Clement of Alexandria
(c.150 - c.215)

Clement of Alexandria (from André Thevet)

Clement of Alexandria (from André Thevet)
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Little is known about the life of Titus Flavius Clemens.[1] He succeeded the converted stoic philosopher Pantaenus[2] as head of the Christian Catechetical school in Alexandria, founded by the latter in the middle of the second century. He is regarded as an inferior theologian to his immediate successor to the post, Origen.[3]

Clement drew extensively on Philo,[4] and followed both Philo and Justin Martyr[5] in claiming that the Greek philosophers had plagiarised their teaching from Moses.[6] His reasons for doing this were twofold. First, he wished to counter the negative attitude that many uneducated Christians had towards Greek philosophy. That (in his opinion) would have greatly hindered its spread in the Hellenistic world. Secondly, he was faced with the attacks of educated Pagans, such as Celsus (late second century), who in his work True Doctrine[7] argued for the superiority of Greek culture, of which Judaism and Christianity were but shabby counterfeits.[8] On the contrary, Clement argued, Plato and the other philosophers had read the writings of Moses and the Prophets: whatever good could be found in their works was a result of divine inspiration and/or their use of biblical material.[9] This theory is often referred to as "the theft of the Greeks". Lilla points out that Clement and Celsus shared the common conviction that the Greeks had inherited, not invented their superior culture and philosophy from the ancient civilisations of India, Persia, Babylon and Egypt.[10]

In extolling the divine character of the philosophy of Plato, Clement claims several times that Plato was dependent on Scripture,[11] as was Pythagoras (who is also warmly praised).[12] This is amply demonstrated in the reading list of the Catechetical school in Alexandria, which included the works of all the philosophers (except those of the Epicureans, who denied the existence of God), and was clearly modelled on the Platonic schools of the time.[13] He interpreted Greek philosophy in a biblical sense[14] and maintained that it had prepared the Hellenistic world for the ‘true philosophy’: the Christian gospel.[15] Philosophy gave Clement an the means by which he could penetrate beyond the literal sense of Scripture to reveal the true meaning, namely allegory.

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[1] Albert C. Outler, "The ‘Platonism’ of Clement of Alexandria," The Journal of Religion, Vol. 20, No. 3. (1940): 217.

[2] Eusebius, History 6.6 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 1, 253-254). Henry Chadwick in A. Hilary Armstrong, ed. The Cambridge History of Later Greek And Early Medieval Philosophy. (Cambridge: CUP, 1970), 168.

[3] Outler, 217.

[4] Joseph W. Trigg, "Allegory," Everett Ferguson ed. EEC. (New York: Garland, 1990), 24.

[5] Though Clement nowhere gives Justin credit when he develops Justin’s ideas. Chadwick, Later Greek And Early Medieval Philosophy, 170.

[6] E.g. Clement, Strom. 1.20-29; 2.1.1; 4.1.2 (ANF, Vol. 2, 323-341). Salvatore R.C. Lilla., Clement of Alexandria, A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism. (Oxford: OUP, 1971), 31-41.

[7] Written 178 AD.

[8] Lilla, 34-36.

[9] Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation 6; Strom. 1:15, 21; 2.5, 11, 14; 6.3 (ANF, Vol. 2, 316-317, 324; 351-353, 460, 465-476; 486-488).

[10] Lilla, 37-39.

[11] Clement, Strom. 1.25; 2.22; 5.14 (ANF, Vol. 2, 338, 375-376, 465-469). Lilla, 42, n.4.

[12] Lilla, 43.

[13] Gregory Thaumaturgus’ (or ‘the wonder-worker’) Thanksgiving to Origen is our source for details of the school’s curriculum. G.L. Prestige, Fathers And Heretics. (London: SCM, 1963), 49-52; Lilla, 55-56.

[14] Lilla, 43.

[15] Lilla, 56; Daniélou, Hellenistic, 109.

Primary Sources

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On-line Resource Clement of Alexandria (Christian Classic Ethereal Library)
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On-line Resource Clement of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John (
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On-line Resource Clement of Alexandria (Peter Kirby)
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Secondary Sources

Clement of Alexandria's Interpretation of Scripture: An Allegorical Approach for a Deeper Meaning (Stacie Anderson, Bethany Ruggles, & Julie Toomey)
Article Richard Bauckham, "The Fall of the Angels as the Source of Philosophy In Hermias and Clement of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 39.4 (1985): 313-330.
On-line Resource Aecio Cairus, "Clement of Alexandria and the Lord's Day," Andrews University Seminary Studies 40.2 (Autumn 2002): 273-276.View in PDF format
Book or monograph Bigg: The Christian Platonists of AlexandriaCharles Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000. Pbk. ISBN: 1579103030. pp.332. {}
Article James A. Brooks, "Clement of Alexandria as a Witness to the Development of the New Testament Canon," Second Century 9.1 (1992): 41-55.
Article B.G. Bucur, "The Other Clement of Alexandria: Cosmic Hierarchy and Interiorized Apocalypticism," Vigiliae Christianae 60.3 (2006): 251-268.
Article Aecio E.Cairus, "Clement of Alexandria and the Lord's Day," Andrews University Seminary Studies 40.2 (2002): 273-276.
Book or monograph von Campenhausen: Fathers of the Greek ChurchH. von Campenhausen, Fathers of the Greek Church. Hendrickson, 1998. Hbk. ISBN: 1565630955. pp.29-39. {}
Article Stephen C. Carlson, "Clement of Alexandria on the 'Order' of the Gospels," New Testament Studies 47.1 (2001): 118-125.
Robert P. Casey, "Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Platonism," Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1925): 39-101.View in PDF format
Book or monograph Chadwick: Early Christian Thought and the Classical TraditionHenry Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984. Pbk. ISBN: 0198266731. pp.182.. {CBD} {}
Book or monograph Elizabeth A.Clark, Clement's Use of Aristotle: The Aristotelian to Clement of Alexandria's Refutation of Gnosticism. New York: Mellen, 1977. Hbk. ISBN: 0889469849. pp.182. {}
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.118-122.
Article James Davison, "Structural Similarities and Dissimilarities in the Thought of Clement of Alexandria and the Valentinians," Second Century 3.4 (1983): 201-218.
Article E. Draczkowski, "The educational function of the Old Testament in Clement of Alexandria's Conception. Written Kerygma in Theory and Practice," Roczniki teologisczno-kanonisczne 26.3 ((1979): 17-29.
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Article Denis Farkasfalvy, "The Presbyters' Witness on the Order of the Gospels as Reported by Clement of Alexandria," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54.2 (1992): 260-270.
Article John Ferguson, "The Achievement of Clement of Alexandria," Religious Studies 12.1 (1976): 59-80.
Book or monograph John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria. New York: Twayne, 1974. Hbk. ISBN: 0805722319. pp.210. {}
Article Thomas Finan, "Hellenism and Judeo-Christian History in Clement of Alexandria," Irish Theological Quarterly 28 (1961): 83-114.
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Article Tom Halton, "Clement of Alexandria and Athenaeus (Paed. III. 4,26)," Second Century 6.4 (1987/88): 193-202.
Trevor A. Hart, "The Two Soteriological Traditions of Alexandria," The Evangelical Quarterly 61.3 (1989): 239-259.View in PDF format[Clement and Athanasius]
Clement of Alexandria (Francis P. Havey)
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Book or monograph Peter Karavites, Evil-Freedom and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria. Vigiliae Christianae Supplements Series. Leiden: Brill, 1998. Hbk. ISBN: 9004112383. pp.208. {}
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Book or monograph Salvatore Romano Clemente Lilla, Clement of Alexandria, A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism. Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: OUP, 1971. ISBN: 0198267061. pp.282. {}
Book or monograph Joseph C McLelland, God the Anonymous: A Study in Alexandrian Philosophical Theology. Patristic Monograph series 4. Cambridge, MA: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1976. ISBN: 091564603X. pp.209. {}
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Book or monograph Einar Molland, The Conception of the Gospel in the Alexandrian Theology. Oslo: I kommisjon hos J. Dybwad, 1938. pp. xi + 185.
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Article Raoul Mortley, "The Mirror and I Cor. 13, 12 in the Epistemology of Clement of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 30.2 (1976): 109-120.
Clement of Alexandria: The Original Christian Philosopher (Mark Moussa)
Book or monograph Eric Osborn, The Philosophy of Clement of Alexandria. Texts and Studies, new series, Vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957. pp.xi + 205.
Book or monograph Eric Osborn, Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. ISBN: 0521208351. pp. x + 252. {}
Article Eric Osborn, "Clement of Alexandria: A Review of Research, 1958-1982," Second Century 3.4 (1983): 219-244.
Article Eric Osborn, "Arguments for Faith in Clement of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 48.1 (1994): 1-24.
Article Albert C. Outler, "The Platonism of Clement of Alexandria," The Journal of Religion, Vol. 20, No. 3. (1940): 217-240.
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Article David Paulsen, "Ethical Individualism in Clement of ALexandria," Concordia Theological Monthly 43.1 (1972): 3-20.
Article David T. Runia, "Why Does Clement of Alexandria Call Philo The Pythagorean?" Vigiliae Christianae 49.1 (1995): 1-22.
Alan. P.F. Sell, "Theology and the Philosophical Climate: Case-Studies From the Second Century AD (Part 2) Vox Evangelica 14 (1984): 53-64.View in PDF format
Book or monograph Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973. Hbk. ISBN: 0674134907. pp.460. {}
Article Morton Smith, "Clement of Alexandria and Secret Mark: The Score at the End of the First Decade," Harvard Theological Review 75.4 (1982): 449-461.
St. Clement of Alexandria (St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church)
Clement of Alexandria Teacher of Wisdom (c. 150 - 210) (Scroll Publishing)
Book or monograph R.B. Tollinton, Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Liberalism, 2 Vols. London: Williams and Norgate, 1914.
Article Joseph W. Trigg, "Receiving the Alpha: Negative Theology in Clement of Alexandria and its Possible Implications," Studia Patristica 31 (1997): 540-45.
Article A.H.C. Van Eijk, "The Gospel of Philip and Clement of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 25.2 (1971): 94-120.
Article J.G.M. Van Winden, "Quotations From Philo in Clement's Protepticus," Vigiliae Christianae 32.3 (1978): 208-213.
Article W.H. Wagner, "Another Look at the Literary Problem in Clement of Alexandria's Major Writings," Church History, Vol. 37 (1968): 251-260.
Article Robert L. Wilken, "Alexandria: A School for Training in Virtue," Patrick Henry, ed. Schools of Thought in the Christian Tradition. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985. Pbk. ISBN: 0800607309. pp.15-30. {}
Article J.C.M. van Winden, "Quotations from Philo in Clement of Alexandria's Protrepticus," Vigiliae Christianae 32 (1978): 208-213.
Article H.A. Wolfson, "Clement of Alexandria on the Generation of the Logos," Church History 20.2 (1951): 72-81.
Book or monograph Jan Zandee, "The Teachings of Silvanus" and Clement of Alexandria: a New Document of Alexandrian Theology. Mededelingen en Verhandelingen van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 19. Leiden: Ex Oriente Lux, 1977. pp. viii + 166.

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Article J.G. Davies, "Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 155 - 215)," Expository Times 80.1 (1968): 18-20.
On-line Resource Clement of Alexandria, Teacher and Apologist (James E. Kiefer)

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Alexander of Alexandria | Ambrose | Arnobius | Athanasius | Athenagoras | Augustine | Basil | Boethius | John Cassian | Celsus | Clement of Alexandria | Clement of Rome | Constantine | Cyprian | Cyril of Alexandria | Cyril of Jerusalem | Ephraem the Syrian | Epiphanius | Eusebius of Caesarea | Gregory of Nazianzus | Gregory of Nyssa | Gregory Thaumaturgus | Hermas | Hilary of Poitiers | Hippolytus | Ignatius of Antioch | Irenaeus of Lyons | Julius Africanus | Jerome | John Chrysostom | Josephus | Justin Martyr | Justinian I | Lactantius | Marcellus | Melito | Methodius | Minucius Felix | Novatian | Origen | Pachomius | Papias | Philo | Polycarp | Tatian | Tertullian | Theodore of Mopsuestia | Theodoret | Theophilus | Tyconius | Ulfilas | Victorinus | Marius Victorinus

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