Monday, March 23, 2009

Subordinationism in Clement of Alexandria

Here is what scholarship says about subordinationism in Clement of Alexandria:

The Son is EPEKEINA TOU NOHTOU, Strom, v. 6. 38. He is PANTOKRATWR, Paed. i. 5. 24; iii. 7. 39 ; Protrep. viii. 81; Strom, iv. 3. 148 : KURIOS, Paed. i' 7- 56, 57 : the Father alone is perfect, for in Him is the Son, and in the Son the Father, Paed. \. 7. 53. The passages usually quoted as showing Clement's tendency to Subordinationism are Strom, vii. I. 2, PRESBUTERON EN GENESEI; vii. 2. 5, the Father is hO MONOS PANTOKRATWR; Strom, v. I. 6, the Son is DUNAMIS, vii. 2. 8 an ENERGEIA, Paed. iii. I. 2 a DIAKONOS of the Father; Protrep. x. no He is made equal to the Father; Paed. iii. 12. 98 He is the AGAQON BOULHMA of the Father; Strom, vi. 7. 59 Creation runs up to the Father, Redemption to the Son. Rufinus, Epil. in Apol. Pamphili, Clement sometimes ' filium Dei creaturam dicit.' This must refer to the word KTIZEIN used of Wisdom (Prov. viii. 22), Strom, v. 14. 89. Even POIEIN might be used, Strom, vi. 7. 58 (in a quotation from the PETROU KHR.), hOS ARXHN TWN APANTWN EPOIHSEN. Cp. Adumb. in I Joan. p. 1009, ' hae namque primitivae virtutes ac primo creatae ' of the Son and Holy Spirit. On the interpretation of this passage of the Book of Proverbs, see Huet, Origeniana, ii. 2. 21 (Lomm. xxii. 176); Rosenmiiller, Hist. Interp. iii. 216, 229; Baur, Dreieinigkeit. Bull and Domer do not regard Clement as a Subordinationist. Huet maintains the opposite view. Redepenning occupies an intermediate position. The statement of Photius that Clement spoke of two Logi must rest upon a blunder ; see Dr. Westcott, Clement of Alexandria, in Diet. Christ. Biog.; Zahn, Forsch. iii. 144; and Lect. viii.

The above quotation is from The Christian Platonists of Alexandria by Charles Bigg. See pp. 69-70. This work can also be accessed online at,M1

Another quote is taken from a work entitled History of Dogmas (pp. 248-249) by Joseph Tixeront:

And yet some have thought that in his works there are traces of subordinationism: for he not only applies to the Son the appellations Philo gives to the Word : but he also declares that the Father is PRESBUTEROS EN GENESEI, that the Son's nature (FUSIS) is the nearest to Him who alone is all powerful, that the Son can be demonstrated and known, while the Father can be neither known nor demonstrated. Nay, if Photius is to be believed, Clement looked upon the Son as a creature; and it must be said that the Alexandrian doctor has, on this subject, expressions somewhat perplexing. These, however, can be explained and do not destroy the impression that results from his doctrine taken as a whole. Even, some authors are unwilling to believe that he was truly subordinationist.


See John Patrick's work on Clement of Alexandria here and what he writes about subordinationism in Clement:,M1

1 comment:

Vasileios Tsialas said...

Allow me to add two citations with my translation:

Stromata 5,14:
“these things said about the first-created wisdom (sofias tes protoktistou)”

Excerpta ex Theodoto 1,10:
“because the phrase "I begot you before Lucifer" is thus said as regards Logos, the first-created god (epi tou protoktistou theou logou)”.