Clemens, Romanus

is said to have been born at Rome, where he probably became the companion and fellow labourer of St. Paul; and was one of those, as it is generally imagined, whom St. Paul mentions as having their “names written in the book of life.Origen calls him a disciple of St. Peter; and it is not unlikely that he might aid and assist this apostle in founding the church at Rome. It is certain, that he was afterwards bishop of that see; but when he was made so, cannot be clearly determined. Some follow the authority of Tertullian and Eusebius, that Clemens was consecrated by St. Peter, but admitted at first to preside over that part only of the church which comprised the Jewish converts; and that he did not come into the full possession and administration of his office till the death of Linus, who had been ordained by St. Paul, bishop of the Gentile church, and of Anacletus, who succeeded him: and this has been fixed to the year 93. Others have contended, that Clemens succeeded to the care of the whole church in the year 64 or 65, and that he held it to the year 81, or, as others again will have it, 83; but all this, with the other circumstances of this father’s life, are matters of conjecture.

We have nothing remaining of his works, of whose genuineness we can be certain, excepting one epistle, which Dr. Lardner thinks was written in the year 95 or 96. It was written to the church of Corinth, in the name of the church of Rome, to quiet some disturbances which had been raised by unruly brethren in the former; and to reestablish and confirm them in that faith which had been delivered to them by the apostles, but from which some of them had revolted. This epistle has usually been esteemed one of the most valuable monuments which have come down to us of ecclesiastical antiquity, and affords ample testimony to the antiquity, genuineness, or authority of the books of the New Testament, while it bears itself all the characters of primitive simplicity. References to, and quotations from it, are often to be found among the early writers for Christianity. Here Clemens exhorts the Corinthians to be united, and at peace with one another he enjoins obedience particularly, and submission to their | spiritual governors he declares those who had formed cabals against their pastors s and had troubled the church with their seditions, utterly unworthy of the name of Christians: he points out to them the fatal consequences of such divisions: he presses them to return immediately to their duty, by submitting to their rightful pastors, and practising all humility, kindness, and charity one towards another.

The only manuscript copy of this epistle, which exists in the world, as far as we know, is in the British Museum, written on vellum, and bound up with the Alexandrian Bible. It is said to have been written by Thecla, a woman of rank, in the fourth century, which shows how highly it was esteemed as far down as. the council of Nice. When Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, was translated to the patriarchate of Constantinople, in the seventeenth century, he brought with him out of Egypt a valuable collection of manuscripts, and among them this copy of the Bible and Clemens’s Epistle, which he generously sent as a most valuable present to king Charles I. by sir Thomas Roe, at that time his majesty’s ambassador at the Porte. The first edition of it was printed at Oxford, by P. Junius, Gr. and Lat. 1633, 4to, again by Dr. Fell, Gr. and Laf. ibid. 1677, and at London, 1687, 8vo, by Paul Colornesius; but the best is said to be that by Wotton, Gr. and Lat. Cambridge, 1718, 8vo. The first English translation was by William Burton in 1647, and afterwards by abp. Wake, a fourth edition of which was printed in 1737, with the epistles of the other apostolic fathers. We know of no other English translation, unless a very scarce and beautifully printed one, by an anonymous author, Aberdeen, 1768, 12mo, more literal than Wake’s, and with a very sensible preface. Other writings are attributed to Clemens, particularly a second epistle, but none of them are considered as genuine. 1