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CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter V.—The Greeks Had Some Knowledge of the True God.
Chapter V.—The Greeks Had Some Knowledge of the True God.
And that the men of highest repute among the Greeks knew God, not by positive knowledge, but by indirect expression, 3253 Peter says in the Preaching: “Know then that there is one God, who made the beginning of all things, and holds the power of the end; and is the Invisible, who sees all things; incapable of being contained, who contains all things; needing nothing, whom all things need, and by whom they are; incomprehensible, everlasting, unmade, who made all things by the Word of His power, that is, according to the gnostic scripture, His Son.” 3254
Then he adds: “Worship this God not as the Greeks,”—signifying plainly, that the excellent among the Greeks worshipped the same God as we, but that they had not learned by perfect knowledge that which was delivered by the Son. “Do not then worship,” he did not say, the God whom the Greeks worship, but “as the Greeks,”—changing the manner of the worship of God, not announcing another God. What, then, the expression “not as the Greeks” means, Peter himself shall explain, as he adds: “Since they are carried away by ignorance, and know not God” (as we do, according to the perfect knowledge); “but giving shape to the things 3255 of which He gave them the power for use—stocks and stones, brass and iron, gold and silver—matter;—and setting up the things which are slaves for use and possession, worship them. 3256 And what God hath given to them for food—the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, and the creeping things of the earth, and the wild beasts with the four-footed cattle of the field, weasels and mice, cats and dogs and apes, and their own proper food—they sacrifice as sacrifices to mortals; and offering dead things to the dead, as to gods, are unthankful to God, denying His existence by these things.” And that it is said, that we and the Greeks know the same God, though not in the same way, he will infer thus: “Neither worship as the Jews; for they, thinking that they only know God, do not know Him, adoring as they do angels and archangels, the month and the moon. And if the moon be not visible, they do not hold the Sabbath, which is called the first; 3257 nor do they hold the new moon, nor the feast of unleavened bread, nor the feast, nor the great day.” 3258 Then he gives the finishing stroke to the question: “So that do ye also, learning holily and righteously what we deliver to you; keep them, worshipping God in a new way, by Christ.” For we find in the Scriptures, as the Lord says: “Behold, I make with you a new covenant, not as I made with your fathers in Mount Horeb.” 3259 He made a new covenant with us; for what belonged to the Greeks and Jews is old. But we, who worship Him in a new way, in the third form, are Christians. For clearly, as I think, he showed that the one and only God was known by the Greeks in a Gentile way, by the Jews Judaically, and in a new and spiritual way by us.
And further, that the same God that furnished both the Covenants was the giver of Greek philosophy to the Greeks, by which the Almighty is glorified among the Greeks, he shows. And it is clear from this. Accordingly, then, from the p. 490 Hellenic training, and also from that of the law are gathered into the one race of the saved people those who accept faith: not that the three peoples are separated by time, so that one might suppose three natures, but trained in different Covenants of the one Lord, by the word of the one Lord. For that, as God wished to save the Jews by giving to them prophets, so also by raising up prophets of their own in their own tongue, as they were able to receive Gods beneficence, He distinguished the most excellent of the Greeks from the common herd, in addition to “Peters Preaching,” the Apostle Paul will show, saying: “Take also the Hellenic books, read the Sibyl, how it is shown that God is one, and how the future is indicated. And taking Hystaspes, read, and you will find much more luminously and distinctly the Son of God described, and how many kings shall draw up their forces against Christ, hating Him and those that bear His name, and His faithful ones, and His patience, and His coming.” Then in one word he asks us, “Whose is the world, and all that is in the world? Are they not Gods?” 3260 Wherefore Peter says, that the Lord said to the apostles: “If any one of Israel then, wishes to repent, and by my name to believe in God, his sins shall be forgiven him, after twelve years. Go forth into the world, that no one may say, We have not heard.”
We have the same statement made, Stromata, i. 19, p. 322, ante, Potter p. 372; also v. 14, p. 465, ante, Potter p. 730,—in all of which Lowth adopts περίφρασιν as the true reading, instead of περίφασιν. In the first of these passages, Clement instances as one of the circumlocutions or roundabout expressions by which God was known to the Greek poets and philosophers, “The Unknown God.” Joannes Clericus proposes to read παράφασιν (palpitatio), touching, feeling after. [See Strom., p. 321, and p. 464, note 1.]489:3254
i.e., “The Word of Gods power is His Son.”489:3255
Instead of ἡν … ἐξουσίας , as in the text, we read ὦν εξουσίαν .489:3256
None of the attempts to amend this passage are entirely successful. The translation adopts the best suggestions made.489:3257
[A strange passage; but its “darkness visible” seems to lend some help to the understanding of the puzzle about the second-first Sabbath of Luke vi. 1.]489:3258
i.e., of atonement.489:3259
Jer. 31:31, 32; Heb. viii. 8-10.490:3260
Most likely taken from some apocryphal book bearing the name of Paul.
Next: Chapter VI.—The Gospel Was Preached to Jews and Gentiles in Hades.
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