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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