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Clemens Roma'nus

was bishop of Rome at the end of the first century. He is probably the same as the Clement whom St. Paul mentions (Phil. 4.3) as one of " his fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life."


To Clement are ascribed two epistles addressed to the Corinthian Church, and both probably genuine, the first certainly so. From the style of the second, Neander (Kirchengesch. iii. p. 1100) considers it as a fragment of a sermon rather than an epistle. The first was occasioned by the divisions which distracted the Church of Corinth, where certain presbyters had been unjustly deposed. The exhortations to unity are enforced by examples from Scripture, and in addition to these are mentioned the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul. Of the latter it is said, that he went ἐπὶ τὸ τὲρμα τῆς δύσεως--a passage which has been considered to favour the supposition that the apostle executed the intention of visiting Spain, which he mentions, Rom. 15.24.

The epistle seems to contain an important interpolation (§ 40, &c.). In these chapters is suddenly introduced, in the midst of practical exhortations, a laboured comparison between the Jewish priesthood and Christian ministry, and the theory of the former is transferred to the latter. This style of speaking savours in itself of a later age, and is opposed to the rest of the epistle, which uniformly speaks of the church and its offices in their simplest form and relations. The whole tone of both epistles is meek, pious, and Christian, though they are not free from that tendency to find types in greater number than the practice of Scripture warrants, which the later fathers carried to so extravagant a length. Thus, when Rahab is quoted as an example of faith and hospitality, the fact of her hanging a scarlet thread from her window is made to typify our redemption through Christ's blood. In the midst of much that is wise and good we are surprised to find the fable of the phoenix adduced in support of the resurrection of the body.

As one of the very earliest apostolical fathers, the authority of Clement is valuable in proving the authenticity of certain books of the New Testament. The parts of it to which he refers are the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, the epistle of St. James, the first of St. Peter, and several of St. Paul, while from the epistle to the Hebrews he quotes so often, that by some its authorship has been attributed to him. Two passages are quoted 1.46, and 2.4) with the formula γέγραπται, which do not occur in Scripture; we also find reference to the apocryphal books of Wisdom and Judith: a traditionary conversation is related between our Lord and St. Peter; and a story is given from the spurious gospel to the Egyptians. (Ep. 2.12; comp. Clem. Al. Strom. iii. p. 465.) The genuineness of the Homily or 2nd Epistle is denied by Jerome (Catal. 100.15) and Photius (Bibl. Cod. 113), and it is not quoted by any author earlier than Eusebius. Besides these works two other letters were preserved as Clement's in the Syrian church, and published by Wetstein in the appendix to his edition of the New Testament. They are chiefly occupied by the praises of celibacy, and it therefore seems a fair ground of suspicion against them that they are not quoted before the fourth century, though, from the ascetic disposition prevalent in the North African and other Western churches, it seems unlikely that no one should ever have appealed to such an authority. Other writings are also falsely attributed to Clement. Such are the Recognitiones (a name given to the work from the Latin translation of Ruffinus), which purport to contain a history of Clement himself, who is represented as a convert of St. Peter, and in the course of it recognizes his father, whom he had lost. Of this there is a convenient edition by Gersdorf in his Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum selecta. (Leipzig and Brussels, 1837.) The collection of Apostolical Constitutions is also attributed to Clement, though certainly without foundation, as they are plainly a collection of the ecclesiastical rules of various times and places. (See Krabbe, Ueber den Ursprung und Inhalt der Apostol. Constitutionen, 1839.) Lastly, we may just mention the Clementines,--homilies of a Judaizing tendency, and supposed by Neander (Genetische Entwickelung, &c. p. 367) to be written by a member of the Ebionitish sect.


The true particulars of Clement's life are quite unknown. Tillemont (Mémoires, ii. p. 147) supposes that he was a Jew; but the second epistle is plainly written by a Gentile. Hence some connect him with Flavius Clemens who was martyred under Domitian. It is supposed, that Trajan banished Clement to the Chersonese, where he suffered martyrdom. Various dates are given for the first Epistle. Grabe (Spic. Patr. i. p. 254) has fixed on A. D. 68, immediately after the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul; while others prefer A. D. 95, during Domitian's persecution.


The Epistles were first published at Oxford by Patric Young, the king's librarian, from the Codex Alexandrinus, to the end of which they are appended (the second only as a fragment), and which had been sent by Cyrillus Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I. They were republished by F. Rous, provost of Eton, in 1650; by Fell, bishop of Oxford, in 1669; Cotelerius, at Paris, in 1672; Ittig, at Leipzig, 1699; Wotton, at Cambridge, 1718; Galland, at Venice, 1765 ; Jacobson, at Oxford, in 1838; and by Hefele, at Tübingen, 1839. Most of the above editions contain the works of other fathers also. Of the various texts, Hefele's is the best, and has been republished in England (1843) in a convenient form, with an introduction, by Mr. Grenfell, one of the masters of Rugby. The best English translation is that of Chevallier (Cambridge, 1833), founded on a previous translation made by Archbishop Wake, 1693.


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