Clement of Alexandria

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens), d. c.215, Greek theologian. Born in Athens, he traveled widely and was converted to Christianity. He studied and taught at the catechetical school in Alexandria until the persecution of 202. Origen was his pupil there. He probably died in Caesarea, Cappadocia. Clement was one of the first to attempt a synthesis of Platonic and Christian thought; in this his successors in the Alexandrian school were more successful. Only a few works survive. The Address to the Greeks (Protrepticus) sets forth the inferiority of Greek thought to Christianity. Appended to the Tutor (Pedagogus) are two hymns, among the earliest Christian poems. His homily, Who Is the Rich Man? Who Is Saved? is a well-written fragment. The Miscellanies (Stromateis) is a collection of notes on Gnosticism. He attacked Gnosticism, but he himself has been called a Christian Gnostic. Although Clement remained entirely orthodox, in his writing he strove to state the faith in terms of contemporary thought. He was long venerated as a saint, but Photius, in the 9th cent., regarded Clement as a heretic. Because of Photius's contentions the name of Clement was removed from the Roman martyrology.

See studies by E. F. Osborn (1957), W. E. G. Floyd (1971), S. R. Lilla (1971), and M. Smith (1973).

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