Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Further Thoughts on Clement of Rome

Apologists argue that original witnesses to Jesus life and ministry were still alive at the time the gospels were written. They say this is important because the influence of the eyewitnesses would have served as a check on fabrications. I have previously questioned the logic of this argument in On the Lack of Debunking and Further Thoughts on the Lack of Debunking. However, after reading the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, another possibility occurs to me.

Maybe Clement's declined to cite Mark and Luke not because he did not know of them, but because he knew that they were not authetic. Maybe he did not cite them because he knew that they did not accurately reflect what he had learned from Peter and Paul. Maybe it was the influence of the original disciples that delayed the general acceptance of the gospels until they had all been gone for almost a century.


  1. I thought these witnesses had died for their beliefs...

  2. Your argument from silence on Clement depends on there being no alternative explanations. What if Clement was writing to a particular group of people at Corinth who he felt would be convinced by arguments drawn from the pagan culture? Some of the Corinthians were not known for their morality or their doctrinal purity, as Paul’s two letters to them attest. What if he was trying to convince in a way that Paul had not tried before. Paul appealed strongly to the Apostles’ teaching, maybe Clement wanted to try something else.

  3. Clement was writing forty years later so I doubt that he was addressing many of the same people as Paul was.

    The possibility that a Christian bishop would consider an argument drawn from pagan culture to be more convincing than an argument based on Christ's death and resurrection seems remote, particularly since he could not have thought it more authoritative