Some time in the second century there sprang up a crop of heretical writings in the Ebionite sect which were falsely attributed to Clement of Rome. The two principal forms in which these have come down to us are the so-called Homilies and Recognitions. The Recognitions however are only extant in a Latin translation by Rufinus, in which the quotations from the Gospels have evidently been assimilated to the Canonical text which Rufinus himself used. They are not, therefore, in any case available for our purpose. Whether the Recognitions or the Homilies came first in order of time is a question much debated among critics, and the even way in which the best opinions seem to be divided is a proof of the uncertainty of the data. On the one side are ranged Credner, Ewald, Reuss, Schwegler, Schliemann, Uhlhorn, Dorner, and Luecke, who assign the priority to the Homilies: on the other, Hilgenfeld, Koestlin, Ritschl (doubtfully), and Volkmar, who give the first place to the Recognitions [Endnote 162:1]. On the ground of authority perhaps the preference should be given to the first of these, as representing more varied parties and as carrying with them the greater weight of sound judgment, but it is impossible to say that the evidence on either side is decisive.
The majority of critics assign the Clementines, in one form or the other, to the middle of the second century. Credner, Schliemann, Scholten, and Renan give this date to the Homilies; Volkmar and Hilgenfeld to the Recognitions; Ritschl to both recensions alike [Endnote 162:2]. We shall assume hypothetically that the Homilies are rightly thus dated. I incline myself to think that this is more probable, but, speaking objectively, the probability could not have a higher value put upon it than, say, two in three.
One reason for assigning the Homilies to the middle of the second century is presented by the phenomena of the quotations from the Gospels which correspond generally to those that are found in writings of this date, and especially, as has been frequently noticed, to those which we meet with in Justin. I proceed to give a tabulated list of the quotations. In order to bring out a point of importance I have indicated by a letter in the left margin the presence in the Clementine quotations of some of the peculiarities of our present Gospels. When this letter is unbracketed, it denotes that the passage is only found in the Gospel so indicated; when the letter is enclosed in brackets, it is implied that the passage is synoptical, but that the Clementines reproduce expressions peculiar to that particular Gospel. The direct quotations are marked by the letter Q. Many of the references are merely allusive, and in more it is sufficiently evident that the writer has allowed himself considerable freedom [Endnote 163:1].