Clement of Rome on Scripture–Introduction

It is generally held that Clement of Rome wrote his epistle to the Corinthians around A.D. 95. Some believe he is the same Clement mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3. A concise introduction and background can be found here.

In chapter 45, Clement writes,

“Be ye contentious, brethren, and jealous about the things that pertain unto salvation. Ye have searched the scriptures, which are true, which were given through the Holy Ghost; and ye know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them.”

How does this contribute to the formulation of Patristic doctrine of Scripture? What is Clement ascribing to Scripture, and what is he not ascribing to Scripture? Some particular issues to consider:

1. What does Clement consider Scripture to be? If traditional dates are accepted for both, Clement almost certainly did not have the last of John’s writings. He could not have been thinking of a closed New Testament canon. Aside from a canon, however, what might Clement have thought of individual NT books available to him?

2. What is the import of Scripture “given through the Holy Ghost”? How compatible is such a statement with NT passages like Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 3:7-11; and 2 Peter 1:21?

3. What weight should be given to the phrases “the scriptures, which are true;” and “nothing unrighteous or counterfeit.”? We cannot expect Clement, or any of the Fathers, to use the shibboleth “inerrant.” But could Clement believe such a thing without using the term?

In succeeding posts I will seek to approach an answer to these questions. This will be attempted by:

1. Noting Clement’s citations of Scripture. What does he call Scripture?

2. What import does Clement give to the words he cites?

3. How does being sourced in the Holy Spirit impact his view of Scripture?

(The English translation quoted from is J.B. Lightfoot’s. The Roberts & Donaldson translation is available here.)

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