Saturday, 11 April 2015

H. Clifton Ward: We Hold These ἀρχαὶ to be Self-Evident: Clement of Alexandria, ἐναργεία, and the Search for Truth

Clement of Alexandria broadly defines the divine economy by which God providentially orders the world as a mystical pedagogy of the word.  As the Logos operates within this economy, the Christian gnostikos is led progressively towards ultimate truth—namely, God himself.  But what role does Scripture play in this plan for Clement?  How does Scripture function to lead believers to truth in the divine οἰκονομία?  This paper will proceed as an analysis of Clement's response to this significant anterior concern. Clement forges a clear path to understanding Scripture's role in the divine economy by focusing on the nature of Scripture and its inherent characteristics.  His proclivity for appropriating the Aristotelian tradition of demonstration has been noted, but by developing an earlier suggestion by Raoul Mortley, this paper will argue that Clement utilizes a key concept from Epicurean epistemology in his portrayal of Scripture.  Scripture is an ἐναργεία, like the incarnate Word, and its existence as a self-evidential truth justifies its status as a first principle in the Christian's scientific investigation of truth.  Clement thus fashions a particularly Christian logic by integrating Epicurean epistemology with Aristotelian demonstration.  This paper therefore sheds light on the philosophical grounds for Clement's claim that Scripture is the curriculum by which Christians ascend in faith through hope to love (1 Cor 13).  The teachings of the incarnate Word are perpetuated in the deposit of the written Word, so that believers are never far from the education provided by the voice of God.

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