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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

The Pseudo‐Clementine Literature

J. K. Elliott

Among the literature that circulated in the Early Church under the name of Clement of Rome are the Homilies and the Recognitions. The Homilies is a philosophical romance arranged in 20 discourses supposedly delivered by Clement in Rome and addressed to James, Jesus' brother, in Jerusalem. These are preceded by two letters addressed to James, one from Peter (the Epistula Petri) and the other by Clement. The Homilies describes Clement's travels to the East, his meeting with Peter, and his witnessing of Peter's conflicts with Simon Magus. The Recognitions probably represents a somewhat catholicized version of the Homilies translated into Latin by Rufinus in the fourth century (later epitomes also exist). The survival of the work may have been due to its popularity among Ebionites. (Vegetarianism is preached; water alone is permitted in the Eucharist.) The narrative is an introduction to missionary speeches attributed to Peter, and the purpose is thus to provide arguments and apologies for defending Christianity.

The interrelationship of these two works is likely to be due to their origin in a common Grundschrift. Attempts have been made to identify some of the sources behind this basic writing: one is usually referred to as the Kerygmata Petrou, and reconstructions of its likely contents have been proposed. The original Grundschrift is likely to go back to the third century, although the version of the Homilies and of the Recognitions known today is likely to date from the fourth century. The development of the material, its editing, and the nature and character of the various rewritings are the subject of much scholarly debate. Parts of both the Recognitions and the Homilies were translated into Syriac.

In the Homilies the following passages contain preaching attributed to Peter (including topics such as female prophecy, polemic against Paul, and the doctrine of Baptism): 2. (15), 16–17, 38, 43–4; 3. 17–26, 47–52; 11. 19, 25–33; 17. 13–19. None of these is included here.

The source for this material may have been an account of Peter's preaching (the Kerygmata Petrou). Another major source seems to have been an account of Peter's missionary activities. This includes details about his contacts with Simon (including Simon's former life), his appointment of, and instruction to, Zacchaeus as his successor, and his missionary journeys. These are to be found in Homilies 2. 22–6, 35; 3. 29–30, 38–43, 58–72; 4. 1, 6–22; 7. 1–2, 4, 5–9, 12; 8. 1, 4–7; Recognitions 10. 66–8.

As a sample of these acts of Peter the following are given in the translation below:

  • A. Peter and Simon at Caesarea (Hom. 2. 35; 3. 29–30, 38–43, 58).

  • B. Peter's missionary journeys to Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, Byblus, and Tripolis (Hom. 7. 1–2, 5–6, 8–10, 12; 8. 1, 4).


Greek and Latin

  • A. R. Dressel, PG 2, cols. 19–468 (Homilies).

  • E. G. Gersdorf, PG 1, cols. 1158–1478 (Recognitions).

Modern Critical Editions

  • B. Rehm, Die Pseudoklementinen, i. Homilien (Berlin, 1953; rev. F. Paschke, 1969) (= GCS 42); B. Rehm and F. Paschke, ii. Rekognitionen (Berlin, 1965) (= GCS 51); G. Strecker, iii. 1. Konkordanz (Berlin, 1986) (= GCS); id. iii.2 (Berlin 1989) (= GCS).

  • F. Paschke, Die beiden griechischen Klementinen‐Epitomen und ihre Anhänge (Berlin, 1966) (= TU 90).


  • W. Frankenberg, Die syrischen Clementinen mit griechischem Paralleltext (Leipzig, 1937) (= TU 48.3).


  • S. Grébaut, ‘Littérature éthiopienne pseudo‐Clémentine’, Revue de l'Orient Chrétien (Paris), 12 (1907), 139–51; 15 (1910), 198–214, 307–23, 425–39; 16 (1911), 72–81, 167–75, 225–33; 17 (1912), 16–31, 133–44, 244–52, 337–46; 18 (1913), 68–79; 19 (1914), 324–30; 20 (1915–17), 33–7, 424–30; 21 (1918–19), 246–52; 22 (1920–1), 22–8, 113–17, 395–400; 26 (1927–8), 22–31.

  • [The texts discussed here belong to a different tradition; cf. E. A. Wallis Budge in bibliography to the Acts of Peter above.]


  • de Santos Otero, Altslav. Apok. i. 140–6.

Modern Translations


  • Hennecke3, ii. 94–127, 532–70.

  • Hennecke5, ii. 483–541 (for contents see German below).

  • H.‐D. Betz, Galatians (Hermeneia Series) (Philadelphia 1979), 331–3 (Epistula Petri and two extracts from the Homilies).

  • The Ante‐Nicene Christian Library 17: Homilies, ed. T. Smith et al. (Edinburgh, 1870); ibid. 3: Recognitions, ed. T. Smith (Edinburgh, 1868).


  • Hennecke3, ii. 63–80 (G. Strecker), 373–99 (J. Irmscher).

  • Hennecke5, ii. 439–88 (G. Strecker and J. Irmscher) (Epistula Petri, Contestatio, Epistula Clementis, parts of the Clementine Romance, Kerygmata Petrou, Epitome II).


  • Erbetta, ii. 211–36 (Kerygmata Petrou and those acts of Peter allegedly behind the Pseudo‐Clementine literature).


  • A. Hilgenfeld, Die Klementinischen Recognitionen und Homilien nach ihrem Ursprung dargestellt (Jena, 1848).

  • C. Bigg, The Clementine Homilies (Oxford 1890) (= Studia Biblica et Ecclesiastica 2).

  • A. C. Headlam, ‘The Clementine Literature’, JTS 3 (1902), 41–58.

  • H. Waitz, Die Pseudoklementinen (Leipzig, 1904) (= TU (10) 25.4).

  • B. Rehm, ‘Zur Entstehung der pseudoclementinischen Schriften’, ZNW 37 (1938), 77–184.

  • A. Salles, ‘La diatribe anti‐paulienne dans le “le roman pseudo‐clémentin” et l'origine des “Kérygmes de Pierre” ’, Rev. Bib. 64 (1957), 516–51.

  • G. Strecker, Das Judenchristentum in der Pseudoklementinen (Berlin, 1958,2 1981) (= TU 70).

  • G. Quispel, ‘L’Évangile selon Thomas et les Clémentines', VC 12 (1958), 181–96.

  • A. Salles, ‘Simon le Magicien ou Marcion?’ VC 12 (1958), 197–224.

  • L. L. Kline, The Sayings of Jesus in the Pseudo‐Clementine Homilies (Missoula, 1975) (= SBL Dissertation Series 14).

A. Peter and Simon in Caesarea

Hom. 2.35:

Towards morning Zacchaeus came in and greeted us. He said to Peter, ‘Simon is postponing the disputation until tomorrow, for today is his sabbath, which occurs at eleven day intervals.’ To that Peter answered, ‘Say to Simon, “You may use your discretion, in the knowledge that we are ready to meet you whenever you wish in accordance with God's will.” ’ When Zacchaeus heard this he went off to deliver the reply . . .

Hom. 3:

29. While Peter was about to explain fully to us this mystic word Zaccheus came, saying, ‘Now indeed, Peter, is the time for you to go out and engage in the discussion; for a great crowd awaits you, packed together in the court; and in the midst of them stands Simon, like a war‐chieftain attended by his spearmen.’ And Peter, hearing this, ordered me to withdraw while he prayed, because I had not yet received baptism for salvation, and then he said to those who were already perfected, ‘Let us rise and pray that God, by his unfailing mercies, may help me as I strive for the salvation of the men whom he has made.’ And having thus spoken, and having prayed, he went out into the great open court; and there were many assembled for the purpose of seeing him, the forthcoming debate having made them more eager to listen.

30. Then, standing and seeing all the people gazing upon him in profound silence, and Simon the magician standing in the midst, he began to speak thus, ‘Peace be to all you who are in readiness to give your right hands to the truth of God, which is his great and incomparable gift in the present world. He who sent us, being an infallible prophet of that which is supremely profitable, commissioned us, by way of salutation before our words of instruction, to announce to you this truth, in order that if there be any son of peace among you peace may take hold of him through our teaching; but if any of you will not receive it, then we shall shake off the dust from our feet, which we have borne through our toils and brought to you that you may be saved, and will go to the houses and the cities of others . . .  ’ 1 Matt. 10: 12; Mark 6: 11; Luke 10: 5 .

38. When Peter had thus spoken Simon, at the edge of the crowd, cried aloud, ‘Why would you lie, and deceive the unlearned multitude standing around you, persuading them that it is unlawful to think that there are gods, and to call them so, when the books that are current among the Jews say that there are many gods? And now I wish, in the presence of all, to discuss with you from these books the necessity of thinking that there are gods; first respecting him whom you call God, that he is not the supreme and omnipotent, inasmuch as he is without foreknowledge, imperfect, in need, not good, and subject to many grievous passions. Wherefore, when this has been shown from the Scriptures, as I will prove, it follows that there is another, not written of, foreknowing, perfect, without want, good, removed from all grievous passions. But he whom you call the Demiurge is subject to the opposite evils.

39. ‘Therefore Adam, being made at first after his likeness, is created blind, and is said not to have knowledge of good or evil, and is found a transgressor, and is driven out of paradise and is punished with death. In like manner also, he who made him, because he is not able to see in all places, says with reference to the overthrow of Sodom, “Come, and let us go down, and see whether their deeds warrant the outcry which comes to me, that I may know”. 2 Gen. 18: 21 . Thus he shows himself ignorant. And in his saying respecting Adam, “Let us drive him out, lest he put forth his hand and touch the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”, 3 Gen. 3: 22 . the lest shows he is ignorant; and in driving him out lest he should eat and live for ever, he is also envious. And when it is written that “God repented that he had made man”, 4 Gen. 6: 6 . this implies both repentance and ignorance. For this reflection is a view by which one, through ignorance, wishes to inquire into the result of the things which he wills, or it is the act of one repenting on account of the event not being according to his expectation. And when it is written, “And the Lord smelled a scent of sweetness”, 5 Gen. 8: 21 . it is the sign of one in need; and his being pleased with the smell of the flesh of the sacrifice is the sign of one who is not good. But his tempting, as it is written, “And God did tempt Abraham”, 6 Gen. 22: 1 . indicates one who is wicked, and who is ignorant of the result of his endurance.’

40. In such a manner Simon, by taking many passages from the Scriptures, seemed to show that God is subject to every infirmity. And to this Peter said, ‘Does he who is evil, and wholly wicked, love to accuse himself in the things in which he sins? Answer me this.’ Then Simon said, ‘He does not.’ Then Peter said, ‘How, then, can God be evil and wicked, seeing that those evil things which have been commonly written regarding him, have been added by his own will?’ Then Simon said, ‘It may be that the charge against him is written by another power, and not according to his choice.’ Then Peter said, ‘Let us first inquire into this. If indeed he has of his own will accused himself, as you have just acknowledged, then he is not wicked; but if it is done by another power, we must ask and investigate with all energy who has subjected him who alone is good to all these evils.’

41. Then Simon said, ‘You are manifestly avoiding the hearing of the charge from the Scriptures against your God.’ Then Peter said, ‘You yourself appear to me to be doing this; for he who avoids the order of inquiry, does not wish a true investigation to be made. Hence I, who proceed in an orderly manner and wish that the author should first be considered, am clearly desirous to walk in a straight path.’ Then Simon said, ‘First confess that if the things written against the Creator are true he is not above all, since, according to the Scriptures, he is subject to all evil; then afterwards we shall inquire as to the author.’ Then Peter said, ‘  . . . 7 The text of this passage is obscure. I answer you. I say that if the things written against God are true they do not show that God is wicked.’ Then Simon said, ‘How can you maintain that?’

42. Then Peter said, ‘Because opposite things are written to those sayings which speak evil of him; wherefore neither the one nor the other can be confirmed.’ Then Simon said, ‘How, then, is the truth to be ascertained if some Scriptures say he is evil and others say he is good?’ Then Peter said, ‘Whatever sayings of the Scriptures are in harmony with the creation that was made by him are true, but whatever are contrary to it are false.’ Then Simon said, ‘How can you show that the Scriptures contradict themselves?’ And Peter said, ‘You say that Adam was created blind, which was not so; for he would not have pointed out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to a blind man and commanded him not to taste of it.’ Then Simon said, ‘He meant that his mind was blind.’ Then Peter said, ‘How could he be blind in respect of his mind, who, before tasting of the tree with the agreement of him who made him, gave appropriate names to all the animals?’ Then Simon said, ‘If Adam had foreknowledge, how did he not foreknow that the serpent would deceive his wife?’ Then Peter said, ‘If Adam had not foreknowledge, how could he give names to his sons at their births with reference to their future doings, calling the first Cain (which is interpreted “envy”), who through envy killed his brother Abel (which is interpreted “grief”, for his parents grieved over him), the first to be slain?

43. ‘But if Adam, being the work of God, had foreknowledge, much more the God who created him. And it is false when it is written that God reflected, as if he had to reflect on account of ignorance; and likewise the statement that the Lord tempted Abraham, that he might know if he would endure it; and that which is written, “Let us go down, and see if their deeds warrant the outcry which comes to me, that I may know.” And, not to extend my discourse too far, whatever sayings ascribe ignorance to him, or anything else that is evil, are proved to be false, being overturned by other sayings which affirm the contrary.’

58. Therefore Simon, perceiving that Peter was driving him to use the Scriptures as Jesus taught, was unwilling that the discussion should go into the doctrine concerning God, even although Peter had changed the discussion into question and answer, as Simon himself asked. However, the discussion occupied three days. And while the fourth was dawning he set off in the dark as far as Tyre of Phoenicia. And a few days after, some of those who had gone ahead came and said to Peter, ‘Simon is doing great miracles in Tyre, and disturbing many of the people there; and by many slanders he has made you to be hated.’

B. Peter's Missionary Journeys

Hom. 7:

1. And on the fourth day of our stay in Tyre, Peter went out about daybreak, and there met him not a few of the neighbouring people as well as very many of the inhabitants of Tyre itself, who cried out and said, ‘May God have mercy upon us through you and through you heal us!’ And Peter stood on a high stone that all might see him, and having greeted them in a godly manner thus began,

2. ‘God, who created the heavens and the whole universe, does not lack power for the salvation of those who would be saved . . .  ’

5. After Peter had spent a few days in teaching them in this way, and in healing them, they were baptized. At the time of his other wondrous deeds they all sat down together in the market‐places in sackcloth and ashes, grieving because of their former sins. And when the people of Sidon heard it, they did likewise, and sent to beseech Peter, since they could not come themselves because of their diseases. And Peter did not spend many days in Tyre; but when he had instructed all its inhabitants, and freed them from all kinds of diseases, he founded a church, and set over it as bishop one of the elders who were with him, and departed for Sidon. But when Simon heard that Peter was coming, he straightway fled to Berytus with Appion and his friends.

6. And as Peter entered Sidon they brought many on couches, and laid them before him. And he said to them, ‘Do not, I pray you, believe that I can do anything to heal you. I am a mortal man, myself subject to many evils. But I shall not refuse to show you the way in which you must be saved . . .  ’

8 . . .  . Such was Peter's counsel to the men of Sidon. And in a few days many repented and believed, and were healed. And Peter, having founded a church, set over it as bishop one of the elders who were with him, and left Sidon.

9. No sooner had he reached Berytus than an earthquake took place; and the multitude, running to Peter, said, ‘Help us, for we are afraid we shall all utterly perish.’ Then Simon, along with Appion and Anubion and Athenodorus and the rest of his companions, tried to cry out to the people against Peter in public, ‘Flee, friends, from this man: he is a magician; trust us, he it was who caused this earthquake; he sent us these diseases to terrify us, as if he were a god himself.’ And many such false charges did Simon and his friends bring against Peter, as if he were somebody above human power. But as soon as the people gave him a moment's quiet, Peter with surprising boldness smiled and said, ‘Friends, I admit that I can do, God willing, what these men say; and more than that, I am ready, if you do not believe what I say, to overturn your city from top to bottom.’

10. And the people were afraid, and promised to do whatever he should command. ‘Let none of you’, said Peter, ‘either associate with these sorcerers, or have anything to do with them.’ And as soon as the people heard this concise command they took up sticks and pursued them till they had driven them completely out of the town. And those who were sick and possessed with devils came and cast themselves at Peter's feet . . .

12. As he said these things they all fell on their knees before his feet. And he, lifting up his hands to heaven, prayed to God, and healed them all by his simple prayer alone. And he did not remain for long in Berytus; but after he had accustomed many to the service of the one God, and had baptized them, and had set over them a bishop from the elders who were him, he went to Byblus. And when he came there he learned that Simon had not waited for them for even a day, but had gone straightway to Tripolis. He remained there only a few days; and after he had healed not a few, and instructed them in the Scriptures, he followed in Simon's track to Tripolis, preferring to pursue him rather than flee from him.

Hom. 8:

1. Now as Peter was entering Tripolis the people from Tyre and Sidon, Berytus and Byblus, and many from the neighbourhood who were eager to get instruction, entered along with him; and not least were there gatherings of the multitudes from the city itself wishing to see him . . .

4. Then Peter, wondering at the eagerness of the multitudes, answered, ‘You see, brethren, how the words of our Lord are manifestly fulfilled. For I remember his saying, “Many shall come from the east and from the west, the north and the south, and shall recline on the bosoms of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob”. 8 Matt. 8: 11; Luke 13: 29 . But he also said, “Many are called but few chosen”. 9 Matt. 22: 14 . In their coming in response to the call, much is fulfilled. But inasmuch as it is not of themselves, but of God, who has called them and caused them to come, on this account alone they have no reward, since it is not of themselves, but of him who has wrought it in them. But if, after being called, they do things that are excellent, then this is of themselves and for this they shall have a reward.’


1 Matt. 10: 12; Mark 6: 11; Luke 10: 5 .

2 Gen. 18: 21 .

3 Gen. 3: 22 .

4 Gen. 6: 6 .

5 Gen. 8: 21 .

6 Gen. 22: 1 .

7 The text of this passage is obscure.

8 Matt. 8: 11; Luke 13: 29 .

9 Matt. 22: 14 .

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