Scripture in 1 Clement: The Jewish Scriptures

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

hebrew-bibleIn exhorting the Corinthians to restore their overthrown leaders, Clement drew upon a wide variety of materials as authoritative bases for the importance of Christian concord. Immediately evident to any reader are 1 Clement’s numerous and lengthy appeals to the Jewish scriptures, which he calls the “revelation through which God speaks.”[1] As outlined by Donald A. Hagner, this epistle employs approximately sixty-five quotations from the Jewish scriptures, the totality of which compose nearly one-quarter of the entire letter.[2] Nine of these quotations are of such length that Clement almost certainly would have required access to a copy of the Septuagint in order to provide accurate transcriptions.[3]

Clement introduces almost all of these uses of the Jewish scripture with an introduction of some kind.[4] Although Clement generally uses introductions such as γραφει, λεγει, ειπεν, φεσι, and narrative introductions for now-canonical writings, he also employs these introductory formulae for non-canonical materials such as Apocryphal Ezekiel, the Assumption of Moses, and Eldad and Modad.[5] The flexibility with which Clement employs these “formal” introductions suggests a relatively fluid view of such markers; that is, for Clement the contents of what is being cited are more important than how they are being cited. Additionally, the form of Clement’s citations varies. Τhere are thirty-nine citations which clearly come from the Septuagint; nine citations derived from the Septuagint, but exhibiting moderate differences from the received text; five quotations from non-Septuagintal versions of the Jewish scriptures; and twelve “composite citations.”

[1] 1 Clement 22:1. Gregory, “Introduction”, 120. Hagner, 21. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Fifth Edition (London: Continuum, 2009), 65. McDonald, 248, 256. Paul Foster, “The Text of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers,” In The Early Text of the New Testament, eds. Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 288. C.F. Evans, “The New Testament in the Making,” In The Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume I: From the Beginnings to Jerome, eds. P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 234. Helmut Koester, Synoptische Uberlieferung bei den Apostolischen Vatern (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1957), 136.

[2] Hagner, 22. Metzger, 43. Gree, 55. Gregory, “Introduction”, 228. Scholars range between 65 and 85 total citations of the Jewish scriptures in First Clement, with some including apocryphal and reconstructed composite citations.

[3] These passages are Genesis 4.3-8 (1 Clement 4), Job 4.16-5.5 (39), Job 5.17-26 (56), Psalm 33.12-18 (22), Psalm 49.16-23 (35), Psalm 50 (18), Proverbs 1.23-33 (57), Isaiah 1.16-20 (8), and Isaiah 53 (16).

[4] Hagner, 26-8, 33-4, 77. Hagner delineates eight different forms of introduction: “(1) graphei, or some derivative thereof; (2) legei; (3) eipen; and (4) phesi. To these we add (5) miscellaneous introductions; a separate section (6) containing those formulae which are derived from the narrative and/or point to the human author rather than the divine character of the quoted words; (7) a list of passages without formulae; and (8) a list of the formulae used with non-canonical writings.” He also divides uses of the Jewish scriptures into four distinct categories: “(a) those which are clearly septuagintal; (b) composite quotations which are basically septuagintal; (c) quotations which appear to be (but are not necessarily) non-septuagintal; and (d) quotations which are non-canonical.”

[5] See 1 Clement 17:6, 23:3, and 46:2, respectively.


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

One thought on “Scripture in 1 Clement: The Jewish Scriptures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: