Clement of Alexandria

Last updated

Clement of Alexandria
Clement alexandrin.jpg
Clement from Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres grecz, latins et payens (1584) by André Thévet
Bornc. 150
Diedc. 215
Other namesClement Alexandrine
Notable work
Era Ancient philosophy
Patristic Period
Region Western Philosophy
School Middle Platonism
Alexandrian school
Institutions Catechetical School of Alexandria
Notable students Origen and Alexander
Main interests
Christian theology
Notable ideas
Saint Clement of Alexandria
icon of Clement of Alexandria
Church Father, Theologian
Venerated in Oriental Orthodoxy
Eastern Catholicism
Anglican Communion
Canonized Pre-congregation
Feast 4 December (Eastern Catholicism, Anglicanism)
5 December (Episcopal Church, Anglicanism)
ControversyRegarded as a heretic by Photius.
Catholic cult suppressed
1586 by Pope Sixtus V

Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria (Greek : Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; c. 150 – c. 215), [3] was a Christian theologian and philosopher who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics. [4] His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism. In one of his works he argued that Greek philosophy had its origin among non-Greeks, claiming that both Plato and Pythagoras were taught by Egyptian scholars. [5] Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3500 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Christian theology is the theology of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theologians may undertake the study of Christian theology for a variety of reasons, such as in order to:

Catechetical School of Alexandria

The Catechetical School of Alexandria was a school of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria. The teachers and students of the school were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church. It was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity, the other being the School of Antioch.


Clement is usually regarded as a Church Father. He is venerated as a saint in Coptic Christianity, Eastern Catholicism, Ethiopian Christianity and Anglicanism. He was previously revered in Western Catholicism, but his name was removed from the Roman Martyrology in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V on the advice of Baronius.

Saint one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue

A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria major transnational Oriental Orthodox church led by the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of St. Mark

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who also carries the title of Coptic Pope. The See of Alexandria is titular, and today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy, prayer and devotional patrimony. With 18–22 million members worldwide, whereof about 15 to 20 million are in Egypt, it is the country's largest Christian church.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.


Neither Clement's birthdate or birthplace is known with any degree of certainty. It is conjectured that he was born sometime around 150. According to Epiphanius Scholasticus, he was born in Athens, but there is also a tradition of an Alexandrian birth. [6] [7]

Epiphanius Scholasticus was a sixth-century translator of Greek works into Latin.

Alexandria Metropolis in Egypt

Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.

His parents were pagans, and Clement was a convert to Christianity. In the Protrepticus he displays an extensive knowledge of Greek mythology and mystery religions, which could only have arisen from the practice of his family's religion. [6]

Paganism non-Abrahamic religion, or modern religious movement such as nature worship

Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.

<i>Protrepticus</i> (Clement)

The Protrepticus is the first of the three surviving works of Clement of Alexandria, a Christian theologian of the 2nd century.

Greco-Roman mysteries religious schools of the Greco-Roman world

Mystery religions, sacred mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates (mystai). The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries of Greco-Roman antiquity were the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were of considerable antiquity and predated the Greek Dark Ages. The mystery schools flourished in Late Antiquity; Julian the Apostate in the mid 4th century is known to have been initiated into three distinct mystery schools—most notably the mithraists. Due to the secret nature of the school, and because the mystery religions of Late Antiquity were persecuted by the Christian Roman Empire from the 4th century, the details of these religious practices are derived from descriptions, imagery and cross-cultural studies. "Because of this element of secrecy, we are ill-informed as to the beliefs and practices of the various mystery faiths. We know that they had a general likeness to one another". Much information on the Mysteries come from Marcus Terentius Varro.

Having rejected paganism as a young man due to its perceived moral corruption, he travelled in Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt. Clement's journeys were primarily a religious undertaking. In Greece, he encountered an Ionian theologian, who has been identified as Athenagoras of Athens; while in the east, he was taught by an Assyrian, sometimes identified with Tatian, and a Jew, who was possibly Theophilus of Caesarea. [8]

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Syria Palaestina Roman province

Syria Palaestina was a Roman province between 135 AD and about 390. It was established by the merger of Roman Syria and Roman Judaea, following the defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 AD. Shortly after 193, the northern regions were split off as Syria Coele in the north and Phoenice in the south, and the province Syria Palaestina was reduced to Judea. The earliest numismatic evidence for the name Syria Palaestina comes from the period of emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, whose territory in the Sinai Peninsula extends beyond the continental boundary with Asia, as traditionally defined. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

In around 180, Clement reached Alexandria, [9] where he met Pantaenus, who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. [10] Eusebius suggests that Pantaenus was the head of the school, but it is controversial whether the institutions of the school were formalized in this way before the time of Origen. [11] [12] [note 1] [14] Clement studied under Pantaenus, and was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Julian before 189. Otherwise, virtually nothing is known of Clement's life in Alexandria. He may have been married, a conjecture supported by his writings. [15]

Saint Pantaenus the Philosopher was a Greek theologian and a significant figure in the Catechetical School of Alexandria from around AD 180. This school was the earliest catechetical school, and became influential in the development of Christian theology.

Eusebius Greek church historian

Eusebius of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili, was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely learned Christian of his time. He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History", he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs. He also produced a biographical work on the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, who ruled between 306 and 337 AD.

Origen 3rd-century Christian scholar from Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria, also known as Origen Adamantius, was an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian who was born and spent the first half of his career in Alexandria. He was a prolific writer who wrote roughly 2,000 treatises in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and biblical hermeneutics, homiletics, and spirituality. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, apologetics, and asceticism. He has been described as "the greatest genius the early church ever produced".

During the Severian persecutions of 202–203, Clement left Alexandria. In 211, Alexander of Jerusalem wrote a letter commending him to the Church of Antioch, [16] which may imply that Clement was living in Cappadocia or Jerusalem at that time. The date and location of his death are unknown.

Theological works

Klementos Alexandreos ta heuriskomena (1715) Klementos Alexandreos ta heuriskomena.tif
Klementos Alexandreos ta heuriskomena (1715)


Three of Clement's major works have survived in full, and they are collectively referred to as the trilogy: [17]


The Orphic mysteries are used as an example of the false cults of Greek paganism in the Protrepticus. DSC00355 - Orfeo (epoca romana) - Foto G. Dall'Orto.jpg
The Orphic mysteries are used as an example of the false cults of Greek paganism in the Protrepticus.

The Protrepticus is, as its title suggests, an exhortation to the pagans of Greece to adopt Christianity, and within it Clement demonstrates his extensive knowledge of pagan mythology and theology. It is chiefly important due to Clement's exposition of religion as an anthropological phenomenon. [19] After a short philosophical discussion, it opens with a history of Greek religion in seven stages. [20] Clement suggests that at first, men mistakenly believed the Sun, the Moon and other heavenly bodies to be gods. The next development was the worship of the products of agriculture, from which he contends the cults of Demeter and Dionysus arose. [21] Man then paid reverence to revenge, and deified human feelings of love and fear, among others. In the following stage, the poets Hesiod and Homer attempt to enumerate the Gods; Hesiod's Theogony giving the number of twelve. Finally, men proclaimed other men, such as Asclepius and Heracles, deities. [21] Discussing idolatry, Clement contends that the objects of primitive religion were unshaped wood and stone, and idols thus arose when such natural items were carved. [22] Following Plato, Clement is critical of all forms of visual art, suggesting that artworks are but illusions and "deadly toys". [22]

Clement criticizes Greek paganism in the Protrepticus on the basis that its deities are both false and poor moral examples, and he attacks the mystery religions for their obscurantism and trivial rituals. [22] In particular, the worshippers of Dionysus are ridiculed for their ritual use of children's toys. [23] He suggests at some points that the pagan deities are based on humans, but at others that they are misanthropic demons, and he cites several classical sources in support of this second hypothesis. [24] Clement, like many pre-Nicene fathers, writes favourably about Euhemerus and other rationalist philosophers, on the grounds that they at least saw the flaws in paganism. However, his greatest praise is reserved for Plato, whose apophatic views of God prefigure Christianity. [25]

The figure of Orpheus is prominent throughout the narrative, and Clement contrasts his song, representing pagan superstition, with the divine Logos of Christ. [26] According to Clement, through conversion to Christianity alone can man fully participate in the Logos, which is universal truth. [27]


Christ, the Logos incarnate, is the Paedagogus of the work's title. Jesus-Christ-from-Hagia-Sophia.jpg
Christ, the Logos incarnate, is the Paedagogus of the work's title.

This work's title, translatable as "tutor", refers to Christ as the teacher of all mankind, and it features an extended metaphor of Christians as children. [28] It is not simply instructional : the author intends to show how the Christian should respond to the Love of God authentically. [29] Clement, following Plato (Republic 4:441), divides life into three elements: character, actions and passions. The first having been dealt with in the Protrepticus, he devotes the Paedagogus to reflections on Christ's role in teaching us to act morally and to control our passions. [30] Despite its explicitly Christian nature, Clement's work draws on Stoic philosophy and pagan literature; Homer alone is cited over sixty times in the work. [31]

Although Christ, like man, is made in the image of God, he alone shares the likeness of God the Father. [32] Christ is both sinless and apathetic, and thus by striving to imitate Christ, man can achieve salvation. To Clement, sin is involuntary, and thus irrational [αλόγον], removed only through the wisdom of the Logos. [33] God's guidance of us away from sin is thus a manifestation of God's universal love for mankind. The word play on λόγος and αλόγον is characteristic of Clement's writing, and may be rooted in the Epicurean belief that relationships between words are deeply reflective of relationships between the objects they signify. [34]

Clement argues for the equality of sexes, on the grounds that salvation is extended to all of mankind equally. [35] Unusually, he suggests that Christ is neither male or female, and that God the Father has both male and female aspects: the eucharist is described as milk from the breast (Christ) of the Father. [36] [37] He is supportive of women playing an active role in the leadership of the church, and provides a list of women he considers inspirational, which includes both Biblical and Classical Greek figures. It has been suggested that Clement's progressive views on gender as set out in the Paedagogus were influenced by Gnosticism. [36] However, later in the work, he argues against the Gnostics that faith, not esoteric knowledge [γνῶσις], is required for salvation. According to Clement, it is through faith in Christ that we are enlightened and come to know God. [38]

In the second book, Clement provides practical rules on living a Christian life. He argues against overindulgence in food and in favour of good table manners. [39] While prohibiting drunkenness, he promotes the drinking of alcohol in moderation following 1 Timothy 5:23. [39] Clement argues for a simple way of life in accordance with the innate simplicity of Christian monotheism. He condemns elaborate and expensive furnishings and clothing, and argues against overly passionate music and perfumes. But Clement does not believe in the abandoning of worldly pleasures and argues that the Christian should be able to express his joy in God's creation through gaiety and partying. [40] He opposes the wearing of garlands, because the picking of the flowers ultimately kills a beautiful creation of God, and the garland resembles the crown of thorns. [41] Clement treats sex at some length. He argues that both promiscuity and sexual abstinence are unnatural, and that the main goal of human sexuality is procreation. [42] Homosexuality, prostitution, concubinage, adultery and coitus with pregnant women should all be avoided as they will not act towards the generation of legitimate offspring. [43]

The third book continues along a similar vein, condemning cosmetics on the grounds that it is our souls, not our bodies, that we should seek to beautify. [44] Clement also opposes the dyeing of men's hair and male depilation as effeminacy. He advises choosing one's company carefully, to avoid being corrupted by immoral people, and while arguing that material wealth is no sin in itself, it is too likely to distract one from the infinitely more important spiritual wealth which is found in Christ. [45] The work finishes with selections of scripture supporting Clement's argument, and following a prayer, the lyrics of a hymn. [46]


Clement describes the Stromata as a work on various subjects, which spring up in the text like flowers in a meadow. Alpine flora logan pass.jpg
Clement describes the Stromata as a work on various subjects, which spring up in the text like flowers in a meadow.

The contents of the Stromata, as its title suggests, are miscellaneous. Its place in the trilogy is disputed – Clement initially intended to write the Didasculus, a work which would complement the practical guidance of the Paedagogus with a more intellectual schooling in theology. [48] The Stromata is less systematic and ordered than Clement's other works, and it has been theorized by André Méhat that it was intended for a limited, esoteric readership. [49] Although Eusebius wrote of eight books of the work, only seven undoubtedly survive. Photius, writing in the 9th century, found various text appended to manuscripts of the seven canonical books, which lead Daniel Heinsius to suggest that the original eighth book is lost, and he identified the text purported to be from the eighth book as fragments of the Hypopotoses. [50]

The first book starts on the topic of Greek philosophy. Consistent with his other writing, Clement affirms that philosophy had a propaedeutic role for the Greek, similar to the function of the law for the Jews. [51] He then embarks on a discussion of the origins of Greek culture and technology, arguing that most of the important figures in the Greek world were foreigners, and (erroneously) that Jewish culture was the most significant influence on Greece. [52] In an attempt to demonstrate the primacy of Moses, Clement gives an extended chronology of the world, wherein he dates the birth of Christ to 25 April or May, 4-2 B.C., and the creation of the world to 5592 B.C. The books ends with a discussion on the origin of languages and the possibility of a Jewish influence on Plato. [53]

The second book is largely devoted to the respective roles of faith and philosophical argument. Clement contends that while both are important, the fear of God is foremost, because through faith one receives divine wisdom. [54] To Clement, scripture is an innately true primitive philosophy which is complemented by human reason through the Logos. [55] Faith is voluntary, and the decision to believe is a crucial fundamental step in becoming closer to God. [56] [57] It is never irrational, as it is founded on the knowledge of the truth of the Logos, but all knowledge proceeds from faith, as first principles are unprovable outside a systematic structure. [58]

The third book covers asceticism. He discusses marriage, which is treated similarly in the Paedagogus. Clement rejects the Gnostic opposition to marriage, arguing that only men who are uninterested in women should remain celibate, and that sex is a positive good if performed within marriage for the purposes of procreation. [59] However it has not always been so: the Fall occurred because Adam and Eve succumbed to their desire for each other, and copulated before the allotted time. [60] He argues against the idea that Christians should reject their family for an ascetic life, which stems from Luke 14:25–27, contending that Jesus would not have contradicted the precept to "Honour thy Father and thy Mother" (Exodus 20:12), one of the Ten Commandments. [61] Clement concludes that asceticism will only be rewarded if the motivation is Christian in nature, and thus the asceticism of non-Christians such as the gymnosophists is pointless. [62] [63]

Clement begins the fourth book with a belated explanation of the disorganized nature of the work, and gives a brief description of his aims for the remaining three or four books. [64] The fourth book focuses on martyrdom. While all good Christians should be unafraid of death, Clement condemns those who actively seek out a martyr's death, arguing that they do not have sufficient respect for God's gift of life. [65] He is ambivalent whether any believing Christian can become a martyr by virtue of the manner of their death, or whether martyrdom is reserved for those who have lived exceptional lives. [66] Marcionites cannot become martyrs, because they do not believe in the divinity of God the Father – their sufferings are in vain. [67] There is then a digression to the subject of theological epistemology. According to Clement, there is no way of empirically testing the existence of God the Father, because the Logos has revelatory, not analysable meaning, although Christ was an object of the senses. God had no beginning, and is the universal first principle. [68]

The fifth book returns to the subject of faith. Clement argues that truth, justice and goodness can be seen only by the mind, not the eye; faith is a way of accessing the unseeable. [69] He stresses that knowledge of God can only be achieved through faith once one's moral faults have been corrected. [70] This parallels Clement's earlier insistence that martyrdom can only be achieved by those who practice their faith in Christ through good deeds, not those who simply profess their faith. God transcends matter entirely, and thus the materialist cannot truly come to know God. Although Christ was God incarnate, it is our spiritual, not physical comprehension of him which is important. [70]

In the beginning of the sixth book, Clement intends to demonstrate that the works of Greek poets were derived from the prophetic books of the Bible. In order to reinforce his position that the Greeks were inclined towards plagiarism, he cites numerous instances of such inappropriate appropriation by classical Greek writers, reported second-hand from On Plagiarism, an anonymous 3rd century BC work sometimes ascribed to Aretades. [71] Clement then digresses to the subject of sin and hell, arguing that Adam was not perfect when created, but given the potential to achieve perfection. He espouses broadly universalist doctrine, holding that Christ's promise of salvation is available to all, even those condemned to hell. [72]

The final extant book begins with a description of the nature of Christ, and that of the true Christian, who aims to be as similar as possible to both the Father and the Son. Clement then criticizes the simplistic anthropomorphism of most ancient religions, quoting Xenophanes' famous description of African, Thracian and Egyptian deities. [73] The Greek gods may also have had their origins in the personification of material objects: Ares representing iron, and Dionysus wine. [74] Prayer, and the relationship between love and knowledge are then discussed. 1 Corinthians 13:8 seems to contradict the characterization of the true Christian as one who knows; but to Clement knowledge vanishes only in that it is subsumed by the universal love expressed by the Christian in his reverence for his Creator. [75] Following Socrates, he argues that vice arises from a state of ignorance, not from intention. The Christian is a "laborer in God's vineyard", responsible both for his own path to salvation and that of his neighbor. The work ends with an extended passage against the contemporary divisions and heresies within the church. [76]

Other works

Besides the great trilogy, Clement's only other extant work is the treatise Salvation for the Rich, also known as Who is the Rich Man who is Saved? Having begun with a scathing criticism of the corrupting effects of money and misguided servile attitudes towards the wealthy, Clement discusses the implications of Mark 10:25. [77] The rich are either unconvinced by the promise of eternal life, or unaware of the conflict between the possession of material and spiritual wealth, and the good Christian has a duty to guide them towards a better life through the Gospel. [77] Jesus' words are not to be taken literally — we should seek the supercelestial [ὑπερουράνιος] meaning in which the true route to salvation is revealed. [78] The holding of material wealth in itself is not a wrong, as long as it is used charitably, but men should be careful not to let their wealth dominate their spirit. It is more important to give up sinful passions than external wealth. If the rich man is to be saved, all he must do is to follow the two commandments, and while material wealth is of no value to God, it can be used to alleviate the suffering of our neighbor. [79]

Other known works exist in fragments alone, including the four eschatological works in the secret tradition: Hypotyposes, Excerpta ex Theodoto, Eclogae Propheticae and the Adumbraetiones. [80] These cover Clement's celestial hierarchy, a complex schema in which the universe is headed by the Face of God, below which lie seven protoctists, followed by archangels, angels and humans. [81] According to Jean Daniélou, this schema is inherited from a Judaeo-Christian esotericism, followed by the Apostles, which was only imparted orally to those Christians who could be trusted with such mysteries. [82] The proctocists are the first beings created by God, and act as priests to the archangels. Clement identifies them both as the "Eyes of the Lord" and with the Thrones. [83] Clement characterizes the celestial forms as entirely different from anything earthly, although he argues that members of each order only seem incorporeal to those of lower orders. [84] According to the Eclogae Propheticae, every thousand years every member of each order moves up a degree, and thus men can become angels. Even the protoctists can be elevated, although their new position in the hierarchy is not clearly defined. [84] The apparent contradiction between the fact that there can be only seven protoctists but also a vast number of archangels to be promoted to their order is problematical. The commonest modern explanation is that the number seven is not meant to be taken literally, but has a principally numerological significance. [85]

We know the titles of several lost works because of a list in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History , 6.13.1-3. They include the Outlines, in eight books, and Against Judaizers. Others are known only from mentions in Clement's own writings, including On Marriage and On Prophecy, although few are attested by other writers and it is difficult to separate works which he intended to write from those which were actually completed. [86]

The Mar Saba letter was attributed to Clement by Morton Smith, but there remains much debate today over whether it is an authentic letter from Clement, an ancient pseudepigraph or a modern forgery. [87] [88] If authentic, its main significance would be in its relating that the Apostle Mark came to Alexandria from Rome and there wrote a more spiritual Gospel, which he entrusted to the Church in Alexandria on his death; if genuine, the letter pushes back the tradition related by Eusebius connecting Mark with Alexandria by a century. [89]


Eusebius is the first writer to provide an account of Clement's life and works, in his Ecclesiastical History , 5.11.1-5, 6.6.1 [note 2] Eusebius provides a list of Clement's works, biographical information, and an extended quotation from the Stromata.

Photios I of Constantinople writes against Clement's theology in the Bibliotheca , although he is appreciative of Clement's learning and the literary merits of his work. [91] In particular, he is highly critical of the Hypotyposes, a work of biblical exegesis of which only a few fragments have survived. Photios compared Clement's treatise, which, like his other works, was highly syncretic, featuring ideas of Hellenistic, Jewish and Gnostic origin, unfavorably against the prevailing orthodoxy of the 9th century. [92] Amongst the particular ideas Photios deemed heretical were:

As one of the earliest of the Church fathers whose works have survived, he is the subject of a significant amount of recent academic work, focusing on among other things, his exegesis of scripture, his Logos-theology and pneumatology, the relationship between his thought and non-Christian philosophy and his influence on Origen. [100]


Down to the seventeenth century Clement was venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. His name was to be found in the martyrologies, and his feast fell on the fourth of December. But when the Roman Martyrology was revised by Pope Clement VIII his name was dropped from the calendar on the advice of Cardinal Baronius. Benedict XIV maintained this decision of his predecessor on the grounds that Clement's life was little known, that he had never obtained public cultus in the Church, and that some of his doctrines were, if not erroneous, at least suspect. [101]

Although Clement is not widely venerated in Eastern Christianity, the Prologue of Ohrid repeatedly refers to him as a saint [102] [103] , as do various Orthodox authorities including the Greek Metropolitan Kallinikos of Edessa. [104]

The Coptic tradition considers Clement a saint. [105] [106] Saint Clement Coptic Orthodox Christian Academy in Nashville, TN is specifically named after him. [107]

Clement is commemorated in Anglicanism. [108] Also, the independent Universal Catholic Church's cathedral in Dallas is dedicated to him.




See also


  1. Proponents of a formalized leadership and succession suggest that Clement succeeded Pantaenus as leader of the school, and was succeeded himself by Origen. [13]
  2. Of the two sections dedicated to Clement, Eccl. Hist. 6.6.1 seems decidedly out of place, and Valesius argued that this was evidence that Eusebius never revised his work. [90]

Related Research Articles

Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christological doctrine which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, a creature distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to him, but the Son is also God. Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius, a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt. The term "Arian" is derived from the name Arius; and like "Christian", it was not a self-chosen designation but bestowed by hostile opponents—and never accepted by those on whom it had been imposed. The nature of Arius's teaching and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father.

In the history of Christianity, docetism is the heterodox doctrine that the phenomenon of Jesus, his historical and bodily existence, and above all the human form of Jesus, was mere semblance without any true reality. Broadly it is taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion.

First Council of Nicaea council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in 325

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.

Josephus on Jesus

The extant manuscripts of the book Antiquities of the Jews, written by the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus around 93–94 AD, contain two references to Jesus of Nazareth and one reference to John the Baptist. These references have no parallels in Josephus' other historical work The Jewish War, written 20 years earlier, but some scholars have provided explanations for their absence.

Ebionites Jewish Christian movement that existed during the early centuries of the Christian Era

Ebionites is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian movement that existed during the early centuries of the Christian Era. They regarded Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah while rejecting his divinity and his virgin birth and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites. They used only one of the Jewish–Christian gospels, the Hebrew Book of Matthew starting at chapter three; revered James, the brother of Jesus ; and rejected Paul the Apostle as an apostate from the Law. Their name suggests that they placed a special value on voluntary poverty. Ebionim was one of the terms used by the sect at Qumran who sought to separate themselves from the corruption of the Temple. Many believe that the Qumran sectarians were Essenes.

Buddhism and the Roman world

Several instances of interaction between Buddhism and the Roman world are documented by Classical and early Christian writers.

The Encratites ("self-controlled") were an ascetic 2nd-century sect of Christians who forbade marriage and counselled abstinence from meat. Eusebius says that Tatian was the author of this heresy. It has been supposed that it was these Gnostic Encratites who were chastised in the epistle of 1 Timothy (4:1-4).

The Stromata or Stromateis, also called Miscellanies, is the third in Clement of Alexandria's trilogy of works on the Christian life. Clement titled this work Stromateis, "patchwork," because it deals with such a variety of matters. It goes further than its two predecessors and aims at the perfection of the Christian life by initiation into complete knowledge. It attempts, on the basis of Scripture and tradition, to give such an account of the Christian faith as shall answer all the demands of learned men, and conduct the student into the innermost realities of his belief.

Buddhist influences on Christianity

Some scholars believe that there exist significant Buddhist influences on Christianity reaching back to Christianity's earliest days. Buddhism was known in the pre-Christian Greek world, and hence the later Roman Empire, through the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Several prominent early Christian fathers were certainly aware of the Buddha, even mentioning him in their works. The notion of Buddhist influence in early Christian history, however, remains controversial.

Preparation for the Gospel, commonly known by its Latin title Praeparatio evangelica, was a work of Christian apologetics written by Eusebius in the early part of the fourth century AD. It was begun about the year 313, and attempts to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies.

In rhetoric, protrepsis and paraenesis (παραίνεσις) are two closely related styles of exhortation that are employed by moral philosophers. While there is a widely accepted distinction between the two that is employed by modern writers, classical philosophers did not make a clear distinction between the two, and even used them interchangeably.

The Ante-Nicene Period of the history of early Christianity was the period following the Apostolic Age of the 1st century down to the First Council of Nicaea in 325. During this period proto-orthodoxy developed.

Christianity in the 2nd century Christianity-related events during the 2nd century

Christianity in the 2nd century was largely the time of the development of variant Christian teachings, and the Apostolic Fathers who are regarded as defenders of the developing proto-orthodoxy. Major figures who were later declared by the developing proto-orthodoxy to be heretics were Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus.

Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews of the Christian Bible is one of the New Testament books whose canonicity was disputed. Traditionally, Paul the Apostle was thought to be the author. However, since the third century this has been questioned, and the consensus among most modern scholars is that the author is unknown.

Demetrius the Chronographer was a Jewish chronicler (historian) of the late 3rd century BCE, who lived probably in Alexandria and wrote in Greek.

Pseudo-Orpheus is the name of a poetic text, preserved only in quotations by various Christian writers, which has a complex history. Pseudo-Orpheus appears in multiple recensions. The poem presents the legendary Greek figure Orpheus as giving a poetic speech to his son, Musaeus, identified as the biblical Moses, passing on to him hidden wisdom he learned in Egypt. It presents a monotheistic view of God, whom, according to the poem, no one has seen, except for Abraham, who was able to see God due to his skill at astrology.



  1. Stromata, book VI, chapter VI
  2. Gerald O'Collins and Edward G. Farrugia, A Concise Dictionary of Theology (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000) p. 27; cf. Adolph Harnack, History of Dogma vol. 2, trans. Neil Buchanan (London, Williams & Norgate, 1995) p. 337; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata <6:14
  3. Buell (1999), p. 10
  4. Outler (1940), p. 217
  5. Press (2003), p. 83
  6. 1 2 Ferguson (1974), p. 13.
  7. Westcott (1877), p. 560.
  8. Ferguson (1974), p. 14.
  9. Stromateis
  10. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6.13.2; 6.6.1
  11. Ferguson (1974), p. 15.
  12. Hägg (2006), pp. 56–9.
  13. Itter (2009), pp. 9–10.
  14. Osborn (2008), pp. 19–24.
  15. Ferguson (1974), p. 16.
  16. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6.14.8
  17. Osborn (2008), p. 5
  18. 1 2 3 Ferguson (1974), p. 17
  19. Droge (1989), p. 138
  20. Droge (1989), p. 130
  21. 1 2 Droge (1989), p. 131
  22. 1 2 3 Ferguson (1974), p. 48
  23. Burrus (2011), p. 101
  24. Ferguson (1974), p. 50
  25. Ferguson (1974), pp. 55–6
  26. de Jáuregui (2010), p. 132
  27. Sharkey (2009), p. 159
  28. Ferguson (1974), p. 76
  29. Osborn (2008), p. 244
  30. Ferguson (1974), p. 69
  31. Irvine (2006), p. 164
  32. Ogliari (2003), p. 200
  33. Ferguson (1974), p. 71
  34. Ferguson (1974), p. 73
  35. Ferguson (1974), p. 72
  36. 1 2 Gill (2004), p. 184
  37. Berger (2011), pp. 74–5
  38. Ferguson (1974), p. 75
  39. 1 2 Ferguson (1974), p. 80
  40. Ferguson (1974), p. 82
  41. Ferguson (1974), p. 85
  42. Kochuthara (2007) , p. 145
  43. Ferguson (1974), p. 87
  44. Ferguson (1974), p. 91
  45. Ferguson (1974), p. 94
  46. Murphy (1941), p. 32
  47. Ferguson (1974), p. 107
  48. Ferguson (1974), p. 106
  49. Osborn (2008), p. 8
  50. Kaye (1835), p. 221
  51. Ferguson (1974), pp. 108–9
  52. Ferguson (1974), pp. 113–6
  53. Ferguson (1974), pp. 117–9
  54. Osborn (1994), p. 3
  55. Osborn (1994), p. 4
  56. Ferguson (1974), p. 121
  57. Osborn (1994), p. 7
  58. Osborn (1994), pp. 11–12
  59. Heid (2000), p. 65
  60. Seymour (1997), p. 257
  61. Clark (1999), p. 198
  62. Clark (1999), p. 17
  63. Burrus (2011), p. 30
  64. Ferguson (1974), p. 133
  65. Verhey (2011), p. 350
  66. Burrus (2011), p. 82
  67. Osborn (1994), p. 8
  68. Ferguson (1974), p. 139
  69. Osborn (1994), p. 9
  70. 1 2 Osborn (1994), p. 10
  71. de Jáuregui (2010), p. 201
  72. Seymour (1997), pp. 262–3
  73. Grant (1988), p. 77
  74. Ferguson (1974), p. 150
  75. Ferguson (1974), p. 151
  76. Ferguson (1974), p. 152
  77. 1 2 Ferguson (1974), p. 166
  78. Ferguson (1974), p. 167
  79. Ferguson (1974), pp. 173, 178
  80. Bucar (2006), p. 252
  81. Bucar (2006), p. 255
  82. Daniélou (1962), p. 262
  83. Bucar (2006), p. 257
  84. 1 2 Bucar (2006), p. 260
  85. Bucar (2006), pp. 261–3
  86. Ferguson (1974), p. 179
  87. Heine (2010), pp. 117-8, 121
  88. Osborn (2008), p. 195
  89. Heine (2010), p. 121.
  90. McGiffert (1890), p. 253.
  91. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 16.
  92. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), pp. 17–8.
  93. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 23.
  94. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), pp. 40–43.
  95. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 75.
  96. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 95.
  97. Itter (2009), p. 68.
  98. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 146.
  99. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 115.
  100. Ashwin-Siejkowski (2015), pp. 923.
  101. Havey (1908)
  107. "Our Saint". Archived from the original on 2018-11-27. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  108. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  • Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr (2010). Clement of Alexandria on Trial: The Evidence of "Heresy" from Photius' Bibliotheca. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN   978-90-04-17627-0.
  • Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr (2015). "Clement of Alexandria". In Parry, Ken (ed.). Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. pp. 84–97. ISBN   978-1118438718.
  • Berger, Teresa (2011). Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History: Lifting a Veil on Liturgy's Past. London: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN   978-1-4094-2698-1.
  • Bucur, Bogdan G. (2006). "The Other Clement of Alexandria: Cosmic Hierarchy and Interiorized Apocalypticism". Vigiliae Christianae. 60 (3): 251–268. doi:10.1163/157007206778149510. JSTOR   20474764.
  • Buell, Denise Kimber (1999). Making Christians: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN   0-691-05980-2.
  • Burrus, Virginia (2010). Late Ancient Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. ISBN   978-0-8006-9720-4.
  • Clark, Elizabeth Ann (1999). Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN   978-0-691-00512-6.
  • Daniélou, Jean (1962). "Les traditions secrètes des Apôtres". Eranos-Jahrbuch (in French). 31: 261–95.
  • Droge, Arthur J. (1989). Homer or Moses?: Early Christian Interpretations of the History of Culture. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN   978-3-16-145354-0.
  • Ferguson, John (1974). Clement of Alexandria . New York: Twayne Publishers. ISBN   0-8057-2231-9.
  • Gill, Deborah M. (2004). "The Disappearance of the Female Prophet: Twilight of Christian Prophecy". In Ma, Wonsuk (ed.). The spirit and spirituality. New York, NY: T & T Clark. pp. 178–93. ISBN   978-0-8264-7162-8.
  • Grant, Robert McQueen (1988). Gods and the One God. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN   978-0-664-25011-9.
  • Hägg, Henny Fiska (2006), Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0-199-28808-3
  • Hägg, Henny Fiskå (2006). Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-928808-9.
  • Havey, Francis (1908). "Clement of Alexandria". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 4. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company.
  • Heid, Stefan (2000). Celibacy in the Early Church: The Beginnings of a Discipline of Obligatory Continence for Clerics in East and West. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press. ISBN   978-0-89870-800-4.
  • Heine, Ronald E. (2010). "The Alexandrians". In Young, Frances (ed.). The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 117–30. ISBN   978-0521460835.
  • Itter, Andrew C. (2009). Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN   978-90-04-17482-5.
  • Irvine, Martin (2006). The Making of Textual Culture: 'Grammatica' and Literary Theory 350–1100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-03199-0.
  • Meredith, Anthony (2002), "Patristic spirituality", in Byrne, Peter; Houlden, Leslie (eds.), Companion Encyclopedia of Theology, Routledge, ISBN   9781134922017
  • de Jáuregui, Miguel Herrero (2010). Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   978-3-11-020633-3.
  • Karavites, Peter (1999). Evil, Freedom, and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN   978-90-04-11238-4.
  • Kaye, John (1835). Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Clement of Alexandria. London: J. G. & F. Rivington.
  • Kochuthara, Shaji George (2007). The Concept of Sexual Pleasure in the Catholic Moral Tradition. Rome: Gregorian University Press. ISBN   978-88-7839-100-0.
  • McGiffert, A. C. (trans.) (1890). "The Church History of Eusebius". In Schaff, Philip (ed.). Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. 1st series. 1. Oxford: Parker. pp. 1–403.
  • Murphy, Mable Gant (1941). Nature Allusions in the Works of Clement of Alexandria. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
  • Ogliari, Donato (2003). Gratia et certamen: The Relationship Between Grace and Free Will in the Discussion of Augustine with the So-called Semipelagians. Leuven: Peeters. ISBN   90-429-1351-7.
  • Outler, Albert C. (1940). "The "Platonism" of Clement of Alexandria". The Journal of Religion. 20 (3): 217–240. doi:10.1086/482574.
  • Osborn, Eric (1994). "Arguments for Faith in Clement of Alexandria". Vigiliae Christianae. 48 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1163/157007294x00113.
  • Osborn, Eric (2008). Clement of Alexandria. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-521-09081-0.
  • Press, Gerald A. (2003). Development of the Idea of History in Antiquity. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press.
  • Seymour, Charles (1997). "On Choosing Hell". Religious Studies. 3 (33): 249–266. JSTOR   20008103.
  • Sharkey, Michael, ed. (2009). International Theological Commission, Volume 2. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN   978-1-58617-226-8.
  • Verhey, Allen (2011). The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN   978-0-8028-6672-1.
  • Westcott, Brooke Foss (1877). "Clement of Alexandria". In Smith, Willam (ed.). A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines. 1. London, England: John Murray. pp. 559–67.
  • Young, Richard A. (1999). Is God a Vegetarian?: Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights. Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing. ISBN   0-8126-9393-0.

Further reading