I Clement and Canon

While doing some reading for my independent study in the Apostolic Fathers, I came across this interesting nugget in I Clement (ca. 80-90 CE):

“May this Scripture be far removed from us that says: ‘How miserable are those who are two minds, who doubt in their soul, who say, “We have heard these things from the time of our parents, and look! We have grown old, and none of these things has happened to us.” You fools! Compare yourselves to a tree. Take a vine: first it sheds its leaves, then a bud appears, then a leaf, then a flower, and after these an unripe grape, and then an entire bunch fully grown.” (I Clement 23:3-4)

If you search your Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) or New Testament, you will be surprised to find that this “Scripture”–as the author of I Clement refers to it–is nowhere to be found! The source is currently unknown to scholarship, but I Clement‘s quotation of it as Scripture serves as a very nice illustration of just how open and “in flux” notions of canon were prior to the fourth century.

It is interesting to note also that I Clement itself was considered to be “Scripture” by Clement of Alexandria (2nd century CE) and was included as part of the New Testament in the 5th century Bible, Codex Alexandrinus.

ImagePhotographic Facsimiles of the Remains of the Epistles of Clement of Rome. Made from the Unique Copy Preserved in the Codex Alexandrinus.