Life. Clement was born ca. 150 and died ca. 215; precise dates are lacking. He is commonly held to have been born at Athens, though this seems to be just a hypothesis derived from Strom. 1,1,11, where he relates his journeys in search of the best-known teachers of Christianity. We know that he started in Greece, then attended the lectures of a teacher in Sicily, then went to Syria-Palestine and finally to Alexandria. From this we deduce that he became a Christian as an adult and was thirsty for knowledge; from contemporary accounts we know that it was common practice to go in search of the best teachers, and Clement too sought the best school; he would later pour all his knowledge back into Christianity. At Alexandria, he found in Pantaenus what he had been looking for: a congenial teacher and a refined penetration of the faith with the aid of the science of the time. We must distinguish the school that Clement opened at Alexandria, with its specific character, from the community catechetical schools: it more resembled that which Justin opened at Rome in the previous generation.
It was for the most part a cycle of conferences, drawn out over years, on philosophical and cultural matters and daily problems of topical interest; entry was in principle open to all. And yet this new philosophy made clear, using philosophical terms, the Christian ideal of life. It is not certain that the course ended in baptism. Clement may have also guided a small group in baptismal instruction, but most participants would have put it off to a later time or neglected it entirely. They did, however, let themselves be guided by the Christian ideal in solving the problems posed by wealth and education.
Thus a way was opened to Christianity in the circle of the rich, the highly placed and dominant class, in which the penetration of Christianity had encountered some difficulty. Nor is it certain that Clement was a priest, as might be deduced from the corrupt passage of Paed. 1,37,3, and despite the honorific title of presbyter conferred on him by his friend Alexander Euseb., HE 6, 11, 6. In 202203 the incipient persecution of Septimius Severus forced him to leave Alexandria again. He took refuge with his friend Bishop Alexander, who at that time presided over a Christian community in Cappadocia. Later Alexander became bishop of Jerusalem and as such wrote, in 215216, a letter to Origen in which he mentioned Pantaenus and Clement as being dead, so Clement must have died in this period Euseb., HE 6,24,8-9.
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