Thursday, September 10, 2009

Here is my handout from today's presentation:

‘“Witnesses between you and us”:

The Role of the Letter-Carriers in 1 Clement’

Peter M. Head

Second British National Patristic Conference

Cambridge Sept 2009

1. Introduction

- broader project on epistolary communication and the role of letter-carriers in Greco-Roman antiquity and early Christianity

- letter-carriers important for security, confidence in delivery, personal contact

- named letter-carriers often have further role in communication

2. 1 Clement unusually explicit about role of letter-carriers

- closing summary (62-63)

- purpose of letter (63.2) co-ordinated with purpose of emissaries (63.3)

- ‘peace and concord’ (63.2; 65.1)

- the relationship between 63.3-4 and 65.1: the same people

a) linked by task (restoration of ‘peace and concord’)

b) linked by commission (sent from Rome)

c) linked by urgency

- no specificity about ‘carrying’ the letter (not unusual)

- not paralleled in other deliberative epistles appealing for concord

3. The nature and role of the emissaries/letter-carriers

- faithful: Noah (9.4); Abraham (10.1); Moses (17.5; 43.1); this is a characteristic which the recipients ought to display (48.5; 62.3)

- soberminded: a quality which the Corinthians are depicted as having once had but lost (1.2). Schism is described as a kind of madness/insanity (1.1; 21.5; 46.7)

- old: schism is attributed to younger men (so 3.3: the young were stirred up against the old/elders, cf. also 47.6)

- blameless: used three times in 1 Clement 44 to describe the behaviour of those who had been removed from ministry in the schism (44.3, 4, 6).

- witnesseses [Perhaps cf. Deut 19.15, but no verbal allusion at all]

- urgency: 63.4; and then is repeated three times in 65.4

- named (Greek, imperial freedmen of Claudius)

4. Concluding Reflections

- emissaries/letter-carriers essential to communication by letter and to successful reception of the epistle (from Roman perspective)

- emissaries/letter-carriers chosen carefully to reflect nature/purpose of communication and absolutely fundamental to that communication

- emissaries/letter-carriers interpret, reinforce, and even personally embody the appeal of the written letter to the recipients

- written letter did have significant Wirkungsgeschichte

- some parallels with Pauline practice (cf. generally 5, 47): sending language, pistos in recommendations, anticipated return; but not the only/major influence (Roman setting, embassies to cities, appeals for concord etc.)

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