The Homilies of Clement
The “Homilies of Clement” is an example of a pseudonymous Christian writing produced in the name of a famous person living after the apostles: Clement, thought to be the third bishop of Rome at the end of the ﬁrst century (for other examples, see 1 Clement and 2 Clement, pp. 167, 185).1 The Homilies consist of twenty legendary discourses allegedly delivered by Clement in Rome and sent to James the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem. In these discourses Clement narrates his family back ground, his search for truth, and, principally, his travels to the East, where he meets the apostle Simon Peter, whom he then accompanies, observing his words, deeds, and controversies. As the following excerpts show, the Homilies embrace a JewishChristian perspective.2 Peter is shown to be the chief apostle, bearer of Christ’s power and leader of Christ’s church; he claims ascendancy over his arch-rival, the magician Simon Magus, whom scholars often understand to be a thinly veiled cipher for the apostle Paul in this text, who is attacked for his view that salvation can come apart from the Jewish Law. Not so for this author, who stands within the Jewish-Christian tradition that saw the ongoing importance of the Law of Moses for salvation.3 The author tries to show Peter’s (Jewish-Christian) understanding of the Gospel to be superior to Paul’s in a number of ways. In one section in particular, Peter is said to have developed the notion that in the plan of God for humans, the lesser always precedes the greater. And so, Adam had two sons, the murderer Cain and the righteous Abel; two also sprang from Abraham, the outcast Ishmael and the chosen one Isaac; and from Isaac came the godless Esau and the godly Jacob. Bringing matters down to more recent times, there were two that appeared on the Gentile mission ﬁeld, Simon (� Paul) and Peter, who was, of course, the greater of the two, “who
For more detail, see Ehrman, Lost Christianities, 182–85. 2See also the “Letter of Peter to James and its Reception”; this letter served as an introduction to the Homilies. 3On Jewish-Christianity, see further, Ehrman, Lost Christianities, 95–103.
Translation by Georg Strecker, in Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2 (rev. ed.: Cambridge/Louisville: Lutterworth/Westminister/John Knox, 1991) 504– 40; used with permission.