied motherly care directly after birth, children who died before birth will also be handed over to the tutelary angel. They will thus experience suffering, which supposedly allows children to ‘participate in knowledge’. Nevertheless, some of the children will not be exposed to the painful trial. While the privilege of avoiding suffering will allow them to continue to live in eternity, they will not participate in knowing God. The punishment of the mothers is a direct consequence of their sin: it is born of milk, which is naturally produced in their bodies in anticipation of childbirth. Both the passages, Ecl. 41 and 48-9 again, similarly to Ecl. 38,2-39, deal with judgement, punishment and suffering. Suffering is in this case caused by the confrontation of humans with good, and the confrontation educates the faithful and condemns the unfaithful. Condemnation is a direct consequence of sin, while education is the work of God, mediated by angels. The quotation from the Apocalypse of Peter is followed by another passage discussing the prenatal period of human life. The reference to an ‘old man’ testifies to the fact that ‘the foetus in the womb is a living creature’ as well as to the claim that a soul, the driving force of conception, is allowed to enter the womb before conception by ‘one of the angels – guardians of generation, who knows the opportunity for conception’. It resembles the statement about abandoned children in the Ethiopic version of Apocalypse of Peter: ‘they have cursed the angel that formed us’. Ecl. 38-50 comprises Clement’s notes on three different types of mediating beings: the first is the power tasked with punishing seducing women (Ecl. 39), the second is the tutelary angel charged with educating children who die before fully entering into earthly life (Ecl. 41 and 48), and the third is the angel who ‘guards generation’ (Ecl. 50,1). In addition, the text mentions spirits who parasitize the human soul (Ecl. 46).

17 For more on types of God’s judgement, see V. Černušková, ‘The Eclogae Propheticae on the Value of Suffering’ (2017), 32-5.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


M.R. James offered an interesting view of Ecl. 38-50 at the beginning of the last century. He believes the passages Ecl. 38,2-41 and 46-50 to be an exegesis of the Wisdom of Solomon (which is explicitly quoted from at the end of Ecl. 41), and the references to the Apocalypse of Peter appear here because the same ideas specified in Apocalypse of Peter are formulated based on this Septuagint book.18 The words about allocated angelic help (Ecl. 41,1; 48,1) would thus be a commentary of Apocalypse of Peter and Eclogae on Wis. 3:18: ‘If [the children of adulterers] die early, they will have no hope nor comfort on the day of decision/judgement’.19 Our observation reveals that in all likelihood Clement had several different scrolls on his desk while writing Ecl. 38-50: first of all several books of Septuagint (esp. Wisdom of Solomon and Psalms), the Apocalypse of Peter, the Gospel of Matthew and the Pauline epistles, or exegetical writings which included references to these texts. As well as this, he was probably reading the Shepherd of Hermas and a text by Basilides or one of his followers. He was also inspired by his teachers when writing, namely Tatian and ‘the old man’ (possibly Pantaenus) and their exegeses of Apocalypse of Peter. He seemed to use all this material to make an outline for a chapter of one of his works discussing how suffering and sin can exist in the world, even though the world was created by one good God, who cares for every person with love and respect. An example was the fate of innocent children who had suffered violence. Delimitation of the references to Apocalypse of Peter in Ecl. 41.48-49 Before attempting to consider the extent to which the interpretation of punishment and suffering, referencing AP, resonates with Clement’s theology, let us first examine the ambiguities, which arise directly from the text of Ecl. 41.48-9 compared to the extant versions of the Apocalypse of Peter. There are quite a few. 1. The extant Ethiopic translation of the Apocalypse of Peter first deals with aborted children, and only then the abandoned ones; the tutelary angel is handed over to the abandoned children, but the angelic care does not explicitly extend to the aborted children. The Eclogae, however, groups the killed children in reverse order and angels care for the aborted as well. 18 See M.R. James’ detailed analysis of the Apocalypse of Peter and Ecl. 38-50 in ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 375-8. 19 M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 377-8. The parallels listed by James are specified in the attached text of Ecl. I have omitted the proposal which James himself considers questionable and which suggests Ecl. 47 corresponded to Wis. 8:5, and the proposed parallel Ecl. 48,1 (μοίρα) / Wis. 1:16, 2:24 (μερίς), which relies on Stählin’s emendation of the Ecl. manuscript.



The double testimony of a tutelary angel in Eclogae did not necessarily contradict the AP. Clement may have interpreted the AP in the sense of an implicit extension of the angel’s care for aborted children. That may also have been the intention of the original author.20 2. Unlike the Ethiopic version, Eclogae replaces the punishments for mothers and does not mention fathers at all. The Ethiopic version seems more logical: lactation-related punishment would be more appropriate for new mothers compared with women who underwent an abortion. Moreover, punishment in the form of the blinding glow of a child (probably the result of a painful memory of the beauty of its innocence) is mentioned in connection with abortion by the Ethiopic translation as well as by the Akhmim fragment. It was therefore probably Clement, who replaced them. The most likely reason was the fact that Clement does not concentrate on the type of punishment and actually refuses to clearly differentiate between killing a child by abortion and by abandonment – in fact, he assigns both the punishments to both the guilts.21 The reason why Clement, unlike the extant versions of the Apocalypse of Peter, fails to mention any punishment for fathers is likely due to Clement’s choice of topic: he seems to focus on the women’s responsibility for conception and the life of the children in Ecl. 38-50 (Ecl. 39; 50.1), leaving the role of men aside for the time being.22 3. Rather startling is the phrase ‘Scripture says’ at the very beginning of Ecl. 41, which is then repeated without the subject when introducing the phrase: ‘And they will be like the believers who live one hundred years in this world’, which is a paraphrase of Wis. 4:8.13. Clement could certainly consider the Apocalypse of Peter an inspired text: the Muratori’s fragment also ranks it among the canonical texts,23 and Methodius of Olympus, speaking later in his Banquet about handing over killed infants to a tutelary angel, similarly adds: ‘As we have received from the writings inspired of God’.24 But why does Clement at one point introduce a reference to the AP with ‘Scripture says’, only to immediately cite it under its title? Why does he


D.D. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened (1988), 26-7. Ibid. 27. 22 The extensive treatise on sexual ethics in Paed. II 10 mentions the responsibility both of women and of men. 23 The author of the fragment does not see any difference between the values of the Apocalypse of Peter and the (canonical) Apocalypse of John. He only adds that some Christians object to its reading during the liturgy. Eusebius also argued in Hist. eccl. VI 14,1 (quoted on p. 1) that the Apocalypse of Peter was a (controversial) book of the Scripture canon. 24 Symp. II 6,45: … τημελούχοις ἀγγέλοις, κἂν ἐκ μοιχείας ὦσιν, τὰ ἀποτικτόμενα παραδίδοσθαι παρειλήφαμεν ἐν θεοπνεύστοις γράμμασι. 21

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


introduce the citation with διὸ καὶ, ‘and this is why’, as if it was a new argument ensuing from the preceding one? Is it possible that he (and Methodius) may not be alluding to the AP, but to another work which also featured a tutelary angel?25 Does Ecl. 41 document the claims about God’s goodness with three texts: a reference to a writing, which is thematically related to the AP and has the authority of the Scripture for Clement, then a citation of the AP, and thirdly a quotation from the Wisdom of Solomon? This seems unlikely: the ‘tutelary (τημελοῦχος) angel’, used equally by Clement and Methodius, is a unique term in the extant literature. It is not documented prior to Clement at all, and only appears in texts dependent on the AP, such as the Apocalypse of Paul.26 The original Greek Apocalypse of Peter undoubtedly contained this term, as the Ethiopic version mentions its truncated transliteration ‘Temlakos’.27 A possible solution to this problem is to consider Ecl. 41 to be Clement’s excerpts from two different, unnamed sources, which would include references to the AP.28 The first source would initially refer to the AP, to which it would ascribe Scriptural authority, and then (probably) cite again the AP by loosely paraphrasing Wis. 4:8.13.29 After that the direct reference to the AP would follow, which could also include the final quotation from the Wisdom of Solomon. 4. The Ethiopic version does not provide any description of angelic care. Ecl. 41,1, in contrast, justifies handing over the child to the angel by saying: ‘By whom they are educated and made to grow up’. 25 This option is considered by D.D. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened (1988), 25-9; without giving a specific reference, M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 369-70, argues that ‘Zahn and others’ consider these words a reference to another, unnamed apocalypse; he himself is convinced, however, that it is a reference to the Apocalypse of Peter. 26 Jan N. Bremmer, ‘The Apocalypse of Peter: Greek or Jewish?’, in id. and István Czachesz (eds), The Apocalypse of Peter, Studies on Early Christian Apocrypha 7 (Leuven, 2003), 9. 27 The translator obviously did not understand the obscure Greek word τημελοῦχος and interpreted it as a proper name. The origin of this Greek word has not been clarified sufficiently. The connection with the Poseidon epithet θεμελιοῦχος was one of the explanations considered, but this epithet had been used rarely and in Attica and Delos only, and therefore this connection is highly unlikely, as argued by J.N. Bremmer, ‘The Apocalypse of Peter’ (2003), 9; see also Martha Himmelfarb, Tours of Hell. An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature (Philadelphia, 1983), 101-3. 28 M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 370 holds that ‘nothing can surely be clearer than that §2 is a separate excerpt; by no possibility can διό be connected with §1’ (James believed, however, that Ecl. are excerpts from Clement’s work: according to his conviction, the excerptor had copied all of Clement’s references to the Apocalypse of Peter which he noticed). 29 M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 371, was convinced that the original Apocalypse of Peter included this paraphrase of Wis. 4:8.13; see also Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas, Der Petrusevangelium und die Petrusapokalypse. Die griechischen Fragmente mit deutscher und englischer Übersetzung (Berlin, New York, 2004), 90.



Punishment was integral to the contemporary approach to a child’s education. The note on the angel’s supervision of the upbringing of a deceased infant could therefore include the notion of reprimand and punishment in Ecl. 41,1. It could be at least one of the possible messages of the original AP. This interpretation is further encouraged by the function fulfilled by the ‘tutelary’ angel in the Apocalypse of Paul (at least in its extant, secondary Greek version dating to the fourth/fifth century) and in the apocryphal Apocalypse of John: sinful souls are handed over to the ‘tutelary’ angel after death for punishment.30 Methodius says, in contrast, that ‘the Scriptures inspired of God’ (the AP probably) claim that a child is handed over to the tutelary angel ‘in order to be nurtured, rested, and soothed’.31 Methodius’ reading appears much more natural for the AP, which highlights punishment for the bad and rewards for the innocent. 5. It is difficult to identify references to the AP in Ecl. 48. The AP editions all agree that the reference to handing over children to a tutelary angel is probably the quotation: ‘Aborted infants will receive a better trial. They are delivered to a tutelary angel’. The rest of the sentence is not considered a reference to the original text.32 Nevertheless, both modern editions of Clement’s Eclogae believe the reference continues with the passage justifying the angelic care for deceased children: ‘So that after [the infants] partake of knowledge, they may obtain a better abode, having suffered what they would have suffered had they been in the body’.33 The choice of the Eclogae editors can hardly be regarded as justified. The topic of participation in knowledge is not entirely congruent with the AP text, but it is often mentioned in Clement’s Stromata (see also Ecl. 42) in the discussions with Gnostic sects. In all likelihood, this is an additional commentary on the quote from the AP, or perhaps a very loose interpretation of the reference of the AP to Wis. 4:8.16, cited in Ecl. 41: ‘And they will be like the believers who live one hundred years in this world’,34 in the sense of: they will have similar knowledge. Another idea derived from the cited original could be reflected in the words about a better abode (see e.g. the Ethiopic version of the AP 6,4). 30 See Konstantin von Tischendorf, Apocalypses apocryphae Mosis, Esdrae, Pauli, Johannis, item Mariae Dormitio: additis Evangeliorum et actuum Apocryphorum supplementis (Leipzig, 1866), 46 and 94. 31 Methodius, Symp. II 46: τραφησόμενα μετὰ πολλῆς ἀναπαυσέως καὶ ῥᾳστώνης. 32 M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 372; D.D. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened (1988), 23-4; R. Bauckham, ‘The Apocalypse of Peter’ (1988), 256; Attila Jakab, ‘The Reception of the Apocalypse of Peter in Ancient Christianity’, in J.N. Bremmer and I. Czachesz, The Apocalypse of Peter (2003), 176. 33 C. Nardi, Estratti profetici (1985), 80, and Stählin, GCS 17 (1909, 1970), 150, place the quotation marks behind … ἐν σώματι γενόμενα (‘… had they been in the body’). 34 M.R. James is convinced of it, see his ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 371.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


6. The odd statement about ‘the other’ infants (τὰ ἕτερα) in Ecl. 48,2 is particularly perplexing. What group of children are these supposed to be? One possibility is to understand these words as a return to the AP quotation in Ecl. 41 discussing abandoned children: aborted infants would be entrusted to the tutelary angel, while the others, infants naturally born and abandoned, would not receive the angelic education.35 According to the Ethiopic translation, it seems that the fate of aborted and abandoned children was compared to the fate of their punished parents in the Apocalypse of Peter, instead of a comparison made between the fates of two groups of deceased children. The distinction between the various degrees of salvation for the two groups of the innocent also appears too subtle for the materialistic imagery of the AP.36 In addition, as both the Ethiopic version of the AP and Methodius37 discuss a tutelary angel in the context of abandoned children, it is highly unlikely that the original AP and/or the text of Ecl. 48 did not relate the angelic care to them. The first group of children in Ecl. 48 can also, however, be understood simply as those deceased children who ‘will receive the better trial/experience’ (τὰ τῆς ἀμείνονος ἐσόμενα πείρας), and the phrase interpreted as: ‘Those of aborted infants who will receive the better trial/experience are delivered to the tutelary angel’.38 Here would be the end of the quotation from AP; the term ‘better experience’ would then refer to the comparison with the fate of parents in the original text, while in Ecl. it would refer to the comparison with ‘the other infants’ who (for some reason) are not chosen for suffering and knowledge. The ambiguous πείρα would then be used in the original AP in the meaning of ‘experience’ while in Ecl. 48 it would mean ‘a trial’ and be associated with suffering. The interpretation of the ‘better trial’, angelic education, could be a similar case. As indicated above in connection with Ecl. 41,1, readers could associate ‘education’ with punishment, but the notion of cruelly killed children suffering even further does not fit into the context of the AP. It is more likely the original text spoke of – in allusion to Wis. 2:22 – the pardoning of children and the privileges they received for their innocent suffering, as written in Ecl. 48,2. The phrase ‘having suffered what they would have suffered had they been in the body’, could then be, once again, a reviewed interpretation of the AP reference 35 C. Nardi, Estratti profetici (1985), 131, believes that τὰ ἕτερα are children killed only after having been born, who ‘are saved through a baptism of blood’. M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 372, holds that this is a flawed interpretation. 36 Ibid. 372. 37 C. Detlef and G. Müller, ‘Offenbarung des Petrus’ (1987), 565, interpret the unusual term τὰ ἀποτικτόμενα used by Methodius as ‘die zur (Früh-)geburt gebrachten Kinder’. The context of The Banquet clearly suggests, however, that this is not an abortion but abandonment (ἐκτίθημι) of an infant. It says the following about parents: οὗτοι δὲ ἡμᾶς εἰς θάνατον ἐξέθεντο (Symp. 46). See the use of this phrase e.g. in Plato’s Theaetetus 150c and 182b. 38 This is proposed by M.R. James, ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 372.



to Wis. 4:8.16, quoted in Ecl. 41: ‘And they will be like the believers who live one hundred years in this world’. The phrase starting with ‘so that after they partake of knowledge…’ in Ecl. 48 is then clearly not a quotation of the AP. Although it may include allusions to its text, the words about ‘those other children’ who will avoid punishment only to be saved but denied the partaking in the knowledge of God, and about the suffering that the first group of children needs to undergo under the angel’s guidance, are an explanatory amendment, which is not mentioned in the AP. 7. The reference to the AP in Ecl. 49 is also rather equivocal. The description of the animal attack, explicitly quoted in Ecl. 49,1 from the Apocalypse of Peter, probably reflects Wis. 11:15.18 and 16:1.39 Concerning the supplemented ‘by these words Peter teaches that the punishments arise as consequences of sins’, Buchholz assumes that it is another reference to the Apocalypse of Peter as its Ethiopic version contains several similar statements.40 This could be, once again, an allusion to the Apocalypse of Peter, inspired by Wis. 11:16 (or 12:23).41 Wis. 11:15-6: You sent on them a multitude of irrational creatures to take vengeance in order that they might learn that a person is punished by the very things by which the person sins.

Similarly the principal basis for the Ecl. 49,2 phrase containing references to the Book of Judges and the First Epistle to the Corinthians (‘the punishments are produced by the sins, as the nation was sold because of their sins and they were bitten by their distrust in Christ, as the Apostle says’) is, according to James’s hypothesis, Wis. 16:5: ‘They were perishing through the bites of twisted snakes’.42 It is not entirely clear whether the idea was part of the AP or an exegetic addition. Did Clement agree with the content of the notes Ecl. 41.48-9? The question remains to what extent Clement himself agreed with the views expressed. Could some of the additions to the AP quotations and allusions be Clement’s own or did Clement adopt them all from the exegetic tradition, as is clearly the case with Ecl. 38-9? An attempt follows below to shed light on this ambiguity by comparing Ecl. 41.48-9 with Clement’s theology as we know it from Stromata, Paedagogus, and other extant works. 39

Ibid. 378. D.D. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened (1988), 27, specifies the following passages of the Apocalypse of Peter Ethiopic version: 1,8; 6,3.6; 13,3.6. 41 As indirectly implicated by James’s hypothesis, see his ‘A New Text of the Apocalypse of Peter’ (1911), 378. 42 Ibid. 40

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


1. According to Ecl. 41, children who die after birth grow into the justice and wisdom of full years thanks to angelic care so that they can become shining judges of their mothers who killed them by denying their care. In his Stromata, when Clement describes the approach of the righteous to those who try to kill them, he first of all mentions pleading with God for forgiveness for the aggressors. Indeed, according to Clement, the righteous will be judges after death, but not of their human enemies, but of fallen angels! Strom. VII 14,85,2-4: For God makes His sun to shine on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45) and sent the Lord Himself to the just and the unjust. And the person who earnestly strives to be assimilated to God, in the exercise of great absence of resentment, forgives seventy times seven times […] and shows clemency to each, even to a person who during the whole time of his life in the flesh do the Gnostic wrong. For the Apostle not only deems it right that the good man should resign his judgement to others, when somebody has done him wrong; but also wishes that the righteous man should ask of those judges forgiveness for the offenses of those who have done him wrong. And with reason, if indeed it is only in that which is external and concerns the body, though it go to the extent of death even, that those who attempt to wrong him take advantage of him; none of which truly belong to the Gnostic. And how shall one judge the apostate angels, who has become himself an apostate from that forgetfulness of injuries, which is according to the Gospel?43

Clement undoubtedly embraced the idea of the effluence of good and justice, which causes suffering upon those in darkness. ‘The mirror is not evil to an ugly man’, says Clement in The Paedagogus.44 Yet the notes listed in Ecl. 41,2 do not match Clement’s theology; Clement would most likely have hidden the Apocalypse of Peter proposition of children participating in punishing their mothers even more in the final work than was the case in Eclogae. We can only speculate whether the passage above from Stromata VII 14,85 had not been written based on the excerpt preserved as Ecl. 41. 2. Ecl. 48, and perhaps also 41,1 suggest that children killed before they could have a full life on earth have to go through a painful education – they have to be subjected to punishment to gain participation in knowledge. Book Seven of Stromata also speaks about God’s punishing education mediated by angels – and about prejudgement and final judgement; the formulation substantially matches Clement’s notes in Ecl. 40-1,1: Strom. VII 2,12,2-3.5: For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. … The necessary didactic measures (παιδεύσεις) arising from the goodness of the caring Judge force

43 44

See also Strom. VII 12,74,5-6. Paed. I 9,88,1.



those who have become too hardened to repent by means of personal angels (διὰ τῶν προσεχῶν ἀγγέλων), various prejudgements and the final judgement.45

Yes, Clement holds that God’s disciplinary punishment is part of the life of a Christian: in his opinion, believers are purified from sin by being painfully confronted with their sins. They view their own reality, and this is the punishment for the sin and a lesson discouraging them from the sin in the future. Punishment, according to Clement, allows believers to know their sin and thus purifies them from it, helps them mature, and makes them (in line with Jesus’ statement in Matt. 5:8 saying that the pure in heart shall see God) participate in the knowledge of God.46 Ecl. 48,1, nonetheless, is not about a purifying punishment for sins committed – in this case, punitive education is applied to innocent children. Did Clement mean to say that they are punished by the angel for a hypothetical sin they would have committed anyway had they lived long enough? Or is this a sin committed in a past incarnation? Clement rejects the teachings about reincarnation many times in Stromata, and the Eclogae itself includes dissenting comments on this topic.47 The vague notion in Ecl. 48 also contradicts Clement’s comments on the absurdity of Basilides’ interpretation of the suffering of infants as a punishment for connate and/or potential sin.48 Clement deems Basilides’ explanation of the question of the suffering of the innocent (based also on Basilides’ belief in reincarnation, according to Clement) as the deification of the devil and impiety.49 Strom. IV 12,81,1; 82,1; 85,1: Basilides, in the twenty-third book of the Exegetics, respecting those that are punished by martyrdom, expresses himself in the following language: ‘… As, then, the child which has not sinned before, or better to say which has not committed actual sin, but has the sin in itself, when subjected to suffering, gets good, reaping the advantage of many difficulties; so also, although a perfect man may not have sinned in act, while he endures afflictions, he suffers similarly with the child. Having within him the sinful principle, but not embracing the opportunity of committing sin, he does not sin; so that he is not to be reckoned as not having sinned. … If I see the man without sin, whom I specify, suffering, though he have done nothing bad, I should call him bad, on account of his wishing to sin. For I will affirm anything rather than call Providence evil.’ … How impious, in deifying the devil, and in daring to call the Lord a sinful man! 45 It is interesting that according to Strom. VII final judgement should also lead to repentance. Clement may be covertly opposing here the Apocalypse of Peter, which warns the punished that it is too late to repent, see Ethiopic version 13. 46 See e.g. Paed. I 8,64-6 or Strom. VII 10,56,3. 47 See Ecl. 17,1-2; Strom. III 3,13,3; IV 12,85,3; VII 6,32,8. 48 See Pierre Nautin, ‘Les Fragments de Basilide sur la souffrance et leur interprétation par Clément d’Alexandrie et Origène’, in Mélanges d’histoire des religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech (Paris, 1974), 393-403, 396-7. 49 The connection between Ecl. 48 and Clement’s reasoning against Basilides in Strom. IV is highlighted by C. Nardi, Estratti Profetici (1985), 106-7; id., Il battesimo in Clemente Alessandrino (Roma, 1984), 92-4.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


3. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that Clement does link the posthumous disciplinary punishment and the punitive angels with angelic care for the youngest and also with knowing and seeing God in Stromata. Yet it does not mention at all that the participation of these ‘little ones’ in the visio beatifica of their angels is conditioned by suffering. Clement cites Plato’s description of posthumous punishment in The Constitution, and immediately after that he speaks about the angels of the little ones who see God (Matt. 18:10) and about the oversight of the guardian angels (ἄγγελοι οἱ ἐφεστῶτες): Strom. V 14,90,6-91,1.3: For the fiery men are meant [by Plato] to signify the angels, who seize and punish the wicked. Who makes, it is said, spirits his angels; flaming fire his ministers (Ps. 103/104:4). It follows from this that the soul is immortal. For what is tortured or corrected being in a state of sensation lives, though said to suffer. … But indicating the angels as the Scripture says, of the little ones, and of the least, which see God (Matt. 18:10), and also the oversight reaching to us exercised by the tutelary angels (ἄγγελοι οἱ ἐφεστῶτες, see Zech. 1:11), he shrinks not from writing, ‘That when all the souls have selected their several lives, according as it has fallen to their lot, they advance in order to Lachesis; and she sends along with each one, as his guide in life, and the joint accomplisher of his purposes, the demon which he has chosen’. (Resp. X,620d-e) Perhaps also the demon of Socrates suggested to him something similar.

Based on the TLG digital database, the phrase ἄγγελοι οἱ ἐφεστῶτες, the guardian angels (lit. standing near), is found only in Clement’s work apart from Zech. 1:11: according to Strom. V 14,91,3 guardian angels take care of people (in an unspecified way); Strom. IV 18,116,2 speaks of ‘angels guarding the way up’, i.e. the ascent of the soul to God (οἱ ἐφεστῶτες τῇ ἀνόδῳ ἄγγελοι); Ecl. 55,1 says these angels-guardians are in charge of the stars, or spiritual bodies related to them; and Ecl. 50,1 refers to the statement of an old man about ‘angels – guardians of generation’ (οἱ τῇ γενέσει ἐφεστῶτες ἄγγελοι).50 As indicated earlier, the last formulation is reminiscent of children in the Apocalypse of Peter saying that while abandoning them, their parents cursed the angel who had created them. Could the aforementioned words of ‘the elder’ be referring to the original Greek Apocalypse of Peter, which contained the phrase οἱ τῇ γενέσει ἐφεστῶτες ἄγγελοι? If they are, Clement clearly records them and their exegesis approvingly. They could possibly be reflected in the abovementioned phrases in Books Four and Five of Stromata (Strom. IV 18,116,2; V 14,91,3). 4. Clement’s theology is entirely incompatible, however, with dividing innocent, deceased children into two groups, the first in which children ‘will receive the better trial’, involving undergoing their share of suffering with the help of a tutelary angel in order to earn a higher degree of salvation: knowledge; and 50 Exc. 70,1: ‘Through the fixed stars and the planets, the invisible powers holding sway over them direct and watch over births.’ (trans. Robert P. Casey).



the other, where children avoid their ‘deserved’ punishment by dying prematurely, in which case they are ‘only saved’ and denied the knowledge of God. Stromata also deals with two levels of salvation:51 the first is the fullness of salvation, meaning knowledge – visio beatifica of those who opt to fully embrace the gospel and choose God for God alone, and the other is salvation as a mere preservation of life after physical death, which is promised to all faithful. Yet this view of a double salvation in Ecl. 48,2 is in sharp contrast to the theology of Stromata, as the work argues that each individual is called for both faith/faithfulness and knowledge.52 Above all: knowledge of God depends, in keeping with Stromata, on the free will of each person and not on the extent of their suffering. The annotated Apocalypse of Peter quotation in Ecl. 48 then appears to be an excerpt from a work (or a record of an oral report) by an unknown author, noted by Clement in order to be critically reviewed. 5. The Apocalypse of Peter quotation in Ecl 49 is a completely different matter. Here it largely corresponds with Clement’s concept: Clement often draws attention to the fact that the punishment imposed on a sinner is the direct consequence of the sinner’s sin. God is not responsible for the sinner’s suffering (see Ecl. 41). The only aspect not in line with Clement’s approach is the cruelty of the scene depicted. If the (annotated) reference to the Apocalypse of Peter in Ecl. 49 is indeed a continuation of the previous excerpt from an unnamed author, and not Clement’s own reference to the Apocalypse of Peter, it is an excerpt, which Clement would probably have elaborated on, approvingly in the final text. Conclusion References to the Apocalypse of Peter in Eclogae Propheticae are anything but clearly delimited. The references are among notes on judgement, punishment, cleansing of sin and its consequences, and on spirit beings beneficial or detrimental to humans. They are based particularly on the exegesis of selected verses of Psalms 17/18 and 18/19 and the Wisdom of Solomon. 51 Strom. VI 14,111,3: ὀρθῶς καὶ δεόντως σῷζειν, which Spanneut translates as ‘le salut correct et normal’, see Michel Spanneut, ‘L’apatheia chrétienne aux quatre premiers siècles’, POC 52 (2002), 246-61, 250. See also Strom. VI 14,109,2. Influenced by Spanneut, Osborn uses ‘normal salvation’ to refer to the entirety of salvation in Clement’s teachings; see his Clement (2005), 239. For more on the connection between disciplinary punishment and the two levels of salvation, see esp. Strom. VI 14,109,2-3; VII 10,56,3-4. See also Strom. VI 14,111,3. 52 Clement emphasizes in Strom. VI 6 the importance of the descent of Christ (and apostles!) into the underworld so that people who could not have known about Christ on earth were not deprived of the knowledge of Him and His Gospel.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


If our preliminary hypothesis is justified and Eclogae is indeed a collection of excerpts from writings or memories of oral presentations given by authorities, which Clement noted down as the sources for his upcoming work or works, the fragments of the Apocalypse of Peter are then mostly part of Clement’s excerpts he planned to process after critically reviewing them. The resulting treatise would deal with teodicea: Clement intended to defend God’s goodness and sovereignty, as well as human freedom and responsibility despite the reality of moral and physical evil. It seems that he was determined to contend the teachings of the Basilidians, who overestimated the power of evil spirits over humans; the view that suffering was a necessary and somewhat automatic prerequisite for knowing God; and the underestimation of the Gospel emphasis on divine and human forgiveness. Using the words of the Apocalypse of Peter about the angelic education of deceased infants (Ecl. 41,1; 48,1) Clement contrived to discreetly revise the following sentence from the Wisdom of Solomon: ‘If [the children of adulterers] die early, they will have no hope nor comfort on the day of decision/judgement’. (Wis. 3:18) God’s judgement is good (Ecl. 40), and his providence rules over them as well (Ecl. 48,1). He also planned to appeal to the sexual ethics of women and defend respect for the life of the unborn and newborn children on the basis of the exegesis of the Apocalypse of Peter. It is also possible, however, that the excerpts preserved as Ecl. 38-50 were never meant to serve as the basis for a systematic explanation, but that Clement made them to distribute these ideas in his Stromata, which he clearly declares at the beginning to be nothing but a collection of memories of the words of his teachers and objections to the teachings of sectarians.53 Strom. II 20,110 could have therefore been inspired by Ecl. 24, Strom. VII 2,12 by Ecl. 40-1,1, Strom. II 20,112-3 or/and VI 12,98,1-2 by Ecl. 46,2, and Strom. V 14,90,6-91,1.3 by Ecl. 50,1. This hypothesis requires further investigation.*


Strom. I 1,11-8. * This article is a result of the research funded by the Czech Science Foundation as the project GA ČR 18-09922S “Biblical Exegesis of the Other Clement of Alexandria”.



APPENDIX: THE TEXT OF ECL. 38-50 WITH HIGHLIGHTED REFERENCES TO THE APOCALYPSE OF PETER Underlined passages more or less likely refer to the Apocalypse of Peter: passages in bold are those about which there is no doubt in this regard, while regular and underlined text mark probable allusions, and dashed underlines indicate other possible references. Italics denote Scripture quotes. Parallels with Stromata and other works of Clement may indicate a simple content match, but they may also be the resulting texts based on the notes collected in Eclogae. 38 1 Πρὸς δὲ Τατιανὸν λέγοντα εὐκτικὸν εἶναι τὸ γενηθήτω φῶς (Gen. 1:3) λεκτέον∙ εἰ τοίνυν εὐχόμενος ᾔδει τὸν ὑπερκείμενον θεόν, πῶς λέγει ἐγὼ θεὸς καὶ πλὴν ἐμοῦ ἄλλος οὐδείς (Exod. 20:2-3); 2 Εἶπε μὲν ὡς κολάσεις εἰσὶ βλασφημιῶν, φλυαρίας, ἀκολάστων ῥημάτων, λόγῳ κολαζομένων καὶ παιδευομένων (Wis. 1:6.11). 39 Ἔφασκεν δὲ καὶ διὰ τὰς τρίχας κολάζεσθαι καὶ τὸν κόσμον τὰς γυναῖκας ὑπὸ δυνάμεως τῆς ἐπὶ τούτοις τεταγμένης, ἣ καὶ τῷ Σαμψὼν δυνάμιν παρεῖχε ταῖς θριξίν (Judg. 16:17), ἥτις κολάζει τὰς διὰ κόσμου τριχῶν ἐπὶ πορνείαν ὁρμώσας (Tatian, fr. 7 Whittaker). 40 Καθάπερ ἀγαθοῦ ἀπορροίᾳ ἀγαθύνονται (Plato, Phaedr. 251b; Wis. 7:25), οὕτως καὶ κακοῦνται (Wis. 1:6).54 καλὴ ἡ κρίσις τοῦ θεοῦ, ἥ τε διάκρισις ἡ τῶν πιστῶν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπίστων (Matt. 25:31-46), ἥ τε πρόκρισις ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ μείζονι περιπεσεῖν κρίσει, ἥ τε κρίσις παίδευσις οὖσα (Strom. VII 2,12,5; Hypot. fr. 19). 41 1 Ἡ γραφή φησι τὰ βρέφη τὰ ἐκτεθέντα τημελούχῳ παραδίδοσθαι ἀγγέλῳ, ὑφ᾿ οὑ παιδεύεσθαί τε καὶ αὔξειν (Wis. 3:18). καὶ ἔσονται, φησιν, ὡς οἱ ἑκατὸν ἐτῶν ἐνταῦθα πιστοί (Wis. 4:8.13). 2 διὸ καὶ Πέτρος ἐν τῇ Ἀποκαλύψει φησί∙ καὶ ἀστραπὴ πυρὸς πηδῶσα ἀπὸ τῶν βρεφῶν ἐκείνων καὶ πλήσσουσα τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῶν γυναικῶν. 3 ἐπεὶ ὁ δίκαιος ὡς σπινθὴρ διὰ καλάμης ἐκλάμπει καὶ κρίνει ἔθνη (Wis. 3:7-8). 42 Μετὰ ὁσίου ὁσιωθήσῃ (Ps. 17:26). κατὰ αἶνον ὁσίων δεδόξασται τὸ ὄνομά σου, κατ᾿ ἐπίγνωσιν ἡμῶν, δοξαζομένου τοῦ θεοῦ κατά τε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν κατά τε τὴν κληρονομίαν (Strom. IV 23,148,1). οὕτω καὶ τὸ ζῇ κύριος (Ps. 17:47a) καὶ τὸ ἀνέστη κύριος (Ps. 17:47b). 43 1 Λαὸς, ὃν οὐκ ἔγνων, ἐδούλευσέν μοι∙ (Ps. 17:44) κατὰ διαθήκην οὐκ ἔγνων. 2 υἱοὶ ἀλλότριοι (Ps. 17:45) ∙ τὰ τοῦ ἄλλου ἐζηλωκότες (Ps. 18:13-4). 44 Μεγαλύνων τὰς σωτηρίας τοῦ βασιλέως αὐτοῦ (Ps. 17:51). βασιλεῖς πάντες λέγονται οἱ πιστοί, εἰς βασιλείαν κατὰ κληρονομίαν τε (Strom. II 4,18,3). 45 Ἡ μακροθυμία γλυκύτης ἐστὶν ὑπὲρ τὸ μέλι (Ps. 18:11 in: Herm. Mand. V 1,6), οὐχ ὅτι ἐστὶ μακροθυμία, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καρπὸν τῆς μακροθυμίας, ἐπεὶ οὐδὲ ὁ ἐγκρατής ἐστιν ἀπαθής, κρατῶν οὐκ ἀπόνως τῶν παθῶν∙ ὅταν δὲ ἕξις γένηται, οὐκέτι ἐγκρατής, ἐν μιᾷ ἕξει (Strom. IV 22,138,1; VII 7,46,6) τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι (Wis. 7:22-3) γενομένου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 54

Stählin adds: … οὕτως καὶ κακοῦνται.

References to the Apocalypse of Peter in the Eclogae Propheticae


46 1 Πνεύματα (Wis. 7:23; Ps. 18:13-4)∙ λέγεται τὰ πάθη τὰ ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ οὐκ ἐξ οὐσίας πνεύματα, ἐπεὶ ἔσται ἐμπαθὴς ἄνθρωπος λεγεὼν δαιμόνων (Luke 8:30; Mark 5:9), ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν προτροπήν. 2 ἡ γὰρ αὐτὴ ψυχὴ κατὰ μεταβολὰς ἄλλας καὶ ἄλλας ποιότητας κακίας ἀναδεχομένη πνεύματα λέγεται ἀνειληφέναι (Strom. II 20,112-3; VI 12,98). 47 Ὁ λόγος τῆς κτήσεως ἀφίστασθαι οὐ κελεύει, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπροσπαθῶς διοικεῖν τὴν κτῆσιν (Strom. IV 10,77,3 etc.), ἐπισυμβάντος δέ τινος μὴ ἀγανακτεῖν μηδὲ λυπεῖσθαι μηδὲ ἐπιθυμεῖν κτήσασθαι∙ τῆς ἐν πάθει γὰρ κτήσεως ἀφίστασθαι κελεύει καὶ πάσης προσπαθείας (Quis div., passim). 48 1 Ἡ θεία πρόνοια οὐ καταστρέφει ἐπὶ μόνους τοὺς ἐν σαρκί (Wis. 6:7), αὐτίκα ὁ Πέτρος ἐν τῇ Ἀποκαλύψει φησὶν τὰ βρέφη ἐξαμβλωθέντα τῆς ἀμείνονος ἐσόμενα πείρας,55 ταῦτα ἀγγέλῳ τημελούχῳ παραδίδοσθαι (Wis. 3:18; Strom. V 14,91,3), ἵνα γνώσεως μεταλαβόντα τῆς ἀμείνονος τύχῃ μονῆς, παθόντα ἃ ἂν ἔπαθεν καὶ ἐν σώματι γενόμενα. 2 τὰ δ᾿ ἕτερα μόνης τῆς σωτηρίας τεύξεται, ὡς ἠδικημένα ἐλεηθέντα, καὶ μενεῖ ἄνευ κολάσεως, τοῦτο γέρας λαβόντα (Wis. 2:22). 49 1 Τὸ δὲ γάλα τῶν γυναικῶν, ῥέον ἀπὸ τῶν μαστῶν καὶ πηγνύμενον φησὶν ὁ Πέτρος ἐν τῇ Ἀποκαλύψει, γεννήσει θηρία λεπτὰ σαρκοφάγα καὶ ἀνατρέχοντα εἰς αὐτὰς κατέσθιει (Wis. 11:15.18; 16:1), διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας γίνεσθαι τὰς κολάσεις διδάσκων. 2 ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν γεννᾶσθαι αὐτάς φησιν, ὡς διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἐπράθη ὁ λαός (Judg. 2:14 etc.), καὶ διὰ τὴν εἰς Χριστὸν ἀπιστίαν, ὥς φησιν ὁ ἀπόστολος, ὑπὸ τῶν ὄφεων ἐδάκνοντο (1Cor. 10:9; Wis. 16:5). 50 1 Ἔλεγεν πρεσβύτης ζῷον εἶναι τό κατὰ γαστρός (Wis. 7:1-2)∙ εἰσιοῦσαν γὰρ τὴν ψυχὴν εἰς τὴν μήτραν ἀπὸ τῆς καθάρσεως ηὐτρεπισμένην εἰς σύλληψιν καὶ εἰσκριθεῖσαν ὑπό τινος τῶν τῇ γενέσει ἐφεστώτων ἀγγέλων (Strom. V 14,91,3; IV 18,116,2; Exc. 70,1) προγινώσκοντος τὸν καιρὸν τῆς συλλήψεως κινεῖν πρὸς συνουσίαν τὴν γυναῖκα, καταβληθέντος δὲ τοῦ σπέρματος ὡς εἰπεῖν ἐξοικειοῦσθαι τὸ ἐν τῷ σπέρματι πνεῦμα καὶ οὕτῶς συλλαμβάνεσθαι τῇ πλάσει (Wis. 8:19). μαρτύριον ὠνόμασεν πᾶσιν. 2 καὶ ὁπηνίκα ἂν εὐαγγελίζωνται οἱ ἄγγελοι τὰς στείρας (Gen. 18:10; Judg. 13:3; Luke 1:13), οἷον προεισκρίνουσι τῆς συλλήψεως τὰς ψυχάς∙ καὶ ἐν αγγελίῳ τὸ βρέφος ἐσκίρτησεν (Luke 1:41) ὡς ἔμψυχον. 3 καὶ αἱ στεῖραι διὰ τοῦτό εἰσι στεῖραι, ὡς ἂν μὴ εἰσκρινομένης τῆς ψυχῆς τὴν τοῦ σπέρματος καταβολὴν συναγούσης εἰς κατοχὴν συλλήψεως καὶ γεννήσεως.


Stählin corrects to μοίρας according to Plato, Phaedr. 248e.

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation and Some Comparisons with Philo Sami YLI-KARJANMAA, University of Helsinki, Finland

ABSTRACT The balance of evidence available supports the conclusion that Clement of Alexandria endorsed the doctrine of reincarnation. He nowhere criticizes the tenet. Instead, he presents an undeniably positive evaluation of the doctrine. He quotes, without criticism, from within (and from passages close to) Plato’s accounts of reincarnation, and he employs Plato’s reincarnational language. In some passages, Clement probably on purpose gives the impression that he denounces the idea of reincarnation (or the pre-existence of the soul). However, reading him closely reveals other notions as the targets of his criticism. Reincarnation is in harmony with Clement’s views of anthropology, ethics, God’s punishments and salvation. There are significant points of contact with Philo’s reincarnational thought. The lack of an explicit statement on the doctrine by Clement should be seen against the background that it is more plausible to assume he hid an approving rather than a rejecting stance.

1. Introduction The goal of this essay is to present in a condensed form some of the major results of my research project on Clement of Alexandria’s position on the doctrine of reincarnation.1 Simultaenously to writing this article I am also writing a monograph on the subject. Although that work is not yet completed, the overall picture has already emerged clear: the available evidence is much better accounted for by assuming Clement endorsed reincarnation than by supposing he did not. The background of the project on Clement lies to a noteworthy degree in my findings on Philo of Alexandria’s stance on reincarnation.2 I found that stance to be one of endorsement, although the tenet is not something on which Philo 1 I gratefully acknowledge that the three-year project was funded by the Academy of Finland (decision nr. 294528 29.04.2016). I also thank the participants of the workshop on Clement at the 18th International Conference of Patristic Studies, held in Oxford in August 2019 – Ilaria Ramelli and Jonathan Young in particular – for their useful comments on the version of this paper prepared for the Conference. 2 For a revised and shortened version of my doctoral thesis on the subject, see Sami YliKarjanmaa, Reincarnation in Philo of Alexandria, Studia Philonica Monographs 7 (Atlanta, 2015).

Studia Patristica CX, 75-89. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



wanted to write often and openly. In printed literature, Philo has been considered a supporter of the doctrine since the 1570s.3 I would call this the traditional view, questioned only in the 20th century, when scholars even began to speak of Philo’s ‘rejection’ of reincarnation.4 In the end, of all the references to the question in scholarly literature, I found Zeller’s to be the most accurate one: ‘Only after the separation from the body do those souls that have kept themselves free from dependence on the body again attain the undisturbed enjoyment of their higher life. On these grounds, only the nous, without the lower powers of the soul, participates in this life. As seldom as he speaks of it, for the other souls Philo posits the prospect of the transmigration of the soul, which was the necessary consequence of his premises.’5 Philo’s locus classicus on reincarnation is Somn. 1.138-9 where he speaks of souls who are ‘lovers of the body (φιλοσώματοι) [and] descending to be fast bound in mortal bodies’.6 After being separated from the body at death, such souls, ‘longing for the familiar and accustomed ways of mortal life, hurry back again’ (παλινδρομοῦσιν αὖθις). The key driving force of reincarnation in Philo is the souls’ love for the corporeal in general and the body in particular; in the main, his view is very Platonic. The major differences from Plato are three: (1) being born as an animal is not an option, since, according to Philo, animals lack the νοῦς – the real human being in his view; (2) the role of God’s grace in salvation is more pronounced in Philo’s synergistic soteriology; (3) the doctrine is more esoteric; although Plato placed most of his discussions of reincarnation in the mythical parts of his dialogues – the Phaedo being the most important exception – he, nevertheless, put it in plain sight. Why investigate the same issue in Clement? There are some very good a priori reasons, which, it has to be emphasized, do not answer the question of what his position actually was. These reasons can be enumerated, e.g., as follows: (1) Clement’s Platonist orientation, which he probably held prior to becoming a Christian and which (in that case at least, and originally) very likely included a belief in reincarnation; (2) his appropriation and appreciation of Pythagorean and Philonic ideas; (3) the lack of an explicit statement concerning his own personal stance; (4) Clement’s avowed esotericism in the 3 Azariah ben Moses de’ Rossi, The Light of the Eyes: Translated from the Hebrew with an Introduction and Annotations by Joanna Weinberg, Yale Judaica Series 31 (New Haven, 2001), 113. De’ Rossi’s work (Me’or Enayim in Hebrew) was originally published in Mantua in 1573-5). 4 See S. Yli-Karjanmaa, Reincarnation in Philo (2015), 15-29. 5 Eduard Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung, 6th ed. (Hildesheim, 1963), 3.2.446, originally published during 1844-1852. My translation for ‘Erst nach der Trennung vom Leibe gelangen diejenigen Seelen, welche sich von der Anhänglichkeit an denselben frei erhalten haben, wieder zum ungestörten Genuss ihres höheren Lebens, an dem aus diesem Grunde nur der Nus, ohne die niederen Seelenkräfte, theilnimmt; den übrigen stellt Philo, so selten er auch davon redet, die Seelenwanderung in Aussicht, welche seine Voraussetzungen forderten.’ 6 Translations from Philo are those in Loeb Classical Library with some modifications.

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


Stromateis;7 and finally, (5) the fact that he was accused by Patriarch Photius (Bibl. cod. 8) of endorsing the doctrine in the now lost Hypotyposeis.8 Clement’s silence about his own position (point 3 above) merits some further comments. First, there is no scholarly consensus that it exists; instead, many researchers see Clement rejecting reincarnation (or the soul’s pre-existence) in certain passages. However, I maintain that a close reading of Clement does not bring up a single case of rejection.9 Second, why am I arguing from this silence that it may reflect approval? While arguments from silence cannot be decisive, they may be valid in cases where ‘we fail to find behavior that we would expect’.10 What one can reasonably ‘expect’ is a matter of debate, but the openly hostile comments on reincarnation by other Christian authors in the second century (most notably Irenaeus, e.g., Adv. haer. 2.33 and Tertullian, e.g., De anima 23) make it probable that Clement would not have been under external pressure to hide a rejecting stance but an approving one. We know that he did have a stance; he implies this in at least two passages (Str., It is worth noting that on both occasions he says he will return to the matter, but he never does. Philo and Clement, while differing in several ways, have in common the fact that the investigation of their position on reincarnation cannot rely solely on the rare statements about the fate of the wicked after death, or concerning the doctrine itself; in Philo’s surviving works, we do not even have the latter. Thus, the student of the subject must, first of all, establish whether the tenet would have a niche in which to thrive in their thought. This means perusing, in particular, their anthropological, ethical, eschatological and soteriological views in order to assess if reincarnation is compatible or incompatible with their thinking. Both authors hid their truest thoughts on the tenet, but I argue that they did not want to hide them so well that they cannot be found. I approach the question of what Clement’s position on reincarnation was through what I understand to be the core of the scientific principle: theories that cannot explain our observations must be abandoned. This is fully applicable in historical research as well, for although we cannot carry out experiments on historical matters, we do make observations concerning our historical 7 E.g., Str. 1.1.5: ‘Sometimes [the Stromateis] will try … to reveal something without uncovering it or to demonstrate it without saying anything.’ The translations from Str. 1-3 are Ferguson’s (in The Fathers of the Church) with occasional modifications. 8 These charges have been recently discussed by Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski, Clement of Alexandria on Trial: The Evidence of ‘Heresy’ from Photius’ Bibliotheca, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 101 (Leiden, 2010) who devotes one chapter to reincarnation. His conclusion concerning the verity of the charge is diametrically opposed to mine. 9 It should be noted that, if need be, Clement had no difficulties in expressing a strong disapproval of others’ views; see, e.g., Str., 10 James R. Royse, ‘Did Philo Publish His Works?’, SPhiloA 25 (2013), 75-100, 84. Royse gives as a classical example from literature a passage from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Silver Blaze, where Sherlock Holmes calls a dog’s not barking when it should have a ‘curious incident’.



research data. In terms of methodology, my main method is the close reading of the source materials and their intertextual, tradition-historical, philosophical and linguistic analysis. What follows is a series of short presentations of selected aspects of the problem. Such a concise presentation as this is by necessity quite ‘Stromatean’ in its ‘passing constantly from one thing to another’ (Str. It is difficult, in an article, to adequately summarize the argument of a book, especially of one that has not yet been fully written. I cannot analyse all of Clement’s references to reincarnation,11 and several complicated questions are discussed below much more briefly than they deserve. Here I can only refer to my forthcoming monograph. 2. The Evidence I begin this brief discussion of the evidence with Clement’s clearest evaluation of the tenet of reincarnation and continue by discussing one of his techniques of concealment as well as his views on the soul’s pre-existence, the body, resurrection, the world, the passions, the prerequisites of and the alternative to salvation, punishments after death, the roles of Christ and divine grace. Among the Best Doctrines Clement’s most explicit appraisal of the doctrine of reincarnation reads as follows: We could find also another proof for validating the boasting (αὐχεῖν) of the best philosophers (τοὺς ἀρίστους τῶν φιλοσόφων) to have appropriated (σφετερισαμένους) from us the best doctrines (τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν δογμάτων) as their own (ὡς ἴδια): the gathering not only from the other barbarians some things which contribute to each sect, but in particular [from] Egyptians both other things and the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul (τὴν μετενσωμάτωσιν τῆς ψυχῆς δόγμα). (Str.

In this remarkable statement, Clement singles out reincarnation as an example of the best doctrines that the best philosophers have stolen from the nonGreeks – in this case, ostensibly from the Egyptians. He characterises the tenet with the superlative of the adjective καλός, which means ‘beautiful’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘noble’ etc.13 Even if this represents the philosophers’ self-assessment concerning which of their doctrines are the best ones,14 the evaluation concerning the 11 The clearest references are found in Str. 3.3.13; 4.12.83, 88; 5.14.91; 6.2.24; 6.4.35; 7.6.32; and Exc. 28. 12 My translation. 13 LSJ. 14 As suggested by Ilaria Ramelli in her response to the first version of this paper.

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


philosophers themselves as ‘best’ – the term now being ἄριστος, which serves as the superlative of ἀγαθός – is Clement’s own. Although the description of the doctrine is indirect, it remains, however, a positive one. The passage cannot be taken to reflect a negative or even neutral attitude towards the doctrine of reincarnation. Nevertheless, even here Clement refrains from explicitly stating whether he considers the doctrine to be true. Can we infer what he thinks? We know that Clement thought the Greek had ‘true doctrines’ (ἀληθῆ τινα δογματίζειν, Str., and they ‘delivered a slice of true philosophy (τινα τῆς ἀληθοῦς φιλοσοφίας)’ (Str. An assumption that one of their ‘best’ doctrines is not among the true ones would need to be argued for. However, there is no doubt that philosophy is not enough in Clement’s thought. It has its place as ‘preparatory education for the gnostic’, but it is not indispensable (Str. Philosophy, ‘on its own, did bring the Greeks to righteousness, though not to perfect righteousness’ (99.3). Reading on, we encounter a close parallel to the above passage from book six. In Str., Clement criticizes the Greek philosophers’ plagiarism using almost identical terminology: ‘Once again, he is unjust who appropriates ideas from barbarians and proudly puts them forward as one’s own (ὁ σφετερισάμενος τὰ βαρβάρων καὶ ὡς ἴδια αὐχῶν), puffing up one’s own reputation and playing false with the truth’. Clement does not mention any particular doctrine, but something precious is clearly implied to have been stolen. A specific tenet is mentioned in another parallel, in Str. 6.2, where too Clement mentions ‘the selfish plagiarism of the Greeks, and how they claim (σφετερίζονται) the discovery of the best of their doctrines (τῶν παρ’ αὐτοῖς καλλίστων δογμάτων), which they have received from us’ (i.e., from the ‘barbarians’) ( Here, the tenet given as an example is close, and its provenance identical, to that mentioned in ‘From Pythagoras Plato derived the immortality of the soul (τὴν ψυχὴν ἀθάνατον εἶναι); and he from the Egyptians’ ( There are also further parallels.16 Reading these passages together seems manifestly warranted: although their scopes vary in terms of the doctrines explicated, Clement shows consistency through concentrating on Plato and Pythagoras and the Egyptian origin of their tenets. It is also noteworthy that in all the passages where the ideas appropriated 15 In the section Str. 1.19.91-4, with its quotations from the Phaedo and the Republic, Plato clearly acts as the yardstick of acceptable philosophy. Among Plato’s dialogues the Phaedo is the most explicitly reincarnational one. The tenet is there intimately linked to the main theme, the immortality of the soul. 16 In Str., Clement writes, ‘Plato does not deny importing from abroad (ἐμπορεύεσθαι) the best parts into his philosophy (τὰ κάλλιστα εἰς φιλοσοφίαν), and admits a visit to Egypt.’ A little later, in, we read, ‘Plato’s continual respect for non-Greeks is clearly revealed: he recalls that he, like Pythagoras, learned the majority of his finest theories (τὰ πλεῖστα καὶ γενναιότατα τῶν δογμάτων) among foreigners (ἐν βαρβάροις).’



are explicitly extolled, there is a reference to a claim by the philosophers themselves.17 Str. is, however, exceptional in two respects. First, Clement’s openness in evaluating the tenet of reincarnation is not matched anywhere in his surviving writings. Second, I have found only one scholarly comment on Clement’s evaluation of the doctrine in this passage. Theodor Zahn mentions it as one of the two passages (along with Str. to support his conclusion that, in spite of rejecting reincarnation, Clement did find the doctrine ‘very much worth considering’.18 The only things on which other scholars have commented are the (implausible) Egyptian origin of the tenet and the Greeks’ alleged tendency to plagiarize.19 This passage is the crowning example of the kind of evidence that a theory of Clement’s rejection of reincarnation is unable to explain. And yet Str. alone comes nowhere near being the answer to the main question concerning Clement’s position on reincarnation. It is a single passage in a work that essentially only survives in a single manuscript.20 Moreover, as it locates reincarnation in a history-of-ideas context, it does not show how reincarnation ties up with Clement’s thought more broadly. Pre-existence and Concealment In book 4 of Str., we find a passage that has a bearing on Clement’s thought in several areas. It is also one that has been used by several scholars to deny Clement’s belief in one of the key prerequisites of reincarnation, the pre-existence of the soul.21 The broader context is the relationship between the soul and 17 I cannot in the present context delve into the question of how to decide if this reflects Clement’s intention to distance himself from the tenets praised, or his desire to make his own endorsement thereof a little more difficult to detect. 18 I.e., ‘sehr der Erwägung werth’. Theodor Zahn, Supplementum Clementinum, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altchristlichen Literatur 3 (Erlangen, 1884), 143. 19 Alexander Alexakis, ‘Was There Life beyond the Life Beyond? Byzantine Ideas on Reincarnation and Final Restoration’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 55 (2001), 155-77, 159; P. AshwinSiejkowski, Trial (2020), 122; Guilluame Ducœur, ‘Palingénésie indienne et métensomatose basilidienne chez Clément d’Alexandrie (Stromates 3.7 et 4.12)’, in Guillame Ducœur and Claire Muckensturm-Poulle (eds), La transmigration des âmes en Grèce et en Inde anciennes (Besançon, 2016), 93-105, 98-9; and (on plagiarism) Jean Daniélou, Histoire des doctrines chrétiennes avant Nicée: 2, Message évangélique et culture hellénistique aux IIe et IIIe siècles (Tournai, 1961), 64, 70-1. Herodotus’s report (2.123) that the Egyptians were the first to believe in reincarnation is usually considered to be without foundation. 20 The manuscript containing Str. can be viewed online at Viewer/servlet/ImageViewer?idr=TECA0000612530&keyworks=Plut.05.03. 21 Charles Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria: Being the Bampton Lectures of the Year 1886 (Oxford, 1913), 107; Jean Hering, Étude sur la doctrine de la chute et de la préexistence des âmes (Paris, 1923), 31; A. Knauber, ‘Die patrologische Schätzung des Clemens von Alexandrien bis zu seinem neuerlichen Bekanntwerden durch die ersten Druckeditionen des

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


the body, and this is what Clement says: ‘The soul is not, then, sent here down from heaven to what is worse. For God works all things up to what is ‎better. But the soul which has chosen the best life – the life that is from God and righteousness – exchanges earth for heaven’ (Str. This is an example of a phenomenon I have encountered in at least two other passages: Clement couples reincarnation or pre-existence with some other notion that he then proceeds to denounce – creating (at least for some of his readers) the impression he rejects them both, even though the link between the ideas is not inevitable. In Str. 4.26, the actual target of criticism is the idea that God could be the cause of any kind of deterioration. No, says Clement, God ‘works all things up to what is better’. I see this passage in the context of Clement’s repeated affirmations that this world is good and that ending up here is not a terrible thing (i.e., birth is not evil), but even a cause for thankfulness (Str. However, we should bless our departure, ‘receiving with great joy the dwelling place in heaven’ (ibid.). Put simply, earth is good but heaven better. In a similar fashion, reincarnation is contingently linked with the ideas – the real objects of Clement’s disapproval – that martyrdom is a punishment (Str. and that reincarnation is a valid reason for vegetarianism (Str. The fault with the former idea is that since becoming a martyr is dependent on one’s own choice, it cannot be providential – and a punishment should be just that. Clement in no way comments on the idea, which he attributes to Basilides, that there are sins of previous lives. The latter idea, reincarnation as a reason for vegetarianism, would make no sense for Clement, as there are no hints that he accepted the possibility that a human soul could be born in an animal body. In Str. 7.6, he is speaking of the Pythagoreans’ ‘dreaming (ὀνειροπολοῦντες) about the confinement of the soul in another body’. In its only other occurrence in Clement (Paed. 2.10.106), the verb ὀνειροπολέω (‘to dream’) clearly has the implied meaning, ‘to have a wrong conception of’, and since this would make perfect sense in Str. as well, the claim that Clement here ‘openly rejects’ reincarnation is highly problematic.23 To take one more example, let us turn to Str. ‘But our brilliant friend takes a more Platonic view (ἡγεῖται δὲ ὁ γενναῖος οὗτος Πλατωνικώτερον) 16. Jahrhunderts’, in Patrick Granfield and Josef A. Jungmann (eds), Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten (Münster, 1970), 280-308, 302; Peter Lee, ‘Reincarnation and the Christian Tradition’, The Modern Churchman 23 (1980), 103-17, 108; Monika Recinová, ‘Clement’s Angelological Doctrines: Between Jewish Models and Philosophic-Religious Streams of Late Antiquity’, in Matyáš Havrda, Vit Hušek and Jana Plátová (eds), Seventh Book of the Stromateis: Proceedings of the Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, October 21-23, 2010), SVigChr 117 (Leiden, 2012), 94-111, 97. 22 The translations from Str. 4-7 and Ecl. are Wilson’s in ANF (with modifications). See Str. for a similar thought. 23 The quotation is from Jennifer Otto, ‘Philo, Judaeus? A Re-Evaluation of Why Clement Calls Philo “the Pythagorean”’, SPhiloA 25 (2013), 115-38, 123.



and says the soul is divine in origin and has come from above to our world of birth and decay after being made effeminate by desire’. The man in question is Julius Cassian, whose interpretation of a passage in an apocryphal gospel Clement is assessing. He uses a threefold μέν–δέ–δέ structure; the cited statement is under the second δέ and thus represents a counterpoint to the previous one about the interpretation of the gospel passage: there Cassian is wrong – he ‘does not seem to recognize’ what Clement thinks is the correct understanding ( – but here he is ‘more Platonic’. Given Clement’s appreciation of Plato and his acceptance of pre-existence elsewhere, the most plausible interpretation of ‘more Platonic’ is ‘more correct’. No criticism of the idea of the soul’s pre-existence is thus present. The Body and Resurrection In research literature, one of the things often emphasized in connection with reincarnation or some of its anthropological prerequisites in Clement is the appreciation he shows for the body.24 I concede that his attitude is more positive than Philo’s, but what are the implications of this for reincarnation?25 To make a long story very short, the crucial question becomes: does Clement attach the body an ultimate value on a par with the soul? A priori this would be quite a feat for a Platonist.26 In other words, does Clement affirm ‘the final value of 24 E.g., Peter Karavites, Evil, Freedom, and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria, SVigChr 43 (Leiden, 1999), 94: ‘Clement disliked the doctrine of transmigration as expressed by some philosophers. Transmigration implied that the soul was connected to the body simply for purification and punishment and that the body as material was evil, a theory that Clement rejected.’ For similar statements, without an explicit reference to reincarnation, see, e.g., J. Daniélou, Histoire (1961), 376; Jaroslav Pelikan, The Shape of Death: Life, Death, and Immortality in the Early Fathers (New York, 1961), 141; John Behr, Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement (Oxford, 2000), 141; Martin Pujiula, Körper und christliche Lebensweise: Clemens von Alexandreia und sein Paidagogos (Berlin, 2006), 150. It should be noted that Karavites does not give an entirely accurate picture of typical reincarnational beliefs prior or contemporaneous to Clement. In neither Plato nor Philo are purification and punishment original reasons for the soul’s connection with a body. For Philo (with occasional references to Plato), see S. Yli-Karjanmaa, Reincarnation in Philo (2015), 44-81. 25 It should be noted that not even in Philo is the body evil per se. It is comparable to the physical world: the soul’s quest for liberation takes place in and from them. Only when Philo superimposes the dichotomy of good and evil onto the simplified anthropology of soul and body (ignoring the former’s internal structure) does he call the body evil. See ibid. 39-40. 26 I am not using the term ‘Platonist’ to define Clement in an essentialising sense, but as a general characterization of his philosophical orientation. He shares the Platonic two-tier worldview where the physical body unavoidably belongs to the lower sphere of constant change and impermanence. See, e.g., Str. ‘For, bound in this earthly body, we apprehend the objects of sense by means of the body; but we grasp intellectual objects by means of the logical faculty itself. But if one expects to apprehend all things by the senses, he has fallen far from the truth. Spiritually, therefore, the apostle writes respecting the knowledge of God, “For now we see as through a glass, but then face to face” (1Cor. 13:12). For the vision of the truth is given but to few.’

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


the human person as a unique composite of body and soul’?27 Does he say or imply that the human soul has a special, eschatological, relationship with one, and just one, physical body? He nowhere does. Instead, it is quite clear Clement subscribes to both the soul’s pre- and postexistence in a way that means that the body is not part of the human being in any ultimate sense. He calls the body a ‘dwelling’ (Str., a ‘shell’ (citing Plato without comment at Str., an ‘earthly garment’ (Dives 3.5), a ‘tomb’ (citing Plato and Philolaus without comment at Str. 3.3.16) and a means to enter ‘the universal school’ of the world (Dives 33.6). The later dogma of the resurrection of the body is incompatible with Clement’s thought on anthropological grounds; the flesh is excluded from resurrection: ‘Then how can [those who claim to have already attained the state of resurrection] hunger and thirst and suffer (πάσχουσι) the flesh and all the other things which the person who has attained through Christ the fullness of the expected resurrection will not suffer (οὐ πείσεται)?’ (Str. According to my observations, the term resurrection (ἀνάστασις) means several different things in Clement: an improvement in a general sense (Protr. 8.80) or as related to sanctification (Paed., Clement’s only reference to the ‘resurrection of the flesh’),28 the resuscitation of a dead body (Paed., and a release from the body and the world. This last use is visible, e.g., in Paed. 1.6.28-9 where ‘after our departure from here’ is implied to be synonymous with ‘after the resurrection’. Although I do not think there are references to a belief in the resurrection of the body in Clement (a concept Philo never even hints at), there are some intriguing passages where he might be thought to approach the idea. E.g., in Paed. 1.9.84 he writes: ‘The all-holy Shepherd and Guide, the almighty Word of the Father … wills to heal/save (σῶσαι) my body by clothing it with the cloak of immortality’.29 Heal or save? In order not to argue in circles by appealing to Clement’s Platonic orientation, I base my preference of the translation ‘heal’ on what Clement says twice just a little before, in 1.9.83: ‘We need the Saviour (σωτῆρος) because we are sick (νοσοῦντες) in our lives from the reprehensible lusts’. This, I believe, represents the healing, sanctification and even 27 Bradley Malkovsky, ‘Belief in Reincarnation and Some Unresolved Questions in Catholic Eschatology’, Religions 8.9 (2017), 1-11, 3 (speaking of Christianity in general), the lack of this value being ‘the problem with … reincarnation teaching, from the Christian point of view’. 28 Based on the partial parallel in Str. and for reasons I will have to elaborate in my monograph, I take ‘the resurrection of the flesh’ in Paed. as a reference to the improvement of the most ‘fleshly’ type of Christians. It should be noted that Clement never speaks of ‘the resurrection of the body’ pace, e.g., Brian E. Daley, The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschagoloty (Cambridge, 1991), 46; M. Recinová, ‘Angelological’ (2012), 109-10. The former refers to Paed., the latter also to Dives 42.15-6. Neither passage mentions the body. 29 Translations from Paed. are Wood’s in The Fathers of the Church with occasional modifications.



resurrection that concerns the body: using it free from the passions. Another example: ‘Those who serve the heavenly court, that of the King of all, sanctify the flesh, the untainted garment of the soul, and clothe it with incorruption’ (Paed. There is no eschatology here: all the verbs are in the present tense; ‘incorruption’ refers to this earthly life and has an ethical content.30 This is easy to see when we compare the passage to Paed. where Clement interprets Paul’s statement in 1Cor. 15:53 (putting on incorruption) as learning self-control in this life with the result that ‘we are living’ (διώκομεν, present tense again) a life like that of angels. Clement shares Philo’s ideal of alienation from this world, although perhaps in a somewhat milder form.31 In Str., he sets out his view in a lucid manner. He first exposes the wrong way of thinking: ‘the things desired are [not] alien in the way those suppose who teach that the creator is different from the first God, nor because birth is abominable and evil. For such opinions are impious.’ He then tells his readers the real reason: ‘But we say that the things of the world are alien, not as if they were foul, nor as if they did not belong to God, the Lord of the universe, but because we do not remain with them for ever.’ Things physical (including the body) are useful in this world: ‘The things that the Aristotelians maintain to be the three goods, those [the elect one] uses, including the body, like someone sent far away from home uses inns and the houses by the way’ (Str. An intriguing question is if the plurals ‘inns and houses’ are an allusion to several bodies.33 Be that as it may, the ‘inns and houses’ possess only an instrumental value for the traveler. In Clement’s ethos we should not become attached to them, desire them and have passion for them, if we want to be saved. Clement writes in Str. ‘So that when we hear, “Your faith has saved you”, we do not understand him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow. … No one, then, can be a believer and at the same 30 See meanings I.3 (e.g., ‘corrupt’, ‘pervert’) and II.3 (‘to be morally corrupted’) of φθέίρω in LSJ. 31 See, e.g., Conf. 77-82 where Philo explains how ‘all whom Moses calls wise are represented as sojourners’ in the Pentateuch: Abraham, Jacob and Isaac were merely visiting a world that was not their true fatherland. Moses himself goes even further: ‘His tenancy of the body is not to him merely that of the foreigner as immigrant settlers count it. To alienate himself from it, never to count it as his own is, he holds, to give it its due.’ 32 My tr. for Ὅσα δὲ τριττὰ εἶναι ἀγαθὰ οἱ Περιπατητικοὶ θέλουσι, χρῆται αὐτοῖς, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῷ σώματι, ὥς τις μακρὰν στελλόμενος ἀποδημίαν πανδοχείοις καὶ ταῖς παρ’ ὁδὸν οἰκήσεσιν. Wilson’s rendering is problematic: ‘He makes use of the things which the Pythagoreans make out to be the threefold good things. The body, too, as one sent on a distant pilgrimage, uses inns and dwellings by the way.’ He confuses the Peripatetics with the Pythagoreans and makes the body a guest in inns, whereas it is itself an inn. 33 A factor in favour of an affirmative answer is that as the three goods meant are those of the soul, of the body, and external goods (see, e.g., Aristotle, EN 1098b13-5), the metaphor of ‘someone being sent far away from home’ cannot concern all of them (for Clement would not present the goods of the soul as instrumental), but the body specifically.

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


time be licentious; and though he quit the flesh, he must put off the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion.’34 Getting rid of the body will not be enough, because if we have passions left, we cannot be saved. This is reminiscent of how Philo speaks of the mind’s inability to shed the lower parts of the soul along with the body at death as something that will lead to another incarnation (παλιγγενεσία, Cher. 114).35 The Fate of the Wicked Souls What, then, is the alternative to salvation in Clement? Both he and Philo are quite reticent when it comes to the afterlife. They do agree that there will be punishments for the wicked.36 Ramelli has argued that we can discern the idea of universal salvation or apokatastasis in Clement and that the punishments he envisages are remedial.37 I think this is accurate.38 But Clement never details the punishments post mortem. He more than once refers to them with the help of Greek thought in a way that can be interpreted to allude to reincarnation. In Str. 5.14.90-1 he once again returns to the theme of the Greeks’ ‘pilfer[ing ideas] from the barbarian philosophy’, and now says this about ‘punishments after death’ and ‘penal retribution by fire’. His proof texts come from the reincarnational, concluding myth of Plato’s Republic. He first quotes from and compares 615e-616a39 with Ps. 104:1 (LXX 103:1), and then continues: ‘Well, Stählin prints in his main text an emendation by Mayor: ἀλλὰ κἂν ἐξέλθῃ τὴν σάρκα, and appeals to Str. Granted, there the gnostic ‘has withdrawn his soul from the passions’ before death, but that is hardly compelling. More importantly, to what kind of situation could the expression ‘though he does not quit the flesh’ refer? It is certainly not synonymous with ‘even while being alive’; the aorist ἐξέλθῃ points to a sudden event, not a state. This would be understandable if, say, the possible consequences of an illness were being discussed, but there is nothing in the context that would make the emendation sensible, let alone necessary. 35 My interpretation of the passage, based on the analysis in S. Yli-Karjanmaa, Reincarnation in Philo (2015), 150-67. 36 For Philo, see, e.g., Praem. 69: ‘For people think that death is the termination of punishment but in the divine court it is hardly the beginning’. Yet he denies the existence of a mythical underworld, taking Hades and Tartarus as references to the life of the wicked soul in the body (Congr. 57, 59; QG 4.234, QE 2.40). 37 Ilaria Ramelli, ‘Stromateis VII and Clement’s Hints at the Theory of Apokatastasis’, in M. Havrda, V. Hušek and J. Plátová, The Seventh Book (2012), 244-5; ead., The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena, SVigChr 120 (Leiden, 2013), 119-36. 38 See, e.g., Str. where Clement adopts the view that ‘all who believe shall be saved, although they may be of the Gentiles, on making their profession there; since God’s punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance than the death of a sinner; and especially since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly, because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh’. See also Str. 39 The section deals with the prevention of the incurably wicked souls from emerging from the underworld and proceeding to reincarnation. 34



did not Plato know of the rivers of fire and the depth of the earth, and Tartarus … introducing such corrective tortures for discipline? … He shrinks not from writing, “When all the souls had chosen their lives, according to the draw they approached Lachesis in order and she gave each the daimon they had chosen to escort them as protector through their lives and as fulfiller of their choices” (Rep. 620d-e40)’ (Str. Here Clement quotes from Plato part of an explicit description the process of reincarnation – without comment. Had he considered reincarnation a ‘dangerous virus’,41 we would be left wondering why he utters no word of criticism; indeed, why he quotes such a passage in the first place. A similar case meets us in Str. 4.7.44. Clement chastises those who do not understand martyrdom for ‘not knowing that such a gate of death is the beginning of the true life; and they will understand neither the honours after death, which belong to those who have lived holily (ὁσίως βεβιωκότων, from Phaedo 113d, 114b), nor the punishments of those who have lived unrighteously and impurely’. He again brings up the agreement between ‘our scriptures’ and Greek thinkers, first quoting the Pythagorean Theano (fr. 201 Thesleff) to the effect that the wicked would be lucky if the soul was not immortal. He then cites Plato’s words in the Phaedo: ‘“For if death were release from everything” and so forth. We are not then to think according to the Telephus of Aeschylus “that a single path leads to Hades”.’ The first quotation comes from 107c, the second, from 108a. What Clement’s ‘and so forth’ represents contains one of the dialogue’s direct references to reincarnation: ‘another guide conveys [the souls of the dead] back here after many long periods of time’ (107e). In my estimation, this at the very least amounts to flirting with the idea of reincarnation – for, surely, Clement had to reckon with the possibility that some, if not most people, in his audience knew the dialogue and the contents of the omitted text. Why did he not try to influence the conclusions that such people would draw? He could easily have remarked something like ‘After some nonsense, Plato continues…’ In both Plato and Philo, reincarnation is often portrayed as a result of the soul’s desires. The soul gets what it wants – another chance to mix with things corporeal and to enjoy sense pleasures. In this respect Dives 16.3-17.1 is quite interesting. Clement juxtaposes two attitudes towards riches. The right one makes its possessor ‘a ready inheritor of the kingdom of heaven’. The worse alternative is this: He who carries his wealth in his soul, and in place of God’s spirit carries in his heart gold or an estate, who is always extending his possession without limit, and is continually on the lookout for more, whose eyes are turned downwards and who is fettered by the snares 40

Trans. Emlyn-Jones & Preddy in Loeb Classical Library. P. Ashwin-Siejkowski, Trial (2010), 162. This is his general characterization of the things of which Photius accused Clement. Ashwin-Siejkowski notes the ‘absence of criticism’ of reincarnation in Clement (p. 120), but he nevertheless considers it proven that ‘Clement did not subscribe to the theory of incarnation (sic) in any shape or form’ (p. 123). 41

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


of the world, who ‘is earth’ and destined to ‘depart to earth’ (Gen. 3:19) – how can he desire and meditate on the kingdom of heaven? A man that bears about not a heart, but an estate or a mine, will he not perforce be found among these things on which he fixed his choice (ἐν τούτοις εὑρεθησόμενος ἐπάναγκες [ἐν] οἷς εἵλετο)? ‘For where the mind of a man is, there is his treasure also’ (Matt. 6:21/Luke 12:34). (Dives 17.1)42

Clement seems to be describing two alternative fates in the afterlife: inheriting heaven or being forced among one’s objects of desire: riches.43 In my view, the punishment of the worldly soul, ending up among riches, is very awkward – except as a description of what happens to it in its next life: its ‘slave[ry to] its possessions’ (Dives 16.3) will continue and it will ‘hardly enter the kingdom’ (18.1).44 In this context, it is warranted to note Philo’s exegesis of Gen. 3:19 in QG 1.51 and especially Leg. 3.252-3. In answering the question of what it means for the soul to return to earth, Philo invokes what I have termed the ‘corporealization of the mind’: the νοῦς becomes so corporeally orientated that it is ‘ranked with things earthly and incohesive’ (Leg. 3.252). It is striking that Clement, like Philo, restricts the ‘departing to earth’ to apply to the wicked souls only, which is not very easy to understand without assuming reincarnation. Philo reinforces the presence of reincarnation by quoting the biblical text in a form that is more naturally interpreted to mean that the deplorable existence of the fool lasts as long as, rather than until, he returns to earth.45 Christ and Grace If souls atone for their own sins by undergoing curative punishments, how does Clement see the significance of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus? Christ actually has several roles: a teacher (Ecl. 5-6) and a healer (Paed. 1.2.6), a model (Str. 7.12.72, Protr. 1.7), a mediator of God’s power (Str. 7.12.79), awarder of the prizes in the struggle against the passions (Str. 7.3.20) – and a saviour. His saving function seems to be related to his life (rather than his death), and the role of a model is prominent: 42

Trans. Butterworth in Loeb Classical Library. In my view, the afterlife is implied by two factors: (1) Inheriting the kingdom of heaven can fully take place only after death, and, perhaps more importantly, (2) the context of Gen 3:19 is physical death. 44 The impact of the soul’s inclinations on its following embodiment is a standard feature of the Platonic reincarnation scheme. See, e.g., Republic 620a: ‘For the majority of choices [of next lives; see the quotation at n. 39] were made through familiarity with their previous existence’. On this theme in Plato and Philo, see S. Yli-Karjanmaa, Reincarnation in Philo (2015), 139-40. 45 For QG 1.51 and Leg. 3.252-3, see ibid. 70-9, and for Philo’s soteriological interpretation of the Paradise story more broadly, Sami Yli-Karjanmaa, ‘“Call Him Earth”: On Philo’s Allegorization of Adam in the Legum Allegoriae’, in Antti Laato and Lotta Valve (eds), Adam and Eve Story in the Hebrew Bible and in Ancient Jewish Writings Including the New Testament, Studies in the Reception History of the Bible 7 (Turku, Winona Lake, 2016), 253-93. 43



As for us, O children of a good Father, flock of a good Educator, let us fulfill the will of the Father, let us obey the Word, and let us be molded by the truly saving life of the Saviour (τὸν σωτήριον ὄντως ἀναμαξώμεθα τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν βίον). Then, since we shall already be living the life of heaven which makes us divine, let us anoint ourselves with the never-failing oil of gladness, the incorruptible oil of good odor. We possess an unmistakable model of incorruptibility in the life of the Lord (ὑπόδειγμα ἀφθαρσίας τὴν πολιτείαν ἔχοντες τοῦ κυρίου) and are following in the footsteps of God. (Paed.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection had a crucial soteriological significance for Clement, it is not very easy to understand why he left it out here. There are, however, also references in Clement to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus. E.g., in Ecl. 20 he writes: ‘Now the Lord “with precious blood (τιμίῳ αἵματι)” (1Pet. 1:19) redeems (ἀγοράζει) us, freeing us from our old bitter masters, that is, our sins, on account of which “the spiritual powers of wickedness” (Eph. 6:2) ruled over us. Accordingly he leads (ἄγει) us into the liberty of the Father – sons that are co-heirs and friends.’ It is noteworthy that Clement again uses the present tense (to describe an ongoing process), in contrast to his referent in 1Pet. 1:18-9: ‘You know that you were ransomed (ἐλυτρώθητε) from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors … with the precious blood (τιμίῳ αἵματι) of Christ.’46 Clement explicitly quotes these verses (and 4:3) in Paed. 3.12.85 and explains them through another symbol of Jesus’s death: ‘Let us have (ἔχωμεν) the cross of the Lord as our boundary line by which we are fenced around and shut off (περισταυρούμεθα καὶ περιθριγκούμεθα) from our former sins’.47 Jesus’ death has a significance for Clement, but it seems related to the ethical question of how we should live in this world. In Paed. Clement does invest Christ with powers that no doubt contribute to salvation: ‘Both as God and as man, the Lord renders us every kind of service and assistance. As God, He forgives sin; as man, He educates us to avoid sin completely.’ However, forgiving sins is not the same as atoning for them – a sinner could be acquitted in a trial before ‘the judgment seat of Christ’ (2Cor. 5:10, cited at Str. I have not managed to find references in Clement to the idea of a once-and-for-all atonement by Christ. Divine grace and reincarnation are not mutually exclusive ideas in the context of a synergistic soteriology.48 In Str., Clement explains his ideas about the human contribution to salvation: ‘Nor shall he who is saved be saved 46

Trans. NRSV. In Str. 2.20.108-9 Clement says much the same thing, first citing Plato (Phaedo 83d) as saying, ‘each pleasure and pain … pins the soul to the body’ and specifying that this happens to the one ‘who has not separated and fenced off (ἀποσταυροῦντος) himself from the passions’. He proceeds to urge his audience to be ‘willing to release, detach and separate (which is what the cross means) your soul from merriment and pleasure in this life’. 48 See Philo, Ebr. 145: ‘For without divine grace it is impossible either to abandon the ranks of mortal things, or to remain steadily and constantly with those which are immortal.’ 47

Clement of Alexandria’s Position on the Doctrine of Reincarnation


against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above all voluntarily and of free choice speed (σπεύσει) to salvation. Wherefore also man received the commandments in order that he might be self-impelled (ἐξ αὑτοῦ ὁρμητικός), to whatever he wished of things to be chosen and to be avoided’. In Str., Clement even goes as far as saying: ‘For it is of great importance in regard to virtue to be made fit for its attainment. And it is intended that we should be saved by ourselves.’ That this is, nevertheless, not the whole picture is made clear by passages like Str. ‘Our idea of self-control is freedom from desire. It is not a matter of having desires and holding out against them, but actually of mastering desire by self-control. It is not possible to acquire this form of self-control except by the grace of God.’ Conclusion I think Photius was correct in considering Clement a believer in reincarnation. Moreover, I think he would have been able to reach this conclusion even without the Hypotyposeis, as the above evidence, mainly taken from the Stromateis and the Paedagogus, in my opinion, shows. That evidence includes an undeniably positive evaluation of the doctrine, citations from within, and from passages close to, Plato’s accounts of reincarnation and the use of reincarnational language – and all this without any criticism of the tenet. In a few passages, Clement does seem to want to give the impression that he denounces reincarnation, but a close reading reveals that the real objects of his censure lie elsewhere. This supports the hypothesis that his position on reincarnation, one that he clearly has but is reluctant to openly express, is a positive and not a negative one. Furthemore, his silence is understandable given the contemporary rejection of the doctrine by other Christian authors. The idea of human souls gradually, in several lives, reach the state of being able to be saved by God is in harmony with Clement’s anthropology, even though his dualism is milder than Plato’s or Philo’s: the body and the world are good things, but getting out of them is even better. The key ethical goal in Clement of ridding oneself of the passions as a prerequisite of salvation also fits reincarnation thinking seamlessly. The same applies to his understanding of God’s punishments as corrective and to his universalistic soteriology.

Clement and Metensomatosis: Comments on Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s Paper Ilaria L.E. RAMELLI, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

I am very happy that Sami has rewritten his paper in light of my remarks in the response I offered at the Oxford workshop on Clement in August 2019 at the Patristics Conference. This is, accordingly, a revised version of my response, which I first prepared for the workshop. This is an engaging paper – as I expected! I know the book project on Clement, which seems very interesting. I find this an important investigation, also because of my interest in apokatastasis or restoration in ancient philosophy (Stoicism, Platonism), Philo of Alexandria (whose ideas of apokatastasis I studied1 and intend to integrate further in projected research), and early Christianity: Clement himself, Origen, and the Origenian tradition up to Evagrius and Eriugena.2 As it has emerged from the cases of Philo and Origen, the issue of metensomatosis bears heavily on their notion of apokatastasis, although in two different ways.3 This is one of the reasons why I am highly interested in Sami’s research into Clement and metensomatosis and look forward to its completion. His essay is a précis of his larger research. I definitely agree about Clement’s Platonist orientation (as a Christian Platonist) and the significance of Photius’ accusation levelled against Clement of endorsing the doctrine of metensomatosis in the Hypotyposeis, among other charges. Now, some of these seem to be misleading and the fruit of misunderstanding,4 but all merit attention. I also agree that an explicit refutation of metensomatosis, which is clearer in some passages by Origen, is not really detectable in Clement and Sami is probably correct in not finding it (at least very clearly) in loci by Clement that other

1 In ‘Philo’s Doctrine of Apokatastasis: Philosophical Sources, Exegetical Strategies, and Patristic Aftermath’, Studia Philonica Annual 26 (2014), 29-55; further in ‘Philo as One of the Main Inspirers of Early Christian Hermeneutics and Apophatic Theology’, Adamantius 24 (2018), 276-92. 2 Examined in my The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis (Leiden, 2013); further arguments in A Larger Hope? (Cascade, 2019). 3 Regarding Origen, I pointed this out in ‘Origen’, in A History of Mind and Body in Late Antiquity, ed. Sophie Cartwright and Anna Marmodoro (Cambridge, 2018), 245-66. 4 See Piotr Ashwin, Clement of Alexandria on Trial. The Evidence of ‘Heresy’ from Photius’ Bibliotheca (Leiden, 2010) and my review in Gnomon 84 (2012), 393-7.

Studia Patristica CX, 91-95. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



scholars have regarded as Clement’s refutations of reincarnation. 5 I would even add the case of the doctrine of preexistent matter, found by Matteo Monfrinotti in Clement:6 although the evidence is not uncontroversial, this idea is closer to ‘pagan’ Platonism than to the Christian doctrine, as it came to be defined over time. Yet, it was supported by Justin (and Calcidius). Sami cites Str., which is important: ‘the best philosophers have appropriated from us the best doctrines (τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν δογμάτων) as their own (ὡς ἴδια): they gathered not only from the other barbarians some things which contribute to each sect, but in particular [from] the Egyptians both other ideas and the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul’. Note that metensomatosis is said to have been appropriated from the Egyptians (among barbarian thinkers), and not from Jews or Christians. This is not a doctrine that Clement claims as a typical Jewish-Christian doctrine. However, Sami equates the best doctrines (τὰ κάλλιστα) of ‘pagan’ philosophers, as Clement calls them here, with true doctrines, to assert, at least, that metensomatosis is deemed a good doctrine by Clement. This can be the case; only, I note that κάλλιστα can also mean most famous or dear, and that Clement may mean that the doctrines that the ‘pagans’ themselves regard as their best come from barbarians. Indeed, that metensomatosis is a good doctrine may reflect the judgement of ‘pagan’ philosophers, not necessarily that of Clement. At any rate, Clement is not attacking reincarnation in this passage. Concerning Str., and other passages, is this a reference to eschatology or the present life? Clement says: ‘The soul is not, then, sent here down from heaven to what is worse. For God works all things up to what is better. But the soul which has chosen the best life – the life that is from God and righteousness – exchanges earth for heaven’. References both to eschatology and to the present life are possible together, as is the case with Origen too. I agree with Sami that Clement’s thought in this locus is substantially that ‘earth is good but heaven better’ (as for example, I would say, for Clement metriopatheia is good but apatheia is better). In Str. 7.6, I concur with Sami that Clement is criticising the the Pythagoreans’ doctrine by means of the use of the disparaging verb ὀνειροπολοῦντες. Only, when Clement rejects ‘the confinement of the soul in another body’ here, is he rejecting the transmigration of the soul into animal bodies, a famous tenet of the Pythagoreans, or is he criticising the transmigration of a soul into ‘another’ body (other than the present one), including another human body? In the former case, Clement would be criticising the transmigration of human souls into animal bodies; in the latter, any kind of transmigration, including the human-to-human one.


Str. 3.3.13; 4.12.83, 88; 5.14.91; 6.2.24; 6.4.35; 7.6.32; Exc. 28. Matteo Monfrinotti, Creatore e creazione: il pensiero di Clemente Alessandrino (Rome, 2014); my review in BMCR 2016.09.07. 6

Clement and Metensomatosis: Comments on Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s Paper


Sami observes: ‘Clement subscribes to both the soul’s pre- and post-existence in a way that means that the body is not ultimately part of the human being’. Now, this is certainly a premise that renders metensomatosis possible (the same link is indeed repeatedly found in Christian charges against Origen, down to Justinian). I also tend to agree that for Clement, ‘more Platonic’ likely means ‘more correct’, all the more so in that this means in Str. that the soul is divine, something that Clement supported. And certainly Clement would never consider the body worthier than the soul or even on a par with it. Neither would Origen, indeed, or Gregory or Nyssa, other great Christian Platonists, although both criticised metensomatosis. Regarding the resurrection, the flesh (which Origen also excluded from it as continually in flux, ῥέουσα, and not constituting the εἶδος of the body7) is not there, but this does not exclude the resurrection as implying the transformation of the body into immortal, impassible, incorruptible etc. The reference to Christ who wants to save my body by clothing it with the cloak of immortality can well refer to the resurrection, although this salvation begins already here, with a life free from passions. Clement is explicit in equating the sanctification of the flesh with its clothing with incorruption. Getting rid of the body is not enough: if we have passions left, we cannot be saved: ‘although he quit the flesh, he must put off the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion’ (Str. Faith itself, as Clement insists in the same passage, must be accompanied by works for people to be saved. Indeed, this can well refer, not only to reincarnation, or to the present life, but also to the purifying suffering that in the other world will bring people to the condition of being saved.8 I agree that both Philo and Clement are reticent regarding the other life (although the remark that Clement ‘nowhere criticises the tenet’ of reincarnation, from the introduction and passim, should be taken cautiously, like every argumentum ex silentio, moreover in an oeuvre that has not been transmitted to us in its entirety). Philo is even more reticent than Clement; Clement speaks of life after death in several passages, including the one on martyrdom which Sami cites. Both thinkers have aspects of the doctrine of apokatastasis, as I have argued in different works for both Philo9 and Clement,10 although with some differences from the full-fledged doctrine elaborated by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and others. I am delighted that Sami finds ‘accurate’ my reconstruction and argument for 7

Argument in my ‘Origen’s Critical Reception of Aristotle: Some Key Points and Aftermath in Christian Platonism’, in Aristotle in Byzantium, ed. Mikonja Knezevic (Alhambra, CA, 2019), 1-43. 8 See my ‘Stromateis VII and Clement’s Hints of the Theory of Apokatastasis’, in The Seventh Book of the Stromateis: Proceedings of the Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, October 21-23, 2010), ed. Matyaš Havrda, Vit Hušek and Jana Platova (Leiden, 2012), 239-57; Apokatastasis (2013); briefly in Hope (2019), 24-30 on Clement. 9 See above, n. 1. 10 ‘Stromateis VII’ (2012); Apokatastasis (2013), 119-36.



Clement’s support of apokatastasis and idea of otherworldly punishments as therapeutic and corrective. Regarding Clement’s citation of Resp. 620d-e in Str., it is correct that Plato’s context refers to metensomatosis, as Sami observes; it might just be noted that Clement never refers to reincarnation in his own citation, but adduces Plato as an authority concerning postmortem remedial punishment. True, Clement does not attack metensomatosis either here or in Str. 4.7.44, where again the citation from Plato comes from a context that alludes to reincarnation. Sami reasonably remarks that Clement could have said: ‘After some nonsense [sc. concerning metensomatosis], Plato continues…’. Yet Clement would not have felt at ease, I suspect, given his respect for Plato, although he would have likely have said something of the sort in the case of other philosophers. In Dives 17.1, ‘the person who carries his wealth in his soul, and in place of God’s spirit carries in his heart gold or an estate, … will he not perforce be found among these things on which he fixed his choice?’. Is this a reference to reincarnation (which is possible), as Sami suggests adducing a parallel with Philo, or the state of the soul after death, where a man, instead of rejoicing in God, continually thinks of his money and estates and gold and mines? Precisely this will be theorised by Eriugena, another Christian Platonist, many centuries afterwards. Note that Eriugena – like Clement, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, among others – will believe in apokatastasis in the form of universal salvation.11 Sami does well to see in the person described by Clement the vice of ‘slavery to one’s possessions’: this was a Stoic idea in Clement,12 among the many Stoic (mainly ethical) elements of influence on Clement, as well as on Origen. Sami is right to point to Clement’s references to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, especially in Ecl. 20. This is an important theme taken over and developed further by Origen (he states: sanguis Christi salvos nos faciet more than fides nostra et opera iustitiae, and proclaimed the universal and eternal validity of the saving activity of the cross, in Comm. in Rom. 4.11.73-5). Like Philo, Clement uses mostly the present and focuses more on moral behaviour (the Cross as a boundary that separates us from sins) than on eschatology. In Paed., as Sami notes, Christ is Saviour more in his life than in his death. I note a parallel with Bardaisan (who might have taught Clement), according to whom Jesus ‘taught the truth and ascended’;13 at the same time, Bardaisan also 11

A specific workshop, directed by me, in this Oxford Patristics Conference examines this point, as one of the aspects of the heritage of ancient and patristic philosophy in Eriugena. 12 See my Social Justice and the Legitimacy of Slavery: The Role of Philosophical Asceticism from Ancient Judaism to Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2016). 13 As reported by Ephrem, Prose Refutations (2.143-69) Against Bardaiṣan. See Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, Bardaiṣan of Edessa: A Reassessment of the Evidence and a New Interpretation. Also in the Light of Origen and the Original Fragments from Porphyry (Piscataway, 2009; Berlin, 2019), 229-30, 241; on Clement as his possible disciple: 45-6.

Clement and Metensomatosis: Comments on Sami Yli-Karjanmaa’s Paper


emphasised the role of ‘the Mystery of the Cross’ both in the creation and in the progressive liberation from evil, until the final eviction of evil at apokatastasis.14 The moral attitude prevails on the eschatological one in Clement just as in Philo (in Philo probably even more, as I have argued elsewhere). It is not accidental that Clement’s moral psychology, or the doctrine of the soul viewed primarily from ethics, is called by Kathleen Gibbons ‘Mosaic Philosophy’ exactly like the philosophy constructed by Philo.15 In this connection, I agree that in Paed. all the verbs are in the present tense and there is probably no eschatology; ‘incorruption’ refers to this earthly life and has an ethical content.16 In Str., it is true that Clement uses the plural in a metaphor about a person, on a journey, who uses ‘inns and the houses by the way’. Does this plural refer to ‘several bodies’, as Sami suggests? It is possible, although it may simply be because during a long trip, especially in the time of Clement, when there were no airplanes, one necessarily had to use more than one hotel. So the use of the plural may just reflect a matter of fact, but of course we cannot say for sure. It is crucial that Clement sees a synergy, as Sami correctly remarks: Clement explains his ideas about the human contribution to salvation: ‘Nor shall he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above all voluntarily and of free choice speed (σπεύσει) to salvation’. Such a synergy, as I argued in several works, is the same as Origen’s, who will develop it in his anti-Gnostic polemic.17

14 Argument in my ‘Origen, Bardaisan, and the Origin of Universal Salvation’, HTR 102 (2009) 135-68. 15 Kathleen Gibbons, The Moral Psychology of Clement of Alexandria: Mosaic Philosophy (London, 2017). 16 The same seems to me the case with Aristotle’s analogous statements about the soul (and indeed, Aristotle does not seem to have supported the immortality of the soul). Only, one should just warn that the use of the present does not necessarily and always imply the lack of eschatology: for example, Ps. Dionysius’ statements concerning apokatastasis are in the present because they refer to God’s eternal present that transcends any time. 17 I.L.E. Ramelli, ‘Origen, Bardaisan, and the Origine of Universal Salvation’ (2009).

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians Piotr ASHWIN-SIEJKOWSKI, London, UK

ABSTRACT Clement of Alexandria preserved several unique references to Christian works which were later labelled as apocryphal and are now lost. In his polemic Clement used these sources to support his arguments. Clement’s legacy provides us with the intriguing case of a quote (Strom., 3.13.92) from the Gospel of the Egyptians which closely echoes two Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas (22 and 37) and one passage from 2Clem. 12. This article explores some similarities and differences in asceticism, which underpin these two documents. It proposes the possible philosophical affiliations of both narratives. It claims that the Gospel of the Egyptians was used as an authoritative narrative in competition with other ascetic Christian groups.

1. Preliminaries In this article I would like to re-examine the possible relationship between quite similar statements found in the Gospel of Thomas (Sayings 22 and 37) and a passage quoted by Clement of Alexandria identified by him as the Gospel of the Egyptians. I will also include in my examination yet another literary quote from 2Clem. 12, but the focus of my attention will be on the two former statements. I am not the first to compare these passages. Scholars such as Baarda,1 Quispel,2 Callan,3 and more recently Tuckett4 have already studied them with attention. The section of my article with the title status quaestionis will provide readers with a summary of the recent research. However, my approach to the main two passages from the Gospel of Thomas and one from the Gospel of the Egyptians introduces one important aspect which has not been sufficiently analysed by modern scholarship. In my view, it is important to 1

Tjitze Baarda, ‘2 Clement 12 and the Sayings of Jesus’, in Early Transmission of Words of Jesus: Thomas, Tatian and the Text of the New Testament (Amsterdam, 1983), 261-88. 2 Gilles Quispel, ‘L’évangile selon Thomas et les origines de l’ascèse chrétienne’, in Aspects du Judéo-Christianisme: Colloque de Strasbourg 23-25 avril 1964 (Paris, 1965), 37-45. 3 Terrance Callan, ‘The Sayings of Jesus in Gos. Thom. 22/2 Clem.12/Gos.Eg.5’, JRS 16 (1990), 46-64. 4 Christopher Tuckett, 2 Clement. Introduction, Text, and Commentary, Oxford Apostolic Fathers (Oxford, 2013), 226-37.

Studia Patristica CX, 97-109. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



investigate the possible relationship between the statements against the background of growing encratic tendency5 among some Christian communities during the second century. The link between a text and community has been elaborated by various scholars6 and in my approach I wish to allocate the studied passages to certain Christian milieus, which believed they were preserving Jesus’ original teachings. By doing so they aimed to provide their members with a strong sense of identity and motivation. The encratic ethos, as I shall argue, emerged under the influence of a philosophical model of life, which I will attempt to identify in my article. An exploration of that wider background will provide us with a better understanding of the studied fragments and their didactic roles in various Christian schools.

2. Introduction of the Greek and Coptic fragments Clement preserves four quotes from the Gospel of the Egyptians,7 however in the centre of our attention is the passage from the third Stromata (13.92.2), which is labelled here as A.1. The immediate context of the quote shows Clement’s polemic with a certain Christian teacher named by Clement as Julius Cassianus who is otherwise unknow. Julius Cassianus, according to Clement, was the founder of docetism (13.91.1) and he wrote On Self-Control or On Celibacy (Περὶ ἐγκρατείας ἢ περὶ εὐνουχίας). Cassianus, in Clement’s view, justified his extreme ascetic (encratic) tendency by the misinterpretation of a statement from the Gospel of the Egyptians. The fragment in the centre of the debate reads: (A.1) When Salome asked when this will be known, the Lord said, ‘when you have trampled on the garment of shame and when the two become one and the male with the female neither male nor female’ (πυνθανομένης τῆς Σαλώμης πότε γνωσθήσεται τὰ περὶ ὧν ἤρετο, ἔφη ὁ κύριος· ὅταν τὸ τῆς αἰσχύνης ἔνδυμα πατήσητε καὶ ὅταν γένηται τὰ δύο ἓν καὶ τὸ ἄρρεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας οὔτε ἄρρεν οὔτε θῆλυ).8 5

This is the first time that I use the term ‘encratic’ in this essay. I shall clarify that my understanding of this notion is the same as found in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, with the following meaning: ‘the advocacy of a harsh discipline of the body, especially in regard to sexual activity, diet and the use of alcoholic beverages’. Otis C. Edwards, Jr, ‘Encratism’, Anchor Bible Dictionary, 2 (New Haven, 1992), 506-7. 6 See for example, Judith Lieu, ‘Text and Identity’, in Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford, 2006), 27-61 and Risto Uro, ‘The Social World of the Gospel of Thomas’, in Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity. The Social and Cultural Worlds of the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 59 (Leiden, Boston, 2006), 19-38. I shall refer to these studies on various occasions of my discussion. 7 See further details in section 4.2. 8 The English translation follows John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis: Books One to Three (Washington, 1991), 314.

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


It is important to note that Clement makes a clear difference between the authority of the Gospel of the Egyptians, which preserves this passage, and, as he says, ‘our four traditional Gospels’ (ἐν τοῖς παραδεδομένοις ἡμῖν τέτταρσιν εὐαγγελίοις οὐκ ἔχομεν τὸ ῥητόν).9 Still, even if the quoted passage comes from the apocryphal Gospel, Clement does not discredit it as ‘invented’, ‘false’ or without value, but only as misinterpreted. Koester10 and earlier Bauer11 identify the ‘Egyptians’ from the title as Greek-speaking Christians who were ‘distinct’ from the Jewish Christians. Bauer proposes that this Gospel was written in Egypt.12 My suggestion is that the Gospel of the Egyptians was used among a group of gentile Christians in Alexandria in particular. Not all gentile Christians should be associated with the document or the group. Others who were interested in philosophical/Platonic speculation might have used other apocryphal Gospels. Still, this important city was the academic, cultural and religious centre where various Christian and non-Christian documents were composed and copied, bought and sold, written and edited. The passage from the Gospel of the Egyptians (A.1) preserved by Clement of Alexandria should be compared with two Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas. First, Saying 22 (here: B.1): Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, ‘These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom’. They said to him, ‘Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?’ Jesus said to them, ‘When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom’.13

And Saying 37 (here: B.2) which is preserved in Greek (here: B.2.1)14 and Coptic (here: B.2.2): 9

Strom. Helmut Koester, History and Literature of Early Christianity, 2 (Philadelphia, 1982), 230. 11 Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (London, 1972), 50-1. 12 Ibid. 50 13 ⲁⲒ⳰Ⲥ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲁϩⲚⲕⲟⲩⲉⲓ ⲉⲩϫⲓ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲉ. ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ Ⲛⲛⲉϥⲙⲁⲑⲏⲧⲏⲥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲉⲉⲓⲕⲟⲩⲉⲓ ⲉⲧϫⲓ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲉ ⲉⲩⲧⲚⲧⲱⲙ ⲁⲛⲉⲧⲃⲏⲕ ̀ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲁⲧⲙⲚⲧⲉⲣⲟ. ⲡⲉϫⲁⲩ ⲛⲁϥ ̀ ϫⲉ ⲉⲉⲓⲉⲛⲟ Ⲛⲕⲟⲩⲉⲓ ⲧⲚⲙⲁⲃⲱⲕ ̀ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲧⲙⲚⲧⲉⲣⲟ. ⲡⲉϫⲉ Ⲓ⳰ⲎⲤ ⳰ ⲛⲁⲩ ϫⲉ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲚϣⲁⲢ ⲡⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲟⲩⲁ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲚϣⲁⲢ ⲡⲥⲁⲛ ϩⲟⲩⲛ Ⲛⲑⲉ Ⲙⲡⲥⲁⲛ ⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲥⲁⲛⲃⲟⲗ Ⲛⲑⲉ Ⲙⲡⲥⲁⲛϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲥⲁⲛ(ⲛ)ⲧⲡⲉ Ⲛⲑⲉ Ⲙⲡⲥⲁ ⲙⲡⲓⲧⲚ ⲁⲩⲱ ϣⲓⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲛⲁⲉⲓⲣⲉ Ⲙⲫⲟ ⲟ ̀ ⲩⲧ ̀ ⲙⲚ ⲧⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ Ⲙⲡⲓⲟⲩⲁ ⲟⲩⲱⲧ ̀ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲁⲥ ⲛⲉ ⲫⲟⲟⲩⲧ Ⲣ ̀ ϩⲟⲟⲩⲧ ̀ Ⲛⲧⲉ ⲧⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ Ⲣ ⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲚϣⲁⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲚϩⲚⲃⲁⲗ ⲉⲡⲙⲁ Ⲛⲟⲩⲃⲁⲗ ̀ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩϭⲓϫ ̀ ⲉⲡⲙⲁ Ⲛⲛⲟⲩϭⲓϫ ̀ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ ⲉⲡⲙⲁ Ⲛⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ ⲟⲩϩⲓⲕⲱⲛ ̀ ⲉⲡⲙⲁ Ⲛⲟⲩϩⲓⲕⲱ(ⲛ) ⲧⲟⲧⲉ ⲧⲉⲧⲛⲁⲃⲱⲕ ̀ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉ[ⲧ]ⲙⲛ[ⲧⲉⲣ]ⲟ ̀ Trans. Lambdin. The Coptic follows The Coptic Gnostic Library. A Complete Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices (Leiden). 14 Greek/P. Oxy. 655, col. i. 17- col. ii.1: λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ˙ πότε ἡμεῖν ἐμφανὴς ἔσει, καὶ πότε σε ὀψόμεθα; λέγει˙ ὅταν ἐκδύσησθε καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῆτε [et cetera, 10



His disciples said to him, ‘When will you be revealed to us, and when will we see you?’ He said, ‘When you disrobe and are not ashamed […] nor be afraid’.15 His disciples said, ‘When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?’ Jesus said, ‘When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid’.16

I endorse Gathercole’s observation that the Greek ἐμφανὴς ἔσει (‘you will be revealed/manifested’) can be translated into Coptic ⲉⲕⲛⲁⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (‘you will be revealed’) on the basis of a similar translation from Rom. 10:20 (ἐμφανὴς ἐγενόμην) into Sahidic ⲁⲓⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ.17 The Gospel of Thomas in its Coptic editon clearly separates Saying 22 from 37. However, we do not know the orginal structure of all 114 Sayings. Both Sayings A.1 and B.2.2 present children as the model of the Christian life, while disrobing, taking off the garments, or returning to the original stage (A.1) are the central motif of teaching. Together with other scholars18 I am inclided to propose that both Sayings 22 and 37 belong to the same section of the original Gospel of Thomas and became separated in the later process of editorial work. To support my argument, I should point out that preserved Greek fragments from Oxyrynhus (P. Oxy. 1, 23-30) combine Sayings 30a and 77b.19 Finally, the third document known as the 2Clement 12 (here: C) offers the following conversation: (C) For the Lord himself, when he was asked by someone when the kingdom was going to come, said, ‘When two shall be one, and that outside like inside, and the male with the female, neither male nor female’. […] ‘when you do these things, he says, the kingdom of my Father will come’.20

approx.6 lines] [- - - οὐδὲ φοβη-] θ [ήσεσθε]. The Coptic follows The Coptic Gnostic Library (Leiden, 1989), 122. 15 My translation. 16 ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲛⲉϥⲙⲁⲑⲏⲧⲏⲥ ϫⲉ ⲁϣ Ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲕⲛⲁⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁϣ Ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲛⲁⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ ̀ ⲡⲉϫⲉ Ⲓ⳰Ⲥ ϫⲉ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲚϣⲁⲕⲉⲕ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲚ ⲉϩⲏⲩ ⲘⲡⲉⲧⲚϣⲓⲡⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲚⲧⲉⲧⲚϥⲓ ⲚⲛⲉⲧⲚϣⲧⲏⲛ ⲚⲧⲉⲧⲚⲕⲁⲁⲩ ϩⲁ ⲡⲉⲥⲏⲧ ̀ ⲚⲛⲉⲧⲚⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ Ⲛⲑⲉ Ⲛⲛⲓⲕⲟⲩⲉⲓ Ⲛϣⲏⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ ̀ ⲚⲧⲉⲧⲚϫⲟⲡϫⲠ ̀ Ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲧⲟⲧⲉ [ⲧⲉⲧ]ⲛⲁⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ Ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲟⲛϩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲉⲧⲛⲁⲢ ϩⲟⲧⲉ ⲁⲛ Trans. Lambdin. 17 Simon Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas. Introduction and Commentary, Texts and Editions for New Testament Studies 11 (Leiden, 2014), 362-3. 18 Ibid. 103-11. 19 Harold W. Attridge, The Coptic Gnostic Library (1989), 99. 20 ἐπερωτηθεὶς γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ὑπὸ τινος, πότε ἥξει αὐτοῦ ἡ βασιλεία, εἶπεν· Ὅταν ἔσται τὰ δύο ἕν, καὶ τὸ ἔξω ὡς τὸ ἔσω, καὶ τὸ ἄρσεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας οὔτε ἄρσεν οὔτε θῆλυ. […] ταῦτα ὑμῶν ποιούντων, φησίν, ἐλεύσεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ πατρός μου. Trans. Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers. Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids, 2004), 117-9.

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


Tuckett’s commentary on this document21 proposes Rome as the place of composition; however, he also highlights some possible links (language, metaphors, religious outlook) with Egypt and Alexandria. Also the date can only be proposed and Tuckett safely suggests the middle of the second century. Even with that careful assessment, the interesting passage comes from the period very close to the writing of Clement of Alexandria and possible editorial work on the Gospel of Thomas. For Tuckett, this saying relates to the traditions preserved by Clement and the Gospel of Thomas.22 Having examined the possible interdependence among these three sources, Tuckett endorses Baarda’s23 Koester’s24 and Pratscher’s25 earlier observation and states: We thus have in the three witnesses’ evidence of a freely floating tradition of a saying of Jesus; and of all the three versions, the version in 2 Clement probably represents the earliest form.26

Tuckett’s conclusion does not explain why he is keen on seeing the statement from 2Clement as the ‘earliest form’, however it leads us directly to the review of the status quaestionis. 3. Status quaestionis The discovery of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas in 1945 allowed scholars to re-examine earlier patristic records related to ‘heretical’ scriptures. One of the most important scholars, Quispel, while studying the Coptic Gospel of Thomas proposed that Saying 22 was dependent on the passage from the Gospel of the Egyptians (B.1 → A.1).27 Another opinion was expressed by Baarda. He re-examined all three passages and offered an appealing suggestion that all three fragments show three trajectories of the development of the original Saying.28 More recently Callan endorsed Baarda’s observation and suggested that the core-Saying must be authentic and comes from Jesus.29 That authenticity is questioned by Tuckett,30 while the co-existence of three versions is upheld. Those scholars tried to establish interdependence of these similar passages looking at their literary structure. My approach emerges from the interconnected 21 22 23 24

C. Tuckett, 2 Clement (2013), 58-64. Ibid. 227. T. Baarda, ‘2 Clement 12 and the Sayings of Jesus’ (1983), 547. Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels. Their History and Development (London, 1990),

359. 25 26 27 28 29 30

Wilhelm Pratscher, Der zweite Clemensbrief (Göttingen, 2007), 163 C. Tuckett, 2 Clement (2013), 229. G. Quispel, ‘L’Évangile selon Thomas’ (1965), 37-45. T. Baarda, ‘2 Clement 12 and the Sayings of Jesus’ (1983), 261-88. T. Callan, ‘The Sayings of Jesus in Gos. Thom. 22/2 Clem.12/Gos.Eg.5’ (1960), 46-64. C. Tuckett, 2 Clement (2013), 331, footnote 14.



questions: can we reconstruct the direction of asceticism (encratism) among some early Christian groups as moderate at the beginning and, with time, becoming radical or extreme later? If so, at which stage did the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of the Egyptians and 2Clement appear? Can we talk about any interaction among those documents? 4. The religious context of the passages: encratic competition The enigmatic quote from the Gospel of the Egyptians highlights the need for trampling on the garment of shame’ and is placed in the context of Clement’s polemic with radical encratic Christians: Marcion, Tatian, Julius Cassianus.31 But in order to explore their tendency, we need, although briefly, to recall some important religious and philosophical aspects of radical asceticism within the Graeco-Roman milieu. Second-century Christian asceticism assimilated some Gentile elements which were already practised during the first and the second centuries with a new agenda related to the social life of communities. This Christian ideal of ‘a holy person’ faced the market of competition which aimed to attract an audience and attention. Self-control, freedom from passions and desires, simplicity of life, perfection achieved by limitation, if not the extinction of desires – these ideals were models promoted by several itinerant teachers, self-proclaimed spiritual guides and rhetors. I wish to sketch out some relevant elements of that rich spectrum through the lens of various opinions about marriage, celibacy, poverty and self-sufficiency. 4.1. Asceticism among philosophical schools Various philosophical schools in the late Roman Empire competed with one another as to the best way of finding eudaimonia and beautitudo. They presented different ideals of the philosophical life and the personification of wisdom. For example, for some it was Socrates, while for others Pythagoras. As noted by Trapp, attaining perfection or happiness was understood as primarily selfdisciple, control of the emotions, and perseverance.32 Roman Stoics, Middle Platonists, Peripatetics as well as some representatives of the Neopythagorean tradition promoted life according to virtue, especially in its four traditional forms: wisdom, courage, justice and self-control (σωφροσύνη/temperatia, continentia).33 An alternative vision of the fulfilment of life was advocated by the Cynics, Sceptics and Epicureans. In relation to emerging Christian groups 31

Stromata 3.21.1-25.4; 45.1-56.3; 63.1-67.2; 91.1-95.3; 102.1-104.5 Michael Trapp, Philosophy in the Roman Empire. Ethics, Politics and Society (Aldershot, 2007), 28-62. 33 Ibid. 32. 32

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


originating among Gentile converts at the turn of the first century, Cynics were important, as argued directly by Downing34 and indirectly by Finn35 and Crossant.36 Trapp notes that popular Cynicism during the Imperial period promoted a ‘stripped down, deintellectualised and asceticized version of the rational virtue tradition’.37 This philosophical tradition competed with the influence of Roman Stoicism and Middle Platonism on various Christian communities. In the case of that common Cynicism, the main emphasis was on the daily discipline of ascetic life. For Cynics life was rather ‘action’ than ‘reflection’. 38 Among early Christians ascetic life was then projected on the originator of Christianity: Jesus of Nazareth. In this context, we can better understand the note written by Clement of Alexandria on Valentinus’ teaching about Jesus’ digestion. According to Clement’s testimony, Valentinus upheld the view that Jesus ate and drank but did not defecate.39 Dunderberg is right while commenting on that puzzling note, that, as in the case of the idealisation of Pythagoras, it showed Jesus’ assumed highest degree of self-control.40 Various schools produced a list of requirement for the ascetic life in the case of the Cynics in the Imperial period, they include: ‘self-sufficiency’ (αὐτοκράτεια), abstinence from wine and meat, rough clothing, bare feet, rejection of possessions and sexual renunciation. In my view, it is not surprising that among early Christians from the second-century the encratic style of life had an appeal, with the assimilation of these characteristics to the authentic Christian life. It is not a coincidence that Marcion (ca. 120 - ca. 160) and Tatian (ca. 120 -180?) were accused by Tertullian of permanently abstaining from meat.41 In addition, Tertullian notes that Marcion on his arrival in Rome in his own ship donated an enormous sum of money (200.000 sesterces) to the local church.42 Marcion’s generosity does not need to be seen as dishonest, but instead as expressing his ethical and ascetic stance. Another ascetic practice was the celebration of the Eucharist with bread and water, instead of wine. This practice was known to Clement of Alexandria,43 who criticised it. These selected examples show that the dissemination of the Christian message, which continue in a new, less 34

See his Cynics and Christian Origins (Edinburgh, 1992). His study is a valuable review of various ascetic tendencies in Roman world, Richard Finn, Asceticism in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge, 2007), 9-33. 36 John Dominic Crossan famously called Jesus, ‘a peasant Jewish Cynic’ in The Historical Jesus. The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (New York, 1992), 421. 37 M. Trapp, Philosophy (2007), 36. 38 Francis G. Downing, Cynics and Christian Origins (London a.o., 1992), 34. 39 Strom. 40 Diogenes Laertius, VIII 19 and Ismo Dunderberg, Beyond Gnosticism. Myth, Lifestyle, and Society in the School of Valentinus (New York, 2008), 22. 41 Tertullian, On Fasting 15.1. 42 Tertullian, Prescr. 30. 43 Strom.; Paedagogus II 2.33.1 and discussion in R. Finn, Asceticism (2007), 75-80. 35



Jewish, context during the second century did not happen in a philosophical void; on the contrary, it assimilated already-existent philosophical ideals and models of life. 4.2. Asceticism among early Christians and in their literature We have already mentioned Valentinus’ curious opinion on Jesus’ digestive system, which served to enhance the ideal of self-control. In this section I would like to look more closely at the Gospel of the Egyptians, the Gospel of Thomas and 2Clement in relation to the ascetic model that these sources promoted. Clement preserves four distinct quotes from the Gospel of the Egyptians. One (A.1) has been noted already, yet for the sake of coherence it is now attached to the other three which read: (A.1) When Salome asked when this will be known, the Lord said, ‘when you have trampled on the garment of shame and when the two become one and the male with the female neither male nor female’.44 (A.2) When Salome asked, ‘how long will death maintain its power?’ the Lord said, ‘As long as ye women bear children’.45 (A.3) They maintain that the Savior personally said, ‘I am come to destroy the works of the female’.46 (A.4) [Salome] said, ‘I have then done better if I never had a child’ suggesting that childbearing was not a necessary obligation. The Lord replied in the words, ‘Eat every plant, but do not eat a plant whose content is bitter’.47

All four quotes appeared in the context of Clement’s polemic against an encratic tendency to reject marriage, procreation and possessions. It is clear from Clement’s references to the view of his opponents that they believe in achieving the post-resurrection state (‘angelic’, neither male nor female) in the current life.48 Those Christians claimed that ‘marriage is fornication’ (πορνείαν ἄντικρυς τὸν γάμον λέγουσι).49 They referred to the testimony of Scripture that ‘the Lord did not marry and had no worldly possessions’ (φασι τὸν κύριον μήτε γήμαντα μήτε τι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ κτησάμενον, μᾶλλον παρὰ τοὺς ἄλλους νενοηκέναι τὸ 44

The English translation follows J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1991), 314. Strom., τῇ Σαλώμῃ ὁ κύριος πυνθανομένῃ, μέχρι πότε θάνατος ἰσχύσει; οὐχ ὡς κακοῦ τοῦ βίου ὄντος καὶ τῆς κτίσεως πονηρᾶς, μέχρις ἂν εἶπεν ὑμεῖς αἱ γυναῖκες τίκτητε, trans. J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1991), 284. 46 Strom., φασὶ γάρ, ὅτι αὐτὸς εἶπεν ὁ σωτήρ· ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὰ ἔργα τῆς θηλείας, trans. J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1991), 295. 47 Strom., φαμένης γὰρ αὐτῆς καλῶς οὖν ἐποίησα μὴ τεκοῦσα, ὡς οὐ δεόντως τῆς γενέσεως παραλαμβανομένης, ἀμείβεται λέγων ὁ κύριος· πᾶσαν φάγε βοτάνην, τὴν δὲ πικρίαν ἔχουσαν μὴ φάγῃς, trans. J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1991), 297. 48 Strom. 49 Strom. 45

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


εὐαγγέλιον).50 From further polemic, we can detect that Clement’s opponents, like the Saviour in their view, also did not want to acquire any wealth.51 Although, those Christians knew the Scriptures, as Clement in his critique quotes various passages from Pauline letters and four Gospels, they based their encratic practice, in Clement’s opinion, on the Gospel of the Egyptians in particular.52 I am inclined to place the four fragments from the Gospel of the Egyptians alongside popular Cynicism, with its emphasis on, as noted by Trapp ‘deintellectualised and asceticized version of the rational virtue tradition’.53 This inclination attracted the attention of Clement, who valued the opposite trajectory combining ethics, moral life with rationality. As it has been pointed out in the previous section, common Cynicism put the main emphasis on the daily discipline of ascetic life and ‘action’. Again, if Cassianus promoted this attitude in his writings and searched for a Scriptural authority to support his intuition, for Clement the contrary was in the centre of his didactic. For Clement of Alexandria that intellectual, philosophical ‘reflection’ emphasised the value of marriage and sexual life. Clement, here Middle Platonist, criticised Cassianus, here Christian Cynic, as a radical abstinent, whose exegesis lack rational coherence and promoted wrong, in Clement’s view, style of life. Our second document, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, from which we have two Sayings included in our debate (B.1 and B.2.2), introduces some parallels with the ethical and theological landscape from the Gospel of the Egyptians, but also shows some original features in its treatments of asceticism. But first it is important to recognise that, in the case of the Gospel of Thomas, our material is richer as we have 114 Coptic Sayings. This fact provides us with better sources for the reconstruction of its asceticism as well as the audience. Uro has examined the asceticism in the Gospel of Thomas under the plain title: ‘Is Thomas an Enctratite gospel?’54 In conclusion, Uro wrote: In my judgment, the ambiguity is best explained by the suggestion that Thomas does not derive from a strictly encratic sect in which celibacy was the condition of entrance to the community, even though encratite tendencies must have occurred in Thomas; environment’.55

I fully endorse Uro’s observation. Still, I would like to offer a couple of comments. The collection of Sayings shows a diversity of views related to asceticism. In consequence commentators are split: on one side, Turner stated 50

Ibid. Strom. and again 52 Strom. 53 M. Trapp, Philosophy (2007), 36. 54 In Thomas at the Crossroads. Essays on the Gospel of Thomas, ed. R. Uro (Edinburgh, 1998), 140-62. This valuable paper provides us with important bibliography related to Thomas’ asceticism. 55 Ibid. 161. 51



that this document displayed a ‘fastidious abhorrence of sex’,56 on the other, Davies wrote that ‘Thomas never mentions either marriage or sexual continence’.57 This diversity of opinions goes back to the Gospel itself, as this narrative unveils many ambiguities related to ascetic practices which were not eliminated by ancient translators and copyists.58 I am keen on accepting De Conick’s view that this Gospel was an expression of the mystical/visionary aspiration of some of the Sayings, that includes our Saying 37. But unlike De Conick I don’t see encratism as the tendency found in Saying 37.59 In the whole Gospel, it is not the flesh, sexual desire or even marriage,60 which stand as the main obstacle to salvation. The main obstacle is the lack of knowledge (ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ),61 or self-knowledge about the origin and the destiny of the disciple, ignorance as to his or her relationship with God and Jesus, whose voice resonates in the Sayings. Soteriology of the Gospel reminds us that the end will be like the beginning: a return to unity. The Gospel does not encourage encratic tendencies such as abstinence from wine and meat, while ‘poverty’ (ϩⲏⲕⲉ) stands for ignorance,62 it represents flesh,63 and once it refers to freedom from possessions.64 Who were ‘Thomasine Christians’? Patterson’s proposal builds on Theissen’s theory that the early followers of Jesus were ‘the wondering radicals’ (Wandercharismatiker).65 In Patterson’ opinion, Thomasine Christians were ‘homeless vagabonds and beggars’,66 who continued that early Christian social ethos as they renounced all possessions, relations with their families and lived in a community without a strict organisation. That community, in Patterson’s view, preserved the original radicalism of 56

Huw W. Montefiore and Henry E.W. Turner, Thomas and the Evangelists (London, 1962), 96. Stevan L. Davies, Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom (Eugene, OR, 2005), 21. 58 See more in Richard Valantasis, The Gospel of Thomas (London, New York, 1997), 26. 59 April De Conick and J. Fossum, ‘Stripped Before God: A New Interpretation of Logion 37 in the Gospel of Thomas’, VC 45 (1991), 123-50. 60 In the case of Saying 64, when one of the invited to the banquet rejected the invitation because of his involvement in organisation of marriage, I see this as not a general condemnation of marriage, but as a particular, wrong excuse criticised by the Saying, see also S. Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas (2014), 453-6. 61 As noted by Gathercole, this term appears 25 times in the Sayings, while the once used ⲅⲛⲱⲥⲓⲥ and the six times used Coptic synonym ⲉⲓⲙⲉ show clearly the importance of ‘knowledge’ in the didactic of this collection, see S. Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas (2014), 152. 62 Saying 3. 63 Saying 29. 64 The short Saying 54 which echoes the blessing of the poor in Luke 6:20 against Matthew 5:3 (no ‘in spirit’), may indicate mendicancy and lack of involvement in the world as noted by R. Valantasis, The Gospel of Thomas (1997), 131. 65 Gerd Theissen, ‘Wanderradikalismus: Literatursoziologische Aspekte der Überlieferung von Worten Jesu im Urchristentum’, ZTK 70 (1973), 245-71. The English translation: ‘The Wandering Radicals: Light Shed by the Sociology and Literature on the Transmission of Jesus’ Sayings’, in id., Social reality and the Early Christians, trans. M. Kohl (Minneapolis, 1992), 33-59. 66 Stephen J. Patterson, The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus (Sonoma, 1993), 163. 57

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


Jesus’ movement. Uro notes that, for instance, Saying 42 (‘Become passers-by’) may echo that ethos of life.67 Uro, recalls Valantasis’ suggestion to read the Sayings not as a description of the life of the community, but rather as a proposal of the creation of a new subjectivity.68 Uro proposes his own theory and sees in some of the Sayings (e.g. 21) a reflection of Stoic ethics like in Epictetus’ Enchiridion.69 In Uro’s view, although some Stoics preferred unmarried life and withdrawal from politics, their main concern was the cultivation of the life of their soul. Also, the Stoic pantheism resonates in some Sayings of the Gospel (e.g. Saying 113). I wish to propose yet another identification of the group. In my view, various ethical statements from the Gospel reassemble some elements of the Neopythagorean didactic and ethos. We shouldn’t think that the milieu which produced and preserved Thomas were Christian Neopythagoreans sensu stricto, but that their didactic developed some parallels with this school. Neopythagoreism revived around the turn of the century in various parts of the Roman Empire,70 including Syria.71 First, literary evidence shows similarities between the Gospel of Thomas and aphorisms or gnomologion/chreia-collection72 from Pythagorean Sentences and the Sentences of Sextus.73 In parallel to the Gospel of Thomas we can see several works in such a variety of Neopythagorean collections of apocrypha74 and individual sayings/maxims ascribed to Pythagoras.75 Secondly, Saying 13 contains the notion that Jesus was understood as ‘philosopher’ (Ⲙⲫⲓⲗⲟⲥⲟⲫⲟⲥ). This term does not appear in the canonical 67

R. Uro, ‘The social world’ (2006), 23. My concern with this social model is that it is hard to imagine women as members of that movement, who would accept the wandering style of life, begging at gates or travelling through rural areas on their own. Equally, it is hard to see the exclusively male community of Thomasine Christians. 68 Richard Valantasis, ‘Is the Gospel of Thomas Ascetical? Revisiting an Old Problem with a New Theory’, JECS 7 (1999), 55-81 and R. Uro, ‘The social world’ (2006), 29-31. 69 R. Uro, ‘The social world’ (2006), 32-4. 70 Often it is southern Italy, Sicily and Alexandria that is mentioned as the geographical location where Neopythagoreans were active and taught. However, they were also known in other places: Publius Nigidius Figulus was active in Rome (died in year 45 BCE). Moderatus of Gades although from Cadiz in Spain was also known in Rome. Nicomachus came from Gerasa in Jordan. On those and other Neopythagoreans, see J. Dillon, The Middle Platonists 80 B.C. to A.D. 220 (London, 1996), 341-83. 71 Numenius of Apamea was active during the second half of the second century in this city in northern Syria, more J. Dillon, The Middle Platonists (1996), 361. 72 More in S. Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas (2014), 137-43. 73 Anne Pasquier and François Vouga, ‘Le genre littéraire et la structure argumentative de l’Évangile selon Thomas et leurs implications christologiques’, in L. Painchaud and P.-H. Poirier (eds), Colloque internationale : L’Évangile selon Thomas et le textes de Nag Hammadi. Québec, 29-31 Mai 2003 (Leuven, 2007), 335-62, especially 337. 74 See more in The Pythagorean Writings: Hellenistic Texts from the 1st B.C. to 3rd A.D.), ed. R. Navon (New York, 1986). 75 See Laertius VIII 17 and Strobaeus, in The Pythagorean Writings (1986), 170-1.



Gospels and must have entered the text from a Hellenistic background. In the Pythagorean tradition, a ‘philosopher’ was the ‘lover of wisdom’ and Pythagoras applied this term to himself.76 Thirdly, the central motif in the Gospel is the voice/teaching of Jesus (ⲡⲉϫⲉ Ⲓ⳰Ⲥ), the revealer.77 The counterpart is in Pythagorean tradition depicts Pythagoras as hidden behind the curtain during his teachings, so that his uninitiated disciples could hear his voice, but not to see his posture.78 This motif is evident in the Gospel from its Coptic Prologue (ⲛⲁⲉⲓⲛⲉ Ⲛϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲑⲏⲧ…).79 Fourthly, the crucial distinction in Pythagoreism between Monad-Dyad or the original unity and secondary duality/multiplicity resonates quite well with the Gospel’s message about the attainment of the important stage of ‘one and the same’ (ⲟⲩⲁ ⲟⲩⲱⲧ in Sayings 22, see also 4, 23, 11 and 106). Without any further engagement with Neopythagorean speculation about the priority of Monad, we see Thomas’ favourable notion of becoming singular, solitary (ⲛⲙⲟⲛⲁⲭⲟⲥ).80 In Thomas the number one (ⲟⲩⲁ) also has priority over two (ⲥⲛⲁⲩ) in Saying 11.81 Fifthly, the Pythagorean assimilation of the Delphic decree ‘know yourself’ is very important82 in Thomas. Finally, Neopythagoreism continued the emphasis on spiritual and mystical life,83 as illustrated by the Golden Verses.84 In the case of the Gospel, as noted by De Conick, mysticism plays an important role and De Conick argues for its Jewish origin.85 However, there are also some clear differences between the Neopythagorean doctrine and the Gospel, among them: the interests of the former in mathematics, music and the theory of the reincarnation of the soul. This leads us to the following conclusion. The Gospel of Thomas with its Syriac origin preserved some of the earliest oral traditions of Jesus’ teaching which, 76 Laertius I 12; VIII 8; Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 5.3.8-9 (quoting Heraclides Ponticus fr. 88 Wehrli) and Iamblichus VP 58. 77 S. Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas (2014), 152. 78 Laertius VIII 10. 79 The Greek Prologue P.Oxy. 654.1-5 supplies ἀπόκρυφοι on the basis of the Coptic text. 80 Sayings 16, 49 and 75. 81 Saying 11.4: ‘On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?’. Trans. Lambdin, see also S. Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas (2014), 248. 82 For the Gospel of Thomas see above note 73. For a Pythagorean example of interpretation, see Caryl A. Huffman, Philolaus of Croton: Pythagorean and Presocratic: A Commentary on the Fragments and Testimonia with Interpretive Essays (Cambridge, 1993), 117. 83 The embodiment of that life was Apollonius of Tyana, see the eulogy of his life by Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana. More in R. Finn, Asceticism (2007), 29. 84 More in Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, Measuring Heaven: Pythagoras and his Influence on Thought and Art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Ithaca, 2007). See also Photius, Biblioth., cod. 249, 439 a 8-19. 85 April D. De Conick, Seek To See Him. Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas (Leiden, 1996), 28-39.

Clement of Alexandria and the Riddle of the Gospel of the Egyptians


with growing ascetic tendency, assimilated or emphasised elements from a larger, philosophical outlook. Among them there are some which show similarity with Neopythagorean ethics and mystical orientation. 5. The question of dependence among the studied sources This article focuses on the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Gospel of Thomas, however to quote a passage from 2Clement 12, even if its background is not discussed here, it clearly shows similarity to the two previous references. In my view, the question about the inter-dependence of our three fragments needs to be answered only in a limited way. I agree with Baarda’s view that our text shows three different trajectories of the development of the original saying.86 But in my proposal, I see that development as from less ascetic to a more encratic stance. All three trajectories go back to an original Saying, again, we can’t be sure whether dominical or not. But with growing interest in ascesis, a more encratic version of the Saying reflects ascetic interests in the milieu. If this hypothesis is correct, then I would argue that the two Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas pre-date the ones preserved in the Gospel of the Egyptians. It is also possible to accept that the Gospel of Thomas was not first known in Alexandria in toto (i.e. 114 Sayings), but some individual Logoi were first brought to Alexandria from Syria. In Alexandria, those Sayings might be found as relevant and, with some redaction, started their life in a new literary context. But this reconstruction remains hypothetical until some new discoveries of sources. 6. Conclusions In this article I aimed to reconstruct the background of the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Gospel of Thomas, much more than just 2Clement, in order to detect the possible relationship between quite similar statements. Unlike other commentators, I placed these fragments into the context of growing Christian competition in asceticism, especially during the second-century. That competition explains quite well the popularity of the original Saying, which during the second-century followed at least three different trajectories of interpretation. My analysis paid additional attention to the different schools of philosophy, as it is possible to detect some parallels or similar interests among our fragments and especially Cynic (the Gospel of the Egyptians) and Neopythagorean (possibly Thomas) didactics. In my proposal, the transition from early asceticism to the later encratic model of life influenced the reception of the original Saying and placed it in a new exegetical and ethical context. 86

T. Baarda, ‘2 Clement 12 and the Sayings of Jesus’ (1983), 279.

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’1 Miklós GYURKOVICS, Saint Athanasius Greek-Catholic Theological Institute, Nyíregyháza, Hungary

ABSTRACT This article presents the teaching of Clement of Alexandria on the human soul, considered in relation to the heterodox teachings that he has rejected in his writings. In addition, I attempt to explain why he found the heterodox teachings unacceptable. Clement sets out the views of his interlocutors with the aim of making his own teaching more understandable and his argumentation more effective through ‘dialogue’ with them. The quotations in the works of Clement are thus of pedagogical and argumentative value, as they serve to educate and persuade the reader. Among the teachings he rejects most strongly the Scriptural exegesis of the Gnostics, which he claims to depart from the truths of revelation and rely on human opinions instead of the divine teaching.2 In fact, Clement indicates that the basis, the criterion, and the purpose of his theological dialectics derive from the revelation of the Scriptures. Thus, his own philosophy, which he often calls ‘barbarian philosophy’, is of biblical-exegetical nature.

The aim of this study is to identify sources of the Gnostic teachings Clement opposes (Basilides, Isidore, Valentinus, Pythagorean doctrines) discussed in Stromateis II 20,112,1-117,4, in light of which the particularity of Clement’s teaching can also be seen more clearly. In evaluating the heterodox, especially Gnostic references in Clement I agree with the view of Judith L. Kovacs: Like other church fathers, Clement is not an impartial reporter; there is evidence of his bias or misunderstanding on certain points … So caution is in order. On the other hand we should not forget that the church fathers knew more early Valentinian texts than we do.3 1 I would like to say special thanks to Judith L. Kovacs for her valuable comments on this paper. 2 See Strom. II 1,8,4-11,2; II 11,48,1-49,4; VI 18,162,1-168,4; Paed. I 6,25,1-3. 3 Judith L. Kovacs, ‘Grace and Works: Clement of Alexandria’s Response to Valentinian Exegesis of Paul’, in Tobias Nicklas, Andreas Merkt and Joseph Verheyden (eds), Ancient and New Perspectives on Paul (Göttingen, 2013), 191-210, 209. See also ead., ‘The language of grace: Valentinian Reflection on New Testament Imagery’, in Zoë Bennett and David B. Gowler (eds), Radical Christian Voices and Practice: Essays in Honour of Christopher Rowland (Oxford, 2012), 69-85; edd., ‘Clement of Alexandria and Valentinian Exegesis in the Excerpts from Theodotus’,

Studia Patristica CX, 111-125. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



In analyzing Clement’s psychology I treat the following themes: the passions, demons, obsession, original sin, predestination and free will. The human soul and evil spirits In Strom. II 20,112,1-117,4 Clement examines the human soul and considers the free will, the passions and the activities of ‘certain evil spirits’.4 He also mentions that these topics are of such particular importance for him that he intends to discuss them in a separate work entitled On the Soul, a work that either was never written or has been lost over the centuries.5 At several points in Strom. II 20,112,1-117,4 Clement reports that gnostic teachers speak of evil spirits dwelling in man. A crucial question to be investigated is whether Clement accepts the possibility that evil spirits dwell in man. The first reference concerns Basilides (Strom. II 20,112,1-113,3), who, according to Clement, calls the passions appendages (προσαρτήματα).6 According to Basilides, these passions are formed by evil spirits (πνεύματα) that are appended to the rational soul. Clement says that according to Basilides and his followers, SP 41 (2006), 187-200; ead., ‘Divine Pedagogy and the Gnostic Teacher according to Clement of Alexandria’, JECS 9 (2001), 3-25; ead., ‘Concealment and Gnostic Exegesis: Clement of Alexandria’s Interpretation of the Tabernacle’, SP 31 (1997), 414-37; Matyáš Havrda, ‘Grace and Free Will According to Clement of Alexandria’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 19 (2011), 21-48. 4 The nature of the human soul and evil spirits in Clement has been discussed by John Kaye, Some account of the writings and opinions of Clement of Alexandria (London, 1900), 154-7, also see Gilles Quispel, ‘L’homme gnostique. La doctrine de Basilide’, Eranos 16 (1948), 89-139, 128; id., ‘Genius and Spirit’, in Johannes van Oort (ed.), Gnostica, Judaica, Catholica, Collected Essays of Gilles Quispel, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 55 (Leiden, 2008), 103-19; Ugo Bianchi, ‘Basilide, o del tragico’, Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni 38 (1967), 78-85; id., ‘Basilide, o del tragico’, in Selected Essays on Gnosticism, Dualism, and Mysteriosophy, Numen Book Series 38 (Leiden, 1978), 328-35; William E.G. Floyd, Clement of Alexandria’s Treatment of the Problem of Evil, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford, 1971); Antonio Orbe, ‘Los «apéndices» de Basílides (Un capítulo de filosofía gnostica)’, Gregorianum 57 (1976), 81-107; 251-84; Peter Karavites, Evil, Freedom, and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria (Leiden, Boston, Köln, 1999), 17-54, 109-32; L. Roig Lanzillotta, ‘Greek Philosophy and the Problem of Evil in Clement of Alexandria and Origen’, Cuadernos de Filología Clásica: Estudios griegos e indoeuropeos 23 (2013), 207-23. 5 Clement refers to this planned work in Strom. I 14,60,4; II 20,113,2; III 3,13,3; IV 12,85,3; V 13,88,4. About On the Soul see my paper ‘The Concept of the Virginal Motherhood Interpreted by Clement of Alexandria in the Context of Other Alexandrian Religious Literary Works’, Eastern Theological Journal 2 (2016), 203-28. 6 A recent study on Clement’s psychology that compares it with the views of gnostic authors is by Kathleen Gibbons, The Moral Psychology of Clement of Alexandria: Mosaic Philosophy, Studies in Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity (London, New York, 2017). The author often draws on the research of Winrich A. Löhr: Winrich A. Löhr, Basilides und seine Schule: Eine Studie zur Theologie- und Kirchengeschichte des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 83 (Tübingen, 1996).

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


passions are formed by such wicked spirits that grew upon the psyche as a result of an original disorder and perturbation, that is, even before a person’s birth, or rather the incarnation of the psyche. From this it can be inferred that, according to Clement, Basilides taught not only the pre-existence of the human soul, but also that the birth of the soul in the flesh was the result of a divine punishment (Strom. II 20,112,1-113,2).7 Furthermore, according to Basilides children can be born with wicked spirits, and as time passes, other wicked spirits grow upon the soul, which stimulate man to activities befitting of animal nature rather than of his own human nature.8 I would emphasize that, on Clement’s reading, this is not just about passions, but about wicked spirits that enslave the human soul and invade it as does an enemy in the war, a war in which man loses not only his free will but also his moral responsibility. Clement writes against Basilides and in defence of human autonomy in many other places, and he stresses that human autonomy is necessary for faith and salvation.9 Modern scholars, on the other hand, tend to excuse Basilides from the charge of teaching predestination, or deny that the lines quoted by Clement can be attributed to Basilides.10 In the next lines (Strom. II 113,3-4) Clement cites statements of Basilides’ son, Isidore, from his book entitled About the adventitious soul (Περὶ προσφυοῦς ψυχῆς).11 Clement quotes from this work because he thinks Isidore actually admits the madness of their teaching, since if passions are really born in the power of appendages (προσαρτήματα), then ultimately sinners are not responsible for their sins (Strom. II 20,113,4). This view is also supported by the last line of the quotation, where Isidore urges that man must, thanks to his rational skill, control the inferior creature inside him.12 Clement certainly interprets Isidore’s words as saying that there is a rational psyche in man onto which also grew a wicked psyche as an adventitious growth. These two psyches are in perpetual battle with each other within man, especially if the ‘rational psyche’ 7

Clement writes against this view in Strom. IV 26,167,4; II 8,90,1-96,4. In Strom. II 113,2 Clement notes critically that according to Basilides man is like the Trojan Horse, because there are many enemy souls in it. For the view that the evil dwells in human soul from his birth see Strom. III 3,13,1; IV 12,81,1-83,1; Origen, comm in Rom. V 1 (Rom. 7:9). 9 In Strom. III 11,1-3, Clement states that if Basilides is right and faith is not the matter of free choice but a privilege of nature, then no one can be held responsible for his actions, for he has already received from God ‘natural necessity’ coming from outside, which moves man as a puppet with a necessary power. See also Strom. IV 11,79,1; IV 24,153,4; IV 26,165,3-4; IV 168,2; V 1,3,2-5; II 12,54,1-55,1. 10 Winrich A. Löhr, Basilides (1995), 164-8; See also Manlio Simonetti (ed.), Testi gnostici in lingua greca e latina, Scrittori greci e latini (Milano, 2005), 437-8; Roelof Van Den Broek, Gnostic Religion in Antiquity (Cambridge, 2013), 153-4; K. Gibbons, The Moral Psychology (2017), 141-5; Everett Procter, Christian Controversy in Alexandria: Clement’s Polemic against the Basilideans and Valentinians (New York, 1995). 11 For the interpretations of Isidore in Clement see Strom. VI 53,2-5; III 1,1-3,2. 12 Strom. II 20,114,1 On the topic of the fight against evil souls see Strom. II 20,110,1-111,4. 8



does not surrender to the ‘wicked psyche’. Also worthy of note is Clement’s claim that Isidore’s idea of two souls in man resembles Pythagorean teaching. In order to emphasize the importance of this subject, Clement says that he will return to this topic later in more detail.13 On the one hand, this concrete criticism is surprising because our author has himself incorporated many other opinions of the Pythagoreans into his theological system. On the other hand, it is understandable, since Clement certainly knew the view of Plato and perhaps also of Aristotle, namely that the human soul cannot be a harmony of concrete opposing realities.14 This topic will be discussed in more detail below. The third reference of Stromateis II 20 is a quotation from a letter of Valentinus, who – according to Clement – also taught about appendages (προσαρτημάτων) in connection with the origin of passions (Strom. II 20,114,3-6). Valentinus writes that many wicked spirits dwell in the human heart (Matt. 12:45). Each of them performs its own deeds, insulting the heart with unseemly desires; thus the human heart is the abode of many demons. In the quotation from Valentinus above, we may observe ideas similar to those found in Barnabas.15 Here Clement seems rather arbitrary in that he himself uses the same terms, quoting the epistle of Barnabas and interpreting it in a peculiar way. Similarly, as he did with the logia from the Gospel of the Egyptians, he cuts up the lines of Barnabas as well and in between the quotations he puts his own interpretations.16 According to Barnabas, before conversion to the Christian faith, the human soul was built by human hands, and therefore it was the home of demons (Barnabas 16,7-9).17 However, Clement interrupts the quotation and inserts his own interpretation, according to which Barnabas teaches that the actions of sinful men are the same as those of the demons; but Barnabas does not say that spirits dwell in the hearts of the unbelievers (Strom. II 20,117,1).18 13 See Strom. II 20,114,1-2; IV 157,1-3; IV 26,165,3-4; On Pythagoreans see Strom. V 5,28,2; I 17,84,5. Eugene Afonasin, ‘The Pythagorean Way of Life in Clement of Alexandria and Iamblichus’, in E. Afonasin, J. Dillon and J. Finamore (eds), Iamblichus and the Foundation of Late Platonism (Leiden, 2013), 13-36, 20-3. 14 Clement is close to Plato’s teaching, which denies that the soul is a harmony as a composition of realities of opposing nature, see Plato, Phd. 91c-92e; 93a-c; 107a-d; in the same way, Aristotle also openly denies not only that soul is a harmony, but also that many souls could dwell in man: Aristotle, De an. A4, 407b27-409b30; A4, 408a17-18; A5, 411b5-15. See also Elizabeth A. Clark, Clement’s Use of Aristotle: The Aristotelian Contribution to Clement of Alexandria’s Refutation of Gnosticism (New York, 1977). 15 Barnabas 16,7 in Strom. II 20,114,4-6. 16 See my paper ‘La santa prole. Il frutto del matrimonio cristiano nella teologia di Clemente di Alessandria’, Aug 58 (2018), 45-63, 53-7. 17 Barnabas 6,5 and 8,10 in Strom. V 10,63,1-6; Barnabas 11,4 in Strom. V 10,64,1-2, Strom. II 6,31,2; Strom. II 20,116,3. 18 Strom. II 20,117,1. Note that in Eclogae propheticae 7,3 Clement says that through baptism man is liberated from unclean spirits attached to the soul, i.e. not simply from passions. As Clement here apparently contradicts his own teaching, it seems likely that Clement is here reporting the teaching of an unknown Christian (compare Excerpta ex Theodoto 83-4). It is clear that

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


Clement then goes on to argue his own position with the help of the interpretation of Barnabas, claiming that Barnabas himself also taught that it was not the demons who were expelled from the believers, but sins (Strom. II 20,117,3).19 Why does Clement not accept the Pythagorean psychology? It is worthwhile to examine Pythagorean sources, since these Pythagorean teachings attracted followers in Clement’s day. In one of the fragments of a text left to us by Philolaus we can read that for him the psyche is nothing else but a harmony. Presumably Clement is not opposed to the idea of harmony or symphony, but rather to the view of harmony as a mixing (κρᾶσις) and a composition (σύνθεσις) realized from opposing realities.20 In Strom. II 112,1-114,2 he criticizes the psychology of Basilides and Isidore because they believe that one or more evil souls may become attached to the human soul created by God, and in this there would be two or more souls of opposite nature in the human body. Thus harmony originates from opposite realities, one divine and the other demonic, being the harmony between good and evil souls.21 the meaning of Eclogae propheticae 7,3 does not completely correspond with that of Eclogae propheticae 50. Carlo Nardi, however, believes that also in Eclogae propheticae 7,3 Clement speaks of the passions rather than wicked spirits; see Carlo Nardi, Il battesimo in Clemente Alessandrino. Interpretazione di Eclogae propheticae 1-26, Studia ephemeridis augustinianum 19 (Roma, 1984), 74-9. 19 In Strom. II 20,117,2 Clement quotes the words of the Barnabas, with a significant difference, because he uses the verb γίγνομαι in exhortative mode: γενώμεθα (Barnabas 16,8 ἐγενόμεθα). With this slight grammar change, Clement strongly encourages his readers to transform themselves. That is to say, man is the active agent of rebirth. See the footnote to Strom. II 20,117,2 by Giovanni Pini, in Clemente Alessandrino, Stromati. Note di vera filosofia, Introduzione, traduzione e note di Giovanni Pini (Milano, 1985), 323. See also: Strom. IV 25,161,2 (1Cor. 3:17); Strom. IV 26,163,2-4 (1Thess. 5:23); Strom. IV 26,165,2; IV 26,163,4-5; IV 26,168,3. 20 Philolaus, Diels – Kranz (= DK) 44 A23; see also DK 44 B6 (B62); DK 44 B10 (B61), DK 44 B11 (B 139.160); DK 44 B13 (B 159); DK 44 B16 (B 185). Clement writes in Strom. IV 26,163,4; IV 4,18,1; Paed. I 13,101,1-3; that man’s task is to keep the parts of the psyhe in symphony. Probably, Clement referred here to Plato, Stoic and Middle Platonic conceptions and the teaching of Philo too: Plato, Resp. IV,433c-e; 441e-444a; 411d; Philo, Quod Deus sit immutabilis 25-7. An important text to understand the psychology and ethics of Philo: Legum allegoriae I 21-7; 32; 39-42; 72-3; Chrysippus, Etic., fr. 262 SVF III; fr. 197 SVF III. For exploring the sources of Clement’s ethical teaching is still helpful: Salvatore R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford, 1971), 60-117. 21 See also reports about Basilides in Hegemonius, Acta Archelai 67,4-12; Strom. IV 26,164,35; IV 26,165,3: Clement thinks that according to Basilides those who are not born with evil spirits are saved by nature, according to the divine will. In contrast to this view, in Strom. II 8,90,1-96,4 he states that God wants to redeem all men, even the enemy. For more in this topic see Strom. II 3,10,2; III 1,3,3 (Tri. Trac. 104,4-106,31; Excerpta ex Thedoto 51-3; 54,1-3); Strom. II 8,90,1-96,4.



In pre-Socratic philosophy even Parmenides declared the soul to be made of complex realities, fire and earth.22 For Clement, this teaching becomes unacceptable if fire is interpreted allegorically as divine and earth as evil. He could not accept this assumption even if Isidore also maintains that man’s ultimate task is to put the intellect in control of the evil spirit dwelling within him.23 Clement also rejects the view that the human body is opposed to the soul, despite him agreeing with the view that man is the composition (σύνθεσις) of different components: body and soul (material and spiritual).24 Xenophanes, who taught that God is one and immutable, and is completely different from man,25 also claimed that the human soul is composite, namely, a composition of earth and water.26 It seems that Empedocles, whose thinking is similar to the Pythagorean doctrines, taught that the human soul is a proportion (λόγος) that came into existence from the mixture (μίξις) of souls found in all parts of the body, which is nothing else but harmony.27 Interestingly, the author of the Refutatio omnium haeresium mentions the name of Empedocles in connection with the teaching of Marcion of Pontus. He claimed that Marcion believed in two opposing universal principles and was therefore a disciple of Empedocles rather than of Christ.28 In fact, for Empedocles, from the interplay of the two cosmic principles νεῖκος and φιλία (φιλότης) plurality and unity come into being.29 Furthermore, he taught that eternal and pre-existent souls, who were originally in God, whom he called Unity and One, were born into human bodies as punishment. In other words, birth means the break-away from unity, the incarnation of souls, suffering the dissolution into multitude, and the beginning of a very long period of wandering in the material world.30 It is even worth considering that, according to the author of the Refutatio, Marcion forbade marriage due to the influence of Empedocles, because he saw in procreation and birth the mixture of spiritual souls with the material controlled by neikos.31 In his account of the teaching of Marcion and Empedocles the author of the Refutatio also wrote about demons, namely, that Empedocles called the wandering souls demons who wander from body to body as a punishment. Human souls are also demons wandering from body to body (Refutatio omnium haeresium VII 29,16-7; fr. 115). And in Refutatio omnium 22

Parmenides, DK 28 A45. See Strom. II 20,114,1-2; Philolaus, DK 44 A16. 24 See Strom. IV 26,164,4-5; IV 26,165,3-4; IV 8,60,4. 25 Xenophanes, DK 21 A1; DK 21 A34; DK 21 A35; DK 21 A36. 26 Xenophanes, DK 21 A50. 27 Empedocles, DK 31 A78; Aristotle, De an. A 4, 408a10-13. 28 Refutatio omnium haeresium VII 29; 31. 29 Empedocles, DK 31 A28 (Aristotle, Metaph. A 3, 984a8); Empedocles, DK 31 A29 (Plato, Soph. 242c-d); DK 31 B22. 30 Empedocles, DK 31 B115 (Refutatio omnium haeresium VII 29,13-15). 31 Refutatio omnium haeresium VII 31; in contrast, Clement argued for marriage Strom. III 18,104,3-5. 23

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


haeresium I 3, as the first information provided in the brief summary of Empedocles’ teaching, one can read that he was very concerned with the nature of the demons, claiming that there are many of them and they effect changes in the material world. The similitude in the quotation of Valentinus cited in Strom. II 20,114,3-6 is also worth noting; Valentinus says that the heart of a ‘material man’ is like a ‘hostel’ inhabited by many demons. These thoughts are echoed almost verbatim in Refutatio omnium haeresium VI 34,1-7, proving that this teaching of Valentinus is based on Pythagorean principles.32 Summarizing the Pythagorean material considered so far, we can say that Clement did not completely disagree with the teachings of pre-Socratic philosophers or Pythagoreans that we have considered.33 Moreover, considering that he called even Philo of Alexandria a Pythagorean, it is clear that for Clement the Pythagorean name was not a word of revilement.34 After all, according to Clement, man’s ultimate goal is to become ‘one’, and he himself regards the Pythagorean teaching as ‘mystic’, even if the author of the particular Pythagorean teaching mentioned in this passage is difficult to identify.35 Obviously, we cannot get closer to the essence of Clement’s critique of the Gnostic teachings merely by identifying their roots in philosophical traditions, since Clement’s position is not philosophical in origin, but theological. Clearly Clement’s own psychology is more attuned with the criticism of the Pythagorean view by Plato and Aristotle, who claim that ‘harmony’ cannot be the definition of the soul. Plato, in arguing the eternity of the soul, denied that the soul was in itself a harmony originating from combined realities; and specifically rejected the idea that the soul was same as the harmony of the complex mixture of information coming from the outside world.36 This is because Plato associated immortality and the definition of the soul itself with learning and the realization of eternal intellectual truths. Plato’s psychology is also an epistemology according to Clement. When Plato teaches about the soul he also talks about learning and knowledge, and when he talks about the learning and knowledge he also talks about the soul.37 For Clement, the prerequisite for learning is that the rational soul that God has created for each person is good; this soul is free, and together with the body 32 See also Refutatio omnium haeresium VI 34,1-7 in connection with Eclogae propheticae 45,1-46,2; Eclogae propheticae 7,1-3. 33 See for a positive evaluation of Pythagoreism Strom. V 5,27,1-31,5. 34 Strom. I 15,72,4; II 19,100,3. Interestingly, Philo, in De fuga et inventione 69-72, taught about the two parts of the human soul, one is mortal and irrational and the other is immortal and rational. The immortal part of the soul was created as rational by God Himself and was called ‘invisible’, while the mortal part of the soul was entrusted to his staff (Legum allegoriae I 23-108). About Philo and the Pythagorean philosophy see also David T. Runia, ‘Why does Clement call Philo the Pythagorean?’, VC 49 (1995), 1-22; Eugene Afonasin, ‘The Pythagorean Way’ (2013), 23. 35 Strom. IV 25,157,1-3; VII 17,107,4-6; III 10,68,5-69,4. 36 Plato, Phd. 91c-92d. 37 Plato, Phd. 107a-d.



it makes up the unity of the person. In his view the harmony of the human soul cannot be comprised of evil and good souls, because every human soul is a creation of God, and God does not create evil spirits to be inserted into the human soul, not even for the sake of punishment. The actual opposition within man is that of the good and the bad in a moral sense; it is by no means an ontological opposite. The precondition of moral action, similarly to that of learning, is the free will, by which one is able to oppose what is evil and to learn what is good, in order to make one’s whole reality better. If an evil soul or spirits lived within man from his birth, he could never be free, he could never turn freely to the good, since the power of the evil soul would never allow this, with the result that man could never be redeemed. Therefore Clement argued with all those who located the inheritance of evil in birth and for this reason forbade marriage and childbirth. He opposed, for example, the view of original sin of second-century Encratites,38 who claimed that the human soul is born containing demons, and that the connection of the body to the soul already involves a mixture with evil.39 Clement denies that demons (evil spirits) could be present in man from his birth, because demons are by nature incompatible and irreconcilable with man. God created the rational soul of man in his image, and therefore all human souls can be ‘harmonized’, ‘united’, or even deified with the Logos and the Spirit of God. God does not create anyone with evil spirits, nor does He want anyone to be condemned; He wants to save all by the revelation of His Son. Thus, it is understandable why learning is involved, in addition to baptism, for the process of deification.40 The goal of the spiritual development of the true ‘Gnostic’ is reception of the Divine Logos, ‘unity’ with him and ‘transformation’ into him.41 The opposite of this process would be the damnation of man, which would mean the loss of the particular rational human soul created by God. 38

Strom. III 16,100,1-6. Strom. III 3,17,1 (Philolaus, DK 44 B14); III 17,102,1-103,3; III 9,63,67,2; Prot. 10,110, 1; Paed. III 1,3,3; Strom. VI 17,151,3; II 5,21,1. 40 On the theme of learning as ethical development and the way towards God see: Matyáš Havrda, ‘Two Projects of Christian Ethics: Clement, Paed. I 1 and Strom. II 2, 4-6’, VC 73 (2019), 121-37, 132-7; Andrew C. Itter, Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria, Vigiliae Christianae Supplements 97 (Leiden, Boston, 2009), 113-40. 41 Strom. III 17,103,1-4; 104,4; VI 9,72,1-3; VI 11,94,4-6; VI 12,96,1-3; VI 14,108,1-4; VI 14,113,1-3; VI 14,114,5-6; VII 11,64,6-65,4; VII 11,68,1-69,1; Strom. VII 12,71,1-5 (cf. Plato, Theaet. 191d). At the end of Eclogae propheticae 51-7 Clement testifies that when the soul (psyche) ascends to God, it stops at various heavens, where it is perfected by the teaching of angels. Furthermore, it is also important, that in the fiftieth chapter of Eclogae propheticae, where he writes about the incarnation of human soul, he omits any idea concerning sin and punishment. Moreover, he refers to joy, to which the circumstances of the birth of John the Baptist testify (Lk. 1:13-4; 1:41); that the ‘incarnation’ of John’s soul is accompanied by joy is here evoked by an angel. 39

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


The nature of the soul and the passions according to Clement, Plutarch and Alcinous Plutarch, however, referring to Plato in his work entitled De animae procreatione in Timaeo, speaks of an earlier cosmic state that had not yet contained the world soul: in this primary state, necessity, constant conflict with the divinity, disorder, and innate ἐπιθυμία ruled over primal matter. The cosmic soul, however, brought intellect (νοῦς) and harmony to the cosmos (λογισμός, ἁρμονία).42 The cause of the disorder, according to Plutarch, is the Wicked Soul, who is contrary to the Good Soul in everything, and not the material realm.43 Not surprisingly, these ideas of Plutarch can be traced back to the teaching of Empedocles.44 Plutarch also teaches that the psyche is on the one hand divine and unchanging, and on the other hand, mortal and fleshly. Moreover, the soul is not entirely the creation of God; the wicked part is in it by nature, God has only given the soul order.45 The psychology of Basilides, which Clement cannot accept, resembles these views of Plutarch and may be a mythical form of this teaching. It is interesting, that Clement in Eclogae propheticae 1,1-7,3 draws a parallel between the animation of matter and salvation of the man.46 But here again he does not teach that there are two different human souls. Instead, he speaks of the soul that has become disordered and full of passions due to ‘earthly thinking’, which can be ordered, healed and even deified by the Divine Logos through baptism.47 In relation to Clement’s psychological teaching, I find relevant the interpretation of Alcinous in Didaskalikos (The Handbook of Platonism), who not only considers the soul to be immortal, self-moving and uncompounded (ἀσύνθετος), not scattered (ἀσκέδαστος),48 but also states that human destiny is determined by moral behaviour according to the laws of God.49 As Alcinous suggests: God cannot be blamed for the fact that lusts, perception, pleasure, sorrow, fear and anger have become attached (προσφύσεται) to mortals.50 It is very interesting that Clement structures his discussion in Strom. II 20 and Eclogae propheticae 58-65 precisely according to the same ideas expressed in Didaskalikos XVI 1-2, as he shows how – based on scriptural laws – the 42

Plutarch refers to Plato, Plt. 272e; 273b in De animae procreatione in Timaeo 1015a-b. Plutarch, De animae procreatione in Timaeo 1015e-f; see also Plato, Phdr. 245-246; Leg. 898a-b; Tim. 46d, 47e-48b. 44 Empedocles, DK 31 B115 (Refutatio omnium haeresium VII,29). 45 Plutarch, De animae procreatione in Timaeo 1026d-126e, 1027a 46 For the interpretation of Eclogae propheticae 1,1-7,3 see Carlo Nardi, Il battesimo in Clemente Alessandrino. Interpretazione di Eclogae propheticae 1-26, Studia ephemeridis augustinianum 19 (Roma, 1984), 9-79. 47 See Strom. II 22,134,1-4; III 9,63,4; III 10,69,1-4; IV 21,132,1-22,136,5; VII 10,56,4-57,5. 48 Didaskalikos V 5; XXV 1 (Plato, Phd. 105b-107a; 78b-84b). 49 Didaskalikos XXVI 2-3. 50 Didaskalikos XVI 2; XXX 1-2. 43



above-mentioned perception, pleasure, sorrow, fear and anger can be combatted in a manner approved by God.51 The Didaskalikos XXVI 1 begins with the statement of Plato that everything depends on fate, but goes on to suggest that not everything is subject to fate. The author strongly professes human freedom, arguing that soul is not a slave, but it depends on the soul itself whether to do something or not.52 In fact, this statement, which vigorously defends human freedom, is very close to what Clement teaches.53 According to Clement the human soul is God’s most beautiful creation and God’s most cherished possession because He created it in his own image (Gen. 1:26-7) and invited the soul to become like Him (Gen. 2:7).54 The human soul is the superior part of man, while the body is the inferior part, but neither of them is good or bad by nature (Strom. IV 26,164,4-5). Clement’s picture of the soul is similar to that of Alcinous: by nature indefinite, it lies between the true and false; it is like a wax tablet (Didaskalikos IV 5). In an allegorical interpretation of Job. 1:21 (Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there naked), Clement portrays the soul as a naked man, because at its birth it is ‘naked’ of evil and sin, and if it is righteous like Job, it returns at death without these and without the ‘unsightly phantom’ that follows those who have lived unjustly (Strom. IV 25,160,1). He emphasizes that the body and the soul are not composed of opposing or warring elements (Strom. IV 164,3-5; Didaskalikos XXVI 3). In Strom. IV 23,150,2-152,3 Clement states that generic man is created κατ’ ἰδέαν … τοῦ συμφυοῦς πνεύματος. In addition to the Stoic parallels, which may suggest a background for the phrase κατ’ ἰδέαν πλάσσεται τοῦ συμφυοῦς πνεύματος, I would point to the theory of Philo of Alexandria, who writes about the so-called generic intellect of man, which God created with his breath in his own image.55 Thus, the idea of generic man 51

See Strom. II 13,56,1-59,6; IV 23,147,2-4; IV 109,4. Didaskalikos XXVI 1. Then comes the interpretation of the exemplary story of Paris and Helene, quoted also by Clement and Galen (Euripides, Phoenician Women 19; Strom. II 106,2107,2; Prot. II 35,1-2; Galen, De Plac. Hipp. et Plat. 4,5. 2); Strom. II 15,62,1-64,5. See the detailed and very helpful footnote to Strom. II 13,59,6 by Giovanni Pini, in Clemente Alessandrino, Stromati (1985), 280. 53 Kathleen Gibbons, The Moral Psychology (2017), 152-8. Gibbons relies on the following texts: Strom. II 6,25,4-26,1; I 13,103,1; IV 23,152,1-2; Plutarch, De recta ratione audiendi 45e8-11. Gibbons concludes that, although Gnostic teachers may have also recognised that humans have free will, Clement emphasizes in a much stronger and almost extreme way that man’s destiny in everything, including salvation, finally depends on the free choice of the human will. He does not, however, in any way depreciate the redemptive activity of God. See also Matyáš Havrda, ‘Grace and Free Will According to Clement of Alexandria’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 19 (2011), 21-48. Havrda points out the teaching of the lines of Strom. VII 3,13,3; VII 7,48,1-2; VI 9,76,3, which indicates the Gnostic Christian as a result of free cooperation between man and God. 54 Strom. IV 23,147,1-148,2; IV 26,163,2-3; IV 164,3; II 20,125,5 – Didaskalikos XXIII; XXV; XXVIII. 55 David T. Runia, Philo of Alexandria and The ‘Timaeus’ of Plato, Philosophia Antiqua 44 (Leiden, 1986), 328-32, 336-45; The interpretation of Roberto Radice (ed.), Filone, Tutti i trattati 52

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


could be the archetype of every individual person (A De opificio mundi 69-71; Gen. 1:26-7).56 The functioning of the human mind is not ‘automatically’ divine, but only if it becomes an imitator of divine manifestations – as it can be assumed from Philo’s reflections (De opificio mundi 69-71, 134-5). Commenting on the creation of Adam, Clement says that he was perfect in nature, but that what he would become depended solely on his choice based on his own free will (Strom. IV 23,150,3-4). In other words, the character of the soul of the individual man is formed by his choices and deeds, with every choice made leaving an imprint in his soul. These imprints, however, will later inspire one’s further choices. It seems that the formulation of Clement’s teaching about demonic acts was greatly influenced by those Platonic dialogues that treat the passions, delights and pain.57 The purpose of the ‘tricks’ of the demons is to keep humanity captive to the power of spiritually erring and to oppose what makes man: free will and reason.58 Using Platonic ideas, Clement teaches about ‘imprints’, images stamped into the soul, and using a Stoic concept he writes about ‘representations’ introduced into the soul, instead of wicked spirits who dwell in the soul. These imprints can stimulate a person’s actions, and they can even create passions.59 So, where do the passions come from, according to Clement? Passions come into being in the psyche through the imprints of maleficent powers, which stimulate man to act.60 It needs to be made clear, however, that the passions are not products of the intellect and that they cannot be related to reason.61 Clement del commentario allegorico alla Bibbia (Milano, 1994), 51-2; Abraham P. Bos, ‘Philo of Alexandria. A Platonist in the Image and Likeness of Aristotle’, SPhA 10 (1998), 66-86; Roberto Radice, ‘Philo’s Theology and Theory of Creation’, in Adam Kamesar (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Philo (Cambridge 2009), 136-43. 56 Quod Deus sit immutabilis 45-50; Quod deterius potiori insidiari soleat 80-6; De plantatione 18-20; Quis rerum divinarum heres sit 56-7. For Philonic psychology see Gretchen ReydamsSchils, ‘Philo of Alexandria on stoic and platonist psycho-physiology: The socratic higher ground’, in Francesca Alesse (ed.), Philo of Alexandria and Post-Aristotelian Philosophy, Studies in Philo of Alexandria 5 (Leiden, 2008), 169-96; ead., ‘Philo of Alexandria on Stoic and Platonist Psycho-Physiology’, Ancient Philosophy 22 (2002), 125-47. Further important information relevant to our topic can be found in ead., ‘Calcidius on the Human and the World-Soul, and Middle-Platonist Psychology’, Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 39 (2006), 177-200; Hans Svebakken, Philo of Alexandria’s Exposition of the Tenth Commandment, Studia Philonica Monographs (Atlanta, 2012), 2-80. 57 Plato, Phd. 240a-b in Strom. V 14,93,1; Plato, Leg. X,906 and Eph. 6:12 in Strom. V 14,93,2; Eph. 6,11 and 2Cor. 10:4-5 in Strom. II 20,109,2; Plato, Leg. X,896d in Strom. V 14,92,5-6; Eclogae propheticae 9,3. 58 Prot. I 2,4; II 38,1; II 41,1-42,9; IV 51,1-52,6; IV 63,5; VI 67,1; X 91,1-92,2; X 97,2; Paed. II 8,74,3; Strom. II 20,110,1-117,4. 59 Strom. II 13,59,6; VI 16,134,1 (Chrysippus, Log., fr. 53 SVF II); Strom. VI 16,135,1-136,5; IV 28,163,1-165,4 (Chrysippus, Log., fr. 91 SVF II; fr. 52-70 SVF II); Prot. I 2,4-3,2; IX 82,6. 60 Strom. II 11,51,6; II 13,56,1-61,4; V 10,63,1-66,5. 61 See Strom. II 20,110,1-2; VI 16,135,2-4; II 13,59,6; IV 22,136,1; IV 26,165,1 as was suggested by Posidonius, Galen, Plutarch and Alcinous. See Salvatore R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria (1971), 87-9.



also uses an illustrative example: in the soul, fleshly lusts gather like vapours rising from the earth in a swamp, and they produce an evil condition in the soul.62 Thus, for Clement passions and desires are not sins in a moral sense, because sins are only activities done voluntarily, out of free choice, acts committed as a result of accepting passions.63 The healing of the soul according to Clement of Alexandria Clement points out that the intellect is the most important weapon in the fight against demons and passions, as other philosophers do, especially Philo of Alexandria, who had a strong influence on Clement.64 He thinks, however, that man’s intellect is so clouded-over that by itself it can no longer recognize the divine truth. To illuminate this ‘sick’ human intellect, lying powerless in darkness, the Saviour is born, who is the revealer of rational truths and the healer of humanity.65 As we saw in Clement’s phrasing, the man-made soul, that is, the soul formed by human reasoning, remains always unstable. In contrast, the soul illuminated by the teaching of the Scriptures becomes the worthy abode of the Divine Logos. As Plato’s demiurge contemplated the eternal ideas, or as Philo describes divine laws / ideas put into the heart of Moses, so Clement’s Christian fills his soul with divine ideas from Scripture.66 How? It is thanks to the desire for divine truths, and first of all, to the experience of being taught through the bodily senses, that is, through listening, reading and adopting the Scripture.67 62 Strom. II 20,115,3; II 20,118,5. The allegory of the swamp can also be found at Plato, Resp. 533d; 363d; Gregory of Nyssa, De vita Moysis II 68 and also at Plotinus, Ennead. I 8,13. As in Clement, all these texts refer to the Intellect’s sinking into the swamp of passions. Gregory mentions it in connection with the plagues in Egypt (namely, that the frogs coming out of the swamp are the symbols of the rotten heart from which passions erupt). Plotinus believes that if the soul is immersed in the swamp of material passions, it will lose its greatest quality: its immortality, and it dies. 63 On the topic of desires in biblical context see the accurate paper of Veronika Černušková, ‘Four Desires: Clement of Alexandria and the Sermon on the Mount’, in ead., Judith L. Kovacs and Jana Plátová (eds), Clement’s Biblical Exegesis. Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29–31, 2014), Vigiliae Christianae Supplements 139 (Leiden, 2017), 217-58, 222-7; also see Harry O. Maier, ‘Clement of Alexandria and the Care of the Self’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62 (1994), 719-45, 725-8. 64 Philo, Legum allegoriae III 11-3; III 16-8; III 28-37; De migratione Abrahami 26-35; De congressu eruditionis gratia 54-5; 60; 97; De fuga et inventione 87-93; 116-8; De somniis II 150-4 (here we may see some differences concerning Clement’s teaching). 65 See Prot. I 2,2-3,2; Paed. I 1,1,1-9,1; Strom. V 1,7,1-8,7; VII 11,61,1-5; 63,1. 66 On the soul recreated by the activity of Divine Logos see Prot. I 5,2-3; X 107,1-2; Paed. III 94,1-5; Strom. VII 11,64,6-165,1; I 5,31,5; VII 10,55,1. For the portrait of Moses see Kathleen Gibbons, ‘Moses, Statesman and Philosopher: The Philosophical Background of the Ideal of Assimilating to God and the Methodology of Clement of Stromateis 1’, VC 69 (2015), 157-85. 67 Strom. V 1,12,1-13,4; V 4,25,1-26,5; IV 168,2-3.

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


The words of Scripture constitute the ‘house’ of divine powers, through which God himself steps into the soul of man, if man accepts the words of God with faith.68 The divine revelation that is heard, learned and hidden in the soul harmonizes the soul and the whole life of Christians.69 These sacred imprints, the imprints of the divine revelation, heal, beautify, and even make one more like God.70 According to Clement, the prize for the fight against passions is not complete independence, but rather liberation from the bondage of the passions and at the same time a service of God (Strom. I 27,173,6).71 The service of God is a therapy that is both sacred and healing.72 The most useful medicine for this healing is the teaching of the Scripture. The first path of the revelation into the soul is the same as in the case of the passions, through sense perception.73 Clement denies that wicked spirits could dwell in the human soul; the key point of his theology, however, is that it is the Divine Logos, who shall dwell in the human soul. From the beginning the human soul is not compatible with wicked spirits; its nature is created to harmonise and be unified with God to become divine. It is up to man whether he sinks from the earth to the swamp or asks God to make Heaven – an allegorical symbol of the reborn soul – out of the earth, which symbolizes the man-made soul, ultimately asking God to give him wings to ascend from the earth to Heaven. These wings are the purified intellect and the Divine Logos who dwells in man.74 Conclusion Clement’s recalling the teachings of Basilides, Isidore and Valentinus in Strom. II 20,112,1-117,4 provided an opportunity for him to elaborate his own anthropological theories. The opinions of these ‘gnostic’ authors served as starting points for Clement to assert his own views on topics such as free will, moral responsibility, the indelible, eternal image of God in every man, and the passions in relation to the activity of demons. It follows that although Clement has made numerous quotations from these above authors, it is not possible to 68

Strom. II 2,4,1-9,7; VI 16,134,1-3; Eclogae propheticae 65. Strom. II 97,3; I 20,100,1 (1Cor. 1:24); II 11,48,1-19,4; VIII (3)5,1-3. 70 Prot. X 107,1-2; Paed. III 94,1-5 (Ex. 31:18; 2Cor. 3:3; Ex. 32:19); Strom. I 18,90,1 (1Cor. 1:24; Eph. 4:24-9; Matt. 25:27); Strom. I 24,158,1-25,170,4; I 29,182,1-3; V 14,97,5-6; VI 12,104,1-2; VI 15,115,1; Paed. I 12,98,3. 71 This is a bloody serious freedom struggle against passions with the help of the sign of the Cross and the panoply of God cf. Strom. II 20,108,1-109,2. Also see Eclogae propheticae 63; Strom. II 11,48,4; V 1,11,6. 72 Strom. IV 26,163,3-5; IV 30,1; II 5,21,4; Eclogae propheticae 61. 73 Strom. II 12,55,3-6. 74 Strom. IV 168,1-172,2; V 3,16,1-18,8; II 19,98,1. 69



reconstruct the anthropological teaching of Basilides, Isidore and Valentinus with any certainty based on his quotations and summaries of their teaching. On the other hand, paying attention to Clement’s reports on the teaching of these ‘gnostic’ theologians makes it easier to understand Clement’s own psychology, behind which stands his distinctive interpretation of the New Testament and especially of the teaching of Paul.75 Although Clement considered the rational soul of man to be weak, he did not claim that evil dwells in man from birth.76 As we have seen, he did not agree with the so-called Pythagorean view, according to which the human soul was the harmony of opposite natures. Even after the Fall the human soul is neither a harmony of good and evil beings, nor of material and spiritual realities, and by no means is it a harmony of divine and demonic realities. The human soul originates from God. Created in the image of God, eternal and spiritual in nature, it has not lost its basic nature even after the act of sinning. Thus, it cannot become evil in nature, since by nature there is nothing ‘compatible’ in it with evil.77 In other words, Clement did not maintain a duality in the human soul, since he considered that every single human soul was a creation of God. As a consequence of original sin man’s rational soul has become cloudedover, and, in addition, it has been contaminated by passions and sins. Clement cannot, however, believe that it is God’s will that a good soul he has created could receive some demonic reality into itself as an ‘attachment’.78 This idea is consistent throughout Clement’s entire anthropology, according to which the origin of the human soul comes directly from God; therefore it is destined to become divine by union with God.79 Thus, it is completely inconceivable that God could create souls of individuals in which demons are mixed, even as punishment.80 For Clement the consequence of ‘original sin’ is not that babies are born into the world with souls containing evil demons, but rather that they are born with weakened minds, as a result of which they tend toward 75 For Clement’s interpretation of Pauline texts in relation to the themes of baptism, purification, and the reception of the Spirit of God, see 1Cor. 2:14 in Strom. I 12,56,1; 1Cor. 2:14; 9-10 in Strom. V 4,25,5; 1Cor. 2:10, 14 in Strom. VI 18,166,1-5; 1Cor. 3:1-3 in Strom. V 4,26,1-2; V 10,1-5; I 29,180,4-5; 181,1-4; Paed. I 6,34,3; 1Cor. 2:12 in Strom. V 4,25,4-5; 2Cor. 3:1-2 in Prot. X 108,5; Paed. III 94,1-2; Strom. VI 15,131,5-132,1; Rom. 8:2-4 in Strom. III 11,77,2-3; Rom. 7:10, 15 in Strom. III 11,77,3-78,5; 1Cor. 15:17 in Strom. IV 25,164,2; 2Cor. 3:14, 16 in Strom. IV 16,100,2-3; 2Cor. 3:17-8 in Strom. II 20,108,1-111,4 (Eph. 6,11-2; 2Cor. 10,4-5): The soul of the Christian is liberated from the bond of passions by the Spirit of God. 76 See Strom. II 20,110,1-2; II 20,111,2; II 20,113,2; II 20,117,1; II 20,119,1-4. 77 Paed. I 2,6,1-5; I 3,7,3. 78 For the elaboration of this topic the quotation and interpretation of Barnabas 16,7-9 in Strom. II 20,117,1-3 was an important example. 79 See Eclogae propheticae 50; 46; 55; Paed. I 3,9; Strom. V 14,97,5; VI 8,66,1; II 20,111,4; II 20,113,2. 80 Prot. I 5,2-4; Paed. I 2,6,6; Strom. V 14,94,3-4; Plato, Phdr. 255b in Strom. V 14,95,3; Strom. V 14,99,4-6; VI 8,66,1; VI 17,159,1-7.

‘Non-canonical’ Sources for Clement of Alexandria’s ‘Psychology’


sin and are driven by passions in their choices. For this reason, every human soul is in need of baptism, healing, and education by Christ, whether a person is an infant or an adult.81 It is also clear that Clement does not regard the baptismal purification as the literal exorcism of demons, but rather as liberation from the imprints of sins committed during a person’s lifetime and from the evil stimulus these provide. Baptism also conveys the gift of spiritual ability to live one’s life according to the revelation of the Divine Logos. Thus, the person purified by baptism can clearly recognize what is good and righteous, and by the divine power – the Spirit of God – dwelling in him, he can effectively counteract what is evil.82


Cf. Strom. VII 10,55,1-59,7; Paed. I 1,3,1-3; Eclogae propheticae 41-3; 48-9. The entire teaching of Strom. II 19,97-20,126,4 is about divine providence, liberation from passions and deification. Clement inserted into this context the teaching of Basilides, Isidore and Valentinus concerning the activity of demons, in dialogue with which he was able to emphasize his own teaching concerning free will. 82

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition as a Tool to Fight the Gnostics Laura RIZZERIO, University of Namur, Namur, Belgium

ABSTRACT Taking up an important idea of Martin Grabmann who saw Clement as one of the precursors of Anselm de Canterbury and also as one of the founders of the scholastic method with its capacity to operate an interaction between philosophy and theology, the article shows the use of Greek philosophy by Clement and to prove that its manner of using philosophy and theology and/or biblical tradition constitutes for him one privileged tool to fight the Gnostic ones. To clarify this thesis, some examples will be given. One of these is the concept of phronèsis, quite present in Greek philosophy and in the biblical tradition. Other examples will be given, like the use that Clement made of the term logos, the concept of creation or of virtue. By recovering the biblical tradition and by interaction with the philosophical tradition, Clement finds a frightening tool to affirm the ‘true gnosis’ against gnosis heretics.

1. La philosophie et le Christianisme : une possible articulation ? 1.1. Quel est le projet de la philosophie ? Depuis sa naissance, la philosophie se donne comme projet d’éclairer les principes de toutes choses et les grandes questions de l’existence uniquement par la raison. Ce projet démarre avec l’intention de comprendre ce qu’il en est de la physis, mais il devient rapidement aussi un projet éthique et politique proposant non seulement comment découvrir le vrai, mais aussi comment bien vivre et bien gouverner. La philosophie devient ainsi une théoria et un mode de vie à la fois, promettant l’eudaimonia, c’est à dire cet état intérieur de paix et de tranquillité qui correspond au bonheur. Et tout cela à l’aide de la raison seule. Ce projet est novateur et, s’imposant au nom de la raison, transforme progressivement la société aristocrate grecque : l’homme excellent n’est plus le héros qui, au prix de sa vie, défend son oikos (sa maison, sa tribu) à la force du poignet et grâce à ses capacités de guerrier, mais celui qui pratique la vertu et obtient la sagesse. Socrate fait les frais de la résistance que la société aristocrate oppose à cette nouveauté et il est condamné à mort pour athéisme, accusé de détourner les jeunes des valeurs traditionnelles. Un peu plus tard, Platon et Aristote ouvrent ce projet à une nouvelle dimension, la métaphysique, en

Studia Patristica CX, 127-143. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



s’efforçant de montrer que quelque chose réunit les humains dans l’horizon du cosmos et du bien, et que ce quelque chose est la raison capable de comprendre le réel et surtout de lui donner sens. La philosophie se développe alors jusqu’à s’imposer comme une discipline dominant toutes les autres en ce qu’elle leur donne sens (= direction). C’est ce projet philosophique que le Christianisme rencontre lorsqu’il commence à se diffuser. Ou encore mieux, c’est dans ce projet philosophique que le Christianisme naît et se développe. 1.2. Le Christianisme et son objet Or, le Christianisme n’est ni une philosophie, ni une doctrine morale, ni une politique. Le Christianisme naît d’un événement, l’incarnation du Fils de Dieu, et se propose comme un enseignement invitant au changement du cœur dans l’imitation de Jésus avec simplicité et pauvreté d’esprit. La croix du Christ est scandale pour les sages de ce monde, affirme l’apôtre Paul dans nombreuses de ses Épîtres. Tout cela n’est pas fait ni pour rencontrer le projet de la philosophie, ni pour s’y opposer en antagoniste. Et pourtant les deux projets finissent par se rencontrer, voire s’articuler l’un à l’autre. Cela est sans doute dû au fait que tous deux proposent un enseignement qui associe mode de penser et mode de vie. Lorsque les premiers chrétiens invitent les juifs et les païens à se convertir à l’Évangile, ils les invitent à changer leur mode de vie mais aussi leur mode de penser. Ils définissent la conversion comme une metanoia, c’est à dire une transformation de l’intelligence qui induit un nouveau mode de penser et de vivre. Le Christianisme se propose ainsi, tout comme la philosophie, en tant qu’enseignement valorisant raison et liberté. 1.3. La thèse de Martin Grabmann ou l’articulation entre foi et raison Or, si le Christianisme est affaire de raison, alors la raison doit intervenir pour penser la foi, et cela d’une façon structurelle. Mais comment faire pour penser la foi ? L’Évangile ne donne pas les instruments pour cela. Pour penser l’objet de leur foi, les premiers intellectuels convertis au Christianisme, les Pères de l’Église, trouvent dans la philosophie, à laquelle le plus souvent ils ont été éduqués, un outil remarquable. Elle devient alors pour eux un des piliers pour approfondir leur foi et la penser. En 1909 Martin Grabmann, savant berlinois spécialiste de la philosophie médiévale, publie un ouvrage très important dans le cadre d’une grande controverse à propos du statut de la philosophie médiévale latine chrétienne, Die Geschichte der scholastischen Methode1. Dans le chapitre introductif de son ouvrage, il affirme que « les scolastiques n’ont pas vu l’essence et le coeur de la méthode scolastique dans le formalisme 1 M. Grabmann, Die Geschichte der scholastischen Methode, 3 vol. (Freiburg in Brisgrau, 19091911), tr. it. a cura di M. Dal Pra, La storia del metodo scolastico (Firenze, 1980).

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


extérieur » mais dans « l’effort pour obtenir une connaissance de la vérité de foi surtout grâce à une valorisation de la philosophie ». Et il atteste que « dans cet effort de parvenir à une connaissance rationnelle du contenu de la révélation plusieurs objections et difficultés (…) provenant de la raison et de la philosophie, plusieurs antinomies ont surgi entre ratio et auctoritas, antinomies qui doivent être dépassées »2. Si cela a pu se produire, c’est grâce à la mise en place d’une méthode de recherche du vrai capable d’articuler ces opinions contradictoires et de montrer que, loin de s’opposer, elle peuvent se compléter réciproquement en ce qu’elle contiennent, chacune, la vérité mais seulement de façon partielle. Grabmann est convaincu que ce travail d’élaboration de la méthode scolastique trouve son origine dans l’œuvre spéculative de Clément d’Alexandrie et d’Origène3. Convertis au Christianisme après avoir été formés dans les écoles de philosophie, ces Pères ont vu que foi et raison, christianisme et philosophie pouvaient se rencontrer dans la commune visée du vrai et du bien. En ce sens, ils ont été les précurseurs du fides quaerens intellectum d’Anselme qui, selon Grabmann, a été le véritable l’initiateur de la méthode scolastique. Dans cette étude, nous souhaitons montrer non seulement que Grabmann a vu juste en lisant ainsi le projet de Clément, mais aussi que Clément a utilisé ce projet pour répondre efficacement à la gnose hérétique. Cette étude développera ainsi deux points : 1) l’illustration de ce que Clément comprends sous le terme philosophia ; 2) les conséquences de l’articulation entre philosophia et tradition biblique dans la lutte contre les gnostiques hérétiques.

2. La philosophie selon Clément d’Alexandrie « Les Stromates, notes gnostiques de vraie philosophie »4. C’est ainsi que Clément présente son écrit majeur, les Stromates. Les Stromates contiennent 2 Cf. chapitre ‘Definitioni concettuali del metodo scolastico’, dans M. Grabmann, La storia del metodo scolastico (1980). La traduction est faite par mes soins. À ce propos cf. aussi Ph. Rosemann, ‘Histoire et actualité de la méthode scolastique selon M. Grabmann’, dans J. Follon et J. McEvoy (éd.), Actualité de la pensée médiévale (Louvain, Paris, 1994), 95-118. 3 Cette position se heurte évidemment à celle de ceux qui ont soutenu la thèse de l’hellénisation du christianisme. Grabmann en est conscient et il s’en défend en montrant que l’articulation entre raison et foi est bien autre chose que la fusion – ou la confusion – entre la démarche du croyant et celle du philosophe. Pour Grabmann, l’articulation foi/raison, auctoritas/ratio, credere/intelligere, philosophie/théologie est le chemin normal du Christianisme dans son effort de compréhension de la révélation, tout en respectant la distance du mystère et de la transcendance divine. Du coup, Grabmann montre que Christianisme s’est fait acteur dans l’histoire d’une puissante valorisation de la raison ainsi que de la philosophie. Cf. M. Grabmann, Storia del metodo scolastico (1980), 11-53. 4 P. Prat traduit « selon le christianisme authentique » : « Projets littéraires de Clément d’Alexandrie », Recherches de Science Religieuse 15 (1925), 242. Cf. aussi Th. Camelot, ‘Clément d’Alexandrie et l’utilisation de la philosophie grecque’, Recherches de Science Religieuse 21 (1931), 541-69.



en effet nombreuses citations philosophiques, ce qui a valu d’ailleurs à Clément d’être cité comme l’un de plus importants doxographes en ce qui concerne Héraclite ou les Stoïciens. Mais ce n’est pas là l’essentiel. En lisant les Stomates, on constate que Clément se sert de la philosophie pour construire son raisonnement la reconnaissant comme un instrument indispensable dans la recherche de la vérité. C’est donc pour cela que les Stromates sont des notes de vraie philosophie. Mais que comprend Clément sous le terme philosophie ? Je voudrais répondre à la question en analysant quelques contextes de Stromates I et Stomates VI. 2.1. Stromates I Stromates I débute par un texte programmatique dans lequel Clément reconnaît la philosophie comme un instrument de recherche de la vérité qui est un don de la providence divine5. Elle permet en effet de construire un raisonnement cohérent et elle est utile dans l’interprétation des Écritures. Ainsi faisant, Clément s’oppose ouvertement à ceux qui – jugés par lui comme « ignorants » – attribuent à la philosophie un caractère de futilité, voire de dangerosité: Mes Stomates renfermeront la vérité mêlée aux dogmes de la philosophie, où plutôt enveloppée et recouverte par eux comme, par la coque, la partie comestible de la noix. (…) Je n’ignore pas ce que répètent certains ignorants timorés : qu’il ne faut s’occuper que des choses les plus indispensables, celles qui contiennent la foi, et négliger les choses étrangères et superflues, qui nous fatiguent en vain et nous retiennent sur des sujets sans utilité pour le but final. Ces gens là pensent même que la philosophie vient du mal, qu’elle s’est glissée dans notre vie pour la perte des hommes, invention de quelque malin esprit. Mais le vice a une nature viciée et ne saurait jamais rien faire croître de bien. Je le montrerai tout au long de mes Stromates, en faisant pressentir que la philosophie aussi est en quelque sorte une œuvre de la providence divine6.

Un peu plus loin, en Stromates I 28, il est même dit que la philosophie est non seulement utile mais aussi nécessaire à la recherche de la vérité, notamment pour ceux qui ne veulent croire que s’il reçoivent une argumentation valable attestant le caractère raisonnable de ce qui doit être cru. Avant la venue du Seigneur, la philosophie était nécessaire aux Grecs pour les conduire à la justice; maintenant encore elle est utile pour les conduire à la véritable religion; elle sert d’instruction préparatoire à ceux dont l’esprit ne s’ouvre à la foi qu’après une démonstration préalable.


Cf. Stromates I 18,1-4. Les textes et les traductions des Stromates reproduits ici sont issus de l’édition de Sources Chrétiennes. Pour Stromates I cf. Clément d’Alexandrie, Stromates I, introduction de C. Mondésert, traduction et notes de Marcel Caster, SC 30 (Paris, 1954). 6

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


En ce sens, elle doit être considérée comme un don que Dieu aurait offert aux hommes pour les préparer à la réception de l’enseignement du Christ, une sorte de preparatio évangelica au même titre que la tradition vétérotestamentaire7 : Dieu est la cause de toutes les choses bonnes, des unes immédiatement et pour ellesmêmes, comme l’ancien et le nouveau Testament, des autres par corollaire, comme la philosophie. Peut-être même la philosophie a-t-elle été donnée aussi comme un bien direct aux Grecs, avant que le Seigneur eût élargi son appel jusqu’à eux; car elle aussi, elle faisait leur éducation, tout comme la Loi celle des Juifs, pour aller au Christ. La philosophie est donc un travail préparatoire; elle ouvre la route à celui que le Christ rend ensuite parfait8.

C’est ainsi que, en Stromates I 165, 1-5, Clément peut affirmer sans encombre que Platon est un Moïse qui parle en grec et que Moïse est un philosophe qui prépare la venue du Logos, le Christ le Fils de Dieu. Et d’ajouter, en Stromates I 176-177, que la philosophie de Moïse et celle de Platon se rejoignent dans la pratique de la « dialectique », celle-ci étant la science « apte à trouver la révélation de ce qui est » et donc apte à atteindre la vérité: Le sage doit l’acquérir (la dialectique) non pour rien dire ou faire de ce qui concerne les rapports humains, comme font aujourd’hui les dialecticiens dans leurs études sophistiques, mais pour être en état de dire ce que Dieu aime, de faire ce que Dieu aime, le tout selon leurs forces. La dialectique mêlée à la philosophie – la vraie dialectique et la vraie philosophie – examine les choses, vérifie les forces et les possibilités (de l’âme), et s’évade vers l’essence souveraine, et ose ensuite s’élever jusqu’au Dieu de l’univers. Ce qu’elle promet, ce n’est pas une routine de choses mortelles mais une science des choses divines et célestes, d’où dérive l’usage particulier des choses humaines, paroles et actions. L’Écriture a donc raisons de vouloir que nous devenions de tels dialecticiens, et elle nous conseille : « devenez des changeurs éprouvés » rejetant le mauvais, retenant le bon. Car cette dialectique est en réalité une capacité de discernement dans les choses de l’esprit, qui met en lumière le principe de chaque chose dans sa pureté, sans mélange ; ou encore une faculté de diviser les choses en genres, en descendant jusqu’au plus particuliers et qui permet à chaque être d’apparaître dans sa pure individualité. Aussi, est-elle seule à nous conduire vers la vraie sagesse qui est, elle, une faculté divine, qui connaît les êtres dans leur être et possède la perfection, car elle est dégagée de toute passion, ce qui ne se fait pas sans le Sauveur, qui, par la Parole divine, a abattu les brouillards d’ignorance où une mauvaise vie avait noyé le regard de notre âme, et nous a rendu la plus belle de nos facultés. 7 Plusieurs études l’ont d’ailleurs souligné au fil du temps. J’en cite ici quelques uns : C. Mondésert, Clément d’Alexandrie. Introduction à l’étude de sa pensée religieuse à partir de l’Écriture (Paris, 1944), 208-30; J. Moingt, ‘La gnose de Clément d’Alexandrie dans ses rapports avec la foi et la philosophie’, Recherches de Science Religieuse 37 (1950), 195-251, 398-421, 537-664; 38 (1951), 82-118; Th. Camelot, ‘Clément d’Alexandrie et l’utilisation de la philosophie grecque’ (1931), 58-60; A. Méhat, Études sur les Stromates de Clément d’Alexandrie (Paris, 1966), 326-60; S. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria. A Study in a Christian Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford, 1971), 9-59. 8 Cf. Stromates I, 28,2-3.



C’est dire si Clément se sert de la philosophie – ou du moins d’une certaine philosophie – comme d’un pilier sur le chemin qui conduit à la vérité. Elle sert de base à son raisonnement et structure son argumentation. En Stromates I 93,4, Clément reprend l’idée que la philosophie est science du bien et de la vérité9, et en I 95,5-7 il ajoute une remarque à l’adresse des Gnostiques, en affirmant que ce ne sont pas les philosophes que le Logos fustige lorsqu’il les accuse de proférer et répandre de mensonges, mais les hérétiques, individus ignorants qui commettent beaucoup d’erreurs parce qu’ils refusent de se servir de la vraie philosophie et s’éloignent de la tradition de l’Église. La philosophie s’avère ainsi non seulement utile pour ouvrir le chemin vers la vérité, mais aussi importante pour éviter les erreurs et suivre la tradition de l’Église. En Stromates I 97,1-100,5, Clément montre cependant que la philosophie a aussi ses limites et qu’elle ne peut produire de véritables fruits qu’en présence d’autres « collaborateurs ». Elle doit donc se considérer non comme la cause de la découverte du vrai, mais seulement comme une « con-cause » – sun-aition. Cela dépend plus de la nature du vrai que des défaillances de la philosophie. Car la vérité, dit Clément, se présente à nous sous différentes formes et s’exprime suivant plusieurs aspects. Pour l’approcher on doit donc pratiquer différentes disciplines10. Et de plus, le Logos (le Fils) peut aussi donner accès au vrai par la foi et le don de l’Esprit à tous ceux qui l’accueillent, et cela même si ceux-ci ne possèdent ni instruction, ni éducation, ni connaissances scientifiques et philosophiques (99,2). En conclusion, ces extraits montrent que pour Clément 1) la philosophie est un discours valable qui peut conduire à la vérité et à Dieu. Ceux qui refusent de la pratiquer s’exposent à la possibilité d’erreurs et peuvent même se séparer de la vraie tradition ecclésiastique. 2) La philosophie est un moyen d’accès au vrai seulement partiel, un sun-aition, qui doit collaborer avec d’autres disciplines en vue d’atteindre la vérité toute entière. 3) La préoccupation de Clément en écrivant les Stromates est moins apologétique que philosophique. Ce qui l’intéresse est bien plus la découverte de la vérité et la méthode qui y donne accès, que la défense doctrinale du Christianisme.

9 Cf. Stromates I 93,4 « Donc, si l’on nous dit : c’est ‘par accident’ (kata periptôsin) que les Grecs ont professé quelques théories conformes à la véritable philosophie, cet accident fait partie du plan divin (…). Nous dira-t-on, ‘Mais les Grecs n’ont eu qu’une raison naturelle’ ? La nature est l’œuvre d’un seul Dieu, que je sache ; aussi avons nous dit que la justice est naturelle. Dira-t-on, ‘Ils n’ont que le sens commun’ ? Examinons alors quel en est le père, et d’où vient cette justice qui préside ‘à sa répartition’ ». Sur ce point, cf. aussi Stromates VI 54,1. 10 Clément affirme en effet qu’il en va pour la recherche de la vérité comme pour la recherche de la vie vertueuse : bien que la vertu soit une, puisqu’elle se décline en multiples attitudes vertueuses suivant les circonstances, il faudra pratiquer plusieurs attitudes vertueuses si l’on veut obtenir une vie vertueuse.

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


2.2. Stromates VI La définition de philosophie proposé en Stromates VI 54,1-56,1 fait suite au portrait du vrai gnostique que Clément veut peindre en terminant son ouvrage. La philosophie est présentée ici comme une discipline utile dans la recherche du vrai, mais aussi comme limitée dans la tâche qui est la sienne. Après avoir expliqué que la philosophie n’est pas la sophia, Clément précise en effet que le terme philosophia doit être pris comme un terme générique qui indique un certain type de sagesse pratique s’exprimant suivant différentes formes, articulées les unes aux autres et chacune dotée de sa spécificité : Comme nous l’avons dit plus haut (Stromates I 37,1), par le mot de philosophie nous ne désignons pas la formation propre à chaque école, mais ce qu’elle est vraiment, une sagesse pratique droite, qui donne l’expérience des choses de la vie. La sagesse, de son côté, est une connaissance solide des réalités divines et des réalités humaines, puisqu’elle est la sorte de saisie ferme et invariable qui embrasse le présent, le passé et l’avenir, c’est elle que le Seigneur nous enseigna par sa venue et par les prophètes. Elle est effectivement invariable, transmise par un discours grâce à la volonté qui la rend totalement vraie, puisqu’elle a été conçue par l’intermédiaire du Fils. La sagesse est éternelle, la philosophie n’est utile que temporairement, celle-là est une et identique, celle-ci a des formes multiples et variées, celle-là ne connaît pas le mouvement des passions, celle-ci est soumise à l’élan des passions, celle-là est parfaite, celle-ci est marquée par un manque. 55 Telle est donc la sagesse désirée par la philosophie, qui se préoccupe de l’âme, de la rectitude de la parole et de la pureté de la vie. La philosophie a des dispositions d’amour et d’amitié pour la sagesse et elle fait tout pour l’atteindre. Chez nous, on appelle philosophes ceux qui sont épris de la sagesse créatrice et éducatrice de l’univers, c’està-dire épris de la connaissance du Fils de Dieu, tandis que chez les Grecs, il s’agit de ceux qui s’occupent des discours sur la vertu11.

La philosophia est une « une sagesse pratique droite, qui donne l’expérience des choses de la vie »12 différente de la sophia qui est « connaissance solide des réalités divines et des réalités humaines »13. Elle est temporaire et se décline sous des formes multiples et variées, étant exposée aux passions – sources d’erreurs – et au manque. La philosophia de Clément ne s’identifie donc pas complètement à la philosophie grecque, qui en est seulement une de ses parties, mais elle comporte aussi une référence aux Écritures. Clément l’appelle philosophie barbare. Elle a en commun avec les formes multiples et vraies de philosophiai le fait d’être une sagesse pratique orientée à la recherche du vrai. 11 Stromates VI, 54,1-56,1. Pour Stromates VI, cf. Clément d’Alexandrie, Stromates VI, Introduction, traduction et notes P. Descourtieux, SC 446 (Paris, 1999). 12 Clément réitère donc ici ce qu’il avait affirmé en Stromates I, 37 où il définissait la philosophia comme une discipline qui contient « tout ce qui, dans chacune de ces doctrines, a été bien dit et enseigne la justice et la pitié ». 13 Cette définition de la sagesse Clément la propose à plusieurs reprises. Cf. Stromates I 30,1 ; IV 40,3 ; IV 163,4 ; VI 133,5 ; 138,4 ; 160,2 ; VII 70,5.



Cela confirme que, pour Clément, la philosophie est plus une méthode qu’une doctrine14. L’extrait le plus significatif à ce propos est sûrement Stromates VI 55,3 : La philosophie, c’est en quelque sorte l’union, en un seul tout, des doctrines irréprochables de chaque école – chaque école philosophique je veux dire – et de la vie qui est en accord avec elles.

Deux sont dans ce contexte les éléments caractérisant la philosophia de Clément qu’il faut souligner : 1) la notion de philosophie barbare ; 2) l’idée concernant la nature de la vraie philosophie, qui serait définie comme « l’union, en un seul tout, des doctrines irréprochables de chaque école – chaque école philosophique je veux dire – et de la vie qui est en accord avec elles ». 1/ En ce qui concerne la philosophie barbare, Clément l’identifie avec la philosophie pratiquée par tous ceux qui ne sont pas grecs (cf. Stromates I 71,3). Cette philosophie aurait précédé toutes les autres, promue surtout par le peuple juif et par Moïse15. Tout comme la philosophie grecque, elle a cherché la vérité et en a saisi quelques fragments (cf. Stromates I 57,1). Puisque cependant elle est plus ancienne que la philosophie grecque et qu’elle est instruite directement de la sagesse divine (cf. Stromates I 44,2), elle possède ipso facto un plus grande autorité (cf. Stromates I 71,3; I 89,2-90,1; V 89,1-141,4). En ce sens, la philosophie barbare est vraie et bonne (cf. Stromates I 5,1-2) et peut être identifiée aussi avec la philosophie de ceux qui, devenus chrétiens, peuvent être appelés les « philosophes de Dieu ». C’est bien cette philosophie barbare que Clément compare à la dialectique platonicienne dans le contexte de Stromates 14 Dans ce contexte de Stromates VI Clément précise d’ailleurs ceci : « Chez nous (les chrétiens), on appelle philosophes ceux qui sont épris de la sagesse créatrice et éducatrice de l’univers, c’est-à-dire épris de la connaissance du Fils de Dieu, tandis que chez les Grecs, il s’agit de ceux qui s’occupent des discours sur la vertu ». Tradition grecque et tradition chrétienne diffèrent donc par les approches qu’elles proposent de la vérité, la première étant plus active sur le plan de la vertu et de la sagesse pratique, la seconde sur celui de la sagesse créatrice et de la connaissance, mais elles se réunifient dans une seule philosophia en ce qu’elles sont toutes deux une méthode de recherche de la vérité. Cela fait mieux comprendre l’image que Clément a proposé tout au début des Stromates I. Cf. Stromates I 57,1-3 : « Or donc, la vérité est une – le mensonge, lui, a mille façons de s’égarer. Les sectes de la philosophie, tant grecque que barbare, en ont reçu chacune un fragment telles les Bacchantes après le démembrement de Penthée, et se vantent de posséder la vérité dans son entier. Mais c’est parce que la lumière se lève que la multiplicité des objets deviennent lumineux. On pourrait donc montrer que pris en bloc tous les Grecs et les Barbares qui ont tendu au vrai possèdent quelque chose de la parole de vérité, les uns beaucoup, les autres une parcelle, selon le cas. L’éternité rassemble en elle, en un moment, l’avenir, le présent et le passé ; mais la vérité est encore plus capable que l’éternité de rassembler ses propres semences, même tombées en terre étrangère ». 15 En Stromates I 158,1-182,3 Clément exalte les qualités de Moïse et du peuple qu’il a réuni, et cela parce que, en suivant la parole de Dieu, Moïse a anticipé et rendu possible l’accueil de la révélation divine. La caractéristique fondamentale de la philosophie barbare est d’ailleurs celle d’être ouverte à la révélation divine.

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


I 176,1 cité plus haut. Dernier détail et non de moindre, la philosophie barbare s’exprime par symboles pour permettre un accès à la vérité seulement à ceux qui s’engagent à l’accueillir et la suivre (cf. Stromates V 44,1-55,1). Alain Le Boulluec a montré que le langage par symboles est caractéristique de la langue hébraïque – qui s’exprime par prophéties – mais qu’il est ignoré de la langue grecque qui, au mieux, propose des expressions présentant un glissement du sens propre au sens dérivé, en vue d’embellir le discours16. Le parler grec, a souligné Le Boulluec, comporte un travail de style que Clément aurait dénoncé comme impropre à exprimer la pensée. C’est pour cela qu’il aurait invité les grecs à se convertir aussi dans leur façon de parler, et à apprendre les usages du langage qui peuvent soutenir la pensée et non seulement ceux qui ont comme unique utilité les envols esthétiques17. En pratiquant la prophétie, la philosophie barbare utilise le symbole comme méthode de recherche de la vérité. L’obscurité du langage n’a pas une fonction esthétique dans le discours mais elle sert la vérité en ce qu’elle cache celle-ci à ceux qui, ne s’y étant pas réellement intéressés, ne peuvent pas la comprendre18. C’est en cela que la philosophie barbare résulte même supérieure à la philosophie grecque dans le cadre de ce que Clément appelle généralement philosophia. 2) La « vraie philosophie » correspond à la pensée qui, ayant parcouru le chemin d’approche de la vérité par l’exercice et le secours de la grâce divine, se confond en dernière instance avec la vérité réunifiée dans le Logos et devient éternelle. La philosophie grecque comme la philosophie barbare sont temporelles et incomplètes parce que liées à la temporalité humaine. La « vraie philosophie », elle, est éternelle car accomplie dans le Verbe. C’est bien à l’acquisition de cette « vraie philosophie » que Clément veut conduire tout nouveau converti. Quel est donc le projet philosophique de Clément ? On voit que Clément a une confiance inébranlable dans la raison et une espérance ferme à propos de l’homme – tout homme – qu’il considère comme possédant en lui toutes les ressources qu’il faut pour partir à la découverte de la vérité. C’est dans cette optique que Clément évalue la tâche de la philosophia et affirme que toutes les philosophies qui la composent sont bonnes19. On peut donner raison à Grabmann quand il affirme que, en redant possible une première articulation entre foi et raison, Clément a jeté les bases de la future méthode scolastique. 16 « La conversion du parler grec », Alain Le Boulluec, Alexandrie antique et chrétienne (Paris, 2006), 63-79. 17 Et notamment du langage symbolique. À ce propos, cf. Stromates VI, XV, 115,4-132,5. 18 Cf. par exemple Stromates I, 55,1-56,3. 19 Ceci dit, Clément tient quand même à préciser que quelques philosophies ne peuvent pas être retenues comme bonnes. C’est le cas de celles qui sont amputée de toute logique naturelle ou qui, en niant la providence par exemple, se tiennent dans l’impossibilité de suivre la vérité. Elles doivent donc être considérées comme mauvaises. Clément se réfère ici essentiellement à la philosophie d’Épicure mais sa remarque est intéressante en ce qu’elle confirme sa définition de philosophia.



3. L’exemple de la phronèsis Il reste maintenant à montrer que l’usage de la philosophie en lien avec la tradition biblique sert à la lutte contre les gnostiques hérétiques. L’examen de la notion de phronèsis nous permet d’aborder ce point concrètement. Nous avons choisi d’analyser la définition de phronèsis proposée en Stromates VI 154,1-156,2 parce qu’elle nous paraît la plus intéressante à ce propos. Nous sommes à la fin du portrait que Clément a brossé du « vrai gnostique ». Clément revient sur l’utilité de la philosophie, il répète que les philosophes progressent vers l’intelligence (sunesis) de la vérité et il ajoute que « après avoir reçu le fondement de la vérité, ils gagnent aussi la puissance d’aller plus avant dans la recherche » en se hâtant « vers le salut ». Il continue alors en 154,4 en affirmant ce qui suit : C’est ainsi que Dieu, dit l’Écriture, a donné aux artisans un esprit de perception, qui n’est autre que la prudence (phronèsis), puissance de l’âme (dynamis psychès) pour contempler (theoretikè) les choses, pour distinguer ainsi que pour réunir (diakritikè) ce qui se suit (akoulouthou), ce qui est semblable, ce qui est dissemblable, pour donner des ordres, pour interdire et pour faire des conjectures sur l’avenir. La prudence (phronèsis) ne se déploie d’ailleurs pas seulement dans les arts, mais aussi dans la philosophie elle-même. 155,1 Et pourquoi donc a-t-il été dit un jour du serpent qu’il était lui aussi doué de prudence (phronimos) ? Parce que, même dans les mauvaises actions, on peut trouver une certaine suite, un discernement, une synthèse et une visée conjecturale de l’avenir. 155,2 La plupart des injustices passent inaperçues, parce que les méchants échafaudent des plans qui leur permettent d’échapper aux châtiments par tous les moyens et dans tous les cas. 155,3 La prudence (phronèsis), qui est composée de multiples parties, s’étend à travers le monde entier et à travers toutes les réalités humaines, en changeant d’appellation suivant chacune d’elles. Lorsqu’elle s’applique aux causes premières, on l’appelle intellection. Quand elle affermit cette dernière par une démonstration, on la nomme connaissance, sagesse et science. Quand elle s’exerce dans ce qui a trait à la piété et qu’elle a, sans contemplation, accueilli la parole de l’originel en maintenant l’efficacité de son action en elle, on parle de foi. Quand, dans le domaine des réalités sensibles, elle a obtenu des preuves de ce qui semble, dans un tel domaine, parfaitement vrai, il s’agit d’une opinion droite et, dans le travail manuel, d’un art. Là où, sans contempler les causes premières, mais en observant les ressemblances et en procédant par inférence, elle provoque une sorte d’impulsion à agir et de conviction ferme, on l’appelle encore expérience. 155,4 Mais ce qui est particulier, réellement seigneurial et souverain, ce que le croyant reçoit encore par surcroît après sa foi solide, c’est l’Esprit saint qui le visite. 156,1 Ainsi la philosophie, participant à une forme de perception supérieure, comme on l’a montré par ce qui précède, participe à la prudence (phronèseos metechei). Par exemple, pour le développement rationnel relatif aux objets pensées qui s’accompagne d’un choix et d’un assentiment, on parle de dialectique : soit elle consolide, par une démonstration, les propos tenus sur la vérité, soit elle résout les difficultés qui se présentent.

On voit ici que la phronèsis n’est ni gnosis ni sophia, mais dynamis psychès theorètikè et diakritikè, capable donc de comparer et de distinguer les

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


choses en établissant entre elles des ressemblances et des différences. Cette définition ressemble à celle que Clément propose pour la sunesis en Stromates II 76,2 là où il la définit comme la « science des rapports possibles ou bien la détermination de ces rapports, ou bien la capacité d’établir des rapports entre les êtres desquels il y a phronèsis et pistis »20. Phronèsis et sunesis semblent avoir en commun la capacité de mettre en évidence les relations qui subsistent entre les choses ainsi que les relations qu’elles entretiennent avec la vérité. Et en cela elles ressemblent toutes deux à la dialectique que Clément décrit en Stromates I 177,1-178,1 comme « une capacité de discernement dans les choses de l’esprit (phronèsis dialektikè peri ta noeta diairetikè) qui met en lumière le principe de chaque chose dans sa pureté, sans mélange » ; ou encore comme une « faculté de diviser les choses en genres, en descendant jusqu’aux plus particuliers et qui permet à chaque être d’apparaître dans sa pure individualité »21. Clément associe donc dialectique, phronèsis et sunesis à une intelligence du réel qui met en relation les choses et les compare en vue de remonter à leurs principes. Et si en cela Clément semble suivre assez fidèlement la tradition platonicienne en faisant de la phronèsis une science, l’association de phronèsis et sunesis laisse cependant entendre que cette intelligence est aussi une intelligence pratique, dans la mesure où elle peut orienter l’action et « donner des ordres, interdire et faire des conjectures sur l’avenir ». Dans cette définition de la phronèsis nous retrouvons ainsi les caractéristiques de la philosophia telle que Clément la décrit : une discipline capable de fournir un raisonnement adéquat qui, en lien avec la tradition de l’Écriture, permet d’établir le chemin – la méthode – pour accéder à la vérité et orienter l’action au bien. C’est sans doute 20 Posséder la sunesis implique alors d’avoir la possibilité de « comprendre » un secteur particulier du réel grâce à une capacité de saisie due aux organes sensoriels. Pour Clément, ce type de « compréhension » du réel et du monde environnant même les êtres irrationnels comme les animaux peuvent la posséder (cf. Stromates VI 3,1). En ce qui concerne les humains, il est clair que la sunesis est une sagesse d’ordre pratique (plus, en Stromates II 33,2). En Stromates IV 114,1 et IV 169,1 elle est identifiée à une intelligence humaine pratique, distincte de l’intelligence divine, qui permet aux hommes de s’orienter dans le monde et de s’ouvrir à la recherche de la vérité. Mais elle n’est pas gnôsis. 21 Voici l’extrait complet : « La dialectique mêlée à la philosophie – la vraie dialectique et la vraie philosophie – examine les choses, vérifie les forces et les possibilités (de l’âme), et s’évade vers l’essence souveraine, et ose ensuite s’élever jusqu’au Dieu de l’univers. Ce qu’elle promet, ce n’est pas une routine des choses mortelles, mais une science des choses divines et célestes, d’où dérive l’usage particulier des choses humaines, paroles et actions […] Car cette dialectique est en réalité une capacité de discernement dans les choses de l’esprit (è dialektikè phronèsis esti peri ta noeta diairetikè), qui met en lumière le principe de chaque chose dans sa pureté, sans mélange ; ou encore une faculté de diviser les choses en genres, en descendant jusqu’aux plus particuliers et qui permet à chaque être d’apparaître dans sa pure individualité. Aussi est-elle seule à nous conduire vers la vraie sagesse qui est, elle, une faculté divine, qui connaît les êtres dans leur être et possède la perfection, car elle est dégagée de toute passion, ce qui ne se fait pas sans le Sauveur qui, par la Parole divine, a abattu les brouillards d’ignorance où une mauvaise vie avait noyé le regard de notre âme, et nous a rendu la plus belle des nos facultés ».



pour cela que Clément ajoute que la philosophia participe de la phronèsis (156,1). Un second élément intéressant dans le contexte concerne l’association entre phronèsis et akolouthia (154,4). Pour Clément l’akolouthia est une sorte de « cohérence » du réel manifestant l’idée que le monde est une totalité organique dotée d’un ordre nécessaire qui correspond à la logique suivant laquelle notre intellect organise les concepts. Si le monde est intelligible et la connaissance possible, c’est parce qu’une cohérence existe entre notre intellect et la structure de la réalité des choses crées, présentes et futures22. Cette « cohérence » est caractéristique de la vérité elle-même. Respecter cette « cohérence » revient à respecter la vérité. Et d’ailleurs les hérétiques sont dans l’erreur parce qu’ils ne respectent plus l’akolouthia23. Or, si Clément derive la notion d’akolouthia de la tradition stoïcienne, le rapprochement qu’il opère entre phronèsis et akolouthia est original, et il dépend plutôt de sa manière d’envisager la nature du logos. En effet, pour Clément le logos n’est pas la raison universelle des stoïciens, mais le Verbe de Dieu qui « s’est fait chair », le Christ, Dieu incarné. Et si c’est ainsi, alors le respect de la cohérence du logos coïncidera avec le fait de suivre (akolouthein) une personne, et non seulement une loi, une doctrine, la cohérence d’une argumentation. Le théorique et le pratique se trouvent ainsi de nouveau irréversiblement conjoints dans le même but à atteindre : connaître la vérité et la pratiquer en vivant de façon semblable au Logos lui-même. Le rapprochement entre akolouthia et phronèsis ainsi que la reprise de la notion d’akolouthia à la lumière du logos permettent à Clément d’affirmer que la phronèsis est une connaissance mais aussi une hèxis, une attitude que l’homme témoigne en toutes les situations de l’existence parce que, quoi qu’il fasse, il est doté de logos24. Clément achève en effet sa définition de la phronèsis en Stromates VI 155,1 en affirmant qu’elle se retrouve à la base de toute les attitudes humaines, et que d’une certaine manière elle est présente, bien que fourvoyée, même chez les

22 Par le terme akolouthia, Clément signifie donc à la fois la forme avec laquelle la nature se manifeste à nos yeux comme une totalité organisée et intelligible, et la manière avec laquelle nos « raisonnements », nos logoi humains, organisés par notre intellect dans le langage, saisissent la vérité du réel. 23 À ce propos, cf. Laura Rizzerio, ‘La nozione di akolouthia come “ logica della verità” in Clemente di Alessandria’, Rivista di Filosofia Neoscolastica 79 (1987), 175-95. 24 En Stromates VII 66,2, Clément dit que la phronèsis est une exsis et non une energeia. Ensuite, il nous explique qu’elle permet d’exercer les vertus, et plus particulièrement le courage, d’une manière « rationnelle », c’est à dire par un choix libre, déterminé par une délibération conforme à l’orthos logos, dans les circonstances concrètes. Comme l’a souligné Alain Le Boulluec : « C’est donc la possession de la ‘prudence’ qui caractérise le courage véritable, selon les critères de la rationalité. Les actions distinctes de cet état qu’est la prudence sont disqualifiées dès lors qu’elles sont irrationnelles ». Cf. Stromates VII 66,2 note 1, in Stromates VII, éd., trad. et notes Alain Le Boulluec, SC 428 (Paris, 1997), 208.

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


personnes les plus mauvaises25. Clément s’avère ainsi plus original que ses contemporains pour qui, à la suite de Platon, la phronèsis est science. Et cela il le doit à sa fréquentation de la tradition biblique. En effet, dans la tradition biblique, phronèsis possédé ce caractère d’activité pratique soutenue par une connaissance théorique. Dans les Proverbes26 et dans le Déteuronome27, par exemple, la phronèsis est le discernement qui permet de se comporter d’une manière conforme à la loi divine, choisissant ce qu’il faut faire eu égard à cette même loi. Dans un sens plus pratique encore, la phronèsis coïncide avec une certaine habilité, qui est directement liée au bon sens28. Le phronimos sait faire la part des choses entre le possible et l’impossible parce que, grâce à sa crainte de Dieu, il possède un très bon sens du réel et il connaît la réalité en ce qu’elle est. La phronèsis vétérotestamentaire se révèle donc une « sagesse » à la fois théorique et pratique qui comporte une connaissance du réel et une capacité de délibération qui rend l’homme capable de choisir ce qu’il faut faire dans les situations particulières29. Pour l’Ancien Testament, le phronimos est l’homme de foi qui se soumet à Dieu et qui, pour cela, peut reconnaître le bien et le choisir. En ce qui concerne la tradition philosophique, Clément reprend la notion de phronèsis à Xénocrate dont il est d’ailleurs l’un des témoins principaux (il nous a conservé le seul fragment du traité « Sur la phronèsis » de Xénocrate que le philosophe grec aurait écrit et dont il ne nous reste que ce que Clément en dit en Stromates II 24): La sophia est la science des causes premières et de l’être intelligible, et la phronèsis est double, l’une pratique, l’autre contemplative, et celle-ci – la phronèsis donc – est une sagesse humaine (…) C’est pourquoi la sagesse est intelligence (phronèsis), mais toute intelligence (phronèsis) n’est pas sagesse (sophia)30.

Or, nous savons que Xénocrate a proposé cette définition sans doute en vue de restituer une valeur pratique à la sagesse et de répondre ainsi à la difficulté concernant le rapport entre theoria et praxis que la philosophie platonicienne rencontrait à son époque31. Mais pourquoi Clément le suit ? Probablement pour 25

Ici Clément parle du serpent, comme du symbole du mal, qui est capable aussi de « suivre » le logos en toutes les choses 26 Cf. 8,13 ; 9,10 ; 14,16. 27 Cf. 32,28-9. 28 À ce propos, cf. Proverbes 16:21-3 ; 10:12 ; 12:33 ; 18:2. 29 Pour plus d’approfondissements, cf. Raymon Saint-Jean, ‘Prudence (vertu de)’, Dictionnaire de spiritualité, Tome XII² (Paris, 1986), 2476-84. 30 Stromates II 24,1= Fr. 6 Heinze, dans Richard Heinze (éd.), Xénocrates, Darstellung der Lehre und Sammlung der Fragmente (Hildesheim, 1965), 161. 31 Sur cette thématique et sur l’interprétation proposée ici, cf. Margherita Isnardi Parente, ‘Teoria e prassi nel pensiero dell’Accademia antica’, La parola del passato. Rivista di Studi antichi 9 (1956), 401-33, et spécialement 423-8. L’identification de la phronèsis avec la connaissance théorique constitue l’interprétation classique de la notion de ce terme dans la tradition



la même raison. Confronté aux gnostiques hérétiques, Clément s’était rendu compte que leur conception de la gnôsis comme connaissance uniquement théorique rendait impossible le développement d’une rationalité pratique ouverte et respectueuse du libre choix. Or, la liberté de choix représentait un élément essentiel dans la doctrine chrétienne, car c’est seulement par libre choix que le croyant peut accéder à la foi en Dieu et progresser du point de vue spirituel jusqu’à la véritable connaissance de Dieu. Le livre II des Stromates, dans lequel Clément rend raison de la foi chrétienne et témoigne de son caractère raisonnable, est d’ailleurs conçu presque comme un hymne à la liberté humaine et Clément y montre clairement que la liberté est la caractéristique fondamentale de tout acte humain. L’insistance sur le libre choix et l’affirmation que la gnose est une connaissance unie à un mode de vie devient ainsi un des points fondamentaux du combat de Clément contre la gnôsis des doctrines hérétiques. L’identification de phronèsis et sagesse pratique doit donc avoir semblé à Clément un outil précieux pour combattre les gnostiques hérétiques. Cet outil vient à Clément de sa capacité à puiser aux deux traditions, la tradition philosophique grecque et la tradition scripturaire, en les articulant l’une à l’autre pour les rendre solidaires dans la recherche de la vérité. En associant la phronèsis et philosophia, Clément fait de cette dernière une méthode d’approche de la vérité qui ressemble fort à ce que Grabmann a défini par la suite comme la « méthode scolastique ». 4. La portée historique de l’attitude de Clément envers la philosophie 4.1. La particularité de la position de Clément Cette attitude de Clément a une portée historique considérable. En essayant d’articuler l’exercice de la raison qui donne lieu à la philosophie et l’acceptation, par la foi, de la tradition qui a transmis les contenus de la révélation, Clément devient un des premiers penseurs chrétiens à justifier l’utilité et la pertinence de la philosophie en vue du perfectionnement de la foi et de la connaissance des Écritures. C’est ce que Grabmann a voulu montrer en considérant Clément comme l’un des précurseur d’Anselme et de son fides quaerens intellectum ou intellectus fidei. La particularité de la position de Clément, qui ne sera pas retenue après (ou qui sera retenue autrement par la méthode scolastique), est de considérer qu’est platonicienne. C’est ainsi que Pierre Aubenque par exemple, interprète l’emploi de ce terme chez Platon dans l’introduction à son ouvrage La prudence chez Aristote (Paris, 1963). Contre cette interprétation s’est prononcée plus récemment Monique Dixsaut (‘De quoi les philosophes sont-ils amoureux ? Sur la phronèsis dans les dialogues platoniciens’, dans Platon et la question de la pensée. Études platoniciennes I [Paris, 2000], 93-119), en montrant le caractère polyvalent et non exclusivement théorétique de la phronèsis platonicienne. Son interprétation ne contredit pas l’interprétation de Xénocrate proposée ici, au contraire elle peut contribuer à la consolider.

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


philosophie tout exercice de la raison qui a affaire avec la recherche de la vérité. C’est ainsi que Clément peut parler d’une philosophie barbare, comme nous avons vu plus haut. Cette position trouve sa justification dans l’une des convictions les plus profondes de Clément qui est aussi sans doute l’une des ses intuitions les plus novatrices : l’identification du logos de la philosophie avec le Logos Verbe de Dieu incarné. Puisque la philosophie accomplit le travail d’appropriation de ce que le logos révèle à propos de Dieu, du monde et de l’homme, et que cette appropriation est possible à tous ceux qui sont dotés de logos, alors la méthode de la philosophia est bonne et toute philosophie qui a recours à cette méthode l’est tout autant. Or le Logos qui est Verbe de Dieu n’est pas un principe abstrait, ni même une règle de comportement. Il est une personne, physiquement présente, qui se laisse connaître à travers une tradition humaine – la tradition biblique et philosophique avant la venue du Christ, ainsi que la tradition apostolique ensuite. Cette tradition s’exprime aussi à travers de textes qui ont fixé par écrit ce que la vérité a révélé et révèle d’elle-même. Cette tradition et ces textes sont susceptibles de prendre plusieurs formes et de subir différentes interprétations, et il faut apprendre à les lire correctement. Même la nature créée est l’un de ces livres pour Clément, un livre qu’il faut interpréter en construisant une physiologie gnostique, une sorte de science de la nature pouvant conduire à Dieu32. Ce travail d’interprétation et de lecture est justement celui que la raison doit effectuer et pour lequel la philosophia est un outil indispensable. Acquérir cette capacité interprétative est pour Clément le but de toute vie humaine intelligente. Sans ce travail de réunification dans la Vérité – qui présuppose la volonté de suivre le Logos – l’activité de la raison ne peut conduire qu’aux hérésies, c’est-à-dire à ce qui « divise ». Le terme hérésie vient du grec ereidô qui signifie « couper » et donc diviser33. 32 À ce propos, L. Rizzerio, Clemente di Alessandria e la “physiologia veramente gnostica”. Saggio sulle origini e le implicazioni di una ontologia e di un’epistemologia « cristiane » (Louvain, 1996). 33 Ce terme a une quelque affinité avec celui de « diable », dont la signification vient verbe diaballein qui signifie « diviser ». Il y a donc une certaine ressemblance entre les termes qui indiquent le mal et ceux qui indiquent les pensées qui s’égarent du bien. Clément est persuadé que la philosophie grecque contient ses propres hérésies aussi, comme la philosophie barbare d’ailleurs. Et il voit celles-ci là où les philosophes optent pour le matérialisme, oublient la transcendance et identifient dans le plaisir le but d’une vie accomplie. Pour Clément, l’exemple typique du philosophe grec hérétique est Épicure, cf. Stromates VI 67,2. Cette philosophie « hérétique » est par ailleurs définie par notre auteur comme « partielle », « élémentaire » et incapable de conduire à la vérité. Un peu plus tôt Clément avait affirmé « L’apôtre, si je ne me trompe, prouve clairement, par ce qui précède, que les Grecs ont connu le seul et unique Dieu de la manière qui était propre aux Gentils, les Juifs de la manière qui était propre aux Juifs, et nous d’une manière nouvelle et spirituelle ». Il montre de plus que le bienfait des deux Testaments émane du même Dieu, de ce même Dieu qui a donné aux Grecs leur philosophie pour glorifier le Tout-Puissant.



4.2. Clément précurseur de la méthode scolastique ? Revenons à l’idée de Grabmann. Si Clément est un précurseur de la méthode scolastique, qu’est-ce que cela nous apporte aujourd’hui de le savoir ? Grabmann commente à cet égard : « dans la gnôsis, il ne s’agit pas d’un effacement rationaliste de la matière de foi. Il s’agit plutôt d’une connaissance plus profonde et complète de la vérité révélée, une connaissance qui progresse en lien avec la progression du cheminement éthique du chrétien […] La doctrine sur l’élévation et perfectionnement à gnôsis de la pistis n’est, en définitive, que le programme d’activité scientifique qui sera proposé par saint Anselme, le père de la vraie Scolastique, avec l’expression fides quaerens intellectum. La gnôsis est cette même discipline que nous appelons théologie »34. Si l’on écoute Grabmann, Clément aurai donc exprimé l’articulation entre philosophie et théologie et il en aurait souligné l’importance pour la vie de tout croyant. Trois sont les éléments à souligner ici. 1) L’articulation entre raison et foi ne comporte aucune confusion, ni ne doit être conduite sous la forme d’un syncrétisme (que Clément condamne par ailleurs comme une marque typique de la gnose hérétique). 2) L’articulation entre raison et foi est ouverte à tout apport de la pensée humaine pourvu qu’elle soit droite, c’est-à-dire en lien avec la « logique naturelle » et tendue à la recherche de la vérité. Cela conduit au rejet de toute forme de fidéisme et de fondamentalisme. Cette articulation ouvre le Christianisme au dialogue avec la culture de son temps et le positionne dans cette culture comme un enseignement qui, bien que basé sur une parole révélée, est de l’ordre du raisonnable et peut avancer ses raisons pour être accueilli et cru. 3) L’articulation entre raison et foi montre quelle peut être l’utilité de la philosophie face aux convictions lesquelles, à juste titre, doivent pouvoir continuer à être affirmées en tant qu’objet de foi. Tout cela constitue à mes yeux un important message aussi bien pour la philosophie que pour la théologie et la foi aujourd’hui. Si l’on suit le raisonnement de Clément on voit en effet que la philosophie ne peux pas exister sans s’appuyer sur son histoire. Et cela pas par intérêt archéologique, mais par une nécessité interne. Car son exercice propre est celui d’ordonner et d’interpréter au fil du temps ce que les hommes ont pensé en vue d’orienter la pensée vers la vérité grâce à un savoir de plus en plus « unifié ». En second lieu, pour mener à bien sa tâche, la philosophie doit « croire » à la vérité, qu’elle cherche à atteindre. Mais cette vérité n’est pas un « objet » qu’elle pourra un jour posséder – ou une visée dont elle pourra s’approprier. Cette vérité la transcende (toujours) et pourtant elle ne se dévoile à elle que (VI, V). Clément cite ici un écrit chrétien du début du IIe siècle, la Prédication de Pierre, dont il conserve des extraits. 34 M. Grabmann, La storia del metodo scolastico (1980), 102.

Clement of Alexandria and the Articulation of Philosophy and Biblical Tradition


dans le concret de l’histoire et donc à travers la progression d’une pensée « incarnée », immanente, une pensée qui n’arrête pas de chercher. En cela la présence des réalités qui sont crues par elles-même aide la philosophie à conserver sa place, et elle éclaire celles-ci à propos de leur place à elles. En troisième lieu, le travail de recherche de la vérité mené par la philosophie est un travail « collectif », qui consiste à « collationner » les différentes opinions exprimées par la pensée des hommes, et cela quelles qu’elles soient, leur divergence étant le premier terreau sur lequel construire une progressive unification du savoir. Ce travail possède une dimension éthique considérable. Et, finalement, puisque cette recherche n’est jamais finie, en la pratiquant, la philosophie se trouve être préservée de toute forme d’orgueil et ouverte à une relation d’écoute et d’échange par rapport aux convictions. En cela, tout en gardant sa spécificité, la philosophie rend un service immense à la théologie, service que celle-ci se doit de reconnaître et accueillir. En conclusion, ce travail d’articulation entre philosophie, foi et théologie tel que Clément l’a compris et mené à bien reste encore aujourd’hui pour nous, en ces temps de crise de la société mondialisée, multiculturelle et en manque de récits fondateurs, un point de repère incontournable pour comprendre comment avancer vers la collaborations des savoirs et la pacification de la société, dans le respect des différences de chacun.

Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae Vít HUŠEK, Olomouc, Czech Republic

ABSTRACT The scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Catenae were discussed by H. Fleisch (1947/48, MSS Vat. ar. 452 and 410 only, with French translation), F.J. Caubet Iturbe (1969-70, on Matthew only, with Spanish translation), and J. Plátová (2010, 2013, 2014, 2017, with Czech translation). The article deals with five other scholia attributed to Clement in Vat. ar. 452 and 410, with respect to the Coptic version of the catena. It is argued that two scholia are attributed to Clement mistakenly: the scholion on John 14:3-7 is an abbreviated paraphrase of Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John and the scholion on John 14:21-3 is an abbreviated paraphrase of John Chrysostom’s Homilies on John. In contrast, the source of scholia on John 1:37 (both versions) and John 2:1 has not yet been identified. Since their style is similar to Clement’s Adumbrationes and to Clement’s scholia on John 1:8 and 1:11 (fragm. inc. 17 and 18), it is suggested that the scholia on John 1:37 and John 2:1 be included into a list of Clement’s fragments of uncertain origin.

The existence of scholia ascribed to Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic gospel catenae is a generally known fact. A bibliographical survey of the issue can start with Georg Graf who described an anonymous gospel catena in Coptic/ Bohairic, composed before 888 as a translation of now-lost Greek catena from the sixth century.1 Graf is primarily interested in the Arabic translation of the catena, composed before the thirteenth century, where Clement of Alexandria is represented by four scholia on Matthew and six scholia on John. Several years later (1947/1948), Henri Fleisch focused on two main manuscripts of the Arabic catena (Vat. ar. 452 and Vat. ar. 410). He analysed five scholia attributed to Clement (four on Matthew, one on John) and translated them into French.2 The edition and Spanish translation of the Arabic catena on Matthew was published by Francisco Javier Caubet Iturbe (1969-1970)3 who included 1 Georg Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. I, Die Übersetzungen (Città del Vaticano, 1944, reprint 1959), 481-3 (item no. 144). Ed. Paul de Lagarde, Catenae in evangelia aegypticae quae supersunt (Gottingae, 1886). Known also as Curzon’s catena. 2 Henri Fleisch, ‘Fragments de Clément d’Alexandrie conservés en arabe’, in Mélanges de L’Université Saint Joseph, Beyrouth, Liban, Tome XXVII, Fasc. 4 (Beyrouth, 1947-1948), 63-71. 3 Francisco Javier Caubet Iturbe, La cadena arabe del evangelio de san Mateo, vol. 1. Texto; vol. 2. Versión, Studi e testi 254-255 (Vatican City, 1969-1970).

Studia Patristica CX, 145-154. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



five scholia attributed to Clement and suggested corresponding passages from Clement’s work. At recent Oxford conferences, Jana Plátová suggested a new classification of the fragments of Clement’s Hypotyposes, presented synoptic tables of all the numbering systems of the fragments, and discussed a possible source for the Arabic fragments.4 She also published a bilingual Czech translation of Clement’s Eclogae and Hypotyposes, which is the first edition of Clement that includes the Arabic fragments.5 Matthias Schulz has recently described Bohairic, Arabic and Ethiopic (Ge’ez) gospel catenae, provided a checklist of all the manuscripts and classified the Arabic manuscripts into three groups.6 The first group comprises eleven manuscripts of translations from the Bohairic catena (partly edited by Caubet Iturbe).7 It should be noted, however, that a catena is an ‘open book’. William Lamb explains: Material was added and amended with the production of each new copy. (…) [T]he manner in which they [i.e. catenae] developed is much closer to something like Wikipedia than the successive editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (…) Although grouping the manuscripts in different recensions has become an established convention in the analysis of catenae, such an enterprise often conceals the true extent of the variations between them.8

In what follows, I will discuss scholia attributed to Clement in two main representatives of the first group of the Arabic catenae (i.e. translations from Bohairic), Vat. ar. 452 and Vat. ar. 410, and compare them, where possible, with the corresponding Coptic text. It should be clear that my presentation deals with only a small part of the material and that there is a large group of scholia and manuscripts that will be left untouched. 4 Jana Plátová, ‘Bemerkungen zu den Hypotyposen-Fragmenten des Clemens Alexandrinus’, SP 46 (2010), 181-7; ead., ‘Die Fragmente des Clemens Alexandrinus in den griechischen und arabischen Katenen’, SP 66 (2013), 3-9; ead., ‘How Many Fragments of the Hypotyposes by Clement of Alexadria Do We Actually Have?’, SP 79 (2017), 71-86. In Plátová’s numbering, the Arabic fragments are Fragm. inc. 2, 3, 4, 11, 14, 17 and 18 (pages 188-91; 196-9; 202-3 in the Czech edition). 5 Klement Alexandrijský, Exegetické zlomky. Eclogae propheticae – Hypotyposes, ed. Jana Plátová (Praha, 2014), bilingual edition with a Czech translation and a commentary. 6 Matthias H.O. Schulz, ‘An Overview of Research on Bohairic Catena Manuscripts on the Gospels with a Grouping of Arabic and Ethiopic Sources and a Checklist of Manuscripts’, in Hugh A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition (Piscataway, NJ, 2016), 295-330, esp. 303-7. 7 The catenae of the second and third group were already included in Graf’s Geschichte but Clement of Alexandria is not named explicitly, which may be the reason why the entries did not attract the attention of Clementine scholars. See Georg Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. II, Die Schriftsteller bis zur Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts (Città del Vaticano, 1947, reprint 1960), 160-9 (esp. 166-7, item no. 50) and 336-8 (item no. 109) respectively. 8 William Lamb, ‘Conservation and Conversation: New Testament Catenae in Byzantium’, in Derek Krueger and Robert S. Nelson (eds), The New Testament in Byzantium (Washington, DC, 2016), 277-99, 280-1.

Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae


1. Scholia on Matthew The scholia on Matthew attributed to Clement have already been discussed in detail.9 It was suggested that the scholia are abridged paraphrases or adaptations of passages from Clement’s Stromata. Verse

the Coptic catena (de Lagarde), attribution

the Arabic catena: Vat. ar. 452; Vat. ar. 410 (Caubet Iturbe I/ II), attribution

fragment numbering (Plátová; Fleisch); original text – suggestion

Matt. 5:7

6, 26-34 Saint Clement

29r; 20v (43/50) Clement says

fragm. inc. 2; I; Strom. IV 38, 2-4

Matt. 5:10

7, 13-17 Clement

29v; 21v (44/51-52) Clement says

fragm. inc. 3; –; Strom. IV 25,1; 41,4

Matt. 5:27-8

10, 19-25 Clement

33r; 25v (51/59) Clement explains

fragm. inc. 4; II; Strom. IV 116, 1-2 (II 61, 3)

Matt. 10:39

29, 35-30, 3 Saint Clement

58r; 52r (102/115) Clement says

fragm. inc. 11; III; Strom. II 108, 3-4

Matt. 19:6

52, 33-38 Saint Clement

92v; 78r (169/183) Clement explains

fragm. inc. 14; IV; Strom. III 82, 3

2. Scholia on John Similarly, two scholia on John 1:8 and 1:11 are not in need of a detailed discussion, even though neither Fleisch nor Plátová suggest any corresponding passages in Clement’s work. Other scholia on John will be discussed in what follows. Verse

the Coptic catena the Arabic catena: (de Lagarde), Vat. ar. 452; Vat. ar. 410, attribution attribution

John 1:8

300v; 219v Clement explains

fragm. inc. 17; V; ?

John 1:11

300v; 219v Clement explains

fragm. inc. 18; V; ?


fragment numbering (Plátová; Fleisch); original text – suggestion

H. Fleisch, ‘Fragments’ (1947-1948); J.F. Caubet Iturbe, La Cadena, vol. 2 (1970); J. Plátová, ‘Die Fragmente’ (2013); Klement Alexandrijský, Exegetické zlomky (2014); Vít Hušek, ‘Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Coptic Catena on the Gospels’, Adamantius 24 (2018), 349-59.


148 John 1:37

303v; 221v Clement explains

will be discussed

John 2:1

–; 222r-v Clement explains

will be discussed

John 14:3-7

215, 23-34 Saint Clement

349v; 250r Clement explains

will be discussed

John 14:21-3

216, 3-10 Chrysostom

452, 351r Clement explains will be discussed the word of the Lord 410, 250r-v Patriarch Severus explains it

3. Clement on John 1:37 in Vat. ar. 452 (two disciples of John) The scholion on John 1:37 (The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus) attributed to Clement in Vat. ar. 452 differs from the text in Vat. ar. 410 (the Coptic version is not available). We will discuss both versions in turn. The scholion in Vat. ar. 452, f. 303v refers to the previous verses of the gospel (The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”, John 1:35-6) and reads:10 Clement explains: The two disciples standing with (lit. on the right of) John were Peter and his brother Andrew. They were listeners of John all during his teaching because they were lovers of knowledge. And when they heard John’s words about the Lord, that he is the Lamb of God and that John was imprisoned, they followed the Lord. They got up at 10 o’clock (i.e. four o’clock in the afternoon). And then they returned to their place and the Lord permitted it to them. They were on the sea when they followed him out of love and left everything for him. And they both became disciples. Behold, from the story that the Lord wanted to leave for Galilee.

No corresponding passage from Clement’s work has been suggested in previous research. 4. Clement on John 1:37 in Vat. ar. 410 (John in the wilderness, the angel of God) The scholion on the same verse in Vat. ar. 410, f. 221v-222r reads: Chapter three. Clement explains: He says that John the Evangelist is silent about his baptism in Jordan and about the temptation in the wilderness. Now the third evangelist 10

All translations from Arabic are by Jaroslav Franc.

Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae


(i.e. Luke 3-4) starts and writes. But he who is the forerunner, the Baptist and a witness of light who worshipped God in the solitude in the wilderness, explained that and told the truth: // Very truly, very truly, I tell you, from now on you will see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. Because before … the paradise was closed by the Lord, and not only the paradise but also the heaven. This is why the Lord of creation came to open the paradise. Or otherwise, through revelation of the work of salvation and through a promise that his holy Ascension will open the heavens to good people. And the angel of God became a guardian of believers of this religion on Earth. And the souls of the saints descend and ascend to the heaven and paradise. Now death cannot argue about the souls of saints, now Christ abolished (or: cancelled) the force and power of its thorn and opened heaven and paradise … again. His death and his holy cross are the work of salvation.

The scholion seems to be composed of two unrelated parts, and neither of them relates to John 1:37 directly. The first part (on f. 221v) discusses the baptism in the Jordan and the temptation in the wilderness in relation to John the Baptist. No corresponding passage from Clement’s work has been suggested. The second part (f. 222r) comments on John 1:51. Graft suggested that it is compiled from the text from Vat. ar. 452, f. 304r-v where it is attributed to Severus of Antioch. 5. Clement on John 2:1 (the wedding in Cana) The scholion on John 2:1 (the wedding in Cana) is available in Vat. ar. 410 only (the Coptic version is not available) and reads (f. 222r-v): Chapter four. Clement explains. Behold, the third day after the return of the Lord Christ from the wilderness, when he called Philip and entered Cana in Galilee. And there was a wedding and they invited the mother of Jesus. There people at the wedding were from their villages. And then (John) the Evangelist says that the mother of Jesus was there and also Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding.

The scholion does not correspond to any passage from Clement’s work. We have no evidence of Clement’s commentary on the wedding in Cana. The interpretation is very vague, practically a simple paraphrase of the biblical text. No corresponding passage from Clement’s work has been suggested. 6. Clement on John 14:3-7 (consubstantiality) Clement’s scholion on John 14:3-7 (And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself etc.)11 is available in both Arabic 11 John 14:3-7: ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where



manuscripts as well as in the Coptic catena. A translation from the Coptic (de Lagarde 215, 23-34): Saint Clement – from a sermon/comment (lit. ‘a word’) of his: Whoever then believes in the Son and confesses that he is consubstantial (ⲟⲩⲟⲙⲟⲟⲩⲥⲓⲟⲥ) with the Father, has seen the Father not with bodily eyes but rather through the perception of true knowledge of the faith which confesses Christ [lit. ‘of (consisting in) the confession of Christ’]. Because the vision of God consists in true knowledge of faith in Christ, and knowledge of faith in Christ is to see God. What then is the vision of Christ not only in the body? It (lit. ‘this’) is not in itself the vision of God, because many [i.e. crowds from] impious Jews saw him in the flesh. But rather belief in him and doing his will, and expecting him through keeping his commandments, this is truly to see God.

Both Arabic manuscripts are translations of the Coptic text. They do not reproduce the Coptic scholion verbatim and slightly differ in the terminology. Vat. ar. 452, f. 349v:

Vat. ar. 410, f. 250r:

Clement explains: Whoever believes in the Son and confesses that he is equal (mutasāwī) to the Father, he sees the Father not with a pair of bodily eyes but rather through the true senses, that is faith in the Lord and perception of the God Most High, with a spiritual mind elevated by grace. Not everyone who sees the Lord bodily, sees the God Most High. Because many Jews did not see the Lord and they did not believe in him. But whoever believes in him and works to his satisfaction and keeps his commandments, he sees him quite rightly.

Clement explains: Whoever now believes in the Son and confesses the Son (to be) is equal (musāwin) to the Father, he saw the Father not with bodily eyes but rather through the senses of right cognition, which (is) through faith and cognition of Christ. This vision of God is clear (and) true cognition, which (is) through faith of (!) Jesus Christ. And the clear cognition through faith of Jesus Christ is to see God. And to see God bodily only is not (does not mean) to see God. Because many Jews of little faith could see him in the body and they did not believe in him and did not obey him. Whereas whoever strives to keep his commandments, he may be worthy to see God truly.

As I have argued elsewhere,12 the Coptic version of the scholion is an abbreviated paraphrase of Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John. In short: the phrases ‘consubstantial with the Father’ (ⲟⲩⲟⲙⲟⲟⲩⲥⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲫⲓⲱⲧ) and ‘impious Jews’ (ⲛⲓⲓⲟⲩⲇⲁⲓ ⲛⲁⲑⲛⲟⲩϯ) are foreign to Clement.13 In contrast, I am going’. Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him’. 12 V. Hušek, ‘Scholia’ (2018), 357-8. 13 Clement’s use of the term ‘consubstantial’ is limited to his anti-gnostic polemics, Strom. II 74,1; IV 91,2; Exc. Th. 2,42,3; 3,50,1; 3,50,2; 3,53,1; 3,58,1 (SC 23, 150; 162; 162-4; 168;

Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae


Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary on John 14:7 deals with the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father (ὁμοούσιος, ὁμοουσιότης)14 as well as the confession of faith (τῆς πίστεως ὁμολογία).15 Some other expressions can be found in Cyril’s commentary on John, chapter 12-5: to keep the commandments (διὰ τοῦ τηρῆσαι τὰς ἐντολάς)16 or impious Jews (οἱ ἀνοσίοι ᾿Ιουδαίοι, ᾿Ιουδαίων ἀνοσιότης).17 Since the Arabic scholion is a relatively close translation of the Coptic text, the conclusion is the same: Clement is not the author. 7. Clement on John 14:21-3 (Sabellius) Clement’s scholion on John 14:21-3 (They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me etc., and we will come to them and make our home with them)18 is also available in both Arabic manuscripts. I will start with a translation from the Coptic catena where the scholion is attributed to John Chrysostom (de Lagarde 216, 3-10):19 Chrysostom. Since everyone who loves the Lord and keeps His commandments is not of [or: doesn’t belong to …] this world and its vain pleasure, because of this He said, Whoever loves me will keep my word (14:23) – which is/means His holy commandments. But the one who does belong to this world and its foul pleasures, this sort of person has neither loved God with his whole heart nor has he observed His commandments. He is rejecting/repudiating the foul heresy of Sabellius which states that the Holy Trinity is a single hypostasis and single person/prosopon (ⲟⲩϩⲩⲡⲟⲥⲧⲁⲥⲓⲥ ⲛⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲟⲩⲡⲣⲟⲥⲟⲡⲟⲛ ⲛⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲧⲉ ϯⲧⲣⲓⲁⲥ ⲉⲑⲟⲩⲁⲃ). For this reason then He said, The one who loves me and who keeps my word, my Father will love him and we will come and set up our home in him (14:23). In this then He informs us of the particular

176). Clement never used it in connection with the relationship between the Father and the Son. The phrase ‘equality of substance’ (i.e. the Son of God with the Father) in the Latin text of Adumbr. III 1,1 may have been inserted by Cassiodorus, the Latin translator. Adumbr. III 1,1 (on 1John 1:1): Verbum ipsum (hoc est filius) quod secundum aequalitatem substantiae unum cum patre consistit … The Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who is, by equality of substance, one with the Father … ET ANF 2,574, modified. As for the phrase ‘impious Jews’, Clement, in contrast, urges the pagan philosophers to have respect for Jews, see e.g. Strom. I 31,1-32,4; I 87,2-5; I 101,1; I 165,1-170,4; I 176,1-179,3. 14 Cyril Alex., Comm. Joh. IX (PG 74, 193D; 200B). 15 Cyril Alex., Comm. Joh. IX (PG 74, 192D-193A; 196C; 197B). 16 See e.g. Cyril Alex., Comm. Joh. X (PG 74, 289C-D; 293C). 17 See Cyril Alex., Comm. Joh. X (PG 74, 312A; 328A; 329D; 337A; 385C); see also Comm. Joh. IX (PG 74, 176A). 18 John 14:21-3: ‘They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them’. Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’. 19 Translated by Carol Downer.



character of each single person of the Holy Consubstantial Trinity (ⲉϯⲓⲇⲓⲟⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲫⲟⲩⲁⲓ ⲫⲟⲩⲁⲓ ⲛⲛⲓⲡⲣⲟⲥⲟⲡⲟⲛ ⲛⲧⲉ ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲛⲟⲙⲟⲟⲩⲥⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲣⲓⲁⲥ), through His saying, We will come and make our dwelling place in Him…

Both Arabic manuscripts reproduce the same text, the teaching of Sabellius is not translated from the Coptic word for word but the main idea is preserved. Unlike in the Coptic, the scholion is ascribed to Clement in Vat. ar. 452 and Severus of Antioch in Vat. ar. 410. Vat. ar. 452, f. 351r:

Vat. ar. 410, f. 250r-v:

Clement explains the word of the Lord: Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, etc. Whoever loves God and keeps his commandments, is not from this world and its desires. Therefore, clearly said the Lord: whoever loves me and keeps my words, which are his holy commandments. Like Sabellius who believed that the Trinity is one hypostasis (᾿aqnūm). But our faith is that the Holy Trinity, which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, [is/are] three hypostases (᾿aqānīm) of one substance (ǧawharun) and one nature (ṭabī῾ahu) and one will (mašī᾿atu) and one power (sulṭānun). And everyone who fully (keeps) these commandments, will be in the grace of the Holy Trinity. Therefore (he) said: And my Father loves him a will come to him and will enter his home. And the Lord (!) says: And the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom my Son Jesus (!) will send, will teach you everything.

Severus the Patriarch explains it: Whoever loves the Lord keeps his commandments, is not from this world and does not love himself for himself. And therefore he said: whoever loves me, keeps my words, which are his holy commandments. Whoever loves the world and its impurity, does not love God from all his heart and does not keep his commandments. He exposed the words of Sabellius who says that the Holy Trinity is one hypostasis (᾿aqnūm) and one face (wāǧatun, i.e. person). Therefore [he] says: Whoever loves me and keeps my words loves God and we will come to him and make our abode with him. Thus, he teaches us the unity of all faces (al-wuǧūhi, i.e. persons) of the Holy Trinity which are equals (al-mutasāwī, i.e. consubstantial), when [the Lord] said: we will come to him and make our home with him.

Our impression is, once again, that the attribution to Clement is dubious. It is difficult to imagine Clement opposing Sabellius whose floruit in Rome coincides with the time of Clement’s decease (ca. 215) and who was excommunicated more than a decade after Clement’s major works were composed.20 Moreover, a discussion on hypostases and prosopons in the Holy Trinity is very unlikely for Clement. On the contrary, there are many points of similarity between the scholion and John Chrysostom’s Homilies on John, chapter 14 (Hom. Joh. 74-5). Chrysostom mentions ‘the malady of Sabellius’ and opposes 20

See Alain Le Boulluec, ‘Clément d’Alexandrie’, in Bernard Pouderon (ed.), Histoire de la littérature grecque chrétienne des origines à 451, vol. 3: De Clément d’Alexandrie à Eusèbe de Césarée (Paris, 2017), 57-168.

Scholia of Clement of Alexandria in the Arabic Gospel Catenae


those who ‘assert that the same is the Father, the same the Son’.21 Chrysostom is convinced that the Father and the Son are not ‘of a different essence’ but consubstantial, and that the Scriptures prove their ‘Condignity and Consubstantiality’.22 As for the Holy Spirit, Chrysostom opposes ‘the disease of Sabellius’ again and advocates ‘the difference of Person’ and ‘the connection of Substance’.23 Based on these similarities, Chrysostom may be considered the probable author of the original text.24 This suggestion is further confirmed by the fact that the Coptic catena ascribes the scholion to Chrysostom. The Arabic manuscript Vat. ar. 452 subsequently ascribes the scholion to Clement and it is apparent that Clement is the author of the immediately preceding scholion in the Coptic catena (on John 14:3-7, Lag. 215,11, corresponds to Vat. ar. 452, f. 349v). It is therefore conceivable that a translator or a scribe made a mistake and attributed the scholion to the previously mentioned author. Similarly, the Arabic manuscript Vat. ar. 410 ascribes the scholion to Severus, the author of the immediately preceding scholion in Vat. ar. 452 (on John 14:2, f. 349r-v, corresponds to Lag. 215,11 but not included in Vat. ar. 410), by an analogous mistake of a scribe. To summarize, the attribution of the scholion to Clement is indefensible and Chrysostom seems to be the most probable author. Conclusion The scholia on John 14:3-7 and John 14:21-3 are attributed to Clement mistakenly. Based of their content and terminology, it is argued that the scholion on John 14:3-7 is an abbreviated paraphrase of Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John IX and the scholion on John 14:21-3 is an abbreviated paraphrase of John Chrysostom’s Homilies on John 74-5. The other three scholia on John (two different scholia on 1:37, and one scholion on 2:1) do not correspond to any passage from Clement’s work. They explain – or rather paraphrase very closely – the biblical text and add almost no new information. Their style is very similar to Clement’s Adumbrationes and to the scholia on John 1:8 and 1:11 (fragm. inc. 17 and 18). Thus, the scholia on John 1:37 (both versions) and the scholion on John 2:1 may be candidates for three new entries in the list of 21

Chrysostom, Hom. Joh. 74,1 (PG 59, 399; 401). ET NPNF 1,14. Chrysostom, Hom. Joh. 74,1-2 (PG 59, 401-2). 23 Chrysostom, Hom. Joh. 74,2 (PG 59, 403); see also Hom. Hebr. VIII,4 (PG 63, 73); De Consubstantiali contra anomoeos hom. VII,285-314 (SC 396, 136-8). 24 Sabellius’ claim that the Fathers and the Son (or the Trinity) are one hypostasis and one person is discussed, however, and also opposed in comments on John 14 by other Church Fathers, e.g. Ammonius of Alexandria (the author of the exegetical treaties from the sixth century, not to be confused with Ammonius Saccas); Theodore of Heraclea (ca. 250-ca. 355) and Severus of Antioch (ca. 459/465-538). 22



Clement’s fragments of uncertain origin. Our findings also confirm that Arabic catenae are primarily an important witness of Arabic Christianity and its theological concerns. However, since they reproduce original texts rather freely (with amendments, paraphrases and unreliable attributions), their use as a source of Clement’s lost works is limited.25 Verse

the Coptic catena the Arabic catena: fragment numbering Vat. ar. 452; Vat. ar. 410 (Plátová; Fleisch); (de Lagarde), attribution attribution original text – suggestion

John 1:8

300v; 219v Clement explains

fragm. inc. 17; V; no suggestion

John 1:11

300v; 219v Clement explains

fragm. inc. 18; V; no suggestion

John 1:37

303v; 221v Clement explains

452: fragm. inc. (new) 410: first half: fragm. inc. (new); second half: supp. Severus

John 2:1

215, 23-34 Saint Clement

–; 222r-v Clement explains

fragm. inc. (new)

John 14:3-7

216, 3-10 Chrysostom

349v; 250r Clement explains

Cyril Alex., Comm. Joh. IX

John 14:21-3

216, 3-10 Chrysostom

452, 351r Clement explains the word of the Lord 410, 250r-v Patriarch Severus explains it

Chrysostom, Hom. Joh. 74,1-75,1

25 This article is a result of research funded by the Czech Science Foundation as the project Biblical Exegesis of “the Other Clement of Alexandria” (GA ČR 18-09922S).


The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos: Dragons and Materiality in the Protrepticus of Clement of Alexandria Daniel J. CROSBY, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, USA

ABSTRACT Clement of Alexandria’s version of the myth of Eunomos’ harmonization with the chirping cicada at the beginning of his Protrepticus is such a striking feature of the text that explaining its significance has become a popular problem in scholarship. I argue that Clement’s novel introduction of the death of the Delphic dragon into his version of myth of Eunomos is especially important since this snake becomes a pervasive metaphor for the danger that the material world poses to souls and the rot that affects them when they cling to it. The text of the Protrepticus slithers with serpentine imagery as Clement points out how this dragon’s winding coils are wrapped around Graeco-Roman religion, philosophy, and human nature more generally. In light of this reading, we appreciate the real stakes of Clement’s exhortation and find the model of his ideal reader in Eunomos: the sinner who once sang to the dead and rotting snake of evil Greek custom and its inherent materialism now joins in with the pure song of the cicada, who has always sung the cosmic ‘New Song’ to its Creator, the victor over the snake.

Introduction At the very outset of his Protrepticus, Clement of Alexandria tells the myth of Eunomos. As the tale goes, a cicada joins in with Eunomos’ song when a string on his lyre suddenly snaps in the middle of a competitive performance. However, Clement’s telling introduces a number of pointed alterations to the traditional tale. I argue that Clement’s innovation here is intentional and purposeful. By sneaking the story of the dead Pythian dragon into this myth, Clement introduces the snake as a powerful metaphor for the material world and materialism that he continues to develop in the rest of his Protrepticus. Consequently, Eunomos’ change of tune from the dirge of the rotting Pythian dragon to the New Song in harmony with the cicada can be understood as representing the singer’s refusal of corrupting materialism and acceptance of Christ. This turn is precisely the purpose of Clement’s Protrepticus.1 In this way, Eunomos becomes an example of Clement’s ideal reader. 1 We can be certain that Clement titled this work Protrepticus because he mentions its title in a later piece. Clem. Al., Strom. With this title, Clement sets his work against the

Studia Patristica CX, 157-165. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



Clement’s Innovations to the Myth There are two significant innovations in Clement’s version on which I focus here.2 First, based on other extant versions of the story, we would expect the song of the cicada to fill the place of the missing string on Eunomos’ instrument and to harmonize with the song that the musician was already singing. However, Clement reverses the traditional roles of the cicada and Eunomos.3 ‘And the singer, having harmonized his tune to the song of the cicada, supplied the missing string’.4 Here, Clement actually underscores an alteration that he is making to the tradition, saying, ‘the cicada is not drawn by the song of Eunomos, as the myth prefers, … but it willingly hops up and willingly sings’.5 background of a literary tradition of protreptic discourse, which is characterized by a writer’s hortatory tone in encouraging the audience to abandon one way of life and to take up another. Hartlich provides an extensive survey of hortatory literature in antiquity. Paul Hartlich, ‘De Exhortationum a Graecis Romanisque Scriptarum Historia et Indole’, Leipziger Studien zur classischen Philologie 11 (1888), 210-333. On protreptic in general, see Mark D. Jordan, ‘Ancient Philosophic Protreptic and the Problem of Persuasive Genres’, Rhetorica 4 (1986), 309-33; S.R. Slings, ‘Protreptic in Ancient Theories of Philosophical Literature’, in J.G.J. Abbenes, S.R. Slings and I. Sluiter (eds), Greek Literary Theory After Aristotle: A Collection of Papers in Honour of D.M. Schenkeveld (Amsterdam, 1995), 173-92; Sophie Van der Meeren, ‘Le Protreptique en philosophie: essai de défintion d’un genre’, Revue des Études Grecques 115 (2002), 591-621. On Clement’s protreptic in particular, see David Ivan Rankin, ‘Apologetic or Protreptic? Audiences and Strategies in Clement of Alexandria’s “Stromateis” and “Protrepticus”’, in Antonie Wlosok and François Paschoud (eds), L’Apologétique chrétienne gréco-latine à l’époque prénicénienne (Geneva, 2005), 69-102. 2 In sum, there are fourteen independent references to the myth in extant Greek literature, Clement’s included. Timaeus (FGrHist 566 F43a, b = Antig. 1.1-2; Str. 6.1.9); Gr. Naz., Ep. 175.2; Euthymius Malaces, Ep. 8.17-21; Nicet., Or. 6.52.23-9; Theoph., Quaestiones physicae 8.3-4; Conon (FGrHist 26 F1 = Phot., Bibl. 186.131b.32-40); Phot., Ep. 94; Eust., Comm. in Dionys. Per. 364.23-41; Schol. Clem. Al. Protr. 1.3.9, 19; Paul. Sil. (via Anth. Pal. 6.54); Anth. Pal. 9.584; Corp. Herm. 18.6. 3 Although a number of interpreters have noticed Eunomos’ change, Emmett’s attempt at allegorical interpretation based on the alluring powers of nature is not entirely suited to Clement’s treatise, and Cosgrove and Merkelbach do not go far enough in reading the symbolism and meaning they find through the rest of the Protrepticus. Reinhold Merkelbach, ‘Un petit αἴνιγμα dans le prologue du Protreptique’, in Ἀλεξανδρίνα: Hellénisme, judaïsme, et christianisme à Alexandrie. Mélanges offerts au P. Claude Mondésert (Paris, 1987), 191-4; Laurence Emmett, ‘Clement of Alexandria’s Protrepticus and Dio Chrysostom’s Alexandrian Oration’, SP 36 (2001), 409-14; Charles H. Cosgrove, ‘Clement of Alexandria and Early Christian Music’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 14 (2006), 255-82. 4 καὶ τοῦ τέττιγος τῷ ᾄσματι ἁρμοσάμενος ‹τὸ μέλος› ὁ ᾠδὸς τὴν λείπουσαν ἀνεπλήρωσε χορδήν. Clem. Al., Protr. All citations from Clement’s Protrepticus come from Clementis Alexandrini Protrepticus, ed. M. Marcovich, SVigChr 34 (Leiden, 1995). Note: ‹…›: text added by the editor; […]: text deleted by the editor. 5 Οὔκουν ᾠδῇ τῇ Εὐνόμου ἄγεται ὁ τέττιξ, ὡς ὁ μῦθος βούλεται … ὃ δὲ ἑκὼν ἐφίπταται καὶ ᾄδει ἑκών. Clem. Al., Protr., 21. The only other extant version of the myth in which the cicada plays its role willingly is found in the Corpus Hermeticum (18.6), and Marcovich thinks that this text was Clement’s source. Miroslav Marcovich, ‘Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus’,

The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos


Thus, as he corrects the record, Clement denies a version that grants magical powers of attraction to Eunomos and instead makes him change his tune to align with the cicada’s. Second, Clement explains that the Greeks founded the Pythian Games as a festival for the dragon slain by Apollo there and that Eunomos was singing a dirge in honor of the creature. Nowhere else in extant Greek literature is the content of Eunomos’ song mentioned or this aition of the Pythian Games folded into the myth. However, both innovations would likely have been acceptable: the aetiology of the Pythian Games was itself traditional,6 and the song was known as the ‘Pythian strain’.7 With these innovations, Clement creates a bridge between two formerly discrete, mythic traditions. In this way, the reader can see the Pythian dragon slithering through the myth of Eunomos.8 Clement’s SP 31 (1997), 452-3. Some interpreters think that Clement’s Eunomos is representative of the pagan Greek culture straightforwardly, another magical singer just like Amphion, Arion, and Orpheus, against which he aims his polemic. Nicolai Le Nourry (ed.), Clementis Alexandrini opera quae extant omnia, PG 9, 798; Eugène de Faye, Clément d’Alexandrie: Étude sur les rapports du christianisme et de la philosophie grecque au IIe siècle, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1906), 61-2; John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (New York, 1974), 46 ; James McKinnon, Music in Early Christian Literature, Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music (Cambridge, 1987), 29; Leonardo Lugaresi, ‘Canto del Logos: drama soteriologico e conoscenza de fede in Clemente Alessandrino’, in Roberto Radice and Alfredo Valvo (eds), Dal logos dei Greci e dei Romani al logos di Dio (Milan, 2011), 243-76, 243. However, it is worth noting that no extant telling of the myth bears the variant of Eunomos’ magical song. Elizabeth Irwin, on the other hand, suggests that Eunomos’ lack of magical powers, calls into question the effect of magical powers in the stories of Amphion, Arion, and Orpheus. Elizabeth Irwin, ‘The Songs of Orpheus and the New Song of Christ’, in John Warden (ed.), Orpheus: The Metamorphosis of a Myth (Toronto, 1982), 51-62, 52. 6 Merkelbach misrepresents this and other facts in his short explication of the ancient sources, which only includes the two epigrams from the Palatine Anthology, the fragments of Timaeus, and the passage from the Corpus Hermeticum. R. Merkelbach, ‘Un petit αἴνιγμα’ (1987), 192. That the Pythian Games were founded on account of the death of the Pythian dragon is a tradition often found in the ancient sources as far back as the fourth century BCE. Aristotle fr. (Schol. Aristid., Panathen. 329b [ed. Frommel]). See also Stat., Theb. 6.8-9; Ptolemy Hephaestion, New Hist. via Phot., Bibl. 190.153a.2; Codex Bibl. Reg. Parisinus 365, s.v., ‘Πύθω’ (ed. Bachmann, Anec. Graec.); Hyg., Fab. 140; Ov., Met. 1.446-7; Hyp. 1 to Pind., Pyth. 7 The so-called Pythian strain was said to have been invented by the legendary musician Olympos (Aristoxenos fr. via Ps.-Plut., De Musica 15), later brought to Delphi by the Argive flute player and first winner of the Pythian Games, Sacadas (Paus. 2.22.8, 10.7.4), and even used by Arion to save himself (Plut., Mor. 160f-161b). The Pythian strain was arranged according to the episodes of the battle. Timosthenes fr. via Str. 9.3.10; Poll. 4.84. Compare Hyp. 1 to Pind., Pyth. Cavalli points out that the Pythian strain is not like the Dorian or Lydian strains, which are melodies of a certain tonality; rather, it is a fixed structure of episodes within the song. Marina Cavalli, ‘Uno strano “padre della tragedia”: il drago di Delfi’, Dioniso 64 (1994), 14-6. 8 Some scholars have paid attention to this innovation. Halton and Jourdan have linked Clement’s mention of the Pythian dragon to the snakes of Greek cult and the Bible that appear later in the Protrepticus, but their appreciations of the snake imagery later in the text are cursory and limited to symbolism of a monolithic classical culture or of evil over which Christ becomes victorious, as opposed to the more pervasive reverence of the material world in the Greek culture



version, therefore, requires an interpretation that accounts for both its prominence at the beginning of the work and these two innovations. The Coils of the Pythian Dragon In order to appreciate the importance of the role reversal, we must understand the importance he places on the Pythian dragon. The fact that Clement labels the dragon in his version of the myth with three different nouns for snakes – δράκων, ἑρπετόν, and ὄφις – suggests that he is attempting to establish it as a focal point onto which all of the associations that he later builds with the terms reflect.9 Clement uses this set of words to prompt the reader to recollect the Pythian dragon whenever they reappear later in the work.10 Clement uses snake imagery with three different associations: pagan mysteries and divine epiphanies, the evils of tradition and custom, and humans living in sin.11 Circling around each of these contexts is the issue of materiality and how it can affect the soul, which is a fundamental concern in this treatise.12 as I argue. Thomas Halton, ‘Clement’s Lyre: A Broken String, a New Song’, The SecCent 3 (1983), 177-99; Fabienne Jourdan, Orphée et les chrétiens: la réception du mythe d’Orphée dans la littérature chrétienne grecque des cinq premiers siècles (Paris, 2010), I 311-6. 9 The importance of the symbol of the dragon to Clement’s Protrepticus can be observed by way of a comparison of mentions of serpentine words between the Protrepticus and all of Clement’s extant and fragmentary works. The words δράκων, ἑρπετόν, ἑρπυστικόν, ἕρπειν, ἔχιδνα, and ὄφις appear nearly as many times in the Protrepticus as in all of the other works combined, at a ratio of thirty-one to forty. Sara Deodati, Thesaurus Clementis Alexandrini, CC, Thesaurus Patrum Graecorum (Turnhout, 2009), 253, 370-1, 398, 641. This ratio is significant, considering that the Protrepticus represents the not even a tenth of his extant works: 23,298 of 269,698 words. 10 There are only two other labels for snakes in the Protrepticus, ἔχιδνα (‘viper’) and ἑρπυστικὸν θηρίον (‘slithering creature’), but these too are manifestly serpentine in meaning and can naturally remind the reader of the Pythian dragon in the same way. The first label comes from a quotation of the gospels (Matt. 3:7, 12:34, 23:33; Lk. 3:7) in which Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, calling them a γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν (‘brood of vipers’). Clem. Al., Protr. The other, ἑρπηστικὸν θηρίον, ‘crawling creature’, gets its serpentine flavor from the verb ἔρπειν, ‘to creep, [or] crawl’. LSJ, s.v., ‘ἔρπω’. See Clem. Al., Protr., There is also one instance in which Clement refers to τοὺς ὁλκοὺς τοὺς ἑρπηστικούς, ‘creeping coils’, by which we must understand snakes. Clem. Al., Protr. 11 Although Clement anticipates the associations that he makes at the end of the work with allusions to Eve and theriomorphic metaphors of the human soul (Clem. Al., Protr.,,,, he tends to follow a program that moves from one type of association to the next in the list. 12 Many scholars are familiar with Clement’s thoughts on the superiority of the metaphysical to the physical, but none, as far as I have read, consider Clement’s polemic against materialism in the Protrepticus to extend far beyond the chapters on idolatry and philosophy. See, for example, Claude Mondésert (ed.), Le Protreptique, 2nd ed., SC (Paris, 1949), 16-7; E. de Faye, Clément d’Alexandrie (1906), 64; William E.G. Floyd, Clement of Alexandria’s Treatment of the Problem of Evil, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford, 1971), 14-8; J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1947), 52-4; Sally Rose Rogers, Christian Adaptations of Euripidean Themes in Clement of

The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos


It is everywhere apparent that Clement thinks the Greeks worship material, corruptible things. He provides a catalogue in the disgraceful epiphanies and absurd symbols of the mysteries,13 polluting celebration of Panhellenic games in honor of the dead,14 and reverence for dead and literally rotten gods, who are really humans.15 Snakes are a particularly recurrent feature of this catalogue. To name a few, Clement claims that the celebrants of Bacchic rites are ‘crowned with snakes’, and their ritual cry, Εὐάν, is related etymologically to the name Eve and the Hebrew word meaning ‘female snake’.16 Clement adds: ‘And a consecrated (τετελεσμένος) snake is a symbol of the Bacchic mysteries’.17 Although the word τετελεσμένος, from the verb τελεῖν, can certainly mean ‘consecrated’ or ‘initiated’ as a number of translators render it,18 it can Alexandria, ‘Protrepticus’ and ‘Stromata’ (Washington, DC, 1991), 43-4, 60; Cornelia van der Poll, ‘Homer and Homeric Interpretation in the “Protrepticus” of Clement of Alexandria’, in Felix Budelmann and Pantelis Michelakis (eds), Homer, Tragedy and Beyond: Essays in Honour of P.E. Easterling (London, 2001), 179-200, 189. 13 Clement makes the dragon Zeus, the symbol of the Sabazian mysteries, prominent among the epiphanies of the gods. Clem. Al., Protr. 2.15-6,, For his shopping list of objects related to mystery cults, see Clem. Al., Protr. 2.14.2, 2.18.1, 2.21.2, 2.22.4-5. The fact that Clement goes through a list of obscure objects at such length suggests that he desired to put special emphasis on the σημεῖα, σύμβολα, and ἅγια, the materiality of the Greek mysteries, and did not simply take over these details from his source en passant from a source. On the likelihood of a Hellenistic encyclopedic source, see Christoph Riedweg, Mysterienterminologie bei Platon, Philon und Klemens von Alexandrien (Berlin, 1987), 118-29. On the materiality of divinatory apparatus, see Clem. Al., Protr. 2.11.1, 14 Clem. Al., Protr. 2.34.1. Clement insists that all of the festivals are really funeral games like those familiar from the myths of the heroic age. See Clem. Al., Protr. 15 In the euhemeristic part of Clement’s interpretation of mythology, he claims that the gods were really just divinized mortals, and this explains why so many are now said to be dead. Clem. Al., Protr., 2.30.1-2, 2.30.4,, Indeed, he even argues that the Greek gods are rotten, since he understands from the Iliad that their blood is ἰχῶρ, which means σῆψις αἵματος, ‘putrifaction of blood’. Clem. Al., Protr. 2.36. There are a number of citations in treatises on medicine and natural science that connect ἰχῶρ with rotting explicitly. Hippoc., Loc. Hom. 29.4; Arist. [Pr.] 931a26; Gal. 13.150.6, 13.199.12; Sor., Gyn. However, the equation specifically of ichor with sepsis of the blood is not found before Clement, but it is picked up by later lexicographers. Ps.-Hdn. 3.2.528.1; Choerob., De orthographia 224.6; Ps.-Zonar. Α.361.30; Suda A.4711.3; Etym. Magn. 480.53. Eustathius tries to clear up the confusion over the life force of the gods and the medical term in his commentary on the Iliad. Eust., Il. 2.85.6. 16 Clem. Al., Protr. The connection between the name Eve and female snake exists as a pun in Midrash Rabbah. See H. Freedman and Maurice Simon (eds), Midrash Rabbah: Genesis (London, 1939), 1:169-70. Clement’s knowledge of this tradition may stem from Gnostic texts, like, for example, ‘The Hypostasis of the Archons’ in the Nag Hammadi collection, which make use of a similar pun in Aramaic. See Bentley Layton, ‘The Hypostasis of the Archons (Conclusion)’, HTR 69 (1976), 55-6. I am very grateful to Prof. Mark Edwards for pointing out this connection. 17 καὶ σημεῖον ὀργίων βακχικῶν ὄφις ἐστὶ τετελεσμένος. Clem. Al., Protr. 18 See also William Wilson (tr.), The Writings of Clement of Alexandria (Edinburgh, 1867), I 27; Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds), The Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ANF 2 (Buffalo, 1885),



also mean ‘having come to one’s end’, as in ‘dead’.19 It is a pun that has gone unnoticed.20 This dead snake recalls the dead Pythian dragon behind the myth of Eunomos, but it also prompts other important questions for the reader: Are τετελεσμένοι really holy initiates of a mystery religion or are they in reality dead? Are they purified or polluted by the snakes with which they wreathe themselves and to which they call?21 Clement brought both matter itself and the problematic association with matter into connection with the snake even earlier. Still in the opening chapter, he likens the Greek tradition of materialism to a particularly horrifying practice. For the evil, serpentine creature, enchanting them, enslaves and tortures human beings still even now, it seems to me, punishing them barbarically like those who are said to tie together captives with corpses until they rot together with them. This evil one is a tyrant and dragon. Having bound tightly to stones, pieces of wood, statues, and certain such idols with a wretched bond of superstition, those whom it may appropriate from the moment of their birth, … and assaulting the living, he has buried them together with the dead until they are corrupted together.22

This metaphor of torture is traditional in protreptic for depicting the relationship between the material world or body and the soul.23 What Clement adds is his identification of the dragon as the cause for the bond of superstition that ties human souls to material things.24 Further, when he goes on to argue how 175; G.W. Butterworth (tr.), Clement of Alexandria, LCL (London, 1919), 31; C. Mondésert (ed.), Le Protreptique (1949), 68. 19 LSJ, s.v. ‘τελέω’; PGL, s.v. ‘τελέω’. 20 For other puns in the Protrepticus, see H. Steneker, ΠΕΙΘΟΥΣ ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΙΑ: Observations sur la fonction du style dans le Protreptique de Clément d’Alexandrie, Graecitas Christianorum Primaeva 3 (Nijmegen, 1967), 8-13; J. Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (1947), 44-67. 21 ὑμᾶς δὲ εἰ μὴ ὑπεισέρχεταί τις αἰσχύνη τῶν τολμωμένων, νεκροὶ ἄρα τέλεον ὄντες νεκροῖς [ὄντως] πεπιστευκότες περιέρχεσθε. Clem. Alex., Protr. For the life of pagans being death, see also, and 22 Τὸ γὰρ πονηρὸν καὶ ἑρπυστικὸν θηρίον γοητεῦον καταδουλοῦται καὶ αἰκίζεται εἰσέτι νῦν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, βαρβαρικῶς τιμωρούμενον, οἳ νεκροῖς τοὺς αἰχμαλώτους συνδεῖν λέγονται σώμασιν, ἔστ’ ἂν αὐτοῖς καὶ συσσαπῶσιν. Ὁ γοῦν πονηρὸς οὑτοσὶ τύραννος καὶ δράκων, οὓς ἂν οἷός τε εἴη ἐκ γενετῆς σφετερίσασθαι, λίθοις καὶ ξύλοις καὶ ἀγάλμασιν καὶ τοιούτοις τισὶν εἰδώλοις προσσφίγξας τῷ δεισιδαιμονίας ἀθλίῳ δεσμῷ, … ζῶντας ‹νεκροῖς› ἐπιφέρων συνέθαψεν αὐτούς, ἔστ’ ἂν καὶ συμφθαρῶσιν. Clem. Al., Protr. Interestingly, Clement also uses the verb συνθάπτειν to describe the incarnation of the Logos into Christ. Clem. Al., Protr. 23 The metaphor was used in Aristotle’s Protrepticus, Cicero’s Hortensius, Iamblichus’ Protrepticus, and Augustine’s Contra Iulianum, but only the last two works are extant. Iambl., Protr. 8.77.27-79.6; August., C. Iul. Pelag. 4.15.78. Augustine cites Cicero’s Hortensius. Hutchinson and Johnson argue that Aristotle’s Protrepticus is the ultimate source of the image for both Iamblichus and Cicero. D.S. Hutchinson and Mote Ransome Johnson, ‘Authenticating Aristotle’s Protrepticus’, in David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 29 (Oxford, 2005), 255-8. 24 Clement clearly points forward toward the connection that he makes between this snake of evil tradition and the tempter from the Garden of Eden. However, I cannot agree with Herrero who consistently draws a relationship between the snakes of the Protrepticus and Satan. Miguel

The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos


Greek philosophy, while not showing reverence to material things, has deified matter itself, all but Plato are tarred with the same brush of materialism.25 Thus, he associates the dragon not just with a Greek religious and philosophical ‘earnestness about matter’,26 but also with the inherent danger of decay that this tradition poses for the soul. Clement even characterizes sinful humans as snaky creatures. In his allegorical reading of the Genesis account of the Fall, Clement understands the snake as a representation of pleasure. When the first man was playing free in paradise, he was still a child of God, but when he succumbed to pleasure – the snake that crawls on its belly is an allegory for pleasure; it is an earthen evil that is turned toward material things – and when he was being led astray by his desires, the child who was enslaved to disobedience and ignoring his Father, was dishonoring God.27

Pleasure, the snake, is an affect of the soul that arises from interaction with matter, and when one strays in desire and finds pleasure in the material world, this turn away from God is tantamount to enslavement.28 The Fall was caused by a sinful and excessive desire for and pleasure from the material world, which Clement describes as a metaphorical transformation of the inner state of the soul from properly human to serpentine. Clement describes in serpentine terms as well the inner transformation of the soul that responds properly to his Protrepticus. What is needed is a metamorphosis of character from beastly to human by the transformative power of the New Song. This is the central purpose of the work.29 He exhorts his reader to listen to the New Song, and to cease ‘serpentine coiling’.30 ‘But be enchanted out of your wildness, receive our gentle logos, and spit out the destructive poison, in order that it may be granted to you to slough off your corruption as much as possible, as snakes do their skin’.31 Given the mostly negative associations that Herrero de Jáuregui, The Protrepticus of Clement of Alexandria: A Commentary (Bolonia, 2008), passim. Later in the work, Clement reads the Genesis account of temptation in the garden allegorically, and I discuss this below. See also Clem. Al., Protr. 25 Clem. Al., Protr.; 5.64.3. Clement goes on to foreshadow his treatment of Platonic philosophy and its ‘dreaming of the Truth’. Philosophy, generally speaking, does see the Truth dimly and is capable of preparing a person to receive the Truth in its fullness. Clem. Al., Strom. 1.28.1-3, 1.80.5-6. 26 Clem. Al., Protr., 27 Ὁ πρῶτος ‹ἄνθρωπος› ὅτε ἐν παραδείσῳ ἔπαιζε λελυμένος, ἔτι παιδίον ἦν τοῦ θεοῦ· ὅτε δὲ ὑπεπίπτεν ἡδονῇ (ὄφις ἀλληγορεῖται ἡδονή, ἐπὶ γαστέρα ἕρπουσα· κακία γηΐνη, εἰς ὕλας ‹σ›τρεφομένη) παρήγετο ‹τε› ἐπιθυμίαις, ὁ παῖς, ἀνδριζόμενος ἀπειθείᾳ καὶ παρακούσας τοῦ πατρός, ᾐσχύνετο τὸν θεόν. Clem. Al., Protr. 28 See also Clem. Al., Protr. 29 Clem. Al., Protr. 1.4. 30 … τοὺς ὁλκοὺς τοὺς ἑρπυστικούς… Clem. Al., Protr. 31 Ἀλλ’ ὑμεῖς γε κατεπᾴσθητε τὴν ἀγ‹ρ›ιότητα | καὶ παραδέξασθε τὸν ἥμερον [καὶ] ἡμέτερον λόγον καὶ τὸν ἰὸν ἀποπτύσατε τὸν δηλητήριον, ὅπως ὅτι μάλιστα ὑμῖν τὴν φθοράν, ὡς ἐκείνοις τὸ γῆρας, ἀποδύσασθαι δοθῇ. Clem. Al., Protr.



snakes have in the rest of the work, it may seem odd that Clement would exhort his audience to act like snakes. However, the comparison between snakes and fallen souls is especially apt since snakes and embodied souls are both embedded in the material world and commonly thought to be immortal. The image that Clement presents here can make more sense in this context. Snakes have a truly wondrous ability. They can separate themselves from the material husk that surrounds them. By comparing the snake to the human being in this passage, Clement suggests that the soul can voluntarily separate itself from the corruption caused by materiality to a significant degree, though not completely while embodied. Conclusion I have argued that Clement uses dragons as symbols of materialism and materiality in Greek tradition and in his allegorical reading of the Fall and portrayal of Christian conversion. These dragons ultimately relate back to the dead Pythian dragon that Clement snuck into the myth of Eunomos. With the Pythian dragon as the very first and most prominent image of the vile tradition of materialism, two consequences emerge. First, we may see the myth of Apollo’s victory over the Pythian dragon as a parallel for Christ’s victory over the snake who represents bondage to material pleasure.32 And second, Eunomos’ original reverence for the rotting snake by his song can be understood metaphorically as the expression of the singer’s materialism. To understand the importance of Clement’s role reversal between Eunomos and the cicada, we need to appreciate the character of the song that the cicada was singing when Eunomos joined in with it. This song is one of praise to God; it is Clement’s New Song, the Logos.33 As Clement puts it, the cicadas at Delphi ‘… were singing a song of natural strain not to the dead dragon, the Pythian, but to the All-wise God, a song better than the tunes of Eunomos’.34 The power of the New Song and its relation to the cosmic harmony is well-worn 32

Clem. Al., Protr. The parallel between Clement’s allegorical reading of the Fall and the prophecy in Gen. 3:15 here and the Delphic Combat Myth are unmistakable. Thus, Halton is right to point out that ‘Christ clearly becomes a replacement for Apollo’. T. Halton, ‘Clement’s Lyre’ (1983), 181 n. 10. Interpreting the myth of Apollo’s battle with the Pythian dragon as representing the struggle between Christ and Satan was not a common one, as far as I have read, but it was apt enough for an anonymous commentator on Paulinus of Nola to make the connection. Kurt Smolak, ‘Apollo und der Pythoktonos: zu Paul. Nol., carm. App. 2’, Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 40 (2000), 435-44. 33 Clement innovatively connects the new song of the Psalms with the logos of John 1. F.H. Bugham, ‘The Concept of the New Song in Clement of Alexandria’s Exhortation to the Greeks’, Classical Folia 16 (1962), 9-13. 34 Ἦιδον δὲ ἄρα οὐ τῷ δράκοντι τῷ νεκρῷ, τῷ Πυθικῷ, ἀλλὰ τῷ θεῷ τῷ πανσόφῳ αὐτόνομον ᾠδήν, τῶν Εὐνόμου βελτίονα νόμων. Clem. Al., Protr.

The ‘New Song’ of Eunomos


ground in scholarship. However, although many have noted the fact that Clement draws a contrast between the supposed power of the musical magicians like Orpheus to enchant stones and animals and the power of the New Song to transform the inner character of human beings,35 no one has fully appreciated the fact that the foundation of the distinction is the dichotomy between material and immaterial.36 Just as God is immaterial, so too is the cosmic harmony that is the New Song. The cicadas of their own free will are joining with the created universe in this powerful tune. The songs of Eunomos and the cicada, then, are diametrically opposed. Eunomos plays his lyre and sings in honor of the material, sensible world; the cicada chirps in harmony with the immaterial New Song. Thus, Clement’s version of the myth of Eunomos and the Pythian cicada establishes the issue of materiality as an important topic of philosophical debate in the Protrepticus at the very outset of the text. Even more, Eunomos’ change of tune from the Pythian strain to the New Song can be understood as his denial of the material world and turn toward God. Thus, with his retelling of the myth of Eunomos, Clement depicts his ideal reader, who decides to turn from materialism (ἀποτρέπειν) and turn toward God (προτρέπειν) upon hearing the New Song. This is the ultimate goal of Clement’s Protrepticus.37

35 Clem. Al., Protr. 1.1-4. See C. Mondésert (ed.), Le Protreptique (1949), 30; Robert Skeris, ΧΡΩΜΑ ΘΕΟΥ: On the Origins and Theological Interpretation of the Musical Imagery Used by the Ecclesiastical Writers of the First Three Centuries, with Special Reference to the Image of Orpheus, Musicae Sacrae Meletemata 1 (Altötting, 1976), 54-65; E. Irwin, ‘The Song of Orpheus’ (1982), 53-6; T. Halton, ‘Clement’s Lyre’ (1983), 187; R. Merkelbach, ‘Un petit αἴνιγμα’ (1987), 191-4; Annette von Stockhausen, ‘Ein “neues Lied”? Der Protreptikos des Klemens von Alexandrien’, in Christoph Schubery and Annette von Stockhausen (eds), Ad veram religionem reformare: Frühchristliche Apologetik zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit (Erlangen, 2006), 75-96, 82; Fabienne Jourdan, ‘Le Logos et l’empereur, nouveaux Orphée “Postérité d’une image entrée dans la littérature avec Clément d’Alexandrie”’, VC 62 (2008), 319-33, 319-20; L. Lugaresi, ‘Canto del Logos’ (2011), 243-52. 36 It is typical of Clement’s polemic against materiality and materialism that he classifies Christian worship and the effects of the Christian faith as essentially immaterial, whereas the rites and effects of pagan religion are essentially material. S. Rogers, Christian Adaptations (1991). To anticipate one objection, Clement interprets the celebration of the Eucharist and Christian baptism as symbolic sacraments, in which the important effect is interior. H.G. Marsh, ‘The Use of Μυστήριον in the Writings of Clement of Alexandria with Special Reference to His Sacramental Doctrine’, JTS 37 (1936), 64-80, 75-7. 37 See footnote 1.

Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria Emily R. CAIN, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

ABSTRACT In Paedagogus 1.6.28, Clement describes baptism through the metaphor of a cataract surgery that enables the recipient to see and to know God. In this article, I argue that this deceptively simple metaphor offers us a key insight into Clement’s understanding of knowledge of God by describing an Epicurean process of vision and knowledge that is ultimately transformed into a Platonic one through this baptism. Epicurean sensory perception understood objects to emit tiny films that entered the eye of the body or the eye of the mind, with repeated contact leading to concept formation, and Clement begins with this same depiction to describe how the eye of the soul could see God. Just as Epicurus posited that the gods emitted divine dianoetic εἴδωλα that enter a person’s mind and grant her an idea of the gods, so also Clement suggests that God emits divine effluence (ἀπόρροια), and these incorporeal contacts of the intellect grant each person a seed of the truth. The full truth, however, is blocked by a cataract, and full knowledge is only available to the baptized Christian who has had the cataract removed through baptism and then gains Platonic vision through deified light-bearing (φωσφόρα) eyes. Thus, Clement engages the medical metaphor of cataract surgery in order to describe a transformation in the process of knowledge, moving from the darkness of the cave to an Epicurean preconception of the divine and finally to Platonic vision and knowledge of the divine.

Introduction Light and dark, and the corresponding visual references of sight and blindness, have been metaphors for knowledge and ignorance for centuries. Clement makes use of both metaphors in Paedagogus 1.6.29 where he writes, ‘Ignorance is darkness, for it makes us fall into sin and lose the ability to see the truth clearly. But knowledge is light, for it dispels the darkness of ignorance and endows us with keenness of vision’.1 In the same section, Clement explains that one acquires this knowledge not through study or learning, but through baptism, 1 English is from Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, trans. Simon P. Wood, Fathers of the Church Patristic Series (Baltimore, 2008), 29 amended. paed. 1.6.29. ἡ ἄγνοια δὲ τὸ σκότος, καθ’ ἣν περιπίπτομεν τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν, ἀμβλυωποῦντες περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν. Φωτισμὸς ἄρα ἡ γνῶσίς ἐστιν, ὁ ἐξαφανίζων τὴν ἄγνοιαν καὶ τὸ διορατικὸν ἐντιθείς. Greek is from

Studia Patristica CX, 167-175. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



and Clement metaphorically describes the process of baptism using the image of a cataract surgery of the eyes. There is much to unpack in this ocular metaphor, and I have previously explored the medical side of baptism as a cataract surgery.2 Here, I would like to focus on the epistemological aspect of the same metaphor, particularly as it relates to modes of knowing the divine. I begin with the full text of the passage from Paedagogus 1.6.29: It is just like men who shake off sleep and then are wide-awake interiorly; or, better, like those suffering from some blinding eye-disease who meanwhile receive no light from the outside and have none themselves, but must first remove the impediment from their eyes before they can have clear vision. In the same way, those who are baptized are cleansed of the sins which like a mist overcloud their divine spirit, and then acquire a spiritual sight which is clear and unimpeded and lightsome, the sort of sight which alone enables us to behold divinity, with the help of the Holy Spirit who is poured forth from heaven upon us. This is an admixture of eternal sunlight, giving us the power to see the eternal light. Like indeed attracts like; so it is that what is holy attracts Him who is the source of holiness, who properly speaking is called Light.3

In what follows, I will untangle a few of the many layers embedded in this metaphor. In section one, I will focus on the first half of the passage, namely on the pre-baptized state of vision and knowledge and its Epicurean roots. I will demonstrate that Clement utilizes the theory of intromission, the belief that objects emit tiny particles that enter the eyes, and its associated Epicurean epistemology for concept formation of the divine. In section two, I will explore the second half of the passage and the transformation that occurs in baptism, showing that this is not a simple perfection of the partial knowledge available through Epicurean vision, but it is in fact a merging of intromission and extramission, the theory that the eye emits a visual ray that extends to an object. In section three, I will show that with this union of intromission and extramission, there is also an associated shift from Epicurean epistemology to Platonic epistemology. Thus, in this metaphor of baptism as cataract surgery, Clement subtly undermines Epicurean epistemology by showing its limits. Epicurean epistemology is linked to a preconception of and faith in the divine, but only Clément d’Alexandrie, Le Pédagogue, ed. Henri-Irénée Marrou, trans. Claude Mondésert, vol. 3, SC 158 (Paris, 1970), 164. 2 Emily R. Cain, ‘Medically Modified Eyes: A Baptismal Cataract Surgery in Clement of Alexandria’, Studies in Late Antiquity 2 (2018), 491-511. 3 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 27-8. paed. 1.6.28. Ὥσπερ οὖν οἱ τὸν ὕπνον ἀποσεισάμενοι εὐθέως ἔνδοθεν ἐγρηγόρασιν, μᾶλλον δὲ καθάπερ οἱ τὸ ὑπόχυμα τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν κατάγειν πειρώμενοι οὐ τὸ φῶς αὑτοῖς ἔξωθεν χορηγοῦσιν, ὃ οὐκ ἔχουσιν, τὸ δὲ ἐμπόδιον ταῖς ὄψεσι καταβιβάζοντες ἐλευθέραν ἀπολείπουσι τὴν κόρην. οὕτως καὶ οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι, τὰς ἐπισκοτούσας ἁμαρτίας τῷ θείῳ πνεύματι ἀχλύος δίκην ἀποτριψάμενοι, ἐλεύθερον καὶ ἀνεμπόδιστον καὶ φωτεινὸν ὄμμα τοῦ πνεύματος ἴσχομεν, ᾧ δὴ μόνῳ τὸ θεῖον ἐποπτεύομεν, οὐρανόθεν ἐπεισρέοντος ἡμῖν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος· κρᾶμα τοῦτο αὐγῆς ἀιδίου τὸ ἀίδιον φῶς ἰδεῖν δυναμένης· ἐπεὶ τὸ ὅμοιον τῷ ὁμοίῳ φίλον, φίλον δὲ τὸ ἅγιον τῷ ἐξ οὗ τὸ ἅγιον, ὃ δὴ κυρίως κέκληται φῶς· SC 1, 160-2.

Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria


Platonic epistemology offers true vision and knowledge of the divine. Clement’s baptismal metaphor moves the believer from darkness to the shadows of Epicurean preconception and finally into the Platonic light of God. Section 1: Intromission and Epicureanism At the beginning of the passage in Paedagogus 1.6.28, Clement describes the state of the pre-baptized: ‘like those suffering from some blinding eyedisease who meanwhile receive no light from the outside and have none themselves’.4 According to Clement, the pre-baptized person has no innate internal light, and she has an impediment that prevents external light from entering her eye. This depiction of vision as an external light that must enter the eye is most consistent with the theory of intromission, which posits that every object emits tiny films (εἴδωλα, ἀπόρροια, or simulacra) that enter into the percipient’s eyes or sometimes also into their minds, depending on the size of the particle.5 Clement also seems to be describing this same theory of intromission in Paedagogus 3.11.70, where he appeals to the image of the eye as the lamp of the body in Matthew 6:22.6 Clement writes of the eye in this verse, ‘what is inside is illuminated and made visible by the light that shines through it’.7 Note that it is not the eye that lets the light out of the body, as in the theory of extramission, but rather the eye that allows light into the body, as in the theory of intromission. At least, a healthy functioning eye would allow light into the body; but, according to Clement, the pre-baptized state is one of the spiritually related eye-disease of cataracts and blindness. Blindness, as I already noted, is a metaphor for ignorance and lack of knowledge, and the theory of knowledge most closely associated with intromission is Epicurean epistemology. While this might seem a surprising source for Clement, given Epicureanism’s low reputation in Christianity, Ferguson writes: ‘Epicureanism was somewhat disreputable, and therefore the extent of Epicurean influence has been underestimated. In fact, the second century CE was the great period of Epicureanism. Clement grew up in a world of Epicurean missionary endeavor’.8 4

Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 27. paed. 1.6.28. In Herodotus 49, Epicurus describes dianoetic εἴδωλα as a stream of εἴδωλα that enters both the eyes and the mind according to size: κατὰ τὸ ἐναρμόττον μέγεθος εἰς τὴν ὄψιν ἢ τὴν διάνοιαν. Ep. Hdt. §49. LCL 1, 578. 6 ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light’. Matt. 6:22, NRSV. 7 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 253. paed. 3.11.70. δι’ οὗ καταφαίνεται τὰ ἔνδον φωτὶ τῷ φαινομένῳ καταυγαζόμενα. SC 1, 140. 8 John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria, Twayne’s World Authors Series 289 Greece (New York, 1974), 36. 5



Section 2: Epicureanism and πρόληψις Indeed, Clement himself praises Epicurus while describing one of his own depictions of faith.9 Clement first praises Epicurus’ idea of πρόληψις, a preconception or mental picture, and then affirms a link between πρόληψις and πίστις, or faith.10 According to Epicurus, repeated exposure to a certain class of things creates the ability to recognize elements of that class, and this occurs through direct contact with εἴδωλα from that object.11 Salvatore R.C. Lilla acknowledges how unexpected it might be to find an overt acceptance of an Epicurean concept by Clement, but posits, ‘there can be only one reason why Clement accepts the Epicurean doctrine of πρόληψις: he found it in agreement with his own epistemological views which … he had inherited from the schoolteaching deriving from Antiochus’.12 While I agree with Lilla that πρόληψις fits well with Clement’s epistemological views, I think there is an additional factor at play that explains why he draws from Epicurus here rather than the comparable Stoic theory suggested by Lilla. I believe that Clement is intentionally showing the limits of Epicurean epistemology as it relates to modes of knowing the divine, particularly through this metaphor of cataract surgery. Before I get to that, however, I would like to continue to expand on Epicurean concept formation in Clement. Let me return, for a moment, to the Epicurean theory of perception. Epicurus had posited that larger εἴδωλα of visible bodies enter the eye of the body, but smaller dianoetic εἴδωλα of invisible bodies enter the eye of the mind, a sensory organ that functions in parallel to the eye of the body. This eye of the mind receives the dianoetic εἴδωλα of the gods while the person sleeps, and this allows her to form an idea of the divine.13 Consider now Clement’s description of the portion of truth attained by the Greek Philosophers, as Clement certainly acknowledges that they have been able to grasp some truth of God. Lilla points out that Clement proposes a kind of ‘natural conception’ or ‘common intellect’ that all possess.14 This rational principle is an imitation of the Logos, so the kinship between the two could 9 Clement uses a variety of definitions for faith, with two relating specifically to sense perception. The first is linking πίστις to συγκατάθεσις, a Stoic term for the mind’s assent to sense-perceptions. Salvatore R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford, 1971), 128. 10 Stromata ii.16.3. 11 Leen Spruit, Species Intelligbilis: From Perception to Knowledge: Classical Roots and Medieval Discussions, Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History 48 (Leiden, New York, 1997), 51-3. 12 S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria (1971), 130. 13 See Fragment U353, Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists I 25. Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, trans. Robert Gregg Bury, Loeb Classical Library 311 (Cambridge, 1936), 14-5. 14 S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria (1971), 13-4.

Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria


provide some basis for a preconception of God. The second factor is through a kind of divine inspiration that Clement discusses with the metaphor of a shower.15 This shower metaphor is the background to Clement’s praise of the partial truth found in Plato: ‘Well done, Plato, you have hit the truth. But do not give up. Join me in the search for the good. For there is a certain divine effluence instilled into all men without exception, but especially into those who spend their lives in thought’.16 This divine effluence (ἀπόρροια θεϊκή) is the same term used by Empedocles, fifth-century BCE philosopher, for the particles that every object emits that enter the corresponding pores of the body in his version of intromission.17 Thus, when Clement refers to the world as filled with the seed of salvation (τὴν γῆν σωτηρίου σπέρματος),18 he is describing a physical process akin to Epicurus’ divine dianoetic εἴδωλα that come to a person while she sleeps. Just as Epicurus had explained that one can gain a preconception of the divine through dianoetic εἴδωλα that stream from the divine and enter into a person’s mind while she sleeps, so also Clement describes a divine effluence that seems to stream off the divine and enter into all people, and particularly into those attuned to the life of thought. Clement describes that these Greek Philosophers apprehended this partial truth only dimly. In fact, the term he uses is ἀμυδρός, which means dim or faint, relating to impressions of the eye.19 Thus, the Greek Philosophers receive the divine effluence, but their eyes have the cataracts that are innate in every person until baptism. So, they only receive the impressions dimly, resulting in a partial picture, or preconception, of the divine. Section 3: Merging Intromission and Extramission Although Clement relies on the Epicurean theory of concept formation and pre-baptized vision as intromission, his image does not simply repeat Epicurus’ ideas. Indeed, Clement writes, ‘this is one grace of enlightenment, that we no 15

See Protr. 68.2 (i.52.2-4), 74.7 (i.57.8-9), Strom. i.37.I (ii.24.8ff), etc. Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 155 emphasis my own. prot. 6.68.2-3. Εὖ γε, ὦ Πλάτων, ἐπαφᾶσαι τῆς ἀληθείας· ἀλλὰ μὴ ἀποκάμῃς· ξύν μοι λαβοῦ τῆς ζητήσεως τἀγαθοῦ πέρι· πᾶσιν γὰρ ἁπαξαπλῶς ἀνθρώποις, μάλιστα δὲ τοῖς περὶ λόγους ἐνδιατρίβουσιν ἐνέστακταί τις ἀπόρροια θεϊκή. SC 1, 133. 17 Diels suggests that Empedocles borrowed the concept of pores and effluences from Leucippus because this view requires a doctrine of empty space in which the effluences travel. Empedocles denied a doctrine of empty space, yet still utilized the concept of pores and effluences. H. Diels and W. Kranz (eds), Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed. (Berlin, 1952), Emp. u. Gorg. Also Leucippus u. Dem. Plato generally associated the doctrine to Empedocles (see Men. 76C). Lilla connects Clement’s divine effluence to Justin’s logos spermatikos. S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria (1971), 26. 18 Prot. 10.110.1. SC 1, 178. 19 Stromata 16



longer are in the same state as before we were cleansed’.20 I think that this shifted state is significant, not just from a sinful state to a cleansed state, but also from a state of darkness to a state of light, epistemologically speaking. Further, removing the cataract does not simply shift one from a dim and partial image to a bright and complete image. Rather, it shifts one to a different kind of vision and knowledge altogether. This can be seen in the original passage, where Clement explains that after the cataract has been removed in baptism, the percipient can then see the divine: In the same way, those who are baptized are cleansed of the sins which like a mist overcloud their divine spirit, and then acquire a spiritual sight which is clear and unimpeded and lightsome, the sort of sight which alone enables us to behold divinity, with the help of the Holy Spirit who is poured forth from heaven upon us. This is an admixture of eternal sunlight, giving us the power to see the eternal light. Like indeed attracts like; so it is that what is holy attracts Him who is the source of holiness, who properly speaking is called Light’.21

Prior to baptism, the percipient had no internal light of her own. Once the cataract was removed, however, the divine light could enter and transform her vision. The phrase ‘like indeed attracts like’ echoes the Empedoclean expression like by like. This phrase indicates that one can only see something external by means of the corresponding internal element: dark by means of watery pores, bright by means of fiery pores, and so on.22 In the context of this passage, Clement’s phrase like attracts like refers to ‘what is holy attracts Him who is the source of holiness, who properly speaking is called Light’.23 Prior to baptism, the percipient had no internal light, and therefore was physically incapable of seeing the divine. She had no corresponding internal element by which to see the external divine light. Only once the cataract was removed and the divine light entered could she then have the corresponding internal divine light by which to see the external divine Light, perceiving like by means of like. For Clement, baptism is literally ‘bathing the mind in light’ and giving it Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 30. paed. 1.6.30. Μία χάρις αὕτη τοῦ φωτίσματος τὸ μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι τῷ πρὶν ἢ λούσασθαι τὸν τρόπον. νηπίους ἡμᾶς ὁ παιδαγωγὸς καὶ διδάσκαλος ἀποκαλῶν τοὺς τῶν ἐν κόσμῳ σοφῶν ἐπιτηδειοτέρους εἰς σωτηρίαν, οἳ σοφοὺς σφᾶς ἡγούμενοι τετύφωνται. SC 1, 166. 21 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 27-8. paed. 1.6.28. οὕτως καὶ οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι, τὰς ἐπισκοτούσας ἁμαρτίας τῷ θείῳ πνεύματι ἀχλύος δίκην ἀποτριψάμενοι, ἐλεύθερον καὶ ἀνεμπόδιστον καὶ φωτεινὸν ὄμμα τοῦ πνεύματος ἴσχομεν, ᾧ δὴ μόνῳ τὸ θεῖον ἐποπτεύομεν, οὐρανόθεν ἐπεισρέοντος ἡμῖν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος· κρᾶμα τοῦτο αὐγῆς ἀιδίου τὸ ἀίδιον φῶς ἰδεῖν δυναμένης· ἐπεὶ τὸ ὅμοιον τῷ ὁμοίῳ φίλον, φίλον δὲ τὸ ἅγιον τῷ ἐξ οὗ τὸ ἅγιον, ὃ δὴ κυρίως κέκληται φῶς· SC 1, 162. 22 W.J. Verdenius, ‘Empedocles’ Doctrine of Sight’, in Studia Varia Carolo Guilielmo Vollgaff a Disipulis Oblata (Amsterdam, 1948), 155-64, 155. 23 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 28. paed. 1.6.28. 20

Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria


the light by which it can see and know the divine.24 She can now contemplate God by means of the divine light she now contains within: ‘So, let us who are the sons of the true light not shut out that light, but, turning within into ourselves, casting light upon the vision of the inner man, let us contemplate truth itself, welcome its rays and discover with clarity and insight what is the truth of dreams’.25 However, this is not the only change that occurs. Not only does the percipient acquire the internal light by which she can now see the divine, but the very nature of that sight also changes. Her vision is no longer only the passive intromission of waiting for the particles to enter, but it is now also a ‘spiritual sight which is clear and unimpeded and lightsome’.26 This shift is more apparent in his Protrepticus where Clement explains ‘How can we help desiring Him who has made clear the mind that lay buried in darkness, and sharpened the light-bearing eyes… Let us admit the light, that we may admit God. Let us admit the light, and become disciples of the Lord’.27 The term ‘light-bearing’ eyes (φωσφόρα) is a term used by Plato to describe extramissive eyes.28 In the theory of extramission, some sort of visual ray extends from the eye to the object, touching the object and transmitting the image back to the eye.29 By removing the cataract and admitting the divine light, the percipient has also admitted God. In doing so, she also has been transformed and deified, seeing no longer through passive intromissive eyes, but now also with active extramissive eyes.30 Her intromissive vision has been merged with the extramissive rays 24 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 30. paed. 1.6.30. Ὅτι δὲ ἡ γνῶσις συνανατέλλει τῷ φωτίσματι περιαστράπτουσα τὸν νοῦν, καὶ εὐθέως ἀκούομεν μαθηταὶ οἱ ἀμαθεῖς, πρότερόν ποτε τῆς μαθήσεως ἐκείνης προσγενομένης· SC 1, 166, emphasis my own. 25 Paed. 2.9.80. Τὸ οὖν φῶς τοῦτο οἱ τοῦ φωτὸς τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ υἱοὶ μὴ ἀποκλείσωμεν θύραζε, ἔνδον δὲ εἰς ἡμᾶς ἀποστρέψαντες, τοῦ κεκρυμμένου τὰς ὄψεις ἀνθρώπου φωτίσαντες τήν τε ἀλήθειαν αὐτὴν ἐποπτεύσαντες καὶ τῶν ταύτης ῥευμάτων μεταλαμβάνοντες, τοὺς ἀληθεῖς τῶν ὀνείρων ἐναργῶς καὶ φρονίμως ἀποκαλυπτώμεθα. SC 2, 160. 26 Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator 28. paed. 1.6.28. ἐλεύθερον καὶ ἀνεμπόδιστον καὶ φωτεινὸν ὄμμα τοῦ πνεύματος ἴσχομεν. SC 1, 162. 27 Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 241. prot. 11.113.2-4. Πῶς γὰρ οὐ ποθεινὸς ὁ τὸν ἐν σκότει κατορωρυγμένον νοῦν ἐναργῆ ποιησάμενος καὶ τὰ «φωσφόρα» τῆς ψυχῆς ἀποξύνας «ὄμματα»; … Χωρήσωμεν τὸ φῶς, ἵνα χωρήσωμεν τὸν θεόν· χωρήσωμεν τὸ φῶς καὶ μαθητεύσωμεν τῷ κυρίῳ. SC 1, 181. 28 Ti. 45b. Plato, Platonis Opera, trans. J. Burnet, 1st ed., vol. 4, Oxford Classical Texts (Oxford, 1922), 555. 29 David C. Lindberg, Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler (Chicago, 1976), 11-7. The visual ray is sometimes described as fire, light, or pneuma. For more on the theory of extramission and a summary of its critics, see Philip Thibodeau, ‘Ancient Optics: Theories and Problems of Vision’, in A Companion to Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Georgia L. Irby, vol. I (Oxford, 2016), 130-44, 131-2. 30 For more on deification in Clement, see M. David Litwa, ‘You Are Gods: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria’, Harvard Theological Review 110 (2017), 125-48, 125; Anita Strezova, ‘Apophaticism and Deification in the Alexandrian and Antiochene Tradition’, Philotheos 14 (2014), 83-101; Henny Fiskå Hägg, ‘Deification in Clement of Alexandria with



of the divine light, the admixture of eternal sunlight. With this shift in perception comes a shift in knowledge. Section 4: Shifting from Epicurean to Platonic Epistemologies Epicurean epistemology is rooted in sensory perception: εἴδωλα from an object enter a person’s eye or mind, creating an image or φαντασία. While every φαντασία is true, in that it truly comes from the εἴδωλα of the original object, it may or may not offer a valid truth-claim about the world.31 For Clement, however, God is not a sensory object: ‘but in our view the image of God is not an object of sense made from matter perceived by the senses, but a mental object. God, that is, the only true God, is perceived not by the senses but by the mind’.32 Clement here distinguishes between αἰσθητός (a sensory perceptible object) and νοητός (a mental object). This is not merely a depiction of Epicurus’ dianoetic εἴδωλα that enter the eye of the mind, but rather a shift to the Platonic eye of the soul. Indeed, the Epicurean phrase eye of the mind is absent from Clement, but the Platonic eye of the soul is common.33 If knowledge is the perfection of faith,34 then for Clement, that knowledge is Platonic knowledge. Conclusion In Clement’s baptismal metaphor, the percipient begins in a state of darkness, with no internal light of her own and an impediment that blocks the external divine light. In this state, Clement describes the pre-baptized in Epicurean a Special Reference to His Use of Theaetetus 176B’, SP 46 (2010), 169-73; Arkadi Choufrine, Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria’s Appropriation of His Background, Patristic Studies 5 (New York, 2002); Paul E. Murphy, ‘The Impassible State of Deification in Clement of Alexandria’, Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa 3 (1979), 29-35. 31 A.A. Long, ‘Aisthesis, Prolepsis and Linguistic Theory in Epicurus’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 18 (1971), 114-33, 118. The arrangement of the εἴδωλα can be distorted along the way, so the φαντασία must be confirmed through a series of tests: the person must be sane, sober, awake, and attentive to make a correct judgment through confirmation and non-contradiction. See Norman DeWitt, ‘Epicurus, Περι Φαντασιασ’, in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 70 (Baltimore, 1939), 414-27, 414. 32 Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 117. prot. 4.51.6: Ἔστιν γὰρ ὡς ἀληθῶς τὸ ἄγαλμα ὕλη νεκρὰ τεχνίτου χειρὶ μεμορφωμένη· ἡμῖν δὲ οὐχ ὕλης αἰσθητῆς αἰσθητόν, νοητὸν δὲ τὸ ἄγαλμά ἐστιν. Νοητόν, οὐκ αἰσθητόν ἐστι [τὸ ἄγαλμα] ὁ θεός, ὁ μόνος ὄντως θεός. SC 1, 113. 33 Clement varies his terminology using ὄψις ψυχῆς, τοῦ ὁρατικοῦ τῆς ψυχῆς, and τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ὄμμα, though only the latter, τὸ ὄμμα τῆς ψυχῆς, is common in Plato. 34 Henny Fiskå Hägg, Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford, 2006), 211.

Perfected Perception: Modes of Knowing God in Clement of Alexandria


terms. She has no internal light, but can receive the divine effluence to form a preconception of the divine, which Clement links to faith. In baptism, the cataract is removed and the divine light enters bathing her mind in light. This bath of light grants her the internal element by which she can now see the divine, like by means of like. But it also mingles with her own sight, granting her the power to see with extramissive eyes. She receives the divine light through intromission, and that vision is merged with the divine extramissive rays. With that transformation, her mode of knowing the divine is also shifted: from Epicurean to Platonic. While Clement appears to be affirming Epicureanism, he is actually subtly undermining Epicurean epistemology by demonstrating its limits. Epicurean vision and epistemology can offer but a dim and partial image and knowledge of the divine, but it cannot offer true and full knowledge. True vision and knowledge comes only through deified Platonic epistemology. Baptism, thus, is not a simple removal of a cataract to offer full vision, but rather it initiates the percipient into a radically transformed and deified state. Baptism is a shift from being cut off from the divine light to communion and admixture with that light. The pre-baptized state of cataracts, blindness, and darkness becomes a metaphor for those stuck in Plato’s cave with access to nothing but a dim and partial knowledge available through shadows. Baptism as the removal of the cataract becomes the metaphor of moving one out of the cave and bathing the mind in light.

The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Clement of Alexandria’s Quis Dives Salvetur David D.M. KING, Hood River, OR, USA

ABSTRACT In his Quis Dives Salvetur, Who Is the Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved? Clement of Alexandria interprets the gospel story of the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-31, Matt. 19:16-30, Luke 18:18-30). The pericope has one of the more radical economic messages in the gospels, suggesting that ‘it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to be saved’. Clement seeks to domesticate this message and make the church safe for well-to-do Christians. He does this through clever exegesis, but also through a very peculiar edition of the biblical text. Clement presents a unique version of the pericope, one that seems to be cobbled together with the goal of stripping the story of its radical edge. This article examines Clement’s literary techniques and shows that before he has even turned to exegesis, Clement has already significantly changed the meaning of the text by editing.

Of all of the gospel passages related to economics, one of the more troubling for well-to-do Christians is the story of the Rich Young Ruler, found in all three synoptic gospels. Jesus encounters a rich man who asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds by quoting parts of the Ten Commandments. When the man replies that he has kept all these commandments, Jesus counters: ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’.1 When the man seems unable to comply, Jesus explains to the crowd: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’.2 These words present a great challenge for wealthy persons who seek to follow Jesus. Must they also dispossess themselves of their riches in order to become disciples of Jesus? If so, is the cost simply too high? Clement of Alexandria, a second-century Christian theologian, an adult convert who was highly educated in Greek philosophy, addresses this pericope in his treatise Quis dives salvetur or Who Is the Rich Person Who Will Be Saved? In it, he seeks to tame the story, to make it acceptable for wealthy Christians. 1

Mark 10:21. See Matt. 19:21, Luke 18:22. Unless otherwise noted, English quotations of biblical texts are from the New Revised Standard Version. 2 Mark 10:25. See Matt. 19:24, Luke 18:25.

Studia Patristica CX, 177-185. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



He does this through clever exegesis, but also through a peculiar edition of the biblical text. He presents a unique version of the story, a version that seems to be cobbled together with the goal of stripping it of its radical edge. In Clement’s hands, the pericope shifts from being a story about renouncing wealth in order to follow Jesus and becomes a message about retaining one’s wealth while achieving some kind of spiritualized detachment from it. This paper examines Clement’s literary techniques and shows that before he has even turned to exegesis, Clement has already changed the meaning of the text by editing. Clement opens the work with his pastoral concern for rich persons in the church and his fear that they will hear Jesus’ saying regarding the camel passing through the eye of a needle, ‘despair of themselves, thinking that they are not destined to obtain life’, and abandon the Christian venture altogether, since they have no hope of heaven.3 He aims to rescue them from their despair and show ‘that the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven is not completely cut off from them’.4 He wants to incorporate the wealthy into the church, with some amendment of life, but with their wealth mostly intact. He argues that to do otherwise would be deleterious both to the rich and to the church. The story of the Rich Young Ruler appears, with some variation, in all three synoptic gospels. Clement claims to know all three versions and demonstrates that knowledge in his writing. Toward the beginning of his argument, Clement quotes the pericope in full, stating explicitly that he is quoting from the version found in the Gospel of Mark.5 However, Clement does not quote Mark faithfully. His version contains several variations, some of which are not attested in any known manuscript of Mark. Scholars tend to take Clement at his word that the synoptics tell basically the same story and he is simply using Mark for convenience.6 However, Clement draws from all three gospels in his edition of the story. What is more, he adds material known in no other version of the story. 3

Clement of Alexandria, Quis dives salvetur, LCL (London, 1919), 2. My translation. Clement, Quis div. 3. My translation. Justo L. González, Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money (Eugene, OR, 1990), 112. Thomas E. Phillips, Reading Issues of Wealth and Poverty in Luke-Acts, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 48 (Lewiston, New York, 2001), 261. Helen Rhee, Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich: Wealth, Poverty, and Early Christian Formation (Grand Rapids, 2012), 78. 5 Clement, Quis div. 4 for quotation. Clement, Quis div. 5 for explanation: ‘Ταῦτα μὲν ἐν τῷ κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίῳ γέγραπται’. This is the highest order of ancient literary borrowing, an explicit quotation in which the source is specifically named. Annewies van den Hoek, ‘Techniques of Quoation in Clement of Alexandria’, VC 50 (1996), 223-43. 6 Annewies van den Hoek, ‘Widening the Eye of the Needle: Wealth and Poverty in the Works of Clement of Alexandria’, in Susan R. Holman (ed.), Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Socitey, Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History (Grand Rapids, 2008), 67-75. H. Rhee, Loving the Poor (2012), 78. Curiously, Gonzalez states without explanation that Clement is following the Matthean version. J. González, Faith and Wealth (1990), 112. 4

The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Quis Dives Salvetur


There are numerous linguistic variations throughout the quotation, but we will look here only at those that most effect the reading of the pericope. In one he draws on a text found only in Matthew, in one he draws on a text found only in Mark, and in another he draws on a text found only in Luke. In a fourth verse, Clement introduces new words that change the meaning of the passage. All of these are subtle editions, but their effect on the pericope is more profound. The first comes at Mark 10:21.7 In Mark’s version, after Jesus has instructed the rich man to follow the commandments, and after the man has responded that he has followed all of the commandments that Jesus has listed, Jesus replies: ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’. The one thing lacking here is the commandment that Jesus had not explicitly listed earlier in the passage, the commandment against greed. Luke 18:22 has the bolder, ‘Sell all that you have’, which Clement avoids. However, Clement does not follow Mark completely either. Instead, he inserts a phrase from Matthew. Clement’s version reads: ‘You lack one thing. If you want to be perfect, sell what you have and give to the poor’.8 This variant is not found in any known copy of Mark, only in Matthew. It seems that Clement inserts it here as a means of de-radicalizing the message. In Matthew, the phrase comes in a slightly different context. It is given in response to the rich man’s question. He says that he has kept all of the commandments Jesus has named and then asks: ‘What am I still missing?’9 Jesus responds: ‘If you would be complete…’ Inserted into Mark in a different context than in Matthew, the phrase changes meaning. It no longer responds to rich man’s sense that he is still missing something. Instead it undermines the power of Jesus’ instruction, making it optional, extra credit. The implication is that only if you want to be perfect should you consider selling possessions for the benefit of the poor. In fact, Clement will come back to this inserted phrase in his exegesis and use it as a means of dematerializing Jesus’ instruction.10 According to Clement, the fact that the man is not yet perfect indicates both that works of the law cannot lead to perfection and that the rich man is insincere in his intention. ‘For he did not truly wish for life, as he said, but aimed solely at a reputation for good intentions’. Clement also provides his own definition for the one thing lacking: ‘The one thing, that which is Mine, the good, that which is already above law, which law does not give, which law does not contain, which is peculiar to those who live’.11 Clement has stopped talking about 7

See Luke 18:22, Matt. 19:21. Clement, Quis div. 4. My translation. Clement adds the italicized text, εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι. A. van den Hoek, ‘Widening the Eye’ (2008), 71. 9 Matt. 19:20, Common English Bible. 10 Clement, Quis div. 10. 11 Clement, Quis div. 10. 8


180 Clement


Mark 10:21

You lack one thing. If you want to be perfect, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.

ἕν σοι ὑστερεῖ· εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι,

ἕν σε ὑστερεῖ·

πώλησον ὅσα ἔχεις καὶ διάδος πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.

Matt. 19:21

εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι, ὕπαγε, ὕπαγε Ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησόν σου τὰ πώλησον καὶ δὸς ὑπάρχοντα καὶ [τοῖς] πτωχοῖς, δὸς πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν θησαυρὸν ἐν ἐν οὐρανῷ, οὐρανοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι. ἀκολούθει μοι

Luke 18:22 ἕν σοι λείπει·

πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ διάδος πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν [τοῖς]οὐρανοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.

Table 1. Parallels to Mark 10:21.

greed or possessions at all and is instead talking about some kind of spiritual, philosophical conception. All of this draws away from Jesus’ demand for an amendment of life and suggests that what needs to change is not the rich man’s abundance of possessions, but his attitude toward those possessions.12 Clement makes another interesting editing choice in Mark 10:23-4. In Mark, Jesus makes a statement, waits for a reaction, and then repeats the statement. The first statement reads, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’13 After a reaction of shock from those listening, Jesus repeats himself, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!’14 This repetition occurs only in Mark; it does not have a parallel in any known copy of Matthew or Luke. There is a variant to the second statement, found in several extent manuscripts. It reads: ‘Children, how hard it is for those who put their trust in wealth (τους πεποιθοτας επι τοις χρημασιν) to enter God’s Empire!’15 In this variant, focus has been shifted from the possession of wealth to trust in wealth. It is about attitude, not about possession. This is also the reading that Clement follows, shifting the focus away from possession and toward attitude. Though it is found in only some versions of Mark and never in Matthew or Luke, this is the statement that Clement seizes upon. In fact, he focuses on the second statement in its variant form to the exclusion of the first statement: ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth…’ For Clement, there will be nothing about possession of wealth that imperils one’s spiritual life, only trust in wealth, 12 13 14 15

J. González, Faith and Wealth (1990), 113. H. Rhee, Loving the Poor (2012), 78. Mark 10:23. Mark 10:24. Mark 10:24, variant, my translation.

The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Quis Dives Salvetur




Mark 10:23-4

Mark Variant

Luke 18:24

Looking around, Jesus says to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter into God’s Empire!”

περιβλεψάμενος δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·

Καὶ περιβλεψάμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·

Καὶ περιβλεψάμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·

πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελεύσονται

Ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς [περίλυπον γενόμενον] εἶπεν· πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες ἔχοντες εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσπορεύονται· εἰσελεύσονται

But the disciples astonished by his words, so answering, Jesus says to them, “Children, how difficult it is for those who put their trust in wealth to enter into God’s Empire!”

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. πάλιν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς·

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς·

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς·

τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστι τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ χρήμασιν

τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν

εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·

εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·

τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν τους πεποιθοτας επι [τους] χρημασιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·

Table 2. Parallels to Mark 10:23-4.

which can be avoided without resorting to dispossessing oneself. Clement writes: Sell what belongs to thee. And what is this? It is not what some hastily take it to be, a command to fling away the substance that belongs to him and to part with his riches, but to banish from the soul its opinions about riches, its attachment to them, its excessive desire, its morbid excitement over them, its anxious cares, the thorns of our earthly existence which choke the seed of the true life. For it is no great or enviable thing to be simply without riches, apart from the purpose of obtaining life. Why, if this were so, those men who have nothing at all, but are destitute and beg for their daily bread, who lie along the roads in abject poverty, would, though ignorant of God and God’s righteousness, be most blessed and beloved of God and the only possessors of eternal life, by the sole fact of their being utterly without ways and means of livelihood and in want of the smallest necessities.16 16

Clement, Quis div. 11. Translation by G.W. Butterworth.



For Clement, riches do not imperil one’s faith or salvation. In fact, quite to the contrary, faith and understanding are impossible without wealth. The next verse, Mark 10:25, and its parallels in Matt. 19:24 and Luke 18:25, are the scenes of a bitter scribal dispute. This is the verse about the camel passing through the eye of a needle, something easier than a rich person passing into God’s Empire. The second half of the verse is relatively stable; the first half is quite volatile. In all three gospels, nearly every word in this short phrase has two or more variants. Some manuscripts substitute κάμηλον, camel, with κάμιλον, a term for a ship’s rope. While it may be difficult to get a rope through the eye of a needle, it would certainly be easier, and far less messy, than trying to squeeze a camel through the same hole. In addition, various manuscripts contain three different words for eye and two different words for needle. This single phrase is rendered in more than twenty different forms. The precise shadings of each of these different variations is not entirely clear, but the presence of so many variants indicates that the scribes are uncomfortable. Clement

Εὐκόλως διὰ τῆς τρυμαλιᾶς τῆς βελόνης κάμηλος εἰσελεύσεται

Mark Base εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ [τῆς] τρυμαλιᾶς [τῆς] ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν Matt. Base

εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν

Luke Base

εὐκοπώτερον γὰρ ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν

Mark ݂


εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν καμιλον διὰ τρυπηματος βελονης διελθεῖν

Mark 28.

εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν καμιλον διὰ τῆς τρυμαλιᾶς τῆς ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν

Matt. 579.

εὐκοπώπερόν ἐστιν καμιλον διὰ τρυπἠματος ῥαφιδος εισελθεῖν

Mark Base It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle Table 3. Parallels to and variants of Mark 10:25.

The scribes cannot seem to keep their hands off of this verse, and neither can Clement. He presents a unique edition: εὐκόλως διὰ τῆς τρυμαλιᾶς τῆς βελόνης κάμηλος εἰσελεύσεται ἢ πλούσιος εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.17 Clement opts for the camel rather than the ship’s rope, at least. There is a shift in word order bringing the image of the needle’s eye before the image of the camel. More notable, though, is Clement’s twist on the word ‘easier’. There is surprisingly little variation in the manuscript tradition; across Mark, Matthew, and Luke, all but a handful of sources read εὐκοπώτερον, which simply means ‘easier’.18 Only Clement provides the non-comparative adjective εὐκόλως, 17 Clement, Quis div. 4. Compare to the base text of Mark 10:25: εὐκοπώτερον γάρ ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 18 The exceptions, including Codex Bezae (D), read ταχιον and also reverse the order of verses 24 and 25.

The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Quis Dives Salvetur


which usually has a more specific meaning of being ‘easily satisfied, contented with one’s food’.19 What exactly Clement intends with this odd word choice is not entirely clear. It almost creates the impression that it is, in fact, easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Clement also presents the verb εἰσελεύσεται in the future indicative, something not found in any version of Mark, Matthew, or Luke. Clement gives the impression that the camel will indeed pass through the eye of the needle at some point in the future. This all may well contribute to Clement’s softening of the message and shift from possession to attitude. Clement also contains a unique version of Mark 10:27. The base text reads παρὰ ανθρώποις ἀδύνατον, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ παρὰ θεῷ πάντα γὰρ δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ (‘for mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible’). Clement reads more simply, ὅ τι παρὰ ἀνθρῶποις ἀδύνατον, παρὰ θεῷ δυνατὸν (‘that which is impossible for humans is possible for God’). Clement avoids having to clearly state that this task is impossible for humans, sliding much more easily into a blanket statement that whatever might be impossible for humans is nonetheless possible for God. No known copy of Mark leaves out the phrase that Clement leaves out. This time, Clement finds the desired reading by drawing from Luke’s version of the story: τὰ ἀδύνατα παρὰ ἀνθρώποις δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ἐστιν (‘what is impossible for humans is possible for God’).20 Clement


Luke 18:27

Mark 10:27

Matt. 19:26

Looking at them, ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· he said, αὐτοῖς εἶπεν· “That which is impossible for humans is possible for God.”

ὅ τι παρὰ ἀνθρώποις ἀδύνατον, παρὰ θεῷ δυνατόν.

ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει· Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τὰ ἀδύνατα παρὰ ἀνθρώποις παρὰ ἀνθρώποις παρὰ ἀνθρώποις ἀδύνατον, τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ ἐστιν, θεῷ ἐστιν. ἀλλ᾿ οὐ παρὰ θεῷ· παρὰ δὲ θεῷ πάντα γὰρ πάντα δυνατά. δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ.

Table 4. Parallels to Mark 10:27.

Clement makes one more important edit to Mark in the end of the pericope. In terms of words, it is a subtle change, but the change in meaning is significant. Mark 10:30 makes clear that those who give up earthly possessions for Jesus or for the gospel will receive back a hundredfold in similar earthly possessions 19 20

Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, LSJ (Oxford, 1953). Luke 18:27. A similar wording is found very rarely in manuscripts of Mark.

184 Clement



To what end is it ἀπολήψεται that in this present time ἑκατονταπλασίονα. we have νῦν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ fields τούτῳ ἀγροὺς and riches καὶ χρήματα and houses καὶ οἰκίας and brothers καὶ ἀδελφοὺς ἔχειν with persecutions? μετὰ διωγμῶν εἰς ποῦ; But in ἐν δὲ the time to come τῷ ἐρχομένῳ there is ζωή [ζωην] eternal life. ἐστιν αἰώνιος.

Mark 10:30 ἐὰν μὴ λάβῃ ἑκατονταπλασίονα νῦν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ οἰκίας καὶ ἀδελφοὺς καὶ ἀδελφὰς καὶ μητέρας καὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀγροὺς μετὰ διωγμῶν, καὶ ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

Table 5. Parallel to Mark 10:30.

– houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields – plus, they will get eternal life. Clement does something different. Those who give up earthly possessions will receive back a hundredfold, he says, but with no elucidation of what kind that hundredfold will be. Instead, before going on to the promise of eternal life, Clement changes the meaning of the list by placing a few new words on the lips of Jesus, νῦν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ ἀγιοὺς καὶ χρήματα καὶ οἰκίας καὶ ἀδελφοὺς ἔχειν μετὰ διωγμῶν εἰς ποῦ; (‘To what end is it that in this present time we have fields and riches and houses and brothers with persecutions?’).21 This phrase has some relation to its parallel in Mark 10:30. It lists some of the same possessions, though Clement includes χρήματα, ‘riches’, a word unattested in any gospel in these verses. Even with some of the same words in the list, though, the meaning has been transformed. Whereas Mark makes clear, by promising actual, earthly replacements, that disciples should give up actual, earthly possessions, Clement muddies the waters by asking a philosophical question about the nature of ownership.22 The reader’s mind is diverted from the physical to the spiritual, facilitating the spiritual reading that Clement is about to make. The ownership of various possessions is disconnected from the idea of eternal life, as if whether one has possessions now or not, it makes no difference. 21

Clement, Quis div. 4. A similar tendency in Clement’s general use of quotations is noted by van den Hoek: ‘At times he subtly turns the words of his source to serve his own purposes. Thus material is transformed by conversion and rearrangement’, A. van den Hoek, ‘Techniques of Quotation’ (1996), 236. 22

The Peculiar Edition of the Rich Young Ruler in Quis Dives Salvetur


In presenting the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler, Clement of Alexandria makes subtle changes to the biblical text, but these subtle changes are very important. He claims that Mark, Matthew, and Luke all carry basically the same message, and that he is simply quoting the Markan version for the sake of convenience.23 What he actually does is much more cunning. He picks and chooses the words from each gospel that are most advantageous for his argument. He inserts material from one gospel into a different context in another gospel. He even introduces new words that change the meaning of what otherwise looks like familiar material. Clement has already rewritten the scripture before he has even begun to lay out his exegesis. The changes are subtle enough that they can almost go unnoticed, unless one takes the time to compare closely Clement’s text with its parallels in all three synoptic gospels. In the rest of Quis dives salvetur, he will use every exegetical and philosophical tool at his disposal to dissuade rich persons of any notion that Jesus might possibly be asking them to give up their wealth in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus, but here at the beginning of his work, Clement lays the groundwork for his deradicalized, spiritualized interpretation by presenting a new text, a peculiar edition of the familiar story.


Clement, Quis div. 5.

Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino1 Manabu AKIYAMA, Tsukuba, Japan

ABSTRACT Clement of Alexandria often quotes a passage of Plato’s Theaetetus (176b): ‘to become like God is to become righteous and holy with prudence (φρόνησις)’ (Str. 2,18,81,1; 2,22,133,3; 2,22,136,6; 6,7,56,2; 6,12,97,1). This passage has been referred as a platonic source of ‘deification’ by the church fathers, while according to Clement, ‘prudence’ can be interpreted as the ‘spirit of perception’ (πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως), which appears in the text of the Septuagint as a term corresponding to the phrase rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ (‘spirit of wisdom’) in the original Hebrew text of the Exodus (Ex. 28:3). Clement says: ‘this faculty of the “prudence” not only extends to the arts, but also to the philosophy itself’ (Str. 6,17,154,4). We might say that this way of interpretation by Clement not only emphasizes the original meaning of the text of the Exodus (‘spirit of wisdom’), but also revalues the significance of “perception” from the Christian point of view. Clement quotes, in fact, the above-mentioned phrase of Plato with relation to a passage of the Ephesians (4:13) from the viewpoint of the community of Christ’s body: ‘“righteous and holy man with prudence” makes every effort to reach “to the very height of Christ’s full and perfect stature”’ (Str. 6,12,97,1; 7,14,84,2). This ‘righteous and holy man’ is none other than ‘the gnostic’. Then, we might even say that the ‘superior perception’ (συναίσθησις) will be the expression of the highest spirituality according to Clement (Str. 7,7,37,2): this ‘superior perception’ certificates the affinity of the ‘gnostic’ with the Spirit of the risen Christ (Str. 7,12,76,4). In the New Testament, on the one hand, we find that the term ‘perception’ (αἴσθησις) is used by St Paul (Phil. 1:9) together with the ‘knowledge’ (ἐπίγνωσις), which expresses the salvation itself (1Tim. 2:4: ‘the knowledge of the truth’), while Clement clarifies God’s wish for salvation (Str. 6,17,152,3) before explaining his theory on ‘prudence’ (Str. 6,17,154,4a). At the end of the above-mentioned sentence of the Philippians, on the other hand, the term ‘glory’ (δόξα) and ‘praise (for God)’ (ἔπαινος) are used together (Phil. 1:11), while in the Old Testament, the ‘glory’ (kāḇôḏ) of God and the ‘praise’ (tᵉḥillâ) for God are often told together, especially in the Second Isaiah (e.g. Is. 42:8; 42:12; 43:20-1). It is worthy of attention that, in these passages of Isaiah, the Hebrew term tᵉḥillâ was translated as ‘virtues’ (ἀρεταί) in the text of the Septuagint. In this way, the translation of the original phrase rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ as ‘spirit of perception’ (πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως) in the Septuagint, through the universalism of the Second Isaiah and the theology of the 1 Al reverendissimo Enrico Cattaneo S.J. vorrei esprimere la mia gratitudine per aver controllato il mio manoscritto.

Studia Patristica CX, 187-195. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



incarnation in the New Testament, achieved a new sense, according to which the perception not only extends to the human body, but also to the whole universe. Clement, however, by means of his doctrine on the ‘gnostic’, which originated in the ‘chosen people’ in the Second Isaiah (Is. 43:20 = 1Pet. 2:9; Str. 7,10,58,6), finally reached into identifying ‘the prudence’ in the Greek philosophy with the ‘spirit of perception’ in the Exodus.

Introduzione Clemente Alessandrino cita spesso il brano del Theèteto (176b) di Platone: ‘La fuga da qua a là è assimilazione a dio conformemente al possibile; assimilazione è divenire giusto e pio con prudenza («φρόνησις»)’ (Str. 2,18,81,1; 2,22,133,3; 2,22,136,6; 6,7,56,2; 6,12,97,1)2. Questo brano è riferito dai padri come una fonte platonica della deificazione. In un brano del secondo libro degli Stromati (2,22,133,3-134,3), infatti, Clemente, facendo notare la comunanza tra la dottrina di Platone summenzionata e quella che San Paolo manifesta nella Lettera ai Romani (6:22)3, indica che la dottrina di Platone sulla deificazione coincide con la verità cristiana. Secondo Clemente (Str. 6,17,154,4a) la prudenza («φρόνησις») si può interpretare come ‘spirito di percezione’ («πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως»), che nel testo dei Settanta appare come termine corrispondente alla formula rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ («spirito di sapienza») nell’originale ebraico dell’Esodo (Es. 28:3)4. Clemente dice: ‘Questa facoltà della «prudenza» si estende non solo alle arti, ma alla filosofia stessa’5 (Str. 6,17,154,4b)6. Potremmo dire che in questo modo l’interpretazione di Clemente non soltanto ribadisce il senso originale del testo dell’Esodo, ma anche rivaluta il significato della ‘percezione’ dal punto di vista cristiano. Infatti, Clemente cita altrove il brano platonico summenzionato in relazione con un passo della Lettera agli Efesini: ‘Lo «gnostico» e «giusto e pio con prudenza» s’adopera di raggiungere (‘ἀφικνεῖσθαι σπεύδει’7) «la misura dell’età» (‘εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας’; Ef. 4:13) perfetta’ (Str. 6,12,97,1). Vorremmo richiamare la nostra attenzione al fatto che la frase «giusto e pio con prudenza» (‘δίκαιον καὶ ὅσιον μετὰ φρονήσεως’) è propria 2

Ho usato il testo di Otto Stählin, Ludwig Früchtel, e Ursula Treu (edd.), Clemens Alexandrinus I, GCS 12 (Berlin, 31972); II, GCS 15 (Berlin, 41985); III, GCS 17 (Berlin, 21970). 3 ‘Ora invece, liberati dal peccato e fatti servi di Dio, raccogliete il frutto per la vostra santificazione e come traguardo avete la vita eterna’. Per quanto riguarda la citazione dalla Bibbia, ho usato la traduzione della Bibbia di Gerusalemme (Bologna, 2008). 4 Cf. Karl Elliger e Wilhelm Rudolph (edd.), Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) (Stuttgart, 5 1997); Alfred Rahlfs e Robert Hanhart (edd.), Septuaginta (Stuttgart, 21979). 5 Cf. Giovanni Pini (Introduzione, traduzione e note), Clemente Alessandrino: Gli Stromati, note di vera filosofia (Milano, 1985). Per la traduzione italiana degli Stromati ho usato generalmente quella di Pini. 6 ‘διατείνει δὲ οὐκ ἐπὶ τὰς τέχνας μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν αὐτήν’. 7 Cf. Barbara e Kurt Aland (edd.; ‘Nestle–Aland’), Novum Testamentum Graece (Stuttgart, 28 2012).

Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino


di Platone (Theèteto 176b), mentre «la misura dell’età» si trova nella Lettera agli Efesini. Quindi Clemente chiarisce qui il processo per cui un uomo greco diventa uno ‘gnostico’, che partecipa del corpo comunitario di Cristo risorto. Ma vorremmo chiarire, facendo un passo avanti, la ragione perché Clemente ha proposto di nuovo il concetto di ‘gnostico’ come la figura ideale del cristiano. In questa relazione, quindi, riesaminando il concetto di «φρόνησις» e di «αἴσθησις» principalmente nell’Antico e Nuovo Testamento, vorremmo chiarire il punto di vista di Clemente che identifica la «prudenza» con lo «spirito di percezione». I «φρόνησις» e «σοφία» Prima di tutto, la parola «φρόνησις» ci ricorda generalmente le quattro virtù («ἀρεταί») cardinali che si trovano nelle opere di Platone oppure di Aristotele: prudenza (σοφία / φρόνησις), fortezza (ἀνδρεία), giustizia (δικαιοσύνη) e temperanza (σωφροσύνη). Nelle opere di Platone non si trova alcuna differenza tra σοφία e φρόνησις, ma Aristotele ha differenziato la φρόνησις dalla σοφία, perché distingue tra la virtù pratica (φρόνησις) e la quella teoretica (σοφία)8. Nell’opera politica di Aristotele, quindi, ἀνδρεία, σωφροσύνη, δικαιοσύνη e φρόνησις sono contate come le quattro virtù (Politica 7,1323a28-29). Fra i libri deuterocanonici della Bibbia, nel capitolo ottavo del Libro della Sapienza si trovano le quattro virtù sotto gli stessi nomi di Aristotele: ‘Se uno ama la giustizia, le virtù («ἀρεταί») sono il frutto delle sue fatiche. Ella infatti insegna la temperanza (σωφροσύνη) e la prudenza (φρόνησις), la giustizia (δικαιοσύνη) e la fortezza (ἀνδρεία), delle quali nulla è più utile agli uomini durante la vita’ (Sap. 8:7). In questo modo, la prudenza («φρόνησις») viene a porsi nella tradizione ellenistica come una delle quattro virtù cardinali, cioè delle virtù umane. Nei libri del Nuovo Testamento, l’apostolo Pietro usa la parola ‘virtù’ («ἀρετή») tre volte: 1Pt. 2:9; 2Pt. 1:3 e 2Pt. 1:59. Inoltre, nella Lettera ai Filippesi l’apostolo Paolo usa una sola volta la parola «ἀρετή» (Fil. 4:8)10. Fra questi esempi, esamineremo più tardi il caso di 1Pt. 2:9. Quanto all’uso di ‘prudenza’, eccetto Luc. 1:17, nei testi neotestamentari si trova soltanto in Ef. 1:811. 8

John Burnet (ed. with Intr. & notes), Plato’s Phaedo (Oxford, 1911), 25. Alfred Schmoller, Handkonkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament (Stuttgart, 81989). 10 ‘Quello che è vero, quello che è nobile, quello che è giusto, quello che è puro, quello che è amabile, quello che è onorato, ciò che è virtù e ciò che merita lode, questo sia oggetto dei vostri pensieri’. 11 ‘Egli (i.e. Dio) ha riversata la grazia in abbondanza su di noi con ogni sapienza («σοφία») e intelligenza («φρόνησις»)’. 9



In questo brano, su cui torneremo più tardi, è usata ‘intelligenza’ («φρόνησις») insieme con ‘sapienza’ («σοφία»). Quindi, potremmo dire che l’autore, utilizzando questi due vocaboli, ‘σοφία’ e ‘φρόνησις’, ha inteso differenziare i concetti che essi rispettivamente esprimono. Non c’è dubbio che ‘σοφία’ si riferisca alle cose divine, mentre ‘φρόνησις’ alle cose umane. In questo modo, anche nel caso della Lettera agli Efesini potremmo dire che vi si trovi la differenza di concetti tra ‘σοφία’ e ‘φρόνησις’. In queste letterature giudeocristiane, cioè nei libri deuterocanonici e nei libri neotestamentari quindi, si potrebbe dire che la ‘φρόνησις’ rimane la virtù umana o l’intelligenza pratica, così come è spiegata nella Etica Nicomachea di Aristotele (1141b22). II «πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως» Vorremmo ora rivolgere nostro sguardo al testo originale dell’Esodo: ‘Il signore parlò a Mosè a dicendo: «Farai per Aronne, tuo fratello, abiti sacri, per gloria e decoro. Parlerai a tutti gli artigiani più esperti, che io ho riempito di uno spirito di saggezza, ed essi faranno gli abiti di Aronne per la sua consacrazione e per l’esercizio del sacerdozio in mio onore’ (Es. 28:2-3)12. Mi sembra che il traduttore dei Settanta, avendo coscienza della versione greca secondo la quale l’aggettivo-sostantivo ebraico ‘ḥāḵām’ è già tradotto con l’aggettivo greco ‘σοφός’, abbia reso adesso il sostantivo ‘ḥoḵmâ’ con ‘αἴσθησις’ per evitare la ripetizione dei vocaboli della stessa origine (e.g. ‘σοφία’). Riesamineremo questo brano a più tardi, ma per il momento vorremmo concludere qui. Comunque, Clemente usa la parola ‘arti’ (Str. 6,17,154,4b), poiché nel testo originale dell’Esodo compare il tema degli artigiani più esperti che faranno gli abiti di Aronne. Questi abiti, che saranno usati per la consacrazione e l’esercizio del sacerdozio di Aronne in onore di Dio, coprono il corpo intero di Aronne. D’altra parte, Clemente dice nel passo precedente del brano summenzionato nel libro sesto degli Stromati: ‘Uno spirito di percezione («πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως») è stato dato ai suoi artefici da Dio: e questo non è altro che la prudenza («φρόνησις»), facoltà dell’anima di contemplare l’essere, di distinguere e quindi confrontare ciò che è identico, simile e dissimile, di prescrivere e vietare, e sagace a congetturare sul futuro’ (Str. 6,17,154,4a)13. Questo è il passo che trattiamo ora in questa relazione. 12 ‘καὶ ποιήσεις στολὴν ἁγίαν Ααρων τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου εἰς τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν. καὶ σὺ λάλησον πᾶσι τοῖς σοφοῖς τῇ διανοίᾳ (kol ḥaḵmēy-lēḇ), οὓς ἐνέπλησα πνεύματος αἰσθήσεως (’ᵃšer millē’ṯîw rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ), καὶ ποιήσουσιν τὴν στολὴν τὴν ἁγίαν Ααρων εἰς τὸ ἅγιον, ἐν ᾗ ἱερατεύσει μοι’. 13 ‘ταύτῃ φησὶν ἡ γραφὴ «πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως» δεδόσθαι τοῖς τεχνίταις ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ δὲ οὐδὲν ἀλλ’ ἢ φρόνησίς ἐστι, δύναμις ψυχῆς θεωρητικὴ τῶν ὄντων καὶ τοῦ ἀκολούθου

Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino


III Lettera agli Efesini (1:8-10) Come abbiamo già riferito, Clemente cita il brano platonico già summenzionato in relazione con un passo della Lettera agli Efesini (4:13) dal punto di vista dell’edificazione del corpo di Cristo: ‘«giusto e pio con prudenza» s’adopera di raggiungere «la misura dell’età» perfetta’ (Str. 6,12,97,1). Questo passo della Lettera si collega con il concetto di ‘ricapitolazione’ in Cristo; questa dottrina della ‘ricapitolazione’ è espressa chiaramente nel capitolo primo della stessa Lettera, dal quale è già stata presa una citazione, perché le parole ‘prudenza’ («φρόνησις») e ‘sapienza’ («σοφία») si usano rispettivamente in significato differente (Ef. 1:8). Ma nello stesso tempo, questo brano potrebbe spiegare bene come la dottrina della ricapitolazione si basi sul fatto dell’economia o dell’incarnazione di Cristo: ‘Egli l’ha riversata in abbondanza su di noi con ogni sapienza («σοφία») e prudenza («φρόνησις»), facendoci conoscere il mistero della sua volontà, secondo la benevolenza che in lui si era proposto per il governo («οἰκονομία») della pienezza dei tempi: ricondurre («ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι») al Cristo, unico capo, tutte le cose, quelle nei cieli e quelle sulla terra’ (Ef. 1:8-10). Vorremmo richiamare qui la nostra attenzione non soltanto sulla ricapitolazione, ma anche sull’universalismo cosmologico qui espresso, sia in livello temporale che spaziale. IV Lettera ai Filippesi (1:9-11) Ora vorremmo portare il nostro sguardo sulla parola ‘percezione’ («αἴσθησις»). Il termine ‘αἴσθησις’ «percezione», si usa soltanto una volta nel Nuovo Testamento, nel capitolo primo della Lettera ai Filippesi (Fil. 1:9): ‘E perciò prego che la vostra carità cresca sempre più in conoscenza («ἐπίγνωσις») e in pieno discernimento («πᾶσα αἴσθησις»), perché possiate distinguere ciò che è meglio ed essere integri e irreprensibili per il giorno di Cristo, ricolmi di quel frutto di giustizia che si ottiene per mezzo di Gesù Cristo, a gloria e lode di Dio’ («εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ») (Fil. 1:9-11). In questo brano (Fil. 1:9), il vocabolo «αἴσθησις» è usato insieme con ‘conoscenza’ («ἐπίγνωσις»), e si traduce come ‘(pieno: «πᾶσα») discernimento’ nella versione della Bibbia di Gerusalemme14.

ὁμοίου τε καὶ ἀνομοίου διακριτική τε αὖ καὶ συνθετικὴ καὶ προστακτικὴ καὶ ἀπαγορευτικὴ τῶν τε μελλόντων καταστοχαστική’. 14 La Bibbia di Gerusalemme (2008), 2793.



Nel libro sesto degli Stromati invece, prima di spiegare la dottrina della prudenza a cui abbiamo già riferito (Str. 6,17,154,4a), Clemente ha già messo in chiaro la volontà salvifica di Dio: ‘Dio, che è buono, proprio a causa dell’essere eminente della creazione, volendolo salvare si volse a fare anche gli altri esseri, accordando loro dal principio come primo beneficio questo, il venire all’esistenza’ (Str. 6,17,152,3). Questa volontà di Dio di salvare tutti gli uomini è manifestata nel Nuovo Testamento in modo speciale nella Prima Lettera a Timoteo (1Tim. 2:4; 4:10). Nel primo capitolo di questa Lettera, per esempio, dice l’Apostolo: ‘Dio, nostro salvatore, il quale vuole che tutti gli uomini siano salvati e giungano alla conoscenza («ἐπίγνωσις») della verità’ (1Tim. 2:4). Come abbiamo già citato, questa parola «ἐπίγνωσις» (‘conoscenza’) è usata anche nel capitolo primo della Lettera ai Filippesi (Fil. 1:9), in cui compare anche la parola «αἴσθησις» (‘percezione’). Inoltre, nella parte finale nel brano già citato dalla Lettera ai Filippesi (Fil. 1:11), si trova essere usata la frase «a gloria e lode di Dio» (‘εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ’). La gloria di Dio e la lode a Dio sono esposte spesso nell’Antico Testamento; in modo speciale p. es. nel Secondo Isaia, cioè nella parte che va dal capitolo 40 al 55 del Libro di Isaia (Is. 42:8; 42:12; 43:20-1), in cui possiamo trovare le parole ‘kāḇôḏ’ («gloria») e ‘tᵉḥillâ’ («lode») usate insieme. Vorremmo prestare la nostra attenzione al fatto che in questi passi la parola ebraica ‘tᵉḥillâ’ è tradotta con ‘le virtù’ («ἀρεταί») nel testo greco dei Settanta15. V Prima lettera di Pietro (2:9) Nel secondo capitolo della Prima Lettera dell’Apostolo Pietro potremmo trovare ricche citazioni dal Secondo Isaia: ‘Voi invece siete stirpe eletta («γένος ἐκλεκτόν»: cf. Is. 43:20), sacerdozio regale, nazione santa, popolo che Dio si è acquistato («λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν»: cf. Is. 43:21), perché proclami le opere ammirevoli di lui («ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε»: cf. Is. 42:12), che vi ha chiamato dalle tenebre alla sua luce meravigliosa’ (1Pt. 2:9). In questo brano è manifestato il pensiero dell’Apostolo che il popolo cristiano è stato eletto per la proclamazione della lode di Dio. Ma nell’Antico Testamento, soprattutto nel Secondo Isaia, è già affermato che la stirpe eletta, cioè il popolo in esilio, era eletto per glorificare Dio: ‘Il popolo che io ho plasmato per me celebrerà le mie lodi’ (Is. 43:21). Clemente invece cita spesso la frase iniziale contenuta nel passo apostolico summenzionato (1Pet. 2:9): «γένος ἐκλεκτόν» (Str. 7,7,35,2; 7,10,58,6). Ad esempio, nel decimo capitolo del settimo libro degli Stromati, Clemente dice: 15

George Morrish, A Concordance of the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, 1887), 32.

Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino


‘«La stirpe dei ricercanti Lui» è «la stirpe eletta», capace di ricerca per raggiungere la «gnosi»’ (Str. 7,10,58,6). Clemente così, identifica il popolo che cerca di raggiungere la ‘gnosi’ con ‘la stirpe eletta’ descritta nel Secondo Isaia e citata nella Prima Lettera di Pietro. Come abbiamo già riferito, nella parte finale della citazione dalla Prima Lettera di Pietro, l’Apostolo dice: ‘Dio ha chiamato dalle tenebre alla sua luce meravigliosa’ (1Pt. 2:9). Potremmo fare notare che alla base di questa frase si può trovare il brano iniziale del libro della Genesi: benché tutta la creatura sia stata creata da Dio (Gen. 1:1), tuttavia tra queste creature Dio ha separato di nuovo la luce dalle tenebre (Gen. 1:4). Potremmo supporre che il Secondo Isaia sia scritto approssimativamente nella stessa epoca che il Libro della Genesi, cioè nell’epoca di esilio babilonese. VI Libro del Secondo Isaia (45) Clemente, invece, trattando il tema del profeta e legislatore, prendendo Mosè come esempio, si riferisce alla virtù della prudenza: ‘Per chi pratica la virtù, la prudenza è l’ordinatrice, la sapienza per le cose divine, la politica per le cose umane, l’arte di regnare per l’insieme’ (Str. 1,24,159,4)16. In questo brano, la prudenza è così promossa alla ‘virtù ordinatrice’, e la sapienza è compresa in questa ‘prudenza’ e definita come la virtù per le cose divine. Per inciso, secondo Clemente, l’uomo che potremmo chiamare ‘gnostico’ è Mosè (Str. 5,11,74,4). Clemente dice in seguito nel libro primo degli Stromati: ‘Re pertanto è colui che comanda secondo le leggi, che possiede la scienza di comandare su persone consenzienti, quale è il Signore il quale accoglie coloro che in Lui e per Lui credono. Dio infatti ha affidato tutto e sottoposto tutto a Cristo nostro re’ (Str. 1,24,159,5); dopo questo brano è posta la citazione dal secondo capitolo della Lettera ai Filippesi: ‘Perché nel nome di Gesù ogni ginocchio si pieghi nei cieli, sulla terra e sotto terra, e ogni lingua proclami: «Gesù Cristo è Signore!», a gloria di Dio Padre’ (Fil. 2:10-1). Nello sfondo di questo pensiero di Clemente si trova l’equiparazione di Cristo al «gran sacerdote» (Eb. 4:14). Questo gran sacerdote non è, secondo l’autore della Lettera agli Ebrei, altro che il Cristo-Logos; quindi, il fratello di Mosè, Aronne il gran sacerdote, è il tipo di questo Cristo-Logos. Clemente identifica in questo modo la ‘filiazione’ di Paolo con la ‘assimilazione’ platonica in relazione alla dottrina della divinazione.

16 ‘οὕτω γὰρ τῇ ἀρετῇ χρωμένη φρόνησις ἡ τάττουσά ἐστι, τὰ μὲν θεῖα ἡ σοφία, τὰ ἀνθρώπεια δὲ ἡ πολιτική, σύμπαντα δὲ ἡ βασιλική’.



Nel brano summenzionato, si nota anche che il passo ‘ogni ginocchio si pieghi nei cieli, sulla terra e sotto terra, e ogni lingua proclami’, ha la sua origine nel capitolo 45 del Secondo Isaia: ‘Lo giuro su me stesso, dalla mia bocca esce la giustizia, una parola che non torna indietro: davanti a me si piegherà ogni ginocchio, per me giurerà ogni lingua’ (Is. 45:23). Nel Secondo Isaia si trova in generale la sottolineatura dell’onnipotenza divina e dell’universalismo, non così chiaramente affermato prima di allora (Is. 45:14-9; 20-5)17. In questo senso, benché abbiamo già indicato l’universalismo sia temporale che spaziale trovato nella Lettera agli Efesini, questo universalismo potrebbe essere originato dal Secondo Isaia. VII «συναίσθησις» Come abbiamo già detto, il ‘sommo sacerdote’ è la figura del Logos (Str. 2,9, 45,7), e in seguito Aronne è figura di Cristo. Nel libro sesto degli Stromati (Str. 6,17,153,4-154,1), invece, citando il salmo 132(133), Clemente paragona il ruolo della filosofia non all’ornamento del corpo, ma alla sopravveste. Clemente dice: ‘La filosofia è al di fuori della gente, come una sopravveste (rispetto al corpo)’. Secondo Clemente inoltre, ‘polivalente, l’intelligenza («φρόνησις») è diffusa per tutto il mondo e per tutte le azioni umane e cambia appellativo per ognuna di esse’ (Str. 6,17,155,3). Infatti, l’interpretazione di Clemente sulla veste talare del sommo sacerdote dimostra bene che questa spiegazione riflette il pensiero universalistico sul mondo, originato dal Libro della Sapienza (18:24)18 e ispirato da Filone (De Vita Moysis 2,24,117; De Specialibus Legibus 1,16,84-17,94)19. In questo modo, la traduzione della formula originaria ‘rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ’ con lo «spirito di percezione» («πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως») nei Settanta, tramite l’universalismo manifestato nel Secondo Isaia e la teologia dell’incarnazione espressa nel Nuovo Testamento, raggiunge una nuova sensibilità per cui la percezione umana, non soltanto si estende al corpo umano, ma anche al cosmo intero. Ma Clemente, per mezzo della nuova dottrina sullo ‘gnostico’ che si origina dalla «stirpe eletta» espressa nel Secondo Isaia e illuminata dall’universalismo di questo profeta, alla fine è giunto a identificare la prudenza «φρόνησις» originata dalla filosofia greca con lo «spirito di percezione», espresso nel Libro dell’Esodo. 17

La Bibbia di Gerusalemme (2008), 1803. ‘Sulla sua veste lunga fino ai piedi portava tutto il mondo, le glorie dei padri scolpite su quattro file di pietre preziose e la tua maestà sopra il diadema della sua testa’. 19 Alain Le Boulluec (commentaire, bibliographie et index), Clément d’Alexandrie: Stromate V, SC 279 (Paris, 1981), 152. 18

Prudenza e lo ‘spirito di percezione’ secondo Clemente Alessandrino


Secondo Clemente, i filosofi si esercitano con spirituale ‘percezione superiore’ (Str. 1,4,26,4) per raggiungere proprio il grado di consapevolezza. Quindi, in base alla nostra congettura, potremmo dire che questo ‘percezione superiore’ («συναίσθησις»), per il quale gli angeli conoscono tutto (Str. 7,7,37,2), sarebbe quello che esprime il più alto livello della spiritualità clementina: questa ‘percezione’ certifica l’affinità dello ‘gnostico’ con lo spirito di Cristo risorto (Str. 7,12,76,4). Conclusione Nello sfondo della traduzione della frase ebraica ‘rûaḥ ḥoḵmâ’ come ‘lo spirito di percezione’ («πνεῦμα αἰσθήσεως») potremmo indicare l’universalismo del Secondo Isaia, poiché questo universalismo potrebbe essere sotto l’influenza della descrizione trovata nell’inizio del Libro della Genesi: Dio è il creatore del mondo nonché il fondatore del tempo, e benedice tutto il mondo che ha creato. Si potrebbe dire che ‘lo spirito di percezione’ prevalga nella filosofia sia dei ellenistici che dei barbari, conducendo alla ‘percezione superiore’. Per concludere questa relazione, vorremmo dire che Clemente Alessandrino per la prima volta nella storia della filosofia ha concretizzato la dottrina della deificazione nella personalità dello ‘gnostico’ a livello individuale. Questo ‘gnostico’ non è altro che la figura che Platone aveva manifestato con l’espressione di ‘giusto e pio’ (Str. 6,12,97,1). Ma nello stesso tempo è una figura incarnata, concretizzata come ‘il popolo eletto’ espresso del Secondo Isaia. Lo ‘gnostico’ clementino si basa senz’altro sul cristianesimo, ma piuttosto faremmo meglio a dire che si basa sul giudeo-cristianesimo, poiché nel Secondo Isaia è esposta chiaramente p. es. la formula: ‘il re Ciro che il Signore ha unto’ (Is. 45:1) sulla base dell’universalismo20.

20 Cf. Manabu Akiyama, ‘Lo “gnostico” e Chrêsis secondo Clemente Alessandrino’, in Markus Mülke (ed.), Chrésima: Exemplarische Studien zur frühchristlichen Chrêsis (Berlin, Boston, 2019), 45-55; id., ‘L’Unigenito Dio come ‘esegeta’ (Gv. 1:18) secondo Clemente Alessandrino’, SP 79 (2017), 153-60; id., ‘Il significato di «segno» nell’interpretazione biblica di Clemente Alessandrino’, Studies in Language and Literature (Tsukuba University) 70 (2016), 1-11.

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism Dimitrios PAPANIKOLAOU, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Greek Philology, Democritean University of Thrace, Greece

ABSTRACT The article is concerned with a passage of the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria (, which provides the oldest preserved reference in European literature to Siddhārta Gautama, the Buddha. After scrutiny of the passage, the article argues that Clement does not demonstrate any serious knowledge on Buddha’s precepts; if Clement knows anything about them, he passes them in silence. Nevertheless, Buddha’s image in the passage is positive; Buddha is treated by Clement with much more respect than the pagan Greek philosophers of the present and the past. The article also examines the issue of Clement’s sources on Buddha. It argues that Hellenistic or Roman-era Greek sources concerning India might have proven a useful starting point for Clement’s knowledge of Buddha. On the other hand, it is argued that Clement had oral sources concerning the contemporary state of Buddhism in India. This is indicated by the fact that the word he uses for Buddha (BOYTTA) is a curious undeclined form, elsewhere unattested, and thus a form quite modern for the age and not established in the Greek language use of the time. The article focuses on the role that Alexandrian trade with India might have played to the transmission of this information to Clement. After expressing huge scepticism on the role of Pantaenus to this transmission, the article attempts to raise doubts on recent theories which connect the form BOYTTA to the Parthian language and thus to Kushan Buddhism. On the basis of various pieces of evidence (e.g. Clement’s perception of India which involves only central and southern India, Dio Chrysostom’s information on the presence of Indians in Alexandria, epigraphically attested presence of Buddhist Indians in Roman Egypt) the article stresses the possibility that Clement might well have received the information concerning Buddha from Indians living in Alexandria. Particular focus is given to the mime XAPITION (P.Oxy. 413), where whole sections of the plot involve dialogues between Indians in unattested (and not easily decipherable today) forms of south Indian dialects. On the basis of all this evidence, the article supports the view that the form BOYTTA could well reproduce the phonology of the word in an obscure vernacular of the Indian subcontinent during the second century AD. As the article argues, those Indian informants could help Clement cross-check the validity of the information that he might have also received from older historical sources.

Clem. Al., Strom. ‘Philosophy, a thing useful in many respects, thrived from the very old times among the alien nations and shone among all

Studia Patristica CX, 197-208. © Peeters Publishers, 2021.



people. Afterwards, it also came to the (pagan) Greeks. Those who excelled in it (i.e. philosophy) were the Prophets of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans among the Assyrians, the Druids among the Gauls, the Samanas among the Bactrians, the philosophisers among the Celts and the Magi among the Persians […] also the Nude Sophists (Gymnosophists) among the Indians and other alien philosophers. There are two types of them (i.e. of the Nude Sophists): one of them is called Sarmanae, the other Brachmanae. Those of the Sarmanae who are called the Tree-Dwellers do not live in cities; they do not have houses. They dress themselves with the inner bark of trees and they eat fruit. They drink water with their hands and they do not accept marriage and procreation, acting like those who are today called the Encratetae. ‘There are also among the Indians those who confess the teachings of the Boutta, whom they have honoured as a God because of the excess of his chastity’ (own trans.). The above cited passage of the Στρωματεῖς of Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd – early 3rd cent. AD) constitutes the oldest preserved text of Greek literature (pagan and Christian alike) where there is verbatim reference to Siddhārta Gautama, the Buddha (Clem. Al., Strom. The Buddha is mentioned in a segment of the Στρωματεῖς, where there is extensive anti-pagan polemics on the part of Clement: in this part of the Στρωματεῖς there is discussion of a plethora of non Greek-speaking thinkers (βάρβαροι φιλόσοφοι), whose philosophical thought was older than (or superior to) pagan Greek philosophy.2 1 Φιλοσοφία τοίνυν πολυωφελές τι χρῆμα πάλαι μὲν ἤκμασε παρὰ βαρβάροις κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη διαλάμψασα. ὕστερον δὲ καὶ εἰς Ἕλληνας κατῆλθεν. προέστησαν δ’ αὐτῆς Αἰγυπτίων τε οἱ προφῆται καὶ Ἀσσυρίων οἱ Χαλδαῖοι καὶ Γαλατῶν οἱ Δρυίδαι καὶ Σαμαναῖοι Βάκτρων καὶ Κελτῶν οἱ φιλοσοφήσαντες καὶ Περσῶν οἱ Μάγοι […] Ἰνδῶν τε οἱ γυμνοσοφισταί, ἄλλοι γε φιλόσοφοι βάρβαροι. διττὸν δὲ τούτων τὸ γένος, οἳ μὲν Σαρμᾶναι αὐτῶν, οἳ δὲ Βραχμᾶναι καλούμενοι. καὶ τῶν Σαρμανῶν οἱ ὑλόβιοι προσαγορευόμενοι οὔτε πόλεις οἰκοῦσιν οὔτε στέγας ἔχουσιν, δένδρων δὲ ἀμφιέννυνται φλοιοῖς καὶ ἀκρόδρυα σιτοῦνται καὶ ὕδωρ ταῖς χερσὶ πίνουσιν, οὐ γάμον, οὐ παιδοποιίαν ἴσασιν, ὥσπερ οἱ νῦν Ἐγκρατηταὶ καλούμενοι. εἰσὶ δὲ τῶν Ἰνδῶν οἱ τοῖς Βούττα πειθόμενοι παραγγέλμασιν, ὃν δι’ ὑπερβολὴν σεμνότητος ὡς θεὸν τετιμήκασι. The text is cited according to the edition Clemens Alexandrinus, zweiter Band: Stromata Buch I-VI, ed. Otto Stählin, GCS 15 (Leipzig, 1906), 45-6. This is not the oldest surviving Greek text related to Buddhism. See, for instance, two inscriptions preserving the Greek version of edicts of king Ashoka, which came into light in Afghanistan in 1958 and 1963: SEG XX 326; Jean Pouilloux, Choix d’inscriptions grecques (Paris, 1964), no. 53; Giovanni Pugliese Caratelli and Giovanni Garbini, A Bilingual Graeco-Aramaic Edict by Aśoka: The First Greek Inscription Discovered in Afghanistan (Rome, 1964); Daniel Schlumberger, ‘Une nouvelle inscription grecque d’Açoka’, CRAI, 108e année, no 1 (1966), 126-40. Useful discussions: Emile Benveniste, ‘Édits d’Aśoka en traduction grecque’, Journal Asiatique 252 (1964), 137-57; Janos Harmatta, ‘Zu den griechischen Inschriften des Asoka’, Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 14 (1966), 77-85; Daniel Schlumberger, ‘De la pensée grecque à la pensée bouddhique’, CRAI, 116e année, no 1 (1972), 18899. In spite of their Buddhist content, the two inscriptions (which constitute a translation from an Indic original) do not make mention of the Buddha. 2 The whole section on Greek philosophy is found in Clem. Alex., Strom. Other subthemes of this discussion involve the issue of the non-Greek descent of some Greek

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism


The goal of this part of Clement’s Στρωματεῖς is to deconstruct the notion of the antiquity of Greek philosophy, which must have constituted a major source of pride for its followers in Alexandria during the second century AD (i.e. Platonists, Epicureans, Cynics or Stoics). Clement’s analysis entails also the notion that pagan Greek philosophising did not even constitute the pinnacle of worldwide philosophical thinking before the rise of Christianity.3 In his short mention of the Buddha Clement demonstrates some knowledge on Buddha and Buddhism in general. For instance, Clement knows, that (i) Buddha was a thinker or philosopher (βάρβαρος φιλόσοφος) not a deity and that he transmitted to his followers παραγγέλματα (precepts) in the manner of a Greek philosopher, (ii) that, despite the fact that he was not a God, he was honoured like a God by his followers (ὡς θεός); the cause of those divine honours was his chastity (δι’ ὑπερβολὴν σεμνότητος) when alive. In sum, Clement seems to have some knowledge on Buddha’s personality and on the divine honours bestowed upon him in India during the second century AD; on the other hand, he seems to ignore what exactly Buddha’s παραγγέλματα (precepts) were about. We can infer that either Clement knows the precepts of Buddha but he passes them in silence (since some of them might have sounded to him so alien to those of Christianity), or that he actually knows mainly the πράξις of Buddhism but not its theory. Nevertheless, whatever the case may be (and there is absolute uncertainty on that matter), Clement found in Buddha a suitable case of non Greek-speaking thinker (βαρβάρου φιλοσόφου) who could be utilised as an argument in his polemics against pagan Greek philosophers; this fact per se shows that Clement’s stance towards Buddha (to judge from this short passage) is not negative. As it has already been observed, this use of Buddha’s case on the part of Clement (Strom. demonstrates that at least this Church Father did not consider Buddhism to be a threat to Christianity of his times.4 He has not seen Buddhist missionaries and he has not felt the presence of a sizeable Buddhist philosophers or the supposed fact that Greek philosophers were taught philosophy from non-Greeks (Strom. 1.15. 66.1-71.2) or even that foreigners found every form of art long before the Greeks ( 3 Discussions of the passage: Albrecht Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen bei Clemens Alexandrinus’, in Mullus (Festschrift Theodor Klauser), Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, Ergänzungsband 1 (Münster, 1964), 60-70; id., ‘The Conception of India in Hellenistic and Roman Literature’, PCPS 10 (1964), 20-3; Walter Schmitthenner, ‘Rome and India: Aspects of Universal History during the Principate’, Journal of Roman Studies 69 (1979), 97; Grigorii M. Bongard-Levin, ‘Ancient India and the Graeco-Roman World’, in Proceedings of the Sixth World Sanskrit Conference (Philadelphia, October 13th-20th 1984), Indologica Taurinensia 13 (1985-86), 181-2; Timothy Pettipiece, ‘The Buddha in Early Christian Literature’, Millennium. Jahrbuch zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr. 6 (2009), 135-41. 4 On this aspect of Clement’s reference to Buddha, see discussion in Guillaume Ducœur, ‘Le Buddha à l’École d’Alexandrie, à propos de Stromates I. 15.71. 6’, in Inde-Grèce: regards et influences, Dialogues d’histoire ancienne, Supplément no. 3 (Besançon, 2010), 73-91.



community in Alexandria able to act antagonistically to the message or the goals of the Christian Church. But, from which source could Clement have received his knowledge (however patchy or superficial) about Buddha and the divine honours bestowed on Him? There is some possibility that Clement might have learnt about Buddha from specific sources of the Hellenistic and Roman era: for instance, works of history or περιήγησις concerning India (Megasthenes, Apollodorus of Artemita or Alexandrer Polyhistor) might have proven a useful source for Clement concerning Buddhism.5 At the moment, there is due suspicion that the information concerning Buddha could be drawn from Clement’s readings of especially Megasthenes and Alexandrer Polyhistor: for instance, he cites both of them in the Στρωματεῖς when he discusses sects of Indian ascetics, like the Brachmans and the Sarmans.6 Nevertheless, despite the relative wealth of libraries (and the plethora of quite serious booksellers) in Alexandria,7 it is possible that Clement need not be absolutely dependent upon Megasthenes or Alexander Polyhistor (written sources 500 or 250 years older than him) concerning Buddha. On that point, my own proposal is, that we should redirect our analysis to Clement’s

5 On Megasthenes, see Felix Jacoby, FGrHist 715, and also Truesdell S. Brown, ‘The Reliability of Megasthenes’, AJPh 76 (1955), 18-33; id., ‘The Merits and Weaknesses of Megasthenes’, Phoenix 11 (1957), 12-24; Allan Dahlquist, Megasthenes and Indian Religion: A Study in Motives and Types (Uppsala, 1962); Grant Parker, The Making of Roman India (Cambridge, 2008), 42-8; Duane W. Roller, ‘Megasthenes (715)’, in Ian Worthington (ed.), Brill’s New Jacoby (Leiden, Boston, 2016). On Apollodorus of Artemita (first cent. BC), see F. Jacoby, FGrHist 779, and also Alexis d’Hautcourt, ‘Apollodoros of Artemita (779)’, in I. Worthington (ed.), Brill’s New Jacoby (2016). On Alexander Polyhistor (first century BC) see F. Jacoby, FGrHist 273, and Sandra Blakely, ‘Alexandros Polyhistor (273)’, in I. Worthington (ed.), Brill’s New Jacoby (2018). On the interplay between early and late Hellenistic sources in Roman-era writers on India (i.e. Strabo, Pliny, Aelian a.o.), see A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 68-9; id., ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 17, 20-3. 6 See Strom. (= FGrHist 715 F3a), a verbatim fragment of the third book of Megasthenes’ Ἰνδικά, where there is mention of Indian Brachmans and Jews as philosophers. In Strom. (= FGrHist 273 F 18; cf. also F94), Clement uses Alexander Polyhistor as a source concerning the Brachmans and the Indian sect called Σεμνοί [= Jains, see A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 61 n. 6]. See, however, A. Dihle, ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 21, who believes that Megasthenes never mentioned the Buddha in his work and for that reason Buddha never appears in Greek literature on India before Clement’s times. If Dihle’s assertion is accepted, this enhances the possibility of a late Hellenistic or Roman-era source for Clement, on which source see n. 9. 7 On the wealth of libraries in Alexandria and the activities of Alexandrian booksellers during the second century AD, see an Oxyrhynchus papyrus (P.Oxy. 2192) preserving part of the correspondence between two unknown Alexandrian book collectors or scholars. On the value of this papyrus document for our understanding of Greek lexicography, the circulation of Greek books and the relations between Greek lexicographers and Greek lexica in Roman Alexandria, see discussion in Eric G. Turner, ‘Roman Oxyrhynchus’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 38 (1952), 91-2; Dimitrios Papanikolaou, ‘Lost Dictionaries, Forgotten Entries. Two Byzantine Lexica on the Athenian ΣΩΦΡΟΝΙΣΤΑΙ’, Trends in Classics 9/1 (2017), 198-204.

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism


Greek text itself and look upon the way in which the reference to Buddha is made: οἱ τοῖς Βούττα πειθόμενοι παραγγέλμασιν. What appears in the passage is the grammatically peculiar form Βούττα which appears to be used as a genitive. This Greek rendering of Buddha’s name is unique in Greek literature, both pagan and Christian alike. At this point, it is not clear if Clement employs in this passage a Koine genitive τοῦ Βούττα; it could be postulated that he was not exactly enthusiastic at the peculiar sound pattern of the pure Attic genitive τοῦ Βούττου and opted for a Koine form. If we follow this pattern of thinking, Clement declines the word as ὁ Βούττας / τοῦ Βούττα, engaging in language use which was incompatible with the prevalent Attic usage of the time – and with his own usage too.8 For that reason, it is much more probable to assume that Clement uses the word undeclined (ὁ Βούττα / τοῦ Βούττα). Clement’s form of the name of Buddha in nominative is ὁ Βούττα, a testimony to the fact that (at least for Clement) the word is new, rare, modern and it has not yet been established in the Greek language use of the time: Clement has never heard any Greek-speaker in Alexandria using the word or (even more) declining it in Greek. The above consideration has consequences on the issue of Clement’s sources concerning Buddha and Buddhism. Despite the fact that Clement could have consulted also written Hellenistic and Roman-era sources on Indian religion and Buddhism,9 it seems highly likely that he also acquired knowledge on Buddhism based on oral communication – at least this is a legitimate suspicion raised by the curious undeclined form Βούττα. But which categories of individuals 8

It is generally accepted today that Clement exhibits a persuasive Attic style with influences from the Bible, which is nonetheless devoid of Koine extremities: see Jacob Schram, Der Optativgebrauch bei Clemens Alexandrinus in seiner sprach- und stilgeschichtlichen Bedeutung (Paderborn, 1913); Hans Mossbacher, Präpositionen und Präpositionsadverbien unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Infinitivkonstructionen bei Clemens von Alexandrien (Erlangen, 1931); Henricus Steneker, ΠΕΙΘΟΥΣ ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΙΑ: observations sur la fonction du style dans le Protreptique de Clément d’Alexandrie (Nijmegen, 1967); John K. Bracett, An Analysis of the Literary Structure and Forms in the Protrepticus and Paidagogus of Clement of Alexandria (PhD Dissertation, Emory University, 1986: UMI Microform 8629845, Ann Arbor, MI), 15-7. On rhetorical rhythm and cola at the beginning of Clement’s Προτρεπτικός, so typical of Roman-era Greek rhetoric, see Eduard Norden, Die Antike Kunstprosa vom 6en Jahrhundert vor Christus bis in die Zeit der Rennaissance, vol. 2, 3rd ed. (Leipzig, 1915), 549. 9 See nn. 5-6. Nevertheless, the source of Clement’s observations is uncertain and could well be other (today lost) sources, like Aristotle’s Μαγικός or Sotion’s Διαδοχὴ τῶν Φιλοσόφων (cited as sources by Diogenes Laertius in his discussion of the same theme in DL 1.1-11): cf. Joan E. Taylor, Jewish Women Philosophers of First-Century Alexandria. Philo’s ‘Therapeutae’ Reconsidered (Oxford, 2003), 55. In my view, we should not rule out the possibility that Clement’s source was an older Jewish or Christian discussion (partly dependent on those sources) which treated the theme of secondariness of Greek thinking comparing to the Jewish one. The possibility of such a source becomes stronger, if we take into account the similarities between Clement’s passage on βάρβαροι φιλόσοφοι and certain passages of the Coptic translation of the Gnostic Κεφάλαια preserved in papyri: on the similarities suggesting a common source, see T. Pettipiece, ‘The Buddha in Early Christian Literature’ (2009), 137-9.



active in Roman Alexandria could have provided a Christian intellectual like Clement with information on Buddhism in India – and, hence, with that peculiar form of Buddha’s name? On that point, our research should focus on the role that Alexandrian trade with India might have played to the transmission of this information to Clement. It is well-known that during the first two centuries AD (and up to the first decades of the third century AD) there is extensive sea trade between Alexandria and India, trade which was facilitated by the discovery of a certain trade route to India provided by the monsoon.10 It is probable that Clement came into contact with people who participated in the trade between Alexandria and India and acquired from them information about his contemporary India.11 In fact, especially two categories of individuals associated with trade between Alexandria and India could have transmitted to Clement vital information on the actual state of Buddhism in India during these times: (i) Greeks (Alexandrians) who had travelled to India and who came to know the Indian religions of these times (including Buddhism) as these were practiced during the later second century AD especially in the western coast of India. Scholars tend to draw an emphasis on Pantaenus (Clement’s teacher) as a probable transmitter of information to Clement, since Pantaenus is reported by Eusebius of Caesaria and Jerome to have travelled and preached Christianity 10 From the extensive and ever expanding bibliography on Alexandrian trade with (mainly central and southern) India during Roman times, see Eric H. Warmington, The Commerce between the Roman Empire and India (Cambridge, 1928); Robert E.M. Wheeler, Rome Beyond the Imperial Frontiers (London, 1954); Albrecht Dihle, ‘Der Seeweg nach Indien’, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft. Dies Philologici Aenipontani 4 (1974), 5-12; id., ‘Die entdeckungsgeschichtlichen Voraussetzungen des Indienhandels der römischen Kaiserzeit’, ANRW II.9.2 (1978), 546-80; Manfred Raschke, ‘New Studies in Roman Commerce with the East’, ANRW II.9.2 (1978), 604-1361; W. Schmitthenner, ‘Rome and India’ (1979), 100-6; Lionel Casson, ‘Rome’s Trade with the East: the sea voyage to Africa and India’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 110 (1980), 21-36; id., ‘Egypt, Africa, Arabia and India: patterns of seaborne trade in the first century AD’, Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 21 (1984), 39-47; Steven E. Sidebotham, Roman Economic Policy in the Erythra Thalassa (30 BC – AD 217), Mnemosyne, Supplementum 91 (Leiden, 1987); Federico De Romanis, ‘Roma e i nótia dell’India. Ricerche sui rapporti tra Roma e l’India dravidica dal 30 a.C. all’età flavia’, Helicon 22-7 (198287), 143-210; Ildikó Puskás, ‘Trade Contacts between India and the Roman Empire’, in Gilbert Pollet (ed.), India and the Ancient World: History, Trade and Culture before AD 650, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 25 (Leuven, 1987), 141-56; Ajoy Kumar Singh, Indo-Roman Trade. An Archaeological Perspective (New Delhi, 1988), with invaluable catalogue of Roman coins; Gary K. Young, Rome’s Eastern Trade. International Commerce and Imperial Policy, 31 BC – AD 305 (London, 2003), 24-80; Roberta Tomber, Indo-Roman Trade: From Pots to Pepper (London, 2008); Kuzhippalli S. Mathew (ed.), Imperial Rome, Indian Ocean Regions and Muziris. New Perpectives on Maritime Trade (London, 2016); Matthew A. Cobb (ed.), The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity. Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts (London, 2020). 11 Cf. A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 64; id., ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 22-3.

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism


in India.12 On that point, I would express my scepticism over this assumption. First of all, if Pantaenus actually went on a mission to India, we do not know in which ‘India’ he might have gone: is it Clement’s India (i.e. central or south India: see n. 21) or the ‘India’ of ecclesiastical historians like Sozomenus, which is basically Sudan and Erythraea/Ethiopia?13 Furthermore, I would wish to raise doubts even to Pantaenus’ advent in India: both passages of Eusebius and Jerome are (in my view) of dubious historicity. If they do not reproduce a certain Alexandrian source narrating the ‘historical mythology’ of the Alexandrian church (e.g. dangerous missions of its leaders to India, persecutions, martyrdom etc.),14 they definitely raise questions over the kind of ‘India’ referred to in the passages (cf. n. 13). For those reasons, the first category of possible transmitters of information to Clement is generally described as Greek (Alexandrian) travellers to India without any further qualifications. Those Greeks (tradesmen, sailors or Christian missionaries) would have the opportunity to see the Buddhist shrines dotting the western coastline of India. They could have also been informed about Buddhism not only by the local Indians, but also by Greek-speakers who lived in the area during the second century AD, usually descendants of Hellenistic Greek settlers of India who happened to have migrated to the west coast from northern areas of India. Those Greek populations had been largely converted into Buddhism, as the epigraphic evidence suggests.15 12 Euseb., h.e. 5.10; Jerome, Epist. 70 (PL 22, 667): Pantaenus Stoicae sectae philosophus, ob praecipuae eruditionis gloriam, a Demetrio Alexandriae Episcopo missus est in Indiam, ut Christum apud Brachmanas, ex illius gentis philosophos praedicaret. The information on Pantaenus in India is treated as an unquestionable historical fact by W. Schmitthenner, ‘Rome and India’ (1979), 97; G.M. Bongard-Levin, ‘Ancient India and the Graeco-Roman World’ (1985-86), 182; T. Pettipiece, ‘The Buddha in Early Christian Literature’ (2009), 137; Nathanael J. Andrade, The Journey of Christianity to India in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2018), 88 with n. 63. 13 See Sozom., h.e. 2. 24 (PG 67, 996), where Alexandrian Frumentius goes to preach τοὺς ἔνδον τῶν καθ’ ἡμᾶς Ἰνδῶν; elsewhere (PG 67, 1000), after his missionary activity, he is ordained τῆς Ἰνδικῆς ἐπίσκοπος. The region referred to by Sozomenus in both passages is Ethiopia, the coast of today’s Sudan and Erythraea. See A. Dihle, ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 16, an assumption preceded by the old comments of Valesius in PG 67, 996 and 1000, footnotes. 14 At least Jerome seems to be dependent on such an Alexandrian source: see n. 27 of this article. 15 The reference is concerned with the epigraphic testimony provided by inscriptions in Prakrit, found in Buddhist cave shrines of the coast of western India (Karle, Nasik, Junnar): in many of those inscriptions there is mention of Yavana (= Greek, Greek-speaking) pilgrims and donors of those temples. Modern Indological research usually dates those inscriptions in the second century AD; it also considers that the word Yavana refers to ethnic Greeks, descendants of Greeks settlers in northern India during Hellenistic times (especially at the times of the Indo-Greek kingdom), who probably migrated there from those northern areas of India: see Jeffrey D. Lerner, ‘The Greek-Indians of Western India: A Study of the Yavana and Yonaka Buddhist Cave Temple Inscriptions’, The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies n.s. 1 (1999-2000), 83-109, and esp. 90-2, 96, 99 n. 40, 101 n. 61; N.J. Andrade, The Journey of Christianity to India (2018),



(ii) Indians who had travelled to (or were even residents of) Alexandria. The presence of Indians in Alexandria is well-attested in our Greek sources of the second century AD. Dio Chrysostomus speaks of them as one of the foreign communities of Alexandria;16 there is also a number of inscriptions providing testimony to their presence in Egypt and (sometimes) to their Buddhist beliefs too.17 I would incline towards accepting category (ii) as the most probable transmitters of information to Clement of Alexandria, based on the curious undeclined form of Buddha’s name. Nevertheless, modern Iranologists like Werner Sundermann have raised the possibility of a Parthian source, since the phonetics of Buddha’s name in Clement (Βούττα) stand close to an old Parthian form of Buddha’s name.18 Of course, despite the fact that Parthians and Bactrians resided in Alexandria (cf. Dio’s text in n. 16), one has to wonder why would Clement seek a Parthian (moreover a Kushan Buddhist from Bactria) to be informed on Indian matters, when so many Indians were walking around, able to provide him with all necessary information on contemporary India. It should 107-9. The great majority of Yavana names mentioned in the cave inscriptions (e.g. Indragnidatta, Dhammadeva, Dhammarakhita) denote conversion into Buddhism and (at least in the realm of onomastics) a trend towards Indianisation. 16 Dio Chr. 32. 40: ὁρῶ γὰρ ἔγωγε οὐ μόνον Ἕλληνας παρ’ ὑμῖν οὐδ’ Ἰταλοὺς οὐδὲ ἀπὸ τῶν πλησίον Συρίας, Λιβύης, Κιλικίας, οὐδὲ τοὺς ὑπὲρ ἐκείνους Αἰθίοπας οὐδὲ Ἄραβας ἀλλὰ καὶ Βακτρίους καὶ Σκύθας καὶ Πέρσας καὶ Ἰνδῶν τινας, οἳ συνθεῶνται καὶ πάρεισιν ἑκάστοτε ὑμῖν. Those lines form part of the Alexandrian oration of Dio Chrysostom (Πρὸς Ἀλεξανδρεῖς), an oration delivered in Alexandria during the reign of Vespasian or Trajan: on the date, see Christopher P. Jones, ‘The Date of Dio of Prusa’s Alexandrian Oration’, Historia 22 (1973), 302-9 (Vespasianic date); Jan F. Kindstrand, ‘The Date of Dio of Prusa’s Alexandrian Oration – A Reply’, Historia 27 (1978), 378-83 (Trajanic date); Harry Sidebottom, ‘The Date of Dio of Prusa’s Rhodian and Alexandrian Orations’, Historia 41 (1992), 407-19 (Trajanic date). See also chapt. 36 of the same oration mentioning Alexandrian trade with India. A literary parallel to Dio’s testimony is provided in the novel of Xenophon Ephesius (2nd cent. AD), where an Indian prince arrives in Alexandria for the sake of sightseeing and business (3.11). 17 On inscriptions in Egypt mentioning Indians (some of them bearing Buddhist signs), see Ludwik Sternbach, ‘Indian Wisdom and its Spread beyond India’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 92 (1972), 97-123; Philip C. Almond, ‘Buddhism in the West: 300 BC – AD 400’, Journal of Religious History 14 (1987), 235-45; Richard Salomon, ‘Epigraphic Remains of Indian Traders in Egypt’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (1991), 731-6; id., ‘Addenda to Epigraphic Remains of Indian Traders in Egypt’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 113 (1993), 593. 18 See the view of Werner Sundermann, ‘Manichean Traditions on the Date of the Historical Buddha’, in Heinz Bechert (ed.), The Dating of the Historical Buddha, vol. 1, Symposien zur Buddhismusforschung IV,1. Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Phil.hist. Klasse, 3. Folge 189 (Göttingen, 1991), 429. Sundermann’s thesis that Βοῦττα is descended from Parthian (the Middle Iranian dialect spoken in Eastern Iran) and was thus transmitted to Clement from Kushan Buddhists should be called into question in the light of the arguments expressed later in this article. Another problematical statement is his suggestion (W. Sundermann, ‘Manichean Traditions’ [1991], 429) that Manicheans played a role to the replacement of the form Βούττα by Βούδδα (a totally unfounded hypothesis).

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism


be borne in mind, that the passage (in Clement’s own words) is concerned with Buddhism in India (not with Buddhism in Bactria or Parthia), and especially with Buddhism in his contemporary India, not with Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent of a distant Hellenistic past: Present tense is prevalent throughout Clement’s passage on Indian philosophising (Strom., a fact which denotes that Clement talks about the present state, the hic et nunc of Indian asceticism and Indian Buddhism.19 Furthermore, the assumption that Clement’s source is a Parthian one is contrary to Clement’s own perception of India: when Clement refers to Ἰνδία, he means the central and southern India, the India of the Greek sailors who navigated the Red Sea and the Indian ocean, the India which becomes known to us from texts like the Περίπλους τῆς Ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης (first century AD).20 This is, in fact, the India referred to in Strom. Clement’s perception of India has nothing to do with the Parthian perception of India, which included in it only the Hindus valley and some ports of northern India (in the best of cases).21 The argument that Clement’s use of the word Buddha reproduces a Parthian form of the word is not that strong either. The most important piece of evidence which might testify contrary to this assumption is provided by the mime Χαρίτιον, an Alexandrian product of the second century AD, which was luckily preserved into papyrus.22 In this mime, whole sections of the plot involve dialogues between Indians in curious, unattested (and not easily decipherable today) Indian dialects;23 attempts of older Indologists to translate the passages have 19 Strom. καὶ τῶν Σαρμανῶν οἱ ὑλόβιοι προσαγορευόμενοι οὔτε πόλεις οἰκοῦσιν οὔτε στέγας ἔχουσιν, δένδρων δὲ ἀμφιέννυνται φλοιοῖς καὶ ἀκρόδρυα σιτοῦνται καὶ ὕδωρ ταῖς χερσὶ πίνουσιν, οὐ γάμον, οὐ παιδοποιίαν ἴσασιν, ὥσπερ οἱ νῦν Ἐγκρατηταὶ καλούμενοι. εἰσὶ δὲ τῶν Ἰνδῶν οἱ τοῖς Βούττα πειθόμενοι παραγγέλμασιν, ὃν δι’ ὑπερβολὴν σεμνότητος ὡς θεὸν τετιμήκασι. Through italic letters I signify markers of the Present inside the text (Present tense verbs, adverbs denoting the present). It is actually a question whether the Perfect verb τετιμήκασι refers to a completed action whose effects are visible in the Present, or if it constitutes some form of strengthened Present, like those described by Herbert W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA, 1956), 434, chapters 1946-7. 20 On this remarkable text, a major source of knowledge for the trade between Roman Alexandria and India, see text in Lionel Casson, The Periplus Maris Erythraei (Princeton, 1989) and the collective volume of Marie-Françoise Boussac, Jean-François Salles and Jean-Baptiste Yon (eds), Autour du Périple de la Mer Érythrée, Topoi Supplément 11 (Lyon, 2012). 21 On Clement’s perception of India (central and southern India), as opposed to the Parthian perception of it, see A. Dihle, ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 15-7. 22 P.Oxy. 413 recto. First published by Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, ‘413. Farce and mime’, in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 3 (London, 1903), 41-57, the Greek text is republished in Denys L. Page, Select Papyri, vol. 3, Loeb Classical Library 360 (Cambridge, MA, London, 1941), 338-49; Ian C. Cunningham, Herodae Mimiambi cum Appendice Fragmentorum Mimorum Papyraceorum (Leipzig, 1987), 42-7; Stefania Santelia, Charition Liberata (P.Oxy. 413) (Bari, 1991); Mario Andreassi, Mimi greci in Egitto: Charition e Moicheutria (Bari, 2001). 23 The first to raise the issue of the Indian language(s) appearing in verses 10-5, 58-87, 118-24 of the mime (text according to M. Andreassi, Mimi greci [2001]) was Eugen Hultsch, ‘Zum Papyros 413 aus Oxyrhynchos’, Hermes 39 (1904), 307-11, who contended that the language used



led to sometimes divergent results.24 In fact, no clear image exists today on how Buddha’s name was exactly spelt in central and southern parts of India (in Clement’s own India) during Roman times. If the example of the mime has something to tell us today, this is the fact that the Alexandrians of the second century AD could be disposed (and were thus not unfamiliar with) obscure Indic dialects and their peculiar (and today lost) phonology. This fact should be taken extremely seriously into account, when discussing the curious Clementine rendering of Buddha’s name into Greek: this rendering could well have been a (more or less crude) reproduction of the phonology of the word in an obscure vernacular of the Indian subcontinent during the second century AD.25 Given the above analysis, it would not be an unwarranted assumption to say that Clement need not be dependent only on written sources centuries older than him for information on Indian asceticism or Buddhism. Clement could well have found contemporary channels of information concerning the Indian subcontinent of his times: those informants (who, as I argue, were most probably Indians) could help him cross-check the validity of the information that he might have also found in older literary sources (cf. nn. 5, 6, 9). Clement might have engaged in a number of longer discussions with Indians; in such discussions, Clement would have had the opportunity to learn on the contemporary in those verses is an imitation of a Kannada (Kanarese) dialect of southern India. Criticism of his thesis was expressed by Lionel D. Barnett, ‘The Alleged Kanarese Speeches in P.Oxy. 413’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 12 (1926), 13-5, who refuses to identify the language of the dialogues as an unattested early form of Kannada/Kanarese based on later forms of the language (the earliest epigraphic attestations of Kannada/Kanarese date to the 6th century AD). Nevertheless, it is a communis opinio today among scholars that the language of those verses (whether it is an imitation of various Indian dialects or a text whose basis is an early and unattested form of Kannada) reproduces dialectal forms current in India during the second century AD: see Shama R. Sastri, ‘A Greek Farce with Old Kannada Passages’, Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department (1926), 11-21; Bhasker A. Saletore, Ancient Karnataka. I: History of Tuluva (Poona, 1936), 584-97; Katherine B. Free, ‘Greek Drama and the Kutiyattam’, Theatre Journal 33 (1981), 82; Manohar L. Varadpante, Ancient Indian and Indo-Greek Theatre (New Delhi, 1981), 98-110; Richard Salomon, ‘Epigraphic Remains of Indian Traders in Egypt’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (1991), 731-4. To all previous researchers (who more or less support the Kannada/Kanarese hypothesis), we should add the contribution of Edward P. Rice, ‘On the Proposed Identification of Kanarese in Oxyrh. Pap. No. 413 in “New Chapters”, First series, p.121’, in Eric A. Barber and John Powell (eds), New Chapters in the History of Greek Literature, 2nd series (Oxford, 1929), 215-22, who stresses the possible presence of Sanskrit and early Tulu in the text and expresses the view (p. 221) that the play was performed with the participation of Indian actors, probably long-term Indian residents of Alexandria. 24 Attempts at translating the Indian passages of the mime were undertaken by S.R. Sastri, ‘A Greek Farce’ (1926), 13-5; B.A. Saletore, Ancient Karnataka (1936), 592-7 (both scholars supporting the early Kannada hypothesis). On the divergencies between the two translations, see the overview of M.L. Varadpante, Ancient Indian and Indo-Greek Theatre (1981), 98-104. 25 In that respect, we return to the assertion of A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 64; 66; id., ‘The Conception of India’ (1964), 22, that the piece of information on Buddha, including the form of Buddha’s name, came to Clement directly from southern India.

Clement of Alexandria and Buddhism


practice of Indian religions and Buddhism from the source. Such persons would have definitely constituted for Clement an invaluable source of information concerning the state of religions in his contemporary India. In any case, this segment of the Στρωματεῖς on Indian asceticism in general and Buddhism in particular (including the curious undeclined form of Buddha’s name in Greek) should be considered as another piece of evidence concerning (i) the relations between Roman-era Alexandria and India and (ii) the cultural imprint of those relations. This imprint has only lately started to be fully appreciated through the help of (inter alia) lucky papyrological finds, like the mime Χαρίτιον (P.Oxy. 413). By and large, what should be noted about Clement’s passage on Buddha is the positive view that Clement has about the Indian thinker; in fact, Buddha is treated by Clement with respect, contrary to pagan Greek philosophers of the present and the past, whose thinking is presented by Clement (see n. 2) as unoriginal, incomplete and inferior to alien philosophy. Unfortunately, the disruption in trade contacts between Alexandria and India from the third century AD onwards would have negative side-effects.26 Buddha’s image in later antiquity would be heavily mediated from Persian Manichean sources, a fact which explains the mostly hostile references of Christian writers of the later antiquity to him: Buddha is now perceived by them as a Manichaean thinker.27 It would take many centuries for Buddha to reenter the Greek-speaking world in a positive way (and with a positive image). This time Buddha’s reentry was not made in the form of a respectable alien thinker (βάρβαρος φιλόσοφος), but in the form of a Christian saint of India. He was now saint Ioasaph (Ἰωάσαφ), a Greek rendering of the Indic form Boddhisattva, which was made possible through the various intermediate Arabic, Armenian and Georgian versions of the name.28 Buddha’s christianised Greek Life (Βίος Βαρλαὰμ καὶ Ἰωάσαφ) 26

On the major disruption of the sea route to India due to the loss of Roman control upon the Red Sea during the 3rd century AD, see A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 66, who focuses his attention upon Plotinus’ case, who wants to go to India through Persia following Gordian’s troops (Porph., Vit. Plot. 3). 27 Cf. the analysis of T. Pettipiece, ‘The Buddha in Early Christian Literature’ (2009), 133-43, esp. 136-7, 139-41. Pettipiece rightly stresses that Clement’s information on Buddha has nothing to do with Manichean sources (p. 137); nevertheless, he does not question Sundermann’s views on the supposed Parthian descent of the form Βούττα, and the overall rationale of his argument is the attribution of any information on India available to Church Fathers to a supposed Iranian source – even when it comes to Patristic texts older than the 4th century AD. Pettipiece’s paper does not even refer to the possible role of Alexandrian contacts with India to the transmission of information on Buddha to Alexandrian Church Fathers. See, however, A. Dihle, ‘Indische Philosophen’ (1964), 66, who stresses that Jerome’s passage on Buddha’s virgin birth (Adv. Jovinianum 1.42) came to Jerome from an Alexandrian source, which relied on an older Indian one. 28 On the various (Arabic, Persian, Armenian, Georgian) transformations of the word Boddhisattva, which made possible the emergence of the form Ἰωάσαφ in the Greek-speaking world, see Jes P. Asmussen, ‘Barlaam and Ioasaph’, Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 3, fasc. 8 (New York, 1988), 801. On the possible role played by Manicheans to the transmission of the story, see J.P. Asmussen,



would become the absolute novel-style bestseller of the Greek Middle Ages and would be falsely ascribed to St John of Damascus.29 From then on, saint Ἰωάσαφ would find his way into the Orthodox Calendar of saints (26th of August) and into the Συναξάρια and Hymnals of the Orthodox Church. Here, at the end of the article, let us remember some verses out of the Orthodox masses written for St Ioasaph: ‘Due to your love for the true Wisdom of God, You Saint, You practiced the most important foundament of all philosophy, the study of death [*μελέτην θανάτου: cf. Plato, Phaedo, 64a, 67d-e]. So, You exterminated the passions of the flesh, and (in a manner par excellence appropriate to a philosopher) You gave life to the soul, and You raised Yourself to intemporal glory, and to eternal life’.30

‘Der Manichäismus als Vermittler literarischen Gutes’, Temenos 2 (1966), 14-21; T. Pettipiece, ‘The Buddha in Early Christian Literature’ (2009), 140-1. 29 See Greek text with English translation in George R. Woodward and Harold Mattingly, St. John Damaskene, Barlaam and Ioasaph (London, Cambridge, MA, 1914). Modern edition, with introduction and relevant texts: Robert Volk, Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. VI/1: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria), Einführung, Patristische Texte und Studien 61 (Berlin, 2009); id., Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. VI/2: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria), II: Text und zehn Appendices, Patristische Texte und Studien 60 (Berlin, 2006). For a recent discussion of the vivid interplay of this Christian novel with early Patristic texts, see W.A. Simpson, Aristides’ “Apology” and the Novel “Barlaam and Ioasaph”, Studia Patristica Supplement 7 (Leuven, 2017). 30 Σοφίαν Θεοῦ τὴν ἀληθῆ, ἀγαπήσας Ὅσιε, φιλοσοφίας τὸν πρώτιστον, ὅρον ἐξήσκησας, μελέτην θανάτου· ὅθεν ἐθανάτωσας, τὰ πάθη τῆς σαρκός, καὶ ἐζώωσας, φιλοσοφώτατα τὴν ψυχήν, καὶ πρὸς ἀίδιον ἤρθης δόξαν, καὶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. The verses are taken from the beginning of the Mass (Ἀκολουθία) for saints Barlaam and Ioasaph (26th August) composed before 1640 by the Cretan monk and Orthodox theologian Agapios Landos (1580-1657). Commas signify change of verses. The verses are cited according to the edition of monk Sophronius [Kehayoglou] of Raedestos, Ἱστορία συγγραφεῖσα παρὰ τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Ἰωάννου τοῦ Δαμασκηνοῦ διαλαμβάνουσα τὸν βίον τῶν ὁσίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν Βαρλαὰμ καὶ Ἰωάσαφ (Athens, 1884), 187. To the best of my knowledge, these verses of Agapios Landos are not included in the current liturgical books of the Orthodox Church, where the mass for St Barlaam and Ioasaph (a marvel of postbyzantine poetry in Ancient Greek) consists of an anthology of verses in honour of Barlaam and Ioasaph taken from various postbyzantine poets. The Platonic echo (μελέτη θανάτου as a πρώτιστος ὅρος τῆς φιλοσοφίας) might not have been directly received from Landos’ possible Platonist readings, but indirectly through John of Climacus, Scala Paradisi, Gradus / Λόγος VI, PG 88, col. 797 (end): καὶ θαῦμα ὄντως, πῶς καὶ Ἕλληνες τοιοῦτόν τι ἐφθέγξαντο· ἐπεὶ καὶ φιλοσοφίαν τοῦτο εἶναι ὁρίζονται, μελέτην θανάτου.







50, B-3020 HERENT

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