the Christians of first century Rome put you to shame

I was reading this today…

55.1 But moreover let us also bring forward examples of the heathen. Many kings and rulers who, being in times of pestilence, following some oracle, have given over themselves to death so that they might rescue their citizens by their own blood. Many have departed their own cities so that they might not rebel any more. 1 2 We know many among us have given themselves over to imprisonment so that they might ransom others. Many have given themselves over to slavery and having received their price used the proceeds to feed 2 3 others. 3 Many women, being strengthened by the grace of God, have accomplished many manly deeds. 4 The blessed Judith when her city was under siege, asked of the elders to permit her to go out into the fortified camp of the foreigners. 4 5 Therefore, giving herself over to danger, she went out because of love for her country and for the people who were under siege, and the Lord delivered Holophernes into the hand of a woman. 6 Not less also did Esther, perfect in faith, put herself in danger so that she might rescue the nation of Israel, which was about to be destroyed. For through fasting and her humiliation she beseeched the all-seeing Master of the ages, who upon seeing the humility of her soul rescued the people for whose sake she put herself in danger. 5

Christians… stood in the place of slaves that they may be free, in the place of prisoners, that they may be free… and sold themselves that others may be fed.

If that was truly a requirement, I couldn’t be a Christian.


1  Literally “against more”

2  Literally “have fed”

3 1Co 13.3

4 Jdt 8

5 Est 2–6

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Pseudo-Clementine on the inborn affection to God the Creator

Perugino, Pietro - God the Creator and Angels ...
Perugino, Pietro – God the Creator and Angels – 1507-08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But, inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the Creator seemed to suffice for salvation to those who loved Him, the enemy studies to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their Creator. For I call heaven and earth to witness, that if God permitted the enemy to rage as much as he desires. all men should have perished long ere now; but for His mercy’s sake God doth not suffer him. But if men would turn their affection towards God, all would doubtless be saved, even if for some faults they might seem to be corrected for righteousness. But now the most of men have been made enemies of God, whose hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection which God the Creator had implanted in them, that they might have it towards Him. But of the rest, who seemed for a time to be watchful, the enemy, appearing in a phantasy of glory and splendour, and promising them certain great and mighty things, has caused their mind and heart to wander away from God; yet it is for some just reason that he is permitted to accomplish these things.”

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This is why the Church Fathers bless me so much (Even Jerome, sometimes)


Clearly, the author of 1 Clement has read Romans 1.18-32 correctly, complete with Pauline rhetoric as brought to light by myself, Douglas Campbell, and Daniel R.

Unlike some

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parting thoughts on 1 Clement, Barnabas and the Didache

English: Manuscript of Didache
English: Manuscript of Didache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past few weeks in Sunday School, we’ve discusses the above named early Christian writings.

We wrapped it up this past Sunday.

Here are some thoughts…

What are the things you need when creating/forming a qualitatively new religion. I maintain Christianity grew out of Judaism. At this level, then, it was not quantitatively new, as in a separate entity, but only about quality.

What are the things you need?

First, you need an identity. This is what Barnabas gives us. He recasts the Jews as the non-Jews. Sure, they were for a time, but now God has restored the real covenant to the people called Christians. This is their new identity — he is co-opting in a rather unique way the Jewish identity.

The second thing you need is structure, or some ordering hierarchy. 1st Clement gives us this. He establishes Apostolic Succession, albeit not in the way Rome would see it today, but not that far off. He also establishes hierarchy. You must follow a prescribed institution. And this goes back to the very men who received their authority from Jesus.

Third, you need a ritual. This is the Didache’s purpose. It connects us to something of the synagogue service but sets it in a framework honoring Jesus. Some scholars see pre-Christian sources. This would fit, actually, with the idea that such a hymnbook was later co-opting by followers of Jesus to fit their bill. I am still not convinced that the Didache is pure descendant of Matthew. Given its textual history, who not have it both? It preceded Matthew and likewise descended from the same Antiochene community.

Next week, we are starting on Ignatius of Antioch, Hermes, and Diognetus.

I used this Logos Resource for the Didache.

This is a good one for 1st Clement.

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How Early is 1 Clement? @logos @academiclogos

Clement of Rome’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is a supremely valuable historical document. One of very few noncanonical Christian texts to reach us from the first century, it’s an early example of the exercise of hierarchical—and Roman—authority in the Church. Disciplinary in nature, Clement’s epistle speaks volumes about the life of the early church. The early Christians guarded the letter fiercely, risking their own lives to preserve it for generations to come.

In Clement and the Early Church of Rome: On the Dating of Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, Thomas Herron presents painstaking research in favor of an earlier dating for the epistle. Carefully examining both external and internal evidence surrounding the letter, he sketches out the historical, theological, and apologetic significance an earlier dating would have. His scholarship sheds new light on the dating questions that plague this early document and offers insight into the structural history of the post apostolic church.

via Clement and the Early Church of Rome: On the Dating of Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians – Logos Bible Software.

Yes, I’m copying from Jim here, but he did have a good idea.

This just hit the shelves, so to speak, at Logos. Herron is arguing for a real early date – before the destruction of the Temple. I’m not completely convinced… but I am reading it.

So, go get it.

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The Dangers of Taking Everything Literal – 1st Clement (of Rome)

Pope Clement I
Image via Wikipedia

Let us consider that wonderful sign |of the resurrection¦ which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about.

There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies.

But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis.

And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode.

The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed. (1Cl 25:1-5)

Now, we may assume that Clement of Rome, a Bishop after Peter, was a wise a spiritual man, but would we then dare to take every word of his as inspired and correct?

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Clement of Rome on Justification by Works

Pope Clement I
Image via Wikipedia

Following the Brother of Jesus, James who in his epistle wrote, ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jam 2:24 NASB), Clement of Rome, wrote to the Corinthians,

Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride.

For God, saith|the Scripture¦, resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.

For|the Scripture¦ saith, He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous?

Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.

Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves.

Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers.

Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him. (1Cl 30:1-8 APE)


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Looking at 2nd Clement

I thought that I might spend sometime looking through the anonymous epistle which has been attributed to Clement I of Rome. Unlike the first epistle, it is not from the former bishop and follower of the disciples, but does represented (according to consensus) a homiletic work written in the middle of the second century (during the ministry of Soter, then Bishop).

Before I do that, I thought that I might review of some of the historical details. (Starting with Wiki, of course… and here, which is a great source for early christian writings.) Most believe that 2nd Clement is a sermon due to the often ‘living’ method of delivery, such as the written annunciation of reading something to the audience,

Wherefore, brethren and sisters, after the God of truth hath been heard, I read to you an entreaty that ye may give heed to the things that are written…. (2Cl 19:1)

Robert M. Grant writes (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 1, p. 1061):

An early Christian epistle transmitted along with 1 Clement in the biblical Codex Alexandrinus (late 4th century) and the later Jerusalem Codex (1056) which includes the Didache, as well as in the Syriac version. It was not written by the author(s) of 1 Clement and, indeed, it is not a letter but a sermon on self-control, repentance, and judgment. The sermon begins abruptly: “Brothers, we must think about Jesus Christ as about God, as about the judge of living and dead; and we must not think little of our salvation.” The preacher tells his “brothers and sisters” that he is reading them a “petition” or “plea” (Gk enteuxis) to “pay attention to what is written,” i.e. to the scriptures which he frequently cites (along with quotations from “the prophetic word,” otherwise unknown, and something like the apocryphal Gospel of the Egyptians). He himself refers to “the books (i.e., the OT) and the apostles” as authorities (14.2).

Grant also writes (op. cit., p. 1061):

Scholars have noted the “synoptic-type” Jewish piety of the sermon, perhaps surprising around A.D. 140-160 (the epistle’s approximate date). The work appears to rely upon the Gospel of John as well, however, notably in 9:5-6: “If Christ the Lord who saved us was spirit at first but became flesh and so called us, so shall we receive the reward in the flesh. Let us then love one another so that we may all come to the kingdom of God.” The kingdom will come when truth and good works are accompanied by ascetic practise (chap. 12). Until then, Christians must preserve the “seal of baptism” (7:6, 8:6) and belong to “the first, spiritual Church, created before sun and moon,” for Gen 1:27 refers to the male Christ and the female Church, both spiritual; Christ is also the Spirit (chap. 14). The theology is not altogether clear, and the author soon turns to the state that he has “given no trivial counsel about self-control,” leading into his practical appeal for repentence and going so far as to say that “fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving is better than both” (16:4).

Chapter 14 is the main reason I am looking at 2nd Clement.

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