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النشر الإلكتروني

UNIVERSITY

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'HE FIRST EPISTLE ascribed to S. Clement is addressed by

the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth. Though the writer's name is not mentioned either in the address or in the body of the letter, there can be no reasonable doubt about the authorship. Not only have we very wide and very early testimony to the fact that Clement held the first place in the Roman Church about this time; but the direct proofs of his being the writer are numerous.

His contemporary Hermas, the author of the Shepherd, represents himself as directed by the angelic messenger to deliver a copy of the book with which he is charged to Clement, that he may communicate it to foreign churches, 'for this function belongs to him' (Vis. ii. 4 Téllyel Oův Kanuns εις τας έξω πόλεις, εκείνω γαρ επιτέτραπται). Not long after the middle of the second century testimony is borne to the authorship from two independent quarters. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, writing to the Roman Christians during the episcopate of Soter (c. A.D. 165-175) in reply to a letter received from them, says: “This day, being the Lord's day, we kept as a holy-day; when we read your epistle, which we shall ever continue to read for our edification, as also the former epistle which you wrote to us by Clement' (ώς και την προτέραν ημίν διά Κλήμεντος ypapeioav, Euseb. H. E. iv. 23). About the same time Hegesippus, a native of Palestine, who had visited both Rome and Corinth, alludes to the feuds which had disturbed the latter Church, and (as reported by Eusebius) mentions in connexion therewith some particulars about the letter of Clement to the Corinthians' (Euseb. H. E. iv. 22; comp. H. E. iii. 16).

A few years later Irenæus writes thus: “In the time of this Clement (επί τούτου του Κλήμεντος), no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very able (ikavutátov) letter to the Corinthians, urging them to peace, etc.' (Hær. iii. 3. 3; comp. Euseb. H. E. v. 6). Again about the close of the century the writer's namesake, Clement of Alexandria, repeatedly quotes the letter; citing it most commonly as 'Clement in the Epistle to the Corinthians' (e.g. Strom. i. 7, p. 339; iv. 17, p. 609; vi. 8, p. 773), but in one passage as the 'Epistle of the Romans to the Corinthians' (Strom. V. 12, p. 693). Either designation is equally appropriate; for, though addressed in the name of the Roman Church, it would be written and forwarded by Clement. In the next generation again Origen more than once quotes it as the work of Clement (de Princ. ii. 6, 1. p. 82; Select, in Ezech. viii. 3, III. p. 422; in Joann. vi. § 36, iv. P. 153). And Eusebius, while mentioning the Second Epistle as ascribed to Clement, states that he was universally recognised as the author of the First (του Κλήμεντος εν τη ομολογουμένη παρα πάσιν), which was written by him to the Corinthians 'in the person of the Roman Church' (ήν εκ προσώπου της Ρωμαίων εκκλησίας της Κορινθίων διετυTÚCATO, H. E. iii. 38). In short it may fairly be said that very few writings of Classical or Christian antiquity are so well authenticated as this letter.

About its date some difference of opinion exists. The troubles mentioned in the opening chapter must refer to some persecution of the Roman Christians. The persecution of Trajan, to which Clement has been supposed by some recent critics to allude, is too late for the notices found elsewhere in the epistle (see the notes on gf 5, 44); nor indeed is there any reason for thinking that the Roman Christians especially were sufferers during this reign. It must be added also that the only positive argument urged in favour of this very late date is unsound (see the note on $ 55). We are therefore limited to the persecutions of Nero and Domitian. Those who maintain the earlier of these two epochs appeal to the fact that Clement, when referring to the temple services, uses the present tense, as though the temple were still standing and the services regularly performed: but parallel instances show that this mode of speaking was common long after the destruction of Jerusalem (see the notes on $$ 40, 41). On the other hand the notices in other passages of the epistle seem to require a greater lapse of time since the foundation of the Corinthian Church and the death of the chief Apostles (see $8 5, 44, 47, with the notes); and the language in which the troubles of the Roman Church are described in the opening chapter accords better with the persecution of Domitian than with that of Nero (see the notes, § 1). Again the manifest quotations from the New Testament, more especially from the Epistle to the Hebrews, are hardly reconcilable with a date so early as the time of Nero. Thus the balance of internal evidence points clearly to the later of the two persecuțions. And this result is confirmed by the direct statement of Hegesippus, who according to Eusebius referred the dissensions of the Corinthian Christians, which prompted the letter, to the time of Domitian (Euseb. Η. Ε. iii. 16 και ότι γε κατά τον δηλούμενον τα της Κορινθίων κεκίνητο στάσεως αξιόχρεως μάρτυς ο Ηγήσιππος). As Hegesippus visited both churches in succession about half a century after the letter was written, the greatest weight must be assigned to his testimony. This date moreover is confirmed by the fact, that the most trustworthy accounts place the episcopate of Clement late in the century, making him third in the succession of Roman bishops. Thus the letter will have been written about the year 95.

A fuller discussion of the nature of the feuds, which prompted the Roman Church to address this letter to the Corinthians, will be found in the notes (S$ 1, 40—-47, 54). It is sufficient to say here that they had led to the expulsion of some faithful and honoured presbyters. But besides these social dissensions, it would appear that the old difficulty about the resurrection, which had troubled the Corinthian Church in St Paul's day, was again revived. At all events Clement takes some pains to argue the matter with his readers, as though it were a question of dispute among them (see § 24 sq. with the notes). Beyond these two points the letter contains no strictly argumentative matter, but is chiefly hortatory and didactic.

The effect of this interposition of the Roman Church may be inferred from the fact that Hegesippus immediately after his mention of the letter sent to heal these dissensions adds; "And the Church of Corinth remained in the right doctrine till the episcopate of Primus in Corinth' (Euseb. H. E. iv. 22), this being the date of his own visit. At all events we find the Corinthian Christians not long after the middle of the second century communicating with their Roman brethren in the most friendly and cordial manner; for Dionysius of Corinth, writing in the name of his Church, loudly praises the 'hereditary liberality of the Romans by which all the brethren had profited (Euseb. H. E. iv. 23); and the fact, already mentioned on his authority, that they continued in his time to read the letter of Clement in their religious assemblies, shows that the remonstrances of the Roman brotherhood had been received by them in a right spirit.

2.

The following is an analysis of the letter:

'THE CHURCH OF ROME TO THE CHURCH OF CORINTH. Greeting in Christ Jesus.'

"We regret that domestic troubles have prevented our writing before: we deplore the feuds which have gained ground among you; for your present unhappy state reminds us by contrast of the past, when such breaches of brotherly love were unknown among you, and your exemplary concord and charity were known far and wide (S$ 1, 2). Now all is changed. Like Jeshurun of old, you have waxed fat and kicked. Envy is your ruling passion (3). Envy, which led Cain to slay his brother; which sent Jacob into exile; which persecuted Joseph; which compelled Moses to flee; which drove Aaron and Miriam out of the camp; which threw Dathan and Abiram alive into the pit; which incited Saul against David (§ 4); which in these latest days, after inflicting countless sufferings on the Apostles Peter and Paul, brought them to a martyr's death (8 5); which has caused numberless woes to women and girls, has separated wives from their husbands, has destroyed whole cities and nations ($ 6). We and you alike need this warning. Let us therefore repent, as men repented at the preaching of Noah, at the preaching of Jonah ($ 7). The Holy Spirit, speaking by the prophets, again and again calls to repentance (8 8). Let us not turn a deaf ear to the summons; let us supplicate God's mercy; let us follow the example of Enoch who was translated, of Noah who was saved from the flood (§ 9), of Abraham whose faith was rewarded by repeated blessings and by the gift of a son (§ 10). Call to mind the example of Lot whose hospitality saved him from the fate of Sodom, when even his wife perished ($ 11); of Rahab whose faith and protection of the spies rescued her from the general destruction ($ 12). Pride and passion must be laid aside; mercy and gentleness cherished; for the promises in the Scriptures are reserved for the merciful and gentle (S$ 13, 14). We must not call down denunciations upon our heads, like the Israelites of old ($ 15): but rather take for our pattern the lowliness of Christ as portrayed by the Evangelical Prophet and by the Psalmist (§ 16); and copy also the humility of the ancient worthies, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, Abraham, and Job; of Moses the most highly favoured and yet the meekest of men (§ 17); of David the man after God's heart, who nevertheless humbled himself in the dust ($ 18). Nay, let us have before our eyes the long-suffering of God himself, the

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