Monday, May 26, 2014

Michuta on the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals in 1 Clement

Beginning around page 56, Michuta tries to argue that "the earliest Christians considered the Deuterocanonical books to be divinely inspired."  His first example is 1 Clement - a book whose authorship is unknown, but is sometimes ascribed to Clement of Rome.

Michuta argues that 1 Clement 3:4 "quotes Wisdom 2:24." (p. 57)

1 Clement 3:4
For this cause righteousness and peace stand aloof, while each man hath forsaken the fear of the Lord and become purblind in the faith of Him, neither walketh in the ordinances of His commandments nor liveth according to that which becometh Christ, but each goeth after the lusts of his evil heart, seeing that they have conceived an unrighteous and ungodly jealousy, through which also death entered into the world.

Wisdom 2:24 states: "Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it." While Wisdom 2:24 is a possible reference here, a more obvious one is Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

Likewise, James 4:1-3 states: "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

Indeed, the very next verses of 1 Clement provide a canonical basis for the jealousy argument, for it continues (vs. 4 is the last verse of 1 Clement 3):

1 Clement 4:1-7
For so it is written, And it came to pass after certain days that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God, and Abel he also brought of the firstlings of the sheep and of their fatness. And God looked upon Abel and upon his gifts, but unto Cain and unto his sacrifices He gave no heed. And Cain sorrowed exceedingly, and his countenance fell. And God said unto Cain, Wherefore art thou very sorrowful and wherefore did thy countenance fall? If thou hast offered aright and hast not divided aright, didst thou not sin? Hold thy peace. Unto thee shall he turn, and thou shalt rule over him. {This last phrase has also been translated: Be at peace: thine offering returns to thyself, and thou shalt again possess it.} And Cain said unto Abel his brother, Let us go over unto the plain. And it came to pass, while they Were in the plain, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him. Ye see, brethren, jealousy and envy wrought a brother's murder.
Thus, it is a stretch to say that 1 Clement 3:4 "quotes" from Wisdom 2:24, even if a few identical words can be be found there.

Michuta further asserts that 1 Clement 27:5-7 "is a quote from (or at least an allusion to) Wisdom 11:21 or 12:12." (p. 57)
1 Clement 27:5
Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or who shall resist the might of His strength? When He listeth, and as He listeth, He will do all things; and nothing shall pass away of those things that He hath decreed. All things are in His sight, and nothing escapeth His counsel, seeing that The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth His handiwork. Day uttereth word unto day, and night proclaimeth knowledge unto night; and there are neither words nor speeches, whose voices are not heard.
Wisdom 11:21 states: "For thou canst shew thy great strength at all times when thou wilt; and who may withstand the power of thine arm?" and Wisdom 12: 12 states "For who shall say, What hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall accuse thee for the nations that perish, whom thou made? or who shall come to stand against thee, to be revenged for the unrighteous men?"

But again, the canonical books have similar statements (in fact, Wisdom is probably based on the canonical books to a significant extent):

 Job 9:12 "If he would take away, who shall turn him back? or who shall say to him, What hast thou done?" Job 9:19 "For indeed he is strong in power: who then shall resist his judgment?" Daniel 4:32 "and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and there is none who shall withstand his power, and say to him, What has thou done?" Isaiah 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Acts 1:7 "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Psalm 148:6 "He has established them for ever, even for ever and ever: he has made an ordinance, and it shall not pass away." Romans 9:18-19 "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" Matthew 5:11 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Job 34:21 "For he surveys the works of men, and nothing of what they do has escaped him." Psalm 19:1-3 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. Day to day utters speech, and night to night proclaims knowledge. There are no speeches or words, in which their voices are not heard."

Michuta further points out that 1 Clement 55:2-6 makes reference to the person Judith. (pp. 58-59) Michuta also points out that the author of 1 Clement uses Judith as a first example and Esther as a second example. These are just used as historical examples of "Many women being strengthened through the grace of God have performed many manly deeds." (1 Clement 55:3).  These examples come after the author's reference to pagan examples: "But, to bring forward examples of Gentiles also; many kings and rulers, when some season of pestilence pressed upon them, being taught by oracles have delivered themselves over to death, that they might rescue their fellow citizens through their own blood. Many have retired from their own cities, that they might have no more seditions." (1 Clement 55:1)

While we definitely hold Esther to be canonical, we do not know whether the author of 1 Clement had the same view, as Esther was the least well received of the canonical Old Testament books.  In other words, the pairing of Judith with Esther may be a double-edged sword - but in any case, the book is not cited as Scripture.

- TurretinFan

N.B. In this post, generally the Old Testament quotations are taken from Lancelot Brenton's translation of the Septuagint, since it is unlikely that the author of 1 Clement would have had access to the Hebrew originals.

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