Rich clients and poor patrons : functions of friendship in Clement of Alexandria's Quis Dives Salvetur
Quis Dives Salvetur (QDS) is a small but fascinating homiletic treatise composed by Clement of Alexandria which seeks to address certain problems concerning the salvific status of wealthy Christians. The aim of this thesis is to ascertain the beliefs and actions that Clement wants his wealthy readers to adopt as a result of reading this discourse. This study presupposes that Clement's views on wealth did not change drastically over the period of time since composing his other works. The implication is that the complex philosophical and theological concepts in QDS may be illuminated from similar treatments in his other works. This study shows that the Graeco-Roman philosophical and cultural conventions of friendship play fundamental roles in the two rubrics under which many of the key concepts in QDS may be grouped. Salvation is ultimately friendship and sonship with God, and is the telos of philosophical and ethical ascent, where the believer becomes like God in his apathetic and beneficent nature. Clement adapts the Stoic doctrine of oikeiosis to describe the way in which a believer progresses from a nascent self-knowledge and self-love at regeneration to the knowledge of God and love of God at his adoption as son and friend. Salvation in QDS is not purely an individualistic pursuit, rather it is located in the church as the ideal philosophical community of friends, where relations are grounded on an ethic of reciprocity. This study challenges the dominant view held by modern scholars that the whole of QDS is devoted to vindicating the possibility that the rich can be saved even as rich. This view ignores the fact that the rich are to strive for the gnostic state of apatheia. Having devoted the first half of the treatise to showing that the wealthy are called to salvation, Clement counsels them, in the second half, to distribute their superfluous possessions indiscriminately to those less well-off in their community, while retaining a frugal self-sufficiency. Concomitant with indiscriminate almsgiving, rich believers must undertake a second repentance which requires them to submit to an advanced Christian who will act as their spiritual patron, guide and advocate before God.