Clement of Alexandria also valued this idea, but changed it, removing the gnostic character. In his theology childhood as the model of perfection has two aspects: 1 before God the person must always remain a child in simplicity, humility and complete abandonment Paed. I, 5,16-17; the theme of spiritual childhood in relation to God has remained one of the central themes of Christian spirituality; 2 having commented on the passages from Paul, Clement distinguishes between the child and the youth. The child is one who is led by the law, and so Paul wrote: when I became a man, I put aside childish things 1 Cor 13:11; the youth is one who is fed by Christ. Youth in Christ is perfection Paed. I, 6,34,2-3; it does not mean a lack of intelligence and knowledge Paed. I, 3,16,2; I, 6,21,1, but as young people are nourished on milk, so Christians are nourished on Christ the final hymn of Paed. III. Another idea common in both Christian and pagan antiquity for illustrating perfect human behavior was the so-called puer-senex, according to which a young person’s value depended on the maturity of his or her habits and virtues. An observation from Tobit in the Vulgate illustrates this: nihil tamen puerile gessit in opere Tob 1:4. The inspiration for this idea in the Christian context were the exemplary youths of the Bible: David, Daniel, Tobias; in the pagan world it was the heroes of Greco-Roman literature: Telemachus, Drusus. The idea of puersenex was well known in the classical authors Cic., Cato 71; Corn. Ruf., Ep. 4,17,6; Plin., Ep. 6,26,1, or in funerary inscriptions; it was equally rich in the Christian context: in hagiography Athan., Vita Ant. 1, in the moral works of the Fathers John Chrys., Hom, in Hbr 7,3; Ambr., Hom. in Ps. 36,59, esp. in the literature on monasticism Pall., Hist. Laus. 17,2, and in Christian epitaphs Greg. Naz., Epit. 6,15. The concept of puer-senex applies only in a broad sense to the word child and is rather more linked to the second phase of human life, adolescence.
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