I posted some excerpts of work (sans footnotes) I’ve been doing in 2 Clem; the last had do to with quotations in 2 Clem 3–4.
Here is more, picking up where the other left off, with working through quotations in 2 Clem 5–8. Unlike most treatments, I’m not overly concerned with the source of quotation or its value for establishing the text of the NT; instead I’m interested in how the author uses quoted material. How it is introduced, discussed, and the function it serves in the larger discourse of the homily (yes, I think 2 Clem is a homily/sermon).
As I mentioned in the previous post, this material is largely me just thinking as I write. I haven’t even really read/reviewed what I’ve written too carefully at all, and it and my conclusions and thoughts are all subject to change.
I will say, though, that this author (as far as I’ve examined in detail) largely uses quotations for two functions. One function is to advance the discourse, to introduce the next point in his argument. I believe (but haven’t directly considered) that he uses allusions — to either canonical material, noncanonical material, or simple available common wisdom — as well. The other function of quotations is explanatory, to work out the details of the point he has just made. We’ll see what else happens as I progress.
2 For the Lord said, “You will be like sheep among wolves.” 3 And answering, Peter said to him, “But if the wolves tear apart the sheep?” 4 Jesus said to Peter, “The sheep have no fear of the wolves after they are dead, and you have no fear of those who kill you and who are able to do nothing more to you, but you fear him who after you are dead has power to throw soul and body into the hell of fire.”
This section (§5.1) begins with ουν, again indicating development and continuity. The author is extending his point and beginning to consider objections to his position on confession consisting of both word and deed. The author exhorts his hearers to true confession, “brothers, leaving behind the temporary residence of this world, let us do the will of him who called us and let us not be afraid to go out from this world.”
From this exhortation, γαρ is used to connect the clause with the quotation. As Runge describes, when γαρ is used, “the information introduced does not advance the discourse but adds background information that strengthens or supports what precedes.” The author uses this quotation to support his exhortation. Using the response of Peter, he confirms the fears of his hearers, that struggle and persecution may come, but using the counter-response of Jesus, he exhorts his hearers to shift the dimension of their fear, to fear the eternal instead of the physical and temporal.
Following the quotation, a clause beginning with και and repeating the vocative address “brothers” continues the explanation, contrasting the current sojourn “in this world” with the promise of the sojourn in the coming world (§5.5), the “rest (as in sabbath rest) of the coming kingdom and life eternal.”
This is followed by ουν, indicating development and continuity. While a new development, it is dependent on the preceding material with reference to obtaining “them” (rest and eternal life). The author concludes, again, that conduct—confessing Christ with not only words, but also actions—is the way to obtain these things. He then expands this with a new thought based on the quotation of the discussion between Jesus and Peter. Confessing Christ with word and deed involves a separation from “these worldly things,” likely meaning the things of the present life.
A new clause (§5.7), using γαρ, explains the problem with desiring “these worldly things.” The author says, “For when we desire to acquire these things, we fall away from the way of the righteous.” Again, this supports and strengthens what precedes, that properly confessing Christ with word and deed involves separation from worldly things. The issue, as the following quotation will make clear, is conflict between the things of this world and the eternal things of Christ.
6.1 And the Lord said, “No slave is able to serve two masters.” If we desire to serve both God and money, it is harmful to us. 2 “For what is the advantage if someone gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?”
This clause is introduced with δε, indicating new development. However, it follows offline explanatory material (§5.7) which means (without other cues) the offline material is being developed. Here the author uses authoritative material to explain his assertion that separation from worldly things is necessary for proper confession of Christ in word and deed. He appeals first to Mt 6.24||Lk 16.13, explaining it directly after: A desire to serve both God and money will end in harm. He then explains the harm, appealing to Mk 8.36||Mt 16.26||Lk 9.25, putting a premium on the soul at the expense of gaining the whole world. Both quotations develop the thought begun in §5.7 and begin to establish the “way of the righteous,” which is confessing Christ in actions.
From here, §6.3–7 use a series of near-far demonstratives to contrast the things of the present life with the things of Christ. The incompatibility of the two ages is made evident, and the impossibility of attaining the age to come without Christ is made plain.
And the scripture also says in Ezekiel that “if Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not rescue their children” in the captivity.
This clause again begins with δε, marking further development of the offline theme. This appeal is a summary of Ezk 14.14–20, calling out luminaries of the Old Testament—Noah, Job, and Daniel—and noting that even if they would “rise up” they would not be able to save anyone from this age. This is made plain in §6.9, which also commences with δε: “But if even righteous men such as these are not able to rescue their children by their own righteousness, if we do not keep our baptism pure and undefiled, with what kind of confidence will we enter into the kingdom of God? Or who will be our advocate if we may not be found to have holy and righteous works?”
From here, §7 begins with ωστε ουν plus a vocative; a clear return to the mainline. The author has sufficiently handled his point that confession of Christ is to be both with word and deed. One cannot serve the interests of this age; this would be the opposite of confessing Christ in actions. Further, this is necessary because one cannot save oneself, and none but Christ are righteous to save others.
The author’s next point begins with no direct quotation, instead he uses athletic imagery, similar to images used by Paul (1Co 9.24–27; Php 3.12–14; 2Ti 4.7–8). The athletic contest is used as a metaphor for pursuing Christ by confessing him in both word and deed. As the athletic contest is difficult, requires training, and has a reward; so too the life lived in confession of Christ is difficult, requires effort, and has an eternal reward.
6 For those who have not kept the seal he says, “Their worm will not die and their fire will not be extinguished and they will be a vision to all flesh.”
Contests, however, sometimes have participants that take shortcuts in the pursuit of glory. In §7.4, notably an asyndetic clause, the participant in the heavenly contest is warned against cheating. Cheaters are ultimately discredited; the same will happen, with eternal consequence, to the one who takes shortcuts in the Christian life.
The words of Isaiah (66.24; see also Mk 9.48) are appealed to as a warning against cheating, against those who claim to confess Christ but whose actions argue against that claim. The clause introducing the quotation uses γαρ as its connective, denoting the explanatory nature of the quotation. It also directs the quotation to a particular group, those who have not kept “the seal.” They will be cursed, and will live in torment.
5 For the Lord says in the gospel, “If you did not guard the small things, who will give you the big things? For I say to you that whoever is faithful with the least important is also faithful with the very important.” 6 Therefore he means this: keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, in order that we may receive eternal life.
§8 begins with ουν, indicating development and continuity as the author progresses his argument. Building on the quotation of Isaiah 66.24 in §7.6, he now introduces his next major emphasis: repentance. The quotation of Isaiah finalized the picture of lack of repentance, the one who confesses Christ with lips alone, and not with deeds. The conclusion is to repent while repentance is possible.
§8.2 uses γαρ to indicate an explanation of the call to repentance. The familiar notion of clay formed by a craftsman (cf. Jer 18.4–6; Ro 9.21) is used to explain the urgency of the call. While upon the earth (§8.1) repentance is possible, much like clay is still malleable (§8.2). However, upon departure from this world (§8.3), much like clay in a kiln hardens and is no longer able to be formed, repentance becomes impossible.
From here (§8.4) the author uses ωστε to introduce the result of repentance, which is eternal life. This result is strengthened and explained with use of γαρ and appeal to what “the Lord says in the gospel.” Material similar to Lk 16.12 and 10 is quoted, though the application of the material is different than that of Luke’s gospel. Here the author of Second Clement uses “least important” and “very important” to refer to the things of this world and the things of heaven, which is eternal life. Thus the quotation is used to exalt the things of heaven as the “very important” and the hearer is encouraged to be faithful with the things of this earth, the “least important.” By repenting now, on this earth, faithfulness with the least important is shown, and the opportunity for eternal life is given. The interpretation of §8.6 verifies this, further exhorting the hearer to repentance with the consequence of eternal life.