By Delmer M. Brown
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The old attempt to distinguish letters and epistles can hardly be sustained, though in origin the authentic letters were certainly occasional documents issuing from the practical need to maintain communication and sort out problems. These ‘everyday’ letters in fact follow the generic conventions of letters from the wider Greco-Roman world, yet radically adapt them to speciﬁc Christian needs (see below chapter 2). The Pauline letters are after all rooted in the wider world of the literatures of antiquity yet at the same time distinctive.
The letter contains reminiscences of Pauline teaching, and therefore represents a point of view that does not oppose Peter and Paul. Apparently in ad 96, the Roman Church addressed an admonitory letter to the Church at Corinth. There, for reasons the letter does not reveal, the established elders had been deprived of ofﬁce by younger members of the church. The letter is styled I Clement because, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, a man named Clement, who perhaps presided over the Roman board of elders or acted as its corresponding secretary, actually composed the letter.
The discovery of the Mandaean literature dramatically affected the researches of the History of Religions School in the early twentieth century; the Nag Hammadi library, found in Egypt in the 1940s, fuelled continued research into gnosticism in the second half of the century. 4 Frances Young, ‘From Suspicion and Sociology to Spirituality: on Method. Hermeneutics and Appropriation with Respect to Patristic Material’, 421–35. 5 See C. H. Roberts, ‘Books in the Greco-Roman World and in the New Testament’, and Harry Y.
Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature by Delmer M. Brown