Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Did Origen Deny that Clement Was His Teacher?

Apparently he [Origen] never mentioned Clement, since Eusebius, attempting to prove that Clement was Origen's teacher, is forced to argue by inference from their temporal proximity (HE VI. 6) and to quote a letter of Alexander of Jerusalem to Origen in which Alexander refers to Clement (then deceased) as formerly known to Origen and as one through whom he himself had made Origen's acquaintance [HE VI. I4.8f). But this only makes Origen's silence about Clement more significant. It would seem that the two were not close, and that if Clement ever was Origen's teacher, it was only for a short period when Origen was fifteen or sixteen. Consequently Origen's ignorance of the longer text is understandable. [Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark p. 285]

This is what I find is so utterly frustrating with traditional scholarship. They don't seem to live in the real world. It is only because this is the history of the Church that reality and obvious inferences are ignored.

Why doesn't Origen mention that Clement is his teacher? The answer is obvious to anyone who has ever lived. Origen was denying his association with Clement because Clement was a persona non grata. Of course Origen would also become a despised individual. These same scholars somehow end up forgeting all of this. They treat Clement and Origen as 'separate problems' when their fates are so closely related it is often difficult not to confuse their stories - i.e. they both fled persecution in Alexandria to the comfort of Alexander of Jerusalem.

It is so frustrating to hear scholars puzzle over the statement in the Letter to Theodore - "one should not concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath." The same sentiment is expressed in the Philosophumena's report on the heretics of Mark - "on meeting with (Irenaeus' work) they deny that they have so received, but they have learned that always they should deny." [Philosophumena. 6.37] What is wrong with these people? Why is this so difficult for them to explain?

Clement is denying St. Mark, Origen is denying Clement, the various bishops of Alexandria soon learned to deny their association with Origen, Clement and all the heretical beliefs reported by Irenaeus and the fathers of the Roman Church. Why is all of this happening? It is because the Imperial government and the Roman Church it fostered had declared war on the Alexandrian Church and the original tradition of Christianity. Why can't they see this? Why don't they understand?

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