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Cruttwell: CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (145-220?)

quarta-feira 30 de agosto de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro





IT has already been mentioned that Pantaenus was the founder of the Catechetical school. [1] But he was something more, He was the teacher and spiritual father   of the great Clement, who is the most original spirit   in the whole Ante-Nicene Church. His Life. Oddly enough, we know nothing of Clement’s life. Genial and chatty as he is, it never occurs to him that posterity might like to know who he was. Like Plato and Thucydides, he discourses fully on the matter in hand, but keeps his own history to himself. Still, there are indications in his writings which offer some ground for conjecture. There can be no doubt he was a Greek, and very probably an Athenian. [2] There is not the smallest tinge of Orientalism about his mind  . Except the writer to Diognetus, he is the most genuinely Hellenic of all the Fathers. Possessed of good means, he made the search for truth his life’s object, and went the round of all the systems that professed to satisfy it. We have seen other instance of this in Justin and Tatian, and more doubtfully in the Roman Clement, whose biography has borrowed this feature from his Alexandrian namesake. In the first chapter of his Stromateis [3], Clement alludes to some of the Christian teachers who had been of use to him in his process from heathen darkness to light. The first was an Ionian, who taught in Greece; another a native of Southern Italy; a third, of Egypt; a fourth had taught in Assyria, a fifth in Palestine (this man was of Jewish origin), and the sixth and last was Pantaenus, whose broad and philosophic grasp of truth at length brought the weary soul to anchor, and raised in it a profound sense   of gratitude. These scattered pilgrimages sufficiently reveal the earnestness of Clement’s character. He was no dilettante, striving to beguile the aimless leisure of an unfilled life, but a true spiritual athlete, determined, even in his heathen days, to lose no chance of acquiring truth so long as any corner of the known world remained to yield it. His case is doubtless a striking one; but it certainly was far from unique, [4] and it brings vividly before us the reality of the void which Christianity was able to fulfill, and the self-sacrificing enthusiasm which the nobler Pagan mind brought into their quest. We have no sure data for determining Clement’s age when he finally settled in Alexandria; but the style of this writings make it probable that he had attained the full maturity of his powers. Supposing him to have been at least forty when he succeeded Pantaenus as head of the school, we may approximately fix the date of his birth at about A.D. 140-150. For about fourteen years he continued to preside over it as an honored presbyter of the Alexandrian Church, till 202, when the persecution arose under Severus, his disinclination for martyrdom caused him to quit the scene of his labors, never more to return. He spent the rest of his life in Palestine, chiefly in the society of his old pupil Alexander of Jerusalem  . [5] The date of his death is uncertain. His work, however, was already done. He had inspired many noble minds with his broad and genial philosophy, and among them Origen  , the greatest of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and his own worthy successor in the professorial chair.

[1NA: That is, in the sense in which it became celebrated, as a center of apologetics. There is an untrustworthy tradition which mentions Athenagoras as its first president.

[2NA: It is true our only authority is the inaccurate Epiphanius. But in this case internal probability points the same way. His name, Titus Flavius Clemens, points to an ancestral connection with Rome.

[3NA: Quoted by Eusebius, H. E. v. II. Other important notices of him in Eusebius are, H. E. iv. 26; v. 28; vi. 13-14. - Praep. Ev. ii. 2 and 5.

[4NA: The "quest for a religion" was a very real thing in those days. Earnest men hunted up the different aspects of truth in their native habitats. The frequent allusions to wide and prolonged travel seem to suggest a generally diffused possession of good means. We must not forget, however, that the standard of living among students and philosophers was very moderate, and food and lodging cheap.

[5NA: About A.D. 213 we find him recommended by Alexander to the Church of Antioch. This is the last notice of his life.