BS905 History of Interpretation

Summary of “1 Clement” by Benson Goh date Sep 13, 2011 1 Clement is widely believed to be authored by Clement of Rome, one of the key leaders of the early Church in the late first century, very likely in the 90s. It was sent from the Church in Rome to the Church in Corinth, in response to problems of younger people revolting against and toppling the church leadership (1:1, 44:6; 57:1-2). The author(s) wrote it as a “deliberative letter,” or symbouleutic, to entreat the readers to take the advice given by them. This is evident in 58:2 when the writer wrote: “Accept our advice….” 1 Using this common literary tool in that time, the writer appealed to the church to stop their rebellion and submit to their appointed leaders, to “root out the unlawful anger of your jealousy,” and to live in peace and harmony (59:1; 63:2). The author saw his task of writing as that of reminding his readers what they knew very well, for in 53:1, he wrote: “For you know, and know well, the sacred scriptures, dear friends, and you have searched into the oracles of God. We write these things, therefore, merely as a reminder.” The letter is filled with quotations from the Old Testament, from the words of Jesus (13:1-2; 46:7-8), and references to the writings of other apostles and New Testament writers like Paul and Peter (5:1-7; 47:1-4). With regards to the Old Testament, the author maintained a high view of the Scripture, which in this case would be the Septuagint. This is seen in 45:2-3, which writes: “You have searched the Scriptures, which are true, which were given by the Holy Spirit; you know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them.” Throughout the letter, there are countless times he used the phrase, “For it is written,” or the like, to direct his point, and his readers’ focus, to what the Scripture said they ought to be and behave (3:1; 4:1; 13:3; 14:4; 28:2; 29:2; 34:6; 35:7; 36:3; 39:3; 42:5; 46:2; 48:2; 50:4,6; 56:3,5,6). Such usage of the authority of Scripture enabled him to press his point forward effectively. At some points, he also attributed some Old Testament passages to Christ as the One who said them (22:1-7). However, in contrast to the many Old Testament passages he had used, he seemed not to know what book or section it is from, for he often wrote, “For the Scripture says somewhere.” (28:2; 29:3; 42:5) It also consists of a number of secular analogies and rhetoric tools, like the story of the Phoenix to describe the resurrection of Christ (25:1-5), the harmony in the cosmic world and on earth that God had ordained as the Creator (20:1-12), the Roman army to encourage proper behavior (37:1-3), and the body concept to show the importance of unity (37:5). The last two are not new as other NT writers like Paul had also used these imageries to explain some Christian principles. The use of the phoenix, however, is particularly discomforting, especially when it was used as an analogy to the glorious resurrection of Christ. In 24:2-3, he talked about “the resurrection that regularly occurs,” and how the daily cycle of day and night “show us the 1Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, c1997). This source has been consulted through much of this summary as well.

ideas. the letter reads almost like a compilation of different people’s works. How does the social location and cultural context of the interpreter shape the exposition? Where/how does the interpreter reach beyond these horizons? Initial observations:  he did not elaborate or explain much further these texts. preparation. knowledge. What skills. like the idea of “blending in everything” (37:4). Corinth was a Roman colony. What actual assumptions. It is not clear what he meant by “blending. What is the role of the audience of the interpretation? How are the "consumers" of the exposition expected to respond? 5. and so the Roman Church was in a natural position to speak authoritatively regarding the problems at the Corinthian Church. What claims and proposals about the text does the interpreter present? 6.BS905 History of Interpretation resurrection. 1. knowledge. which left me a little wondering at . and the teachings and principles they should live by. Geographically. It is not like Paul’s letters to the Corinthians where he wrote a lot from his own convictions. learning. and processes does the interpreter employ in handling the text? 4.” With such a large amount of writings from other sources filling up the chapters. What does this interpreter understand the task and goals of interpretation to be? 2. and life experiences about the issues they were facing. mingled and “blended” into various points of the author’s letter.” These are not congruent with the resurrection we read and understand in the Scriptures. and personal qualities does the interpreter seem to think are necessary for successful reading of the text? 3. It seems that he had also incorporated some of his personal ideas into the text. It seems as though the author was using the many scriptural sources to substantiate and “give weights” to the point he was making at each juncture. This might be why the author had not developed much argument or debate of his own but had used a lot of trusted sources that the Corinthian church relied on to make his point.

whether he could be quoting out of context for some of them. (25.BS905 History of Interpretation     some point. evidence that 1 Clement has been widely read in many congregations in the first century Church: “ clement’s use of the story of the phoenix as an analogy of the resurrection of Christ. pg ) o where did clement get this story? o why did he use this story as analogy? o did he really believed it more than just a myth? o what points of similarity did he see in the text? o 3 . the Apostles. or close to. content mostly agree with the Christian principles and teachings found in the the OT and epistles – suspect that author could have once been tutored by someone of.

1059) or a conflict between house churches (Maier)—must remain hypotheses.1) in an effort to restore peace and harmony to the Corinthian congregation.6). 1 Clement.3) that Clement was the third bishop of Rome after Peter may be correct with regard to the sequence. On the basis of literary and archeological evidence. suggestions—for example. or involved finances (Welborn 1992. because the position of monarchical bishop. in the sense intended by Irenaeus. 2. letter sent from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth. 2.4. 2.3 [8. Government). Nothing is known about his background (Jewish? pagan?) or age. but misleading with regard to the office. in which case he functioned as the corresponding secretary of the Roman church. Eccl. When news of this reached Rome (1 Clem. the younger men no doubt defended their action in different and more positive terms) and succeeded in deposing the established leadership of the church (1 Clem. cf.3. 3.9. 3. It is possible that he is the Clement mentioned in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis.4. Clement of Rome was a key leader of the Roman church during the last decade of the first century. that it was a struggle between “Spirit and Order” (Campenhausen. 63.1) is an unlikely conjecture at best. cf. Occasion and Purpose.1) that they took it upon themselves to write this letter and to dispatch mediators (1 Clem. 39.36. 3. Lightfoot hypothesizes that he was a freedman of the household of the emperor’s cousin. see 1 Clem. 2. 44. likely responsible for the document known as 1 Clement. The document known as 1 Clement is a late first-century A. or heresy and orthodoxy (Bauer. leadership seems to have been entrusted to a group of presbyters or bishops (the two terms appear to be synonymous in 1 Clement.3. 1. Because details regarding the uprising are unavailable or not clear (due to restrictions imposed by the genre. 47.4 below). the consul Titus Flavius Clemens (Lightfoot. Origen’s claim that he is the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3 (Commentary on John 6. 44. A late romance (the Pseudo-Clementines) describing him as a noble Roman citizen connected with the family of the Caesars who was baptized and discipled by Peter is wholly legendary. 2. cf.6. The claim by Irenaeus (Haer. Eusebius Hist.1. 1 Clement cf.BS905 History of Interpretation CLEMENT OF ROME A 1. 47.1-6).7). does not appear to have existed in Rome at this time.3]). 4. Clement of Rome. The letter was written in response to a report (1 Clem. 86). 1. among whom Clement almost certainly was a (if not the) leading figure (see Church Order.D. the real point of the dispute cannot be discerned. 3. 65. 96–104). 3.25-63). Clement of Rome 1 Clement 2 Clement Other Clementine Writings 1.7) of trouble in Corinth. A Codex Alexandrinus 1 Clem. Instead.15. compare .1. late first-century Roman Christian leader. the leaders of the congregation there were sufficiently distressed by this breach of proper conduct and order and the damage it inflicted upon the reputation of the Corinthian church (1 Clem. Apparently some of the younger men in the congregation had provoked a revolt (this is the Roman view. to whom also are (wrongly) attributed several other documents.3. 47.

the Neronian persecutions are an event of the past (1 Clem. 4.4). this means the Septuagint c.5. circa. 96)? The answer often appears to depend on the modern reader’s ecclesiastical sympathies and estimation of human nature. narrative was intentionally kept to a minimum (this accounts for sparsity of details about the specific problems in Corinth). 63. Old Testament.4—6. Before we draw any conclusions regarding the extent or depth of such influence.g.g. Suggestions of 69 or 70 (e.. If Clement is the writer.11. 37–40. 1 Clem. 44–48. id est. most date the letter c. advisory). 2. which often sought to resolve stasis. which suggests that Clement was attempting to legitimate a certain pattern of institutional leadership (Maier).1. the term is used a total of nine times) by an appeal to homonoia. the range may be narrowed to the 90s. Wilhelm-Hooijbergh) have not proven persuasive. and makes extensive use of examples (some of which. 1060) would not allow greater precision than sometime between 80 and 140.1) of the Roman church as an allusion to recent persecution. is promising. 1992.. which were given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Clem. 95–97. Reading the “misfortunes and reversals” (1 Clem.7-9). 20]. for example i. While it was sent on behalf of the entire church (so the subscription in the Coptic version). 45. Dionysius and Hegesippus (Eusebius Hist. Literary and Rhetorical Aspects. the writer assigns blame (jealousy is a key problem. 1.5.g. Welborn 1984. 1.1. 3. 46. 2.16. in functional terms. 3. 2. 97. 25] or the theme of cosmic harmony [1 Clem. It seems clear that secular concepts and forms have deeply imbued the letter. 2. As in secular examples. or a service of love in the interest of the unity of the church (Lietzmann. the unity of style suggests a single writer (Jaubert. are the standard stuff of secular rhetoric). 90).3-5 and 63. Authorship. 1992.1 may not in fact refer to persecution. Principal Sources. 1059). such as the phoenix [1 Clem. 11. column e.22. 2. warns about the consequences of wrong behavior (e. the last years of Domitian or the first of Nerva. but the use of the letter by Polycarp of Smyrna establishes an upper limit of c. indicating that the document was intended as a symbouleutic (i.The “Scriptures. it will be useful to survey the question of sources more thoroughly. about (with dates).2. Eccl. which are true. 1 Clem. Is the document an expression of disinterested fraternal authority (Jaubert). 63. whom the earliest witnesses. see Letters). or deliberative letter. 1058. 5–6) and passages like 1 Clem.3... though still tentative. exempli gratia.1.2 the readers are asked to “accept our advice” (symboulē). 4. 195]) in acting on their own initiative is much debated. and most manuscripts identify as Clement of Rome. Welborn 1992.23. in Bauer.4. Welborn (1984. one very much in keeping with contemporary examples. In 1 Clement 58. or of a will to power (Bauer.3 seem to require a date subsequent to the late 60s">Correctly noting that the rhetorical language of 1 Clement 1.1-4). a category widely discussed by ancient rhetoricians and to which 1 Clement closely conforms (van Unnik 1975. “revolt” or “dissension” (1 Clem.e. 44. Since the purpose of such a work was to persuade or advise about a future course of action.e. 48.g.2) are a major authority for Clement. Analysis from a sociological perspective.1).BS905 History of Interpretation The motivation of those responsible (“the ‘social elite’ of the Roman congregations” [Jeffers. Date. 120. that is . The “appeal for peace and concord” (1 Clem. “concord” (used fourteen times in the letter). extols the benefits of the recommended course of action (e. 1 Clem. The letter does not identify who wrote it.2) indicates the theme of the letter.

including catalogs of virtues (1 Clem.3-4. James and/or 1 Peter (there is no indication that he viewed any of the above as “Scripture”. offer paradigmatic examples of proper Christian behavior and endurance. 59. are the teachings of Jesus during his earthly ministry. 46. 62.BS905 History of Interpretation (including the deutero-canonical books. Interestingly. Even the metaphor of the body (1 Clem.1-5) is a source of divine revelation (1 Clem. 42. probably had a collection of Pauline letters (estimates of its size range from four to ten). and the portrait of Peter and Paul (1 Clem. 46. 16.1-3 the Roman army (a favorite topic of the Stoics) offers. for example.3-5) and typological predictions.12.1).2b-17. The legend of the phoenix (1 Clem.5. Clement in the same manner also utilizes secular sources. 23. in a variety of forms. see Canon). Koester.Sayings of Jesus comprise a second source of authority.. 47. doxologies (e.7b-8. was a third source of authority. 25. 30–31).. which Clement can quote at length (e.. not only of Jesus (e. 21. “blending” (1 Clem.). 37. 43.1-4). is largely used as an apologetic device on behalf of a fundamentally Christian understanding of the resurrection.g. LXX Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) OT Old Testament . leads to a conclusion—“everything breathes [synpnei] together”—that reflects a Stoic cosmology (Sanders. The phoenix. to the extent that Christian behavior is in many respects indistinguishable from traditional Jewish piety (Hagner. citing Is 60:17 [LXX].6b. the portrait of cosmic harmony (1 Clem. There are also prophecies about Jesus (e. which Paul also uses. The Christianity of Clement and Greco-Roman Culture.g.3-7). cf. 64) or vices (1 Clem. 12. 37.In addition to scriptural and Christian sources of authority.1-8.3. 2. 5.5. 8. 35.2. 36.4. including trinitarian formulae (1 Clem. 125). In particular Clement finds in the Scriptures rules and models for conduct.g. 29. 22. Moreover.6. 20. however. 17.2— 61.5b) and “household codes” (1 Clem.7) but also early church order and offices (1 Clem. 1 Clem.7b-8.2.5. At least as important. 2. Jaeger. 2. 5. 13.4)—are commonplaces of Greek philosophy. no less than OT heroes or an earlier generation of believers. He seems to have known them via collections (either oral or written) shaped by catechetical interests. 1 Clem. Words of Jesus..1. 2.Early Christian tradition. he also knew Hebrews. 16.3. see Jesus Traditions). Traditional paraenetic material.g.15-16).6-8) have also been utilized freely. 11. 82–91. Clement considers parts of the OT to have been spoken by Jesus (e. The lives of the apostles and others.1-12) is largely of Stoic origins.6. and liturgical elements. 19–23). especially Peter and Paul (1 Clem. a model of proper Christian behavior.3?] are also quoted. 1 Clem. 26. have been incorporated. 1 Clem.3). see Old Testament in the Apostolic Fathers). Jaubert). 1. The extent to which Clement draws upon secular sources and the level of authority with which he invests them raises a fundamental question: are these elements part of the circumstantial means by which he expressed or illustrated his understanding of Christianity (van Unnik 1975. and in 1 Clement 37.3. Clement. 1057)? At times it seems to be a matter of the former.5). 291).3-7) is shaped in light of the ideal of the philosopher-athlete (Sanders. 1 Clem. 20. and the advantages of synkrasis. and possibly Acts. Early Christian Writings and Traditions.1b-2. 58. the points drawn from this last example—the mutual dependency of great and small.5. 64) and prayers (see especially 1 Clem.2)..g. or have they been shaped on a deeper level and become part of that understanding (Welborn 1992. dependence on written Gospels cannot be demonstrated (Hagner. 46. who makes explicit reference to 1 Corinthians (1 Clem. Secular. 30.6.2. 45. pseudepigraphal and/or unidentified sources [1 Clem.

50. whereas in Stoic use it is employed from an anthropocentric perspective. was a popular but non-scriptural norm which.5 [a tendentious expansion of 1 Cor 13]). He finds “concord” in the Ark (1 Clem.” is not in the text quoted. His central theme of “concord. presents the ministry and death of Jesus more as confirmation of God’s constancy than as signs of an inbreaking kingdom.6 does mention forgiveness. Clement’s point of view is fundamentally theocentric (van Unnik 1950. 1 Clement was still being read in Corinth a half century later. and. the only complete one not being discovered until 1873. 4. which might threaten the present one. Modern discussion has often been shaped by questions extrinsic to the document.23.BS905 History of Interpretation and the military imagery is not without OT and Jewish parallels (Jaubert. 11. but not forgiveness “through love” (1 Clem. A Latin translation was made early on. however Stoic the context of 1 Clement 20. moreover. At 1 Clement 48. and Clement of Alexandria cites it as Scripture. and more importantly. Arguments NT New Testament . and later Syriac and Coptic versions appeared. which Clement has just defined as the opposite of factionalism (1 Clem. But at other points it appears that Clement’s Christianity is not merely illustrated but fundamentally shaped by Greco-Roman categories and conceptions. according to Eusebius. only two Greek manuscripts have survived. and in a Syriac manuscript the two letters are found after the catholic letters (which is how 1 Clement is explicitly described) and before the Pauline letters. 3. But it is a Christianity of a specific sort. closely coincided with the imperial interests of the Roman state (and Corinth. see Roman Empire). It is hard to imagine Clement coming into conflict with the Roman authorities as did Jesus. “and in the sight of our rulers. lists 1 Clement and 2 Clement as part of the NT. It is found in some copies of the NT: in the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus it stands (with 2 Clement) right after Revelation.16). It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that at some points Clement has shaped his Christianity to fit his cultural values. or getting arrested with Paul. was read in many churches in his day (Eusebius Hist. 120).2-4 a key point. 173–83). But despite the popularity of this document in antiquity. it is a largely non-apocalyptic Christianity that poses no threat to the present Roman social order and its values. indeed. while Lot’s wife became salt because she lacked “concord” (1 Clem.” The scriptural citation in 1 Clement 50. in short. Clement makes it his central concern.2. 184).” for example. was a Roman colony). while in 1 Clement 60. he seems far more comfortable with 1 Corinthians 14:40 (whose wording he cites) than 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (see Civil Authority.5). for he is. it is not without Jewish parallels.2 there is the significant addition. One may also note instances where Clement imports his agenda into scriptural texts (Derrett. This is not at all to say that he is not deeply Christian. 79–80). and his Christianity shines throughout the letter.2). it will be remembered. Eccl. 50. 49. the Apostolic Canons. “without confusion. 670). and at about the same time in Alexandria Didymus the Blind appears to have counted 1 Clement as part of his canon. A late fourth-century Syrian work. not a present reality (Bumpus. Moreover.7. Later Influence. It was held in high regard by later writers (Polycarp of Smyrna used it extensively as early as c. resurrection is a future event. 2. Worship). The largely undeveloped christology. 1059. There is little mention of the inbreaking of a new age. utilizing intertestamental categories more than NT ones.4). he has been charged with buying wholesale into the imperial ideology and propaganda (Welborn 1992. 9. Whereas Paul had mocked the imperial slogan of “peace and security” (1 Thess 5:3).

the letter does not command. but can only attempt to persuade. And while the letter does offer apparently the earliest reference to the laity as a distinct and separate category (1 Clem. 54. let alone one to which other churches deferred. exile.BS905 History of Interpretation about Roman primacy on the basis of the letter. it offers no evidence of a monarchical episcopate. 1 Clem. 40. . are undercut by the document itself: Rome’s uninvited intervention in Corinth’s affairs and its strong disciplinary recommendations (e.5).2) notwithstanding..g. for example.

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