Monday, September 22, 2008


Lately I've been reading the writings of a lot of the church fathers. My current book is by Clement of Alexandria, writing in the second century A.D.

I've often thought that as beloved as the writings of C.S. Lewis are to me, he has predecessors that belong to a long line of men and women who have been graced with a more keen insight on the truth than most of their contemporaries. I've always been fascinated by these unknown authors (or at least unknown to me). Out of a desire to know more of them, I remember buying a book back in 1989 of some of the writings of the early church fathers. Clement was included in the anthology that I purchased.

There are tremendous insights to be gleaned from his work, and I'll post a few excerpts in the next day or so. Aside from his spiritual insights, I marvel at the depth of the material that he quotes in this work that I'm reading, Stromateis. According to the editor, Clement cites 384 different literary works. Living in Alexandria, before the library was destroyed, afforded Clement with a wealth of information and he uses this wealthy resource to full advantage in his writing.

One quote in particular is something that I find worth sharing on my blog, since it is the source of one of the maxims that we all still use to this day.

My son, well-spoken words may still be false
and use beauty of language to win victory
over the truth. But that is not what counts for most.
Rather it is an upright nature. A victory won
by eloquence shows cleverness. But I think
that actions always speak louder than words.

Clement quotes from Antiope, written by Euripides who lived from c. 484 B.C. to 406 B.C.

The continuity and similarity that exists between people in different cultures and different ages, as well as the common adoption of pithy maxims such as "actions always speak louder than words" by generations upon generations of men never ceases to amaze me.

No comments: