The Second Epistle of Clement has Clement of Rome’s name attached to it, but there are significant doubts concerning whether this letter was actually written by Clement of Rome. No name is officially attached to what is referred to as the “Second Epistle of Clement.”
Eusebius on 2 Clement
Most significantly, Eusebius, a 4th century bishop, expressed doubts concerning the authorship of the Second Epistle of Clement, writing this:
But it must be observed also that there is said to be a second epistle of Clement. But we do not know that this is recognized like the former, for we do not find that the ancients have made any use of it. And certain men have lately brought forward other wordy and lengthy writings under his name, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion. But no mention has been made of these by the ancients; for they do not even preserve the pure stamp of apostolic orthodoxy.Eusebius Pamphilius 325, Book 3, Chapter 38
Also, Eusebius writes that there is only one recognized epistle that was written by Clement of Rome.
Who Actually Wrote 2 Clement?
Some modern scholars say that the Second Epistle of Clement was actually a sermon, and that it was written around AD 95–140. They say that the letter was written by an anonymous author, not by Clement of Rome.
Summary of Second Clement
Second Clement seems to be a transcript of a sermon. In Chapter 19, the speaker of the letter says that he will read Scripture out loud, which one would expect from a sermon that was delivered at a Christian service.
Also, unlike traditional letters, 2 Clement essentially begins with the contents of the sermon, instead of having an introduction that is common for epistles. If 2 Clement is indeed a transcript of a sermon, then it would be the earliest sermon that we have that is recorded in writing.
Read the Second Epistle of Clement
Below are links to the text of the Second Epistle of Clement. There are three translations:
- Second Epistle of Clement – J. B. Lightfoot Translation
- Second Epistle of Clement – Charles H. Hoole Translation
- Second Epistle of Clement – Roberts-Donaldson Translation