THE EPISTLE was written in the name of the Roman Church to the Christian brotherhood at Corinth. The author was Clement, the Bishop of the Roman Christians, but he does not write in his own name. Hence it is mentioned by early Christian writers, sometimes as the work of the Roman Church, sometimes as written by or sent by the hand of Clement. Its date was nearly simultaneous with the close of Diocletian's persecution, when the emperor's cousin, Flavius Clemens, the namesake of the writer, perished during or immediately after the year of his consulate (A.D. 95), and his wife Domitilla, Domitian's own niece, was driven into banishment on charges apparently connected with Christianity.
A feud had broken out in the Church of Corinth. Presbyters appointed by Apostles, or their immediate successors, had been unlawlully deposed. A spirit of insubordination was rife. The letter of Clement was written to rebuke these irregularities. Allusion is made in it to the persecution at Rome, as an apology for the delay in attending to the matter. Some information is thus given incidentally rcspecting the character of the persecution in the course of the letter. But more precise and definite facts are contained elsewhere respecting the earlier and more severe assault on the Christians in the latter years of the reign of Nero, where reference is made especially to the uiartyrdoms of S. Peter and S. Paul.
Besides the patristic quotations more especially those in Clement of Alexandria, and in some later fathers, the text is mainly due to three sources.
( 1 ) The famous Alexandrian uncial ms of the New Testament [A] In the British Museum, belonging to the fifth Century, to which it is added as a sort of appendix together with the spurious so-called Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. This ms is mutilated at the close of both Epistles besides being torn or illegible in many passages of the first. From this was published the Editio Princeps of Patricius Junius (1633).
(2) The Constantinopolitan or Hierosolymitan ms [C] belonging to the library of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, whose chief residence is at Constantinople. From this the two Epistles of Clement (the Genuine and the Spurious) were first printed in full (1875) by Bryennios, then Metropolitan of Serrae, but now Patriarch of Nicomedia. This ms is dated A.D. 1056.
(3) The Syriac translation discovered a few years ago and now in the possession of the Cambridge University Library. This is not yet published, but all the various readings were given in Lightfoot's S. Clement of Rome Appendix, London, 1877. This Syriac version bears a date corresponding to A.D. 1170.
The relations of these authorities are fully discussed in the larger edition of Clement. Here it is sufficient to say that A, as being the most ancient, is likewise far the best authority; but owing to the lacunae in it and other reasons the two other authorities are of the highest value in different ways.
Wherever the text is taken from any one or any combination of these three authorities, no notice is given of a various reading. But where the authority is patristic it is mentioned in the notes, and occasionally a reading is either adopted into the text, or recorded as highly probable in the footnote on conjecture, in which case the name of its author is given.
The square brackets [ ] throughout the book denote that a word so included is of doubtful authority and ought perhaps to be neglected ; corruptions in the text are indicated by daggers † † placed on each side of the corrupt passage. A full list of symbols and abbreviations em-ployed in dealing with the text is given at the end of the volume.