Wednesday, February 09, 2011

When Was The First Epistle Of Clement Written?

I hold in my hands a book whose publication I have been waiting for in anxious anticipation for some time now. That book is Clement and the Early Church of Rome: On the Dating of Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians by Msgr. Thomas J. Herron. Msgr. Herron, who worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, originally wrote this book as his doctoral dissertation at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome back in 1988. This book is truly groundbreaking as Herron persuasively argues for a pre-70 A.D. dating of First Clement. One of the key arguments is the polemic against the Jerusalem Temple, which Clement speaks against as though it were still standing. Had the Temple already been destroyed (which it would have been based on the traditional 96 A.D. dating), that would have furthered Clement’s argument for the superiority of Christianity over and against Judaism. Yet, Clement never even alludes to the destruction of the Temple. Herron’s thesis has many theological and ecclesiastical implications, most notably: the early existence of a normative presbyterate (priesthood) and Roman primacy. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Apostolic Fathers or Church History in general.  

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