An Ancient Jewish Christian Source on the History of Christianity: Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27-71

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An Ancient Jewish Christian Source on the History of Christianity: Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27-71, by F. Stanley Jones. Texts and Translations 37; Christian Apocrypha Series 2. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995. Pp. xiv + 208. $39.95.

The Pseudo-Clementine literature is a main source for our knowledge of several forms of early Jewish Christianity. The Tubingen School saw it as a key piece of evidence for a split between Petrine and Pauline Christianity from earliest times. Its literary and historical relationships, both internally between its Recognitions and Homilies and externally with other witnesses to Jewish Christianity, have long been debated. While interest in this rather arcane but significant area of early Christian history has grown and receded over the last century and a half, recent scholarship has seen a modest increase of interest. Now we are fortunate to have in published form this contribution from a leading specialist in this literature.

Jones's work is a revision of his 1989 Vanderbilt University Ph.D. dissertation directed by Gerd Ludemann, "Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27-71: Early Jewish Christian Perspectives on the Nature and History of Christianity." For this volume, Jones has updated the bibliography and added an English translation of the Latin version of Recognitions, putting his translation of the Syriac and Latin versions, with occasional Armenian fragments in translation, in parallel columns for ready comparison. Other than these additions, the main lines and the detailed content are largely the same. Nonetheless, that this book is a revision of the author's dissertation is nowhere stated; that it has been substantially complete from 1989 is implied on p. 31. In chapter 1, Jones surveys scholarship on his topic for the last century and a half, especially with an eye to source-critical issues, contending that the source-critical conclusions of Georg Strecker have become dominant without adequate examination. Chapter 2 examines the problem of evaluating the two complete versions, Latin and Syriac, of the lost Greek original of Book 1 of the Recognitions, concluding that both are of the same value. Chapter 3 features side-by-side English translations of the Syriac, Latin, and fragmentary Armenian texts of R 1.27-71. In chapter 4, the heart of the book, a special source is identified in R 1.27.1-44.1, 53.4-71.6. Jones argues that although this source shares some key themes with the Ascents of James witnessed by Epiphanius, it is not to be identified with it, directly or indirectly. Chapter 5 concludes by identifying the author of this source as a Jewish Christian of about 200 CE, possibly a Jewish-Christian presbyter or bishop in Jerusalem. He appreciates astrology, views Jewish Christianity as the only true form of Judaism, and is concerned for the Christian inheritance of the land of Israel. The volume ends with a bibliography and indexes of passages, modern authors, and subjects, this last unusually detailed and helpful.

In general, Jones's scholarship is careful and complete, and his writing style is clear. Chapter 1 raises well the issue of reexamining the current source-critical consensus. …