Clement of Alexandria against the Pagans: A Reassessment from the Protrepticus

Clement of Alexandria is often defined as a speculative philosopher, with the implication being that Christianity and special revelation play a subsidiary role in his thinking. But as this presentation will argue, both of these influences are central to Clement’s understanding of human nature and what, in that case, he takes to be necessary for Christian conversion and commitment. Simply put, this paper will urge that we reexamine Clement with an increased awareness of how strongly his anthropology contrasts with the paganistic viewpoints found among his philosophical dialogue- partners. To that end, the following argumentative steps will be taken. First, the paper will describe the less charitable views of Clement that take him to be governed by the alien norms of ancient speculative reason. Second, the paper will observe the remarkable extent to which Clement refers to Christ and the Scriptures in defending his own positions. Third, the presentation will shift to a focus on the Protrepticus as an important test-case for the view being defended in this paper. This exercise will show that Clement’s theological beliefs are foundational to the Protrepticus. In particular, the argument here will be that Clement accounts for trust in the Christ of Scripture by appealing to two factors, viz., (a) Logos Christology and (b) the fact that human beings are made in the image of God. Final reflections on the value of Clement for Christian theology will then follow.

6 thoughts on “Clement of Alexandria against the Pagans: A Reassessment from the Protrepticus”

  1. Not one of the stronger ones
    Not one of the stronger ones of the many Baptist doctoral candidate proposals. Seems somewhat basic and summative rather than original and technical.

  2. Simplex
    Appreciate the attention to the work Protrepticus. However, the thesis is not strongly developed; an awareness of scholarship is missing; the basic comparison between Clement and pagan philosophers does not show strong original research. Since the work is lost, something about the source should be explicated here.


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