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.

knowledge. It seems that he had also incorporated some of his personal ideas into the text. What claims and proposals about the text does the interpreter present? 6. preparation. 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. What skills. learning. knowledge. and so the Roman Church was in a natural position to speak authoritatively regarding the problems at the Corinthian Church. Geographically. It is not clear what he meant by “blending. 1. It is not like Paul’s letters to the Corinthians where he wrote a lot from his own convictions. What does this interpreter understand the task and goals of interpretation to be? 2. and processes does the interpreter employ in handling the text? 4. and life experiences about the issues they were facing. What actual assumptions. Corinth was a Roman colony. which left me a little wondering at .” With such a large amount of writings from other sources filling up the chapters. 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.” These are not congruent with the resurrection we read and understand in the Scriptures. 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. like the idea of “blending in everything” (37:4).BS905 History of Interpretation resurrection. mingled and “blended” into various points of the author’s letter. What is the role of the audience of the interpretation? How are the "consumers" of the exposition expected to respond? 5. and personal qualities does the interpreter seem to think are necessary for successful reading of the text? 3. ideas. the letter reads almost like a compilation of different people’s works. and the teachings and principles they should live by.

(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 3 . whether he could be quoting out of context for some of them.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. 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. the Apostles. or close to.

86). A Codex Alexandrinus 1 Clem. among whom Clement almost certainly was a (if not the) leading figure (see Church Order. but misleading with regard to the office. 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. letter sent from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth.1-6). 65. leadership seems to have been entrusted to a group of presbyters or bishops (the two terms appear to be synonymous in 1 Clement. does not appear to have existed in Rome at this time.4. Apparently some of the younger men in the congregation had provoked a revolt (this is the Roman view. 47. cf. 1059) or a conflict between house churches (Maier)—must remain hypotheses. 47.1) is an unlikely conjecture at best. or involved finances (Welborn 1992. the consul Titus Flavius Clemens (Lightfoot. 96–104). Origen’s claim that he is the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3 (Commentary on John 6.1. or heresy and orthodoxy (Bauer. Because details regarding the uprising are unavailable or not clear (due to restrictions imposed by the genre. The document known as 1 Clement is a late first-century A. cf. 1 Clement cf. The letter was written in response to a report (1 Clem. see 1 Clem.3]). because the position of monarchical bishop. cf. On the basis of literary and archeological evidence. the real point of the dispute cannot be discerned.15. to whom also are (wrongly) attributed several other documents. 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. Eusebius Hist. When news of this reached Rome (1 Clem. likely responsible for the document known as 1 Clement.36. 63.4 below). suggestions—for example. 44. 4. 47. The claim by Irenaeus (Haer. 2. 2.3.7) of trouble in Corinth. 3. Government). 3.3. 2. Nothing is known about his background (Jewish? pagan?) or age. in which case he functioned as the corresponding secretary of the Roman church.1. 3. Instead. Clement of Rome 1 Clement 2 Clement Other Clementine Writings 1.BS905 History of Interpretation CLEMENT OF ROME A 1.7). Occasion and Purpose. 1. compare .4. that it was a struggle between “Spirit and Order” (Campenhausen.1) that they took it upon themselves to write this letter and to dispatch mediators (1 Clem. Lightfoot hypothesizes that he was a freedman of the household of the emperor’s cousin.D.1) in an effort to restore peace and harmony to the Corinthian congregation.25-63).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. 1. late first-century Roman Christian leader.9. 2. Eccl.3. 3. 1 Clement.3 [8. Clement of Rome was a key leader of the Roman church during the last decade of the first century. 3.6. in the sense intended by Irenaeus. 39.3) that Clement was the third bishop of Rome after Peter may be correct with regard to the sequence. 2. Clement of Rome. It is possible that he is the Clement mentioned in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis.

one very much in keeping with contemporary examples. 1058. Before we draw any conclusions regarding the extent or depth of such influence.11. 2. the unity of style suggests a single writer (Jaubert. the last years of Domitian or the first of Nerva. “revolt” or “dissension” (1 Clem. circa. 1060) would not allow greater precision than sometime between 80 and 140. Principal Sources. are the standard stuff of secular rhetoric). 1. Dionysius and Hegesippus (Eusebius Hist. is promising. It seems clear that secular concepts and forms have deeply imbued the letter. 48. but the use of the letter by Polycarp of Smyrna establishes an upper limit of c. 20].g. 1 Clem. Since the purpose of such a work was to persuade or advise about a future course of action. Welborn (1984. indicating that the document was intended as a symbouleutic (i. this means the Septuagint c. Analysis from a sociological perspective. which were given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Clem.16. Literary and Rhetorical Aspects.1.4).3 seem to require a date subsequent to the late 60s">Correctly noting that the rhetorical language of 1 Clement 1.3. 37–40.g. though still tentative. 90). 46. in Bauer. in functional terms. Wilhelm-Hooijbergh) have not proven persuasive. 1. which are true. advisory).e. 2. 45. 195]) in acting on their own initiative is much debated. 96)? The answer often appears to depend on the modern reader’s ecclesiastical sympathies and estimation of human nature. 1 Clem. 63.BS905 History of Interpretation The motivation of those responsible (“the ‘social elite’ of the Roman congregations” [Jeffers. extols the benefits of the recommended course of action (e. 97. In 1 Clement 58. 4. Reading the “misfortunes and reversals” (1 Clem. As in secular examples. 1992.2) are a major authority for Clement. 44. or of a will to power (Bauer. 44–48. 25] or the theme of cosmic harmony [1 Clem.2 the readers are asked to “accept our advice” (symboulē). which often sought to resolve stasis..1-4). which suggests that Clement was attempting to legitimate a certain pattern of institutional leadership (Maier). The letter does not identify who wrote it.. 5–6) and passages like 1 Clem.. Welborn 1984.1). such as the phoenix [1 Clem.3-5 and 63.1 may not in fact refer to persecution. or deliberative letter. about (with dates).g. and most manuscripts identify as Clement of Rome. column e. and makes extensive use of examples (some of which. Is the document an expression of disinterested fraternal authority (Jaubert). If Clement is the writer. Suggestions of 69 or 70 (e. Old Testament. id est. Welborn 1992. a category widely discussed by ancient rhetoricians and to which 1 Clement closely conforms (van Unnik 1975. 120. 3.g. narrative was intentionally kept to a minimum (this accounts for sparsity of details about the specific problems in Corinth).1) of the Roman church as an allusion to recent persecution.The “Scriptures.22. 2.4. the range may be narrowed to the 90s. 95–97. that is . exempli gratia. the term is used a total of nine times) by an appeal to homonoia. or a service of love in the interest of the unity of the church (Lietzmann.1. 2. 4. 63. 2. The “appeal for peace and concord” (1 Clem. see Letters).e. Authorship. it will be useful to survey the question of sources more thoroughly. Date. warns about the consequences of wrong behavior (e.5. While it was sent on behalf of the entire church (so the subscription in the Coptic version). 11.2) indicates the theme of the letter. 3. 1059).7-9).4—6. Eccl.2. whom the earliest witnesses. 1992.5. “concord” (used fourteen times in the letter).1. 1 Clem.23. for example i.. the Neronian persecutions are an event of the past (1 Clem. the writer assigns blame (jealousy is a key problem. most date the letter c.

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.Early Christian tradition.. 13. Jaeger. The lives of the apostles and others. 20.g. see Jesus Traditions). Jaubert). 59.3. including trinitarian formulae (1 Clem.3.2. and the portrait of Peter and Paul (1 Clem. Koester.6b. 1 Clem.2.1-8.5).2b-17. citing Is 60:17 [LXX]. to the extent that Christian behavior is in many respects indistinguishable from traditional Jewish piety (Hagner. 30.6.5.). leads to a conclusion—“everything breathes [synpnei] together”—that reflects a Stoic cosmology (Sanders. 8.6. 46.2). 21.1. the portrait of cosmic harmony (1 Clem. 42. 19–23). 125). offer paradigmatic examples of proper Christian behavior and endurance. Secular. There are also prophecies about Jesus (e. 29. 62. In particular Clement finds in the Scriptures rules and models for conduct.In addition to scriptural and Christian sources of authority. pseudepigraphal and/or unidentified sources [1 Clem. probably had a collection of Pauline letters (estimates of its size range from four to ten). 291). 1 Clem. which Clement can quote at length (e. The Christianity of Clement and Greco-Roman Culture. and liturgical elements. was a third source of authority.12. 23. 47. which Paul also uses. The legend of the phoenix (1 Clem. 1 Clem.. or have they been shaped on a deeper level and become part of that understanding (Welborn 1992. and possibly Acts.Sayings of Jesus comprise a second source of authority. 22.7b-8. doxologies (e. 17. cf.1-4). 46. who makes explicit reference to 1 Corinthians (1 Clem. 5. 1. Words of Jesus. 1 Clem.. Interestingly. 26.5b) and “household codes” (1 Clem.g.3-5) and typological predictions. 30–31). 82–91. for example..1-12) is largely of Stoic origins. 2. and in 1 Clement 37. 58. see Canon). He seems to have known them via collections (either oral or written) shaped by catechetical interests. 64) and prayers (see especially 1 Clem. Moreover. 25.15-16). no less than OT heroes or an earlier generation of believers. 20. Clement in the same manner also utilizes secular sources. and the advantages of synkrasis. 35.1b-2. 37.3-7) is shaped in light of the ideal of the philosopher-athlete (Sanders. 11. 1 Clem. The phoenix.5.3). 12. 37. have been incorporated.3?] are also quoted.2— 61.1-5) is a source of divine revelation (1 Clem.2. not only of Jesus (e.3-7).7) but also early church order and offices (1 Clem.3. are the teachings of Jesus during his earthly ministry.6.6-8) have also been utilized freely. Clement considers parts of the OT to have been spoken by Jesus (e.g. LXX Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) OT Old Testament .5. 36. Early Christian Writings and Traditions. 1057)? At times it seems to be a matter of the former.5. 16. including catalogs of virtues (1 Clem. “blending” (1 Clem. especially Peter and Paul (1 Clem. he also knew Hebrews. however.7b-8. see Old Testament in the Apostolic Fathers). 2.4. 2. dependence on written Gospels cannot be demonstrated (Hagner. 64) or vices (1 Clem. 2. in a variety of forms. 43. 5.BS905 History of Interpretation (including the deutero-canonical books. At least as important.g. Clement.3-4. a model of proper Christian behavior. Traditional paraenetic material.1).1-3 the Roman army (a favorite topic of the Stoics) offers. James and/or 1 Peter (there is no indication that he viewed any of the above as “Scripture”.4)—are commonplaces of Greek philosophy. 46. 45. Even the metaphor of the body (1 Clem. the points drawn from this last example—the mutual dependency of great and small. 16. is largely used as an apologetic device on behalf of a fundamentally Christian understanding of the resurrection.g..

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. he seems far more comfortable with 1 Corinthians 14:40 (whose wording he cites) than 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (see Civil Authority. and at about the same time in Alexandria Didymus the Blind appears to have counted 1 Clement as part of his canon. moreover. 3. 49. which Clement has just defined as the opposite of factionalism (1 Clem. 11. Modern discussion has often been shaped by questions extrinsic to the document. This is not at all to say that he is not deeply Christian. which might threaten the present one. while in 1 Clement 60.23. and. His central theme of “concord.” is not in the text quoted. according to Eusebius. A Latin translation was made early on. it will be remembered.” for example. “and in the sight of our rulers.2. presents the ministry and death of Jesus more as confirmation of God’s constancy than as signs of an inbreaking kingdom.5). and more importantly. resurrection is a future event.5 [a tendentious expansion of 1 Cor 13]). indeed. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that at some points Clement has shaped his Christianity to fit his cultural values. But it is a Christianity of a specific sort. 79–80). A late fourth-century Syrian work. Moreover. 120). Clement makes it his central concern. lists 1 Clement and 2 Clement as part of the NT.2-4 a key point. 50. Clement’s point of view is fundamentally theocentric (van Unnik 1950. Worship). Arguments NT New Testament . 50. 173–83). At 1 Clement 48. It was held in high regard by later writers (Polycarp of Smyrna used it extensively as early as c. the Apostolic Canons. it is a largely non-apocalyptic Christianity that poses no threat to the present Roman social order and its values. but not forgiveness “through love” (1 Clem. The largely undeveloped christology.7. 184). see Roman Empire).6 does mention forgiveness. “without confusion.4). It is hard to imagine Clement coming into conflict with the Roman authorities as did Jesus. and his Christianity shines throughout the letter. 4. But despite the popularity of this document in antiquity. closely coincided with the imperial interests of the Roman state (and Corinth. It is found in some copies of the NT: in the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus it stands (with 2 Clement) right after Revelation.BS905 History of Interpretation and the military imagery is not without OT and Jewish parallels (Jaubert. Eccl. 2. in short. or getting arrested with Paul. He finds “concord” in the Ark (1 Clem. not a present reality (Bumpus. One may also note instances where Clement imports his agenda into scriptural texts (Derrett. however Stoic the context of 1 Clement 20. was a popular but non-scriptural norm which. and Clement of Alexandria cites it as Scripture. There is little mention of the inbreaking of a new age. 1 Clement was still being read in Corinth a half century later. he has been charged with buying wholesale into the imperial ideology and propaganda (Welborn 1992. utilizing intertestamental categories more than NT ones.16). the only complete one not being discovered until 1873. 1059.” The scriptural citation in 1 Clement 50. But at other points it appears that Clement’s Christianity is not merely illustrated but fundamentally shaped by Greco-Roman categories and conceptions.2). Whereas Paul had mocked the imperial slogan of “peace and security” (1 Thess 5:3). while Lot’s wife became salt because she lacked “concord” (1 Clem.2 there is the significant addition. Later Influence. it is not without Jewish parallels. and later Syriac and Coptic versions appeared. 670). for he is. was a Roman colony). only two Greek manuscripts have survived. whereas in Stoic use it is employed from an anthropocentric perspective. was read in many churches in his day (Eusebius Hist. 9.

exile. the letter does not command. it offers no evidence of a monarchical episcopate. 1 Clem. 40. but can only attempt to persuade.BS905 History of Interpretation about Roman primacy on the basis of the letter. 54.2) notwithstanding.. .g. let alone one to which other churches deferred. are undercut by the document itself: Rome’s uninvited intervention in Corinth’s affairs and its strong disciplinary recommendations (e. And while the letter does offer apparently the earliest reference to the laity as a distinct and separate category (1 Clem. for example.5).

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