Like Father, Like Son: Unraveling The Proto-Trinitarian Approach Of “2 Clement” -- By: Brandon D. Crowe

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 77:2 (Fall 2015)
Article: Like Father, Like Son: Unraveling The Proto-Trinitarian Approach Of “2 Clement”
Author: Brandon D. Crowe

Like Father, Like Son:
Unraveling The Proto-Trinitarian Approach
Of “2 Clement”

Brandon D. Crowe

Brandon D. Crowe is Associate Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. An earlier version of this article was presented at the SBL Annual Meeting in Chicago on November 19, 2012.

I. Introduction

Second Clement is not generally considered to be a work of theological profundity. In the words of J. B. Lightfoot, 2 Clement “as a literary work is almost worthless” and the author is “confused in thought and slipshod in expression.”1 Another has opined that “its thought is feeble, its theology peculiar.”2 Nevertheless, in this article I will attempt to decipher the rationale underlying some of the apparently convoluted statements the author makes. Moreover, I will suggest that 2 Clement provides a window into one way that some second-century Christians can be plotted on an exegetical and interpretive trajectory that led later to full-flowered Trinitarian formulations. To this end, I will focus on the relationship of Jesus to his Father in 2 Clement, particularly in the way the author transposes traditional formulations referring to God the Father (especially as we find them today in the NT) and applies them to Jesus.3 This stems from the author’s high Christology,4 and although the author of

2 Clement is not always perceived to be a robust theologian, the first few verses of 2 Clement do reveal an interpretive logic. Put simply, the author views there to be what we might call an overlapping associative relationship between the Father and the Son, so that what can be predicated of the Father can also be predicated of the Son.5 This christological conviction undergirds the main aim of the author, which is exhortation. In other words, although this second-century6 sermon7 was not composed to be a nuanced, theological treatise, by allowing the author’s own method as stated in 2 Clem. 1:1 to serve as a guide, we may be able to decipher a (mostly) consistent pattern that provides a theological substructure. In this article I will consider 2 Clement in relationship to the NT and some other early Christian writings from the mid-second century and earlier, but my primary interest is in the approach of 2 Clement itsel...

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