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July 25, 2011

Pseudo-Clementine Writings

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Several writings have been attributed to this third Pope following Peter. As they are spurious and voluminous, I’m not going to summarize or analyse them all or in great detail, but only record some observations.

The Second Epsitle of Clement

  • Several translations of 2 Clement can be found here. It appears that the New Advent version is the Roberts-Donaldson translation. I’ve been spot-checking against the Lightfoot translation, which also has verse numbering.
  • Thinking lightly of Jesus and our salvation is a sin. (2 Clem 1)
  • “Rejoice, thou barren that barest not…” Isaiah used these words to describe Jerusalem suddenly filled with returning exiles (Is 54:1+). Paul explained how Hagar and Sarah allegorically represent the old and new covenants; that is, this verse contrasts the Jews of the Law with Chrsitians (Gal 4:21-31). Clement, likewise, uses it to describe the Church, but about how it is growing in faith, not in contrast with the followers of the Law (2 Clem 2:1-3).
  • We should honor God for his mercy, not just with our lips, but through obedience by loving one another, doing good, and avoiding evil. (2 Clem 3-4; c.f. Mt 18:11, Is 29:13, Mt 7:21)
  • This life is transient and we should fix our desires on things of the next world (detachment). The two worlds are opposed to one another. (2 Clem 5-6)
  • Hope for Heaven is rooted in “keep[ing] our baptism holy and undefiled” and “be[ing] found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness”. (2 Clem 6)
  • Clement leans on Paul’s comparison of the present life to a race. (2 Clem 7) He does not cite Paul or mention him by name.
  • We have only the present world in which to repent. (2 Clem 8)
  • The body is the temple of God, and the flesh will be judged. The resurrection is affirmed. (2 Clem 9)
  • Practise virtue. Those who cause others to sin will be condemned twice. (2 Clem 10)
  • Serve the Lord faithfully, and do not doubt, but trust in his promises. (2 Clem 11; c.f. James 4:8)
  • Chapter 12 borrows from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (Saying 22) and 1 Cor 7.
  • When Christians do not love one another as they ought, much less their enemies, then they are scorned by others and the name of God blasphemed. (2 Clem 13)
  • The gender roles of Christ (male, bridegroom) and the Church (female, bride) is used to explain how the Church is spiritual, made manifest in the body of Christ. It also leans on typology, calling the flesh the type of the spirit that can be corrupted. (2 Clem 14)
  • Turning the heart of another toward Christ is a good work. (2 Clem 15; c.f. 1 Tim 4:16)
  • Taming the soul and doing good prepares one for judgment. (2 Clem 16-17; c.f. 1 Pt 4:4)
  • The righteous are rewarded, though not immediately and often without suffering. (2 Clem 19-20)

Homilies & Recognitions

  • The twenty homilies preserve Clement’s story in Greek. “Recognitions” is the same story, but the Greek is lost, translated into Latin by Rufinus (<AD 410). These documents may have originated from a common ancestor.
  • When time allows, I will post a summary of the story here.



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