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The Philosophical Problem of “Place” in Clement’s Exegesis of the Prologue to the Gospel of John

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Chapter Summary

This study explores a little noticed aspect of Clement’s Logos theology by considering how he uses the philosophical concept of “place” in interpreting the Prologue to the Gospel of John. The writings of Plato and Philo of Alexandria testify that understanding the meaning of “place” is a recurrent problem for both philosophy and theology. Plato testifies to the serious difficulty of this issue with inferential, almost mystical silence, while Philo offers a confident explanation. Does the existence of beings depend on their having a place? Or does the existence of place depend on the existence of beings? Perhaps these were the questions that Clement had in mind when wrestling with the theme of place in John 1. In any case, it is a fact that, when Clement reflects on place, he relates it to the question of the existence of beings. This involves a train of thought composed of elements of physics, metaphysics, and theology that Clement believed pervaded the Prologue of John. Here the main character is the Divine Logos, who is the guarantor of both of place and existence.



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