The Writings of St. Clement

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS WRITINGS

J. Quasten says, "Although we know very little of Clement's life, we get a clear picture of his personality from his writings, which show the hand of a master planner and for the first time he brought Christian doctrine face to face with the ideas and achievements of the time."

We can summarize the characteristics of his writings in the following:

1. The writings of St. Clement reveal that he was sincere in studying contemporary culture, while his heart was inflamed with divine love. In other words he mixed philosophy and science with faith, or as Quasten says, "He must be called the pioneer of Christian scholarship. His literary work proves that he was a man of comprehensive education extending to philosophy, poetry, archaeology, mythology and literature. He did not, it is true, always go back to the original sources but in many instances used anthologies and florilegia. But his knowledge of early Christian literature, of the Bible as well as of all post-apostolic and heretical works, is complete."

St. Clement's style is not always easy. He writes from a full heart and rich culture, in accordance with his character: peaceful, non-controversial, and gentle. He was contemplative and preferred to speak of the beauty of truth rather than argue for its existence; he preferred to win the heart rather than crush all opposition.

2. St. Clement's writings explain that not only are study and faith inseparable, but also that study and pastoral work are integral and inseparable. Truly he devoted his life for research and study but with an open heart and a broad-mind, inflamed with the desire for the salvation of all men, whatever their culture or education was. According to Farrar, St. Clement correlated science together with preaching and ministry. Compenhausen Hans Von states that his research and thoughts were endless. He was the teacher of guiding dialogues, and at the same time he was a minister, whose aim was to introduce men to Christ. He had a missionary character, was a preacher and an educated shepherd of souls.

3. As he loved the true gnosis (knowledge) he desired every Christian to be a true Gnostic. His Christology, therefore, concentrates on the redeeming work of Christ as the Light, Who shines upon our minds, that they might be illuminated, and he calls baptism "illumination." In the Protrepticus he calls men to accept our Lord Jesus, saying, "The Logos is not hidden from any one. He is the general Light, who shines upon all. Therefore there is no darkness in the world. May we hurry to attain our salvation. May we hurry to attain our renewal."

4. St. Clement and his disciple Origen were optimistic. His optimistic attitude is very clear in his writings which concentrate on the following points:

I. The first and greatest lesson for the Gnostic or the true believer is to know himself, for thus not only he knows God whose joyful kingdom is within him, but also he will be in His likeness.

II. His theology concentrates on the unceasingly inner renewal realized by the Holy Spirit who deified the believers.

III. In his writings he calls the Gnostics to attain the exceedingly spiritual joy under all circumstances, even while they are sleeping.

5. St. Clement's writings reveal him as a Christian writer who is more attractive when viewed at a distance... He has a comprehensive outlook, and an ardent mind. He attracts us by his warm sympathy, his sincerity, and his zeal for the study of God, and of man.

6. St. Clement often complained of the opposition he encountered around him, perhaps from the false Gnostics (the heretics).

Should there be no writing at all, or are there some to whom this right should be restricted?

In the former case, of what use are letters?

In the second alternative, should the right to write be given to those who are in earnest or to those who are not?...

Are we, for instance, to allow Theopompus, Timaeus the author of impure fables, Epicurus the advocate of atheism, Hipponax or Archilochus, to write their shameful works, and forbid one who reveals the truth to leave to posterity writings which will do good?

I am not unaware that certain ignorant people, who take fright at the least noise, would have us confine ourselves to essential things and those related to the faith, and think we ought to neglect those things which come from without and are superfluous.

Some people, who think themselves to be spiritual, believe that one ought to have nothing to do either with philosophy or with dialectic or even to apply oneself to the study of the universe. They advocate faith pure and simple, as if they were to refuse to labor on a vine and wanted immediately to pick the grapes.

7. St. Clement uses the mystical meanings of the numbers. Here are some examples:

I. He writes, "'Confess to the Lord on the harp; play to Him on the psaltery of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song.' And does not the ten-stringed psaltery indicate the Lord Jesus, who is manifested by the element of the decade?" The word Jesus in Greek starts with the letter iota which resembles number 10.

II. The servants of Abraham by whom he defeated a very great number of the enemy were 318 (Gen. 14:14). This number in Greek consists of two letters: the iota (i), and the eta (T). The iota is the first letter for the name of the Savior (Isos), and the letter iota, is the type of the Lord's sign, i.e. the cross. Therefore, victory is realized by those who fellow the Crucified Jesus.

8. St. Clement is a biblical writer. John Ferguson states,

The Bible was of course there, though his citations are interestingly free. There is no part of the Bible which he neglects, but he naturally has his favorite passages. These are Genesis 1(the creation-story), the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, John 1 (the coming of the Logos), the hymn to love in the letter to Corinth, Ephesians 4. All these are texts which illustrate his theological position. He loves the Psalms and the epigrammatic wisdom of Proverbs... He is not greatly interested in the historical books. He walks uneasily among the minor prophets, but Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are much in his mind - though, curiously, he never cites the valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37). He neglects Mark by comparison with the other evangelists, but speaks in a letter of a longer, secret version of Mark circulating in Alexandria. Besides the canonical gospels, The Gospel according to the Hebrews and The Gospel according to the Egyptians were familiar in Alexandria, but Clement accords them a very different status from the others. He also cites works like The Shepherd of Hermas or The Epistle of Barnabas which were outside the eventual canon of scripture, but for a long while on the fringe of it.

 

DATE OF HIS WRITINGS

John Ferguson states, "We can not be certain of the dates of his writings, but Mehat has suggested a reasonable timetable of the main works as follows: c. 195 Exhortation; c. 197 The Tutor; c.198 Miscellanies 1; c. 199-201 Miscellanies 2-5; c.203 (after he left Alexandria) Miscellanies 6-7;c. 203 Salvation for the Rich?; c.204 Extracts from the Prophetic Scriptures; c. 204 -10 Outlines."

 

 

ST. CLEMENT'S TRILOGY OF HIS WRITINGS

The chief work of St. Clement is the trilogy, which consists of the following books:

1 - The Exhortation of the Greeks (Protrepticus).

2 - The Educator or the Tutor (Paidagogos).

3 - The Stromata, Carpets or Miscellaneous studies.

In the last fifty years the problem of the relationship between this trilogy attracted the attention of scholars. This trilogy, in fact, gives reliable information regarding St. Clement’s theological system. St. Clement believes that God's plan for our salvation takes three steps; first, the Word of God, or the Logos invites mankind to abandon paganism through faith, then reforms their lives by moral precepts. Finally, He elevates those who have undergone this moral purification to the perfect knowledge of divine things, which he calls "gnosis" (Knowledge). In other words the work of Christ is considered an invitation to abandon idolatry, for the redemption from sin, and finally redemption from error which left mankind blind and helpless.

This divine program for our salvation had its reflection in the Alexandrian School at the time of St. Clement. The school focused its program on the same three steps:

* Conversion of pagans to Christianity.

* Practicing the moral precepts.

* Instructing Christians to attain perfect knowledge of doctrine.

 

 

1. The Exhortation to the Heathen (Protrepticus):

The title Protrepticus was familiar: it is a well-known literary genre. St. Clement is suggesting that Christ, the Logos of God, calls us to the true philosophy. We expect an exhortation to the study of philosophy. Is he calling the Greeks to philosophy, seeing philosophy as a forerunner of Christ, leading men to Christ? Or is he arguing that the Christian religion is the true heir of Greek philosophy?

In fact this work stands in the tradition of apologetic writing, with a vehement note criticizing the superstition, crudity and eroticism of pagan cults and myths, and observing that the great philosophers, despite their realization of the corruption of paganism, had failed to break with it. St. Clement shows appreciation for the values of Hellenistic culture, and affirms that truth is also to be found in the ancient philosophers and poets. William A. Jurgens says that this work is closely related to earlier Christian apologies; but still, Clement has found a new approach. He no longer finds it necessary to rescue Christianity from the onslaughts of slander and calumny; rather, he is deeply concerned with the educative function of the Logos, the Divine Logos, throughout the history of mankind. This being his concern, the work bears some claim to being a theology of history.

It was probably written about 190 A.D. It is a warm exhortation, addressed to the pagans, aiming at their conversion by listening to the Logos, who is called "Protrepticus," i.e. the Converter; for He is not only the sole Master who invites us to abandon paganism, but also through Him alone we seek total conversion. The purpose of this work is to convince the worshippers of the gods of the folly and worthlessness of pagan beliefs, to point out the shameless features of obscure mysteries and to induce the pagans to accept the only true religion, the teaching of the Logos, who after being announced by the prophets, has appeared as Christ. He promises a life which leads to the fulfillment of the deepest human longing because it gives redemption and immortality.

Eusebius states that it was suitable for Clement to declare the foolishness of paganism, for he passed through it and escaped from its plague. He shows considerable knowledge of the Mysteries which he attacks. But much ancient religion had its roots in fertility ritual: Aphrodite did have her sacred prostitutes, and there was much to shock the puritan. There is much of the student of Greek religion. Initiates of Aphrodite receive the gift of a cake of salt and a model phallus and give a coin in return. Initiates in the Mysteries of the Corybantes proclaim: "I ate from the drum; I drank from the cymbal; I carried the holy plate; I crept into the bridal bed." The ritual includes a taboo on wild celery. The priests are called "Celebrates of the Sovereigns." Initiates of Sabazios have a snake tattooed on their chest.

In chapter three, St. Clement states that the Greeks called the Christians godless, because they did not recognize the gods of the Greeks. St. Clement flings the epithet back in their teeth. It is the Greeks who are godless in not recognizing the true God, and in giving the name of gods to beings who do not exist. An interesting parenthesis lists some of those rationalists who had attracted the title of godless, Euhemerus, Nicanor, Diagoras, Hippo, Theodorus, and others. Clement comments that they may not have understood the truth but they at least suspected the error, and that was enough to kindle a seed of wisdom. He now turns to identify seven causes of idolatry. These are:

1. The deification of the heavenly bodies,

2. The deification of the fruits of the earth,

3. The invention of gods to explain disaster in terms of punishment,

4. The representation of emotions as gods,

5. The derivation of gods from the texture of human life,

6. The twelve gods of Hesiod and Homer,

7. The invention of savior-gods to explain the blessings received from the true God.

In chapter four, St. Clement lists some cult-statues by known artists, and gives his sources. He begins to sketch a theory of art. First, technique may be praised in its own right. Second, art can create illusion, but it can never create life, and cannot take in a rational being. He clarifies that by worshipping idols, and through lusts they play the tyrant over beauty. He says, "Beauty becomes ugly when it is consumed by outrage. Mortal, do not play the tyrant over beauty. Do not commit outrage against the bloom of youth." St. Clement ends this chapter with a passage of real eloquence:

Let none of you worship the sun; but set your hearts on the sun's Maker.

Do not any of you deify the universe; search for the Creator of the universe.

The only refuge, then, for the man who purposes to reach the gates of salvation is divine wisdom.

In chapters five and six, St. Clement regards the philosophers as atheists in their exaltation of matter. They failed to discern the Creator of the elements. At the same time he considers the views of all these thinkers worth recording. Epicures alone he banishes from memory. The philosophers, says Clement, are scaring us with ghosties and ghoulies, with their flux, locomotion, and unplanned vortices. It is idolatry to worship winds, air, fire, earth, stones, stocks, iron, the very world. Their astronomy is astrology. Clement's language echoes the words used of Socrates by his critics. He goes on: "It is the Lord of the spirits, the Lord of the fire, the Maker of the universe, Him who lighted up the sun, that I long for. I seek after God, not the works of God."

In chapter seven he explains that poets bear to the truth, while in chapters eight and nine he turns to what is for him the real thing, the prophetic scriptures, whose oracular utterances hold before us in the clearest possible light the direction towards piety, and so lay the foundation-stone of truth. He quotes Isaiah freely and accurately, but in the middle attributes to him a catena of passages taken from Jeremiah. He quotes Amos, but he in fact attributes the passage to Hosea. Such errors are easy to make; they show that St. Clement is quoting from a well-stored memory. He turns next to the New Testament and can still startle us by throwing in a phrase from Homer in the middle of his scriptural citations. God shows supreme love of mankind. He does not behave like a teacher to students, a master to slaves, a god to humans, but admonishes his children "like a gentle father." God's instrument in teaching is the collection of the Scriptures.

In chapter ten he gives an answer to the objection of the heathen, that it was not right to abandon the customs of their fathers. They must not be enslaved to this evil customs, but say good-bye to fancies, opinion and false tradition.

In the last two chapters, St. Clement explains how great are the benefits conferred on the believer through the advent of Christ:

1. He grants man freedom which he had lost. Man was originally the child of God, playing in innocent freedom. He was led astray through the serpent pleasure. The Lord wanted to free him again, bound himself in flesh to worst the serpent and enslave death the dictator. The Lord died and man rose. The Logos, which, we must always remember, means Reason, has come to us from heaven.

O mystic wonder!

The Lord was laid low, and man rose up;

and he that fell from Paradise receives as the reward of obedience something greater [than Paradise] - namely, heaven itself.

2. As we have our Divine Teacher, so we ought not to bother our heads with education from Athens, the rest of Greece, or Ionia. Our Teacher has filled the whole world with His holy energies so that the whole world has become an Athens, a Greece. Athens itself has already become the domain of the Logos.

3. We receive our Savior as the Divine Light.

Sweet is the Logos who gives us light...

He has changed sunset into sunrise,

and through the cross brought death to life; and having wrenched man from destruction.

4. We attain the heavenly love, which is kindled by the Logos:

The heavenly and truly divine love comes to men thus, when in the soul itself the spark of true goodness, kindled in the soul by the Divine Logos, is able to burst forth into flame.

5. We attain the adoption to God:

For us, yea us, He has adopted , and wished to be called the Father of us alone, not of the unbelieving.

6. He grants the saintly life, in our thoughts, words and conduct:

Such is our position who are attendants of Christ.

As are men’s wishes, so are their words;

As are their words, so are their deeds;

And as their works, such is their life.

Good is the whole life of those who have known Christ.

The Exhortation begins with an attractive borrowing from Classic heritage: the Greek myth that pictures Orpheus singing and composing music, a young and beautiful creator filling the mountain forests with new songs, gathering wood and creatures together as happy concert-goers. This story is used to introduce Jesus, moving from a Greek "alpha" to a scriptural "omega."

St. Clement, turns to Homer for the phrase "soother of pain, calmer of wrath, producing forgetfulness of all ills." Building on this text, St. Clement teaches that "a beautiful, breathing instrument of music the Lord made man, after His own image." In turn, this leads to a plea grounded in both the Classics and the Scriptures: "You have, then, God's promise; you have His love: become partaker of his grace. And do not suppose the song of salvation to be new, as a vessel or a house is new. For "before the morning star it was;" and "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Error seems old, but truth seems a new thing."

The immorality of Greek mythology, the prostitution of Greek art, and the vagaries of the philosophers, were unsparingly set forth with an extraordinary amount of direct quotation, often of Greek classics now lost. Yet these philosophers, St. Clement went on to say, sometimes did find the truth in part and spoke by divine inspiration, Plato, Socrates, and Pythagoras. This truth, however, is mixed with error and must be refined. It contrasted the purity and mobility of the teachings of the prophets and to those of Christ. The result was taken to be conversion.

St. Clement assures that the Logos is not hidden from anyone, for He is the Light of the world, the Sun of Justice, who shines now on all the world, which is no longer in darkness, therefore let all hurry to their salvation and renewal (Ch. 9).

Hail, O light! For buried in darkness and shut up in the shadow of death, light has shone forth in us from heaven, purer than the sun, sweeter than life here below.

That light is eternal life; and whoever partakes of it lives.

But night fears the light, and hiding itself in terror, gives place to the day of the Lord. Sleepless light is now over all, and the west has given credence to the east. For this was the meaning of the new creation. For 'the Sun of Righteousness' who drives His chariot over all, pervades equally all humanity, like His Father, who makes His sun rise on all men and distills on them the dew of the truth.

He has changed sunset into sunrise, and through the cross turned death to life; and having wrenched man from destruction, He has raised him to the skies, transplanting mortality into immortality and translating earth to heaven, - He, the husbandman of God, having bestowed on us the truly great, divine, and inalienable inheritance of the Father, deifying man by heavenly teaching, putting His laws into our minds and writing on our hearts.

If the Sun did not exist, night would be everywhere... Similarly, if we did not know the Logos and He did not enlighten us, we would be no better than chickens fattened in darkness and destined for the spit.

Let us receive the Light, in order to receive God...

He urges the Gentiles to taste the sweetness of the Logos and to receive Him, as the Heavenly treasure.

Sweet is the Word that gives us the light,

precious above gold and gems;

it is to be desired above honey and the honey-comb (Ps. 19:10).

At the end of this work St. Clement defines it as follows:

What then is the address I give you?

I urge you to be saved.

This Christ desires.

In one word, He freely bestows life on you.

And who is He?

Briefly learn, the Word of incorruption that generates man by bringing him back to the truth - the good One that urges to salvation - He who expels destruction and pursues death - He who builds up the temple of God in men that He may cause God to take up His abode in men.

It is worthy to note that St. Clement believes that turning to God, or achieving true wisdom, is impossible without a divine help. This teaching connects St. Clement with St. Paul, and sets him apart from the Gnostics outside the Church. He offers a brief statement of the doctrine of grace, an interpretation of the work of God's love in action. "The heavenly and truly divine love comes to men thus, when in the soul itself the spark of true goodness, kindled in the soul by the Divine Word, is able to burst forth into flame; and, what is of the highest importance, salvation runs paralleled with sincere willingness - choice and life, being, so to speak, yoked together." The "turning around" of conversion is accepted: one is not trapped in "unredeemable" categories based on intellect or matter. This point is also discussed in his Miscellanies.

 

 

2. The Educator or the Tutor (Paidagogos)

The Paidagogos, the Educator or the Instructor was written after the Protrepticus, of which it is a sort of sequel, before the year 202 A. D. It presents the continuation of the "Protrepticus," with practical instruction dealing with social and personal conduct of those who followed the advice given in his first treatise and accepted the Christian faith. In other words, it continues the development of the idea of the educational function of the Logos, who is presented as the Educator or Tutor, who converts their daily conduct. St. Clement calls for enjoining the Christian life under the guidance of its Educator (Christ), to practice the new life and to be in the likeness of Christ.

Simon P. Wood says of the Paidagogos that it holds the central place in Clement's trilogy, not only in position, but also, I believe, in content. It is longer than the Protrepticus but less unwidely than the Stromateis; it contains more doctrine than the first, yet does not evidence the exaggerations of doctrine, at least not to the same degree, as the third; it does not have the unity and the beauty of the earlier work, yet avoids the random, scattered style of the later one. For all these reasons, it is the most practical work for our purposes. It represents the thought of Clement and of the whole Alexandrian Church very well and so will give the reader an adequate introduction to Clement's teachings.

He adds, "It is difficult to translate the word Paidagogos into English, for there is no one word that conveys all that the Greek expresses. Etymologically, Paidagogos means 'leader of children,' and this is the sense Clement sometimes confined himself to. However, in its ordinary usage, it means first the slave who conducts the children of the household back and forth from school, and later, the slave, usually an educated one, who supervises their training and the formation of their characters. St. Clement makes use of all these senses of the word, but is careful to confine it to one who supervises only moral training, for he reserves the treatment of Christ the Teacher to a later work. I have settled upon 'Educator' as the best English equivalent, but the reader must keep in mind that it refers only to an education of character." John Ferguson says, "The Paidagogos, here translated "tutor," is a tutor in the exact and literal sense of the word. He was not in the intellectual sense a teacher. He looks after the child’s security and well-being. He is a slave, a family retainer, who accompanies the boy wherever he goes. In one sense he is a menial. He would be responsible for carrying a torch in the dark, for carrying the boy’s writing- things or other equipment, sometimes (as we see depicted on terra-cotta statuettes) for carrying the boy himself. But he is also responsible for the boy’s behavior; he is in this sense a moral instructor; and this includes functions complementary to those of the academic teacher in that he is responsible for keeping the boy up to scratch and ensuring that he applies himself to his academic work."

The Paidagogos was a title especially dear to the theologians of the Alexandrian tradition, who often conceived of the whole course of human life as a period of instruction, by Christ's words and redeeming deeds. St. Clement of Alexandria composed this work entitled Paidagogos in which our Lord Jesus Christ appears as the Educator for every detail of human conduct, even including such things as table manners. On an infinitely more exalted level, he is the Educator who reveals the Father, offering to humankind the knowledge without which it cannot be saved. This is how he is depicted, for instance, in Athanasius. The role of teacher-revealer is fit to Christ, since he is the Logos and hence the "articulation" of the Father.

Who is the Educator?

He is the Son of God, the Immaculate Image of the Father, who became close to us through His human form.

He is without sin, the ideal Model whom we must strive to resemble.

Being baptized, we are illuminated;

being illuminated, we become sons;

being made sons, we are made perfect;

being made perfect, we are made immortal.

"I," says He, "have said that you are gods, and all sons of the Highest." This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and perfection, and washing: washing, by which we cleanse away our sins; grace, by which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted; and illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly.

Such teaching is balanced by clear insistence that:

... the end is reserved till the resurrection of those who believe; and it is not the reception of some other thing, but the obtaining of the promise previously made. For we do not say that both take place together at the same time, both the arrival at the end, and the anticipation of that arrival. For eternity and time are not the same, neither is the attempt and the final result; but both have reference to the same thing, and one and the same person is concerned in both. Faith, so to speak, is the attempt generated in time; the final result is the attainment of the promise, secured for eternity.

The Paidagogos reveals that the doctrine of the Trinity was taking shape in the Church: God the Father, the Creator, who endows human being by nature with His first impulses toward the truth. God the Son, is our Savior and Educator. The Educator is a slave, and this is precisely what St. Paul says of Jesus, that he took upon Himself the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7). God the Spirit, the continuing living presence of God, leads human beings into all truth. This work also consists of many moral commandments, but its aim is to be in the likeness of Christ, being children of God, who must be holy and heavenly citizens. He asks us to complete in our souls the beauty of the Church, for we are young children with a good mother (the Church).

This work consists of three books:

The first book reveals the personality and the work of the Paidagogos (the Educator) who satisfies the needs of men. Human life is divided into three aspects: habits, actions, and passions. The Logos has taken charge of the first. He also directs our actions, and cures our passions. He educates all our lives, forgives our sins (Ch. 1), reveals His great mercies (Ch. 2), and teaches women as well as men (Chs. 3,4). Finally it explains the methods of education and their basis (Chs. 7-13).

In chapter one, St. Clement has identified the three functions of the Logos, and set this work within the context of a serial exposition. He has made clear his openness to Greek culture in Pindar and Homer, and in particular the integration of his thought and expression with Stoic ethical philosophy.

The Educator being practical, not theoretical, His aim is thus to improve the soul, not to teach, and to train it up to a virtuous, not to an intellectual life. Although this same word is didactic, but not in the present instance. For the word which, in matters of doctrine, explains and reveals, is that whose province it is to teach. But our Educator being practical,

first exhorts to the attainment of right dispositions and character,

and then persuades us to the energetic practice of our duties, enjoining on us pure commandment,

and exhibiting to such as come after representations of those who formally wandered in error.

The Paidagogue strengthens our souls, and by His benign commands, as by gentle medicines, guides the sick to the perfect knowledge of the truth.

St. Clement states that "Pedagogy is a training of children."

Chapter two: Our Educator’s treatment of our sins. Our Educator resembles His Father God: sinless, spotless, passionless; so St. Clement gives the Stoic concept of passionlessness (apatheia) a Christian place. We are not, and we should strive to be, like Him. This is the first appearance in this work of the idea of the imitation of Christ, a potent way of life at all times in the history of Christianity. He said that it is the best to live without sin. This belongs to God. He does not say that it is impossible for men; he implies that it is improbable. There is an ambiguity here in the Christian tradition. Jesus commands His disciples to be as the Father in heaven (Matt. 5,48); yet the Christian is also witness that all have fallen short; and every movement for renewal of Christianity has been in tension between the claims of perfection and the fact of sin. Clement offers a second best; namely, to avoid deliberate wrong doing.

He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because He alone is sinless. As far, however, as we can, let us try to sin as little as possible. For nothing is so urgent in the first place as deliverance from passions and disorders, and then the checking of our liability to fall into sins that have become habitual. It is best, therefore, not to sin at all in any way, which we assert to be the prerogative of God alone; next to keep clear of voluntary transgressions, which is characteristic of the wise man; thirdly, not to fall into many involuntary offenses, which is peculiar to those who have been excellently trained. Not to continue long in sins, let that be ranked last. But this also is salutary to those who are called back to repentance, to renew the contest.

In chapters three and four he explains that it was in love of mankind (Philanthropia) that the Logos became man. God is love (agape), and His love is shown in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us and gave Himself for us. If we guide one another it is the blind leading the blind, but the Logos is keen eyed and sees the innermost heart; for it is the nature of good to do good. The Logos is Educator to women and men alike.

Man is therefore justly dear to God, since he is His workmanship. The other works of creation He made by the word of command alone, but man He framed by Himself, by His own hand, and breathed into him what was peculiar to Himself.

Man, then, whom God made, is desirable for himself...

And man has been proven to be lovable; consequently man is loved by God. For how shall be he not be loved for whose sake the only begotten son is sent from the Father’s bosom.

The virtue of man and woman is the same. For if the God of both is one, the master of both is also one; one church, one temperance, one modesty; their food is common, marriage an equal yoke; respiration, sight, hearing, knowledge, hope, obedience, love all alike. And those whose life is common, have common graces and a common salvation; common to them are love and training. "For in this world," he says, "they marry, and are given in marriage," in which alone the female is distinguished from the male; "but in that world it is so no more."

In chapter five he spoke of the dependence of man (child). He states that if human beings need an Educator, they must be children. We must not be shy that we are called children, for not only the disciples of Christ were called children, but our Lord Himself, who was incarnate, was called "Child" (Isa. 9:6). As children of God, we should know that Christian education continues throughout life. Thus he opposes the Gnostics, who claim to have arrived to perfect knowledge. By calling Christians children and simple, and by emphasizing the need of unceasing education, he refutes their belief that believers are composed of two ranks: the perfect and the simple.

We are the children. In many ways scripture celebrates us, and describes us in manifold figures of speech, giving variety to the simplicity of the faith by diverse names...

For if they call us who follow after childhood foolish, see how they utter blasphemy against the Lord, in regarding those as foolish who have betaken themselves to God...

In contradistinction, therefore, to the older people, the new people are called young, having learned the new blessings; and we have the exuberance of life’s morning prime in this youth which knows no old age, in which we are always growing to maturity in intelligence, are always young, always mild, always new: for those must necessarily be new, who have become partakers of the new Word...

The Spirit calls the Lord Himself a child, thus prophesying by Esaias: "Lo, to us a child has been born, to us a son has been given, on whose own shoulder the government shall be; and His name has been called the Angel of great Counsel." Who, then, is this infant child? He according to whose image we are made little children. By the same prophet is declared His greatness: "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; that He might fulfill His discipline: and of His peace there shall be no end." O the great God! O the perfect child!

In chapter six he speaks of our Lord as the "Nourisher," who offers His body and blood to His children through His Church. His breasts of love of mankind furnish the children with spiritual milk. He offers Himself to His children, who receive baptism as the illumination, the adoption to the Father, the forgiveness of sins etc. St. Clement as a church man calls the Church the mother, who nourishes her children with Christ Himself, the heavenly manna, bread and milk.

But she is once virgin and mother pure as a virgin loving as a mother. And calling her children to her, she nurses them with holy milk, viz., with the Word for childhood. Therefore she had not milk; for the milk was this child fair and comely, the body of Christ, which nourishes by the Word the young brood, which the Lord Himself brought forth in throes of the flesh, which the Lord Himself swathed in His precious blood. O amazing birth! O holy swaddling bands! The word is all to the child, both father and mother, and tutor and nurse. "Eat you my flesh," He says " and drink my blood." Such is the suitable food which the Lord ministers, and He offers His flesh and pours forth His blood, and nothing is wanting for the children’s growth. O amazing mystery!

Thus in many ways the word is figuratively described, as meat, and flesh, and food, and bread, and blood, and milk. The lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed in Him.

Chapter seven deals with "The Educator and His work." He teaches us how to honor God, directs us to the knowledge of truth, an escort to heaven. His work is to set us straight on the road of truth which leads to the vision of God. " Our Educator", he goes on, "is the holy God Jesus, the Logos who guides all humanity the very God who loves mankind is our Educator." He calls him "Mystic Messenger" or "Mystic Angel." He means that Jesus proclaims and reveals the hidden truths about God.

Chapters eight to thirteen deals with "Divine Love, Rebuke, Justice and Goodness." St. Clement emphasizes the following ideas:

* There is nothing that God hates.

* All that God does is for man’s good. He says, "And to do good purposely, is nothing else than to take care of man. God therefore cares for man. God therefore takes care of him. In another way the useful is called good not on account of its pleasing, but of its doing good."

* The good which God offers man is beneficial, not necessarily enjoyable.

* As opposing Gnostic dualism, he assures that the Creator and the good Father are one and the same.

* The divine rebuke and chastisement are a part of God’s love for mankind. Fear can be used as a source of salvation. We are diseased and need a spiritual doctor; we are lost and need a guide; we are blind and need to be enlightened; we are thirsty and need the spring of life; we are dead and need life; we are sheep and need a shepherd; we are children and need a tutor; all humanity needs Jesus. He says, "See how God, through His love of goodness, seeks repentance; and by means of the plan He pursues of threatening silently, shows His own love for man."

* Christ fully realizes the statement that man is made in God’s image; the rest of mankind can only reflect it. We are to follow His steps, and we shall in the end put on His divinity; we shall be in true tune.

The second book together with the third books of the Paidagogos turn to the problems of Christian behavior, especially household affairs of Christians in a pagan society. The second one deals with many practical questions for the newly converted. St. Clement shows how the Christian is to eat, drink (Chs. 1,2), dress (including jewelry and cosmetics), sleep (Ch. 9), walk, talk, look, even laugh, also the Christian's attitude towards amusement and public spectacles.

J. Quasten says that with the beginning of the second book the treatise turns to the problems of daily life. Whereas the first deals with the general principles of ethics, the second and third present a kind of casuistry for all spheres of life: eating, drinking, homes and furniture, music and dancing, recreation and amusements, bathing and anointing, behavior and marital life. These chapters give an interesting description of daily life in the city of Alexandria with its luxury, debauchery and vices. Clement speaks here with a frankness which is surprising and at times repulsive. The author warns his Christians against indulging in such a life and gives a moral code of Christian behavior in such surroundings. However, Clement does not demand that the Christian should abstain from all refinements of culture nor does he wish him to renounce the world and take the vow of poverty. The decisive point is the attitude of the soul. As long as the Christian keeps his heart independent and free from attachment to the goods of this world there is no reason why he should withdraw from his peers. It is more important that the cultural life of the city be imbued with the Christian spirit.

The third book deals with the elements of real beauty (Ch. 1), warning against luxury and other dangers (Chs. 4-6), admonishing us towards simplicity of living (Chs. 7,8) and practical Christianity (Chs. 9-12), and concludes by explaining the aim of these moral commandments.

The Paidagogos ends with a hymn to Christ the Savior. There have been doubts about the authenticity of this hymn. However, there is every reason to believe that Clement himself is the author of it. The imagery corresponds exactly to that of the Tutor. Perhaps it represents the official prayer of praise of the School of Alexandria

 

 

3. The Miscellanies (Stromateis or Stromata)

Eusebius gives us an account of the Stromata:

In the Stromata he has composed a patchwork, not only from holy Scripture, but from the writings of the Greeks, recording anything that seems useful in their views, expounding generally held opinions alike from Greek and non-Greek sources, and correcting the false doctrines of the leaders of heresy. He unfolds a wide area of research, and provides a project of considerable erudition. With all this he includes the theories of philosophers, so that he has made the title Stromata appropriate to the contents. He uses in this work evidence from the disputed Scriptures, the so called Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the letters of Barnabas, Clement, and Jude. He mentions Tatian’s Oratio ad Graecos, Cassian, the author of a chronological history, and the Jewish writers Philo, Aristobulus, Josephus, Demetrius, and Eupolemus, all of whom may show in their works that Moses and the Jewish people antedate Greek antiquity. This writer’s works mentioned here are packed with a great deal of useful learning. In the first volume he speaks of himself as very close in succession to the apostles, and promises in the work a commentary on Genesis."

E. de Fayť, a critic who is one of the greatest admirers of the Stromata, says about it, "This work is perhaps the most important of all Christian writing of the second and third centuries, and at the same time there is not one that is more difficult."

At the end of the introduction to his Paidagogos St. Clement remarks: "The all-loving Logos, eagerly desiring to perfect us by a gradation conducive to salvation, suited for efficacious discipline, a beautiful arrangement is observed by the all-benignant Logos who first exhorts, then trains, and finally teaches." Since the Protrepticus was a work of exhortation and the Paidagogos a work of training, some have concluded that Clement intended to write a trilogy, of which the final installment would be a work of teaching.

In other words, St. Clement looks to the Logos as:

I. The Protrepticus, or the Converter, who calls men to deny the false gods and accept faith in the true Savior.

II. The Paidagogos, or the Educator, who heals men from their sins.

III. The Didaskalos, or the Teacher, who teaches believers, granting them the true gnosis, revealing to them the allegorical interpretation of His words, and proclaiming to them His own heavenly mysteries, for they are His own bride.

J. Quasten believes that Clement intended to compose as the third part of his trilogy a volume entitled the Teacher... In Clement's mind, after all, the difference between a trainer and a teacher is in the age of the one under discipline: children are trained, while teaching is for adults. The Paidagogos actually deals with the latter, but under the figure of the former: we being the children of a divine Father.

The Stromata does not fulfill the promise that its author had made of completing his trilogy with a work on the function of the Word as the Teacher. It is impossible to know the reason for this. The most common explanation is that Clement decided that he was unable to write the systematic work that he had promised, and that the Stromata is only a series of notes that he was preparing in order to write his third work, which he was unable to do before his death. In any case, it is quite clear that this work is not a systematic study of any kind, but is rather a series of miscellaneous notes, or perhaps something like a tapestry, where the threads of thought come to the surface only to be lost later on without giving the reader any clue as to what happened to them. It is in this fashion, and with an almost total lack of order or system, that Clement expounds the highest aspects of his doctrine.

J. Quasten and W.A. Jurgens believe that St. Clement abandoned his plan and chose the literary form of the Stromata or "Carpets." It was more suited to his genius, allowing him, as it did, to bring in splendid and extensive discussions of details in a light, entertaining style. The name, Carpets, is similar to others used at the time, like The Meadow, The Banquets, The Honeycomb. Such titles indicated a genre favored by philosophers of the day, in which they could discuss most varied questions without strict order or plan and pass from one problem to another without systematic treatment, the different topics being woven together like colors in a carpet. The title Stromateis was not uncommonly used in the age of St. Clement for writings without any strict order and containing varied subject-matter. John Ferguson says,

The word translated "miscellanies" is stromateis. The full title is Miscellanies of Notes of Reveled Knowledge in Accordance with the True Philosophy. The word translated "notes" is hypomnemata, ‘memory aids.’ It can be used of any memorandum, the minutes of a committee, a note in a banker’s ledger, a doctor’s clinical notes a historical sourcebook...

The word translated "notes" is hypomnemata, ‘memory aids.’ It can be used of any memorandum, the minutes of a committee, a note in a banker’s ledger, a doctor’s clinical notes, a historical sourcebook. But it has a special philosophical use: Arius uses the word for his reminiscences of the Stoic Epictetus. He means that they are unelaborated, but a serious contribution to philosophy and factually accurate. Further Plato uses the word of his view that knowledge is a recollection of things apprehended before birth, and Clement, a devout Platonist, will not have been averse to those overtones.

This work consists of eight books, in its rough copy, therefore the topics of varied characters are not well-ordered. He himself says that this work looks like a field full of all kinds of plants, the person who seeks will find what he desires. It has been well described as "a heterogeneous mixture of science, philosophy, poetry and theology," controlled by the conviction that Christianity can satisfy man's highest intellectual yearnings. It aims at presenting a scientific account of the revealed truths of Christianity. He himself says that a book of this kind is like a field full of all sorts of plants; a man who is diligent, can find there, what he is seeking for but he must look for it (6:2:4-8). The mysteries of knowledge cannot be made too plain to readers who are unfit for it (5:8,9).

His discussions are most interesting as they make known to us the master of the School of Alexandria and also the Christians who were around him.

The contents of the 8 books are as follows:

Book 1: The relationship between philosophy and Christian truth: God is the origin of all good things, including philosophy, which is a divine gift. The true philosophy is found in Jesus Christ; the Greeks offer a propaedeutic, a ‘preparatory exercise.’ St. Clement fears from using it too much, considering philosophers as children if they are compared with the believers. A long historical analysis argues for the priority of the Jews to the Greeks.

Accordingly, before the advent of the Lord, philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes conducive to piety; being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration.

Book 2: The nature of faith by which man became in the likeness of God. Faith is the way to truth. It is an assent in the field of religion. St. Clement sets the true Gnostic in firm contrast to the heretics Basilides and Valentinus. Fear has its place in leading to repentance, hope, and love. St. Clement discusses moral responsibility. Our aim is restoration to sonship. The book ends with a preview of the next.

Book 3: The Christian marriage. Ought we to marry? Yes. Fornication and adultery are condemned in the law and in the gospel. He attacks the permissiveness of some heretics and the asceticism of others. His own treatment is not wholly consistent, and he finds some texts difficult, but has a beautiful exposition of "two or three gathered together" as husband, wife, child. Birth is not evil; celibacy may, but need not, be chosen; Christian marriage is a partnership.

Book 4: The true Gnostic (the perfect and spiritual Christian) who has knowledge in his conduct. The true Gnostic is not afraid of death. The martyr is a witness to the sincerity of his faith. To deny the lord from fear of death is to deny oneself. God was suffering to change the world. Christian perfection lies in love of human kind. It may be approached by different paths, but the one full instance is Jesus . The true Gnostic is one with Christ.

Book 5: Faith and hope; the knowledge of God and symbolism. There is no knowledge without faith or faith without knowledge. Clement treats hope briefly and passes to the reasons for veiling the truth in symbols. God cannot be expressed in words.

Book 6: Philosophy, revelation, and human knowledge as a preparation for the true Gnostic. The Greeks are indebted to the Jews. True philosophy is not sectarian; it is solid knowledge. St. Clement gives a comparison between the Christian philosophy which attains the glory of the gospel, acknowledges mysteries, and passionlessness, and the Greek philosophy which has a very superficial knowledge, although it is a divine gift. The true Gnostic must be something of a polymath, and takes his knowledge into realms which others find intractable. St. Clement discusses number mysticism, and different approaches to knowledge.

Eusebius in his Praeparatio evangelica quotes at some length from Book Six to demonstrate the borrowings of the Greeks from the Jews.

Book 7: The Christian Gnostic: It is a defense and glorification of the Gnostic Christian .He alone is the true worshipper and the real philosopher, who grows up to become in the likeness of God. The pagans made their gods in their likeness.. .He attacks the anthropomorphic gods of the Greeks and defends the true Gnostic against charges of atheism and impiety. He then passes to a positive evaluation of the true Gnostic, a laborer in god’s vineyard, who gives help to all in need. He attacks various heretics as foolish, and ends with an account of the Stromata.

Book 8: Investigation: This book is missing. The eighth book does not appear to be a continuation of the seventh but a collection of sketches and studies used in other sections of the work. It seems that they were not intended for publication, but rather that they were issued after his death against his intention. Truth is attained by seeking; the search should be peaceable. Define your terms clearly; examine your propositions in the light of your definitions. Everything is not demonstrable; we need first principles. St. Clement attacks the skeptics, and discusses the methodology of investigation, the subject matter of speech, and causality. These are unorganized jottings, based on Plato and Aristotle.

In this work he attacks the Gnostics (heretics), for they place a wide gulf between God and the world and a narrow gulf between God and the soul.

 

 

4. Excerpta ex Theodoto and Eclogae propheticae

Quasten says that these two works follow the Stromata in the tradition of the manuscripts. They are not excerpts made by someone else of the lost parts of the Stromata, as Zahn thought, but excerpts from Gnostic writings like those of the Valentinian Gnostic Theodotus and preliminary studies of Clement. It is very difficult to separate the excerpts of Gnostic sources from the words of Clement himself.

We know nothing of the Theodotus from whom St. Clement uses excerpts. He was a Gnostic with a typically complex system. Mostly St. Clement merely transmits. Occasionally he is critical, as he would have been in a fully worked out response.

In the first work, St. Clement explains what kind of knowledge (gnosis) we are in need,

"who we were,

what we have become (or been born as);

where we were, or where we had been thrown (or made to fall);

where we are hurrying to, from where we are being redeemed; what is birth and rebirth."

Much of this can be summed up, in the deepest sense, self-knowledge. It is the old Delphic commandment "Know Yourself."

The second work Eclogae propheticae has four well-marked sections.

 

OTHER WORKS

Besides the trilogy, St. Clement composed many other works. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote several significant theological treatises and is called "the first Christian scholar" by Berthold Altaner, but only one sermon has survived. This is his well-known address, Who Is the Rich Man that is Saved?

 

1. Who is the Rich Man that is saved ? (Quis dives salvetur ?)

A delightful tract or sermon on Mark 10:17-31, possibly the last from his pen, greatly appreciated in antiquity. Some rich Alexandrian merchants were in despair for they thought that richness makes salvation impossible.

 

It indicates that a growing number of wealthy persons were being attracted to the faith, and they were disturbed by the warnings against riches in Christian literature. St. Clement answered that wealth in itself is neutral; one's attitude toward wealth is what matters: Wealth in itself is not evil, for sin, but not wealth, deprives man of salvation. Wealth is a divine gift, we can use it for our benefit and for others advantage, if we are not enslaved to it. The rich men support the needy! He tells rich believers that it would be irresponsible of them to think of throwing away their possessions when so much good can be accomplished with them. St. Clement assures that Christ condemned only the wrong attitude to wealth, not wealth as such.

He responds to this understanding by making a point about the interpretation of Biblical texts.

... we are clearly aware that the Savior teaches His people nothing in a merely human way, but everything by divine and mystical wisdom. We must not understand His words literally, but with due inquiry and intelligence we must search out and master their hidden meaning. For the sayings which appear to have been simplified by the Lord Himself to his disciples are found even now, on account of the extraordinary degree of wisdom in them, to need not less but more attention than his dark and suggestive utterances.

For he who holds possessions and houses as the gifts of God; and ministers from them to the God who gives them for the salvation of men; and knows that he possesses them more for the sake of the brethren than his own; and is superior to the possession of them, not the slave of the things he possesses; and does not carry them about in his soul, nor bind and circumscribe his life with them, but is ever laboring at some good and divine work, should he be necessarily some time or other deprived of them, is able with a cheerful mind to bear removal equally with their abundance. This is he who is blessed by the Lord, and called poor in spirit.

Let no man destroy wealth, rather the passions of the soul which are incompatible with the better use of wealth.

So that becoming virtuous and good, he may be able to make good use of these riches.

The renunciation and selling of all possessions, then, is to be understood as speaking of the passions of the soul.

I would then say this.

Since some things are from within and some from without the soul, and if the soul makes a good use of them, they also are reputed good, but if a bad, bad; - whether does He who commands us to alienate our possessions repudiate those things, after the removal of which the passions still remain, or those rather, on the removal of which wealth even becomes beneficial?

If therefore he who casts away worldly wealth can still be rich in the passions, even though the material (for their gratification) is absent, - for the disposition produces its own effects, and strangles the reason, and presses it down and inflames it with its inbred lusts,-it is then of no advantage to him to be poor in purse while he is rich in passions. For it is not what ought to be cast away that he has deprived himself of what is serviceable, but set on fire the innate fuel of evil through want of the external means (of gratification).

In a sense, it is the task of this book to state that Christians can be "good" without entering into either ascetic life or monasticism.

Now the reason why salvation seems to be more difficult for the rich than for men without wealth is probably not a simple one but complex. For some, after merely listening in an offhand way to the Lord's saying that a camel shall more easily creep through a needle's eye than a rich man into the kingdom of heaven, despair of themselves, feeling that they are not destined to obtain life. So, complying with the world in everything and clinging to this present life as the only one left to them, they depart further from the heavenward way...

Here the contrast with Tertullian is obvious. For the North African, wealth is bad of itself and a gross hindrance to Christian progress. To Clement, however, wealth is a matter of stewardship and the church is a school (didaskaleion) for the imperfect where the soul is trained for the ladder of ascent towards God.

At the end St. Clement tells the story of St. John and the young who had fallen among the robbers, to prove that even the greatest sinner can be saved if he just repents.

 

2. Outlines or Sketches (Hypotyposeis)

His most important lost work is his allegorical interpretations and sketches of the writings of both the Old and New Testament, including even all the disputed books. Photius was still able to read a complete text of Clement's Hypotyposeis, written between the years 190 and 210 A. D. The work was in eight books, but has survived only in a few short Greek excerpts, preserved mostly by Eusebius. Other excerpts exist in the Pratum spiritual of John Moschus and in a Latin translation which goes back to the time of Cassiodorus (c. 540). Photius passed very severe judgment on the work, citing its many rank heresies: "Correct doctrine is held firmly in some places but in other places he is carried away by odd and impious notions. He maintains the eternity of matter, produces a theory of ideas from the words of Holy Scripture, and reduces the Son to a mere creature. He relates incredible stories of metempsychosis and of many worlds before Adam. His teaching on the formation of Eve from Adam is blasphemous and scurrilous - and anti-Scriptural. He imagines that the angels had intercourse with women and begot children with them. He also writes that the Logos did not become man in reality but only in appearance. He has, it would appear, a fantastic idea of two Logoi of the Father, of which the inferior one appeared to men." Clement of Alexandria had a good reputation in Byzantium and for that reason St. Photius' conclusion is that the work is not authentically that of Clement.

Since we have only a few fragments, and since there is no reason to doubt their authenticity, no judgment can safely be rendered on Photius' remarks.

 

3. On the Passover (On the Pascha)

Eusebius states that St. Clement wrote this book at the request of his contemporaries to record the traditions which he had heard from the early Fathers, for the benefit of future generations. He mentions in it Melito and Irenaeus and some others, whose accounts of the matter are also set down. Only a few short quotations are preserved.

In the celebrations of previous years, the Lord ate the paschal victim sacrificed by the Jews. But after he preached, being himself the Pascha, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), led like a sheep to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), he immediately taught His disciples the mystery of the type, on the thirteenth, the day on which they asked Him, "Where do You wish us to prepare for You to eat the Pascha?" (Matt. 26:17). On this day, you must know, occurred both the sanctification of the unleavened bread and the preparation of the feast. Wherefore John records that suitably on this day the disciples had their feet washed by the Lord as a preparation (cf. John 13:4-5). The passion of our Savior took place on the following day, himself being the paschal victim offered in pleasing sacrifice by the Jews...

All the Scriptures harmonize and the Gospels concord with this precise reckoning of the days. The resurrection too testifies: He rose on the third day, which was the first of the weeks of the harvest and (the day) on which the priest was commanded by the Law to offer the sheaf (Lev. 23:10-11).

Here St. Clement defends the Johannine chronology of the passion, but seeks to bring that of the Synoptics into harmony with it by explaining that the Last Supper they report was a pre-paschal meal without the ritual lamb. His thesis is taken up by Eusebius, On the Solemnity of Easter 9-10.

 

4, 5. On Fasting and On evil-speaking.

Nothing is preserved nor otherwise known of these two writings which Eusebius attributes to St. Clement.

 

6. On Patience or "A discourse to the newly baptized."

Eusebius knows of this work. It is possible that a fragment in a manuscript of the Escorial entitled Exhortations of Clement is from this lost work.

 

7. Against the Judaizers or Ecclesiastical Canon.

This work (On the rules of the Church), of which we possess but one fragment, he had dedicated to Alexander, the bishop of Jerusalem.

 

8. On Providence ( 2 books ).

Anastasius Sinaites reproduces a passage from the first part of this work. Several other fragments are extant which indicate that it gave philosophical definitions. It is not mentioned by Eusebius nor any of the other early ecclesiastical authors. Authenticity, therefore, remains doubtful.

 

9. On the Prophet Amos.

St. Palladius is the only source which mentions St. Clement as the author of a work On the Prophet Amos.

 

10. Letters

We do not have any letters of St. Clement. But the Sacra Parallela 311, 3I2 and 3I3 contains three sentences ascribed to letters of St. Clement, two of them from his Letter 2I .