Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

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robert j
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Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by robert j » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:25 am

Secret Alias recently wrote in another thread ---
Secret Alias wrote:But that would still mean that Clement was a heretic. A Valentinian rather than a Marcionite.
Clement took some shots at the heretics in his Stromata (Books 3,4,5, and 7). But not like the rabid polemics of Tertullian, or even Irenaeus. Rather, Clement employed his own Alexandrian-tinged philosophical arguments in his search for “true knowledge” through Jesus Christ. Clement used Paul to make his point in this passage ---
"According to the grace," it is said, "given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation. And another buildeth on it gold and silver, precious stones." (1 Cor 3:10-13)
Such is the gnostic superstructure on the foundation of faith in Christ Jesus.
But "the stubble, and the wood, and the hay," (1 Cor 3:12) are the additions of heresies. (Stromata, Book 5, ch. 4)
Clement is a self-identified “catholic” ----
From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God's purpose are just, are enrolled. … Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and catholic church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith -- which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord -- those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous. (Stromata, Book 7, ch. 17)
And Clement was an avid promoter of the catholic party-line that included the importance of the “prophetic scriptures”, the synoptic gospels, the apostolic traditions, and Paul’s letters. Clement cited from these extensively in his Stromata. He clearly demonstrated his catholic position ---
For we have, as the source of teaching, the Lord, both by the prophets, the Gospel, and the blessed apostles, "in divers manners and at sundry times" (Hebrews 1:1), leading from the beginning of knowledge to the end. But if one should suppose that another origin was required, then no longer truly could an origin be preserved. (Stromata, Book 7, ch. 16)
And Clement disparaged the heretics, including Valentinus and Marcion ---
For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the catholic church requires not many words to show.
For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius.
And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of [H]Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter. Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter.
Such being the case, it is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect truth of the church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth]. (Stromata, Book 7, ch. 17)
Clement’s style and wide-ranging philosophies may not have set well with the western catholics at the time, but prior to Origen, is there a better example of late 2nd C. eastern catholicism than Clement of Alexandria?

And Clement adored Paul. He cited his letters extensively and variously referred to Paul as “the apostle”, “blessed”, and “noble”.

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:08 pm

To respond to the superficiality in order:
1. Clement took some shots at the heretics in his Stromata (Books 3,4,5, and 7). But not like the rabid polemics of Tertullian, or even Irenaeus. Rather, Clement employed his own Alexandrian-tinged philosophical arguments in his search for “true knowledge” through Jesus Christ. Clement used Paul to make his point in this passage --
No one wants to be a heretic. Just lay gay celebrities (up until recently) vehemently denied being homosexual. Sluts deny being sluts. As Dave Chappelle puts it:
“The girl says "Oh uh-uh, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a whore!" Which is true, Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn't mean they are a certain way. Don't even forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fucking confusing. It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle, the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me saying, "Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They're over here. Help us!" "Oh-hoh! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a police officer!" See what I mean? All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore's uniform.”
Why don't people want to be stigmatized especially in antiquity? Because receiving a 'branding' was usually taken quite literally. There were specific penalties associated with being a member of an undesirable group. Just listen to Secundus's letter to Augustine insinuating that he left the fold of being a Manichaean out of 'fear.' 'Fear of punishment' is cited by Irenaeus as a reason why heretics deny being heretics and we should believe them. And then there is what he specifically says about the heretics of Mark of which Clement of Alexandria was a member. After Irenaeus cites material from Clement's Stromata Book 6 verbatim the Philosophumena adds 'these followers of Mark always deny that they are followers of Mark.'

My grandfather was interned in a concentration camp in North Africa (not as a Jew but a communist) and every day he had to deny insinuations he was Jewish (out of fear he would be moved somewhere worse). When he was liberated by Montgomery he fought with the Americans to recapture Germany where he is documented as being one of the first people to uncover the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen (where his mother my great grandmother was interned). He liberated his mother.

After the war he married an Italian and baptized his children Catholic as a guise with the specific reasoning that 'if it happened again they would be spared.' To the day he died he had nightmares about being 'discovered.' My mother was at the hospital when he died of cancer and he had active hallucinations he was back at the concentration camp in North Africa. He was rambling about 'hiding being a Jew.' Being a crypto-believer has always existed in repressive regimes. There were crypto-Christians in Turkey, crypto-Jews in Turkey and crypto-Muslims in Greece.

I wish people had some relevant life experience before trying to make sense of history.
“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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:18 pm

As a side note my German Jewish great grandmother despite all the atrocities at Bergen Belsen was proud to be a German to the day she died. She managed an old age home and never wanted to move. Go figure.
“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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:20 pm

2. Clement is a self-identified “catholic” -
And everyone in America thinks they are one break from being a millionaire. So what? We see that in Celsus 'Catholic' wasn't a 'brand name' for the orthodox. It is called 'the great Church.' Catholic just means universal. All Christians likely thought they were 'orthodox' and 'catholic' at the time. They fought over the name Christian why not catholic too?
“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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:24 pm

3. And Clement was an avid promoter of the catholic party-line that included the importance of the “prophetic scriptures”, the synoptic gospels, the apostolic traditions, and Paul’s letters. Clement cited from these extensively in his Stromata. He clearly demonstrated his catholic position
But did Clement equate all the writings as having the same authority? Clement liked books and demonstrates a great love for Plato. He was a philosopher even though Irenaeus was actively stigmatizing Christians who loved philosophy as being 'heretics' (a term derived from philosophy). Clement's love of Plato certainly confirmed the likelihood that he was properly defined as belonging to a 'haeresis.' A better case can be made for Clement's heresy than his 'Orthodoxy.' The case is obviously substantive as a book was written on this very subject - https://books.google.com/books?id=ByqwC ... ia&f=false I am friends with the author on Facebook and have told Ashwin-Siejkowski I could have done a much better job prosecuting 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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:26 pm

4. And Clement disparaged the heretics, including Valentinus and Marcion
And heretics attacked other heretics as we see first hand from the Testimony of Truth from Nag Hammadi where Valentinians and Basilideans are referenced by name and disparaged. Again another so what ...

The interesting thing is that Clement had copies of Basilides and Valentinus's writings in his library which he didn't burn or destroy. Remember also that Origen's patron Ambrose was either a repentant Marcionite or Valentinian. Clement had copies of many Valentinian books (cf. Excerpta ex Theodoto a Valentinian whose writings in excerpts were some how was compiled within a codex of Clement's writings). I tend to view the situation as Alexandria learning to fake 'Orthodoxy.' You see this when Dionysius mentions the resistance of Alexandrians and Egyptians to foreign baptism practices. The Roman Church managed to define what Orthodoxy was and all the rest of the churches had to find a way to somehow go along (at least superficially) with these new rules. The institution of fixed ways of calculating Easter associated with (the foreign) Patriarch Demetrius of Alexandria is another example. The list goes on and on ...
Last edited by Secret Alias on Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:36 pm

5. Clement’s style and wide-ranging philosophies may not have set well with the western catholics at the time, but prior to Origen, is there a better example of late 2nd C. eastern catholicism than Clement of Alexandria?
Again you don't know what you are talking about. The Alexandrian Church has a patron that distinguishes it from all other traditions (Mark) and identifies itself as Orthodox and catholic. It belongs to the Orthodox tradition where all Patriarchs have equal standing (i.e. the Patriarch of Alexandria is an equal to every other Patriarch) but where it clearly represents a distinct tradition. The Coptic tradition has many radical ideas such as their understanding of 'Incarnation' a view which see the process embodied in Jesus (i.e. that god literally exists in the bodies of men) as continuing through its members. I am not going to start going through explaining why Alexandria is distinct but anyone who has ever read any of its literature (a body of writings you have not read it would seem) knows full well the conflicts in Egypt before and after the Muslim conquest. I recommend you familiarize yourself with that body of writing .

But the idea that Semi-Arianism and then before that Arianism and before that Origenism and before that Clement and then before that radical encratites like Julius Cassian and all the castrated eunuchs which seem to characterize the movement (cf Justin) don't represent a steadily augmenting heretical tendency is ridiculous and only shows how uninformed you are. We don't know if Clement had a penis but there is a pronounced characteristic associated with Alexandrian Christianity where Christians castrated themselves (in the manner familiar with Marcionism). This is epitomized by stories still preserved in the Coptic History of Severus many centuries later. Egypt was the home of asceticism generally. The claim that there wasn't this strange obsession with heretical themes (asceticism etc) associated with Alexandria is uninformed.
“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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:39 pm

One final note. I have a friend who is eighty six who is a Greek who was born in Alexandria. He shares a life long interest with me in St Mark. He remembers in his youth before Nasser's hydro-electric project changed Alexandria's shoreline forever that the remains of an ancient Church of St Mark could be seen in the ancient Jewish quarter of the city (in modern Chatby). He told stories as a youth standing in the cryptorium in the Church where all the mummified remains of the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria were stored. The superstitions of ancient Egypt, he said, were never fully overcome by this tradition.
“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

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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:49 pm

So to sum up. Alexandria began as a very, very different kind of Christianity and over time was 'encouraged' to join the rest of the Church. This process was gradual and the final blow came when the Origenist monks made their move for Judea at the end of the fourth century. With them the original spirit of Alexandria Christianity was ultimately exiled at Mar Saba. I suspect that asceticism began in Egypt and asceticism defined the Alexandrian experience of what it was to 'be Christian' from the very beginning.
“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

robert j
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Re: Clement of Alexandria --- the catholic

Post by robert j » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:21 pm

Life's too short Stephan.

(Edit: primarily a comment on the first response to the OP by Secret Alias, that response has since been removed)
Last edited by robert j on Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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