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Jewish-Christian Interpretation of the Pentateuch in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies

By Donald H. Carlson

Publication Year: 2013

The pseudo-Clementine writings are one of the most intriguing and valuable sources for early Jewish Christianity. They offer a second- or third-century polemic against the form of Christianity that eventually won out, the Gentile-majority, law-free Christianity that took Paul as its champion. Carlson's interest here is in the highly unusual theory expressed in the Homilies that the Pentateuch is saturated with “false pericopes,” and that the teaching of Jesus, the “true prophet,” is the criterion for establishing what the Pentateuch really means. This, creative study examines the pseudo-Clementine writings and sheds light on our understanding of the early Jewish followers of Jesus.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies represent an important witness to “Jewish Christianity” during the third and fourth centuries, and they likely preserve traditions from an even earlier era. This peculiar body of writings offers a distinct approach to the interpretation of the Pentateuch. It is the goal of this study to give a detailed account of the theory of exegesis put forth by the...


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pp. ix-xvi

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1. Overview of Previous Scholarship

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pp. 1-12

Most of our knowledge about “Jewish Christianity” in antiquity is dependent on patristic heresiological sources. But in addition to these, the Pseudo- Clementine Homilies and the Recognitions (hereafter Hom. and Rec.) occupy a special place. For they are widely recognized as a few of the most important primary sources for gaining something of a firsthand knowledge of Jewish...

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2. The Rejection of Allegorism

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pp. 13-50

The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies (in twenty discourses) and Recognitions (in ten books) present a life of Clement of Rome (fl. 96 ce). The overarching narrative framework tells of Clement’s quest to be reunited with his estranged family. Within this narrative, and at the outset of the tale, Clement happens to meet up with the apostle Peter, who quickly becomes Clement’s beloved...

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3. The Theory of the False Pericopes

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pp. 51-76

The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies maintain a general concern for the sensus litteralis of the Scriptures. As such, allegorical interpretation is not accepted. We saw in the previous chapter that when it comes to Greek myth, allegorism is deemed irrelevant; when it comes to the Pentateuch, allegorism is altogether rejected (owing in part to its association with pagan myth) on the grounds that...

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4. The True Prophet’s Teaching as an Exegetical Criterion

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pp. 77-110

Like the theory of the false pericopes, another trademark of this peculiar literature is the idea that correct interpretation of Scripture is not possible apart from a knowledge of the True Prophet’s teaching.1 According to the Homilist,

διὸ πρὸ πάντων τὸν....

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5. Oral Tradition as an Exegetical Criterion

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pp. 111-136

I have noted that the Homilist takes a “literalist” approach to the interpretation of the Pentateuch. Allegorism is therefore categorically rejected. I am proposing that, according to the Homilist, a proper management of Scripture requires the use of three “external” criteria. In the previous chapter, I discussed the first of these, according to which the True Prophet’s teaching functions as an...

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6. The Harmony Criterion

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pp. 137-214

The present study seeks to offer a coherent account of the exegetical theory put forth in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. So far, I have examined the Homilist’s rejection of allegorism. We have seen that the Homilist also postulates the existence of various false pericopes embedded within the Pentateuch. I am proposing that, according the Homilist, these “false pericopes” are to be...

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7. Summary and Conclusion

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pp. 215-220

Charles Bigg wrote long ago,

The interest of the Homilies is mainly doctrinal and historical. Where and by whom were these strange doctrines preached? What is their origin and lineage? [What is] their relation to the Gnostic heresies, and to the Catholic Church? . . . The overthrow of the Tübingen School by the critical and historical methods, of which Dr. Harnack...


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pp. 221-240

Index of Names and Subjects

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pp. 241-244

Index of Greek Terms

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pp. 245-246

Index of Ancient Sources

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pp. 247-250

Back Cover

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p. 268-268

E-ISBN-13: 9781451469677
E-ISBN-10: 1451469675
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699772
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699777

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013