in the study of Christian scriptures and doctrines, but each endeavoured to differentiate himself from his competitors and to stake out some relationship to the emerging network of episcopally led communities. Although Eusebius later domesticated him by making him the head of a catechetical school formally tied to the episcopate (HE 6.6), Clement more likely operated as a fully independent Christian teacher.42 He challenged Gnostics and Valentinians at their own game by calling his ideal Christian 'the Gnostic, properly speaking' (Str. and referring to his competitors as 'falsely named' (Str. He countered the Gnostic use of genealogical and racial language to define themselves through his own use of procreative and kinship metaphors to authorise his own teachings and to delegitimate those of his rivals.43 'Gnosis itself', he argued, 'has come down by succession to a few people, transmitted by the apostles in unwritten form' (Str. Echoing Ptolemy, Clement claimed that his teachers 'preserved the true tradition of the blessed doctrine in direct line from Peter, James, John and Paul, the holy apostles, child inheriting from father . . . and came with God's help to plant in us those ancestral and apostolic seeds' (Str. Clement pointedly did not trace his academic lineage to a single apostle, but to four, and did not name the teachers who intervened between these apostles and himself, thereby portraying himself, in contrast to his Valentinian and other competitors, as possessing not a particular strain of Christian teaching, but the fullness of apostolic teaching, transmitted in an academic succession beyond scrutiny.45

Clement exhibited an attitude towards episcopally supervised Christian communities that resembled that of the Valentinians in its ambivalent openness. Professing his adherence to the teachings of the wider church, Clement nonetheless offered his students a form of secret knowledge passed down not through bishops, but through his unnamed teachers (Str. 1.1.11-13); he made use of a range of sacred literature that belies the notion of a closed canon and very seldom referred to bishops and their communities.46 He pointedly claimed that the person who 'has lived perfectly and gnostically' is 'really a presbyter of the church' even if 'he has not been ordained by human beings' (Str. Clement differentiated himself on at least two fronts. On the one hand, he portrayed his 'domesticated gnosis' as more faithful to original Christian doctrine than that offered by competing teachers.47 On the other

42 Bardy, 'Aux origines de l'├ęcole d'Alexandrie'; Dawson, Allegorical readers, 219-22.

43 Buell, Making Christians.

44 Buell, Making Christians, 66-8, whose translation I have adapted.

45 Buell, Making Christians, 84-6.

46 On Clement's and Origen's semi-bounded canons, see Hanson, Origen's doctrine, 127-73.

47 Dawson, Allegorical readers, 222.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment