Friday, September 05, 2008

The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria

SBL has just announced this forthcoming title in the New Testament in the Greek Fathers series:

The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria by Carl P. Cosaert, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Walla Walla University.

Description: "This volume applies the latest methodological advances in patristic textual analysis to explore the nature of the Gospel text used by Clement, an early Alexandrian father who wrote extensively on the Christian faith and filled his writings with thousands of biblical citations. After examining Clement’s life and use of the New Testament writings, the book lists all of his quotations of the Four Gospels and compares them to those of other Alexandrian Christians and to the most significant ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts. The book demonstrates that the form of the Gospels in Alexandria was in transition at the end of the second century and argues that Clement’s Gospel text reveals an Alexandrian influence in John and Matthew and a stronger Western influence in Luke and his citations of Mark 10."

The SBL paperback will be available for $47.95, the hardback from Brill Academic Publishers (no price yet).


  1. I look forward to reading this. I like the fact that it does all four gospels. I hope it addresses his loose citations as well. I wonder about Clement's appeal to non-canonical gospels too.

  2. I wonder about the claim that his Lukan text exhibits Western influence. I take that to mean that it's not Western enough to label as a primarily Western text, but that it has just enough similarities with the Western text to be worthy of note. But if that's the case, then I further wonder if the Western text of the other three Gospels is even distinct enough from the Alexandrian text that a nuanced claim like that would even be possible in their cases. And if it would not be possible, I wonder if it's really appropriate to separate Luke from the other Gospels in his summary of the data, as though the affinities of Clement's Luke were demonstrably different (in terms of the later text-types) than the affinities of his Matthew, Mark, and John.

  3. Those who attend the session on Versions and Fathers at the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston will have the chance to listen to and discuss the topic with Cosaert in person. (And listen to me too, on another topic.)

    SBL22-124 New Testament Textual Criticism
    4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
    Room: Meeting Room 313 - CC

    Cosaert's paper has the same title as the book, "The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria"


    "The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria

    Although the importance of patristic citations for establishing the text and the transmission history of the New Testament has long been recognized, it is only until recently that major methodological advances have made access to the patristic evidence more accessible and reliable than ever before. Since the publication of Bart Ehrman's study of Didymus the Blind's text of the Gospels in 1986, a slow but ever steady number of published and unpublished dissertations have continued to provide invaluable patristic evidence about the form of the text in specific locations around the Mediterranean. Several of these studies have suggested a correspondence exists between the Gospel citations of several Alexandrian Fathers and the manuscripts traditionally labeled as “Alexandrian.” Unfortunately, one important piece of the patristic evidence has been missing--a reevaluation of Clement, the earliest of the Alexandrian Fathers, on the basis of the latest methodological advances. Without an analysis of Clement's Gospel citations, it is impossible to know what form of the New Testament text existed in Alexandrian at the end of the second century. Did the "Alexandrian" text exist in Alexandria at that time, or did it emerge at a later time? Moreover, did Clement's textual tradition have any influence on the textual inclinations of later Alexandrian Fathers? It was these kind of questions that ultimately led to a decision to reevaluation Clement's text of the Gospels as a doctoral dissertation project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. This paper will present the revised results of the analysis of Clement's text of the Gospels with special attention given to the significance of the findings on the transmission history of the New Testament in Alexandria, Egypt."

  4. Tommy, may I ask that you say 'hi' to Carl from me. I met him a couple of years back at the BRI meeting in Turkey (he'll know). A pleasent gentleman. Thx.