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ARGUMENTS

In the history

FOR

FAITH

IN

CLEMENT

OF

ALEXANDRIA

BY

 

ERIC

OSBORN

 

of ideas,

the defence

of faith,

which

is offered

by Cle-

ment

law of

Moses.

were

in

so

In

the second

retirement,

behind

the scriptures now belonged to Christians; scriptures were Christian property.

to assert

that whatever had been well said, belonged to Christians. Justin's logos

as that the Greek schools had them all together. The need

Christ.

spermatikos

the

sought

4,

of

not

Alexandria,

to prove

Paul

only

faith.

the

Clement,

ranks

primacy

beside

of the

that

faith

of

Paul

who,

in

over

Romans

the

of Abraham

to the Hebrews,

of

Jewish

and

to

them

at their

leave

made

warned

formula

Christians

was supported

Abraham,

Yet

but

faith

just

by the Letter

all the

found

as the

which claimed

scripture

perfection

the

Jews,

to Christ.

compulsory

their

books

it clear

that

all that

that

notables

its

first

persons

Jesus.

of

For

philosophy

for

principle

law was a paidagogos

to bring

to

was a paidagogos

century,

to the Greeks

were

replacement.

both paidagogoi

since

they

younger

were unhappy

required

Justin

especially use by their

Justin

Tertullian

In philosophy,

and Clement

Socrates

and

used an identical

Heraclitus

claimed

claimed

before

Clement,

in his Stromateis,

torn the limbs of truth apart; Christ brought

for philosophical argument was self-evident for it would have to be used

to prove itself unnecessary. The protest against the Christian acquisition of Greek philosophy was strong and found its centre exactly where

Jewish protest against Paul was fixed-the

ment's reply defended faith with philosophical

nected

used

the

the

had

inadequacy of faith. Cle- arguments which he con-

to the arguments

against

a different

which

Paul

and the Epistle

to Christian

to the Hebrews

theology

through

opponent. the New Testament

thought,

The move from

joining of New Testament ideas to Greek philosophy was, I think,

beginning

the centre of that development.

philosophers because it claimed too much and from Gnostics because it

of European

and the argument about faith stands in

Faith

became

an object

of attack

from

2

achieved too little. Clement of Alexandria's

had

strands.

and

the

discussion concerning Greek philosophy, and to solve a long-standing problem of false attribution, where Zeno is supplanted by Aristotle.

plea for the faith,

is pervasive

separated

and

which

of

he

learned

from

his

much-quoted

have

subjected

Paul,

many

bible

is to

let

of recent

These

strands

and

speak

sometimes

to limited

to look

been

between

philosophy'

two

sources

scrutiny.

at them

My concern

in the

light

together,

Christians

were,

according

replied

the

had

to

the

that

time

1.9).

Platonist

Celsus,

always

logical

rational

saying,

acceptance be a full-time

rigour.

inquiry

'Only believe', and never offering

of their

philosopher,

neither

and

school

met

(Cels.

writers

are coherent

rational

not

grounds

for the

could

with

for

creeds.

and

most

must

Origen

that

everyone

studied

ability

scriptures

(Cels.

were

nor

Further,

they

people

be helped

Indeed,

impulse,

school

God

honest

philosophers

either

choose

their

they have

of philosophy

teacher

Faith

on non-rational

or

in the

believe

one

supreme

were plainly

notions

because

than

a certain

1.10).

to be better

the

thing,

rest

the

doctrines

doctrines

3.39f.).

is a commendable

men and

Christian

of human

reason

(Cels.

of the Gospels

with the common

He

as

philosophers

preaching,

Paul

Aristotle, Theophrastus, Stoics, Epicurus and others. The philosophy of Clement's day, Middle Platonism, mixed Plato with Aristotle and the Stoics.

needed

Clement's

more

reply

to

the

same

to

meet

place

discipline.

criticism

the

which

had

been

more

complex.

as well

argument

to

the

worship

high

and

objections

Christians

He

drew

to the

of

Gnostics

gave

to

faith

in their

from

Plato,

his account

Hebrews),

of

faith

John,

(to whom

he attributed

the Epistle

Faith

was anticipation,

and

divine

assent,

perception,

with

God.

hearing God in scripture, discernment by criterion,

intuition of the unproved first-principle,

dialectic

wisdom,

unity

Despite

diversity

of origin,

all these moves in ancient epistemology

had

avoiding

served

a common

'infinite

end,

regress'.

that

of finding

a basis

for

knowledge

and

Clement

was a Stromatist,

not simply

to hide things

from

unthinking

Sophists,

but

between

for the wisdom

because

he wanted

his different

and

readers

to learn

'To

from

those

the

who

to

similarities

ask

them

LOLWV),they

their

which

own ideas
own ideas

own ideas

is

in

us,

as possible,

arrive

at

Christian

faith.

what

own

truth'

we must

through

faith

present

their

in the

is familiar

ideas

(str

5.3.18).

so that,

as easily

'tWV

may

reasonably

3

For

Clement,

in

as he begins

5,

the discussion

argument

proof

and

in Stromateis

faith

2 and takes to

it

one

indicates

than

to

own

up

another. Argument for faith is still argument.

his approach. Philosophical

tongues

food

who search

3:5f.).

barbarian

ring

7:17ff.;

Just

again

Stromateis

are

necessary

His introduction

to minds

vigorously

and

rather

is a benefit

scratch

is need

for

(str. 2.1.3).

the best

for truth

as fowls which

so there

for their

effort

have

Faith

flesh,

pain We need wisdom

by those

(str. 2.1.3).

in all our ways (Prov.

(str. 2.2.4).

The

is the uner-

is the way and

the fear

of God is foremost

and true.

or biblical

2.2.5).

philosophy

is perfect

and

from

Wisdom

knowledge

str.

of reality,

Clement

of virtues

begins

which

of the roots

the fear

of things

(Wisd.

as extolled

of the Old

of the lord,

the faith

rejection

of

secular

of

God

in the Wisdom

Testament

literature,

to Hellenistic

had already

joined

2.2.4).

philosophy

(str.

guide.

discriminating

Divine wisdom

is the universal

to

reason,

and,

She requires

the

gives

structure

and

use

fear

true

of

end

and

the

of earthly

culture,

(Prov.

wisdom,

departure

3:5,6,7,12,23).

existing

operation

middle course;

conformity

from

things:

of the

evil

Through

'a

supremely,

God

the

wisdom

understanding

the

world

of epochs

changing

and

of

knowledge

elements;

the

the

alternating

of

beginning

solstices

and

their

seasons; the

the

cycles of the years and the constellations;

the nature

of living creatures

and

behaviour

of

wild

beasts;

the

violent

force

of

winds

and

the

thoughts

of men;

the varieties

of plants

and the virtues

of roots.

I learnt

it all, hidden

all

sum-

marises

who,

The riddles

are secrets

the

to

rebuke

righteous

Without faith, said the writer to Hebrews, it is impossible to please God (str. 2.2.4-8). Clement's eight arguments are the following:

First, faith is preconception,

Second, faith is assent or decision,

Third,

the

things, wisdom'

or manifest,

(Wisd.

for I was taught With

7:17-21).

and

the

has

come

by her whose these

verses,

wisdom

near

skill made

Clement

'barbarian

philosophy'

which

leads

to

God

to men (Jer.

23:23).'

of the spirit,

he says,

although

dogs.

the

remote

in essence,

utterance

of divine

which

and the deep things

What

exclude

the unworthy.

is holy must be kept from

to

the

prophets

few

and

tell

us

seems

that

can be no understanding.

Heraclitus

limited

do

understanding

not

believe;

faith

the

there

many live by faith

who

and without

the

seeing,

substance

of things

hoped

for.

and

never

a natural

as

the

definition

and

possession.

narrative

faith

is hearing

and

of

4

Fourth,

Fifth,

faith

a

first

is listening

principle

there

is

has

infinite

faith.3 3

regress,

to God

to

to

be

be

in the scriptures.

unproved

a starting

and

point

unprovable.

To

avoid

which

is grasped

by

that

Sixth,

false.

Seventh, faith is always on the move, from faith

It

ladder

soul to grow.

on God and in some

and

ground

arguments without ambiguity.

they meant; their close examination

to give an account

how intricately scripture and philosophy

be faced in order

faith

is the

criterion

is the

the

which

judges

something

to faith,

was

moving

true

or

up the

seed which stimulates the

of dialectic.

faith

is fixed

From

and

grain

of mustard

sands

Eighth,

way divine,

of

error,

which

show

Clement

how

a source

of power

the

firm

never

were

what

had

stability.

shifting

it moves

that

had

many

they

to

of truth

there

raise

In order

it remains.

problems

All these

to use them

of

shows

of faith.

are

philosophy

reason.

to decide

questions

points

Today

it

language

and

to

also show

seems

natural

bible.4 For Clement the bible was the barbarian

logos

linked

instant

and all sorts

complex

exhortation. Clement quotes Plato 600 times and Paul 1200 times; fre-

quently they are quoted together.

of the

The eight

joined.

and

the

to divide

the

language

philosophy

the text of scripture

fruit

from

the vines;

of farming.

ideas,

to

to human

there

It was not possible

weeding,

to pluck

watering

had to be planting,

It is a mistake,

philosophical

in the elucidation

argument

from

of Clement's

evangelical

isolate

1. Preconception

and

hope

Faith,

says Clement,

is denigrated

by the

Greeks

but

it is what

they

recognise as a deliberate preconception or anticipation (xp6Xq§tq

lxo6Jtoq). Hebrews 11has

substance

offered

(str.

the same

defence

of faith:

faith gives

to

our

hopes

2.2.8).

'Epicurus

supposes

this preconception

faith

to

be

a

preconception

directed

that

of

the

mind,

clear

make

insisted

He

and

an

explains

a clear concept of something.

inquiry, confront

tion without a preconception'

an

there

as attention

He

to something

no

one

can

make

Isaiah

(7:9)

declares

a problem,

one

no

cannot

have an opinion

inquire,

doubt,

without

a refuta-

(str. 2.4.16). Epicurus saw that without

and indeed

anticipation

could

be

judge.

faith

that

understanding

and

Heraclitus

5

wrote

for

'Except

one hopes

for

it will remain

impossible

what

is beyond

and

to examine

hope,

he will not

find

to understand'

(Diels

it,

18).

This means

that

the blessed

a partaker

of truth,

believing

and happy

man

and trustworthy

must

be from

the beginning

(Plato,

Laws 730bc).

The

apistos

Hope

is hopeless

depends

in the

on faith.

arena

of truth

and

is

a

fool

Even

Basilides,

the Gnostic,

(str.

saw that

2.4.16).

faith

is

the

2.6.17).

the

comprehension

assent

of the soul

Basilides

went

which

to things

wrong

it involved.

are not

when he denied

which

Faith

present

to the senses

of faith

prior

(str.

and

to

the freedom

decision

is a wise preconception

God,

whose

(xp6Xq§tq

in the

are turned

only

to

1tpO

It is an expectation

beneficence

and

and

confidence

kindness

and

us (str.

all-sufficient

2.6.28).

The

function

of

possible,

when

the

Preconceptions

are

other mental

visions

Epicurean

perceiver

kind

by their

'a

preconceptions

is confronted

of

generic

contents

to

a mass

qiq 8?avoi«S, distinguished

is

make

of

claim

knowledge

sensations.'

from

to generate

by

They

from

recognise

atomic

perception.' Preconceptions

from

as

that

were

points,

tions

universals

streams

kinds

form

fact,

of phenomena.

of things.

the

By means

mind

of preconception

from

streams

the

act

points.

'It

we

of

of

is

different

to

The

selects

images

of

preconception

become

Epicurus

make

against

inquiry

claimed

which

enlarges

starting

were

different

indispensable

on,

a matter

a philosophical

possible' .8

than

commonplace

they

preconceptions

no

There

more

are what

simply

choose

Regrettably,

other

impregnable

different

Skeptics

that

them.'

concerning

starting

for the Skeptic

and

could

are three

not

he had

preconcep-

between

theories

the origin

of preconcep-

tions.

second

(i) Preconceptions

sense

which is a self-evident starting point, and which removes the danger of

infinite regress (cf. Ep.Hdt.

one

another and classified by means of preconceptions, which have been gained through repeated experiences of particular objects (D.L. 10.33). Other concepts may also be derived from preconceptions; even the gods are objects of refined perception.'° (ii) The late Stoicizing Academy speaks of innate preconceptions. For example, every race of men possesses, in its untaught state, a preconcep-

which we have no prior knowledge.

of

In the

they

(D.L.

first

are

10.33).

account

and

from

word

37f.).

they

are

due

third

has

to

they

repeated

sensation,

evident

a clear

about

in the

to the

innate,

come

Each

in the

what

are ingrained.

been

frequently

to

the

mind

brings

delineation

anything

off from

We do not inquire

Sensations

are marked

6

tion

may

which understanding, inquiry and discussion are impossible' (Cicero, ND 1.44)." These preconceptions are insitae and innatae.

(iii) In between these positions

sidered preconceptions to be ingrained (qjLcpuTon) rather than innate, and

was credited with clearing up confusion

conceptions

Chrysippus con-

of the gods.

'Epicurus'

word

for this

is prolepsis,

by the

that

is what

we

call a delineation

of a thing,

preconceived

mind,

without

is that

not.

writers

needs

different

to the

into

of the Old Stoa.

between

preconceptions

and

1059C).

'There

is

no

other

for

a

theory

of

any

kind

of

no such beliefs

and

should

accounts

the

Stoa.

of

origin

second

have

to

the

For

the Epicurean,

which

we recognise,

The Stoic

responds

merely

have

to

a

(Plutarch,

in

the

Old

their

Comm.

Stoic

"inborn" "evidence"

Attempts

not

be saddled

been

to

Stoicizing

the world

idea

aims

took

over

but

the empiricist, materialist

them being assimilated by Stoicizing

cerned, not with mental states,

Prolepseis organise phainomena either into natural kinds or into persis- tent conditions.' Anything more must be a conceptual invention. There is a difference between recognizing something in the world and conceiv-

ing something

simple

development

faith,

no

for the Stoic,

late

unsuccessful.' The

belief;

with

to

philosophy

the

them. 1 12 z

harmonise

first

and

the

belongs

third

Epicurus,

Old

Academy

is perceived

definition

the

as divided

natural

kinds

is a prerequisite

world.

The

The

for any inquiry.

idea

simply

that

Stoics

`

wrong.'

to represent

Epicurean

text

Epicurean

stimulus

Epicurean

in the world.

which

scholarly

is

exactly

position

but

consensus

seriously

the nature

of

the

preconception

sets out

We

of preconception;

should

Epicureans

prevent

are con-

commentators.

with states

Prolepseis

of affairs

in the world. 15 S

which

of

represents

things

it."

The

'substance

so

all

from

Old

hoped

for'

Just

are

in

Hebrews

11is

a

Pauline

Testament

theology.

notables

as Abraham

heroes

of

was justified

The

by

faith."

notion

of anticipation (vorauseilen, vorangehen, vorausnehmen)

Bultmann

hurried

at the end of this world."9 In this way faith becomes that victory which

overcomes the world (1Jn 5:4).2° As so often for Clement, Heraclitus,

for whom hope is essential

between philosophy and the bible.

to have

is stressed

by

in his sermons.

of the

'To

time

be a Christian, of this world.

to

to believe,

It means

means

to stand

on ahead

already

the

link

understanding, 2'

provided

Clement's

adoption

of prolepsis

there

are different

theories

between

is not

which

a blind

appropriation,

choose.

he must

For

because

his own

7

reasons,

pounded ;

Clement

but

preconceptions

p r e c o n c e p t i o n s

the

two

future

which

arguments.

he

gives Epicurus

cannot

are innate.

links

faith

(for

Faith

a more

Stoic doctrine

reasons)

it

and

claims

lead

than

he had pro-

that

vision

next

anti-Gnostic

is hekousios

These

concede

the

is a clear

on to

of

and hope.

2. Assent

and

choice

The preconception

of faith

is chosen.

It is the assent

of godliness,

or

saying 'yes' to God (OeoaspeLcxqauYxaTa8Ea?5 str. 2.2.8). Faith (str. 2.2.9)

is an assent which unites22 the believer to God. Faith provides a founda-

tion by rational anticipatory

ter is the beginning of understanding.

(1tpOc(LpêcrLÇ)provides the movement towards knowledge (str. 2.2.9).

for

Aristotle

attack Gnostics and to convince philosophers.

innate and, as for Valentinus,

faith

voluntary (str. 2.3.11).

inferior

Choice

choice

is bet-

choice.

The decision

Unswerving

Plato

Clement

to

to follow

what

anticipatory

and

and

decision

had

been

important

Here

especially

for

(Nic.Eth.

1139a 31fL).23

(str.

is concerned

both

to

For

Basilides,

faith

is

Both

deny

that

faith

must

be

knowledge.

For Clement,

is a matter

of free choice

2.3.10).

The

scriptures

tell

of

free

to

choice,

or

and

the

scriptural

command

spirit

Moses

to

we

believe is an invitation

choose life and believe God through

assent

choose.

With

a willing

his voice

(str.

2.4.12).

Noah,

with

Abraham,

Joseph

Isaac,

and

Following

Jacob,

Hebrews

11, the faith

of Abel,

Enoch,

Sarah,

is celebrated.

Clement

continues

who

also

effects

Platonists

frag.phys.

chose

in

God's

a

and

way

of

say

faith.

which

that

Faith

is

assent

is

freely

is

in

our

chosen

in

power

our

(str.

power

judgement,

and

2.6.27).

shows

its

repentance

Stoics

Both

(Chrysippus

conjecture

992) (str. 2.12.54).

Indeed

all opinion,

and

(faith) is possible, while it remains a mere privation

existence (str. 2.12.55).

duces good works and right action (str. 5.13.86).

trast

means,

sion

that

learning

is assent,

which

Faith

David

is faith.

as the

Unbelief

voluntary

shows

assent

its opposite

that

and

of the

has

note,

no

soul

real

pro-

in con-

This

(Ps.

4:5).

to the impres-

The

soul

is

We may

(str.

5.5.28),

that

says 'Be angry

and sin not'

assent

says Clement,

purely,

we should

it by action.

to God

known

God

not give our

is martyrdom

obeyed

and

all along

of anger

or confirm

(homologia)

Confession

(marturia).

which

a martus

has lived

his commandments

the

by life and

word.

It sheds blood

way of life until

8

it goes

cionites

creator, do not qualify as 'believing martyrs'.

martyrdom

from

or

earth

others)

to

be with

who

God

(str.

4.4.15).

However,

those

(Mar-

choose

out

of

hatred

for

their

They have not

known

the

only true

fession

actions

God

of

and die in futility.

is

not

what

to

faith

(SYF i 68),

cannot

Nor

their

are words

enough.

The true

deeds

con-

and

martyrs

voice

utters,

but

the

4.9.71).

which

correspond

for Zeno

which

(str.

is a form

Knowledge,

of grasping

or comprehen-

by any argument.

Exter-

and

his

finally

he knows.

open

hand

which

to

show

assent,

grasping

his

2.145).

with-

must

sion,

nal objects produce impressions, which reach the governing-principle of the perceiver (SVF ii 56), who assents or judges that his impression cor-

responds to fact. Then, he grasps the

Zeno

by

received the impression,

fist

then clenching his fist to show cognition with his other hand to show what knowledge

Many

out assent,

admit

(Cic.Acad.

cognitive or recognizable

drag

give or withhold.

a katalepsis

be overthrown

impression

extending

closing

described

the

four

stages,

then

partly

and

as

his hand

finally

and

was like (Cic.Acad.

but

things

what

may be grasped which

we may

is

self-evident

2.37f.).

Some

(Sextus,

known

surely

by the senses,

as

are

Yet the

scales

never

mind

living

sink

under

certain;

the

weights

hair

these

and

impressions

impressions

Adv.math.,

immediately

take

virtually

us by

us to assent

vii, 257).

Sense perceptions

must

are like blows

within

which

from

outside

which

their

are

to which

1.40f.).

of

The senses send

wise

the

assent

The

and

the mind

their

man

quently he does not err. Ignorance is changeable

the wise man supposes

be given from

to the

only

mind

to

(Cic.Acad.

assesses

impressions

gives

testimony.

cognitive

assent

impressions

weakly,

conse-

While

and weak assent.

nothing

but securely

of

and

the

and firmly

(aacpalw5

gives

assent

without

soul

(Aetius

4.21)

xai

the

inferior

man

cognition. 21

Assent

is

given

by

the

is precipitate

faculty

ruling

mediating between impressions neither action nor impulsion'.25

or

Academy,

it

Arcesilaus

propriety

Assents

and

Such

truth

impulses.

assent

of