Clement of Alexandria
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.
Spiritual Contemplation in Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis:
The Adaptation of the Philosophical Category "Theoria"
Although scholars have often acknowledged the spirituality in the writings of Clement of Alexandria (cir. 150-215 AD), a thorough study of the Platonic category theoria as it appears in this second century Father has never been undertaken. Most studies on Christian spirituality either ignore Clement's role altogether, or rush past him with little comment in favor of the great Origen (cir. 185-255 AD).
Stromateis, Clement's most enigmatic work, contains over 75 occurrences of theoria. A close examination of these texts reveals that his use of the term is somewhat different from two of his greatest philosophical and spiritual mentors, Plato and Philo. Clement uses this term (usually translated "contemplation") to refer to a spiritual experience which occurs in space and time, as well as an ethereal one and one which occurs in the mind. A possible explanation for this difference lies with Clement's claim in the opening chapter of the work: he is the recipient of an oral tradition which has never been recorded, but which he plans to include in the Stromateis.
This thesis demonstrates: 1) that Clement is the first Christian writer to adapt this philosophical category into Christian spirituality; 2) the primary purpose of Stromateis is to present the third stage in a spiritual pathway - to reveal theoria as the spiritual "meat" for the advanced believer; and 3) to present God and His contact with the Christian as immediate. In a radical move, going against the philosophical setting of the day, Clement presents this Platonic category as a means for the Christian to experience an immanent God.
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