Volume 16 (1978-79)


W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome

Co-chairs: Robert Kraft and William Adler

(16.1a, September 26, 1978)

Robert A. Kraft, Wilhelm Bousset and His School Tradition Thesis


(16.1b, September 26, 1978)

William Adler, Reception of Bousset’s Schulbetrieb


(16.2, November 14, 1978)

(Heinrich von Staden, with Wesley D. Smith and John R. Clark, School Traditions in the Graeco-Roman World: Perspectives From Classical Studies


Selected Passages From Bousset’s Work:


(16.3a, January 30, 1979)

Martha Himmelfarb, Book 1, Chapter 7: “De fuge et inventione,” pp. 127-134


(16.3b, January 30, 1989)

John Gager, Book 3, Chapter 2: “Justin’s Dialogue and the First Apology,” pp. 282-308


(16.4a, March 6, 1979)

Janet Timbie, Book 2, Chapter 2: “The Nature of the Source,” pp. 174-190


(16.4b, March 6, 1979)

David Efromson, Book 3, Chapter 1: “Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses,” pp. 272-282


(16.5, March 29, 1979)

Birger Pearson, The Testimony of Truth (Nag Hammadi Corpus IX.3)


Selected Passages From Bousset’s Work (Continued):


(16.6a, April 24, 1979)

John White, Book 2, Chapter 3: “The Origin of the Source-fragments in the Excerpta and Ecologae: Pantaenus,” pp. 190-198. Book 2, Chapter 4: “Clement and the Alexandria Catechetical School Tradition” pp. 198-204. Book 2, Chapter 7: “Another Source of Clement (Pantaenus?), Especially in Stromata 6 and 7,” pp. 236-248.


(16.6b, April 24, 1979)

Daniel R. Bechtel, Book 2, Chapter 5: “The Incorporation of the Textbook on the ‘The Theft of the Greeks’ into the Stromata,” pp. 205-218.





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of September 26, 1978, 7 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennnsylvania.


The initial session of the 1978-1979 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. Following customary introductions and announcements was an extended discussion of the aims and procedures involved in the study of the topic. A tentative goal is the publication of an English translation of Wilhelm Bousset’s Judisch-Christlicher Schulbetrieb in Alexandria und Rom: Literarische Untersuchungen zu Philo und Clemens von Alexandria, Justin und Irenaus (Gottingen: Vandenhoek. & Ruprecht, 1915), along with appropriate supplementary materials, including essays on the reception and influence of the work. The Seminar heard and discussed presentations by Robert A. Kraft and William Adler of the University of Pennsylvania.


Wilhelm Bousset and His School Tradition Thesis. Robert A. Kraft


Wilhelm Bousset (1865-1920), professor of NT Theology at Giessen, was a prolific writer often associated with the religionsgeschichtliche Schule. He is best known for Der Antichrist (1895), Die Religion des Judentumsim neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (1903), Die Hauptproblemeder Gnosis (1907), Kyrios Christos (1913), Apophtegmata... (1923 posth.), and for his co-editing of  Theolgische Rundschau from 1897-1917. He was the author of many articles and reviews, was widely read and widely published.


In his introduction to Judisch-Christlicher Schulbetrieb..., Bousset explains how his thesis, developed over a number of years of study, had only lately been confirmed by parallel studies of contemporary classicists. Bousset notes, as do many scholars, “the completely astounding carelessness with which our authors [Clement and Philo] tolerate blatant contradictions in their presentations and permit them to stand alongside of each other unresolved,” combined with “a lack of discipline in the presentation, a complete absence of arrangement of materials” (p.6). His explanation of these phenomena is that, “to a large extent, both have transmitted in their writings school material they had received, and ... their actual literary contribution is much more limited than it seemed at first glance” (p. 5).


Following the lead of Werner Wilhelm Jaeger (Studien zur entstehungsgeschichte der Metaphysik des Aristotles [Berlin: Weidman, 1912) and Karl Gronau (Poseidonios und die judisch-christliche Genesisexegese [Berlin: Teubner, 1914) among others, Bousset traces a pattern of school tradition in which lectures, lecture notes, unpublished commentaries, and other materials, all in written form, constituted a “massive deposit of scholarly material” which was received by teachers and pupils alike with “unlimited reverence for the work of the school” (p. 6). These materials were uncritically appropriated and put into literary works by scholars of the same school on a sort of topical basis, out of respect for their pedagogical antecedents. The contradictions and disassociations were less important than reverence for the scholarly past.


 In much of the body of the book, Bousset sets out to discover these written sources, using a source critical method. Most of his text covers Philo and Clement of Alexandria, but Irenaeus and Justin are considered briefly at the end.


Reception of Bousset’s Schulbetrieb, William Adler


 Reaction to Bousset’s Schulbetrieb was initially very slight, no doubt due to its publication during World War I. In fact, the only major review of the book over a period of several years following its publication appears to be that of Adolph von Harnack in Theologische Literaturzeitung 25, 26 (1915) 537-539. Harnack’s review was generally quite favorable, creating the impression that he was glad that someone had undertaken to demonstrate something about which he himself had similar presentiments. Harnack felt that it is to Bousset’s credit to have demonstrated that the dependence of such writers as Philo and Clement on school traditions did not represent isolated and unrelated phenomena, but reflected rather a general pattern. Much of the rest of Harnack’s review explores the broader implications of Bousset’s work, especially for the “dark early history of the Christian community at Alexandria in the second century.” Harnack found confirmation that it was the teacher, not the bishop, who first held preeminence in Alexandria, and that these teachers “expressed in their ‘gnosis’ a freedom of thought that was hardly tolerable in most other Christian communities of the same period...”


Bousset’s source critical method was the linchpin in his entire reconstruction of Alexandrian school traditions, and it was here that most of the subsequent criticisms concentrated. Bousset’s methods revealed to him at least two sources in Clement’s writings which could be tied to Alexandrian school traditions. One a Lehrbuch entitled Theft of the Greeks, and the other a chunk of material in several of Clement’s writings which Bousset called the “Pantaenus source.” These sources, inserted into the Stromata after the initial draft, utterly disrupted the orderly treatment of themes and differed measurably from what Bousset claims were Clement’s own views. Even Harnack in his otherwise favorable review expressed some hesitations about Bousset’s application of Quellenkritik to Clement and Philo, although he did not feel that Bousset had underestimated the contributions of those authors themselves to the works. Other critics were not so generous.


Johannes Munck. in his Untersuchungen Uber Klemens von Alexandria (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1933) pp. 127-204, was much less confident than Harnack about the method. After examining Bousset’s dissection of sources in great detail, he concluded that several of the features in Bousset’s argument had not been demonstrated persuasively, and that these features were vital to his thesis. Specifically, Munck felt that Bousset had not demonstrated the existence of the Theft of the Greeks, nor had he succeeded in attributing the discernible source in the Eclogae and Excerpta to Pantaenus. Munck felt that Bousset had a basic misunderstanding of the Stromata as a literary genre, applying rigid editorial standards to a much less formalized literature, which in Clement is not especially well wrought besides.


More generally, Munck doubted the applicability of the whole source critical method, accusing it of resting on misleading and modernist notions of what is and what is not “consistent” in a source. One must concede the possibility that the author himself is less than consistent, or takes, as the context dictates, varying positions. Nor is there overwhelming merit in the promise that there had once existed a unified, reasoned and ordered source, which in the process of transmission became disordered and even, at places, nonsensical. The source may never have possessed the kind of purity which Bousset assigned to it.


The most daring of Bousset’s claims about Clement was that a particular source in the Excerpta, Ecologae, and the 6th and 7th books of the Stromata consisted of Clement’s own lecture notes on presentations by Pantaenus This caused a teacher’s Stoic materialism to intrude on the pupil’s own Platonism. Bousset relied heavily on an earlier article by Paul Collomp (“Une source de Clement d’Alexandrie et des Homelies Pseudo-Clementines,” Revue de philologie et litterature et d’histoire anciennes 37 [1913], but expanded Collomp’s hypothetical source and attributed it to Pantaenus.


Both Munck and Robert Casey (Excerpta ex Theodoto of Clement of Alexandria [ed. and trans.], London: Christophers, 1934, pp. 10-16) acknowledge that Bousset has put his finger on a real problem in the Excerpta and Ecologae, but both reject his solution. Casey postulates Clement himself as the source of the contradictory material, while Munck rejects all of the expansion done to Col1omp’s theory.


By now, it should be obvious that Bousset’s Schulbetrieb was panned by many critics, including some modern ones (Walther Volker, Der wahre Gnostiker nach Clemens Alexandrinus, TU 5.2 [1951],, 23-26; Anthonie Verheule; Wilhelm Bousset: Leben und Werk, Amsterdam, 1973, 245-253). Bousset is not faulted for calling attention to a phenomenon -- the existence of school traditions --but for failing to establish how a Clement or Philo used this material and what this material looked like before they used it.




A short discussion followed the presentations, considering some of the basic problems and presuppositions of the source-critical techniques. Quellenkritik seems to demonstrate an unwillingness to recognize genuinely creative genius, such as may well have been possessed by Philo and Clement, and attempts to seek some other explanation instead. It also balks at a genuinely pre-dogmatic mind, which refuses to recognize the need for what moderns would call consistency. It is indeed possible for the authors themselves to be the sources of their own contradictions. On the other hand, Clement acknowledges the use of sources, and Philo at least implies it. A search for these sources would certainly seem to be in order. It may be that Bousset’s claims were rejected by some because they are so concrete, rather than because they illustrate a real phenomenon involving teaching materials in a school. The reactions of Munck, Casey, and Voelker are characteristically negative, reflecting their conservative, even ascerbic, outlook.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of November 14, 1978, 6 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania


The second session of the 1978-79 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. After customary introductions and announcements, an informal discussion was led by Prof. Heinrich von Staden of the Classics Department at Yale University. Other guests participating were Profs. Wesley D. Smith and John R. Clark of the Classics Department of the University of Pennsylvania.


School Traditions in the Graeco-Roman World: Perspectives From Classical Studies, Heinrich Voc Staden, Wesley D. Smith, John R. Clark.


One of the keys to Bousset’s introduction is the notion that school traditions may consist of secretly accumulated teachings not known to the general public. While this may not seem an obvious characteristic of school traditions, it is present in much of the parallel literature Bousset cites, and is noted by him in connection with the Pythagoreans (p. 5) and with Clement (p. 7). Perhaps a way to understand Bousset’s school tradition concept is to examine the “pagan” parallels he cites. Even if it is discovered that his claims about “pagan” practices are in error, this does not necessarily affect his arguments concerning Philo and Clement.


If esoteric teaching is a criterion, the lower levels of classical education my be eliminated in our research. Up through the grammatikoi there is no distinctiveness of ideology or philosophical conviction. Even in the gumnasion, which can be traced to the second century BCE, there was little esoteric content, since the lectures were given by primarily transient scholars, on a popular and not probing level.


The Platonic Academy was a loosely organized community of advanced members and younger students, with many leaders and little sense of a closed brotherhood. Plato determined the problems and helped others to pursue them. The Academy was not sectarian, and had no orthodox compulsory metaphysics; i.e. no body of information which had to be received. The school of Plato, as well as those of Aristotle and of the Stoics, was housed in public buildings which were sometimes appropriated by the state, making a closed brotherhood with esoteric ideas rather difficult.


Harold F. Cherniss, The Riddle of the Early Academy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1945)


It would appear that Plato’s dialogues were directed to a larger public than the Academy, and can be seen as an attempt to turn the public toward philosophy. For this reason, they were not especially esoteric, and were published for the general public. However, Plato also concedes his distrust in the written word, and considers oral discourse important for the communication of certain theories (cf. Phaedrus 275C ff. and Seventh Letter 341C ff.). Building on these passages, a number of scholars have worked out theories of how esoteric doctrines were transmitted by the Academy, claiming that the ultimate truths were at best only alluded to.


Leon Robin, La Theorie platonicienne des ideas et des nombres d’apres Aristotle (Paris: Alean, 1908)


Hans Joachim Kramer, Arete bei Platon und Aristoteles (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1959)


___________, Der Ursprung der Geistmetaphysic (Amsterdam: P. Schippera, 1964)


Konrad Gaiser, Platons ungeschriebene Lehre (Stuttgard: E. Klett, 1963)


John N. Findlay, Plato, the Written and Unwritten Doctrines (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; New York: Humanities Press, 1974)


These works must be taken with severe reservations. They are quite helpful, however, in giving evidence about the esoteric transmission of ultimate truths. If their claims are correct, the esoteric tradition can be traced all the way up to Plotinus and Neoplatonism.


Aristotle dealt in both open and closed teachings. He gave morning lectures to the general public, while evenings were only for the Peripatetics. Theophrastus continued this policy. Jaeger’s characterization of the treatises in the Aristotelian corpus as being an oral tradition in written form, probably never intended for publication at first, seems correct. However, his conclusions about the chronological stratification of the Aristotelian corpus and the evolution of Aristotle as a philosopher not borne out by the marks themselves.


Werner Jaeger (ed.), Aristotelis Metaphysica (Oxonii [Oxford Classical Texts], 1957


___________, Aristotle, Fundamentals of the History of His Development (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934(1), 1948(2))


With Galen, there appears the possibility of an esoteric tradition, at least in the means of transmission of knowledge. Teachers of medicine were jealous of their own insights, and participated in a sort of brotherhood of tradition, with a minimum of publishing. Numismanus, one of Galen’s teachers, is reported to have given lectures on anatomy based on earlier studies. He never published, but he did have books (lecture notes) which he passed on to his son and were read by Galen. Galen describes the Hippocratic anatomical tradition an oral one. Galen himself was unusual in this tradition in that he did not take students for the most part, but chose to publish or to debate instead. His published material, although intended for a circle, shows no doctrinal exclusivity. The Hippocratic tradition was very broad, and seems to include little really secret lore.


Perhaps some insight can be gained from looking at some Alexandrian models of teaching and traditions of materials. Zenodotus, famous Alexandrian critic and poet of the 3d century BCE, never published a monograph on his criteria for criticism, yet his successors talked freely about his critical theories. His was strictly an oral tradition noted by his pupils and passed on. That this practice persisted in Alexandria can be seen in Clement’s extensive apology for using the written form, rather than oral, in Strom. 1. On this use of oral tradition:


Rudolph Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968)


Diels & W. Schubert, Didymi Demosthene commenta H. cum anonymi in Aristocrateam (Leipzig: Teubner, (1904)


Philosophy came to Alexandria quite late; i.e. third century B.C.E., and did not really flourish until the third century C.E. There was much activity before that, and many other disciplines did flourish earlier. Since this tends to bracket out Philo, Clement, and Origen, as well as the middle Platonists, there seems to be a problem of where these authors got their material. A helpful source:


Peter M. Frazer, Ptolemaic Alexandria (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 3 vols.


Certainly the Pythagoreans and the Epicureans were distinct schools, with closely transmitted esoteric doctrines. The Epicureans met on private property, were quite close and secretive, and proved institutionally enduring, even to the second century C.E. However, we really do not know what went on and what was discussed in their tradition. The literature which was published was strictly for the general public, and is not especially enlightening. Since they were not a religious brotherhood, the Epicureans seem to have experienced a minimum of shifts in orthodoxy and solidarity.


The Pythagoreans, however, are another story. Their tradition is extremely confusing. All our sources are colored by later traditions, especially Platonic. A recent attempt to sort out the Pythagorean tradition:


Walter Burkert, Weisheit und Wissenschaft: Studien zu Pythagora Philas un Platon (Nurnberg: H. Carl, 1962) English translation by E.L. Minor, Jr.: Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972)


For the later Pythagorean tradition:


Holger Thesleff, An Introduction to the Pythagorean Writings of the Hellenistic Period (Abo: Abo Akedemi, 1961)


____________, The Pythagorean Writings of the Hellenistic Period (Abo: Abo Akedemi, 1965)


Unfortunately, many of the later texts are not particularly Pythagorean.. The Life of Pythagoras by Iamblichus cited by Bousset (p. 4) really gives only a common perception of Pythagoras in the late classical world. This, however, while not particularly helpful concerning Pythagoras, may be somewhat relevant for Origen and Clement.


Another line of inquiry which might be helpful would be a look at societies, fraternities, etc. of the classical period, to see how they formed, existed, and persevered.


Erich Ziebarth, Das grieschische Vereinswesen (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1896)


Franz Poland, Geschiche des griechischen Vereinswesens (Leipzig: Teubner, 1909)


Several assorted caveats for the study of ancient school activity:


1. It is difficult to determine just what is meant by publication in ancient times, and the reasons behind it. Normally, publication was for the book trade, but it can also refer to copies of something made for one’s self or one’s students. Remember also, not publishing can be a pedagogical technique, since it would tend to encourage (paying?) students in the flesh.


2. There is a distinct lack of continuity in the “schools” of classical antiquity. There is certainly no continuous institutional history of the Platonic Academy from Plato to the Neoplatonists. The break comes in the first century B.C.E. Seneca notes the fragmentation of the schools with scholars often floating between schools. However, with someone like Philo, who could simply be an individual genius, continuity might not be such an important factor.


Respectfully Submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of January 30, 1979, 7 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania


The third session of the 1978-79 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar was led in discussion of various passages of Bousset’s work by Martha Himmelfarb and John Gager, both of the Religion Department of Princeton University.


Book 1, Chapter 7: “De fuge et inventione,” pp. 127-134, Martha Himmelfarb


De fuge et inventione is Philo’s commentary on Genesis 16.6-9, 11-12. The initial section, on flight, treats three possible motives for flight. The first, shame, with Hagar as the example, is treated quite perfunctorily. The second motive, hatred, dwells on Jacob’s flight from Laban. The third, fear, concentrates on Jacob’s flight from Esau. These latter two passages are taken as allegories of the soul. The section is then concluded with an excursus on cities of refuge. Bousset concentrates his comments mainly on the third motive and conclusion, assuming that since motive two is repeated twice elsewhere in Philo, it must be taken for granted that it is school material, and not particularly characteristic of Philo.


According to Bousset, the problem with the third section is that it appears to advocate an anti-ascetic, worldly life, which is most unlike Philo’s usual outlook. Ordinarily, Philo seems to value the contemplative life, and is careful not to recommend the active life even as a way station to the life of contemplation. There are several ways to deal with such seeming contradiction:


According to E. R. Goodenough in The Politics of Philo Judaeus (New Haven: Yale University Press; London: H. Mulford, Oxford University Press, 1938), Philo was actually rather ambivalent about the contemplative life, as was much of Hellenism, so that the seeming contradiction might not be of much significance, or may simply indicate a difference of audience. Unfortunately, Goodenough may be underestimating the seriousness of the problem.


L. Massebieau and E. Brehier, in “Chronologie de la vie et des ouvres de Philon,” RHR 53 (1906), 25-64, 164-185, 267-289, a study cited here by Bousset, attempt to present a chronology of Philo’s works. For them, the non-allegorical works are early, and present solitude as a goal of life; the allegorical works come later, and advocate an active life. In works which come between the phases, Philo presents contemplation as a goal, but the practical life as a means to it.


Bousset sees this explanation as faulty, and claims that Philo must have used a pre-existent work, complete with title, and did not bother to rework it. However, the long passage on the cities of refuge is seen as genuine Philo. Bousset’s approach does seem to be somewhat circular, since it requires setting a data base (deciding what is the essence of Philo) and then using that to determine what really is genuinely Philonic.


The second section of De fuga et inventione is a discussion of finding, and lists four categories of finders: l) those who neither seek nor find, and (2) those who seek and find, and (3) those who seek and don’t find, and (4) those who find without seeking. According to Bousset this schema, as set forth, strongly implies that the second category is the most to be desired. However, in its actual working out in the text, the fourth category gets the larger billing and is more strongly praised. This sort of schema is paralleled in a passage in De Ebrietate 34-92, where four types of child-parent relationships are listed, and in which the introduction states that the fourth category is best but the discussion itself praises the second. Bousset sees both of these as evidence that Philo is using school materials for the framework, and then working against it in the text itself. It should be noted, however, that in much classical material it is not particularly unusual for a preface to bear little relationship to the material which follows, and even to suggest a scheme which is never carried out.


Book 3, Chapter 2: “Justin’s Dialogue and the First Apology,” pp. 282-308, John Gager


Bousset provides a classic example of the Quellenkritik phase of German scholarship as he attempts to break up the text of Justin into as many parts as possible, and then attribute them to different sources. His criteria:


(1) Specific terms used. In this chapter, Bousset cites Justin’s use of apomnhmoneumata for the synoptic gospels in only one section of the Dialogue, but also throughout the Apology.


(2) Internal References, such as when Justin or Trypho says, “Let us return to our topic” or the like.


(3) Literary analysis, discovering overlaps, repetitions, interruptions, digressions, failures to follow previous outlines, etc.


(4) Comparisons with other authors; noting, for example, a similar set of OT proof texts appearing in the same order in the Apology and the Dialogue or even in the Dialogue and in Irenaeus’ Demonstration. This would indicate a proof-text source.


From this sort of analysis, Bousset arrives at two conclusions:


(1) That Justin had at his disposal, before he began to write the Dialogue, a variety of smaller written sources.(2) That Justin used these written sources in an almost incomprehensibly clumsy and unintelligent manner.


Finally, Bousset argues that these sources, stemming in part from Justin but mostly from others, are used for other than their original purpose in the Dialogue. Specifically, Bousset states (not argues) that most if not all of these smaller units were lectures given by Justin in his didaskaleion, and that much of that material is not Justin’s but altchristliche Schuluberlieferung, i.e. early Christian school tradition, received from one teacher and passed on to another.


It must be noted that the entire force of Bousset’s argument depends on his purely literary analysis of the text, and on his image of Justin as an extraordinarily clumsy writer. If we suppose, simply for purposes of creating a counter case to Bousset, that Justin is not such an inept writer, and that some features of the Dialogue are not simply the result of his stupidity, then Bousset’s argument might encounter serious difficulties. The Dialogue is certainly no literary masterpiece, but it is possible, by using different starting points, different assumptions, and different techniques of analysis, to arrive at conclusions which both challenge and defeat efforts like those of Bousset. This has been done with other ancient Christian texts.


(1) The Gospel of Mark is often considered clumsy and inelegant. A reaction to this view has come through scholars including Donald Juel, Messiah and Temple: The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (Missoula: Scholars Press, SBL Dissertation Series 31), who make a strong case that the trial narrative is a cleverly constructed literary project, and not “clumsy” at all.


(2) Nag Hammadi treatise II.5, “On the origins of the World,” is often considered a hopeless confusion of sources; see the commentary by Alexander Bohlig in Die koptisch-gnostiche Schrift ohne Titel... (Berlin: Instituts f. Orientforschung d. Dt. Akademie der Wissenschaften, , 1962). However, in a French dissertation, “Trois mythes gnostiques,” Michel Tardieu applies a mythic analysis and sees the work as carefully and consistently constructed exposition.


(3) Bousset and others claim that Clement’s work is totally disjointed. However, John Ferguson in Clement of Alexandria (New York: Twayne publishers, 1974) and E. F. Osborn in The Philosophy of Clement of Alexandria (Cambridge: University Press, 1957) see Clement’s language as not confused, but as the only kind of language he could have used to express ideas of transcendental import.


All of this is not to say that Justin did not use sources, even written ones. It may be, however, that the style of literary criticism and source analysis typified by Bousset claims far more than it can produce. And even if Bousset’s analysis were correct, his basic argument has not been substantiated at all; i.e. that school traditions alone can account for the peculiar contents and structure of the Dialogue (and of writers from Philo to Irenaeus). Bousset does not even argue this case, and his conclusions take on the image of a vicious circularity.


There are several other assumptions of Bousset which seen rather strange:


(1) He claims that the “true” Philo, Clement, Justin, etc. are found only in material totally unborrowed; i.e. uniquely theirs. This is an unusual notion of human personality.


(2) He claims that both Philo and Justin sought means to make their books longer by citing whole passages and not verses, and thereby losing continuity. This sounds more like the writing of a 20th century dissertation than an early Christian work.


(3) He claims that Philo and Clement both showed more allegiance to Greek tradition in their earlier years (the “folly of youth”) and then outgrew it.




During the discussion following Dr. Gager’s presentations some attempts were made to rehabilitate Bousset, with perhaps minimal success. It was mentioned that source criticism was by no means a modern invention. Note, for example, the dispute carried out on stylistic grounds between Julius Africanus and Origen over whether the story of Susannah is part of the book of Daniel. Note also, in the cited case of the Gospel of Mark, that the earliest mention of the “disjointedness” comes from Papias, and is not modern either. To the latter, it was rejoined that because Papias was closer to Mark in time does not give him the edge on criticism. Besides, the thirty or so words we have of Papias are not really enough to determine much about what he really thought.


There seems to have been at least some literary tradition in the ancient world which saw such “clumsy” and “disjointed” literature as proper and indeed, quite clever. Origen seems to have sought such a style. In fact, the whole genre of miscellanies, defying any attempt at structure, was highly prized.


Suppose that Bousset were right in his criticism. This would have an immense impact on the traditional place of Philo as an original thinker. Would that, however, belittle Philo, or would it be seeking continuity in the Judaism which he represents? Remember, both Harnack and Goodenough considered it impossible that authors like Philo could possibly have written all that by themselves.


In the discussion, it became clear that except for the case of Clement, who himself claims some sort of school tradition, the burden of proof is entirely upon Bousset to show that the sources used by the authors he cites are school tradition. In most cases, he offers no evidence, and does not even list helpful criteria.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of March 6. 1979, 7 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania


The fourth session of the 1978-79 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar was led in discussions of various sections of Bousset’s work by Janet Timbie of Dumbarton Oaks Institute and by David Efroymson of LaSalle College.


Book 2, Chapter 2: “The Nature of the Source,” pp. 174-190, Janet Timbie


Book 2, Chapter 1 sets out to prove that there is a text uncovered within Clement’s Excerpts ex Theodoto, Eclogae propheticae and Stromata 6-7, in those sections of each work which seem to have more to do with each other than with their surrounding material. Chapter 2 attempts to characterize this source, Before discussing that, it would probably be best to review the argument of Chapter 1.


The basis of Bousset’s work here is an article by Paul Collomp (see PSCO 16.1). Collomp contends that the Excerpta, Eclogae, and the rest of Stromata 8 are notebooks used by Clement or writing the rest of the Stromata, using various sources not written by Clement himself. This conclusion is based on the identification of “unClementine” passages which stress such themes as (a) the corporeality of God (see Exc. 10-16 in contrast to Strom. 6.163.l), (b) a class of angels called protoktistoi, (c) a particular kind of divine hierarchy, and (d) a projection onto the cosmos of the male-female opposition. Collomp leaves the question open as to the source of this material, although he sees similarities with parts of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, and posits a common source. As to authorship, Collomp finds even less to work on, and concludes only a common Egyptian character to the work,


Bousset, in Book 2, Chapter 1, finds it possible to add to Collomp’s “source,” and in Chapter 2 attempts to characterize it. Some of his observations are quite good, although he does not always carry them through consistently. He finds a connection with a four-part heavenly hierarchy, including the protoktistoi, in On the Mysteries of the Egyptians 1. But that work is late, probably dating to end of the 4th century, and its attribution to Iamblichus is undoubtedly in error.


Bousset tries the Hermetic writings and finds some similarites, including the notion of an adversary relationship between fws and pur, a characteristic which he has discovered for the “source.” Likewise, there are similarities with certain neo-pythagorean writings. He even finds a reference to protoktistoi in the Shepherd of Hermas, although closer examination will find this questionable. Finally, he characterizes the “source” as “gnosis” in the broadest sense, which would account for the neutral or favorable references to Valentinian ideas. This “gnosis” includes the ideas of Christ as a separate essence, of two classes of believers, of the sinlessness of the perfect, and the notion that the “few” possess special wisdom. All of these ideas are also in the Stromata. In the next chapter, Bousset determines that the source of the notebooks was Clement’s teacher, Pantaenus.


In his arguments, Bousset follows Collomp too casually, and does not address the possibility that the material in question could actually all have come from Clement, as summaries of his reading, exegesis, criticism, etc., and could reflect changes in his views over the years. Bousset’s characterization of the source as “Hellenistic gnosis,” not in the sense of the popular movement known from the second century inside and outside Christianity, but in the sense of of an attitude evolving since the first century B.C.E., is too broad to have much meaning. It would encompass Plutarch, the Chaldean oracles, the loose Platonic world view of the first and second centuries, the Mysteries, the Pseudo-Clementines, the Shepherd of Hermas, and almost anything else from Egyptian milieu.


Bousset’s problem would seem to be misdirection. Once he decides that the “source” cannot come from Clement, he tries to characterize it in order to identify its author. However, the Egyptian background of Pantaenus, whom he finally settles on, would fit Clement equally as well.




During the discussion following Dr. Timbie’s presentation, the feeling was expressed that the basis of Bousset’s argument was quite proper, that school materials could be a source for Clement and others, and that in fact Clement acknowledges this. However, the source-critical mind-set of this particular investigator tends to lead him further than wise scholarship would indicate. One member is beginning to see a pattern in which Bousset depends heavily on the work of other scholars, in almost every case taking good work and relaying it inadequately, and then going beyond it in a most problematic way.


Book 3, Chapter 1: “Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses,” pp. 272-282, David Efromson


Leaving Alexandria, Bousset wonders if the Schulbetrieb key might fit other materials as well. In Books 4 and 5 of Irenaeus’ Adversus Haereses, he “finds this kind of an insight useful.” His starting point is an article by Adolph von Harnack, “Der Presbyter-Prodiger des Irenaeus,” Philotesis Paul Kleinert zum LXX geburtstag (Berlin: Trowitzsch, 1907) pp. 1-37. Harnack feels that Adv. Haer. 4.27-32 seems to stand out from the rest of the material because of a number of references to a “presbyter” and his teaching. He then lists a number of characteristics of this special material. Bousset adds to these insights. He feels that 4.27-32 interrupts the whole flow of Book 4. To him, 4.20 ff. is an integrated whole refuting Marcion’s view of prophesy, interrupted several times, however, by other material. The “presbyter” material is found in 4.27-32, and a discourse on human liberty in 4.37-39. Similar separate units may be found in Book 5: a passage on the antichrist in 5.25-30, and one on the millennium in 5.31-36. Bousset concentrates in this chapter on the “presbyter” insertion.


Harnack felt that Adv. Haer. 4..31.1 designated the “presbyter” material as a sermon. Bousset, however, utilizing also the letter of Irenaeus to Florinus in Eusebius, H.E. 5.20.6, where Irenaeus speaks of the discourses of the presbyter Polycarp, feels he has found a clear clue that material in school lectures. Other scholars have found separate material in this portion of Irenaeus. Friedrich Loofs, in “Theophilus von Antiochien adversus Marcionem...” (TU 46.2, 1930), sees separate material, but only two individual treatises. Andre Benoit, in Saint Irenee (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1960), says that a strong case can be made for the “presbyter” section being something from somebody like Polycarp, as can also the whole section on prophecy.


If the question is whether or not Irenaeus has inherited blocks of material, there would seem to be no real problem. There is very good evidence for something from the “outside” being inserted. However, if the question is whether or not the inherited material is from a school tradition, Bousset has done nothing to establish his argument. His only real piece of evidence is from Harnack, and he disagrees with Harnack as to what the material is.




The discussion following this presentation turned away from Bousset’s arguments and attempted to understand Bousset himself. What could be the source of his arguments? What is he arguing against?


It was suggested that perhaps Bousset was reacting against those who were claiming that Justin and others were great writers, or against those Conservatives intent on harmonization of the fathers. Another possibility could be that in the very nature of source criticism, he found it necessary to credit a larger body of source materials from which to discern the Graeco-Roman world. The discussion was not particularly conclusive.


 Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of March 29, 1979, 7 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania


A special session of the 1978-79 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar heard a presentation by Birger Pearson of the University of California at Santa Barbara.




The Testimony of Truth (Nag Hammadi Corpus IX.3), Birger Pearson


The Nag Hammadi tractate, The Testimony of Truth, has survived in fragmentary condition. Even though almost half of the text has been lost, mostly in the latter portions, it is possible to reconstruct most of the document. It appears to be in two distinct parts: (I) A Homily addressed to an audience with the ability to listen “spiritually” on the subject of “truth” vs. “the Law,” and the salvation that is offered to those who embrace the truth; (II) Additional material developing themes that were set forth in I, utilizing various sources and addressed to a wider audience. A brief summary of the tractate follows.


I. Homily on the Word of Truth (29.6-45.6)


A. Spiritual truth vs. the Law (29.6-31.22). This appeal to those who are capable of perceiving spiritual truth advocates radical encratism tied to a total rejection of “the Law.” In this context, “the Law” is the whole system of carnal generation summed up in the command to marry and procreate. As a sign that the dominion of “the Law” has come to an end, witness the descent of the Son of Man from Imperishability and the “turning back” of the waters of the Jordan at his coming, an implicit rejection of water baptism.


B. Salvific knowledge vs. vain hopes (31.22-38.27). Two examples of the errors of “the foolish” (Catholic Christians) are given. One is their willingness to suffer martyrdom for their faith, a result of the foolish notion that the Father desires human sacrifice. The other is their expectation of a carnal resurrection contrasted to the true, spiritual resurrection; i.e. the knowledge of the Son of Man, which is the true self-knowledge,, and which alone brings “perfect life.”


C. Virginity vs. feminine carnality (37.27-41.4). The tractate again stresses the necessity for a radical rejection of everything pertaining to carnal generation. The descent of the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism is seen an a sign of Jesus’ virginal birth, which in turn is seen as a paradigm for the virginal existence required of those who are “born again by the word.” This life-giving word divides light from darkness, corruptibility from incorruptibility, and masculinity (spirituality) from femininity (pleasure). The “dividing” power of the “word of the cross” is derived from a daring allegory on the sawing asunder of the prophet Isaiah.


D. Archetypical Man and his salvation (41.4-44.30). The capstone of the homily is a description of the career of the archetypical gnostic “man,” beginning with his renunciation of the world, through self-examination and the subjugation of desire, his acquisition of saving knowledge and of a strategy for existence in this world, and finally his entrance into the realm of Imperishability whence he came.


E. Conclusion (44.30-45.6)


II. Appended Miscellanea (45.6-74.30)


A. The mystery of the births of John the Baptist and Christ (45.6-22). The author contrasts the meaning of Jesus’ virginal birth with that of John’s from a “womb worn with age,” propounding the Valentinian doctrine that “Christ passed through a virgin’s womb.”


B. A midrash on the serpent of Genesis 3 (45.23-49). Our author is probably using a previously-existing source, although modifying it somewhat. This gnostic midrash focuses on the serpent, who emerges as the revealer of life and knowledge, in contrast to “God,” who is portrayed as a malevolent and ignorant demon. It may reflect a very early (pre-Christian?) stage of “Ophite” Gnosticism, and is clearly influenced by the Jewish haggadic interpretation of scripture.


C. Life in Christ versus death in Adam (49.10-50.28). After establishing that the saving principle symbolized by the serpent is really Christ, our author proceeds to discuss the nature of the true faith. He draws a strict contrast between those belonging to Adam and those belonging to Christ.


D. On heresies and schisms (54[?]-74.30). The rest of the work is governed by a polemical “anti-heretical” thrust, directed against other religious groups in addition to the Catholic Christians, Accusations of heresy are made against Valentinian gnostics, Basilidians, and perhaps Simonians. It is probable that the author had first-hand knowledge of at least some of the groups whose doctrines and practices he attacks. While the last portion of the tractate is in very fragmentary condition, it is clear that the “anti-heretical” thrust predominates until the end. Catholic Christians are attacked for various reasons, including their use of water baptism. Other groups may be included in the condemnations.


It is clear from the beginning that our tractate is the product of one who earnestly believed that his version of the Christian faith and praxis is the only true one. It is a completely “gnostic” work, in the full technical sense of that term, even though no full-blown cosmogonic myth is contained in it. The author is strongly influenced by Valentinian gnosticism, even though he simultaneously regards that form of gnosticism as foremost among the “heretics” and “schismatics.’’


There are strong indications of an Alexandrian milieu, including evidence of the influence of Hellenistic-Jewish speculative wisdom, of which Philo of Alexandria is the most important representative, as well as of Platonic philosophy. The informed discussion of well-known gnostic teachers and groups datable to the mid second century gives us a terminus a quo, and the references to martyrdom give us a terminus ad quem of 313, the Edict of Milan. It may be possible to be more specific, however.


I would suggest that we can see in Testim. Truth a reflex of the theological struggle between the adherents of a new “orthodoxy” represented by ecclesiastical leaders such as Demetrius and Christian teachers such as Clement of Alexandria versus the gnostic or gnosticising Christianity which was so powerfully represented in Egypt before Demetrius’ episcopacy. Our author seems also to inveigh against other gnostic groups, especially the Valentinians, even while he reveals his own Valentinian background. If we now inquire from our patristic sources as to the existence in Alexandria at the end of the second century or the beginning of the 3d of former Valentinians who held out both against Valentinians and against Catholic Christians for a strict abstinence from sexual contact, we encounter the name of one Julius Cassianus (see Strom. 1.10l; 3.91, 93, 95, 102, and perhaps 3.86, 87). Clement’s descriptions of Cassianus and his teachings fit exceedingly well, down to explicit details, the view of the author of Testim. Truth. It would not be unreasonable to suggest Julius Cassianus, or at least one of his intimate followers, as the author.




During the discussion following the presentation attention was drawn to some unique, or at least singular, features of this treatise. One of the most striking is the reflection of Psalm 114 (113) in 30.18-31.5, where Jesus/Joshua turns back the waters of the Jordan. Although the imagery of Joshua and the Jordan is not unusual, even for “heretical” material (e.g., the magical papyri and the Mandean materials), this would seem to be the only instance in which the Son of Man turns back the Jordan, and in which the Jordan is allegorized negatively. The source for this could hardly be in Catholic Christianity, since the whole image rejects water baptism.,


Most unusual is the midrash on Genesis 3 found in 45.23-49.10. Here, where the serpent is presented as Christ, is a rereading of the text without any Christian reflex, but containing much material which reflects Jewish haggadic exegetical tradition. This might suggest its source in a Jewish community turned gnostic in a direct line, bypassing Christianity. The Aramaic overtones in the language suggest Syria as its locus. For further insight on this possibility, see Kurt Rudolph, Die Gnosis (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977).


The arguments against orthodoxy given by a gnostic are not particularly unique. For parallels from the Nag Hammadi texts, see The Apocalypse of Peter (VII.3), The 2d Treatise of the Great Seth (VII.2), which may be against other gnostics rather than orthodoxy, The Apocryphon of John (III.1), as well as the Pistis Sophia and other sources which argue against water baptism. This material strengthens the arguments of Walter Bauer in Orthodoxy and Heresy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971; a translation by the PSCO of Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei [Tubigen: Mohr/ Siebeck, 1934(1), 1964(2)]) concerning the unclarity in which early Christianity found itself.


It should be noted that in the context of Testim. Truth, “the Law” is not Torah, but the whole principle of cosmic order. The true gnostic is not only free from the Law, but is bound not to follow it in order to show contempt for the god of the Law. In this, the author seems to be influenced by the Valentinians.


The relationship of this treatise to Paul is decidedly mixed. There would seem to be a direct line from Paul’s opponents of 1 Corinthians 15 to these arguments, but there is also a direct line from Paul’s own arguments. Testim. Truth makes a more natural use of Paul than other gnostic works, including the use of direct quotes and other reflections of his wording. Since this treatise also quotes extensively from other NT books, especially John, this would not seem to point to a Pauline school of Gnosticism, but illustrates ways in which Paul was victimized by the gnostics.


Can all this be traced to school traditions? The evidence is mixed. There is, of course, a heavy dependence on earlier traditions, including those of Philo, However, the use of an earlier topos is not evidence of a school tradition, but might only reflect the commonplaces of the Alexandrian philosophical milieu. There is mention of the “course of Valentinus” in 56.1-5, which could be a school reference, The author himself seems to be director of an “in” group, as leader of a community, school, conventicle, or something. We are aware of such groups in second century Alexandria.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1978-79: W. Bousset’s Study of Ancient School Activity in Alexandria and Rome.

Meeting of April 24, 1979, 7 p.m., Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania


The final session of the 1978-79 Seminar was convened by co-chairperson Robert A. Kraft. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar heard presentations on various sections of Bousset’s work by John White of La Salle College and Daniel R. Bechtel of Dickenson College.


Book 2, Chapter 3: “The Origin of the Source-fragments in the Excerpta and Ecologae. Pantaenus,” pp. 190-198. Book 2, Chapter 4: “Clement and the Alexandria Catechetical School Tradition” pp. 198-204. Book 2, Chapter 7: “Another Source of Clement (Pantaenus?), Especially in Stromata 6 and 7,” pp. 236-248, John White


In the Excerpta and the Ecologae, Clement occasionally, even often, leaves considerable doubt in the mind of the reader as to where he is reproducing the thought of another and where he is presenting his own ideas. Bousset begins this section with an examination of Ecologae 56 where, following Collomp [see PSCO 16.1], he sees rather striking evidence of a consistent source running from 42-65. The source is identified not only by philosophical content, but also by fhsi, “he says,” which inadvertently (?) was dropped in 56.6. Bousset traced this section earlier to Pantaenus. Robert Casey [see PSCO 16.1] takes rather strong exception to Bousset’s thesis here, unfortunately oversimplifying Bousset in the process. There would seem to be good evidence that Pantaenus’ (or somebody’s) works are inserted at this point, although Bousset may be overstating his case by insisting that there could be no intermediate sources. Bousset attempts to do the same sort of analysis on Excerpta 28. He discovers a source, probably not Pantaenus, but certainly from the Alexandrian Milieu, and perhaps the Alexandrian catechetical school.


In Book 2, Chapter 4, Bousset argues that Clement did not, for the most part, change the borrowed material he used in the Ecologae, the Excerpta, and the Hypotyposeis, but simply collected them as his notes. Like most commentators, Bousset argues that the-so-called 8th book of the Stromata got its name from the arbitrariness of tradition, and was never intended as a part of the Stromata, or of any larger work with a broader context. He then argues that there are clearly non-Valentinian passages in the Excerpta. His argument is less convincing, and is challenged by Casey (p. 154).


In Book 2, Chapter 7, we seem to have an analysis of sources in Stromata 6 and 7. Bousset finds Clement himself in 6.62.4 to 6.68.1, an apology in favor of Greek philosophy. This calls to mind directly the only other part of the Stromata which Bousset is sure belongs to Clement: the first half of Book 1. The other sources found by Bousset can be listed: (a) a “gnostic” source; (b) a Theft of the Greeks text; (c) a “paradoxes” source; (d) Kerygma of Peter source on the worship of the Greeks; (e) a “journey to Hades and universal salvation” source; (f) a “branches of Paideia” source; (g) a “Decalogue” source; and (h) a “Christian” source. The most extensive of these sources is the “gnostic” claimed by Bousset to be derived from Pantaenus, which broadly differentiates gnostics and pistics, as well as lists the qualities of the true gnostic.




During the discussion which followed this presentation, it was noted that Bousset and Casey were both limited to the accounts of Irenaeus and Tertullian for their knowledge of Valentianism. In the light of the Valentinian documents published since, it may be that an analysis of what in the Excerpta is from Theodotion and what is not cannot really be based on whether or not the material is “Valentinian.” Consistency does not seem to be a quality endemic to the Valentinian outlook. Nevertheless, Bousset has found some real problems of consistency between the “Clementine” material and the rest. There is a case here for Clement’s use of sources wholesale, and the school-tradition solution is probably more applicable here than elsewhere.


Book 2, Chapter 5: “The Incorporation of the Textbook on the ‘The Theft of the Greeks’ into the Stromata,” pp. 205-218, Daniel R. Bechtel


Bousset’s chapter on Clement’s use of the textbook, Theft of the Greeks. raises two types of questions: (1) about the adequacy of Bousset’s methodology; and (2) about the impact of his source criticism upon the interpretation of Clement’s understanding of Greek philosophy. Bousset has a tendency to paraphrase large sections of the text he is using and then analyzing these subsequent abstractions. However, if certain conflicts cannot be seen except through the use of paraphrases and abstracting summaries, they should probably not be taken as signs either of the author’s disordered process of thinking or of his use of contradictory sources.


From Book 1 of the Stromata, Bousset isolates what are, to him, a number of conflicting opinions about the aim of philosophy. He finds philosophy described as truth, as partial truth received from the Devil, as either truth or a useful tool stolen by the Greeks from Moses, and sometimes as something wholly evil. Such contradictions lead Bousset to posit multiple sources..


In the beginning of Book 2 of the Stromata, Clement lists his agenda, including much of what would involve the theft of the Greeks. However, he does not follow through in Book 2, but brings up the items, in a different order, only in Book 4, 5, and 6. To Bousset, this means that Clement was introducing materials from another source; i.e. an extensive, previously integrated wok including the outline of arguments to follow which begins Book 2. Where would such a large body of material come from which seems so antithetical to Clement’s own views, and which interrupts his promised plan for the book? Bousset proposes that Clement used an assembled textbook derived from the school activity of the Alexandrian catechetical school, and entitled by him Theft of the Greeks


For Bousset, any contradiction is an indication of conflicting sources rather than either a manifestation of the process of Clement’s own thinking or his conscious choice of the method of using paradoxical statements or ideas held in tension as a way to the truth beyond expression. Bousset has a tendency to judge the coherence of the Clementine text in terms of a modern concept of rationality. However, the lack of such rationality tends to introduce problems of the author’s intentions or stupidity. To get around this, the idea of the use of venerated and authoritative school notes and textbooks lies readily at hand and is, to Bousset, the only reasonable and psychologically acceptable explanation for contradictions and gaps in Clement’s argument.


We should not discount that there is a real problem in the Stromata caused by the premise in 2.1 of a certain treatment in a certain order, and then the interjection of a vast amount of seemingly unrelated material before the subject is treated in a different order. There remains the possibility, however, that Clement was dealing with the material in a chiastic order; i.e., an aesthetically pleasing A-B-C-C-B-A order, with the “extraneous” material at the cross of the chiastic pattern. Clement may indeed have had a more subtle and comprehensive scheme in mind and was trying to focus our attention on the material in the center.


The effect of Bousset’s analysis is that Clement is turned into a proponent of the view that philosophy is generally a good source of truth. In addition, he is portrayed as a young scholar who has never lost the disabling awe he had for his teachers and whose thought and literary style suffer as a consequence. What is gained by Bousset’s argument is not much. We are introduced to a coherent argument that the Greeks stole from the Hebrews, but we already knew that the argument was present in Alexandria, and our appreciation of it is not enhanced by calling it a school tradition.


Three scholars have explored Bousset’s discussion of Theft of the Greeks in their larger concern to understand Clement’s views an Greek philosophy. Johannes Munck [see PSCO 16.1], pp. 136-147, severely criticizes Bousset’s analysis. The concept of the theft of the Greeks is far too pervasive in the Stromata to be a special source introduced, as Bousset claims, after the first draft of the work. Munck notes three perspectives which can be helpful in understanding the deviations and contradictions in the Stromata: (a) The style itself does not necessitate that a single theme may be taken up and concluded. (b) Sources play a conscious role in the compositional activity of Clement, but we do not know the extent to which they are modified by Clement. (c) Clement uses the idea of philosophy with various nuances, involving a fluctuation of meaning which was typical of his time and occurs throughout his work. Munck feels that Bousset’s source analysis was flawed by his failure to find adequate controls for determining the limits of the source, and by his failure to produce any fruitful results in the understanding of the literature.


Einar Molland discusses Bousset’s work in “Clement of Alexandria on the Origin of Greek Philosophy,” SO 15-16 (1936), 57-85. His thesis: “Clement must reject all theories which do not make God the ultimate author of philosophy. He retains applications which are satisfactory on  this point without submitting them to comparison and criticism in order to attain a final theory.” Molland rejects Bousset’s view that the sources used by Clement can be identified as a composed, integrated whole, and also the view that Clement introduced conflict into his own purer logic by using such a source. In one other regard, Molland criticizes Bousset: Bousset claims that Clement gave four opinions concerning the origin of philosophy and treated them all as if spoken by his opponents. Molland sees the fourth view as Clement’s, and so finds an order leading to a definite climax which fits Clement’s views. See also Molland’s The Conception of the Gospel in the Alexandrian Theology (Oslo: I Kommisjon hos J. Dybwad, 1938).


The most recent work on Clement and his cultural background is by Salvatore R. C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: a study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971). Even though he praises Bousset for his analysis of the sections of the Stromata dealing with the origin of Greek philosophy, Lilla’s own conclusions do not confirm this praise, Lilla finds evidence of the many confusing views on Greek philosophy in Clement’s cultural background in Jewish-Alexandrian philosophy, and in the background shared by Justin. Clement saw no need to choose a solution to the problem of the origin of philosophy, as long as he agreed with Philo and Justin in showing some identities between Greek philosophy and scripture.


Lilla does not deny the possibility of Clement’s using composed materials. He finds the central issue to be Clement’s agreement with the approaches of Philo and Justin, and his apparent lack of concern over what a nineteenth or twentieth century scholar would see as contradictions. By denying the idea of contradictions, Lilla undercuts Bousset’s method for isolating and identifying the textbook, Theft of the Greeks. In all, Clement is no more or less self contradictory than the Alexandrian-Jewish and Middle Platonic background from which he draws.




During the discussion following the presentation, members of the Seminar found some problems with the idea of a chiastic structure in the Stromata. There does not seem to be quite enough follow-up, or even consistency in the reverse order suggested for the material. It may be that the introduction to Book 2, which lists Clement’s intentions, should not be taken seriously at all, since it was not at all uncommon in ancient times to promise more than was delivered in literary works. However, here Clement does follow his declared intentions, even if much later and in another order. We should remember that Clement’s declared purpose for the Stromata is to get down in writing the ideas from great people, regardless of their content.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary