First Clement Soteriology.doc - The Concept of Salvation in First Clement The letter of the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth also known as First

First Clement Soteriology.doc - The Concept of Salvation in...

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The Concept of Salvation in First Clement The letter of the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth, also known as First Clement , is one of the earliest surviving Christian writings. On the basis of internal evidence and external attestation, contemporary scholarship tends to date this text to the last decade(s) of the first century 1 . Biblical scholarship values 1 Clement especially for the light it casts upon the reception process of the Hebrew Scriptures and the early Christian materials that later formed the New Testament. However, the importance of this writing is far greater than this. A precious witness to the formative period of the early Jesus movement, it provides valuable information concerning its author’s views on a variety of topics, including the theme of salvation, which is the focus of this volume. The concept of salvation in 1 Clement , however, has been interpreted very differently by various scholars. Whereas some have argued that Clement’s soteriology “ist völlig theozentrisch” so that Christ could be completely removed from it 2 , others have maintained that Christ and especially His suffering belong to the core of this author’s teaching 3 . In order to appreciate the message of 1 Clement better and deal with its various interpretations, including those mentioned above, we need to address the questions of its content and genre first. I. Purpose and Genre of First Clement 1 Clement is an extensive epistle written on behalf of the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth 4 . The unity of style indicates that this text was written by one single author, whose name, however, does not appear in the letter itself. An ancient Christian tradition ascribes this writing to Clement, a bishop of Rome 5 . The occasion of the epistle was a 1 For a useful summary of discussions on the question of dating, see A. Gregory , Disturbing Trajectories: 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Development of Early Roman Christianity, in: P. Oakes (ed.), Rome in the Bible and the Early Church (Carlisle 2002) 142-166. Cf. L. L. Welborn , The Date of First Clement, BR 29 (1985) 34-54. K. Erlemann , Die Datierung des ersten Klemensbriefes - Anfragen an eine Communis Opinio, NTS 44 (1998) 591-607. A. Jaubert , Clément de Rome: Épître aux Corinthiens. Réimpression de la premi ère édition revue et corrigée, SC 167 (Paris 2000) 15-23. 2 So H. Räisänen , ‘Werkgerechtigkeit’ — Eine ‘frühkatholische’ lehre? Überlegungen zum 1. Klemensbrief, Studia Theologica - Scandinavian Journal of Theology 37 (1983) 79-99 here 88. 3 E.g. E. W. Fisher , ‘Let Us Look Upon the Blood of Christ’ (1 Clement 7:4), VigChr 34 (1980) 218-236. 4 “The church of God that sojourns in Rome to the church of God that sojourns in Corinth ( Ἡ ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ παροικοῦσα ῾Ρώμην τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον )” 1 Clem sal.: M.

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