Monday, January 16, 2012

Did Clement of Alexandria Really Use the Pastoral Epistles?

I know the answer seems to be a straightforward 'yes.'  I can read the list of references in any edition of Clement of Alexandria's works.  Yet I have noticed something strange here, something which would again be more in keeping with Clement being a 'neo-Marcionite' as I have suggested here many times.  A lot of the references to the Pastorals get squeezed immediately before or after other references.  In other words, they aren't essential to the original line of thought and might have been added later by an editor.  Here is a typical example from the Instructor.  Clement writes:

The Instructor orders them to go forth “in becoming apparel, and adorn themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety,” [1 Tim. 2. 9] “subject to their own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold,” he says, “your chaste conversation. Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” [1 Pet. 3. 1–4]

It seems to be an open and shut case.  Clement begins with a citation from the Pastorals and moves on to cite 1 Peter thereafter.  Yet there are a number of occasions I have noticed where Clement cites material from 1 Peter as having been written by Paul.  I don't see how the Pastoral quote adds anything to the original reference.  I also don't know why Clement is calling Paul 'the instructor' when this is usually a title reserved for Jesus.

Here is another example from the Stromata Book Three.  Notice which quotation in the series stands out as being out of step with the others:

It follows that celibacy is not particularly praiseworthy unless it arises through love of God.  The blessed Paul says of those who show a distaste for marriage: "In the last times people will abandon the faith, attaching themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of daemonic powers that they should abstain from food, at the same time forbidding marriage." [1 Tim 4:1 - 3] Again he says, "Do not let anyone disqualify you in forced piety of self-mortification and severity to the body." [Col 2.18, 23]

I just happen to think that the unusual variant from Colossians goes better with his original point - i.e. that asceticism can't be forced it has to come from love.  I think there is a pattern like this of the Pastorals being 'squeezed' in between original references to controversial subjects.

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