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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The ancient genre ‘novel’ influenced early Christian composition and exegesis most purely in the Pseudo-Clementines, the only true ancient Christian novel. The original Pseudo-Clementine novel was idealistic: carefully constructed to work as a believable whole. Accordingly, it pursued exegesis of the Jesus-tradition in a realistic, or believable, manner, as displayed particularly in the explicit regulation of Peter’s lifestyle and mission by the sayings of Jesus. The Klementia (Hom. Clem.), a later version, transformed the idealistic novel into parody and introduced fantastic eye-popping exegesis that tended to break through the original realism and its consistent chronological framework. The other later version, the Recognition, was long the only form of the narrative known in the West. It sapped the vigour of the original novel and introduced the ‘authoritative interpretation’, in which harmonizing exegesis smothered exploratory enquiry.

Keywords: novel, authoritative interpretation, Pseudo-Clementines, Book of Elchasai, Clement I of Rome, Jewish Christianity, Justin Martyr, Marcionism, rabbinic interpretation, Rufinus of Aquileia

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