You are on page 1of 4

American Society of Church History

Making Christians: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy by Denise Kimber
Buell
Review by: Kim Haines-Eitzen
Church History, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. 867-869
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Society of Church History
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3169336 .
Accessed: 28/11/2014 06:13
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Cambridge University Press and American Society of Church History are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize,
preserve and extend access to Church History.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 134.93.86.83 on Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:13:06 AM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

BOOKREVIEWSAND NOTES
Les Apologistes Chretienset la Culture Grecque.Edited by Bernard Pouderon
and Joseph Dore. Theologie Historique 105. Paris:Beauchesne, 1998. xiv +
490 pp. 288 FF paper.
These twenty-three essays, all in French and most written by members of
Frenchuniversities, are a selection of papers presented at a colloquium held at
Institut Catholique de Paris in September 1996. Topics range from the first
Christianapologies and their relation to Judeo-Hellenistic apologetics through
Justin, Tatian, Tertullian, and Lactantius, among others, ending with two
essays on Syriac and Georgian literature of the sixth through eighth centuries.
Though these touch upon history, philosophy, theology, and culture, the focus
is very heavily philological and the quality very uneven. Some, such as M.
Alexandre on Judeo-Hellenistic apologetic, I. Bochet on Augustine, and M.
Calvet-Sebasti on Nazianzus and Theodoret, are solid, focused, and up-todate. Others have a variety of flaws. A. Hamman on Justin is oddly elementary and dated. M. Fedou on the figure of Socrates in Justin offers nothing new.
B. Pouderon on the formation of a Christian intellectual elite is disappointing
since he concerns himself with historical theology and literary sources,
ignoring social-historical questions on the nature and formation of elites and
their relation to the mass of believers. P. Laurence on Jerome, Greek culture,
and women is even more disappointing, contenting himself with observations
on Jerome's opinion of Greek, using his letters to women as sources, and
leaving untouched rich questions regarding women's education and literary
tastes. None of the sizable literature on Jerome and women that has appeared
in the past several years is even mentioned. A sketchy and dated bibliography
appears at the end of this only marginally useful work.
James A. Francis
University of Kentucky
Making Christians: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy. By
Denise Kimber Buell. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. xiv +
221 pp. $39.50 cloth.
In recent years, scholars of late antiquity have given much attention to
ancient rhetoric,interpretation,and discursive formations of identity. In some
cases, this has been fueled primarily by the interest in texts, authors and
readers, and interpretive communities among critical and literary theorists
(for example, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Stanley Fish) or by recent
consideration of literacy in antiquity (for example, William Harris);in others,
the influence of theory and studies of literacy remain secondary and unacknowledged. The extent to which theoretical work is given credit, however,
does not negate what all of these recent studies have in common: a desire to
explore the cultural, religious, and social significance of rhetoricalmaneuvers
performed by ancient authors to effect various responses in their readers or
hearers. Denise Kimber Buell's lucidly written and carefully crafted Making
Christians:ClementofAlexandriaand theRhetoricof Legitimacyscarcely mentions
theoretical influences but shares the interest in the uses, functions, and
implications of early Christian rhetoric. The study, a revision of Buell's
doctoral dissertation (Harvard, 1995), opens with a broad question-"How
867

This content downloaded from 134.93.86.83 on Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:13:06 AM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

868

CHURCH HISTORY

did second-century Christians vie with each other in seeking to produce an


authoritative discourse of Christian identity?" (1)-but soon narrows its focus
to the functions and implications of procreative and kinship metaphors in the
works of Clement of Alexandria. Through the lens of Clement's writings,
Buell argues that "procreativeand kinship metaphors function polemically in
early Christian discourses of self-identity and self-authorization" (4).
After the introduction, the study is organized into ten chapters. The first
two chapters examine, respectively, Clement's "preferred metaphor" for
procreation-that of the "sowing of human (male) seed into human (female)
soil" (19)-and how he uses this metaphor "to define and naturalize" his
views on Christian sexual practices. Throughout chapter 2, Buell explores the
cultural matrix in which Clement draws his connections between the agricultural imagery used to talk about procreation (seed/soil) and normative sexual
behavior. Clement is not alone, she argues, in using imagery like the field
and/or earth as an "analog" for women-such imagery is useful precisely
because it illumines the passive role for women in procreation.
Chapters 3 through 8 treat several intersections between procreative and
kinship language and the construction of boundaries of Christian identity.
Chapter 3 takes up the imagery of procreation (again the seed/soil metaphor)
as Clement uses it to discuss the role of teacher and student, another
relationship that is based upon an active partner and a passive one. While one
might think that this articulation of learning as procreation would lead
Clement to identify the student as a "woman," Buell demonstrates that the
students are called "sons" in contrast to the teachers who are "fathers."A brief
chapter follows on Clement's use of procreative metaphors to defend his
writings and, above all, "to demonstrate his reliability as a transmitter of
Christian truth" (78).
Chapter 5 explores the use of procreative and kinship imagery in the
context of early Christian debates about "heresy" and "orthodoxy."Buell here
argues that the language of procreation and kinship provided the "primary
basis for arguments for authenticity and inauthenticity" (79). According to
Buell, Clement defines the "orthodox" as those who know their true father
(God), have received teaching from the single true source (the Logos), and
maintain and cultivate this teaching/belief. Heretics, on the other hand, are
"bastards" whose views have no authority because they cannot trace their
lineage. In chapter 6, Buell addresses how kinship language serves as "border
discourse"-that is, how Clement mobilizes kinship metaphors to describe
and circumscribethe Christian "family."Such a technique enables Clement to
deal with the problems of Christian diversity as well threats to Christianunity
from the non-Christians. Chapter 7 examines Clement's use of kinship metaphors (here especially parents and children) to argue for the unity of all
Christians (who are like children at different stages in the developmental
process). This metaphor allows Clement to praise certain qualities in Christians (innocence, obedience, loyalty, and simplicity) while depicting the
hierarchicalrelationship between humans and the divine. Chapter 8 returns to
the subject of education, here specifically paideia, to argue that "paideia
functions as a means of producing and ensuring social relations of dominance
and subordination on two levels" (129).
The final two chapters focus on Clement's exegesis of 1 Corinthians 3:2.
Clement's allegorical interpretations of this verse illustrate, according to
Buell, how procreative and kinship metaphors serve to identify Christians at

This content downloaded from 134.93.86.83 on Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:13:06 AM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

BOOK REVIEWSAND NOTES

869

various stages of "perfection," "establish the boundaries for his version of


Christianity" (148), confirm God as father (despite exhibiting some maternal
qualities), and strengthen his emphasis on divine patrilineage.
Buell's overarching argument is that the use of procreative and kinship
metaphors helps Clement achieve certain rhetoricalgoals-namely, "he is able
to exclude, silence, and erase rival Christian voices" (180). Herein lies both the
strength and the weakness of this study, for while Buell articulates convincingly how Clement uses these metaphors, much more attention could be
given to the implications and effectiveness of his rhetoric. In a study that
assumes at the outset that "metaphors are meaningful constructs, produced
by the interaction between reader/hearer and text" (14), it seems absolutely
vital to address the readers/hearers of Clement's text. Likewise, more could
be said about the connection or disconnection between Clement's rhetoricand
the social "reality" of his day. One of Buell's most persuasive arguments is
that Clement's rhetoric,and the use of biological metaphors in other writers as
well, serves to "naturalize" precisely what is not "reality." But when, for
example, Buell argues that gendered imagery for the teacher/student relationship "does not tell us the actual gendered makeup of Clement's audience but
rather informs us of how certain assumptions about gender and procreation
are inscribed into his views about the production and transmission of knowledge" (64), one wishes for further exploration of his audience. Without
attention to Clement's readers/hearers, a study of his rhetoricremains primarily descriptive. Despite these criticisms, Buell's study makes an important
contribution to the ongoing discussion of early Christian rhetoricand interpretation.
Kim Haines-Eitzen
Cornell University
The Making of a Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome. By Elizabeth
DePalma Digeser. Ithaca and London: Corell University Press, 2000. xvii
+ 199 pp. $39.95 cloth.
In a letter to Paulinus of Nola, Jerome praised Lactantius's Ciceronian
eloquence but lamented the North African rhetor's mediocrity as an apologist
for the faith (ep. 58.10). From his Theodosian vantage point, however, Jerome
may have misjudged Lactantius's impact upon the religious politics of the
Constantinian age. TheMakingof a ChristianEmpireintends to set the record
straight, for Elizabeth Digeser is less interested in the idiosyncrasies of
Lactantius's theology than in the vision for a broadly inclusive new Christian
order that, she argues, he shared with the first Christian emperor.Moreover,in
contrast to Jerome, Lactantius, enlisted by Constantine to tutor his son, was in
a position to influence directly an emperor's policies.
Setting out to find "history"not "theology" in the Divine Institutes,Digeser
makes a substantial claim on behalf of the significance of Lactantius's thought
for "Rome's religious transformation" (ix). The Divine Institutes,she argues,
was conceived not merely as a general response to the persecution that
erupted in 303 C.E. but more specifically as a rebuttal of Porphyry's Philosophy
from Oracles,which had provided the "conceptual justification" for Diocletian's anti-Christian campaign (8). Lactantius's strategy entailed convincing
pagan intellectuals, many of whom were now inclined towards monotheism,
that they had more in common with Christians than with the practitioners of

This content downloaded from 134.93.86.83 on Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:13:06 AM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions