Walking with the Saints
Clement of Alexandria was born in the middle of the second century in Greece. Born to pagan parents, Clement had a deep knowledge of Greek mythology presumably because of his family’s religious practices, but he would eventually reject these traditions because of the corruption he perceived. He would travel in search of truth and encounter and study in many different schools of thought and theology, including studying under a Greek Jew.
In 180, Clement would arrive in Alexandria. When ships or travelers would arrive in Alexandria, they would be searched thoroughly, and when they found books, authorities would borrow them, copy them and then return the originals, while the copies would be put in the Library at Alexandria. This context that Clement would live and work in, I think, is not to dissimilar from our own context today.
Clement would meet Pantaenus, the head (unconfirmed) of the Christian Catechetical School in Alexandria. It would be there where he would convert to Christianity and would be made a priest in 189 by Pope Julian. In 190 Clement would end up succeed Pantaenus as head of the school.
Because of Clement’s experience and knowledge, his writings as a Christian apologist would appeal to the more intellectual circles. His deep roots in philosophy would help him to influence and solidify the early Christian Church’s ideas around the nature of God and the relationship to Jesus, and how we are participatory in that relationship.
Clement is truly fascinating! He lived and worked in a time in which knowledge and faith wrestled with one another to find their places in the then modern world. His treatises and appeals, used the thinking of the time to illuminate how God is among us and how we are in relationship with God. I think this very much holds weight in our current age of instant information at our finger tips. This example reminds us that knowledge is extraordinary, but that faith and truth are equally important endeavors.