04 February 2009

On Righteousness

Here is the link to the work of my new best friend, Epiphanes as written by Clement of Alexandria.

These are not the direct words of Epiphanes, but fragments which have been further manipulated (I believe) by Clement of Alexandria. Though Clement was a Gnostic, he highly disapproved of the Gnostics openness with sexuality, I think in part because he may have held an unhealthy fear of the Christian Literalists of Rome and Alexandria who stressed a different type of morality, monogamy.

I think that Clement twisted the words of Epiphanes so the work and the Gnostics would be labeled as heretics since Clement's own "amailagam" (what ever this means, I haven't a clue...the closest interpretation I can gather is "poisoning") was later used to help "define the orthodox sexual morality of the church". (The Making of Fornication by Kathy L. Gaca pg. 273)

After reading that Clement "cites and denounces" ( by Gaca) On Justice in Stromaties, I am convinced that Clement, even though of Gnostic background, is on the side of the Literalists. He's a traitor.

According to Gaca, Clement and Epiphanes had conflicting views. Sex was a hot topic in the second century and was the main topic of conflict between the two men. Epiphanes leaned toward the views of Plato and the early Stoics which believed in communal sexual lifestyle (for if you recall, all are equal). Clement supported Cristian monogamy and expressed that monogamy was the very basis to which sexually active Christians must adhere. Both men truly believed that "their respective views of sexual morality and social order reflect the true spirit of Christianity".

Epiphanes died around the age of seventeen and was somewhat younger than Clement. Though very young, by modern standards, Epiphanes shows great wisdom. I can imagine that Clement wasn't too pleased by this young 'punk' who debated with his elders. I can imagine that Clement was not a fan of dissent, as well.

If none of Epiphanes' writings exist outside of Clement of Alexandria's own writings, and the two men had conflicting views, why on Earth would I trust Clement to give us an accurate portrayal of Epiphanes' writings?

I am sure, more now than ever, that Clement tried to destroy Epiphanes opinions over this conflict of sexual morality. Gaca discusses how the Christians that went on to be the "fathers" of the church sided with Clement. This is the side that men are heads of household and women are subordinate to their husbands and, subsequently, men. Epiphanes supported the egalitarian and communal sexual roles. The Church didn't like this and "tried to silence other Christian Platonists, like Epiphanes, who offered alternatives". The Christian Literalists could not have a split religious empire and, even today, doesn't allow for personal choice without the condemnation to hell.

Gaca writes about Epiphanes, "His egalitarian sexual principles thus have a genuine Christian motivation, even though they have been widely misrepresented since antiquity as the prurient fantasies of a libidinous heretic."

So, they did what they could to destroy him. How far did they go? He died so young, but it is not said how. Could foul play be involoved?

Critics of Epiphanes have gone so far as to label him a "nasty minded adolescent". (Footnote from The Making of Fornication pg. 276 footnote 6). This view has spread to The Columbia Encyclopedia which views Epiphanes and his father as "notoriously licentious".

It seems that the level of hatred started by Clement still courses literature. I find it humorous now that G.R.S. Mead (as mentioned in More on Epiphanes doubts the existence of Epiphanes.

Such hatred is not born of legend.