The Theodotus of Clement of Alexandria was not a Valentinian? Analysis of Excerpts from Theodotus 1-3

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Abstract

The first three chapters of the so-called 'Excerpts from Theodotus' make up the first of the 13 fragments that are recognizable within this opusculum by Clement of Alexandria based on the indications of the ms. Laurentianus 5.3. They are fragments taken not directly from Gnostic sources by Clement, but selected during the 3rd century by an anonymous person from other writings by Clement, probably the lost Hypotyposeis. As in the other fragments, Clement summarizes and sometimes quotes anonymous Valentinian sources. In Fragment 1, concerning the exegesis of Luke 23:46, the summary extends from Exc. 1.1 and Exc. 2.2, but it includes a brief literal quote (Exc. 1.3) of a particular Valentinian source ('Source of the We'). Only at the end does Clement illustrate his doctrine (Exc. 3,1-2). Scholars usually think that the author of the gnostic source of Exc. 1-3 and most of the Excerpta is Theodotus. In actual fact, this attribution is fairly reckless, because it is based only on the title of the collection, which is understood incorrectly, and on only five marginal citations of the name of Theodotus. In Fragment 1 the name of Theodotus is absent, but it is usually implied as the subject of an anonymous 'he says' (Exc. 1,1b), based on the comparison with Exc. 25-26 where the name of Theodotus appears. The two passages are coherent from the doctrinal point of view and most probably they are derived from the same Valentinian source, as Clement himself says (Exc. 2.1 and 25.1). But the analysis of the way in which the name of Theodotus is quoted reveals that he must be distinguished from the guiding source and that he serves only as a comparison. So, lacking other sources, the clues to say that Theodotus is a Valentinian, that he belongs to the 'Eastern school' and that the Excerpta retain many fragments taken from his writings, are very weak. Indeed, if Theodotus were not a Valentinian, there would no longer be the preclusions to verify the identification with Theodotus of Byzantium, who lived in the same period and was a supporter of the 'adoptionist' heresy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudia Patristica. Vol. CXXVI - Papers presented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2019; Volume 23: Apocrypha et Gnostica; Ignatius of Antioch - The Mysterious Bishop; The Second and Third Centuries
Pages55-68
Number of pages14
Volume2021 / 126
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational Conference on Patristic Studies - Oxford (UK)
Duration: 19 Aug 201923 Aug 2019

Publication series

NameSTUDIA PATRISTICA

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference on Patristic Studies
CityOxford (UK)
Period19/8/1923/8/19

Keywords

  • Teodoto gnostico, Gnostici valentiniani, Clemente Alessandrino, Estratti da Teodoto
  • Gnostic Theodotus, Valentinian Gnostics, Clement of Alexandria, Excerpts from Theodotus

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