A collection of early Christian writings, wrongly attributed to Clement of Rome, which includes two Epistles to Virgins, the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, and Recognitions, and several fragments known as the Epitomes. The two Epistles to Virgins (Ad virgines ) are exhortations in the form of letters supposedly addressed by Pope Clement I to men and women leading celibate lives. Both writings explain the ideals toward which these persons are to strive and the dangers they must avoid. In each work the author sternly reproves those "who under the pretext of piety live with virgins (see virgines subin troductae) and expose themselves to danger" (Ad virgines 1.10). Numerous texts and examples are cited from both the Old and New Testaments to support the author's viewpoint. Only fragments of the original Greek text survive in quotations by the 7th-century Palestinian monk Antiochus of the monastery of St. Sabas, but a complete text of the letters has survived in a Syriac translation. The original author is unknown, but a Coptic translation of the first Epistle (1–8) attributes this letter to St. athanasius. As objections to the practice of ascetics of both sexes living under the same roof are raised for the first time in extant Christian literature toward the middle of the 3d century, scholars generally assign the Epistles to this date. The place of composition seems to have been Palestine.
Pseudo-Clementines, more specifically, is the name given to a long didactic novel whose central figures are the Apostle Peter and his disciple Clement of Rome, a man of noble birth diligently in search of truth. At the direction of Barnabas, Clement sets out for the East, meets Peter in Caesarea, becomes the Apostle's companion on his missionary journeys, and witnesses the encounter with simon magus. These experiences are related in 20 Homilies in Greek and ten books of Recognitions now extant in their abbreviated Latin translation by rufinus of aquileia.
The Homilies (Homlilae ) purport to be the missionary sermons of Peter. They clearly show influences of Judaist-Ebionite teaching, and even admit the existence of two principles, one good, the other evil. Christ, as portrayed in the Homilies, is a true prophet come to restore the pristine purity of the Law, but He is not the Redeemer. Paul is described as a "hostile man" distorting the Law, which Peter preaches in its purity. Two letters, one from Peter, the other from Clement, addressed to James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, serve as a preface to the Homilies. Peter begs James to allow only duly approved persons to read the sermons. In addition to a certain prestige attached to the church of Jerusalem some scholars see in Peter's letter a report of a missionary submitted to the mother church and its bishop.
Clement's letter addresses James as "bishop of bishops," informs him of Peter's martyrdom, and states that shortly before his death the Apostle appointed Clement bishop of Rome, handing over to him the chair (cathedra ) of preaching and teaching and the power to bind and loose. This is probably the earliest extant formal reference to the bishop of Rome as the heir of the Petrine powers. These letters were written some time in the early 3d century.
The narrative materials of the Recognitions (Recognitiones ), supposedly a detailed account of the experiences of Clement and members of his family, are basically the same as those in the Homilies. Unusual circumstances separate father, mother, and three sons. Through Peter's intervention they are reunited, and the recognition scenes give this work its name. Its didactic content is clearly Christian in tone; Judaistic elements are minimized and the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly set forth. The Christian elements may be the interpolations of the Latin translator Rufinus.
A study of the relation between the Homilies and the Recognitions entails complicated problems of literary criticism and theological interpretation. It is now generally admitted that both works go back to a basic source mentioned by origen, entitled Periodoi, which incorporates materials from two earlier accounts of Peter's preaching and journeys. In their present form the Homilies date from 325 to 380, and the Recognitions from 360 to 380.
The Epitomes (Epitomae ) preserve two Greek excerpts from the Homilies, to which are added details from Clement's supposed letter to James and a Martyrium Clementis by Symeon Metaphrastes. Two Arabic excerpts from the narrative portions of the Homilies and Recognitions also are extant.
Bibliography: f. diekamp, ed., Patres apostollci, v.2 (3d ed. Tübingen 1913), Epistles. Die Pseudoklementinen (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte 51; Leipzig 1964), v.1 Homilien, ed. b. rehm; v.2 Die Rekognitionen, ed. b. rehm and f. paschke. j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, MD 1950–) 1:58–63. b. rehm, Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, ed t. klauser 3:197–206. j. daniÉlou, Théologie du Judéochristianisme (Tournai 1938) 71–76. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from the 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 103–106. w. ullmann, Journal of Theological Studies NS 11 (1960) 295–317; Studia Patristica 4 (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 79; 1961) 330–337. f. s. jones, "The Pseudo-Clementines: A History of Research [2 pts]," Second Century, Second Century 2, No 1 (Spring 1982), p. 1–33, 2, No 2 (Sum 1982), 63–96. g. strecker, Das Judenchristentum in den Pseudoklementinen (Berlin 1981).