Clement of Alexandria

Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria (Greek: Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; c. 150 – c. 215),[1] was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics.[2] His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism. In one of his works he argued that Greek philosophy had its origin among non-Greeks, claiming that both Plato and Pythagoras were taught by Egyptian scholars.[3] Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Clement is usually regarded as a Church Father. He is venerated as a saint in Coptic Christianity, Ethiopian Christianity and Anglicanism. He was previously revered in the Roman Catholic Church, but his name was removed from the Roman Martyrology in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V on the advice of Baronius.

Clement of Alexandria
Clement alexandrin
Clement from Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres grecz, latins et payens (1584) by André Thévet
Church Father, Theologian
Bornc. 150
Diedc. 215
Venerated inOriental Orthodox Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Anglican Communion
Feast4 December (Eastern Catholicism, Anglicanism)
5 December (Episcopal Church, Anglicanism)
ControversyRegarded as a heretic by Photius.
Catholic cult suppressed
1586 by Pope Sixtus V


Neither Clement's birthdate or birthplace is known with any degree of certainty. It is conjectured that he was born sometime around 150 CE. According to Epiphanius Scholasticus, he was born in Athens, but there is also a tradition of an Alexandrian birth.[4][5]

His parents were pagans, and Clement was a convert to Christianity. In the Protrepticus he displays an extensive knowledge of Greek mythology and mystery religions, which could only have arisen from the practice of his family's religion.[4]

Having rejected paganism as a young man due to its perceived moral corruption, he travelled in Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt. Clement's journeys were primarily a religious undertaking. In Greece, he encountered an Ionian theologian, who has been identified as Athenagoras of Athens; while in the east, he was taught by an Assyrian, sometimes identified with Tatian, and a Jew, who was possibly Theophilus of Caesarea.[6]

In around 180, Clement reached Alexandria,[7] where he met Pantaenus, who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria.[8] Eusebius suggests that Pantaenus was the head of the school, but it is controversial whether the institutions of the school were formalized in this way before the time of Origen.[9][10][11] Clement studied under Pantaenus, and was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Julian before 189. Otherwise, virtually nothing is known of Clement's life in Alexandria. He may have been married, a conjecture supported by his writings.[12]

During the Severian persecutions of 202–203, Clement left Alexandria. In 211, Alexander of Jerusalem wrote a letter commending him to the Church of Antioch,[13] which may imply that Clement was living in Cappadocia or Jerusalem at that time. The date and location of his death are unknown.

Theological works

Klementos Alexandreos ta heuriskomena
Klementos Alexandreos ta heuriskomena (1715)


Three of Clement's major works have survived in full, and they are collectively referred to as the trilogy:[14]


DSC00355 - Orfeo (epoca romana) - Foto G. Dall'Orto
The Orphic mysteries are used as an example of the false cults of Greek paganism in the Protrepticus.

The Protrepticus is, as its title suggests, an exhortation to the pagans of Greece to adopt Christianity, and within it Clement demonstrates his extensive knowledge of pagan mythology and theology. It is chiefly important due to Clement's exposition of religion as an anthropological phenomenon.[16] After a short philosophical discussion, it opens with a history of Greek religion in seven stages.[17] Clement suggests that at first, men mistakenly believed the Sun, the Moon and other heavenly bodies to be gods. The next development was the worship of the products of agriculture, from which he contends the cults of Demeter and Dionysus arose.[18] Man then paid reverence to revenge, and deified human feelings of love and fear, among others. In the following stage, the poets Hesiod and Homer attempt to enumerate the Gods; Hesiod's Theogony giving the number of twelve. Finally, men proclaimed other men, such as Asclepius and Heracles, deities.[18] Discussing idolatry, Clement contends that the objects of primitive religion were unshaped wood and stone, and idols thus arose when such natural items were carved.[19] Following Plato, Clement is critical of all forms of visual art, suggesting that artworks are but illusions and "deadly toys".[19]

Clement criticizes Greek paganism in the Protrepticus on the basis that its deities are both false and poor moral examples, and he attacks the mystery religions for their obscurantism and trivial rituals.[19] In particular, the worshippers of Dionysus are ridiculed for their ritual use of children's toys.[20] He suggests at some points that the pagan deities are based on humans, but at others that they are misanthropic demons, and he cites several classical sources in support of this second hypothesis.[21] Clement, like many pre-Nicene fathers, writes favourably about Euhemerus and other rationalist philosophers, on the grounds that they at least saw the flaws in paganism. However, his greatest praise is reserved for Plato, whose apophatic views of God prefigure Christianity.[22]

The figure of Orpheus is prominent throughout the narrative, and Clement contrasts his song, representing pagan superstition, with the divine Logos of Christ.[23] According to Clement, through conversion to Christianity alone can man fully participate in the Logos, which is universal truth.[24]


Christ, the Logos incarnate, is the Paedagogus of the work's title.

This work's title, translatable as "tutor", refers to Christ as the teacher of all mankind, and it features an extended metaphor of Christians as children.[25] It is not simply instructional : the author intends to show how the Christian should respond to the Love of God authentically.[26] Clement, following Plato (Republic 4:441), divides life into three elements: character, actions and passions. The first having been dealt with in the Protrepticus, he devotes the Paedagogus to reflections on Christ's role in teaching us to act morally and to control our passions.[27] Despite its explicitly Christian nature, Clement's work draws on Stoic philosophy and pagan literature; Homer alone is cited over sixty times in the work.[28]

Although Christ, like man, is made in the image of God, he alone shares the likeness of God the Father.[29] Christ is both sinless and apathetic, and thus by striving to imitate Christ, man can achieve salvation. To Clement, sin is involuntary, and thus irrational [αλόγον], removed only through the wisdom of the Logos.[30] God's guidance of us away from sin is thus a manifestation of God's universal love for mankind. The word play on λόγος and αλόγον is characteristic of Clement's writing, and may be rooted in the Epicurean belief that relationships between words are deeply reflective of relationships between the objects they signify.[31]

Clement argues for the equality of sexes, on the grounds that salvation is extended to all of mankind equally.[32] Unusually, he suggests that Christ is neither male or female, and that God the Father has both male and female aspects: the eucharist is described as milk from the breast (Christ) of the Father.[33][34] He is supportive of women playing an active role in the leadership of the church, and provides a list of women he considers inspirational, which includes both Biblical and Classical Greek figures. It has been suggested that Clement's progressive views on gender as set out in the Paedagogus were influenced by Gnosticism.[33] However, later in the work, he argues against the Gnostics that faith, not esoteric knowledge [γνῶσις], is required for salvation. According to Clement, it is through faith in Christ that we are enlightened and come to know God.[35]

In the second book, Clement provides practical rules on living a Christian life. He argues against overindulgence in food and in favour of good table manners.[36] While prohibiting drunkenness, he promotes the drinking of alcohol in moderation following 1 Timothy 5:23.[36] Clement argues for a simple way of life in accordance with the innate simplicity of Christian monotheism. He condemns elaborate and expensive furnishings and clothing, and argues against overly passionate music and perfumes. But Clement does not believe in the abandoning of worldly pleasures and argues that the Christian should be able to express his joy in God's creation through gaiety and partying.[37] He opposes the wearing of garlands, because the picking of the flowers ultimately kills a beautiful creation of God, and the garland resembles the crown of thorns.[38] Clement treats sex at some length. He argues that both promiscuity and sexual abstinence are unnatural, and that the main goal of human sexuality is procreation.[39] Homosexuality, prostitution, concubinage, adultery and coitus with pregnant women should all be avoided as they will not act towards the generation of legitimate offspring.[40]

The third book continues along a similar vein, condemning cosmetics on the grounds that it is our souls, not our bodies, that we should seek to beautify.[41] Clement also opposes the dyeing of men's hair and male depilation as effeminacy. He advises choosing one's company carefully, to avoid being corrupted by immoral people, and while arguing that material wealth is no sin in itself, it is too likely to distract one from the infinitely more important spiritual wealth which is found in Christ.[42] The work finishes with selections of scripture supporting Clement's argument, and following a prayer, the lyrics of a hymn.[43]


Alpine flora logan pass
Clement describes the Stromata as a work on various subjects, which spring up in the text like flowers in a meadow.[44]

The contents of the Stromata, as its title suggests, are miscellaneous. Its place in the trilogy is disputed – Clement initially intended to write the Didasculus, a work which would complement the practical guidance of the Paedagogus with a more intellectual schooling in theology.[45] The Stromata is less systematic and ordered than Clement's other works, and it has been theorized by André Méhat that it was intended for a limited, esoteric readership.[46] Although Eusebius wrote of eight books of the work, only seven undoubtedly survive. Photius, writing in the 9th century, found various text appended to manuscripts of the seven canonical books, which lead Daniel Heinsius to suggest that the original eighth book is lost, and he identified the text purported to be from the eighth book as fragments of the Hypopotoses.[47]

The first book starts on the topic of Greek philosophy. Consistent with his other writing, Clement affirms that philosophy had a propaedeutic role for the Greek, similar to the function of the law for the Jews.[48] He then embarks on a discussion of the origins of Greek culture and technology, arguing that most of the important figures in the Greek world were foreigners, and (erroneously) that Jewish culture was the most significant influence on Greece.[49] In an attempt to demonstrate the primacy of Moses, Clement gives an extended chronology of the world, wherein he dates the birth of Christ to 25 April or May, 4-2 B.C., and the creation of the world to 5592 B.C. The books ends with a discussion on the origin of languages and the possibility of a Jewish influence on Plato.[50]

The second book is largely devoted to the respective roles of faith and philosophical argument. Clement contends that while both are important, the fear of God is foremost, because through faith one receives divine wisdom.[51] To Clement, scripture is an innately true primitive philosophy which is complemented by human reason through the Logos.[52] Faith is voluntary, and the decision to believe is a crucial fundamental step in becoming closer to God.[53][54] It is never irrational, as it is founded on the knowledge of the truth of the Logos, but all knowledge proceeds from faith, as first principles are unprovable outside a systematic structure.[55]

The third book covers asceticism. He discusses marriage, which is treated similarly in the Paedagogus. Clement rejects the Gnostic opposition to marriage, arguing that only men who are uninterested in women should remain celibate, and that sex is a positive good if performed within marriage for the purposes of procreation.[56] However it has not always been so: the Fall occurred because Adam and Eve succumbed to their desire for each other, and copulated before the allotted time.[57] He argues against the idea that Christians should reject their family for an ascetic life, which stems from Luke 14:25–27, contending that Jesus would not have contradicted the precept to "Honour thy Father and thy Mother" (Exodus 20:12), one of the Ten Commandments.[58] Clement concludes that asceticism will only be rewarded if the motivation is Christian in nature, and thus the asceticism of non-Christians such as the gymnosophists is pointless.[59][60]

Clement begins the fourth book with a belated explanation of the disorganized nature of the work, and gives a brief description of his aims for the remaining three or four books.[61] The fourth book focuses on martyrdom. While all good Christians should be unafraid of death, Clement condemns those who actively seek out a martyr's death, arguing that they do not have sufficient respect for God's gift of life.[62] He is ambivalent whether any believing Christian can become a martyr by virtue of the manner of their death, or whether martyrdom is reserved for those who have lived exceptional lives.[63] Marcionites cannot become martyrs, because they do not believe in the divinity of God the Father – their sufferings are in vain.[64] There is then a digression to the subject of theological epistemology. According to Clement, there is no way of empirically testing the existence of God the Father, because the Logos has revelatory, not analysable meaning, although Christ was an object of the senses. God had no beginning, and is the universal first principle.[65]

The fifth book returns to the subject of faith. Clement argues that truth, justice and goodness can be seen only by the mind, not the eye; faith is a way of accessing the unseeable.[66] He stresses that knowledge of God can only be achieved through faith once one's moral faults have been corrected.[67] This parallels Clement's earlier insistence that martyrdom can only be achieved by those who practice their faith in Christ through good deeds, not those who simply profess their faith. God transcends matter entirely, and thus the materialist cannot truly come to know God. Although Christ was God incarnate, it is our spiritual, not physical comprehension of him which is important.[67]

In the beginning of the sixth book, Clement intends to demonstrate that the works of Greek poets were derived from the prophetic books of the Bible. In order to reinforce his position that the Greeks were inclined towards plagiarism, he cites numerous instances of such inappropriate appropriation by classical Greek writers, reported second-hand from On Plagiarism, an anonymous 3rd century BC work sometimes ascribed to Aretades.[68] Clement then digresses to the subject of sin and hell, arguing that Adam was not perfect when created, but given the potential to achieve perfection. He espouses broadly universalist doctrine, holding that Christ's promise of salvation is available to all, even those condemned to hell.[69]

The final extant book begins with a description of the nature of Christ, and that of the true Christian, who aims to be as similar as possible to both the Father and the Son. Clement then criticizes the simplistic anthropomorphism of most ancient religions, quoting Xenophanes' famous description of African, Thracian and Egyptian deities.[70] The Greek gods may also have had their origins in the personification of material objects: Ares representing iron, and Dionysus wine.[71] Prayer, and the relationship between love and knowledge are then discussed. 1 Corinthians 13:8 seems to contradict the characterization of the true Christian as one who knows; but to Clement knowledge vanishes only in that it is subsumed by the universal love expressed by the Christian in his reverence for his Creator.[72] Following Socrates, he argues that vice arises from a state of ignorance, not from intention. The Christian is a "laborer in God's vineyard", responsible both for his own path to salvation and that of his neighbor. The work ends with an extended passage against the contemporary divisions and heresies within the church.[73]

Other works

Besides the great trilogy, Clement's only other extant work is the treatise Salvation for the Rich, also known as Who is the Rich Man who is Saved? Having begun with a scathing criticism of the corrupting effects of money and misguided servile attitudes towards the wealthy, Clement discusses the implications of Mark 10:25.[74] The rich are either unconvinced by the promise of eternal life, or unaware of the conflict between the possession of material and spiritual wealth, and the good Christian has a duty to guide them towards a better life through the Gospel.[74] Jesus' words are not to be taken literally — we should seek the supercelestial [ὑπερουράνιος] meaning in which the true route to salvation is revealed.[75] The holding of material wealth in itself is not a wrong, as long as it is used charitably, but men should be careful not to let their wealth dominate their spirit. It is more important to give up sinful passions than external wealth. If the rich man is to be saved, all he must do is to follow the two commandments, and while material wealth is of no value to God, it can be used to alleviate the suffering of our neighbor.[76]

Other known works exist in fragments alone, including the four eschatological works in the secret tradition: Hypotyposes, Excerpta ex Theodoto, Eclogae Propheticae and the Adumbraetiones.[77] These cover Clement's celestial hierarchy, a complex schema in which the universe is headed by the Face of God, below which lie seven protoctists, followed by archangels, angels and humans.[78] According to Jean Daniélou, this schema is inherited from a Judaeo-Christian esotericism, followed by the Apostles, which was only imparted orally to those Christians who could be trusted with such mysteries.[79] The proctocists are the first beings created by God, and act as priests to the archangels. Clement identifies them both as the "Eyes of the Lord" and with the Thrones.[80] Clement characterizes the celestial forms as entirely different from anything earthly, although he argues that members of each order only seem incorporeal to those of lower orders.[81] According to the Eclogae Propheticae, every thousand years every member of each order moves up a degree, and thus men can become angels. Even the protoctists can be elevated, although their new position in the hierarchy is not clearly defined.[81] The apparent contradiction between the fact that there can be only seven protoctists but also a vast number of archangels to be promoted to their order is problematical. The commonest modern explanation is that the number seven is not meant to be taken literally, but has a principally numerological significance.[82]

We know the titles of several lost works because of a list in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, 6.13.1-3. They include the Outlines, in eight books, and Against Judaizers. Others are known only from mentions in Clement's own writings, including On Marriage and On Prophecy, although few are attested by other writers and it is difficult to separate works which he intended to write from those which were actually completed.[83]

The Mar Saba letter was attributed to Clement by Morton Smith, but there remains much debate today over whether it is an authentic letter from Clement, an ancient pseudepigraph or a modern forgery.[84][85] If authentic, its main significance would be in its relating that the Apostle Mark came to Alexandria from Rome and there wrote a more spiritual Gospel, which he entrusted to the Church in Alexandria on his death; if genuine, the letter pushes back the tradition related by Eusebius connecting Mark with Alexandria by a century.[86]


Eusebius is the first writer to provide an account of Clement's life and works, in his Ecclesiastical History, 5.11.1-5, 6.6.1[87] Eusebius provides a list of Clement's works, biographical information, and an extended quotation from the Stromata.

Photios I of Constantinople writes against Clement's theology in the Bibliotheca, although he is appreciative of Clement's learning and the literary merits of his work.[88] In particular, he is highly critical of the Hypotyposes, a work of biblical exegesis of which only a few fragments have survived. Photios compared Clement's treatise, which, like his other works, was highly syncretic, featuring ideas of Hellenistic, Jewish and Gnostic origin, unfavorably against the prevailing orthodoxy of the 9th century.[89] Amongst the particular ideas Photios deemed heretical were:

  • His belief that matter and thought are eternal, and thus did not originate from God, contradicting the doctrine of Creatio ex nihilo.[90]
  • His belief in cosmic cycles predating the creation of the world, following Heraclitus, which is extra-Biblical in origin.[91]
  • His belief that Christ, as Logos, was in some sense created, contrary to John 1 but following Philo.[92]
  • His ambivalence towards docetism, the heretical doctrine that Christ's earthly body was an illusion.[93]
  • His belief that Eve was created from Adam's sperm after he ejaculated during the night.[94]
  • His belief that Genesis 6:2 implies that angels indulged in coitus with human women. In Roman Catholic theology, angels are considered sexless.[95]
  • His belief in reincarnation, i.e., the transmigration of souls.[96]

Down to the seventeenth century he was venerated as a saint in Catholicism. His name was to be found in the martyrologies, and his feast fell on the fourth of December. But when the Roman Martyrology was revised by Pope Clement VIII his name was dropped from the calendar on the advice of Cardinal Baronius. Benedict XIV maintained this decision of his predecessor on the grounds that Clement's life was little known, that he had never obtained public cultus in the Church, and that some of his doctrines were, if not erroneous, at least suspect.[97] Thus Clement is not revered as a saint in contemporary Roman Catholicism, nor is he considered a saint in much of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Clement's veneration is somewhat limited; he is commemorated nonetheless in Anglicanism.[98] As well, the Universal Catholic Church's cathedral in Dallas is dedicated to him.

As one of the earliest of the Church fathers whose works have survived, he is the subject of a significant amount of recent academic work, focusing on among other things, his exegesis of scripture, his Logos-theology and pneumatology, the relationship between his thought and non-Christian philosophy and his influence on Origen.[99]




See also


  1. ^ Buell (1999), p. 10
  2. ^ Outler (1940), p. 217
  3. ^ Press (2003), p. 83
  4. ^ a b Ferguson (1974), p. 13
  5. ^ Westcott (1877), p. 560
  6. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 14
  7. ^ Stromateis
  8. ^ Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6.13.2; 6.6.1
  9. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 15
  10. ^ Hägg (2006), p. 56-9. Proponents of a formalized leadership and succession suggest that Clement succeeded Pantaenus as leader of the school, and was succeeded himself by Origen; see Itter (2009), pp. 9-10.
  11. ^ Osborn (2008), pp. 19-24.
  12. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 16
  13. ^ Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6.14.8
  14. ^ Osborn (2008), p. 5
  15. ^ a b c Ferguson (1974), p. 17
  16. ^ Droge (1989), p. 138
  17. ^ Droge (1989), p. 130
  18. ^ a b Droge (1989), p. 131
  19. ^ a b c Ferguson (1974), p. 48
  20. ^ Burrus (2011), p. 101
  21. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 50
  22. ^ Ferguson (1974), pp. 55–6
  23. ^ de Jáuregui (2010), p. 132
  24. ^ Sharkey (2009), p. 159
  25. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 76
  26. ^ Osborn (2008), p. 244
  27. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 69
  28. ^ Irvine (2006), p. 164
  29. ^ Ogliari (2003), p. 200
  30. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 71
  31. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 73
  32. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 72
  33. ^ a b Gill (2004), p. 184
  34. ^ Berger (2011), pp. 74–5
  35. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 75
  36. ^ a b Ferguson (1974), p. 80
  37. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 82
  38. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 85
  39. ^ Kochuthara (2007) , p. 145
  40. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 87
  41. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 91
  42. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 94
  43. ^ Murphy (1941), p. 32
  44. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 107
  45. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 106
  46. ^ Osborn (2008), p. 8
  47. ^ Kaye (1835), p. 221
  48. ^ Ferguson (1974), pp. 108–9
  49. ^ Ferguson (1974), pp. 113–6
  50. ^ Ferguson (1974), pp. 117–9
  51. ^ Osborn (1994), p. 3
  52. ^ Osborn (1994), p. 4
  53. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 121
  54. ^ Osborn (1994), p. 7
  55. ^ Osborn (1994), pp. 11–12
  56. ^ Heid (2000), p. 65
  57. ^ Seymour (1997), p. 257
  58. ^ Clark (1999), p. 198
  59. ^ Clark (1999), p. 17
  60. ^ Burrus (2011), p. 30
  61. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 133
  62. ^ Verhey (2011), p. 350
  63. ^ Burrus (2011), p. 82
  64. ^ Osborn (1994), p. 8
  65. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 139
  66. ^ Osborn (1994), p. 9
  67. ^ a b Osborn (1994), p. 10
  68. ^ de Jáuregui (2010), p. 201
  69. ^ Seymour (1997), pp. 262–3
  70. ^ Grant (1988), p. 77
  71. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 150
  72. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 151
  73. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 152
  74. ^ a b Ferguson (1974), p. 166
  75. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 167
  76. ^ Ferguson (1974), pp. 173, 178
  77. ^ Bucar (2006), p. 252
  78. ^ Bucar (2006), p. 255
  79. ^ Daniélou (1962), p. 262
  80. ^ Bucar (2006), p. 257
  81. ^ a b Bucar (2006), p. 260
  82. ^ Bucar (2006), pp. 261–3
  83. ^ Ferguson (1974), p. 179
  84. ^ Heine (2010), pp. 117-8, 121
  85. ^ Osborn (2008), p. 195
  86. ^ Heine (2010), p. 121.
  87. ^ Of the two sections dedicated to Clement, Eccl. Hist. 6.6.1 seems decidedly out of place, and Valesius argued that this was evidence that Eusebius never revised his work; see McGiffert (1890), p. 253.
  88. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 16
  89. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), pp. 17–8
  90. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 23
  91. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), pp. 40–43
  92. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 75
  93. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 95
  94. ^ Itter (2009), p. 68
  95. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 146
  96. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2010), p. 115
  97. ^ Havey (1908)
  98. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  99. ^ Ashwin-Siejkowski (2015), pp. 92-3


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  • Ogliari, Donato (2003). Gratia et certamen: The Relationship Between Grace and Free Will in the Discussion of Augustine with the So-called Semipelagians. Leuven: Peeters. ISBN 978-90-429-1351-6.
  • Outler, Albert C. (1940). "The "Platonism" of Clement of Alexandria". The Journal of Religion. 20 (3): 217–240. doi:10.1086/482574.
  • Osborn, Eric (1994). "Arguments for Faith in Clement of Alexandria". Vigiliae Christianae. 48 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1163/157007294x00113.
  • Osborn, Eric (2008). Clement of Alexandria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-09081-0.
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External links


Avaris (; Egyptian: ḥw.t wꜥr.t, sometimes transcribed Hut-waret in works for a popular audience, Greek: Αὔαρις, Auaris) was the capital of Egypt under the Hyksos. It was located at modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes. As the main course of the Nile migrated eastward, its position at the hub of Egypt's delta emporia made it a major administrative capital of the Hyksos and other traders. It was occupied from about 1783 to 1550 BC, or from the Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt through the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt until its destruction by Ahmose I, the first Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. The name in the Egyptian language of the 2nd millennium BC was probably pronounced *Ḥaʔat-Wūrat 'Great House' and denotes the capital of an administrative division of the land. Today, the name Hawara survives, referring to the site at the entrance to Faiyum. Alternatively, Clement of Alexandria referred to the name of this city as "Athyria".


Barnabas (; Greek: Βαρνάβας), born Joseph, was according to tradition an early Christian, one of the prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36, Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Named an apostle in Acts 14:14, he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers. They traveled together making more converts (c. 45–47), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50). Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.

Barnabas' story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles. Tertullian named him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but this and other attributions are conjecture. Clement of Alexandria and some scholars have ascribed the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but his authorship is disputed.

Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus, in 61 AD. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The feast day of Barnabas is celebrated on June 11.

Barnabas is usually identified as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist on the basis of the term "anepsios" used in Colossians 4, which carries the connotation of "cousin." Some traditions hold that Aristobulus of Britannia, one of the Seventy Disciples, was the brother of Barnabas.

Acts 11:24 describes Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith".


For the Ethiopian emperor, see Fasilides. For the martyr, see Basilides and Potamiana.Basilides (Greek: Βασιλείδης) was an early Christian Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117 to 138 AD, and claimed to have inherited his teachings from the Apostle Saint Matthias. He was a pupil of either Menander, or a supposed disciple of Peter named Glaucias. The Acts of the Disputation with Manes state that for a time he taught among the Persians. He is believed to have written over two dozen books of commentary on the Christian Gospel (now all lost) entitled Exegetica, making him one of the earliest Gospel commentators. Only fragments of his works are preserved that supplement the knowledge furnished by his opponents.The followers of Basilides, the Basilidians, formed a movement that persisted for at least two centuries after him – Epiphanius of Salamis, at the end of the 4th century, recognized a persistent Basilidian Gnosis in Egypt. It is probable, however, that the school melded into the mainstream of Gnosticism by the latter half of the 2nd century.


Bilistiche (Greek: Βιλιστίχη) or Belistiche was a Hellenistic courtesan of uncertain origin. According to Pausanias, she was a Macedonian; according to Athenaeus, an Argive (which was an ancient Greek royal house and the ruling dynasty of Macedon); according to Plutarch, a foreign slave bought from the marketplace. She won the tethrippon and synoris horse races in the 264 BC Olympic Games. She became a mistress of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and was deified by him as Aphrodite Bilistiche. According to Clement of Alexandria, she was buried under the shrine of Sarapis in Alexandria.

Buddhism and the Roman world

Several instances of interaction between Buddhism and the Roman world are documented by Classical and early Christian writers.

Buddhist influences on Christianity

Some scholars believe that there exist significant Buddhist influences on Christianity reaching back to Christianity's earliest days. Buddhism was known in the pre-Christian Greek world, and hence the later Roman Empire, through the campaigns of Alexander the Great (see Greco-Buddhism and Greco-Buddhist monasticism). Several prominent early Christian fathers (Clement of Alexandria and St. Jerome) were certainly aware of the Buddha, even mentioning him in their works. The notion of Buddhist influence in early Christian history, however, remains controversial.

Some historians such as Jerry H. Bentley and Elaine Pagels suggest that there is a possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity". There have also been suggestions of an indirect path in which Indian Buddhism may have influenced Gnosticism and then Christianity. Some scholars hold that the suggested similarities are coincidental since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures.In the East, the syncretism between Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism was deep and widespread along the Silk Road, and was especially pronounced in the medieval Church of the East in China. There are also historical documents showing the syncretic nature of Christianity and Buddhism in Asia such as the Jesus Sutras and Nestorian Stele.Despite suggestions of surface level analogies, Buddhism and Christianity have inherent and fundamental differences at the deepest levels, such as monotheism's place at the core of Christianity and Buddhism's orientation towards non-theism. The majority of modern scholars who have studied both Buddhism and Christianity hold that there is no direct historical evidence of any influence by Buddhism on early Christianity. Scholars generally consider any such influence implausible given that first century Jews are highly unlikely to have been open to far eastern concepts that appeared opposed to some of their basic beliefs.


Carpocrates of Alexandria was the founder of an early Gnostic sect from the first half of the 2nd century. As with many Gnostic sects, we know of the Carpocratians only through the writings of the Church Fathers, principally Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. As these writers strongly opposed Gnostic doctrine, there is a question of negative bias when using this source. While the various references to the Carpocratians differ in some details, they agree as to the libertinism of the sect. However, such charges were common. Pagans accused Christians of immorality, and Christians made the same charges against fellow Christians who they considered heretical.

Catechetical School of Alexandria

The Catechetical School of Alexandria was a school of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria. The teachers and students of the school (also known as the Didascalium) were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church. It was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity, the other being the School of Antioch.

According to Jerome the Alexandrian school was founded by Mark the Apostle. The earliest recorded dean was supposedly Athenagoras (176). He was succeeded by Pantaenus 181, who was succeeded as head of the school by his student Clement of Alexandria in 190.Other notable theologians with a connection to the school include Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Heraclas, Dionysius "the Great", and Didymus the Blind. Others, including Jerome and Basil, made trips to the school to interact with the scholars there.

Continuity with the ancient school is claimed by the Coptic Theological Seminary, Cairo.

Eugammon of Cyrene

Eugammon of Cyrene (Greek: Εὐγάμων ὁ Κυρηναῖος) was an early Greek poet to whom the epic Telegony was ascribed. According to Clement of Alexandria, he stole the poem from the legendary early poet Musaeus; meaning, possibly, that a version of a long-existing traditional epic was written down by Eugammon. He is said to have flourished 567/6 BC.

Gospel of Basilides

The Gospel of Basilides is the title given to a reputed text within the New Testament apocrypha, which is reported in the middle of the third century as then circulating amongst the followers of Basilides (Βασιλείδης), a leading theologian of Gnostic tendencies, who had taught in Alexandria in the second quarter of the second century. Basilides's teachings were condemned as heretical by Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130 – c.200), and by Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170 – c.236), although they had been evaluated more positively by Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – c.215). There is, however, no agreement amongst Irenaeus, Hippolytus or Clement as to Basilides's specific theological opinions; while none of the three report a gospel in the name of Basilides. The first direct reference to a Gospel of Basilides is therefore that found in Origen (c.185 – c.254), who reports:

The Church has four Gospels. Heretics have many. One of them is entitled According to the Egyptians. Another is According to the Twelve Apostles. Basilides too dared to write a Gospel According to Basilides.

Origen’s notice is the source for references to the Gospel of Basilides in Jerome, Ambrose, Philip of Side, and the Venerable Bede. But none of these authors report any quotations from the supposed gospel, nor are they able to give an indication as to its content or character.Much more is known about Basilides major work in twenty-four books; for which Clement of Alexandria records the title Exegetica (or 'Treatises') and provides quotations from book twenty-three, while other quotations are preserved in the works of Hegemonius. Eusebius of Caesarea reports Agrippa Castor (mid 2nd century) as describing the Exegetica as, twenty-four books on the Gospel, and this notice has been interpreted as characterising the full Exegetica as an extended commentary, whose base text might be inferred as being the lost Gospel of Basilides. From this assumption and the surviving quotations from the Exegetica, a range of theories have been developed as to the nature of the Gospel of Basilides: that it was a redaction of the Gospel of Luke; that it combined the Gospels of Luke and Matthew; that it was a ‘’diatessaron’’ or harmony of all four gospels; that it was an independent account of the life of Jesus; and even that it was an abstract treatise or homily on the religious significance of Jesus, with no specific relation to his teachings or the events of his earthly ministry, similar in this respect to the Gospel of Truth, another Gnostic work. Some scholars maintain that Origen’s notice of a Gospel of Basilides was referring to the Exegetica itself; and that the two titles are therefore to be identified. Otherwise, the Gospel of Basilides could denote a second or third century Gnostic text (whether lost or surviving under another title) with no connection to Basilides himself, other than being preserved within the sect that bore his name. Wilhelm Schneemelcher states:

In short it must be said that all conjectures concerning the Gospel of Basilides remain uncertain.


Nicolaism (also Nicholaism, Nicolaitism, Nicolationism, or Nicolaitanism) is a Christian heresy first mentioned (twice) in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament, whose adherents were called Nicolaitans, Nicolaitanes, or Nicolaites. According to Revelation 2:6 and 15, they were known in the cities of Ephesus and Pergamum. In this chapter, the church at Ephesus is commended for "[hating] the works of the Nicolaites, which I also hate"; and the church in Pergamos is rebuked: "So thou hast also some [worshiping in their midst] who hold the teaching of the Nicolaites".

Several of the early church fathers mentioned this group, including Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret, stating that deacon Nicolas was the author of the heresy and the sect.


The Ophites or Ophians (Greek Ὀφιανοί Ophianoi, from ὄφις ophis "snake") were members of a Christian Gnostic sect depicted by Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) in a lost work, the Syntagma ("arrangement").

It is now thought that later accounts of these "Ophites" by Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius of Salamis are all dependent on the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus. It is possible that rather than an actual sectarian name Hippolytus may have invented "Ophite" as a generic term for what he considered heretical speculations concerning the serpent of Genesis or Moses.Apart from the sources directly dependent on Hippolytus (Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius), Origen and Clement of Alexandria also mention the group. The group is mentioned by Irenaeus in Adversus Haereses (1:30).


Paedagogus (Greek: Παιδαγωγός, "Pedagogue") is the second in the great trilogy of Clement of Alexandria.

Having laid a foundation in the knowledge of divine truth in the first book, he goes on in the Paedagogus to develop a Christian ethic. His design does not prevent him from taking a large part of his material from the Stoic Musonius Rufus, the master of Epictetus; but for Clement the real instructor is the incarnate Logos.

The first book deals with the religious basis of Christian morality, the second and third with the individual cases of conduct. As with Epictetus, true virtue shows itself with him in its external evidences by a natural, simple, and moderate way of living.

Parable of Drawing in the Net

This is a parable of Jesus which appears in Matthew 13:47–52 and refers to the final judgment. This parable is the seventh and last in Matthew 13, which began with the parable of the Sower. It directly follows the Parable of the Pearl, which is about the Kingdom of God. Thus, it links the Kingdom of God with the final judgement—the separation for hell and heaven. Jesus told the parable to his disciples.The parable is also found in three non-canonical gospels: by Clement of Alexandria, in the Heliand and the Gospel of Thomas. In the Gospel of Thomas, it is referred to as the Parable of the Fisherman.


Phaethon (; Ancient Greek: Φαέθων, Phaéthōn, pronounced [pʰa.é.tʰɔːn]) was the son of the Oceanid Clymene and the solar deity Helios in Greek mythology. His name was also used by the Ancient Greeks as an alternative name for the planet Jupiter, the motions and cycles of which were personified in poetry and myth.

Philinus of Athens

Philinus (; Greek: Φιλῖνος; lived during the 4th century BC) was an Athenian orator, a contemporary of Demosthenes and Lycurgus. He is mentioned by Demosthenes in his oration against Meidias, who calls him the son of Nicostratus, and says that he was trierarch with him. Harpocration mentions three orations of Philinus. These are Against the statues for Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, which was against a proposition of Lycurgus that statues should be erected to those poets;; Against Dorotheus, which was ascribed likewise to Hyperides; Judiciary litigation of the Croconidae against Coeronidas, which was ascribed by others to Lycurgus. An ancient grammarian, quoted by Clement of Alexandria, says that Philinus borrowed from Demosthenes.

Protrepticus (Clement)

The Protrepticus (Greek: Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας: "Exhortation to the Greeks") is the first of the three surviving works of Clement of Alexandria, a Christian theologian of the 2nd century.


The Stromata (Greek: Στρώματα) or Stromateis (Στρωματεῖς, "Patchwork"), also called Miscellanies, is the third in Clement of Alexandria's (c. 150 – c. 215) trilogy of works on the Christian life. Clement titled this work Stromateis, "patchwork," because it deals with such a variety of matters. It goes further than its two predecessors and aims at the perfection of the Christian life by initiation into complete knowledge. It attempts, on the basis of Scripture and tradition, to give such an account of the Christian faith as shall answer all the demands of learned men, and conduct the student into the innermost realities of his belief.

The contents of the Stromata, as its title suggests, are miscellaneous. Its place in the trilogy is disputed – Clement initially intended to write the Didasculus, a work which would complement the practical guidance of the Paedagogus with a more intellectual schooling in theology. The Stromata is less systematic and ordered than Clement's other works, and it has been theorized by André Méhat that it was intended for a limited, esoteric readership.

Theophilus, bishop of Caesarea

Saint Theophilus (Greek: Θεόφιλος; died 195) was a bishop of Caesarea Maritima and teacher of Clement of Alexandria. He is known for his opposition to the Quartodecimans. He is commemorated on 5 March and his name means "Love of God".

Clement of Alexandria's great trilogy
Virgin Mary
See also
Seven Archangels
Other Saints

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