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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XI

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XI.—Clement of Alexandria.

1. At this time Clement, 1516 being trained with him 1517 in the divine Scriptures at Alexandria, became well known. He had the same name as the one who anciently was at the head of the Roman church, and who was a disciple of the apostles. 1518

2. In his Hypotyposes 1519 he speaks of Pantænus by name as his teacher. It seems to me that he alludes to the same person also in the first book of his Stromata, when, referring to the more conspicuous of the successors of the apostles whom he had met, 1520 he says: 1521

3. “This work 1522 is not a writing artfully constructed for display; but my notes are stored up for old age, as a remedy against forgetfulness; an image without art, and a rough sketch of those powerful and animated words which it was my privilege to hear, as well as of blessed and truly remarkable men.

4. Of these the one—the Ionian 1523 —was in p. 226 Greece, the other in Magna Græcia; 1524 the one of them was from Cœle-Syria, 1525 the other from Egypt. There were others in the East, one of them an Assyrian, 1526 the other a Hebrew in Palestine. 1527 But when I met with the last, 1528 —in ability truly he was first,—having hunted him out in his concealment in Egypt, I found rest.

5. These men, preserving the true tradition of the blessed doctrine, directly from the holy apostles, Peter and James and John and Paul, the son receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), have come by God’s will even to us to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds.” 1529



Of the place and time of Titus Flavius Clement’s birth we have no certain knowledge, though it is probable that he was an Athenian by training at least, if not by birth, and he must have been born about the middle of the second century. He received a very extensive education, and became a Christian in adult years, after he had tried various systems of philosophy, much as Justin Martyr had. He had a great thirst for knowledge, and names six different teachers under whom he studied Christianity (see below, §4). Finally he became a pupil of Pantænus in Alexandria, whom he afterward succeeded as the head of the catechetical school there. It is at this time (about 190 a.d.) that he comes out clearly into the light of history, and to this period (190–202) belongs his greatest literary activity. He was at the head of the school probably until 202, when the persecution of Severus having broken out, he left Alexandria, and we nave no notice that he ever returned. That he did not leave Alexandria dishonorably, through fear, may be gathered from his presence with Alexander during his imprisonment, and from the letters of the latter (see below, Bk. VI. chaps. 11 and 14, and cf. Bk. VI. chap. 6, notes). This is the last notice that we have of him (a.d. 212); and of the place and time of his death we know nothing, though he cannot have lived many years after this. He was never a bishop, but was a presbyter of the Alexandrian church, and was in ancient times commemorated as a saint, but his name was dropped from the roll by Clement VIII. on account of suspected heterodoxy. He lived in an age of transition, and his great importance lies in the fact that he completed the bond between Hellenism and Christianity, and as a follower of the apologists established Christianity as a philosophy, and yet not as they had done in an apologetic sense. He was the teacher of Origen, and the real father of Greek theology. He published no system, as did Origen; his works were rather desultory and fragmentary, but full of wide and varied learning, and exhibit a truly broad and catholic spirit. Upon his works, see Bk. VI. chap. 13. Upon Clement, see especially Westcott’s article in Smith and Wace, I. 559–567, and Schaff, II. 781–785, where the literature is given with considerable fullness. For an able and popular presentation of his theology, see Allen’s Continuity of Christian Thought, p. 38–70.




Upon Clement of Rome and his relation to the apostles, see Bk. III. chap. 4, note 19.


On Clement’s Hypotyposes, see Bk. VI. chap. 13, note 3. The passage in which he mentions Pantænus by name has not been preserved. Eusebius repeats the same statement in Bk. VI. chap. 13, §1.


τοὺς ἐμφανεστέρους ἧς κατείληφεν ἀπόστολικῆς διαδοχῆς ἐπισημαινόμενος. Rufinus reads apostolicæ prædicationis instead of successionis. And so Christophorsonus and Valesius adopt διδαχῆς instead of διαδοχῆς, and translate doctrinæ. But διαδοχῆς is too well supported by ms. authority to be rejected; and though the use of the abstract “succession,” instead of the concrete “successors,” seems harsh, it is employed elsewhere in the same sense by Eusebius (see Bk. I. chap. 1, §1).


Strom.I. 1.


i.e. his Stromata.


This is hardly a proper name, although many have so considered it, for Clement gives no other proper name in this connection, and it is much more natural to translate “the Ionian.” Various conjectures have been made as to who these teachers were, but none are more than mere guesses. Philip of Side tells us that Athenagoras was a teacher of Clement, but, as we have seen, no confidence can be placed in his statement. It has been conjectured also that Melito may be the person referred to as “the Ionian,” for Clement mentions his works, and wrote a book on the paschal question in reply to Melito’s work on the same subject (see above, Bk. IV. chap. 26, note 23). This too, however, is mere conjecture.


The lower part of the peninsula of Italy was called Magna Græcia, because it contained so many Greek colonies.


Cœle-Syria was the valley lying between the eastern and western ranges of Lebanon.


This has been conjectured to be Tatian. But in the first place, Clement, in Strom. III. 12, calls Tatian a Syrian instead of an Assyrian (the terms are indeed often used interchangeably, but we should nevertheless hardly expect Clement to call his own teacher in one place a Syrian, in another an Assyrian). And again, in II. 12, he speaks very harshly of Tatian, and could hardly have referred to him in this place in such terms of respect and affection.


Various conjectures have been made as to the identity of this teacher,—for instance, Theophilus of Cæsarea (who, however, was never called a Hebrew, according to Valesius), and Theodotus (so Valesius).


Pantænus. There can be no doubt as to his identity, for Clement says that he remained with him and sought no further. Eusebius omits a sentence here in which Clement calls Pantænus the “Sicilian bee,” from which it is generally concluded that he was a native of Sicily (see the previous chapter, note 1).


This entire passage is very important, as showing not only the extensiveness of Clement’s own acquaintance with Christians, but also the close intercourse of Christians in general, both East and West. Clement’s statement in regard to the directness with which he received apostolic tradition is not definite, and he by no means asserts that his teachers were hearers of the apostles (which in itself would not be impossible, but Clement would certainly have spoken more clearly had it been a fact), nor indeed that they were hearers of disciples of the apostles. But among so many teachers, so widely scattered, he could hardly have failed to meet with some who had at least known those who had known the apostles. In any case he considers his teachers very near the apostles as regards the accuracy of their traditions.

The passage is also interesting, as showing the uniformity of doctrine in different parts of Christendom, according to Clement’s view, though this does not prove much, as Clement himself was so liberal and so much of an eclectic. It is also interesting, as showing how much weight Clement laid upon tradition, how completely he rested upon it for the truth, although at the same time he was so free and broad in his speculation.

Next: Chapter XII

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