Sunday, February 19, 2012

On the Marcionite Likeness of God

To gain a proper perspective on the Eastern view of salvation, we have to be aware of its distinctive anthropological outlook and its implications. In the main, Eastern anthropology looks forward to the renewing of the image of God. The underlying anthropology" is not necessarily more positive but, instead of operating mainly in guilt-concepts, it looks upward, so to speak, to the image of God to be fulfilled in mortal human beings. This sets the tone for the soteriology and theology in general.

The view of the human being in the Christian East is based upon the notion of "participation" in God. This "natural" participation, however, is not a static givenness; rather, it is a challenge, and the human being is called to grow in divine life. Divine life is a gift, but also a task which is to be accomplished by a free human effort.

A person becomes the perfect image of God by discovering his or her likeness to God, which is the perfection of the nature common to all human beings. The Greek term homoiousios, which corresponds to likeness in Genesis 1:26, means precisely that dynamic progress and growth in divine life and implies human freedom. In Greek patristic thought there is no opposition between freedom (likeness) and grace (God's image in human beings): the presence in man of divine qualities, of a "grace" (God's image) which makes him fully man, "neither destroys his freedom, nor limits the necessity for him to become fully himself by his own effort; rather, it secures that cooperation, or synergy, between the divine will and human choice which makes possible the progress 'from glory to glory' and the assimilation of man to the divine dignity for which he was created." (Constantine N. Tsirpanlis, Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology, Theology and Life Series 30 (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991) p 46)

Unlike much of classical Western theology, the Eastern fathers never viewed the creation of human beings as perfect even before the Fall. Humans were created imperfect and they had to be tested as free rational beings in order to become perfect through the stages of growth and maturity. According to Irenaeus, in Paradise "'they were both naked and were not ashamed,' having been created a short time previously; they had not understanding of the procreation of children, for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward." (Irenaeus Against Heresies 4.38.1 - 3) The first human beings then fell during the growth period while they were still immature.

In the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nyssa was asked a difficult question about children who die young. The ascetic who asked this question was wondering what could really be achieved by his spiritual labors, when he knew for sure that he was going to commit sins that would hinder his entrance into the kingdom. So it seemed like the child who died young was better off. Gregory's answer reveals the basic orientation of Eastern theology. The human condition in the next life is not primarily a matter of justice, reward, and punishment. God's aim is rather to fulfill the purpose for which he created human beings, namely to participate in God's life.

The earthly life is for growth and development for this eternal communion.1" From this perspective it becomes understandable that according to Irenaeus, God originally intended that humans would enter into theosis through a natural process of growth. Unfortunately, sin deflected humanity from this path and disrupted God's purposes.

What then is the effect of the Fall in Eastern theology? Rather than thinking in terms of Augustinian transmittal of corrupt nature from generation to generation, Eastern thought focuses on two interrelated effects of the Fall: physical death and the obscuring or distortion of the image of God. Adam's sin was a personal choice and act, not a collective sin nor a "sin of nature." Hence, inherited guilt is impossible. The consensus of the Greek fathers, especially John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximos Confessor, emphasizes this critical point quite often.

According to Constantine N. Tsirpanlis, this view in the East differs from the Western counterpart in several crucial respects. In opposition to the Western anthropology, influenced by Augustine's sharp polemics against Pelagius, the Eastern view of human beings and the Fall is critical of the understanding of original sin and its influences: "1) as inherited guilt; 2) as total destruction of God's image in the human being; 3) as a 'sin of nature' and not a 'personal sin of Adam and Eve' and 4) as legalistic relations of human beings with God and salvation based on Christ's death as satisfaction of divine justice.

In the East, the cross of Christ is envisaged not so much as the punishment of the just one, which "satisfies" transcendent Justice requiring a retribution for human beings' sin. Rather, "the death of the Cross was effective, not as the death of an Innocent One, but as the death of the Incarnate Lord." The point was not to satisfy a legal requirement, but to vanquish death. God alone is able to vanquish death because he alone has immortality (1 Tim 6:16). It is noteworthy that Eastern theology never produced any significant elaboration of the Pauline doctrine of justification. Even the commentaries on Romans and Galatians by the Fathers generally interpreted passages such as Galatians 3:13 as victory over death and sanctification of life. Understandably, the Eastern fathers also never developed the theory of "satisfaction" along the lines of Anselm's theory. As Meyendorff puts it, "The voluntary assumption of human mortality by the Logos was an act of God's condescension by which he united himself to the whole of humanity."

According to Meyendorff, this is what Gregory of Nazianzus taught when he said, "What is not assumed is not healed, and what is united to God is saved"; therefore, "we needed a God made flesh and put to death in order that we could live again." One of the preferred images of the effects of Christ's death in the Christian East has been "medical": the cross is an antidote to the poison of corruptibility and sin. A clear example of the orientation of Eastern anthropology and Christology is offered by a quote from Athanasius in which he reflects on the meaning of the cross in light of the mortality of human beings:

Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by .the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

Eastern anthropology accepts punishment, death, and mortality, not as God's retribution or revenge for sin as much as pedagogy. The human being's finitude would make repentance well up within her, the possibility of free love to God, the Creator and the source of all life. And, "God's plan has not changed; He always desires that man should be united with Him and transfigure the whole earth. The whole history of humanity will thus be that of salvation." As microcosm the human being represents and assimilates in herself the whole macrocosm, the creation. What happens to human beings, happens to creation. God is the Savior of all. The above-mentioned two major results of the Fall, namely physical death and the distortion of the image of God, call for the regaining of immortality and the restoration of the image. Salvation, then, is not primarily viewed as liberation from sin even though that is not a matter of indifference, but rather as a return to life immortal and the reshaping of the human being into the image of her creator.

These two elements constitute the two greatest reasons for the incarnation of the Son of God. Consequently, Eastern theology takes the New Testament term soteria (salvation) in its biblical sense, which goes beyond terms such as "redemption," "reconciliation," "justification" and the like to encompass the wholeness of new life under God. God did not "fail" in the creation of human beings. If, like Athanasius and others argued, God is the embodiment of truthfulness and goodness, then incarnation means the restoration of human beings and the creation:

It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits ... [S]uch indifference to the ruin of His own work before His very eyes would argue not goodness in God but limitation ... Yet, true though this is, it is' not the whole matter ... [I]t was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon His word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify Himself ...

The perfect God-man was the only qualified person to sum up in his own life the corruptibility and distortion of the image and bring about a "recapitulation" of the whole human race and creation.

We have seen that to change the corruptible to incorruption was proper to none other than the Saviour Himself, Who in the beginning made all things out of nothing; that only the Image of the Father could re-create the likeness of the Image in men, that none save our Lord Jesus Christ could give to mortals immortality, and that only the Word Who orders all things and is alone the Father's true and sole-begotten Son could teach men about Him and abolish the worship of idols ... In the same act also He showed Himself mightier than death, displaying His own body incorruptible as the first-fruits of the resurrection. [Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, One With God p. 23 - 25]
I find this section entitled The Renewal of the Image of God and Immortality from Kärkkäinen book quite fascinating (even though it is often lifted word for word from Meyendorff) because I am coming to a critical point in my own research.  I don't think Marcionitism was that far removed from the Orthodox tradition.  As I am beginning to see it - there was just Irenaeus and the Alexandrian tradition (the Marcionites being the purest form of Alexandrian Christianity).  All of the Christian debates for the next century after Irenaeus were an effort to reconcile his teachings or reforms with Alexandrianism.

Marcionitism as I see it now does indeed hold that Jesus was not the Creator.  Jesus was the firstborn image of the unknown Father.  He is properly called 'the substance of the Father' (because the Father was understood to have no being per se).  This is the very point at which the Valentinians created their hypostases.  For I suspect again that Arius and Athanasius were really only separated on the question of whether there was a hidden being - Jesus - that stood between the Father and the Creator.

If one ignores for a moment all the exaggeration and hyperbole that Athanasius expends demonizing the so-called Arians (I think they were more properly defined as the traditionally minded Alexandrian Church) and stick to what is actually preserved in Arius's Thalia, it is plain to see that what he really meant to say is that the between the Creator and the Father was the Father's substance (οὐσία).  The Creator at times partook of this substance but ultimately was not one with the substance and the substance was Jesus (the etymological connection underneath all of this is the fact that οὐσία in Hebrew is yesh (יֵשׁ) and the proper name of Jesus was yeshu (ישו) which meant originally 'His substance.'

As I read through Kärkkäinen's summary of the Eastern tradition's interest in the 'image of God' I am struck by how easy it is to see how the original Marcionite formula still shines forth.  The key is to remember what Kärkkäinen points out at the very beginning that ὁμοίωσις is found in the description of creation in Genesis and Clement of Alexandria has a very interesting take on what it means.  It sounds very much like parts of what is now the Eastern tradition's interpretation of 'according to the likeness' but could very easily have had one foot in Marcionitism.

We should start with a most interesting statement which Tertullian preserves from Theophilus of Antioch's anti-Marcionite treatise (see the arguments of Harnack, Quispel and Grant).  Marcion clearly understood Jesus to be someone other than the Creator, but the new information here is that the Marcionites stressed the anthropomorphic shape of the Creator:

These sensations in the human being are rendered just as corrupt by the corruptibility of man's substance, as in God they are rendered incorruptible by the incorruption of the divine essence. Do you really believe the Creator to be God? By all means, is your reply. How then do you suppose that in God there is anything human, and not that all is divine? Him whom you do not deny to be God, you confess to be not human; because, when you confess Him to be God, you have, in fact, already determined that He is undoubtedly diverse from every sort of human conditions. Furthermore, although you allow, with others, that man was inbreathed by God into a living soul, not God by man, it is yet palpably absurd of you to be placing human characteristics in God rather than divine ones in man, and clothing God in the likeness of man, instead of man in the image of God. And this, therefore, is to be deemed "the likeness of God" in man, that the human soul have the same emotions and sensations as God, although they are not of the same kind; differing as they do both in their conditions and their issues according to their nature. Then, again, with respect to the opposite sensations—I mean meekness, patience, mercy, and the very parent of them all, goodness,— why do you form your opinion of the divine displays of these (from the human qualities)? For we indeed do not possess them in perfection, because it is God alone who is perfect. So also in regard to those others—namely, anger and irritation, we are not affected by them in so happy a manner, because God alone is truly happy, by reason of His property of incorruptibility. Angry He will possibly be, but not irritated, nor dangerously tempted; He will be moved, but not subverted. All appliances He must needs use, because of all contingencies; as many sensations as there are causes: anger because of the wicked, and indignation because of the ungrateful, and jealousy because of the proud, and whatsoever else is a hinderance to the evil. So, again, mercy on account of the erring, and patience on account of the impenitent, and pre-eminent resources on account of the meritorious, and whatsoever is necessary to the good. All these affections He is moved by in that peculiar manner of His own, in which it is profoundly fit that He should be affected; and it is owing to Him that man is also similarly affected in a way which is equally his own [Agaisnt Marcion 2.16]

The Marcionite argument seems to been that the Creator was of a substance similar to man but that Jesus was of better substance.  As we have noted many times, only at the end of times did Jesus come to give this substance to man. Indeed this was his whole mission to the world.

Yet notice again that the Marcionites also seem to imply that man was originally created 'after the image' of the Creator (= his shape) but also that because of this transference man inherited the Creator's pathos.  This is an argument developed by Celsus against the Christians and one wonders if it was developed from Marcionite sources (there are ample examples in Origen's text of Celsus appropriating Marcionite arguments against those who believe in the Creator).  Clement seems to be aware of the same arguments and offers contradictory statements as to what they mean almost side by side one another:

For conformity with the image and likeness is not meant of the body (for it were wrong for what is mortal to be made like what is immortal), but in mind and reason, on which fitly the Lord impresses the seal of likeness, both in respect of doing good and of exercising rule. For governments are directed not by corporeal qualities, but by judgments of the mind. For by the counsels of holy men states are managed well, and the household also. [Strom 2.19] 

On the surface this seems to limit how Clement applied Genesis 1:26 yet note that a later we something quite similar to the Marcionite position referenced originally in Theophilus (and preserved for us in Tertullian's text):

Further, Plato the philosopher says that the end is twofold: that which is communicable, and exists first in the ideal forms themselves, which he also calls "the good;" and that which partakes of it, and receives its likeness from it, as is the case in the men who appropriate virtue and true philosophy. Wherefore also Cleanthes, in the second book, On Pleasure, says that Socrates everywhere teaches that the just man and the happy are one and the same, and execrated the first man who separated the just from the useful, as having done an impious thing. For those are in truth impious who separate the useful from that which is tight according to the law. Plato himself says that happiness (eudai monia) is to possess rightly the daemon, and that the ruling faculty of the soul is called the daemon; and he terms happiness (eudaimonia) the most perfect and complete good. Sometimes he calls it a consistent and harmonious life, sometimes the highest perfection in accordance with virtue; and this he places in the knowledge of the Good, and in likeness to God, demonstrating likeness to be justice and holiness with wisdom. For is it not thus that some of our writers have understood that man straightway on his creation received what is "according to the image," but that what is according "to the likeness" he will receive afterwards on his perfection (ἢ γὰρ οὐχ οὕτως τινὲς τῶν ἡμετέρων τὸ μὲν κατ' εἰκόνα εὐθέως κατὰ τὴν γένεσιν εἰληφέναι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν δὲ ὕστερον κατὰ τὴν τελείωσιν μέλλειν ἀπολαμβάνειν ἐκ δέχονται) Now Plato, teaching that the virtuous man shall have this likeness accompanied with humility, explains the following: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." He says, accordingly, in The Laws: "God indeed, as the ancient saying has it, occupying the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things, goes straight through while He goes round the circumference. And He is always attended by Justice, the avenger of those who revolt from the divine law." You see how he connects fear with the divine law. He adds, therefore: "To which he, who would be happy, cleaving, will follow lowly and beautified." Then, connecting what follows these words, and admonishing by fear, he adds: "What conduct, then, is dear and conformable to God? That which is characterized by one word of old date: Like will be dear to like, as to what is in proportion; but things out of proportion are neither dear to one another, nor to those which are in proportion. And that therefore he that would be dear to God, must, to the best of his power, become such as He is And in virtue of the same reason, our self-controlling man is dear to God. But he that has no self-control is unlike and diverse." In saying that it was an ancient dogma, he indicates the teaching which had come to him from the law. And having in the Theaoetus admitted that evils make the circuit of mortal nature and of this spot, he adds: "Wherefore we must try to flee hence as soon as possible. For flight is likeness to God as far as possible. And likeness is to become holy and just with wisdom. [Strom 2.20]

In other words, the Marcionites must have developed their interesting theology from Genesis 1:26, arguing that while the Creator gave man 'the image,' 'the likeness' (ὁμοίωσις) would be manifested at the end of times with Jesus's giving man his substance through the Eucharist.

The Marcionite conception is that God of the Jews is anthropomorphic and humanity took on his 'image' or shape in his body but there was another God (= Jesus) from whom man would ultimately receive 'the likeness of God.'   We might want to look again at the Septuagint reading to put things in perspective:

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ' εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν καὶ (Genesis 1.26 LXX) 

I wonder right off the bat whether the dispute between the orthodox and the Arians has been misrepresented up until now.  The Arians may well have only been zealously preserving a link with the ὁμοίωσιν which appears in the Septuagint.  The iota is significant of course. Homo-ousia and homoiousia (likewise accented upon the ou of ousia) have literally an iota of difference between them. Yet that iota (Greek for i) split the world of the fourth century.  Yet I think the importance of ὁμοίωσιν can still be seen in Clement of Alexandria's writings.

I have long argued that Clement isn't always completely forthcoming with his beliefs.  The more we look at this later writings we see that they are in fact very similar to the Marcionite position.  Look for instance at what appears a little later in Book Four of the Stromateis.  Clement writes:

For God dispenses to all according to desert, His distribution being righteous. Despising, therefore, the possessions which God apportions to thee in thy magnificence, comply with what is spoken by me; haste to the ascent of the Spirit, being not only justified by abstinence from what is evil, but in addition also perfected, by Christlike beneficence. In this instance He convicted the man, who boasted that he had fulfilled the injunctions of the law, of not loving his neighbour; and it is by beneficence that the love which, according to the gnostic ascending scale, is Lord of the Sabbath, proclaims itself. We must then, according to my view, have recourse to the word of salvation neither from fear of punishment nor promise of a gift, but on account of the good itself. Such, as do so, stand on the right hand of the sanctuary; but those who think that by the gift of what is perishable they shall receive in exchange what belongs to immortality are in the parable of the two brothers called "hirelings." And is there not some light thrown here on the expression "in the likeness and image," in the fact that some live according to the likeness of Christ, while those who stand on the left hand live according to their image? There are then two things proceeding from the truth, one root lying beneath both, -- the choice being, however, not equal, or rather the difference that is in the choice not being equal. To choose by way of imitation differs, as appears to me, from the choice of him who chooses according to knowledge, as that which is set on fire differs from that which is illuminated. Israel, then, is the light of the likeness which is according to the Scripture. But the image is another thing. What means the parable of Lazarus, by showing the image of the rich and poor? And what the saying, "No man can serve two masters, God and Mammon?" -- the Lord so terming the love of money. For instance, the covetous, who were invited, responded not to the invitation to the supper, not because of their possessing property, but of their inordinate affection to what they possessed. "The foxes," then, have holes. He called those evil and earthly men who are occupied about the wealth which is mined and dug from the ground, foxes. Thus also, in reference to Herod: "Go, tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and perform cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." For He applied the name "fowls of the air" to those who were distinct from the other birds -- those really pure, those that have the power of flying to the knowledge of the heavenly Word [Strom 4.6] 

To me at least the million dollar question is of course - is Clement talking about two different gods i.e. 'the image' (= the Jewish God), 'the likeness' (= Jesus).  If Clement doesn't make that belief explicit perhaps the 'pure' Marcionites did.

There are clear intimations to this effect however.  If we turn to Book Five in the same series we see Clement declare:

Wherefore also man is said "to have been made in [God's] image and likeness." For the image of God is the divine and royal Word, the impassible man; and the image of the image is the human mind. And if you wish to apprehend the likeness by another name, you will find it named in Moses, a divine correspondence. For he says, "Walk after the Lord your God, and keep His commandments." And I reckon all the virtuous, servants and followers of God. Hence the Stoics say that the end of philosophy is to live agreeable to nature; and Plato, likeness to God, as we have shown in the second Miscellany. [Strom 5.5] 

It should be noted that 'the image' is again something very different than 'the likeness.'  The image is the Logos which created the world in the beginning.  The reference to what 'the likeness' is exactly is obscure - perhaps deliberately so.

The Stromata was deliberately conceived as a progressive illumination into divine truths by Clement after the manner of walking through seven curtains.  The idea of the likeness resembling walking after the Lord clearly has something do with Jesus introducing esoteric teachings as we see in Book Six:

But if from any creature they received in any way whatever the seeds of the Truth, they did not nourish them; but committing them to a barren and reinless soil, they choked them with weeds, as the Pharisees revolted from the Law, by introducing human teachings, -- the cause of these being not the Teacher, but those who choose to disobey. But those of them who believed the Lord's advent and the plain teaching of the Scriptures, attain to the knowledge of the law; as also those addicted to philosophy, by the teaching of the Lord, are introduced into the knowledge of the true philosophy: "For the oracles of the Lord are pure oracles, melted in the fire, tried in the earth, purified seven times." Just as silver often purified, so is the just man brought to the test, becoming the Lord's coin and receiving the royal image. Or, since Solomon also calls the "tongue of the righteous man gold that has been subjected to fire," intimating that the doctrine which has been proved, and is wise, is to be praised and received, whenever it is amply tried by the earth: that is, when the gnostic soul is in manifold ways sanctified, through withdrawal from earthy fires. And the body in which it dwells is purified, being appropriated to the pureness of a holy temple. But the first purification which takes place in the body, the soul being first, is abstinence from evil things, which some consider perfection, and is, in truth, the perfection of the common believer -- Jew and Greek. But in the case of the Gnostic, after that which is reckoned perfection in others, his righteousness advances to activity in well-doing. And in whomsoever the increased force of righteousness advances to the doing of good, in his case perfection abides in the fixed habit of well-doing after the likeness of God. For those who are the seed of Abraham, and besides servants of God, are "the called;" and the sons of Jacob are the elect -- they who have tripped up the energy of wickedness. If; then, we assert that Christ Himself is Wisdom, and that it was His working which showed itself in the prophets, by which the gnostic tradition may be learned, as He Himself taught the apostles during His presence; then it follows that the grinds, which is the knowledge and apprehension of things present, future, and past, which is sure and reliable, as being imparted and revealed by the Son of God, is wisdom. And if, too, the end of the wise man is contemplation, that of those who are still philosophers aims at it, but never attains it, unless by the process of learning it receives the prophetic utterance which has been made known, by which it grasps both the present, the future, and the past -- how they are, were, and shall be. And the gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles. Hence, then, knowledge or wisdom ought to be exercised up to the eternal and unchangeable habit of contemplation. [Strom 6.7] 

The reference to 'unwrittten things' passed on by the apostles to the Alexandrian Church agrees with Irenaeus's statement about beliefs of his heretical opponents (cf. AH 3.1) and more importantly with Secret Mark. The 'stamping' ritual associated with baptism here could well be the mystery of that text.

The clearest statement about why Clement thinks that Genesis 1:26 distinguishes between the original act of creation by the Logos and Jesus actions at the end of times appears in later sections of Book Six.  First the statement that:

Conformably, therefore, there are various abodes, according to the worth of those who have believed. To the point Solomon says, "For there shall be given to him the choice grace of faith, and a more pleasant lot in the temple of the Lord." For the comparative shows that there are lower parts in the temple of God, which is the whole Church. And the superlative remains to be conceived, where the Lord is. These chosen abodes, which are three, are indicated by the numbers in the Gospel -- the thirty, the sixty, the hundred. And the perfect inheritance belongs to those who attain to "a perfect man," according to the image of the Lord and the likeness is not, as some imagine, that of the human form (καὶ ἡ μὲν τελεία κληρονομία τῶν εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον ἀφικνουμένων κατ' εἰκόνα τοῦ κυρίου, ἡ δὲ ὁμοίωσις οὐχ, ὥς τινες, ἡ κατὰ τὸ σχῆμα τὸ ἀνθρώπειον); for this consideration is impious. Nor is the likeness to the first cause that which consists in virtue. For this utterance is also impious, being that of those who have imagined that virtue in man and in the sovereign God is the same. "Thou hast supposed iniquity,' He says, " [in imagining] that I will be like to thee." But "it is enough for the disciple to become as the Master," saith the Master. To the likeness of God, then, he that is introduced into adoption and the friendship of God, to the just inheritance of the lords and gods is brought; if he be perfected, according to the Gospel, as the Lord Himself taught (καθ' ὁμοίωσιν οὖν τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ εἰς υἱοθεσίαν καὶ φιλίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καταταγεὶς κατὰ τὴν συγκληρονομίαν τῶν κυρίων καὶ θεῶν γίνεται, ἐάν, καθὼς αὐτὸς ἐδίδαξεν ὁ κύριος, κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τελειωθῇ) The Gnostic, then, is impressed with the closest likeness (ὁμοιότητα), that is, with the mind of the Master; which He being possessed of, commanded and recommended to His disciples and to the prudent. Comprehending this, as He who taught wished, and receiving it in its grand sense, he teaches worthily "on the housetops" those capable of being built to a lofty height; and begins the doing of what is spoken, in accordance with the example of life. For He enjoined what is possible. And, in truth, the kingly man and Christian ought to be ruler and leader. For we are commanded to be lords over not only the wild beasts without us, but also over the wild passions within ourselves. [Strom 6.14] 

Again the threefold division here is associated with the heretics in Irenaeus (AH 5) and it should be clear by now that Clement is the embodiment of the heretical tradition opposed by Irenaeus. It would also seem that Clement has in mind the ritual referenced privately in the Letter to Theodore from Secret Mark.

It is difficult to exactly pinpoint what secret act Clement has in mind with respect to 'the likeness.'  He reinforces the distinction in the Exhortation:

For the image of God is His Word, the genuine Son of Mind, the Divine Word, the archetypal light of light; and the image of the Word is the true man, the mind which is in man, who is therefore said to have been made "in the image and likeness of God," assimilated to the Divine Word in the affections of the soul, and therefore rational; but effigies sculptured in human form, the earthly image of that part of man which is visible and earth-born, are but a perishable impress of humanity, manifestly wide of the truth. [Prop. 10]

We find some very similar conceptions are found in contemporary writers.  The author of the Philosophumena concludes his work by saying:

When we have come to know the true God, both our bodies and our souls will be immortal and incorruptible. We shall enter the kingdom of heaven, because while we lived on earth we acknowledged heaven’s King. Friends of God and co-heirs with Christ, we shall be subject to no evil desires or inclinations, or to any affliction of body or soul, for we shall have become divine. Whatever evil you may have suffered, being man, it is God that sent it to you, precisely because you are man; but equally, when you have been deified, God has promised you a share in every one of his own attributes. The saying Know yourself means therefore that we should recognise and acknowledge in ourselves the God who made us in his own image, for if we do this, we in turn will be recognised and acknowledged by our Maker. So let us not be at enmity with ourselves, but change our way of life without delay. For Christ who is God, exalted above all creation, has taken away man’s sin and has re-fashioned our fallen nature. In the beginning God made man in his image and so gave proof of his love for us. If we obey his holy commands and learn to imitate his goodness, we shall be like him and he will honour us. God is not beggarly, and for the sake of his own glory he has given us a share in his divinity. [Philosophumena 10.33] 

Similarly Theodotos makes too important statements on the mystical meaning of the original Genesis narrative:

"Taking dust from the earth": not of the land but a portion of matter but of varied constitution and colour, he fashioned a soul, earthly and material, irrational and consubstantial with that of the beasts. This is the man "according to the image." But the man who is "according to the likeness" of the Creator himself, is he whom he has breathed into and inseminated into the former, placing in him by angels something consubstantial with himself. Inasmuch as he is invisible and immaterial, he called his substance" the breath of life," but that which was given form became a "living soul," and he himself confesses that it is so in the prophetic writings. [ibid 50]

And again:

From Adam three natures were begotten. The first was the irrational, Which was Cain's, the second the rational and just, which was Abel's, the third the spiritual, which was Seth's. Now that which is earthly is "according to the image," that which is psychical according to the " likeness " of God, and that which is spiritual is according to the real nature; and with refer*ence to these three, without the other children of Adam, it .was said, "This is the book of the generation of men." And because Seth was spiritual he neither tends flocks nor tills the soil but produces a child, as spiritual things do. And him, who "hoped to call upon the name of the Lord" who looked upward and whose "citizenship is in heaven" - him the world does not contain. [ibid 54]

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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