The Hypotyposes (Outlines) of Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria believed that “Cephas” was different from “Peter”. This information comes to us from Eusebius (Eccles Hist, 1.12.2).Here is the text:

They say that Sosthenes also, who wrote tothe Corinthians with Paul, was one of them. This is the account of Clement in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, in which he also says that Cephas was one of the seventy disciples, a man who bore the same name as the apostle Peter, and the one concerning whom Paul says, “When Cephas came to Antioch I withstood him to his face.”

The Hypotyposes of Clement of Alexandria is one of his lost works. It still existed in the 9th century, when Photius read it, but probably perished with so much else in the sack of Constantinople by the renegade army originally hired for the Fourth Crusade. Photius’ remarks are here, in the Bibliotheca, codex 109. (Hypotyposes = outlines) He isn’t very complimentary.

Read three volumes of the works of Clement, presbyter of Alexandria, entitled Outlines, The Miscellanies, The Tutor.

The Outlines contain a brief explanation and interpretation of certain passages in the Old and New Testaments. Although in some cases what he says appears orthodox, in others he indulges in impious and legendary fables. For he is of opinion that matter is eternal and that ideas are introduced by certain fixed conditions; he also reduces the Son to something created. He talks prodigious nonsense about the transmigration of souls and the existence of a number of worlds before Adam. He endeavours to show that Eve came from Adam, not as Holy Scripture tells us, but in an impious and shameful manner; he idly imagines that angels have connexion with women and beget children; that the Word was not incarnate, but only appeared so. He is further convicted of monstrous statements about two Words of the Father, the lesser of which appeared to mortals, or rather not even that one, for he writes : “The Son is called the Word, of the same name as” the Word of the Father, but this is not the Word that became flesh, nor even the Word of the Father, but a certain power of God, as it were an efflux from the Word itself, having become mind, pervaded the hearts of men.” All this he attempts to support by passages of Scripture. He talks much other blasphemous nonsense, either he or some one else under his name. These monstrous blasphemies are contained in eight books, in which he frequently discusses the same points and quotes passages from Scripture promiscuously and confusedly, like one possessed. The entire work includes notes on Genesis, Exodus, the Psalms, St. Paul’s epistles, the Catholic epistles, and Ecclesiasticus. Clement was a pupil of Pantaenus, as he himself says. Let this suffice for the Outlines.

Codices 110 and 111 deal with the other two works.

Only fragments now exist of this commentary on the bible, which Eusebius tells us (HE 6.14.1) also included comments on the apocryphal works of Barnabas and the Apocalypse of Peter. Most of the few fragments are in Eusebius. Others are in the commentary of ps.Oecumenius, and John Moschus Pratum Spirituale.  The Greek material can all be found in GCS 17, which is online somewhere, and translated here in the ANF 2.

There is also a Latin translation of a good chunk of it, which passes under the title Adumbrationes Clementi Alexandrini in epistolas canonicas. This was made in the days of Cassiodorus.  It exists in two manuscripts.  The first is in the public library of Laon, no. 96 (L).  This is a parchment quarto which dates from the 8-9th century. The adumbrationes form folios 1-9 of this manuscript, and is followed by a Latin version of the commentary of Didymus the Blind on the letter of James.  Various pages of the manuscript are disordered.

The other manuscript (M) is in Berlin, part of the Sir Thomas Phillips collection from Cheltenham, no. 1665.  This is a parchment codex of 184 pages, of the 13th century. The first 11 pages of the codex contain the adumbrationes, followed by a work of Didymus the Blind, Bede on Acts, Bede’s retraction on Acts, his tract on the canonical letters, and an Epistola ad Accam.  The manuscript has a note that it belonged to a monastery of “St. Mary of the mountain of God”.  It was in Paris in the library of the Jesuits, then passed into the Meerman library, where it was no. 443, and then was bought by Sir Thomas Phillips. 

There  may be passages from the text also in a manuscript in the Laurentian library in Florence, (Pluteu 17.17), a Latin catena on these letters of the bible from Bede, Clement, Didymus and Augustine. 

The text was first published by Margaret de la Bigne in 1575, in her Sacra bibliotheca sanctorum patrum, col. 625-634.  Nothing is said of the manuscript used.  This text was reprinted several times; J. Fell in 1683, Th. Jttig (1700), J. Potter (1715), R. Klotz (vol. 4, 1834), Chr. C. Jos. Bunsen (1854), and L. Dindorf (1869).

A critical edition was published by Zahn in Supplementum Clementinum, Forsuchungen zur Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur, III, pp. 64-103, which edits all the fragments; the critical edition of the adumbrationes is on p.79-93.  The editio princeps (P) and the Dindorf edition (D) supplement the two mss (see Zahn, p.10-16).

The comments in the text relate to 1 Peter and 1 John and 2 John.  An English translation of the adumbrationes is in the ANF 2, here.

13 Responses to “The Hypotyposes (Outlines) of Clement of Alexandria”


  1. stephan huller

    Thanks Roger. This only confirms my suspicions about this text. Indeed if we look carefully at Clement’s AUTHENTIC writings we see that REAL Clement of Alexandria clearly accepted that Peter WAS Cephas.

    In Book Four of the Stromata he writes “It is a different matter, then, which is expressed by the apostle: “Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as the rest of the apostles, as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? But we have not used this power.” [Strom. iv.15]

    Then in Book Three he makes explicit that he thought that Peter and Philip were the only married disciples of Jesus – “or do they also scorn the apostles? Peter and Philip had children, and Philip gave his daughters in marriage. Even Paul did not hesitate in one letter to address his consort. The only reason why he did not take her about with him was that it would have been an inconvenience for his ministry. Accordingly he says in a letter: “Have we not a right to take about with us a wife that is a sister like the other apostles?” But the latter, in accordance with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction, and took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as sisters, that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives.”[Stromata iii.52,53]

    Photius was clearly right when he says that Clement did not right the Hypotyposes. This becomes clear when we look at ALL of Photius’ references to the Hypotyposes in his discussion of the Alexandrian’s other writings. Clement believed that when Paul pointed to Cephas as a married apostle he meant Peter. And this is exactly the way any sane person would read the reference.

    This has serious implications for the debate about To Theodore, because evidence from the Hypotyposes are inevitably cited to furnish us with Clement’s ‘real views’ on a given topic.

    All of this is done in the face of Photius’ objections to the text and – with your gracious posting – clear evidence that Photius was more than just ‘embarrassed’ about Clement’s orthodoxy (or lack thereof).

    Photius must have seen a number of contradictions in the manner of the one I just cited. Roger, you’ve hit upon something very important.

    If people will argue that To Theodore is a fraud they have to also take into account Photius’ witness and acknowledge that EVEN MORE EVIDENCE exists for considering the Hypotyposes a fraud too …

  2. stephan huller

    Of course the second ‘right’ in the fourth paragraph should be ‘write’ …

  3. stephan huller

    One more think Roger. If you look at Photius’ summary of the Stromata he seems to have noticed what I just posted here in your comments section for he writes of the Stromata that it “is in some parts unsound, but not like the Outlines, some of whose statements it refutes.” Clearly the Hypotyposes claim that Clement thought Peter and Cephas were two separate people is refuted by what Clement says in the Stromata.

  4. bekman

    in case you haven’t seen this recent article on the Hypotyposeis, I can highly recommend reading it:

    “The Place of the Hypotyposeis in the Clementine Corpus: An Apology for “The Other Clement of Alexandria” (Journal of Early Christian Studies, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 2009, pp. 313-335)

  5. Roger Pearse

    Thank you. I haven’t seen it; but as one of the general public, of course I have no access to most scholarly literature. My role, as a taxpayer, is merely to pay for it.

  6. bekman

    well, I’m sure the Swedish government would love for you to have a copy, on their tab. If you email me I’ll send it to you.

    b.

  7. John Uebersax
  8. Roger Pearse

    Thank you very much for the link!

  9. John Uebersax

    You´re quite welcome! As you may have noticed, there are several other interesting papers there as well. (This scholar is to be commended for making his reprints so easily accessible!)

  10. Roger Pearse

    No I hadn’t noticed, but that’s very good news. Yes, all scholars should promote themselves this way, if they can. I imagine in 10 years few will not do so.

  11. Emanuel Contac

    I came across this post while doing research on the way the Church Fathers understood the incident in Antioch. It is interesting that Oecumenius seems to be convinced by what Eusebius reports Clement as having said about Cephas / Peter.

    He then adds a few comments which I find puzzling. Could anyone help me do a translation of these paragraphs? It seems that “κατεγνωσμένος ἦν” is meant not “he stood self-condemned” (NRSV) but “was condemned by the Jews”. Does Oecumenius actually suggest that Paul merely used the accusations brought to Peter by the Jews as a pretext to rebuke them? I do not fully understand the text but it would be interesting to read a translation.

    Τὸ δὲ ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν, δύνασαι καὶ οὕτω νοῆσαι• γέγονε μοι, φησί, πρόφασις τοῦ κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντιστῆναι καὶ διελέγξαι αὐτόν. ἄλλο μὲν οὐδὲν ἢ τὸ περὶ τοῦ συνεσθίειν τοῖς ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ κατεγνωσμένος ἦν ἀπὸ τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων ὅτε τῷ Κορνηλίῳ συνέφαγεν. εἰ γὰρ μὴ προκατεγνώσθη παρ’ αὐτῶν σκανδαλισθέντων ἐκεῖ, οὐκ ἂν νῦν ὑπεστάλη• μὴ ὑποσταλέντος δέ, οὐχ ἦν χρεία τοῦ τε ἐλέγχου, τῆς τε κατὰ πρόσωπον ἀντιστάσεως.
    τί δὲ ὅλως ὠφελεῖ ἡ κατὰ πρόσωπον ἀντίστασις; ὅτι εὐκαίρως ἐποίησε λεχθῆναι ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων τὸ ἡμεῖς φύσει ᾿Ιουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί, εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν ᾿Ιησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου. διὰ τὸ λεχθῆναι οὖν ταῦτα ἔμπροσθεν πάντων γέγονεν ἡ κατὰ πρόσωπον ἀντίστασις, ἐπεὶ ἐχρῆν, εἴπερ ἄρα τι σφάλμα ἦν, κατ’ ἰδίαν ἐγκαλέσαι καὶ διορθώσασθαι τοῦ κυρίου λέγοντος• ἐὰν ἁμάρτῃ ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν κατ’ ἰδίαν, ἀπειθοῦντι δὲ καὶ ἑτέρους καὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἐπίστησον.

  12. Roger Pearse

    Where is the text from?

  13. Emanuel Contac

    It is from the edition of Staab.

    Fragmenta in epistulam ad Galatas (in catenis), ed. K. Staab,
    Pauluskommentar aus der griechischen Kirche aus Katenenhandschriften gesammelt.