Good Question...were the Apostolic Fathers unable to distinguish between authentic and unauthentic books?
(Part Two: Created August 28, 1998)
Continuing from Part One...
In the last piece, we saw that the answer to Part One of this question:
1. Was Clement even awareof the NT documents, and, if so, was he aware of the written formof the NT documents, especially the Gospels?
...was a decided "YES", and so we move on to the next Part of the question:
2. What was his attitude towardthe NT material? Was he influenced by it, did he consider it authoritative, was it on a par with the OT? What does his usage patterns tell us?The first step is to establish a methodology for determining the answer to this question. We might look for things like:
1. Are there any explicit comments about the NT materials?
Let's see what we can glean from the data in each one of these areas...
2. Does he mix OT and NT allusions/connections indiscriminately?
3. Does he use the same or similar introductory phrases?
4. Does he seem to appeal to it as authoritative (or at least the allusions/connections as being 'binding')?
5. How much from each testament does he "use", and what implications from this might we be warranted in drawing?
1. Are there any explicit comments about the NT materials?
First, we note (as does the questioner) that the words of Jesus are put on a par with the OT Scriptures.
This is clear from a number of passages:
Second, the apostles are compared to Moses, and the apostolic teaching to the written Mosaic Law.
In 1CL 2.1, we see that Christ's words are God's words: "Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it, and were more willing to give than to receive. Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes."
In 1CL 13, we have already seen that Christ's words were written, and are put on a par with the OT "holy word" at the end of the passage as well: "Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit saith, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man Story in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness" ), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: "Be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you ; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you." By this precept and by these rules let us establish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word saith, "On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembleth at My words? "
In 1CL 22.1f, Christ is said to have authored a Psalm, through the Holy Spirit: "Now the faith which is in Christ confirms all these [admonitions]. For He Himself by the Holy Ghost thus addresses us: "Come, ye children, hearken unto Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord..."
This is apparent from the argument in 43-44. In 43, Moses is held up as a source of teaching, which is the target of sedition:
"And what wonder is it if those in Christ who were entrusted with such a duty by God, appointed those [ministers] before mentioned, when the blessed Mosesalso, "a faithful servant in all his house," noted down in the sacred books all the injunctionswhich were given him, and when the other prophets also followed him, bearing witness with one consent to the ordinanceswhich he had appointed? For, when rivalry arose concerning the priesthood...What think ye, beloved? Did not Moses know beforehandthat this would happen?"And in 44, the pattern is applied to the Apostles:
"Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect foreknowledgeof this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions,
[EXCURSUS--"Levels" of inspiration:
It should be remembered, that for all the attempts of Clement to derive the authority of the deposed elders/bishops from the Apostolic authority, he nonetheless recognized some uniqueness of the apostles. Their teaching, via the Holy Spirit, was still qualitativelydifferent. This can be seen in three ways.
Third, there is the explicit mention of Paul's letter to the Corinithians in 47.1:
1. He sets up their direct link to Christ in 42: "The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe" (notice they did NOT set up 'apostles', but rather 'bishops and deacons')
2. Peter and Paul are distinguished in chapter 5 from other saints in chapter 6. After eulogizing the OT saints in chapter 4, Clement introduces the apostles in chapter 5 thus: "But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles." In chapter 6, in which he moves on to "regular" martyrs, he distinguishes them from the apostles: "To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect..."
3. The apostles are likewise given a higher status in chapter 47: "Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved."
This impacts our study here only slightly. The Fathers (like teachers today) will claim to speak God's words and/or to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, but only in what might be called a "local only impact zone". In other words, the inspiration of the Apostles was of a higher order, and hence of usefulness to the Church Global (and hence, canonized), whereas the latter teachers' inspiration was designed only for a local community or local issue.
Clement is no exception to this. He can claim to speak the words of God (59.1: "what God has told them through us") and that his epistle was prompted/written though the Holy Spirit (63.2). But it is clear that he considered the Apostolic authority to be significantly greater than his own--indeed, on a par with the OT authority (see below). END EXCURSUS]
"Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Upon (epi) true (aletheias) Spirit-inspiration (pneumatikos), he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you"
Although we cannot press this too far, given the differential between Patristic authority and Apostolic authority, this amounts to a high claim of 'biblical inspiration.' Indeed, the standard Greek lexicon of the period (BAG, s.v. "pneumatikos") translates this as " full of the (divine) Spirit, he wrote to you".
However, the fact that this argument from Paul is used immediately after the words of Jesus in 1CL46, lends credence to the idea that Clement saw the epistle as quite authoritative and binding upon his audience.
So, in this first aspect--explicit mention--we see that:
(1) Jesus is put on a par with the OT;
This would strongly suggest that the NT documents were understood as 'inspired' by Clement.
(2) the Apostles (and their instructions) are put on a par with Moses (and his instructions--the Mosaic Law);
(3) Paul's epistle is accorded very, very high authority, and is used in argument along ide the words of Jesus.
2. Does he mix OT and NT allusions/connections indiscriminately?
Here we want to look at the patterns of conflations
Let's consider a couple of passages:
Let's look first at 1CL 27, and lay out the possible connections, phrase-by-phrase.
- "Having then this hope" (NT, 2 Cor 3.12, "Having therefore such a hope")
- "let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises (NT, Heb 10.23, "for He who promised is faithful")
- "and just in His judgments. (OT, Psalms 119.24 , passim, "Thy judgments are righteous")
- " He who has commanded us not to lie" (NT, Col 3.9, "Do not lie to one another"; the OT uses a different word, the legal 'false witness', for this in LXX...this verb/command ONLY occurs in the NT)
- "shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God" (NT, Lk 1.37, passim, "For nothing will be impossible with God")
- "except to lie" (NT, Tit 1.2,"which God, who cannot lie" and Heb 6.18, "it is impossible for God to lie")
- "Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us (NT, 2 Pet 3.1, "I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder")
- "and let us consider that all things are nigh unto Him. (OT, Jer 23.24 and Ps 139.7-12)
- "By the word of His might He established all things (NT, 2 Pet 3.5-7, "by the word of God the heavens existed", and maybe Gen 1?)
- "and by His word He can overthrow them." (NT, 2 Pet 3.5-7, pre-flood earth destroyed by Word & water; by Word reserved for future judgment)
- "Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or, Who shall resist the power of His strength? " (OT, the first part of this matches the LXX of Wisdom of Solomon 12.12, which itself is dependent on Job 36.23 and word-for-word on Dan 4.35)
- "When and as He pleases He will do all things" (OT, many sovereignty passages; but may be dep. On Eph 1.11, "who works all things after the counsel of His own will", or, in context, reflecting on 2 Peter's "patience" motif)
- "and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away" (NT is closest here, Matt 24.35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away")
- "All things are open before Him, and nothing can be hidden from His counsel." (NT, probably closest to Heb 4.13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do", but could also be reflecting Ps 139, as the Hebrews passage is)
- "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. And there are no words or speeches of which the voices are not heard." (OT quote from Ps 19.1-3, no intro formula).
The thing to notice here is that 1CL mixes indiscriminately--without ANY markers, formulae, or "clues"--OT quotes (Ps 19, Dan 4.35), OT allusions (Ps 139, Ps 119), NT quotes (Lk 1.37, Heb4.13; 6.18), and NT allusions (2 Peter 3; Col 3.9). This argues quite strongly that 1CL made no distinctions in authority, teaching appropriateness, and 'inspiration' between the OT and NT.
I might also point out that the comment in 27.2 ("He commanded us not to lie"), if indeed a reference to Col 3.9 and the related NT passages--instead of the more remote OT passages bearing on 'false witness'--makes God the author of Paul's epistle to the Colossians! This would represent inspiration at the same level (e.g., dual authorship) of the OT Scripture.
To show that this is not an isolated phenomena, let's look at another passage in this same way, 1CL 34:
- "The good servant receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. (none apparent)
- "It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; (NT, Titus 3.8,passim, "those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds" or 2 Thess 3.13, "do not grow weary of doing good" )
- "for of Him are all things." (NT, Rom 11.36, passim, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things")
- "And thus He forewarns us:" (Notice that the following quote is intro'd by this forumula)
- "Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work." (OT and maybe NT; the margins of Loeb and ECF list this as a conflation of Is 40.10; 62.11; Rom 24.12; Rev 22.12; [Hagner believes the 'short, but striking' phrase match with Revelation is not enough to include it in the conflation, but too quickly assumes the presence of yet another tradition or catechesis.])
- "He exhorts us, therefore, if we believe on him with our whole heart, not to be lazy or careless 'in every good work.'" (NT, notice this is slightly closer to the Titus passages, esp the 'believer' clause in 3.8--"that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds"--and the final phrase is generally acknowledged as a quote from Titus 3.1)
- "Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him." (probably NT, Cor 1.31, with echoes of the Jeremiah passage that Paul draws upon)
- "Let us submit ourselves to His will. (NT, closest matches are Heb 12.9--"subject to the Father of spirits" and Jas 4.7--"submit yourselves to God")
- " Let us consider the whole multitude of His angels, how they stand ever ready to minister to His will. For the Scripture saith," (Note that the following quote is intro'd by "the Scripture says")
- "Ten thousand times ten thousand stood around Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him, and cried, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the Lord of Sabaoth; the whole creation is full of His glory." [OT, unmarked conflation of Dan 7.10 and Is 6.3; though we have earlier noticed how this passage was definitely influenced by the passage in Revelation.]
- "And let us therefore, conscientiously gathering together in harmony, cry to Him earnestly, as with one mouth" (NT, Rom 15.6, "that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ")
- "that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious promises" (NT, 2 Pet 1.4, For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature)
- "For He saith, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which He hath prepared for them that wait for Him." (Both? This is almost verbatim from 1 Cor 2.9, which itself is based on Is 64.4. We have seen earlier that this was a very clear case where 1CL was influenced by the literary form of the NT, but we cannot be sure that he is actually quoting Paul under the "He saith" or merely Isaiah.)
Notice that you have NT and OT connections intermingled here, but also notice something strange about the citation formulae:
Number Two above indicates that 1CL could introduce NT texts with a 'high inspiration' intro formula!
- "And thus He forewarns us" introduces a conflation of OT, and possible one NT, passages.
- "He exhorts us" introduces a conflation of NT quotes, taken from Titus et. al.
- "For the Scripture says" introduces a conflation of OT quotes, but definitely influenced by the NT.
- "For He says" introduces a verbatim quote from the NT, but which is probably meant to be from the OT.
Let's consider one final passage, 1CL 38. (here I will omit material without close parallel/connection)
- "Let our whole body, then, be preserved in, Christ Jesus;" (NT, obviously I Cor 12, the body-motif already discussed by 1CL in the immediately preceding passage)
- "and let every one be subject to his neighbour," (NT, Eph 5.21, "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ")
- "according to the special gift bestowed upon him" (NT, 1 Pet 4.10, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another")
- "Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect unto the strong" (NT, Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8)
- "Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; (NT, 1 Tim 6.18, "instruct the rich to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share")
- "and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his need may be supplied." (NT, 2 Cor 4.15, passim, "spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God")
- "Let the wise man display his wisdom, not by [mere] words, but through good deeds." (NT, Jas 3.13, "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom")
- "Let the humble not bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another." (OT, Prov 27.2, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.")
- "Let him that is pure in the flesh not grow proud of it, and boast, knowing that it was another who bestowed on him the gift of continence." (NT, 1 Cor 4.7, "And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" and 7.7, "Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that")
The main thing to notice here is that embedded in the middle of a string of NT allusions is an OT allusion--without marker or discriminating clues, and the string finishes up with an OT cite, rounded out with some verbiage from the NT. It looks as if 1CL made no practical distinction between his use of the OT and his use of the NT.
- "Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were made,-who and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulchre, and from utter darkness. He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world. Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (OT, Psalm 139, with an closing benediction from Pauline epistles).
So, from the survey of three passages, we have gleaned:
- 1CL treats OT quotes, OT allusions, NT quotes, NT allusions all as peers, relative to authority and inspiration;
- 1CL may hold to a very high inspiration of the Pauline epistles, if 27.2 is referring to Col 3.9;
- 1CL introduces a conflation from Titus with a high formula ("He exhorts us")
- 1CL can use OT allusions within strings of NT allusions without having to mark them out as 'different'
Thus, the pattern of usage of 1CL in mixed passages indicates no distinction between OT and NT material.
3. Does he use the same or similar introductory phrases?
Here we want to see if any of the introductory phrases, which we saw applied to the OT, also occur in front of NT connections.
The first thing to note is that almost half of the OT connections have no introduction at all, and that we have identified (in part One) several NT connections that fell into the same pattern.
The second thing to note is that we could probably find introductory formulas applied to NT material, if we looked more at the 'closer parallels' than simply assuming a direct OT background. We saw specifically (above, for example):
To this we could certainly add the epithet "commandments of God/the Lord", for in chapters one and two of 1CL, he describes their faithfulness to a string of NT injunctions, and then twice says they were obedient to the "commandments of God/the Lord":
- Jesus' words from the Synoptics were said to be "written" and "instructions to do"
- The conflation from Titus was introduced with "He exhorts us"
- The passage in 27.2, likely referring to Col 3.9, uses a high intro: "God commanded us..."
"For who ever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established? Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind; ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion. (from 1CL 1)Even a cursory glance at the above will reveal a mass of NT 'specialty' motifs, all subsumed under the rubric of "the commandments of" God or the Lord. This not only demonstrates the divine authority of the NT motifs, but even the God-originated character of them. In short, they were inspired at the 'commandments level' (i.e., Moses)!
"Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it, and were more willing to give than to receive. Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all. Full of holy designs, ye did, with true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence, stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, beseeching Him to be merciful unto you, if ye had been guilty of any involuntary transgression. Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood, that the number of God's elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience. Ye were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. Ye mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own. Ye never grudged any act of kindness, being "ready to every good work." Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, ye did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lordwere written upon the tablets of your hearts.(chapter two)
The third thing to note is that the word "scripture" is not applied to it, but this is of little practical import. Given that NT connections are "written", "commandments of the Lord", "commandments of God", and God-authored (e.g., "God exhorts us..."), the lack of applying the word 'scripture' to them is apparently only a historical note. That those closest to the activity of the Spirit (e.g., Paul and Peter) could recognize the NT material as 'scripture' counts more than the lack of use of the term in Clement's writing. [I personally suspect that the term was merely a traditional-use term, for the 'venerable' scrolls of the Tanakh/OT, which were in less circulation than the more 'common' codex-forms of most of the NT documents. Eventually, as we shall see, even this traditional usage gave way to the sheer power of the NT to impress upon its readers the divine character of its docs.]
Hagner understands this lack of attribution of "scripture" to the apostolic writings as being a non-issue. He discusses the several factors which probably contributed to this phenomena, but consistently points out that they were treated as being as authoritative as the OT writings. So HI:UONTCL:341, 343]:
"How are we to account for the fact that these apostolic writings did not immediately take their place beside the OT as 'Scripture'? In view of the high authority ascribed by Clement and the Apostolic Fathers to Christ and the Apostles, it is wrong to suggestthat the words and writings of the latter were regarded as inferior to the OT Scriptures in authority. The explanation seems to lie in a complex of attendant circumstances, rather than in any deficiency of intrinsic merit."So, the intro formulas seem to indicate a parity between the OT and NT documents (despite the lack of using the word 'scripture').
"A very important reason...for the reluctance to refer to apostolic writings as 'Scripture' is simply that it had not become customary to do so. The term 'Scripture' and the formula 'It is written' were convenient for reference to a more or less clearly defined body of writings which the Church had inherited from Judaism. Despite the acknowledged authority of the apostolic writings--an authority which at least implicitly equaled that of the OT--it was no small innovation to apply the title to the newer writings, thereby going against traditionalusage. Moreover, since these writings bore the authority of Christ, it is quite possible that in the early Church no need was felt for designating them 'Scripture'--and no advantage either, since the Jews would simply dispute the claim. Accordingly, the impetus for such designation may well have been lacking, at least prior to the time of Marcion."
4. Does he seem to appeal to it as authoritative (or at least the allusions/connections as being 'binding')?
This we have already noted above, esp. in regards to (a) the introductory formula and (b) the pattern of weaving OT and NT connections together into single arguments.
We might also note here the intermingling of OT and NT in the great argument form of 1CL 46-47. In this section, Clement uses the following warrants:
- 46.1-4: OT citations, using "it is written" and "it says in another place"
- 46.5-7: NT allusions and semi-cites, from Ephesians and Romans
- 46.7-9: Words of Jesus (from synoptic material)
- 47.1-3: Appeal to the "epistle" of Paul, 'truly inspired'.
This mingling of material, in such a short section of argument, can leave no doubt that they all are cut from the same cloth--the OT, the gospel material, and the NT apostolic writings.
What we keep seeing, is that the very texture of 1CL reveals the high status accorded to the NT writings, and its usage in authoritative contexts and conflation illustrate this quite clearly.
5. How much from each testament does he "use", and what implications from this might we be warranted in drawing?
There are essentially two points to look at here.
First we need to note the massive amount of NT material in 1CL. In part One, I had built a table of OT citations/connections (111 or so), and the same thing for NT connections (200+). Given this mix of material, in a book roughly the size of 1 Corinthians or Romans, we should be careful in drawing any contrasts between Clement's attitudes to the OT and to the NT. Citation formulae aside, the very intermingled usage is clear in its import.
But the second point is the one raised by the questioner:
Why is he not eager to quote from the gospels and the NT letters? (Nearly all his teaching is from the OT)Let me make some observations about this:
First, it should be clear now that most of his teaching is notfrom the OT, but from the NT. It is merely the formal citations and his examples that are mostly from the OT.
With all of this in mind, I personally have my theory on why he didn't use the same OT citation style as frequently for the NT arguments:
Secondly, we must also recognize the highly speculative nature of this question. When we get into psycho-analyzing Clement's motives, we have moved into a different realm of argument than we have been in. The wolrd of textual comparison and exegesis is much more 'solid' than trying to get inside Clement's head about why he choose to argue the way he did.
Third, given the preceding point, we must recognize that to argue from his lack (relatively speaking) of formally introduced NT citations will be an argument from silence (or very close to it, depending on how much force one ascribes to it).
1. First of all, it seems clear to me that he is trying to demonstrate that the "upstarts" in Corinth had broken with tradition much older than even the NT. It would serve his purpose better to use OT examples and OT maxims to prove his point, than more novel and recent NT materials. This can be seen quite clearly in his argument from apostolic 'method' in 42.4-5:
"The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done sol from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. And this was no new method, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishopsand deacons. For thus saith the Scripture in a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith."2. This emphasis on 'continuity' and 'antiquity', besides being a dominant value in Roman life, was consistently used and pointed out by Clement, in a way that NT material would be useless to him:
In chapter 7.5, he argues "Let us review all the generations, and let us learn that in generation after generationthe Master has given a place of repentance to those who will turn to him"
3. Clement is not just going for 'antiquity', but he also wants to argue from quantity. In 63.1 he states: "It is therefore right that we should respect so many and so great examples...." Any such argument from example--if trying to build a case from quantity--is simply going to be forced to get most of its material from the OT.
In 19.1, he argues concerning the "generations before us"
In 31.1, he calls the readers to ponder the old: "Let us cleave then to His blessing, and consider what are the means of possessing it. Let us think over the things which have taken place from the beginning. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed?"
In 42.5, we have the comment we noted above about "no new method"
In 45, his argument is that the bad-guys of Corinth were just like the bad-guys of the OT. The whole argument needs a wealth of examples from the OT, to demonstrate that their "wickedness" had been judged by God previously.
In 62, he refers again to "even as our fathers, whose example we quoted".
4. Additionally, there is a distinct possibility that Clement is trying to "look apostolic" in the letter, adding force to his arguments. His very deliberate imitation of the style of Paul and of the author of Hebrews shows he is going for this effect, but his lack of citing them may indicate a desire on his part to not draw attention to the gap in authority between himself and his sources. In other words, if Clement had said "Submit to your elders, as the apostle Peter said" , then this would have been a tacit admission that Clement did not possess the requisite authority to command them. And this may have been a point that Clement did NOT want to bring up, since technically speaking, at 95ad the church at Rome had no "authority" over Corinth in any real sense of the word. He could use apostolic forms and terms and arguments, and as long as he didn't cite them, then he stood the chance of being perceived at 'apostolic level', as he actually was briefly. [1CL was accepted as canonical scripture briefly in Egypt, being cited as 'scripture' by Clement of Alexandria, and it was included in a few NT canonical lists in Syria for a short period of time.]
Richardson points out that the fine line between "influence" and "authority" was only now being developed in early thinking [HI:ECF:35-36]:
"It was nothing extraordinary for leaders of one church to send a letter of advice and warning to another congregation. The apostolic prerogative exercised by Paul had set a wide precedent which was followed by the author of the seven letters in the Revelation, by Ignatius, by Polycarp, by Dionysius of Corinth, by Serapion, and by many others. Each Christian community seems to have felt a sufficient sense of responsibility for the others so that its leaders could admonish them with solicitude. In some instances, of course, the authors claimed a special right to speak. The seer of the Revelation and the martyr Ignatius are examples. But the point to bear in mind is that the local churches did not conceive of themselves as isolated and autonomous units. They were part of the wider Church, and were not unconcerned with what happened in other congregations. This is most forcibly brought home to us by the style of our document. For it is not written in the name of an individual, but of a congregation. It is very far from a papal decree, though it was doubtless written by one of the leaders of the Roman church. It makes no claim to superior authority, but, basing itself on the authority of Scripture, it tries to persuade an errant congregation to return to the right way.
"Furthermore, that Rome should intervene in the internal affairs of the Corinthian church is partly to be explained by the close relations between the two cities. Refounded as a Roman colony in the middle of the first century, Corinth had built up a peculiarly intimate connection in trade and culture with the mother city. Indeed, excavations have made clear how exactly Corinth tried to mimic Rome--in its sculpture, architecture, organization, and even its names. Neither the church at Rome nor that at Corinth was, it is true, Latin in race or language. The predominant element in both congregations was doubtless converted Hellenistic Jews. Yet these affinities between the two cities help to explain even the Christian connections. Corinth, moreover, by being a natural halt on the route between Rome and the East would be in constant touch with the imperial capital.
"Yet it cannot be denied that these two explanations do not fully account for the tone of the letter. Rome very definitely regards it as her duty to intervene (ch. 63) and sends envoys to see that matters are put right (ch. 65). Something of her unique place as the church of the imperial city, and the church of Peter and Paul (ch. 5), must surely have been in the writer's mind. Among the Roman clergy (as we learn from Hermas, Vis., 11, ch. 4) there seems to have been one who acted as a sort of 'foreign secretary' for the church, sending abroad various advices and exhortations as well as gifts of charity. This implies more than a casual relation with other churches; and while this should not be pressed to vindicate much later papal claims, it does indicate that the Roman community took most seriously its responsibility as a sister church for the welfare of other congregations. Here, in germ, is that exercise of authority which was to become the papal primacy.
5. The above points make sense from the nature of Clement's argument, but I personally think that a more fundamental reason exists. I personally am convinced that the NT materials do not support his thesis to begin with! Apart from the more generic comments of Jesus on humility and meekness (which Clement uses), I am hard pressed to find any other sections in the Gospels that support Clement's position! Jesus seemed to be constantly rejecting the leadership of Judaism--even setting up a "sect" of Judaism(!)--and the one passage that might be useful to Clement (i.e., telling the healed leper "to do what those that sit in Moses' seat command"), would end up being a condemnation of the elders he wanted re-instated! I can almost visualize the Corinthians, in response, using the Parable of the Wicked Tenants against Clement!
And Clement's hero and role-model Paul might present the same problem. The general sections on love, humility, and unity Clement uses, but the passages on false apostles, 'wolves from among your midst' , his public rebuke of Peter, his rejection of some local leaders (cf. John's similar action in 3 Jn 9), and his seeming lack of authority-based action in Galatians (cf. the "reputed to be pillars" texts) might render much of Paul's material (other than the pro-hierarchy material that he does use) counter-productive to Clement.
It is certainly thought by many that Clement is considerably at variance with Pauline thought (so ABD, HI:ECF). Note Richardson's summary in HI:ECF:39:
"To summarize: Clement's letter reflects the movement away from the Pauline faith to a type of Christianity in which ethical interests and concern for law and order predominate. This does not, however, exclude both acquaintance with, and somegrasp of, the Pauline gospel. The cleavage is not so sharp as it is sometimes made out. Nor do the Stoic expressions to be found in Clement or his interest in, and familiarity with, the pagan world, indicate that he has capitulated to an alien culture. Rather must we say that Roman Christianity is giving evidence of its background in Hellenistic Judaism, and adapting itself to the imperial capital."
So, between the method of Clement's argument (i.e. that the recent activity in Corinth is against the entire tradition of God throughout history) and possible lack of suitable NT materials to support his argument, it makes perfect sense why he would not and could not cite the NT materials any more than he did!
I cannot help but believe--given the argument of the book--that had Clement found suitable materials in the NT, he would have used them.
So, where does this leave us?
1. The words of Jesus are put on a par with the OT scriptures. (Or maybe abovethem, since Christ is said to have been the ultimate Author of one of David's psalms.) ...................................................................................................................................................................................
2. The apostles are compared to Moses, and their instructions with his (i.e., the Mosaic law).
3. Paul's letter to the Corinthians is accorded very high authority, even implicitly that of Jesus' words.
4. He treats OT quotes, OT allusions, NT quotes, NT allusions all as peers, relative to authority and inspiration.
5. 1CL may hold to a very high inspiration of the Pauline epistles, if 27.2 is referring to Col 3.9.
6. Clement introduces a conflation from Titus with a high formula ("He exhorts us").
7. 1CL can use OT allusions within NT strings of NT allusions without having to mark them out as 'different'.
8. His pattern of usage indicates no distinction between OT and NT material.
9. Jesus' words from the Synoptics were said to be "written" and "instructions to do".
10. A conflation from Titus was introduced with "He exhorts us".
11. The passage in 27.2, likely referring to Col 3.9, uses a high intro: "God commanded us...".
12. He seems to consider the NT injunctions to be the "commandments of God" and "commandments of the Lord".
13. He clearly considers the NT on the same level of authority as the OT.
14. His (relative) lack of formal citation of NT material does not imply that he had some 'low view' of it, but is more easily explained under historical and literary rationales.
So, I have to conclude on the basis of the textual and literary data, that the answer to the question:
2. What was his attitude towardthe NT material? Was he influenced by it, did he consider it authoritative, was it on a par with the OT? What did his usage patterns tell us?
...is that 1CL held the NT material to be on a par with the OT material.
But as our questioner noted, there seems to be some non-canonical material in 1CL, and we must now get to the next question:
3. What does his alleged use of non-canonical sourcestell us about his (1) attitude toward the canonical material; and (2) his ability to distinguish between the two?
in the next section...
August 29, 1998
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)