Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pseudo-Clementine Literature

I have just read two introductions to the literature of Pseudo-Clementines by Graham Stanton in Jewish Believers in Jesus (pp. 305-24) and by F. Stanley Jones in Jewish Christianity Reconsidered (pp. 285-304). After reading both essays, one comes away with two very different perspectives on the subject and it is on this problem I wish to reflect. The two essays share little in terminology and approach.
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Stanton's essay is cautious and comprehensive dealing with issues of the history of research, an overview of the Pseudo-Clementine literature, its tradition history and a brief survey of its contents. Stanton uses the fimilar terminological designation Grundschrift, which designates the hypothetical source behind the documents of the Homilies and Recognitions. He is less than sanguine about whether it is possible to describe the complier of the Grundschrift as a "Jewish Christian" and believes there is only one clearly coherent Jewish Christian source in the Pseudo-Clementine writings discernable in the section Recognitions 1:27-71, which he labels "an Apologia for Jewish believers in Jesus" which he dates from the mid-second century.
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F. Stanley Jones in contrast discusses what he labels The Circuits of Peter which he believes was composed around 200 C.E. near Syrian Antioch. In the first footnote he states that this text is what others call the Grundschrift, but rather than see this as a complied and heterogenous set of materials, he believes this source was the "first truly Christian novel". It should be pointed out too that Jones, as Stanton, dispenses with the so-called Kerygmata Petrou source hypothesis in his suggestion of the Christian novel The Circuits of Peter. In his essay does not provide an overview of the constitute elements of the Pseudo-Clementine writings in the way Stanton did, but he does assert that The Circuits of Peter was absorbed into the Homilies and Recognition texts which comprise the Pseudo-Clementine wrtings. Furthermore, he believes that The Circuits of Peter can be found in the places where the Homilies and Recognitions share ideas and phrases--much like the synoptic scholars hypothesize Q. Furthermore, he argues for two discernable sources that this hyopthetical source Circuits of Peter depends on: the Book of Elchasai and an "Anti-Pauline Counter-Acts of the Apostles". The former source is known to us through Epiphanius, Panarion 19:1:6 and is discernable in the Contestation (Contestatio) document of Pseudo-Clementines and the latter source is what Stanton referred to as an "Apologia for Jewish believers in Jesus" found in the Recognitions 1:27-71.
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The two essays then present a problem for someone who is trying to understand the literature of Pseudo-Clementines. However, to my mind Stanton provides the better introduction providing a cautious approach both to the literature itself and to the conclusions about early Jewish Christianity that can be drawn from it. Stanton opines the "breathtaking confidence" scholars have in their reconstructions of the sources for the writings as well as pointing to the difficulty of drawing conclusions from the literature about Jewish Christianity since the Homilies and Recognitions in their final form reflect little of the concerns of Jewish Christianity. What's more, he points to the bankruptcy of the hypothetical Grundschrift, Kerygmata Petrou, and avers the use of the documents the Letter of Peter to James and the Contestatio in conjuction with it to reconstruct the Jewish Christian and anti-Pauline source for Pseudo-Clementine.
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Update: Pseudo-Clementine is not a fake citrus fruit!

4 comments:

minternational said...

Pseudo-Clementines? Sounds like it ought to have a subtitle: The Confessions of a Satsuma. Or maybe it's the lost album by Tangerine Dream? I dunno, life eh - what do you make of it?

Oh, and by the way, I have an Aunty Pauline - honest! She's cool.

Geoff Hudson said...

Recognitions, Book 1, was originally about the early life of Josephus (not Clement) in Rome and his introduction to the Spirit ministry of James (not Barnabas). The source account was originally in Josephus' Life - Life has a terse introduction to the point where Josephus is in his 26th year. Josephus' biography has clearly been truncated probably by his Flavian editors.

Geoff Hudson said...

It doesn't take much stretch of the imagination to realise that Book 1 of Recognitions was originally written by a Jewish author. In Chapter 1, I suggest the editor changed:
"spirit of truth" to "lover of chastity" and "spirit of deceit" to "bent of my mind". The original contained the two spirits of the DSS - the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. I see Chapter 1 as something like: I JOSEPHUS, who was born in the city of Rome, HAD from my earliest age a SPIRIT of TRUTH; while my SPIRIT OF DECEIT held me bound as with chains. For THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH that was in me FROM GOD constantly led me to think of my condition of PURITY, and to discuss such questions as these: Whether there be for MY SPIRIT any EXISTENCE after death, or whether MY SPIRIT IS to be wholly annihilated: whether MY SPIRIT did NOT EXIST before I was born, and whether there shall be no remembrance BY MY SPIRIT after death, and so GOD shall consign all SPIRITS to DISSOLUTION; so that not only shall OUR SPIRITS cease to be, but there shall be no remembrance that OUR SPIRITS have ever been. This also I revolved in my SPIRIT OF TRUTH: when the SPIRIT was made, or what was before it was made, or whether it has existed from eternity? For it seemed certain, that if it had been made, it must be SUBJECT to DISSOLUTION; and if it be dissolved, what is to be afterwards? - unless, perhaps, all SPIRITS shall be buried in oblivion and silence, or something shall be, which the SPIRIT of man cannot now conceive.

beowulf2k8 said...

That Jesus is constantly referred to as "The True Prophet" or simply "The Prophet" rather than as Christ or Son of God, or simply God, or the Word, shows that the Pseudo-Clementines are of Ebionite origin rather than Gentile.