Clement of Alexandria: The Authority of the Sage, the Embodiment of the Telos

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This dissertation seeks to provide a deeper understanding of Clement of Alexandria’s portrayal of the philosophical conception of the figure of the sage as an authority. The study begins with an investigation into the figure of the sage as understood by Stoics and Platonists during the Middle Platonic era. In this chapter, it is argued that the authority of the sage is in part founded in its connection to the telos of philosophy. That is, the sage is the closest person to a true embodiment of the telos and therefore is in the best position to speak of it. Once this is shown through historical examples of figures who became sages, such as Socrates, Plato and Zeno, the study begins the next chapter with an investigation of Philo of Alexandria’s use of Moses as sage. Here it is shown that Philo follows the philosophical milieu of his period in putting forth an authoritative figure who, by Philo’s argument, best resembles the telos. Philo put forth Moses as the greatest of all sages, the very image of the telos. Following the chapter on Philo, the study begins its discussion upon Clement of Alexandria. This final chapter will show that Clement also fit within his philosophical period in the manner he portrayed the figure of the sage as a means to understand the telos. However, Clement’s Christian theology amplified his claim of having an authoritative sage. Christ, for Clement is the logos itself, and thus the telos itself. In addition to his description of Christ, Clement portrays another ideal of the sage, the Gnostic. Clement’s Gnostic fulfills the role of a sage which is attainable to followers of Christ, while also enhancing the authority of Christ as one who is able to lead his followers so close to the telos.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Scalise, Charles

Document Type





Clement of Alexandria, Saint, Philosophers, Logos, Christian theology


Missions and World Christianity


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