Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Julius Africanus's Testimony About Clement of Alexandria Being Active During the Reign of Commodus (177 - 192 CE) and Having Fled Alexandria by the Beginning of the Third Century CE

Commodus, son of Marcus, reigned for 12 years, 5 months [...] As the most learned Africanus says: During his reign, Clement, author of the Stromata, was becoming known in Alexandria. Origen became a pupil of Clement. Montanus, the heresiarch, was also living at that time. He claimed that he himself was [the] Paraclete [ Symeon Logothetes (cod. Vat. gr. 163, f. 20r = Leo Grammaticus [71,2-11 Bekker] = Theodosius Melitenus [54,6-14 Tafel]) et ps. Symeon f. 79v-80r = Georgius Cedrenus (441,3-12 Bekker)]

What makes this testimony all the more irrefutable was that - unlike almost all of our other sources on the dates for Clement or Origen - Julius Africanus was there on the ground at the beginning of the third century:

From the same Africanus, there has also come to us the Chronographiae, five books in number, a project that was pursued with painstaking accuracy. In this work, he States that he himself set out on a journey to Alexandria because of the great fame of Heraclas. As we stated, Heraclas, very well-known for his discourses in philosophy and other branches of Greek learning, was entrusted with the oversight of the church there. [Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 6,31,2 (586,2-7 Schwartz)]

It seems difficult to avoid accepting that Julius Africanus's testimony contradicts our inherited assumption regarding the date of Clement and Heraclas given that the Chronology is said to have been written during the reign of Caracalla (211 - 217). This would place Africanus in Alexandria conversing with Heraclas and Clement already gone by the beginning of the third century.

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