Book Review: S. Clement Of Rome

S. Clement Of Rome:  The Two Epistles To The Corinthians, A Revised Text With Introduction And Notes, by J.B. Lightfoot

On the plus side, this book does have a very excellent version of the first and second epistles of Clement and some supplementary fragmentary material that is also considered part of the Clementine oeuvre.  However, although the text is excellent and this is a very solid book for those engaged in the textual criticism of patristic writing, the texts of First and Second Clement themselves are only included in Greek (with extensive textual notes), making this book of value chiefly to those with an interest in koine Greek and with various issues related to the books labeled as First and Second Clement.  As these are books of personal interest to me as a reader [1], it is good to have a solid Greek text for the books, even if I do not consider myself particularly fluent in koine Greek at this time.  Those who are more fluent than I am, though, will definitely find this book and Lightfoot’s other volumes for the Apostolic Fathers and its text to be of the greatest interest in their own studies.

The book itself is remarkably straightforward and full of excellent commentary.  This particular book was published by Forgotten Books, and this publisher did a good job at including material that may have been neglected in less skilled efforts.  Each of the epistles is begun by a commentary that discusses the texts and some of the issues of how the texts were preserved only in the Greek-speaking church and not the Latin speaking one until the early modern period when the texts came to the attention of scholars of the early Church of God.  After introductions, the text in Greek of each of the Epistles (and 1 Clement is far longer than 2 Clement, and far better to boot) is included with extensive footnotes that include some of the textual emendations as well as to allusions that the author is making and also quotations and allusions that later writers made to the texts.  After the two epistles there are some additional fragments in Greek that are included because it is possible that they are genuine (although the Clementine corpus included quite a few fraudulently written works), along with a lengthy catalog from the original publisher that showed that this work was expected to help sell many other volumes of interest as well.

For the most part, this is a very enjoyable read even for those who do not know Greek very well.  Lightfoot is an excellent interpreter of the text and he is thoughtful and detailed in including notes about various readings of text and why he made the decisions he made as a textual critic.  One may disagree with him at points, but he is not an arrogant or a disagreeable writer, and he is generally sensitive to the difference between quotations of a text and allusions by someone who is giving the sense of what they recall of a text.  The author is also sensitive to questions of perspective, whether or not a given author uses Hebraisms because of familiarity with the OT or whether someone is an obviously Hellenistic author without a great deal of interest in or attention to the Hebrew nature of the biblical texts.  As a result, this is a thoughtful book that is well worth being on the bookshelf of any reader (although there are likely to be few of them) who have a strong interest in the Apostolic Fathers and the textual issues of this ancient collection of literature.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: S. Clement Of Rome

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Apostolic Fathers Series | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Who Killed Homer? | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s