Description: The so-called First Epistle of Clement has long intrigued historians of early Christianity. It responds to a crisis in the Corinthian church by enjoining an ethic of subordination especially to the presbyteroi and episkopoi, but the exact nature of that conflict has eluded scholars. L. L. Welborn sets out a clear methodology for reconstructing the historical situation behind the letter, then examines the conventions of its deliberative rhetoric, its blending of citations from the Old Testament and Paul’s letters, and its reliance on topoi from Greco-Roman civic discourse. He then presents a compelling argument for the letter’s occasion. First Clement assails a “revolt” among the youth against their elders, invoking epithets and characterizations that were, as Welborn demonstrates at length, common in political discourse supporting the status quo. At length, Welborn proposes two possible scenarios for the precise nature of the “revolt” in Corinth— a revolt possibly inspired by memories of the apostle Paul— and details the replacement of a Pauline ethic with a strict code of subordination.
Subjects: Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History
Review by Mona Tokarek Lafosse
Citation: Mona Tokarek Lafosse, review of L. L. Welborn, The Young against the Old: Generational Conflict in First Clement, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).
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