Clement of Alexandria

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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. OrigenOrigen
, 185?–254?, Christian philosopher and scholar. His full name was Origines Adamantius, and he was born in Egypt, probably in Alexandria. When he was quite young, his father was martyred.
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 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 PhotiusPhotius
, c.820–892?, Greek churchman and theologian, patriarch of Constantinople, b. Constantinople. He came of a noble Byzantine family. Photius was one of the most learned men of his time, a professor in the university at Constantinople and, under Byzantine Emperor
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, 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).

Clement of Alexandria


(Titus Flavius Clemens). Died before A.D. 215. Christian theologian and writer. Born of pagan parents, he received an extensive education in philosophy and literature. He taught in Alexandria as an independent Christian teacher, later fleeing to Asia Minor to avoid persecution.

Clement was the first Christian thinker to rank among the highly educated men of his time. He aimed at a synthesis of Hellenistic culture and Christian faith. Approaching his task with optimistic fervor, he did not grasp the profound contradictions between the two ideological worlds to which he belonged. His religious ideal contains features of classical philosophical humanism. The treatises Exhortation to the Greeks and The Tutor, which continue the tradition of the popular-philosophical literature, interpret Christianity as an enlightening doctrine that overcomes pagan superstitions, frees men from fear, and provides an inner independence. The hymn to Christ, with which The Tutor concludes, is one of the first Christian poetic works. His enormous erudition may be seen in the collection of sketches entitled Miscellanies (Stromata), a valuable source for the history of classical philosophy, which Clement, with some reservations, places on an equal level with the Bible. In the discussion What Rich Man Will Be Saved?, the gospel condemnation of wealth is replaced by an abstract philosophical principle of disdain for material things. On the whole, the type of Christianity expounded by Clement did not find a place in medieval thought and was revived only in the philosophy of Renaissance Christian humanism, represented by Erasmus of Rotterdam and T. More.


Werke, vols. 1–4. Leipzig, 1905–36.
Werke, 3d ed., vols. 2–3. Berlin, 1960–70. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte . . . .)


Mirtov, D. Nravstvennoe uchenie Klimenta Aleksandriiskogo. St. Petersburg, 1900.
Istoriia filosofii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1940. Pages 389–90.
Völker, W. Der Wahre Gnostiker nach Clemens Alexandrinus. Berlin-Leipzig, 1952.
Osborn, E. F. The Philosophy of Clemens of Alexandria. Cambridge, 1957.


Clement of Alexandria

Saint. original name Titus Flavius Clemens. ?150--?215 ad, Greek Christian theologian: head of the catechetical school at Alexandria; teacher of Origen. Feast day: Dec. 5