Clement of Alexandria (cir. 150-215)

The final significant second century apologist is Clement ofAlexandria. It is difficult to overestimate the influence of Clement. Although his influence is not focused in the second century, he certainly served as an apologist.
Clement’s first major work is titled “Exhortation to the Greeks” and is basically a call to the educated Greco-Roman society to hear the gospel of Jesus. Many scholars say this is Clement’s most graceful piece of writing. This “Exhortation” is filled with numerous citations from the most popular Greek writers, each citation being used to prove Clement’s underlying arguments. The document reads like an anthology of Greek literature, and it is clear that Clement is not new to this literature. He is an educated man and his use of Greek is of a high quality.

His other significant apologetic is “Miscellanies,” a strange work that covers a multitude of topics without any apparently clear outline. What is clear in this work is that Clement is attacking the various Gnostic leaders who had made an impact in second century Egypt, chiefly Basilides and Valentinus. He names these men throughout this work, citing texts from their writings and arguing against them.

Excerpts from Theodotus” is another work attributed to Clement. In this work Clement takes large portions of Theodotus, a teacher of Valentinian Gnosticism, and argues against this Gnostic teaching.

Although Clement is clearly on the offensive against Gnosticism, it is also clear that some of his views are not consistent with other early writers. This is something a problem with Clement ofAlexandria. He represents a time in the development of Egyptian Christianity when the church was recovering from what appears to have been a 50-60 year period when Gnosticism was the dominant force. Nonetheless, Clement ofAlexandria certainly represents the development in early Christianity when highly educated Christian leaders presented a reasoned defense of the faith.

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