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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.

BS905 History of Interpretation

resurrection. These are not congruent with the resurrection we read and understand in the Scriptures. It seems that he had also incorporated some of his personal ideas into the text, like the idea of blending in everything (37:4). It is not clear what he meant by blending. With such a large amount of writings from other sources filling up the chapters, the letter reads almost like a compilation of different peoples works, mingled and blended into various points of the authors letter. 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. It is not like Pauls letters to the Corinthians where he wrote a lot from his own convictions, learning, and life experiences about the issues they were facing, and the teachings and principles they should live by. Geographically, Corinth was a Roman colony, and so the Roman Church was in a natural position to speak authoritatively regarding the problems at the Corinthian Church. 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.

1. What does this interpreter understand the task and goals of interpretation to be? 2. What skills, knowledge, preparation, and personal qualities does the interpreter seem to think are necessary for successful reading of the text? 3. What actual assumptions, ideas, knowledge, and processes does the interpreter employ in handling the text? 4. What is the role of the audience of the interpretation? How are the "consumers" of the exposition expected to respond? 5. What claims and proposals about the text does the interpreter present? 6. 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. which left me a little wondering at

BS905 History of Interpretation

some point, whether he could be quoting out of context for some of them. 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, or close to, the Apostles. evidence that 1 Clement has been widely read in many congregations in the first century Church: clements use of the story of the phoenix as an analogy of the resurrection of Christ. (25, 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

BS905 History of Interpretation

CLEMENT OF ROME
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late first-century Roman Christian leader, likely responsible for the document known as 1 Clement, to whom also are (wrongly) attributed several other documents. Clement of Rome 1 Clement 2 Clement Other Clementine Writings 1. Clement of Rome. Clement of Rome was a key leader of the Roman church during the last decade of the first century. 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. On the basis of literary and archeological evidence, Lightfoot hypothesizes that he was a freedman of the household of the emperors cousin, the consul Titus Flavius Clemens (Lightfoot, 1.25-63). The claim by Irenaeus (Haer. 3.3.3) that Clement was the third bishop of Rome after Peter may be correct with regard to the sequence, but misleading with regard to the office, because the position of monarchical bishop, in the sense intended by Irenaeus, does not appear to have existed in Rome at this time. Instead, leadership seems to have been entrusted to a group of presbyters or bishops (the two terms appear to be synonymous in 1 Clement; see 1 Clem. 44.1-6), among whom Clement almost certainly was a (if not the) leading figure (see Church Order, Government). It is possible that he is the Clement mentioned in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis. 2.4.3 [8.3]), in which case he functioned as the corresponding secretary of the Roman church. Origens claim that he is the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3 (Commentary on John 6.36; cf. Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.4.9; 3.15.1) is an unlikely conjecture at best. Nothing is known about his background (Jewish? pagan?) or age. 2. 1 Clement. The document known as 1 Clement is a late first-century A.D. letter sent from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth. 2.1. Occasion and Purpose. The letter was written in response to a report (1 Clem. 47.7) of trouble in Corinth. Apparently some of the younger men in the congregation had provoked a revolt (this is the Roman view; 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. 3.3; 44.6; 47.6). When news of this reached Rome (1 Clem. 47.7), 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. 1.1; cf. 39.1) that they took it upon themselves to write this letter and to dispatch mediators (1 Clem. 63.3; 65.1) in an effort to restore peace and harmony to the Corinthian congregation. Because details regarding the uprising are unavailable or not clear (due to restrictions imposed by the genre; cf. 2.4 below), the real point of the dispute cannot be discerned; suggestionsfor example, that it was a struggle between Spirit and Order (Campenhausen, 86), or heresy and orthodoxy (Bauer, 96104), or involved finances (Welborn 1992, 1059) or a conflict between house churches (Maier)must remain hypotheses. A Codex Alexandrinus 1 Clem. 1 Clement cf. compare

BS905 History of Interpretation

The motivation of those responsible (the social elite of the Roman congregations [Jeffers, 195]) in acting on their own initiative is much debated. Is the document an expression of disinterested fraternal authority (Jaubert), or of a will to power (Bauer, 97; Welborn 1992, 1059), or a service of love in the interest of the unity of the church (Lietzmann, in Bauer, 96)? The answer often appears to depend on the modern readers ecclesiastical sympathies and estimation of human nature. Analysis from a sociological perspective, which suggests that Clement was attempting to legitimate a certain pattern of institutional leadership (Maier), though still tentative, is promising. 2.2. Date. Reading the misfortunes and reversals (1 Clem. 1.1) of the Roman church as an allusion to recent persecution, most date the letter c. 9597, the last years of Domitian or the first of Nerva. Suggestions of 69 or 70 (e.g., Wilhelm-Hooijbergh) have not proven persuasive; the Neronian persecutions are an event of the past (1 Clem. 56) and passages like 1 Clem. 44.3-5 and 63.3 seem to require a date subsequent to the late 60s">Correctly noting that the rhetorical language of 1 Clement 1.1 may not in fact refer to persecution, Welborn (1984, 3740; 1992, 1060) would not allow greater precision than sometime between 80 and 140, but the use of the letter by Polycarp of Smyrna establishes an upper limit of c. 120. If Clement is the writer, the range may be narrowed to the 90s. 2.3. Authorship. The letter does not identify who wrote it. While it was sent on behalf of the entire church (so the subscription in the Coptic version), the unity of style suggests a single writer (Jaubert, 90), whom the earliest witnesses, Dionysius and Hegesippus (Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 4.23.11; 3.16; 4.22.1), and most manuscripts identify as Clement of Rome. 2.4. Literary and Rhetorical Aspects. In 1 Clement 58.2 the readers are asked to accept our advice (symboul), indicating that the document was intended as a symbouleutic (i.e., advisory), or deliberative letter, a category widely discussed by ancient rhetoricians and to which 1 Clement closely conforms (van Unnik 1975, 11; Welborn 1984, 4448; 1992, 1058; see Letters). The appeal for peace and concord (1 Clem. 63.2) indicates the theme of the letter, one very much in keeping with contemporary examples, which often sought to resolve stasis, revolt or dissension (1 Clem. 1.1, 63.1; the term is used a total of nine times) by an appeal to homonoia, concord (used fourteen times in the letter). Since the purpose of such a work was to persuade or advise about a future course of action, narrative was intentionally kept to a minimum (this accounts for sparsity of details about the specific problems in Corinth). As in secular examples, the writer assigns blame (jealousy is a key problem, 1 Clem. 3.46.4), warns about the consequences of wrong behavior (e.g., 1 Clem. 46.7-9), extols the benefits of the recommended course of action (e.g., 1 Clem. 48.1-4), and makes extensive use of examples (some of which, such as the phoenix [1 Clem. 25] or the theme of cosmic harmony [1 Clem. 20], are the standard stuff of secular rhetoric). 2.5. Principal Sources. It seems clear that secular concepts and forms have deeply imbued the letter. Before we draw any conclusions regarding the extent or depth of such influence, it will be useful to survey the question of sources more thoroughly. 2.5.1. Old Testament.The Scriptures, which are true, which were given by the Holy Spirit (1 Clem. 45.2) are a major authority for Clement; in functional terms, this means the Septuagint c. circa, about (with dates); column e.g. exempli gratia, for example i.e. id est, that is

BS905 History of Interpretation

(including the deutero-canonical books; pseudepigraphal and/or unidentified sources [1 Clem. 8.3; 17.6; 23.3-4; 46.2; 29.3?] are also quoted.). In particular Clement finds in the Scriptures rules and models for conduct, to the extent that Christian behavior is in many respects indistinguishable from traditional Jewish piety (Hagner, 125). There are also prophecies about Jesus (e.g., 1 Clem. 16.2b-17; 36.3-5) and typological predictions, not only of Jesus (e.g., 1 Clem. 12.7) but also early church order and offices (1 Clem. 42.5, citing Is 60:17 [LXX]; see Old Testament in the Apostolic Fathers). 2.5.2. Words of Jesus.Sayings of Jesus comprise a second source of authority. Interestingly, Clement considers parts of the OT to have been spoken by Jesus (e.g., 1 Clem. 22.1-8; 16.15-16). At least as important, however, are the teachings of Jesus during his earthly ministry, which Clement can quote at length (e.g., 1 Clem. 13.1b-2; 46.7b-8; see Jesus Traditions). He seems to have known them via collections (either oral or written) shaped by catechetical interests; dependence on written Gospels cannot be demonstrated (Hagner; Koester, 291). 2.5.3. Early Christian Writings and Traditions.Early Christian tradition, in a variety of forms, was a third source of authority. Clement, who makes explicit reference to 1 Corinthians (1 Clem. 47.1-4), probably had a collection of Pauline letters (estimates of its size range from four to ten); he also knew Hebrews, and possibly Acts, James and/or 1 Peter (there is no indication that he viewed any of the above as Scripture; see Canon). The lives of the apostles and others, especially Peter and Paul (1 Clem. 5.3-7), offer paradigmatic examples of proper Christian behavior and endurance. Traditional paraenetic material, including catalogs of virtues (1 Clem. 62.2; 64) or vices (1 Clem. 30.1; 35.5b) and household codes (1 Clem. 1.3; 21.6-8) have also been utilized freely, and liturgical elements, including trinitarian formulae (1 Clem. 46.6; 58.2), doxologies (e.g., 1 Clem. 20.12; 43.6b; 45.7b-8; 64) and prayers (see especially 1 Clem. 59.2 61.3), have been incorporated. 2.5.4. Secular.In addition to scriptural and Christian sources of authority, Clement in the same manner also utilizes secular sources. The legend of the phoenix (1 Clem. 25.1-5) is a source of divine revelation (1 Clem. 26.1); the portrait of cosmic harmony (1 Clem. 20.1-12) is largely of Stoic origins; and in 1 Clement 37.1-3 the Roman army (a favorite topic of the Stoics) offers, no less than OT heroes or an earlier generation of believers, a model of proper Christian behavior. Moreover, the points drawn from this last examplethe mutual dependency of great and small, and the advantages of synkrasis, blending (1 Clem. 37.4)are commonplaces of Greek philosophy. Even the metaphor of the body (1 Clem. 37.5), which Paul also uses, leads to a conclusioneverything breathes [synpnei] togetherthat reflects a Stoic cosmology (Sanders, 8291; Jaeger, 1923), and the portrait of Peter and Paul (1 Clem. 5.3-7) is shaped in light of the ideal of the philosopher-athlete (Sanders, 3031). 2.6. The Christianity of Clement and Greco-Roman Culture. 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, 11; cf. Jaubert), or have they been shaped on a deeper level and become part of that understanding (Welborn 1992, 1057)? At times it seems to be a matter of the former. The phoenix, for example, is largely used as an apologetic device on behalf of a fundamentally Christian understanding of the resurrection, LXX Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) OT Old Testament

BS905 History of Interpretation

and the military imagery is not without OT and Jewish parallels (Jaubert, 7980). Moreover, however Stoic the context of 1 Clement 20, it is not without Jewish parallels, and more importantly, whereas in Stoic use it is employed from an anthropocentric perspective, Clements point of view is fundamentally theocentric (van Unnik 1950, 184). But at other points it appears that Clements Christianity is not merely illustrated but fundamentally shaped by Greco-Roman categories and conceptions. His central theme of concord, for example, was a popular but non-scriptural norm which, moreover, closely coincided with the imperial interests of the Roman state (and Corinth, it will be remembered, was a Roman colony). Whereas Paul had mocked the imperial slogan of peace and security (1 Thess 5:3), Clement makes it his central concern; indeed, he has been charged with buying wholesale into the imperial ideology and propaganda (Welborn 1992, 1059; see Roman Empire). One may also note instances where Clement imports his agenda into scriptural texts (Derrett, 670). He finds concord in the Ark (1 Clem. 9.4), while Lots wife became salt because she lacked concord (1 Clem. 11.2). At 1 Clement 48.2-4 a key point, without confusion, is not in the text quoted, while in 1 Clement 60.2 there is the significant addition, and in the sight of our rulers. The scriptural citation in 1 Clement 50.6 does mention forgiveness, but not forgiveness through love (1 Clem. 50.5), which Clement has just defined as the opposite of factionalism (1 Clem. 50.2, 49.5 [a tendentious expansion of 1 Cor 13]). It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that at some points Clement has shaped his Christianity to fit his cultural values. This is not at all to say that he is not deeply Christian, for he is, and his Christianity shines throughout the letter. But it is a Christianity of a specific sort. The largely undeveloped christology, utilizing intertestamental categories more than NT ones, presents the ministry and death of Jesus more as confirmation of Gods constancy than as signs of an inbreaking kingdom; resurrection is a future event, not a present reality (Bumpus, 17383). There is little mention of the inbreaking of a new age, which might threaten the present one; in short, it is a largely non-apocalyptic Christianity that poses no threat to the present Roman social order and its values. It is hard to imagine Clement coming into conflict with the Roman authorities as did Jesus, or getting arrested with Paul; he seems far more comfortable with 1 Corinthians 14:40 (whose wording he cites) than 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (see Civil Authority; Worship). 2.7. Later Influence. 1 Clement was still being read in Corinth a half century later, and, according to Eusebius, was read in many churches in his day (Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 4.23; 3.16). It was held in high regard by later writers (Polycarp of Smyrna used it extensively as early as c. 120), and Clement of Alexandria cites it as Scripture. It is found in some copies of the NT: in the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus it stands (with 2 Clement) right after Revelation, 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. A Latin translation was made early on, and later Syriac and Coptic versions appeared. A late fourth-century Syrian work, the Apostolic Canons, lists 1 Clement and 2 Clement as part of the NT, and at about the same time in Alexandria Didymus the Blind appears to have counted 1 Clement as part of his canon. But despite the popularity of this document in antiquity, only two Greek manuscripts have survived, the only complete one not being discovered until 1873. Modern discussion has often been shaped by questions extrinsic to the document. Arguments NT New Testament

BS905 History of Interpretation

about Roman primacy on the basis of the letter, for example, are undercut by the document itself: Romes uninvited intervention in Corinths affairs and its strong disciplinary recommendations (e.g., exile, 1 Clem. 54.2) notwithstanding, 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. 40.5), it offers no evidence of a monarchical episcopate, let alone one to which other churches deferred.