Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:17 am

Next Origen tackles the word 'difficulty' in the 'rich man' narrative - something
After he went away, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you that a wealthy person will enter into the kingdom of the heavens with difficulty’” (Matt 19.23). About this one must closely observe the Savior’s precise wording that has been recorded. For he did not say “that the wealthy person will not enter into the kingdom of the heavens,” since if he had said such a thing, he would have completely excluded the wealthy person from the kingdom of the heavens. Rather, he says that “a wealthy person will enter with difficulty.” On the one hand, after presenting the difficulty for the salvation of the wealthy person, not the impossibility, which the passage at hand has displayed on the literal level, with wealthy people being able with difficulty to resist the passions and the sins, and not to be completely caught by these things. On the other hand, if one might take up a figurative understanding of the wealthy person, you will inquire how it is that he might enter with difficulty into the kingdom of the heavens. The parable countenances the difficulty of the wealthy person’s entrance into salvation either way he is understood, with “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt 19.24). In this parable, on the one hand, the wealthy person is compared to a camel ... the kingdom of the heavens to an eye of a needle, for an example of something that is exceedingly narrow and as a hyperbole of the constricted entrance into the kingdom of the heavens for each wealthy person. It indicates that, on the one hand, as it is impossible for the camel to enter through the eye of a needle, but such a thing is possible with God, in the same way also it is an impossible thing as such for a wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Origen's interpretation is full of difficulties. On the one hand he acknowledges that the rich man getting into the kingdom of heaven' is described as only 'difficult' not impossible. But then by the end of the commentary he subtly adds the word 'impossible' to the fate of the rich man not its actual context - 'who can be saved?' In other words, Jesus's point is that being saved is impossible without God, the rich man has a difficult task, but one which can ultimately be accomplished by some individuals. Origen also acknowledges that some of Jesus's words are to be interpreted 'figuratively' - such as the camel going through the eye of a needle. His point simply is that the words about giving up your wealth have to be taken literally, the rest - not so much.

Why the distinction? Again I can't help but feel that Origen has joined some monastic community in the deserts of Palestine which has effected his interpretation of the passage. In Alexandria he may have shared Clement's understanding but now under a wholly different set of circumstances he has adopted the read of his new gospel which not only has 'kingdom of heaven' rather than Mark's 'kingdom of God' but also Jesus directing his disciples to establish a monastic community where all things were held in common.

Clement by contrast takes the entire passage in a mystical sense because he understands it to come from Mark's mystical gospel. So he approaches both 'riches' and 'difficulty' as we have seen 'mathematically':
So that (the expression) rich men that shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom, is to be apprehended in a scholarly way, not awkwardly, or rustically, or carnally. For if the expression is used thus, salvation does not depend on external things, whether they be many or few, small or great, or illustrious or obscure, or esteemed or disesteemed; but on the virtue of the soul, on faith, and hope, and love, and brotherliness, and knowledge, and meekness, and humility, and truth, the reward of which is salvation. For it is not on account of comeliness of body that any one shall live, or, on the other hand, perish. But he who uses the body given to him chastely and according to God, shall live; and he that destroys the temple of God shall be destroyed. An ugly man can be profligate, and a good-looking man temperate. Neither strength and great size of body makes alive, nor does any of the members destroy. But the soul which uses them provides the cause for each. Bear then, it is said, when struck on the face; which a man strong and in good health can obey. And again, a man who is feeble may transgress from refractoriness of temper. So also a poor and destitute man may be found intoxicated with lusts; and a man rich in worldly goods temperate, poor in indulgences, trustworthy, intelligent, pure, chastened.
Indeed Clement later seizes upon the word 'impossible' as demonstrating that Jesus isn't talking about giving up material wealth because - as we have seen - this has been accomplished by men previous generations of humans. The 'difficult' task of giving up 'wealth' is to attain the 'impossible' task of freedom from passion:
But the Lord replies, "Because what is impossible with men is possible with God." This again is full of great wisdom. For a man by himself working and toiling at freedom from passion achieves nothing. But if he plainly shows himself very desirous and earnest about this, he attains it by the addition of the power of God. For God conspires with willing souls. But if they abandon their eagerness, the spirit which is bestowed by God is also restrained. For to save the unwilling is the part of one exercising compulsion; but to save the willing, that of one showing grace.
For Origen then you literally have to give up all your wealth and join a proto-monastic community like the first apostles to inherit the kingdom of heaven - viz. the angelic community which the monastery is an earthly copy. For Clement the initiate into the Christian mysteries has to give up 'bad' wealth in order to inherit 'good' wealth as part of a mystical process which leads to the impossible - the overcoming of the passions. For the latter the entire passage is taken allegorically; for the former, everything is allegorical save for the reference to giving up your wealth which has to be taken absolutely literally.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:03 am

That Origen is aware of Clement's 'mystic' interpretation of the passage is clear at every turn. In fact at many junctures in his argument he embraces the approach as if it comes second nature to him. Nevertheless in the end contemporary circumstances, I think - viz. his expulsion from Alexandria and the safety of the church there force him to take a literal approach to parts of the passage. Look at what immediately follows in the Commentary on Matthew:
Next there is [for us] to look into the things concerning, “Then Peter answered and said to him, ‘Behold we have left everything behind, and have followed you. What then will there be for us?’” (Matt 19.27). Someone might indeed observe these things according to the literal level, but someone else who disparages the [level] of the letter, as though not noble-natured, will offer a figurative reading. The one, therefore, who sides with the letter will say such things: Just as with a gift, God justifies not what is given, but the free choice of the one who gives, and accepts even more the one who gave something smaller but with a more perfect free choice, than the one who [gave] something greater from greater things yet with a more inferior disposition—(as indicated from the things recorded previously concerning the large gift of the wealthy, and of the two copper coins, which the widow put into the treasury on account of poverty) (cf. Mk 12.42; Lk 21.2)—in the same way also for those who, on account of the love for the Divinity forsake what they have acquired, in order that they might follow the Christ of God without distraction, who put into practice all things in accordance with his word: it is not always the case that the one who forsakes fuller things is more acceptable than [he who forsakes] lesser, and that someone who forsakes lesser things might be greater in soul as a whole than the one who seems to have despised fuller things. Even if it was something small and cheap that Peter had forsaken along with his brother, Andrew, when they both heard, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of humans; immediately, leaving their nets, they followed him” (Matt 4.19-20), yet it is not reckoned a small thing to God who observes that they had done this from such a state, as if indeed they had many possessions and much substance, so that nothing was held back by them, nor was their inclination by which they desired to follow Jesus impeded. And Peter, being rather confident (I think) because of [his] free decision rather than because of the matter of those things he had forsaken, speaks out boldly and says to Jesus, “Behold, we have left everything behind and have followed you. What then will be for us?” (Matt 19.27). It is fitting to understand that he had forsaken not only his nets, but also house and wife, whose mother wished to be delivered from the fever when Jesus attended [to her] (cf. Matt 8.14- 15). Someone might suppose that it is possible that he also had abandoned his children, and perhaps a certain amount of property as well. Something great, therefore, is indicated about Peter and his brother, since after hearing, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of humans,” they in no way hesitated, [but] “immediately leaving their nets, they followed him,” nor did they imitate the one who said, “But first [K412] permit me to return to my house, and bid farewell to those in my house” (Lk 9.61), nor did they do something similar to the one who said, “Permit me first to return and bury my father” (Matt 8.21). Attend with care as well that those who were noteworthily struck by the command of Jesus and his promise, and who believed that, having forsaken a small fishing practice, they were about to hunt [as] fishers of men for salvation, and as if wounded by this unto Jesus and by the philanthropic ministry which he had promised to them, they were about to hunt humans, “immediately leaving their nets behind,” and as if forgetting domestic things, “they followed him,” as though Peter had become worthy by this very impulse to be held in high repute and to have said what was mentioned before. At the same time one must observe that Peter said this after understanding the statement Jesus made, “If you desire to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me” (Matt 19.21). After observing the young man who heard [this] and went away with grief, since he had preferred the many earthly possessions than to becoming perfect in God, and after understanding also the difficulty for the wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of the heavens, as if it was not an easy thing for him to do as well when he forsook all things and followed Jesus, he says the things at present. Wherefore also to Peter who spoke with boldness, the Savior answers with those things of the great promise which is introduced, concerning Peter in the future becoming one of the judges of Israel.

The one who despises the literal text as though not sufficient to persuade a hearer with a more noble nature, he will say, as with other texts of Scripture which hold something revered in an anagogical sense, such things about this passage: “Behold, we have left everything behind, and have followed you” (Matt 19.27), a little net having been abandoned, and a poor house, and a laborious life in poverty, is in no way something big nor is it worthy to be recounted of such a disciple, to whom “flesh and blood did not reveal” that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” “but” his “Father in the heavens,” and to whom it is recounted, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt 16.17, 18).
Of course anyone who has read Clement's Rich Man knows immediately that Origen is echoing his argument that worldly riches cannot have been meant by Jesus because - as Clement argues - Peter has no wealth to speak of. We read in Clement:
But the Lord replies, "Because what is impossible with men is possible with God." This again is full of great wisdom. For a man by himself working and toiling at freedom from passion achieves nothing. But if he plainly shows himself very desirous and earnest about this, he attains it by the addition of the power of God. For God conspires with willing souls. But if they abandon their eagerness, the spirit which is bestowed by God is also restrained. For to save the unwilling is the part of one exercising compulsion; but to save the willing, that of one showing grace ... Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute, quickly seized and comprehended the saying. And what does he say? "Lo, we have left all and followed Thee? Now if by all he means his own property, he boasts of leaving four oboli perhaps in all, and forgets to show the kingdom of heaven to be their recompense. But if, casting away what we were now speaking of, the old mental possessions and soul diseases, they follow in the Master's footsteps, this now joins them to those who are to be enrolled in the heavens. For it is thus that one truly follows the Saviour, by aiming at sinlessness and at His perfection, and adorning and composing the soul before it as a mirror, and arranging everything in all respects similarly.
In other words Clement says - and this is critical to his overall argument and recognized as such by Origen - Jesus can't have been talking about material wealth. Clement says Peter had nothing so what he recognized in a flash of insight described in the passage is that Jesus was talking about something else when he used the word 'riches.'

Look again at Origen's words which I argue were shaped by the interpretation of Clement which preceded him:
Even if it was something small and cheap that Peter had forsaken along with his brother, Andrew, when they both heard, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of humans; immediately, leaving their nets, they followed him” (Matt 4.19-20), yet it is not reckoned a small thing to God who observes that they had done this from such a state, as if indeed they had many possessions and much substance, so that nothing was held back by them, nor was their inclination by which they desired to follow Jesus impeded.
But the word Jesus uses is 'wealth' and the man who can't get into the kingdom is 'wealthy.' To turn around now and say 'well he didn't mean lot's of money, just any money' is just as disingenuous as Origen's characterization of Clement's 'wealth' means something other than 'material wealth.'

Notice how well Clement and Origen seem to know each others arguments given that Clement acknowledges Origen's understanding of 'Peter's family' as part of his 'wealth.' Origen wrote:
It is fitting to understand that he had forsaken not only his nets, but also house and wife, whose mother wished to be delivered from the fever when Jesus attended [to her] (cf. Matt 8.14- 15). Someone might suppose that it is possible that he also had abandoned his children, and perhaps a certain amount of property as well.
which Origen later connects with the words from the gospel "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." In other words, Peter and the disciples were referenced by these words hence the proper context of 'wealth' included family.

Clement knows this interpretation and goes - from where we last cited him to speak directly to what were Origen's words in the Commentary:
"And Jesus answering said, Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall leave what is his own, parents, and children, and wealth, for My sake and the Gospel's, shall receive an hundredfold." But let neither this trouble you, nor the still harder saying delivered in another place in the words, "Whoso hateth not father, and mother, and children, and his own life besides, cannot be My disciple." For the God of peace, who also exhorts to love enemies, does not introduce hatred and dissolution from those that are dearest. But if we are to love our enemies, it is in accordance with right reason that, ascending from them, we should love also those nearest in kindred. Or if we are to hate our blood-relations, deduction teaches us that much more are we to spurn from us our enemies.
There is an underlying parallel between the two interpretations of the same gospel narrative - albeit from two different sources (viz. Matthew and Mark) - which goes beyond the mere details of what appears on the page of each gospel. Both men seem to be aware of the other's interpretation.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:43 am

The final statement in Origen regarding this passage is worth examining in great detail. He closes by saying:
But perhaps the things propounded before in [our] explanation of “Go, sell your substance,” etc., is beneficial and true for the passage at hand. For Peter left all the things behind for which he was a sinner and on account of which he said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5.8). Great was the commendation of him who was so bold because he was no longer sinning to say, “We have left everything
behind,” and not only have we forsaken inferior things, but also “we have followed you.” This “we have followed you” could be equivalent to: When the Father revealed to us all together, as to Peter, who you are, indeed that you are righteousness, we followed you, inasmuch as you are righteousness, just as also holiness, wisdom, [K415] peace, truth, the way which brings one to God, and true life. Since, as a
victorious athlete inquires of the contest judge after the contest if he might not present the prizes for the contest, [Peter] inquires of the Savior, speaking with openness because of the brave deeds, “What then will be for us?” If indeed we also desire to apply to ourselves the things said in regard to Peter and his question, we must similarly leave these things behind, no longer clinging to vice and the operation in accordance with it, and we must follow the word of God, in order that he might say to us and to all who have followed him the things that come next in this way: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, that you are those who follow me’” (Matt 19.28), etc. This passage and others like it have a simpler, protreptic meaning with regards to forsaking substance, and another, deeper [meaning] beyond that ...
What is so interesting is that while Matthew has πώλησόν σου τὰ ὑπάρχοντα while Clement's Mark has πώλησον ὅσα ἔχεις (our canonical text as ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον). It is much easier to understand why Origen emphasizes that wealth is a material substance because of Matthew's use of ὑπάρχοντα. "Sell what you have" isn't quite as definitive as Origen needs it to be. He doesn't say 'give up what you have' in the philosophical manner. The word 'sell' is problematic for both interpretations. But what is the most interesting thing is that while Origen's interpretation is exclusively dealing with material from Mark and thus Markan terminology Clement - even though he begins with a colossal citation of the entire section from Mark - always brings in the wording from the Gospel of Matthew. Why would this be necessary for his purposes unless he is reacting to Origen's exegesis?

For instance in this present section (Mark 10:21/Matthew 19:21) Clement consistently makes reference to the ὑπάρχοντα of Matthew even though the terminology does not appear in Mark:
What then was it which persuaded him to flight, and made him depart from the Master, from the entreaty, the hope, the life, previously pursued with ardour? -- "Sell thy possessions (πώλησον τὰ ὑπάρχοντά σου)." And what is this? He does not, as some conceive off-hand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed (τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν), and abandon his property ... The renunciation, then, and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul (τὸ οὖν ἀποτάξασθαι πᾶσι τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι καὶ πωλῆσαι πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ἐκδεκτέον ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ψυχικῶν παθῶν διειρη μένον)
This 'someone' is clearly Origen. And again a little later the 'someone' using Matthew is clearly referenced again:
To him who is poor in worldly goods, but rich in vices, who is not poor in spirit and rich toward God, it is said, Abandon the alien possessions that are in thy soul, that, becoming pure in heart, thou mayest see God; which is another way of saying, Enter into the kingdom of heaven. And how may you abandon them? By selling them. What then? Are you to take money for effects, by effecting an exchange of riches, by turning your visible substance into money? Not at all. But by introducing, instead of what was formerly inherent in your soul, which you desire to save, other riches which deify and which minister everlasting life, dispositions in accordance with the command of God; for which there shall accrue to you endless reward and honour, and salvation, and everlasting immortality. It is thus that thou dost rightly sell the possessions (πωλεῖς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα), many are superfluous, which shut the heavens against thee by exchanging them for those which are able to save. Let the former be possessed by the carnal poor, who are destitute of the latter. But thou, by receiving instead spiritual wealth, shalt have now treasure in the heavens.
Clement is clearly reacting to an exegesis developed from Matthew written by someone who clearly is disputing his own exegesis from Mark.

Here are all the references to this word not found in Mark but in Matthew in Clement's work:
So let no man destroy wealth, rather than the passions of the soul, which are incompatible with the better use of wealth . So that, becoming virtuous and good, he may be able to make a good use of these riches (τὰ μὴ συγχω ροῦντα τὴν ἀμείνω χρῆσιν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, ἵνα καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθὸς γενόμενος καὶ τούτοις τοῖς κτήμασι χρῆσθαι δυνηθῇ καλῶς). The renunciation, then, and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul (τὸ οὖν ἀποτάξασθαι πᾶσι τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι καὶ πωλῆσαι πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ἐκδεκτέον ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ψυχικῶν παθῶν διειρη μένον).
We must therefore renounce those possessions that are injurious, not those that are capable of being serviceable, if one knows the right use of them (ἀποτακτέον οὖν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι τοῖς βλαβεροῖς, οὐχὶ τοῖς ἐὰν ἐπίστηταί τις τὴν ὀρθὴν χρῆσιν καὶ συνωφελεῖν δυναμένοις)
For he who holds possessions, and gold, and silver, and houses, as the gifts of God; and ministers from them to the God who gives them for the salvation of men; and knows that he possesses them more for the sake of the brethren than his own and is superior to the possession of them (καὶ κρείττων ὑπάρχων τῆς κτήσεως αὐτῶν), not the slave of the things he possesses
To him who is poor in worldly goods, but rich in vices, who is not poor in spirit and rich toward God, it is said, Abandon the alien possessions that are in thy soul ("ἀπόστηθι τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ σου κτημάτων ἀλλοτρίων), that, becoming pure in heart, thou mayest see God; which is another way of saying, Enter into the kingdom of heaven. And how may you abandon them? By selling them. What then? Are you to take money for effects, by effecting an exchange of riches, by turning your visible substance into money? Not at all. But by introducing, instead of what was formerly inherent in your soul, which you desire to save, other riches which deify and which minister everlasting life, dispositions in accordance with the command of God; for which there shall accrue to you endless reward and honour, and salvation, and everlasting immortality (ἀλλὰ ἀντὶ τῶν πρότερον ἐνυπαρχόντων τῇ ψυχῇ, ἣν σῶσαι ποθεῖς, ἀντεισ αγόμενος ἕτερον πλοῦτον θεοποιὸν καὶ ζωῆς χορηγὸν αἰωνίου, τὰς κατὰ τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ διαθέσεις, ἀνθ' ὧν σοι περιέσται μισθὸς καὶ τιμή, διηνεκὴς σωτηρία καὶ αἰώνιος ἀφθαρσία). It is thus that thou dost rightly sell the possessions (οὕτως καλῶς πωλεῖς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα), many are superfluous, which shut the heavens against thee by exchanging them for those which are able to save. Let the former be possessed by the carnal poor, who are destitute of the latter. But thou, by receiving instead spiritual wealth, shalt have now treasure in the heavens.
But I think that our proposition has been demonstrated in no way inferior to what we promised, that the Saviour by no means has excluded the rich on account of wealth itself, and the possession of property, nor fenced off salvation against them; if they are able and willing to submit their life to God's commandments, and prefer them to transitory objects, and if they would look to the Lord with steady eye, as those who look for the nod of a good helmsman, what he wishes, what he orders, what he indicates, what signal he gives his mariners, where and whence he directs the ship's course. For what harm does one do, who, previous to faith, by applying his mind and by saving has collected a competency? Or what is much less reprehensible than this, if at once by God, who gave him his life, he has had his home given him in the house of such men, among wealthy people, powerful in substance, and pre-eminent in opulence?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:46 am

Indeed despite praising the gospel of Mark and citing the entire section found in Mark it is plainly evident that every time Clement references Jesus command to 'sell' ὑπάρχοντα - i.e. the term from Matthew follows. Similarly despite initially citing Mark's exclusive use of 'kingdom of God' 'kingdom of God' is only referenced twice in the body of Quis Dives Salvetur - 'kingdom of heaven' the term found in Matthew and Origen's exegesis of Matthew appears 11 times.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:14 pm

So let's recapitulate.

1. Clement's Quis Dives Salvetur is a strange text which argues that most critical part of the 'rich man' narrative (Mark 10:17 - 31) - the command to 'sell all you have' - should not be taken literally but spiritually connecting it to the statement about only God being good a little earlier. He begins by citing in exact detail what appears in (what we must presume to be) the Alexandrian communities Gospel of Mark but then proceeds to deal with the terminology which only appears in Matthew. He seems to be combating a literal interpretation of the material throughout.
2. Origen's Commentary on Matthew chapter 15 deals with the same material but as it appears in Matthew. While Mark and what appears in Mark is referenced throughout the chapter, the section dealing with the rich man Mark is only cited twice - the first explain the difference between Matthew's "what good thing shall I do" and Mark's "Why do you call me good? None is good except one, God” (2) that Matthew's account of Jesus 's discussion of the commandments was corrupted by a later editor because Mark doesn't have "love your neighbor as yourself" and (3) finally in that section Mark says that Jesus "loved him." Nevertheless Origen's exegesis seems obsessively fixated on someone who interpreted the common materially 'allegorically' like Clement, saying that the command to sell all your possessions can't be allowed to be taken figuratively because - in effect - Acts chapter 2 demonstrates the first Christians were communists.
3. The two men differ not only on the proper interpretation of 'sell all you have/your possessions' but also whether or not 'eternal life' has anything to do with adhering to the commandments. Whereas Clement sees the commandments as nothing to do with what Moses received on Sinai, Origen sees the Law as a first step - an elementary education - into the final perfection offered by Jesus (which is presumably all sorts of men and women living together as angels in a proto-monastic community resembling it seems the one described in Plato's Republic). It has been argued in what preceded this post that the two men were aware of each others position and that the two works reference and dispute what the other claims about these matters.

At bottom Origen believes that the only way one can attain perfection is by giving up all one's material possessions. This is what the narrative of the 'rich man' is saying because the command to 'sell' can only be taken literally. Clement on the other hand says that 'sell all you have' is really about an exchange - an expulsion if you will - of all the bad things you have for the God which is the Father in heaven. Clement argues in effect that this is why Mark placed the discussions back to back - after telling the rich man about the Father who is the 'good God' in heaven he encouraged this man who formerly obeyed the law to give up 'all you have' - namely the Law - in order to attain the true goodness that is the good God. Origen by contrast counters that Matthew has something else - what good should I do - because the section is essentially about a redemptive work. Doing the commandments of Moses are a good start but in the end the 'final commandment' as it were is to 'sell all one's possessions' and live in a proto-monastic community.

It would appear from Origen's writings that he was poor (Jerome references a complaint that his master never left him any money when he died). Clement on the other hand seems to be wealthy.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:32 pm

So there you have what could amount to the beginning of a little paper examining the two discussions of 'the rich man' narrative in Mark and Matthew by Clement and Origen. But that's the not the end of the weirdness. No of course not. As we just noted Clement begins by citing Mark as a 'mystic' text but oddly proceeds to cite terminology from Matthew against someone who has a literal interpretation of the text. His mission is to prove that the truth can even be seen through Matthew. You don't need Mark but Mark is still better. Origen on the other hand uses Matthew for some reason but oddly enough seems to have a mental breakdown in the middle of his exegesis arguing that Matthew is more corrupt than Mark. Then why not use Mark or Luke?

Ok so you're with me so far.

During the course of the previous discussion I mentioned that Clement's argument seems to be built around a number of presumptions about the rich man narrative.

1. the rich man isn't a youth (because of the terminology in Mark)
2. the rich man goes away without salvation
3. Peter is juxtaposed against the rich man as a positive example of someone who 'gets it' - cf. "Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute, quickly seized and comprehended the saying."
4. without naming Peter Clement juxtaposes someone else - someone unnamed - seemingly a hypothetical example who, in contradiction to the failed rich man, was initiated into the mystery religion that purifies and saves.

But of course Clement doesn't go into much detail, doesn't say that this redeemed person is Peter (but we know from another work that Clement claimed Jesus baptized Peter and from Peter the rest of the disciples were baptized), or any of that. But even though the idea of some sort of baptism rite isn't explicit mentioned, his entire exegesis of the rich man story necessarily assumes that Jesus about to introduce some sort of mystery rite. It's like Chekhov's gun. Clement says throughout - you don't need to give up all your material possessions all you need to do is exchange the bad things within you for the good which comes from the good Father god ... and to do that you need to be naked, dead - presumably washed - and thus purified.

So he's very verbose. A master of saying a lot without actually revealing very much. And the only way you'd actually connect the dots is if you read the Letter to Theodore. In other words you don't know that a baptism is going to follow where Jesus baptizes Peter but once you know it you can read Quis Dives Salvetur and kind go - hmmm see it coming now.

But here's what's odd.

Origen after spending all this time attacking Clement's figurative reading of the 'rich man' narrative and emphasizing that you have to physically give up all your wealth and join a proto-monastic community like the first apostolic Church described in Acts 2, Origen goes on to basically describe a baptism rite immediately following the rich man story. Indeed during the course of the previous discussion he makes mention that Peter is about to be crowned the leader of the Church:
At the same time one must observe that Peter said this after understanding the statement Jesus made, “If you desire to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me” (Matt 19.21). After observing the young man who heard [this] and went away with grief, since he had preferred the many earthly possessions than to becoming perfect in God, and after understanding also the difficulty for the wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of the heavens, as if it was not an easy thing for him to do as well when he forsook all things and followed Jesus, he says the things at present. Wherefore also to Peter who spoke with boldness, the Savior answers with those things of the great promise which is introduced, concerning Peter in the future becoming one of the judges of Israel.
So Clement and Origen agree on the fact that Peter's about to get a big reward from his behavior in this passage. By the time we read the end of this narrative, Origen begins his commentary with a brief mention again of what is to come:

Those, then, who have followed the Savior will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Indeed they will receive this authority in the resurrection of the dead, for this is the regeneration which is a certain new beginning, when a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21.1) is created for those who renew themselves, and the New Covenant is bestowed, and its cup.*

Ok cool. So because he is not using Mark but Matthew he skips over the warning that the Son of Man is about to be crucified on the way to Jerusalem and most of the bit about the mother and brothers of Zebedee asking for a place on a throne. Nevertheless he's not entirely ignoring the natural order in Mark as he goes on to write about 'redemption' as a kind of baptism (in the manner of the heretics mentioned by Irenaeus and Epiphanius) based still on Mark 10:37 - 45. Why does he do this? Because he's not quite finished with the 'rich man' narrative. What he does is to connect this redemption baptism as a reward to Peter for what he said in the rich man narrative. Let's read what he says in what immediately follows our last citation:
The introduction to this regeneration (παλιγγενεσίας) is what Paul calls the “washing of regeneration” (λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας ), which is a mystery of that newness (τῆς καινότητος μυστήριόν) which comes after the washing of regeneration (τῷ λουτρῷ τῆς παλιγγενεσίας) in the “renewal of spirit (ἀνα καινώσεως πνεύματος).” Perhaps in respect to the beginning, on the one hand, “there is no one pure from uncleanness, even if his life be one day long” (Job 14.4-5), on account of the mystery which concerns the beginning (τῆς γενέσεως μυστήριον). About which [mystery] each of those who have come from the beginning may say what is said by David in the 50th Psalm, which reads that “in transgressions I was brought forth, and in sins my mother conceived me” (Ps 50.7). But, on the other hand, everyone is “pure from uncleanness” according to the regeneration from washing (ἐκ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίαν) who is begotten “from above” “from water and spirit,” so that I might dare to say, [he is] pure “through a mirror” and “in an enigma” (1 Cor 13.12). But in accordance with the other regeneration (τὴν ἄλλην παλιγγενεσίαν), “whenever the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory” (Matt 19.28), each one who has first come unto that regeneration in Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ παλιγγενεσίαν) is most pure “from uncleanness” and sees “face to face” (1 Cor 13.12), and he first comes to that regeneration (παλιγγενεσίαν) “through the washing of regeneration (διὰ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίας).” If one wishes to understand this washing (τὸ λουτρὸν ἐκεῖνονοῆσαι), observe how John, who was baptizing “in water” “for repentance,” speaks concerning the Savior, “He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3.11). Therefore, on the one hand, in the regeneration through washing (διὰ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίᾳ) we have been buried together with Christ, “for (according to the Apostle) we have been buried together with him through baptism” (Rom 6.4). On the other hand, in the regeneration of washing through fire and spirit (διὰ πυρὸς καὶ πνεύματος λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίᾳ we become conformed “to the body of the glory” of Christ (Phil 3.21) who is seated “on the throne of his glory,” and are ourselves seated on twelve thrones, if indeed having left all things behind (either way this is understood but much more in the second case) we have followed Christ (ἠκολουθή σαμεν Χριστῷ).

Then, whenever the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, the prophecy will be fulfilled which
says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (Ps 109.1). And then, ^“He must reign, until the time when he puts all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15.25), until “the last enemy death” is destroyed (1 Cor 15.26), which when destroyed, death will no longer be before the face of those who are being saved, but only the life that is confirmed. For when death is a
reality before the face of men, life as a result is not confirmed for those who are seized by it. But when death is destroyed, life will be confirmed by all. In the law you will find it says, “I have set life and death before your face” (cf. Deut 30.15, 19), and, “Your life will hang in suspense before your eyes,” and, “Do not trust in your life” (Deut 28.66). The Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, nothing without honor and without glory to God being reigned by him. For all who at that time do not receive “glory from men,” nor do something so as to be glorified “by men,” but seek after the glory which is from “the only [God]” (cf. Jn 5.44), they will be reigned by the one seated on the throne of his glory. And at that time also the things will come to fruition from the prayer of the Savior who prayed and said, “Father, glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the cosmos existed” (Jn 17.5).

If you are able to understand the restoration the Logos effected (τὸν λόγον ἀποκαταστάντα) after he became flesh and how many things he became to begotten ones, becoming to them what each of them needed him to become, in order that he might profit all (cf. 1 Cor 9.19), and effected restoration (ἀποκαταστάντα), in order that he might become what he “was in the beginning with God” (Jn 1.2), (being God Logos) in his proper glory, as a glory [befitting] this Logos. [Then] you will see him who is seated on the throne of his glory, indeed none other than the Son of man, who is the human understood according to Jesus. For he becomes one with the Logos, even more completely than those who, because they are indissolubly bound “to the Lord,” become “one spirit” with him (cf. 1 Cor 6.17). At that time, when these things happen in the restoration (ἀποκαταστάσει) of the Savior, those who have left everything behind and
have followed him will be seated, as having been conformed “to the body” (cf. Phil 3.21) and to the throne “of the glory of Christ, judging the twelve tribes of Israel on twelve thrones”(Matt 19.28). For the whole life of the righteous will judge [K421] the twelve tribes of Israel who have not believed, and the apostles and those who have emulated the apostolic life and have corrected those who (because they are Israelites) are
of noble birth, will judge those who have not performed things worthy of this noble birth. Perhaps on the one hand what is said to the Corinthians, “the world will be judged by you” (1 Cor 6.2), is said to those from the nations, but “You yourselves will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19.28)
[is said] to the apostles and those who emulate the apostolic life, who judge those who, being Israel, are of
more noble birth than the whole world. But in these [things] you should understand the Israelite of noble birth who is indeed naturally superior, on the one hand, but has not believed, on the other, in a fashion that is worthy of the great intellect of the Gospel. But to ascend to the reason (logos) concerning Israel and concerning the twelve tribes (so that twelve ranks speaks of classes of souls, of which those of more noble birth are those which are surpassing in superiority, and the remaining eleven parts have been ordered to a second rank), it is beyond us to contemplate so great a thing, as though to be able to present how the twelve fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel are twelve stars, just as the prophetic dream (if I may name it such) of Joseph indicated. As if indeed each of the Israelites being judged will be judged by someone who is either synonymous with a star, or is an apostle and one who has lived the apostolic life who is similar to a star.

If, therefore, someone left everything behind and followed Jesus, he will be furnished with those things said to Peter according to his question; but if not all things, but [only] the things introduced, such a one will receive (cf. Lk 18.30) many times as much and will inherit eternal life. One must understand from this, “And each one who left behind brothers or sisters,” etc., that certain things have been said specifically not comprehensively. Now any person would confess that what is presented here, even at the simple level of the text, is no contemptible word persuading someone to despise all fleshly relatives and every possession. [K 423] But if indeed this admits of anagogy, someone may hesitate, but also give an account of what that would involve. Indeed it is clear according to the letter that many of those who believed in our Savior were hated by [their] relatives, and they chose to forsake them and each possession for the sake of inheriting eternal life, having been persuaded that each one who leaves behind brothers according to the flesh, sisters who are relatives only in body, parents of bodies, and children of flesh, and the fields in the accursed earth and the houses in it, and leaves behind [these things] for no [M1328] other reason but for the sake of the name of Jesus, he will receive many times as much. For many times as much and (if it is necessary to name it as such) infinitely more times as much are spiritual things to somatic things, and so as to receive many times as much, not in the present time, but what happens in eternity, he will inherit it. For, on the one
hand, it is easy to explain the many times as much brothers and sisters which someone has left behind on account of the word of God. For indeed in this world many times as much are the brothers-according-tothe-faith than those who have been forsaken on account of unbelief by those [K424] who have believed. So also someone receives [as] “parents” all bishops who are free from censure and presbyters who are without reproach, in place of the other two he has forsaken. Similarly also children are all those having the stature of children. But how might one inherit many times more fields or houses than those he has forsaken? It is no longer possible to offer an interpretation similar [to the previous things], unless perhaps someone who has been pressed hard by scarcity commends this, which is not reasonable. Once one allegorizes fields and houses, it will be necessary to offer [an interpretation] in accordance with the [passage’s] sequence and the
higher reality of these things.

There are, therefore (I think), among the holy and blessed powers “brothers” who have arrived “unto the perfect man” among those who have advanced to “the measure of the stature of Christ” (Eph 4.13). “Sisters” are all those who are presented a pure virgin to Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11.2), not from men only (I think), but also from the rest of the powers. “Parents” may perhaps be those concerning whom it was said to Abraham, “You will depart to your fathers with peace, being nourished [K425] in good age” (Gen 15.15). But if they became fathers of others at some time (proportionate to these fathers), they will indeed receive many times as much children in a fashion similar to Abraham. Also, I think, you should understand the “many times as much fields and houses than those that are forsaken” in terms of the rest of the divine paradise, and the city of God, concerning which “glorious things were spoken” (Ps 86.3), of which “God in the palaces is known, whenever he undertakes to help her” (Ps 47.4), so that one might say about those who inherit houses there, “Just as we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord of powers, in the city of our God” (Ps 47.9), concerning which it is also said, “Divide up her palaces” (Ps 47.14). ^Blessed is it to inherit eternal life for these things, having an inheritance of such fields and such trees which are tended by God and houses of living stones (cf. 1 Pet 2.5), in which each one who has left behind brothers or sisters, and the rest, will rest.
I don't understand what people think this is saying (actually I doubt very many people have had an opinion on this as it was only recently translated into English). Remember this discussion is fixed within the original explanation of the 'rich youth' story in Matthew. We haven't yet reached 'the first will be last and the last first.'

Clearly Origen is explaining to his readers that Jesus will baptize Peter as a reward for his understanding during the discussion with the rich youth. Origen connects the statement regarding the 'twelve thrones' with an enthronement during the 'mysteries of newness' where - owing to the repeated mention of 'apokatastasis' http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01599a.htm - it is clear that Peter is going to die, be washed, renewed by standing in the presence of God and finally enthroned as a replica of Jesus. What this suggests oddly enough is that Origen and Clement (once you understand that the letter to Theodore and Clement's understanding that Jesus baptized Jesus) shared the same understanding of the 'secret narrative' lurking underneath the 'explicit narrative.' In other words, Origen knew the contents of Secret Mark or another source that told the same story. I favor the former possibility.

Something caused Clement and Origen to have a fall out. Clement and Origen differ on many things but there is an underlying sameness to so much of what they right. Very hard to explain. Moreover if Origen knew Secret Mark why does he develop a Commentary on Matthew? This is the million dollar question ...
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:28 am

The clear example of Origen referring to Clement's argument. Origen writes:
The one who despises the literal text as though not sufficient to persuade a hearer with a more noble nature, he will say, as with other texts of Scripture which hold something revered in an anagogical
sense, such things about this passage: “Behold, we have left everything behind, and have followed you” (Matt 19.27), a little net having been abandoned, and a poor house, and a laborious life in poverty, is in no way something big nor is it worthy to be recounted of such a disciple to whom “flesh and blood did not reveal” that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” “but” his “Father in the heavens,” and to whom it is recounted, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt 16.17, 18).
Clement originally wrote:
Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute (Matt 16.17 - 19), quickly seized and comprehended the saying. And what does he say? "Lo, we have left all and followed Thee? Now if by all he means his own property, he boasts of leaving four oboli perhaps in all, and forgets to show the kingdom of heaven to be their recompense.
I'd say that's another bullseye.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:01 am

Of course if Origen is telling us that when Jesus promised Peter to sit on a throne judging Israel (Matt 19:28) in response to Peter's we've 'left everything' (ἀφήκαμεν πάντα) to follow you that meant Jesus would baptize him with a "washing of regeneration" (λουτρῷ τῆς παλιγγενεσίας) described both as "a mystery of newness" (καινότητος μυστήριόν), "the mystery of genesis" (τῆς γενέσεως μυστήριον) and source of the 'Origen-iest' of all doctrines viz. ἀποκατάστάσις = the bringing of all things back to its original state at the beginning of Genesis i.e. man back to a divine being - you know we have uncovered the secret to all secrets in Christian origins. For this is what Christianity was originally all about and explains its obsession with 'original sin' and the like.

Here is the difficulty. While Clement hints at the very same thing in his discussion of the 'rich man' passage - i.e. some sort of purification for one of the participants in which he gives up 'brothers, sisters, houses' in this world for a new 'divine' family and home and moreover points to a elect role for Peter for the same reasons as Origen (viz. his 'recognition' of the truth during Jesus's discussion with the rich man) there is one difficulty to overcome in our equating of Origen's 'mystery of newness' which leads to Peter's enthronement with Secret Mark's 'mystery of the kingdom of God' for an unnamed 'youth' - both Clement and Origen agree that Peter had no material possessions at the time of the 'rich man' narrative.

Why is that a difficulty? Well in order to make the equation between Origen's 'mystery' and Secret Mark's 'mystery' you'd have to identify Peter as the youth who is identified in Secret Mark as 'rich':
And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.
How can that be? How could Peter be the 'youth' who was rich in Secret Mark when both Clement and Origen agree that he was poor and destitute in the previous pericope?

It's not an easy solution. But we do know that Clement understood that Jesus baptized Peter and only Peter somewhere in his gospel's narrative. This is a well known fact that Clement held this. So let's back up a little bit and acknowledge what we know about Clement's understanding of this material. In Quis Dives Salvetur Clement is absolutely adamant that the 'rich' can attain the kingdom of God or heaven. This argument isn't made once but is repeated a dozen times. In the same way that Origen is certain that a man must give up all his material possessions, Clement is equally certain that the rich can attain the kingdom - this in spite of his acknowledgement that the rich man in the rich man pericope does not. Where did he get his certainty? The answer must be Secret Mark.

But let's go through Quis Dives Salvetur one more time to go through all his references to the subject. In chapter 2 he ridicules what we have noted is Origen's slavishly 'literal' interpretation of the parallel material in Matthew noting that through following his (Origen's) understanding a rich man might give away all his possession and still cling to life "no longer inquiring either whom the Lord and Master calls rich, or how that which is impossible to man becomes possible to God." Clement clearly gives 'rich' here a special meaning beyond its usual association with 'having lots of stuff.' And furthermore in what follows defines "these things of the rich" (περὶ τῶν πλουσίων) in terms of "works which tend to salvation (τῶν δὲ ἔργων τῶν εἰς τὴν σωτηρίαν ἀναφερόντων)" and "the requisite preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope" each of which are further defined respectively as "the Saviour's power and His glorious salvation" (τῆς δυνάμεως τοῦ σωτῆρος καὶ τῆς ἐπιφανοῦς σωτηρίας). Clearly then the 'richness' that Clement is talking about have some mystical significance associated with salvation.

This metaphorical understanding of 'riches' manifests itself in chapter 15 where - in the course of discussing his adversaries understanding of the significance of only giving up material riches - speaks of "he who casts away worldly wealth can still be rich in the passions even though the material is absent (πλουτεῖν τῶν παθῶν καὶ τῆς ὕλης μὴ παρούσης) ... it is then of no advantage to him to be poor in purse while he is rich in passions" (πλουτοῦντι τῶν παθῶν). Clearly then the 'riches' that Clement is thinking of are something 'spiritual' as opposed to material - viz. 'riches of passions' - for he again states in chapter 16 the distinction that "the presence of wealth in these is deadly to all (ὁ τούτων πλοῦτος παρὼν μὲν ἅπασι θανατηφόρος)" but importantly adds that "the loss of (these riches) is salutary" (ἀπολόμενος δὲ σωτήριος). Clearly, given Origen's parallel identification of Paul's baptism into death corresponds to the youth in Secret Mark having to die before he is identified as being 'rich' after he is resurrected.

In other words, I think the fact that the youth is only declared 'rich' in Secret Mark after he dies and is resurrected and 'loves Jesus' - remember in the original 'rich man' narrative there is no parallel 'loving back' on the part of he who was material wealthy. This is why it is important to scrutinize the very next words in what we just quoted in chapter 16 of Quis Dives Salvetur. After losing his 'riches' of this life - viz. through death - Clement says the result is "making the soul pure, -- that is, poor and naked (οὗ δεῖ καθαρεύουσαν, τουτέστι πτωχεύουσαν καὶ γυμνήν, τὴν ψυχὴν παρασχόμενον) -- we must hear the Saviour speaking thus, "Come, follow Me." For to the pure in heart He now becomes the way." This emphasis on 'the one who follows' as having some ritual significance in the contemporary Christian mystery religion is also confirmed in Origen's treatment of the material.

Later on in the chapter Clement speaks also of the 'riches of lust' (πλουτοῦσα τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν) that would still be in the man who merely gave up his material possessions. And when we hear it said again in chapter 17 that:
But he who carries his riches in his soul, and instead of God's Spirit (ὁ δὲ ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ τὸν πλοῦτον φέρων καὶ ἀντὶ θεοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ) bears in his heart gold or land ... whence can he be able to desire and to mind the kingdom of heaven?
We clearly get a sense of what 'riches' Clement is talking about - spiritual riches. So it would stand to reason that with "ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον ... καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ" 'sell' essentially means 'exchange' the material for a spiritual treasure. So we read at the end of the same chapter "so also there is a richness in good things, and a richness in bad things, since we know that riches and treasure are not by nature separated from each other. And the one sort of riches is to be possessed and acquired, and the other not to be possessed, but to be cast away."

In the previous chapter we saw how 'death' is the pathway through which this 'exchange' takes place - viz " [t]he presence of wealth in (the passions of the soul) is deadly to all, the loss of it salutary." Indeed a little later he spells out the mystery in terms of 'dying' and releasing a material existence or wealth in terms of the acceptance of a spiritual wealth:
For I will bring thee to a rest of ineffable and unutterable blessings, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of men; into which angels desire to look, and see what good things God hath prepared for the saints and the children who love Him." I am He who feeds thee, giving Myself as bread, of which he who has tasted experiences death no more, and supplying day by day the drink of immortality. I am teacher of supercelestial lessons. For thee I contended with Death, and paid thy death, which thou owedst for thy former sins and thy unbelief towards God."
Clearly these are sacramental mysteries of the Alexandrian community given to those who have died, resurrected and purified - being brought back to the original state of humanity.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:17 am

So I guess my point is that the text of Secret Mark only says that the 'youth' - viz. Peter - was 'rich' and had a 'house' and family after his death and resurrection. In short the context in which the youth is said to be 'rich' fits the overall 'promise' made by Clement in his analysis of the narrative of the 'rich man.' Peter could well be the youth who was rich after giving up his greatest possession - his material existence.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement and Origen: Were They Really Friends?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:10 am

Parallels between Origen's Commentary on Matthew chapter 15 and Clement's Quis Dives Salvetur with respect to the 'rich man' narrative:

1. Arguments which sound like Clement is thinking of Origen and Origen is thinking of Clement

(a) Origen attacks those who allegorize Matthew 19:21 (= Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”) just as Clement attacks those who take Mark 10:21 (= And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and said, One thing thou lackest. If thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me." Clement's version) literally. Origen takes the passage absolutely literally and Clement the equivalent absolutely 'spiritually' or figuratively.

Clement QDS 3 "For some, merely hearing, and that in an off-hand way, the utterance of the Saviour, "that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven," despair of themselves as not destined to live, surrender all to the world, cling to the present life as if it alone was left to them, and so diverge more from the way to the life to come, no longer inquiring either whom the Lord and Master calls rich, or how that which is impossible to man becomes possible to God. But others rightly and adequately comprehend this, but attaching slight importance to the works which tend to salvation, do not make the requisite preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope."

Clement rejects those who want to interpret 'possessions' (ὑπάρχοντά) literally - doing this by curiously starting with a gospel that doesn't use the word ὑπάρχοντά in the 'rich man' narrative:

Clement QDS 11 What then was it which persuaded him to flight, and made him depart from the Master, from the entreaty, the hope, the life, previously pursued with ardour? -- "Sell thy possessions (πώλησον τὰ ὑπάρχοντά σου)." And what is this? He does not, as some conceive off-hand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed (τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν), and abandon his property ... [However] the renunciation and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul (τὸ οὖν ἀποτάξασθαι πᾶσι τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι καὶ πωλῆσαι πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ἐκδεκτέον ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ψυχικῶν παθῶν διειρη μένον)

and again:

Clement QDS 19 And how may you abandon them? By selling them. What then? Are you to take money for effects, by effecting an exchange of riches, by turning your visible substance into money? Not at all.

Origen clearly says that ὑπάρχοντά must be taken literally:

Origen Comm Matt 15.16 Jesus says, “Go, sell your ὑπάρχοντά and give to the poor.” It seems to me, also, that those excellent men who together represent the episcopacy are to urge those who are able and are persuaded by [Jesus’] exhortation to this work, and to encourage others unto this because they hold the provisions from the community.

(b) does the gospel narrative mean you have to give up all your private possessions? Clement says no; Origen says yes

Origen Comm Matt 15.18 - "For he had many possessions which he loved, loving to be angry and to grieve (since he went away grieving) and such things having been begotten by him from vice which have seized his soul. If then one remains at the literal level of explanation of things previously set forth, you would find half a measure of praise and half a measure of blame extended to this young man. On the one hand, after presenting the difficulty for the salvation of the wealthy person, not the impossibility which the passage at hand has displayed on the literal level, with wealthy people being able with difficulty to resist the passions and the sins, and not to be completely caught by these things. On the other hand, if one might take up a figurative understanding of the wealthy person, you. will inquire how it is that he might enter with difficulty into the kingdom of the heavens. The parable countenances the difficulty of the wealthy person’s entrance into salvation either way he is understood, with “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of the heavens (Matt 19.24) ... Of the two things at hand, the camel entering through the eye of a needle and the wealthy person [entering] into the kingdom of God, he says that the first is easier. And you might inquire among men as to whether it has ever happened that a camel enters through the eye of a needle, and whether a wealthy person (impossibly for men but possibly for God) has entered into the kingdom of God. In the same way also for the camel and for the eye of the needle, [you might inquire] if any camel whatsoever might be found and any “eye of a needle” might be understood, [that] will enter through it. For even this, while impossible for men, is possible with God.
Clement QDS 19, 20 - "It is thus that thou dost rightly sell the possessions, many are superfluous, which shut the heavens against thee by exchanging them for those which are able to save. Let the former be possessed by the carnal poor, who are destitute of the latter. But thou, by receiving instead spiritual wealth, shalt have now treasure in the heavens. The wealthy and legally correct man, not understanding these things figuratively, nor how the same man can be both poor and rich, and have wealth and not have it, and use the world and not use it, went away sad and downcast, leaving the state of life, which he was able merely to desire but not to attain, making for himself the difficult impossible."

(c) both men appeal to the example of Crates the philosopher

Origen Comm Matt 15.15: "If someone looking with human weakness, as though it were difficult for someone to do such things for the sake of the perfection in God, might despise the text, but turn[ing] away from allegory, he will be put to shame by certain Greek histories, in which certain ones, because of Greek wisdom, are recounted to have performed what the Savior here tells the rich man"
Clement QDS 11: "[n]or was the renunciation of wealth and the bestowment of it on the poor or needy a new thing; for many did so before the Saviour's advent, some because of the leisure for learning, and on account of a dead wisdom; and others for empty fame and vainglory, as the Anaxagorases, the Democriti, and the Crateses."

(d) how does the act of "selling" goods make the seller blessed or is it something else? Clement says it isn't about literally selling your goods, but Origen does and thinks that the poor you give your money to will pray on your behalf which assists you in getting to heaven. Clement says the poor aren't that blessed as a group and so have no power to effect your efforts to attain perfection

Origen Comm Matt 15.17 "Or, should we say that, by selling certain substance and giving it to the poor, he assumes all the virtues even becoming as one inspired of God, and puts away all vice from himself, we would be speaking honestly (if I may speak in a more common manner), but I do not know if truly. Perhaps indeed those who hear this explanation for the difficulty raised will mock us, as though we speak without prudence. Someone, who keeps to the letter and in no way offers a figurative reading, might seem to be more prudent to speak, offering a rejoinder in this way, as though honest, but if the things said are worthy or not of the thoughts according to the passage, indeed you yourself will judge. One may say therefore that, since he who distributes to the poor is assisted by their prayer for his own salvation, receiving for his own lack of spiritual things an abundance of spiritual things from those who are lacking bodily things (as the Apostle indicated in the second [letter] to the Corinthians [8.14]), might it be that someone else could experience the same thing and be assisted greatly by it, with God hearkening unto the prayers of those who have found rest in such poverty—among such ones there may perhaps be those who are similar to the Apostles though a little inferior to them, ones who are poor in bodily things, as were [the Apostles], but who are wealthy in spiritual things? This one then who accepts poverty in exchange for wealth for the sake of becoming perfect (having been persuaded by the words of Jesus) might be assisted quickly, as indeed the Apostles of Christ [were]."
Clement counters that there is no more likelihood of finding 'spiritual people' among the poor than the rich:
Clement QDS 11 " "Sell thy possessions." And what is this? He does not, as some conceive off-hand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed, and abandon his property; but bids him banish from his soul his notions about wealth, his excitement and morbid feeling about it, the anxieties, which are the thorns of existence, which choke the seed of life. For it is no great thing or desirable to be destitute of wealth, if without a special object, -- not except on account of life. For thus those who have nothing at all, but are destitute, and beggars for their daily bread, the poor dispersed on the streets, who know not God and God's righteousness, simply on account of their extreme want and destitution of subsistence, and lack even of the smallest things, were most blessed and most dear to God, and sole possessors of everlasting life."

(e) Peter said "we have left all and followed Thee" but he had nothing to begin with - therefore the passage can't be about excluding rich people from heaven

Clement QDS 21 "Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute, quickly seized and comprehended the saying. And what does he say? "Lo, we have left all and followed Thee? Now if by all he means his own property, he boasts of leaving four oboli perhaps in all, and forgets to show the kingdom of heaven to be their recompense. But if, casting away what we were now speaking of, the old mental possessions and soul diseases, they follow in the Master's footsteps, this now joins them to those who are to be enrolled in the heavens. For it is thus that one truly follows the Saviour, by aiming at sinlessness and at His perfection, and adorning and composing the soul before it as a mirror, and arranging everything in all respects similarly."
Origen Comm on Matt 15.22: "The one who despises the literal text as though not sufficient to persuade a hearer with a more noble nature, he will say, as with other texts of Scripture which hold something revered in an anagogical sense, such things about this passage: “Behold, we have left everything behind, and have followed you” (Matt 19.27), a little net having been abandoned, and a poor house, and a laborious life in poverty, is in no way something big nor is it worthy to be recounted of such a disciple, to whom “flesh and blood did not reveal” that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” “but” his “Father in the heavens,” and to whom it is recounted, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt 16.17, 18).
Origen Comm on Matt 15:21 "Someone might indeed observe these things according to the literal level, but someone else who disparages the [level] of the letter, as though not noble-natured, will offer a figurative reading ... Even if it was something small and cheap that Peter had forsaken along with his brother, Andrew, when they both heard, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of humans; immediately, leaving their nets, they followed him” (Matt 4.19-20), yet it is not reckoned a small thing to God who observes that they had done this from such a state ...

(f) is 'wealth' a figure of 'the good' from heaven? Clement says yes, Origen no

Clement QDS 14 "So let no man destroy wealth, rather than the passions of the soul, which are incompatible with the better use of wealth . So that, becoming virtuous and good, he may be able to make a good use of these riches (τὰ μὴ συγχω ροῦντα τὴν ἀμείνω χρῆσιν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, ἵνα καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθὸς γενόμενος καὶ τούτοις τοῖς κτήμασι χρῆσθαι δυνηθῇ καλῶς). The renunciation, then, and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul (τὸ οὖν ἀποτάξασθαι πᾶσι τοῖς ὑπάρχουσι καὶ πωλῆσαι πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ἐκδεκτέον ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ψυχικῶν παθῶν διειρη μένον)."
Origen Comm Matt 15 "You will indeed see (as though in anagogical terms), we have become firmly fixed in thinking that the wealth is a certain figure of the good (τὸν πλοῦτον ἀγαθὸν), rather than the opinion below (i.e. the opinion Origen espouses that it is to be taken literally)

(g) Clement bring up Matthew 12:15 and it's 'good man' as a way of proving that even Matthew knew the mystical truths known originally to Mark, Origen disagrees:

Clement QDS 17 But he who carries his riches in his soul, and instead of God's Spirit bears in his heart gold or land, and is always acquiring possessions without end, and is perpetually on the outlook for more, bending downwards and fettered in the toils of the world, being earth and destined to depart to earth, -- whence can he be able to desire and to mind the kingdom of heaven, -- a man who carries not a heart, but land or metal, who must perforce be found in the midst of the objects he has chosen? For where the mind of man is, there is also his treasure. The Lord acknowledges a twofold treasure, -- the good: "For the good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good ("ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν") and the evil: for "the evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil: for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ("ὁ κακὸς ἐκ τοῦ κακοῦ θησαυροῦ προφέρει τὸ κακόν, ὅτι ἐκ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ"). As then treasure is not one with Him, as also it is with us, that which gives the unexpected great gain in the finding, but also a second, which is profitless and undesirable, an evil acquisition, hurtful; so also there is a richness in good things, and a richness in bad things, since we know that riches and treasure are not by nature separated from each other. And the one sort of riches is to be possessed and acquired, and the other not to be possessed, but to be cast away. In the same way spiritual poverty is blessed. Wherefore also Matthew added, "Blessed are the poor." How? "In spirit." And again, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God." Wherefore wretched are the contrary kind of poor, who have no part in God, and still less in human property, and have not tasted of the righteousness of God.

Our Matthew reads here - ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει ἀγαθά, καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει πονηρά. Clement's citation is slightly different - ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν [καὶ] ὁ κακὸς ἐκ τοῦ κακοῦ θησαυροῦ προφέρει τὸ κακόν, ὅτι ἐκ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ. Clement's point is that the good man has goodness in his heart from God and thus is like God. Origen disagrees using the same passage:

Origen Comm Matt 10 “And behold one came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do in order that I might attain eternal life?’,” etc., up to, “Many who are first will be last, and last first” (Matt 19.16-30). On the one hand, it is written in the Psalms, as though a man is able to do good, that, “The one who desires life, who loves to see good days let your tongue cease from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit; turn away from evil, and do what is good” (Ps 33.13 -15). Here on the other hand, to the one who says, “What good thing shall I do in order that I might inherit eternal life?,” the Savior says, “Why do you speak to me concerning what is good? There is one who is good” (Matt 19.17), as though “good” is, properly speaking, applicable to no one other than God. It is necessary to see, that here [the term] “good” is employed in its proper sense for God alone, but in other places by a misuse of language [is employed] for good works, a good man, and a good tree. Indeed you will find that [the term] “good” is also employed of many other things. One must not deem there to be a quarrel, therefore, between “Do what is good” and “Why do you speak to me concerning what is good? There is one who is good,” which is said to the one who inquires and says, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do?” On the one hand, therefore, Matthew has recorded “What good thing shall I do?” as though the Savior was being asked concerning a good work. Mark and Luke on the other hand have represented the Savior as having said, “Why do you call me good? None is good except one, God” (Mk 10.18; Lk 18.19) as though the term “good” applied to God may not be applied to any other thing. For God is not good in the same way that one might talk about “a good man who from the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ <τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ>« προφέρων τὰ ἀγαθά” (Matt 12.35; Lk 6.45).

(h) Clement's description of 'certain Christians' who were patronizing sycophants might well have applied to Origen:

Clement QDS 3 "Those then who are actuated by a love of the truth and love of their brethren, and neither are rudely insolent towards such rich as are called, nor, on the other hand, cringe to them for their own avaricious ends, must first by the word relieve them of their groundless despair, and show with the requisite explanation of the oracles of the Lord that the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven is not quite cut off from them if they obey the commandments; then admonish them that they entertain a causeless fear, and that the Lord gladly receives them, provided they are willing ... let the man who is endowed with worldly wealth reckon that this depends on himself." Origen's dependence on his patron Ambrose is described at length by Jerome "Ambrose, who provided the parchment, money, and short-hand secretaries that allowed Adamantius, our Chalcenterus, to produce his innumerable books, reported in a letter that he wrote him from Athens, that never in his presence had Origen taken a meal without a reading, nor did he ever go to sleep without one of the brothers reading aloud something from the sacred writings, and be comported himself thus night and day so that reading took the place of prayer and prayer of reading." (Epistle 43) Indeed the expectation for money on Origen's part seems to have crossed a line with the death of his wealthy patron "He (Ambrose) died ... and is condemned by many (of Origen's followers), in that being a man of wealth, he did not at death, remember in his will, his old and needy friend." (Jerome Vir Ill 56)

(i) Origen rejects Clement's appeal to Mark's 'good God' to argue for a mystical understanding of the 'rich man' narrative:

Origen's argumentation is surprising. Despite making reference (as is the habit in Comm Matt) to what Mark and Luke says, the focus of exegesis is a harmony reading shared in Clement's Quis Dives Salvetur. Origen's gospel reads "τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω, ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω" Clement's gospel "ἀγαθέ τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω." Matthew by contrast - Διδάσκαλε, τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω ἵνα σχῶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον." κληρονομήσω is a Markan phrase. τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω is Matthean. It is odd that Origen should be citing a harmony reading here in a Commentary on Matthew but this would tend to argue that at the core there was originally more similarities than presently visible.

Interestingly, the shared variant 'harmony' text forms the critical link between the two author's exegeses. Yet, as with the entire Commentary, the chapter begins with a citation of what we might call a 'normative' text of Matthew:

“And behold one came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do in order that I might attain eternal life (Καὶ ἰδοὺ εἷς προσελ θὼν εἶπεν αὐτῷ· διδάσκαλε, τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω ἵνα σχῶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον)?’,” etc., up to, “Many who are first will be last, and last first” (Matt 19.16-30).

Let's suppose that as with the mekhilta laid down in the same period, the scriptural citation that begins each chapter was not originally there. Was the Commentary necessarily a commentary on Matthew specifically? It is an interesting question which can't be answered here at the present time.

The point is that in the main body of the Commentary Origen sums up Clement's exegesis in Quis Dives Salvetur based on a scriptural reading almost identical with Clement's text of Mark:
Origen Comm Matt 15.10 - 12 Here on the other hand, to the one who says, “What good thing shall I do in order that I might inherit eternal life?,” the Savior says, “Why do you speak to me concerning what is good? There is one who is good” (Matt 19.17), as though “good” is, properly speaking, applicable to no one other than God. It is necessary to see, that here [the term] “good” is employed in its proper sense for God alone, but in other places by a misuse of language [is employed] for good works, a good man, and a good tree. Indeed you will find that [the term] “good” is also employed of many other things. One must not deem there to be a quarrel, therefore, between “Do what is good” and “Why do you speak to me concerning what is good? There is one who is good,” which is said to the one who inquires and says, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do?” On the one hand, therefore, Matthew has recorded “What good thing shall I do?” as though the Savior was being asked concerning a good work. Mark and Luke on the other hand have represented the Savior as having said, “Why do you call me good? None is good except one, God” (Mk 10.18; Lk 18.19) as though the term “good” applied to God may not be applied to any other thing. For God is not good in the same way that one might talk about “a good man who from the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things” (Matt 12.35; Lk 6.45) ... But in terms of what is truly good, just as “every living thing will not be justified before God” (Ps 142.2), with each human righteousness being proven as not righteousness when the righteousness of [M1284] God is contemplated, so in the same way everything which might be called good in relationship to inferior things by a comparison of these things [to one another] may in no way be termed “good” before the good God.

Someone might suggest that, insofar as the Savior knows that the state and free will of him who inquires is clearly deficient for performing the good attainable by humans, he responds to him (who inquires, “What good shall I do?”) with “Why do you ask me concerning what is good?,” saying in effect: You who are not prepared [to do] the things communicated concerning what is good would inquire about doing “something good” [that] you may inherit eternal life? Then he teaches that there is only One who is truly good, concerning whom the law indeed says, “Listen, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6.4), for this [One] is properly Savior and properly Lord and properly good, Whom I am persuaded does all things as [One who is] good. You might inquire how even the things not understood by those who, so far as it is up to them, slander the God of the law and bring accusation against him are redolent of his goodness, which things it is not easy to speak about succinctly in human terms. For I am persuaded that God’s goodness is expressed through “I kill,” no less than through, “And I cause to live,” similarly also through “I will smite” no less than through “And I will heal” (Deut 32.39).

But next it is to be contemplated how it is said that, “If you desire to enter into life, keep the commandments.” You will take note in this [text] that he speaks to the one who inquires concerning the “good” as though he is still outside of life [when he says], “If you desire to enter into
life.” At this point I could inquire as to how many ways there is to understand [what it means] to be outside of life and to enter into life ... If, then, we also desire to enter into life, we must listen to Jesus who says, “If you desire to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19.17), and we, according to the proportion of [our] keeping the commandments, might enter into life, whether coming into its most inward and blessed parts, or the middle parts, or wherever the keeping of the more insignificant and more obscure commandments of life brings us.
This lengthy section is a comprehensive rejection of Clement's exegesis as represented by Quis Dives Salvetur. At its core Clement says that τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω has to be understood in terms of 'making (oneself) good' rather than - as with Origen - (doing good (works)' viz. the Law:
Clement QDS 6 - 10 - "And having been called "good," and taking the starting note from this first expression, He commences His teaching with this, turning the pupil to God the good (τὸν θεὸν τὸν ἀγαθὸν), and first and only dispenser of eternal life, which the Son, who received it of Him, gives to us. Wherefore the greatest and chiefest point of the instructions which relate to life must be implanted in the soul from the beginning, to know the eternal God, the giver of what is eternal, and by knowledge and comprehension to possess God, who is first, and highest, and one, and good. For this is the immutable and immoveable source and support of life, the knowledge of God, who really is, and who bestows the things which really are, that is, those which are eternal, from whom both being and the continuance of it are derived to other beings ... Jesus, accordingly, does not charge him with not having fulfilled all things out of the law, but loves him, and fondly welcomes his obedience in what he had learned; but says that he is not perfect as respects eternal life, inasmuch as he had not fulfilled what is perfect, and that he is a doer indeed of the law, but idle at the true life ... One thing is lacking thee, - the one thing which abides, the good, that which is now above the law, which the law gives not, which the law contains not, which is the prerogative of those who live."
2. why does Clement introduce a lengthy citation from Mark and say that Mark has the best, purest understanding of the narrative only to focus attention on Matthew and terminologies that are only found in Matthew? The best answer perhaps is that he knew or had heard Origen's exegesis of the material from Matthew or possibly even read Origen's Commentary on Matthew.

(a) Clement's exclusive mention of Matthew after the initial appeal to Mark

In the same way spiritual poverty is blessed. Wherefore also Matthew added, "Blessed are the poor." How? "In spirit." And again, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God." Wherefore wretched are the contrary kind of poor, who have no part in God, and still less in human property, and have not tasted of the righteousness of God. (QDS 17)

(b)Clement's citation of 'kingdom of heaven' from the passage - a terminology which doesn't appear in his cited text of Mark:
  • For some, merely hearing, and that in an off-hand way, the utterance of the Saviour, "that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven," despair of themselves as not destined to live, surrender all to the world, cling to the present life as if it alone was left to them, and so diverge more from the way to the life to come, no longer inquiring either whom the Lord and Master calls rich, or how that which is impossible to man becomes possible to God. But others rightly and adequately comprehend this, but attaching slight importance to the works which tend to salvation, do not make the requisite preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope. (QDS 2)
    Those then who are actuated by a love of the truth and love of their brethren, and neither are rudely insolent towards such rich as are called, nor, on the other hand, cringe to them for their own avaricious ends, must first by the word relieve them of their groundless despair, and show with the requisite explanation of the oracles of the Lord that the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven is not quite cut off from them if they obey the commandments; then admonish them that they entertain a causeless fear, and that the Lord gladly receives them, provided they are willing; and then, in addition, exhibit and teach how and by what deeds and dispositions they shall win the objects of hope, inasmuch as it is neither out of their reach, nor, on the other hand, attained without effort; but, as is the case with athletes -- to compare things small and perishing with things great and immortal -- let the man who is endowed with worldly wealth reckon that this depends on himself. (QDS 3)
    This is he who is blessed by the Lord, and cared poor in spirit, a meet heir of the kingdom of heaven, not one who could not live rich.(QDS 16)
    But he who carries his riches in his soul, and instead of God's Spirit bears in his heart gold or land, and is always acquiring possessions without end, and is perpetually on the outlook for more, bending downwards and fettered in the toils of the world, being earth and destined to depart to earth, -- whence can he be able to desire and to mind the kingdom of heaven, -- a man who carries not a heart, but land or metal, who must perforce be found in the midst of the objects he has chosen? For where the mind of man is, there is also his treasure.(QDS 17)
    To him who is poor in worldly goods, but rich in vices, who is not poor in spirit and rich toward God, it is said, Abandon the alien possessions that are in thy soul, that, becoming pure in heart, thou mayest see God; which is another way of saying, Enter into the kingdom of heaven. (QDS 19)
    For to save the unwilling is the part of one exercising compulsion; but to save the willing, that of one showing grace. Nor does the kingdom of heaven belong to sleepers and sluggards, "but the violent take it by force." (QDS 21)
    And what does he say? "Lo, we have left all and followed Thee? Now if by all he means his own property, he boasts of leaving four oboli perhaps in all, and forgets to show the kingdom of heaven to be their recompense.(ibid)
    But if one is able in the midst of wealth to turn from its power, and to entertain moderate sentiments, and to exercise self-command, and to seek God alone, and to breathe God and walk with God, such a poor man submits to the commandments, being free, unsubdued, free of disease, unwounded by wealth. But if not, "sooner shall a camel enter through a needle's eye, than such a rich man reach the kingdom of God." (QDS 26) - the only reference to 'kingdom of God' in the context of the rich man narrative in Quis Dives Salvetur Very unusual again for a homily that begins by explicitly citing 17 verses from Mark!
(c) Clement always cites
(d) Origen, apparently working from Matthew, always cites the order of the commandments after Mark:

Matthew 19:18 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας Μὴ φονεύσῃς, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, Μὴ κλέψῃς, Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα, καὶ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.
Mark 10:19 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας Μὴ φονεύσῃς, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, Μὴ κλέψῃς, Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, Μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα.
Clement's Gospel of Mark in Quis Dives Salvetur - τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας· μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, μὴ φονεύσῃς, μὴ κλέψῃς, μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα

Origen Comm Matt 15.13 Having heard [Jesus’ response], “Keep the commandments” (Matt 19.17), he replies, “Which ones?” (19.18), so that we might learn “which ones” are the more important “commandments” Jesus desires us to keep. For to [the question] “Which ones?” he replies, “You will not commit adultery; You will not murder; You will not steal; You will not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother, (τὸ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις, οὐ κλέψεις, οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα)” and, “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19.18-19). Perhaps these [commandments] are in fact sufficient for some to enter into the beginning of life (if I may name it such), while these [commandments] and others similar to them are not sufficient to initiate some into perfection, inasmuch as one guilty of one of these commandments is not able to enter into the beginning of life. The one who desires to enter into the beginning of life must keep himself clean from adultery, murder, and all theft. For as an adulterer and murderer will not enter into life, so also the one who steals will not (ὡς γὰρ μοιχὸς καὶ φονεὺς οὐκ εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν ζωήν, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὁ κλέπτων) [enter].

Origen Comm Matt 15.18 Since therefore it is possible that at that time the wealthy person, as it were, was containing certain bad things such as adultery, murder, theft, bearing false witness (ὡς μοιχείας καὶ φόνου καὶ κλοπῆς καὶ ψευδομαρτυρίας) , but was also rendering the proper respect to his parents, and had a certain philanthropy toward his neighbor, even though not perfect, the Savior in symbolic fashion enjoins this person to distribute all the wretched substance, indeed as if to hand over these things to powers who put them to use, who are destitute of every good thing, and because of this do not submit to a threat, in accordance with what is written, “A poor person is not subjected to a threat” (Prov 13.8).

Origen Comm Matt 15.19 For on the one hand in so far as he was not committing adultery, nor murdering, nor stealing, nor bearing false witness (οὐκ ἐμοίχευσεν οὐδὲ ἐφόνευσεν οὐδὲ ἔκλεψεν οὐδὲ ἐψευ δομαρτύρησεν), but, being a young man, he indeed honored his father and mother,40 and he was grieved at the teachings of Jesus set forth about perfection and promised it [to him], if he would give away his substance, there would be something beneficial for him
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Ben C. Smith, Giuseppe, JoeWallack, John T and 41 guests