Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter XXXVIII.—The Epistle of Clement and the Writings falsely ascribed to him.

1. Thus Ignatius has done in the epistles which we have mentioned, 933 and Clement in his epistle which is accepted by all, and which he wrote in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth. 934 In this epistle he gives many thoughts drawn from the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also quotes verbally some of its expressions, thus showing most plainly that it is not a recent production.

2. Wherefore it has seemed reasonable to reckon it with the other writings of the apostle. For as Paul had written to the Hebrews in his native tongue, some say that the evangelist Luke, others that this Clement himself, translated the epistle.

3. The latter seems more probable, because the epistle of Clement and that to the Hebrews have a similar character in regard to style, and still further because the thoughts contained in the two works are not very different. 935

4. But it must be observed also that there is said to be a second epistle of Clement. But we do not know that this is recognized like the former, for we do not find that the ancients have made any use of it. 936

5. And certain men have lately brought forward other wordy and p. 170 lengthy writings under his name, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion. 937 But no mention has been made of these by the ancients; for they do not even preserve the pure stamp of apostolic orthodoxy. The acknowledged writing of Clement is well known. We have spoken also of the works of Ignatius and Polycarp. 938



In chap. 36, above.


See above, chap. 16.


On the Epistle to the Hebrews and the various traditions as to its authorship, see above, chap. 3, note 17.


Eusebius is the first one to mention the ascription of a second epistle to Clement, but after the fifth century such an epistle (whether the one to which Eusebius here refers we cannot tell) was in common circulation and was quite widely accepted as genuine. This epistle is still extant, in a mutilated form in the Alexandrian ms., complete in the ms. discovered by Bryennios in Constantinople in 1875. The publication of the complete work proves, what had long been suspected, that it is not an epistle at all, but a homily. It cannot have been written by the author of the first epistle of Clement, nor can it belong to the first century. It was probably written in Rome about the middle of the second century (see Harnack’s articles in the Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Vol. I. p. 264–283 and 329–364), and is the oldest extant homily, and as such possesses considerable interest. It has always gone by the name of the Second Epistle of Clement, and hence continues to be so called although the title is a misnomer, for neither is it an epistle, nor is it by Clement. It is published in all the editions of the apostolic Fathers, but only those editions that have appeared since the discovery of the complete homily by Bryennios are now of value. Of these, it is necessary to mention only Gebhardt, Harnack, and Zahn’s Patrum Apost. Opera, 2d ed., 1876, in which Harnack’s prolegomena and notes are especially valuable, and the appendix to Lightfoot’s edition of Clement (1877), which contains the full text, notes, and an English translation. English translation also in the Ante-Nicene Fathers (Am. ed.), Vol. VII. p. 509 sq. Compare the article by Salmon in the Dict. of Christian Biography and Harnack’s articles in the Zeitschr. f. Kirchengesch. referred to above.


There are extant a number of Pseudo-Clementine writings of the third and following centuries, the chief among which purports to contain a record made by Clement of discourses of the apostle Peter, and an account of Clement’s family history and of his travels with Peter, constituting, in fact, a sort of didactico-historical romance. This exists now in three forms (the Homilies, Recognitions, and Epitome), all of which are closely related; though whether the first two (the last is simply an abridgment of the first) are drawn from a common original, or whether one of them is the original of the other, is not certain. The works are more or less Ebionitic in character, and play an important part in the history of early Christian literature. For a careful discussion of them, see Salmon’s article Clementine Literature, in the Dict. of Christian Biography; and for the literature of the subject, which is very extensive, see especially Schaff’s Church History, II. p. 435 sq.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth books of the Homilies contain extended conversations purporting to have been held between Clement and Apion, the famous antagonist of the Jews (see Bk. II. chap. 5, note 5). It is quite possible that the “wordy and lengthy writings, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion,” which Eusebius refers to here may be identical with the Homilies, in which case we must suppose Eusebius’ language to be somewhat inexact; for the dialogues in the Homilies are between Clement and Apion, not between Peter and Apion. It seems more probable, however, when we realize the vast number of works of a similar character which were in circulation during the third and subsequent centuries, that Eusebius refers here to another work, belonging to the same general class, which is now lost. If such a work existed, it may well have formed a basis for the dialogues between Clement and Apion given in the Homilies. In the absence of all further evidence of such a work, we must leave the matter quite undecided. It is not necessary here to enumerate the other Pseudo-Clementine works which are still extant. Compare Schaff’s Church History, II. 648 sq. Clement’s name was a favorite one with pseudographers of the early Church, and works of all kinds were published under his name. The most complete collection of these spurious works is found in Migne’s Patr. Græc. Vols. I. and II.


In chap. 36, above.

Next: Chapter XXXIX