Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Fourth Letter (Item 10): Pope Clement I to His Fellow Bishops Julius and Julianus and Their Associates

Of all the Clementine forgeries, the fourth is the most heavily dependent on the Recognitiones. Our forgers contribute only about 13 of 160 lines. The rest is a single, continuous passage lifted from Recognitiones book 6 (chapters 2-12).

The letter is primarily about heresy -- specifically, episcopal error in matters of faith -- and only the first few lines were written by Pseudo-Isidore. In this passage "Clement" says that his addressees, the bishops Julius and Julianus (who, as far as I can tell, are fictional) have been led astray by various gentes (peoples? or just people?)  in their midst. It is of course better that they return to "the way of truth" than that they persist in error. And not only should they return to truth, Clement says -- they should drive as many of those who led them astray back to the right path.

Then comes the long Recognitiones excerpt, which is basically just a rambling sermon. The transition is pretty smooth, as the borrowed passage starts out talking about that "just and necessary anger" which everyone should deploy against those who have fallen into error. There follows a long discussion of Matt. 10:34: "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," and thereafter the sermon runs pretty far afield. We have the statement that we should revere our parents as "ministers" but not as "givers of life," because only God is a giver of life. This leads into a rather opaque discussion of God's creation, and the special place water has been accorded therein. From there the leap to baptism is a short one.

Towards the end we get some odd remarks on purity (castimonia). Men are not to mix with (have sex with?) menstruating women, in accordance with the law of God. Everyone should wash their body with water (no word on how often though). Clement assures us that purity comes from within, but argues that those who are externally filthy are doubtless filthy within as well. Before too long, though, he's forced to acknowledge that this doesn't always work in reverse.

All of that from the Recognitiones. Pseudo-Isidore only shows up right at the end to close off the letter, which he accomplishes by citing Rom. 3:23 and 1 Cor. 14:1 ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And so, dear friends, follow the way of love and eagerly desire better and spiritual things.")

An easy read for your blogger; more difficult problems await.


Recipients: the bishops Julius and Julianus (both are called fratres, so I'm assuming they're bishops), and their associates

Date: none

Sources: Recognitiones; Pauline epistles

Lines: 160

Cross references: none

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