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Clement of Alexandria...Preface

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MANY books have been written in recent years on Clement of Alexandria. Some of them are so far final in character that they leave to the student of the present day little scope for labour within their own particular spheres. Dr Stahlin, in the Berlin edition of the Fathers, has given us the text of Clement s writings in what is likely to remain for many years its standard and accepted form. The edition of the Seventh Book of the Stromateis by the late Professors Hort and Mayor is a permanently valuable instance of the services which the learning of our ancient Universities can render to patristic study. M. Eugene de Faye's Clement d Alexandrie and the late Dr Bigg's Bampton Lectures on The Christian Platonists of Alexandria will long retain their interest for all students of Clement, alike by their accurate learning and by their singular literary charm. Even in regard to the vexed question of Clement's "Sources" the area within which new results are to be expected from further investigation may now be regarded as defined.

If I venture to make a further addition to the literature of a subject on which so much has been well and even finally said, it is because my aim is in some respects different from those of other recent works. Along with the attempt

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to give a detailed presentation of Clement and his times, there runs the ulterior purpose of bringing the Alexandrine Father, his personality, his period, his standpoint, and his problems, into relation with our own days; of enabling the modern reader to gather from Clement's writings all that is of value for modern conditions; of bringing into relief the parallels, where such can be found, between his environment and our own. Such a scheme in its intrinsic character, apart from those defects in its execution for which the writer alone must bear the blame, is open to criticism at many points. On some of these it may be permissible to say a word of introduction, if for no other purpose, at least to show that they have not been unrecognised.

Archbishop Benson, in the Preface to his Cyprian, refers to that "grievous fault . . . the reading of the present into the past." It may be that the present work runs some risk of disregarding this salutary warning of a wise master. The search for parallels in the past may easily result in our deception by superficial resemblances, and even if history did repeat itself, the very repetition would constitute a new condition. It can only be urged in defence that the Past is ours as a great school from which to learn, and that the error of believing distant generations to be more near our own than they really are, is probably less dangerous than the mistake of supposing that we are confronted with problems and conditions which are unprecedented and entirely new. We do not hesitate to regard the Hebrew Prophets as a heritage of value for later times, and the Alexandrine Fathers, in their outlook and interests, are considerably less removed from us than the great age of Prophecy.

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Again, it may be urged that to follow Clement through the various subjects with which he deals is inevitably to trespass upon domains, which have been long since appropriated by the specialists. He has evidence, for example, to offer us as to the Sacraments and the Ministry and the Text of the New Testament. Some reference to these in such a book as the present has been inevitable, yet it may be said in criticism that either nothing at all, or else far more, should have been said on these much debated topics. Bishop Creighton once spoke of the difficulty of combining "readableness and research," and it may well be that this book lies open to the charge that it should either have been more learned or more popular; that, in other words, it "falls between two stools" rather than secures the "golden mean." Yet it seemed possible that some, who have little time for monographs and special studies, would be glad to know in outline the main questions which arise for discussion and research from the pages of a writer so discursive, and of such varied interests, as the author of the Stromateis. Moreover, indebted as we are to the studies of the specialists, there may be some gain in the attempt to consider a man and his works as a single unity; the main proportions may stand out more clearly, even if the details are sometimes missed. Yet I have been fully conscious of the difficulty involved by this feature in my task. How far it has been successfully met, can only be left to the kindly judgment of the reader.

Once again, whoever invites interest in Clement of Alexandria pleads, directly or indirectly, the cause of Hellenism in Christianity. To do this in the present generation is an enterprise which many would deem unseasonable or

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even futile. Some would assert that under existing conditions the Church must make the social problem its primary concern. Others would point to the sudden emergence and far-reaching issues of the "Apocalyptic" question, as clear evidence that the Hellenic influence was not an original, and is therefore not a permanent, element in the Christian Religion. And, from yet another quarter, the very title of the Greek language to its place as a factor in true culture is vigorously challenged. So, from many sides, are heard the voices which warn us that it is not in the Hellenic interpretation of the Gospel that our own times are likely to find their remedies, their convictions, their inspiration. To which, not without recognition of its force and truth, I must be content to reply simply, that I have written for those who share my belief that the Hellenic type of Christianity cannot be surrendered without irreparable damage to our spiritual heritage. For some natures, albeit a minority, it is likely to remain the most natural, if not the only possible, form of Christian belief.

In spite, then, of these and other inherent liabilities to objection, I have not deemed it lost labour to carry out the plan of this present work to such completion as lay within my power. It is true that Clement had his limitations, that his work was a resultant rather than a creative force, that he was learned rather than original, and that he has hardly secured a place among the greatest Masters of Christianity. The claim to be made for him is of another order, and may be expressed by saying that, in a transitional age, he had a singular power of discerning spiritual affinities, and that on most of the problems of his time his judgment was generous and sound. It is his temper, his attitude, his

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religious "orientation," which are really worth preserving. They have their peculiar value, as Bishop Westcott reminded us, in all times of change. The conviction that in such ways Clement can teach lessons which are needed in our own age, is one which has grown stronger as I have come to know him more intimately. Herein lies the motive of this book.

In regard to method, I have preferred to give the substance of Clement's statements on any given subject, with references possibly too numerous in the footnotes, rather than to insert translated extracts from his actual writings. He is so discursive a writer that his thoughts must usually be collected from many passages. Moreover, to modern readers, Clement's ideas are often more congenial than the form in which he has expressed them. The last chapter, to some extent, brings the reader into direct contact with Clement s writings.

How much I owe to previous students of Clement will be sufficiently obvious from the pages of this work and the references in the notes. My book, like Clement's own works, must make but cautious claim to any measure of originality. May I follow him also in the grateful acknowledgment of my indebtedness to the "Elders" who have worked before me.

In view of the very complete bibliographies, which are contained in Dr H. U. Meyboom's Clemens Alexandrinus (Leiden, 1912), and in Professor Patrick s Croall Lectures, Clement of Alexandria (Edinburgh and London, 1914), I have
not thought it necessary to append, as I had originally intended, any similar list to my own book. I much regret that Professor Patrick's Lectures appeared too

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late for me to make use of them in the preparation of these volumes.

I desire to express my special thanks to Dr E. Breccia, Director of the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, for much welcome guidance in regard to the second chapter, and for his services in procuring the photographs for the first and fourth illustrations; also to Dr Gerald H. Rendall, recently Headmaster of Charterhouse School, for his general interest in my undertaking, and, in particular, for many valuable suggestions in regard to the last chapter; also to my former colleague, the Rev. F. H. Wales, B.D., for the assiduous care with which he has read the proof sheets, and for much judicious criticism. For the second and third illustrations I am indebted to the courtesy of the authorities of the British Museum and of the Bibliotheque Nationale.

It may save misconception, if I add that the secondary title of this work is intended to have a religious and only a religious significance.

                                                                               R. B. TOLLINTON.

Easter, 1914.
Clement of Alexandria
Map of Ancient Alexandria
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