Bio page | Statement of Faith
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The Origins of Christian theoria
Chapter 3 Technical Aspects of theoria
Chapter 4 Theoria: Final Stage in the Spiritual Pathway
Chapter 5 The Practical Aspects of theoria
Chapter 6 Conclusion
Addendum Appendices, Bibliography
(You can now download the PDF of my Ph.D. Thesis, University of St Andrews - March 2001)
I will present various sections of my research in summary form with very few citations. PDF files of each chapter can be downloaded above - these represent the "official" work with page numbers and footnotes - these should be used if you plan to cite this work.
Clement of Alexandria
In this chapter we have seen that the concept of theoria is first used significantly by Plato as a physical "seeing," but that he also uses the term in a figurative sense, "seeing" abstract ideas. It should be remembered that although the category of Ideas dominates his system, he only uses theoria in this context a few times. When we come to Philo both the occurrences of theoria, and the context of "seeing" in an incorporeal sense, increase. There is a sense that he is speaking of a spiritual "seeing," but this is the minority usage.
Neither the LXX nor the NT belong in the theoria trajectory which is represented by Plato, Philo and Clement. Both of these use the term typically as "seeing" in the physical sense. We must also rule out the writings of the Apostolic Fathers as an influence upon Clement. The Gnostics (as represented by the Nag Hammadi texts) do share a similar trajectory with respect to theoria, but he has the most in common with other writings of Alexandrian (or generally Egyptian) origin.
Clement's use of theoria has been influenced by Plato and Philo, yet his is not a simple borrowing. Clement has either inherited this usage, or he is the originator of a new development. His claim to have been a recipient of a secret oral tradition (although there is disagreement as to the source of this tradition) should be given consideration. There is no solid argument for discounting his testimony. There is good evidence, however, that Clement represents a "minority apostolic tradition" which emanates from Alexandria. There are indicators of this tradition coming from several places: the tradition of Barnabas and Mark founding the Church in Alexandria, Philo, the author of NT Hebrews, NT Apollos, and the Epistle of Barnabas.
We have also seen throughout this chapter that Clement's modus operandi will be to reveal and conceal. This is critical for understanding Stromateis. We will see in Chapter Five how Clement finally uses this reveal/conceal methodology in Strom. VII, the pinnacle of the work.
Finally, we see that theoria is a significant word and concept in Stromateis. Indeed, what we see is a use of theoria which is greater than the sum of its parts. This evidence also points to Clement's paradosis, the oral traditions which he received from "blessed men" who had preserved "the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles..." This secret gnosis, this "apostolic" tradition, includes a teaching of theoria, a spiritual contemplation, the spiritual "meat" for the gnostic. Following the Apostle Paul, Clement has given great importance to the concept of two levels of believers and their particular foods, "milk" and "meat." We have seen in this chapter how Clement designates the "meat" as the advanced food for the gnostic, the theoria.
In Chapter Four we will look more closely at this aspect of his system; we will see that Clement has a spiritual pathway which he intends the gnostic to follow - and theoria is the highest stage on this pathway. Before we do this we need to get a better understanding of what Clement means when he speaks of theoria; this will be the focus of Chapter Three.
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