Clement of Rome: 1 Clement 1-15.

Clement of Rome (c. 30-101) was a disciple of Simon Peter. He was either the second or fourth bishop of Rome, depending on the historian; Roman Catholics consider him the second or fourth pope. It’s said that Peter apparently had him run the Roman church, while he meanwhile focused on prayer and preaching. After Peter was crucified, Clement ran the church till his arrest. Banished by the emperor Trajan, he was sent to a rock quarry in Chersonesus, Taurica (now Crimea, Ukraine). After a miracle where, like Moses, he got water out of a rock, he led a large number of locals and his fellow inmates to Christ. In annoyance, the guards tied him to an anchor and drowned him. 23 November is St. Clement’s Day in the west, and 24-25 November in the east.

Some scholars suspect Clement wrote his letter in the 60s or 70s, around the time Paul wrote his own letters. But since Clement referred (in chapter 44) to a second generation of Roman Christians, and to his own church as old, it was more likely written in the 90s, around the same time John wrote Revelation. The “sudden, repetitive disasters” (chapter 1) would then refer to the persecution under the emperor Domitian. The disagreements Paul had dealt with in his own letters to the Corinthians had, it seems, got worse and turned into an open fight: Several of the Corinthian elders had been removed from leadership, and since they weren’t fired for moral reasons, Clement found it indefensible.

The custom in Corinth, for many years, was to publicly read both Paul’s letters and Clement’s letter from time to time. It was included in the Codex Alexandrinus, a copy of the bible produced in the 400s: Apparently some early Christians considered it scripture. 1 Clement is really long and wordy (which suggests it was dictated, ’cause you know how preachers can be). So here’s the first part.

(There’s a 2 Clement, but it was written by a different guy named Clement.)

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