Clemens, Titus Flavius
Clemens, Titus Flavius surnamed ALEXANDRINUS, was a native of either Athens or Alexandria, and flourished in the reigns of Severus and Caracalla (the date of his birth being placed about A.D. 160, and that of his death from A.D. 215 to 220). He was in early life an ardent student of literature and philosophy, especially of the Stoic and Platonic schools, and was led by his studies to Christianity. To master its history and doctrines he visited different countries, and received instruction from various masters, of whom he himself speaks thus: "Those vigorous and animated discourses which I was privileged to hear, and of blessed and truly remarkable men. Of these, the one in Greece, an Ionic; the other in Magna Graecia; the first of them from Coele-Syria, the second from Egypt, and others in the East. The one was born in the land of Assyria, and the other a Hebrew in Palestine. When I came upon the last (he was the first in power), having tracked him out concealed in Egypt, I found rest. He, the true, the Sicilian bee, gathering the spoil of the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow, engendered in the souls of his hearers a deathless element of knowledge" (Strom. lib. 1, ch. 1, p. 355, vol. 1, of translation in "Anti-Nicene Christian Library").
This last teacher was (according to Eusebius) Pantaenus, head of the catechetical school at Alexandria, by whose influence some suppose Clemens, as yet only a sincere inquirer, was led fully to embrace the Christian faith. He is called a presbyter by early Christian writers, having probably been appointed to that office by the Church at Alexandria, and about 190 became, according to some the assistant, according to others the successor to Pantaenus, when the latter set out on his missionary tour to the East. He continued in that office until the peisecution under Severus, A.D. 202, compelled him to leave Alexandria. The writers of the articles in Smith's Dict. of Greek and Romans Biog. and Mythol. and the New Amer. Cyclopedia state that Clemens returned to Alexandria before A.D. 211, and then became the master of the school as successor of Pantaenus; but the weight of authority favors the earlier date, and his return to that place is doubtful. We know scarcely anything of the closing years of his life. He appears to have been about 210 or 211 in Jerusalem, for he is mentioned by Eusebius (lib. 7, ch. 2) as the bearer of a letter from Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, then himself a prisoner for the Gospel's sake, to the Church at Antioch. This Alexander and the more famous Origen are reckoned among his pupils.
Of the early Christian writers, Clemens was the most learned in the history, philosophy, and science of the nations of his day, and the influence of his studies is apparent in his writings, which display rather the speculative philosopher than the accurate theologian — more the fanciful interpreter than the careful expounder of the Scriptures on true exegetical principles. Many of his works have been lost, but those extant are the largest belonging to that early period, and very valuable for the light they throw on the social condition of the Roman Empire in his day, and for the information which they contain in regard to the systems of ancient philosophy, the heresies and schisms in the primitive Church, as well as for the numerous extracts from non-extant authors. His three chief writings form a series, and were written apparently with a common object, viz. to convert the heathen and educate them in the principles and practice of the Christian life. They are, 1. λόγος προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς ῾Ελλῆνας, Cohortatio ad Hellenes (Appeal to the Greeks), an apologetic work, in which the absurdity, obscenity, cruelty, impostures, and sordidness of heathen worship are clearly set forth in contrast with the simplicity and purity of Christian faith and practice. 2. Παιδαγωγός, Pvedagogue (Instructor), a treatise on Christian education, in three books, addressed to those who had been converted from heathenism. In Book I we have set forth the function, the means, methods, and ends of the "Instructor," who is Christ, leading the believers "through paths of virtue and truth" to salvation, not through fear as he did the Israelites, but by love, the guiding principle of the new and better covenant. Book II contains rules for the regulation of life, embracing minute details as to food, drink, behavior, etc., recommending temperance, purity, modesty, and frugality. Book III begins with an examination of the grounds of true beauty, showing it to be intellectual, and founded on reason and love; then, in considering the various modes in which men have sought to add to beauty, strongly reprobates luxurious dress and living, etc. Its satire of the follies and vices of the times is caustic and humorous. 3. Στρωματεῖς or Στρώματα, in eight books, of which the eighth is lost (the imperfect treatise on logic, standing at present as such, belonging to some other work). The word stronmateis, meaning patch-work (opus varie contextum), is significant of the miscellaneous character of the work, which is discursive and unmethodical, and not unaptly likened by its author to "a thickly-planted mountain, where fruit and other trees are confusedly grouped together, so as to baffle the plunderer, while the careful husbandman would find and transplant in fitting order such as were desirable for fruit or ornament; so the mysteries of Christian faith, veiled herein from impertinent or ignorant curiosity, will discover their rich treasures to the honest and intelligent seeker of the truth" (Strom. lib. 7, p. 766, Potter's ed.). The object of the work is "to furnish materials for the construction of a true gnosis," or "Christian philosophy, on the basis of faith," for those who had been trained for it by the preceding works. Book I, of which the beginning is lost, descants on the utility of philosophy, as preparing the heathen for the reception of the Gospel, and Christians for the defense of their, faith, maintaining that the good in heathen philosophy was derived from the Hebrews. Book II treats first of faith and repentance, combating the errors of the Basilidians and Valentinians. asserts the freedom of man's will, and presents the views of different philosophers in regard to marriage, which Clemens defends on the grounds of the natural conformation of the sexes, the command of God (Ge 1:28), and the mutual aid in sickness and age rendered by husband and wife, and parents and children. In Book III, continuing the same subject, he condemns the opinions of the Marcionites, Carpocratians, and other heretics who opposed marriage for different and contradictory reasons, alleging in support of it the words of St Paul (1Ti 4:1-3), and the examples of the apostles Peter and Philip, who were married and had children. Book IV discourses of Christian perfection as exemplified in the Christian martyr, who is led to martyrdom not through fear of punishment or hope of reward hereafter, but from love to Christ, and who does not needlessly provoke his fate, but only accepts it cheerfully when called upon to be in that way a witness for the truth. The chief aim of Book V is to prove that the Greeks derived most of their wisdom from those called by them barbarians, and especially from Moses and the Hebrew prophets; but it also enters upon a long and interesting digression on the origin and use of symbols, and makes many valuable statements in regard to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the dress and ceremonial services of the Hebrew priests. This episode is one of the most curious relics of antiquity, and the book abounds in quotations from ancient authors. Books VI and VII portray the true Gnostic, the perfect Christian, who is presented as a "complete model of moral conduct," not so much desirous of living as of living rightly, controlling his passions and regulating his desires in conformity with the laws of Christ.
A small work, Τίς ὁ σωζόμενος πλούσιος; (What rich man may be saved?) is also attributed to Clemens. This treatise is an examination of the words of Christ (Mt 19:24; Lu 18:25), and aims to show that these words do not require the renunciation of worldly goods as a condition of salvation; that the disposition of the soul is the essential thing, and that riches may be the materials and instruments of good works for those who rightly use them.
The following works of Clemens are not extant (the fragments which have been collected are found in the edition of Potter, vol. ii, in Fabricius's Hippolytus at the end of vol. 2; and in Galland's Biblioth. Patr. and Migne's Patrologia): ῾Υποτυπώσεις; Περὶ τοῦ πάσχα; Περὶ Νηστείας; Περὶ καταλαλιᾶς; Προτρεπτικὸς εἰς ῾Υπομονήν; Κανὼν Ε᾿κκλησιαστικός; εἰς τὸν Προφήτην Α᾿μώς; Περὶ προνοίας; ςΟροι διαφόροι.Clemens refers to some other treatises as either written or intended to be written by him, but we have no mention of them elsewhere.
The first edition of the three principal works of Clemens was made by Petrus Victorius (Florence, 1550, fol.; a Latin translation in 1551). It was followed by an edition by Fr. Sylburg (Heidelberg, 1592, fol.). A Greek- Latin edition was published by D. Heinsius (Leyden, 1616, fol.; reprinted Paris, 1629, Paris, 1641, Cologne, 1688). The best edition of all the works of Clemens, genuine and doubtful, is that by the Anglican Bishop Potter (2 vols. fol. Oxford, 1715, with valuable notes and a commentary to Clemens by Gentianus Hervetus; reprinted at Venice, 1757, 2 vols. fol., and [without the notes and the commentary] by Oberholzer, at Wurzburg, 1778-79, 3 vols. 8vo). New editions are by Klotz (Leips. 1831-34, 4 vols. 8vo) and by Abbe Migne (in his Patrologia). An excellent translation in English of the Appeal, the Paedagogue, and the first book of the Stromateis (the remainder of the work to follow in a subsequent volume), is found in vol. 4 of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library (Edinb. 1867). — Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1, 205 et al.; Neander, Ch. Hist. 1, 691 sq., and Hist. Dogmas, 1, 63 et al.; Gieseler, Ch. Hist. per. 1, div. 2, chap. 3. § 62; Lardner, Works, vol. 2 (Lond. 1838, p 220-259; Clarke, Sac. Literature (N. Y. 1839), p. 109-118, Eusebius, Histor. Ecclesiastes lib. 5 et 6, Journal of Sacred Lit. Oct. 1852, p. 129; Reinkens, De Clemente Presbytero Alexandrino, Hommne, Scriptore, Philosopho, Theologo (Vratislav. 1851, 8vo); Hoefer Nouv. Biog. Genesis s.v.; Freppel, Clement d' Alexandrie (Paris, 1866); Kaye, Writings and Opinions of Clemens of Alexandria (Lond. 1835, 8vo).