Episode 94: Becoming Gods: Divinisation and Angelomorphic Transformation in Clement

Having set the stage in previous episodes, we are finally (somewhat, with trepidation) ready to discuss Clement’s endgame: face-to-face encounters with the deity, angelomorphic hierarchies in which Gnostic Christians can take their place – even the highest place of all – and a universal apocatastasis, whereby all created, intelligent beings are evolving, slowly but surely, toward god. This is western esotericism at its absolute finest.

Works Cited in this Episode:

Thanks to Geoffrey Smith for sending us his Valentinian sourcebook (which you can pre-order here) ahead of its publication so we could cite his text and translation of the Extracts of Theodotus.


In the references below, refs. in square brackets do not appear in the episode, but are extra citations for the zealous Gnostic reader who wishes to go ad fontes.


  • Clement gives an account of the Holy Spirit in his [lost] On Prophecy and On the Soul: Strom. V:13:88 [cf. Strom. I:24:158, IV:13:93].
  • The ‘heptad of the spirit’ (τοῦ πνεύματος τῇ ἑπτάδι): Paed. 3:12:87.
  • [The Logos/God as the world of Forms: e.g. Strom. IV.155.2; V.73.3; IV.156.1-2; V.38.7].
  • ‘The operative power (ἡ δραστικὴ ἐνέργεια) is imparted by descent through those that are moved successively (δὶα τῶν προσεχέστερον κινουμένων)’: Strom. VI.16.148, trans. Bucur 2007.
  • The 7 Protoktists as the ‘first-created nature of the angels’ (εἰς τὴν πρωτόκτιστον τῶν ἀγγέλων φύσιν …): Ecl. Proph. 57.4.
  • The 7 ‘first-born rulers of the angels (οἱ πρωτόγονοι ἀγγέλων ἄρχοντες) who have the greatest power’: Strom. VI.16.142-143 [Cf. Strom. V.6.35, in an esoteric interpretation of the Temple drawing on Isa 11:1-2; Zech 4:2, 10; Rev 1:4; Rev 5:6; Rev 8:2].
  • On the 7 Protoktists as primordial numerical plurality in the chain of being: Exc. Theod. 10: οἱ δὲ Πρωτόκτιστοι, εἰ καὶ ἀριθμῷ διάφοροι καὶ ὁ καθ’ ἕκαστον περιώρισται καὶ περιγέγραπται, ἀλλ’ ἡ ὁμοιότης τῶν πραγμάτων ἑνότητα καὶ ἰσότητα καὶ ὁμοιότητα ἐνδείκνυται. Οὐ γὰρ τῷδε μὲν πλέον, τῷδε δὲ ἧττον παρέσχηται τῶν Ἑπτά· οὐδ’ ὑπολείπεται τις αὐτοῖς προκοπή, ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀπειληφότων τὸ τέλειον, ἅμα τῇ πρώτῃ γενέσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ.
  • The soul, ascending, is by herself, communes with the forms, and is like an angel, with Christ: Strom. IV.155.4: ὅταν γὰρ ψυχὴ γενεσέως ὑπεξαναβᾶσα καθ’ ἑαυτήν τε ᾖ καὶ ὁμιλῇ τοῖς εἴδεσιν … οἷος ἄγγελος ἤδη γενόμενος σὺν χριστῷ ἔσται … [cf. e.g. Strom. VII.56.7: τῶν ὑπὸ τῷ Σωτῆρι πρώτων τεταγμένων γενησόμενοι].
  • On those from among the humans, angels, and archangels who are perfected to the first-created nature of the angels: οἱ τελειωθέντες εἰσὶν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, ἀγγέλων, ἀρχαγγέλων εἰς τὴν πρωτόκτιστον τῶν ἀγγέλων φύσιν … Ecl. Proph. 57.4.
  • ‘They have been named ‘gods,’ being destined to be enthroned together with the other gods that have been given the first rank by the Saviour.’: Strom. VII.10.56-57 [cf. Strom. VI.13.1; 56.3].
  • On the ‘celestial customs’, with need for a symbolon to pass by the guardian angels: Strom. IV.116.2 [cf. IV.117.2, VII.83.1].

On divinisation:

  • Irenæus: Adv. Haer. I.71: πνεύματα νοερὰ γεγομένους.
  • Paul: 1 Cor. 13:12: βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾽ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον· ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην. Paul’s account of an ascent to the third heaven while still alive: II Cor. 12:2-4. Incidentally, Paul specifically says that this ascender to heaven was not himself; however, Christians have always read this account as really referring to Paul, which I guess means Paul is being either modest or esoteric here.
  • Plato on divinisation ‘insofar as possible’: Theæt. 176b. After death: Laws 10: 904d. We quote Malcolm Schofield, editor, Tom Griffin, translator. Plato: Laws. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016.
  • Apuleius de Plat. 2.249: nam vinculis liberata corporeis sapientis anima remigrat ad deos et pro merito vitæ purius castiusque transactæ hoc ipso usu deorum se condicioni conciliat [Cf. 2.255].
  • Plotinus: ‘our concern is not to be sinless, but to be god’: Enn. I.2.6.2-3.
  • Poemandres 26: δυνάμεις γενόμενοι ἐν θεῷ γίνονται. τουτό ἐστι τὸ ἀγαθὸν τέλος τοῖς γνῶσιν ἐσχηκόσι, θεωθήναι.

On Angels and Other Beings:

  • Matt. 22:30; cf. Mark 12: 25, Luke 20:35-36.
  • Psalms 81:6: θεοί ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ὑψίστου πάντες.


  • Bucur: see publications listed below.
  • Crispin Fletcher-Lewis. Luke-Acts: Angels, Christology and Soteriology. Number 94 in Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. Mohn Siebeck, Tübingen, 1997. We cite pp. 14-15.
  • Lilla 1971 (see below): Excerpta e Theod. 27 cannot be by Clement, because it is ‘Gnostic’: p. 175.
  • Raoul Mortley. Mirror and 1 Cor 13:12 in the Epistemology of Clement of Alexandria. Vigiliae Christianae, 30:109–120, 1976.. We cite pp. 112-14.
  • Oeyen 1966: see below.
  • Andrei A. Orlov. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2005.

Recommended Reading:

Most Generally:

  • Bogdan Bucur. The Other Clement of Alexandria: Cosmic Hierarchy and Interiorized Apocalypticism. Vigiliae Christianae, 60:251–68, 2006.
  • Idem. Revisiting Christian Oeyen: “The Other Clement” on Father, Son, and Angelomorphic Spirit. Vigiliae Christianae, 61:381–413, 2007.
  • Idem. Angelomorphic Pneumatology: Clement of Alexandria and other Early Christian Witnesses. Brill, Leiden/Boston, MA, 2009a.
  • Idem. The Place of the Hypotyposeis in the Clementine Corpus: An Apology for “The Other Clement of Alexandria”. Journal of Early Christian Studies, 17: 313–35, 2009b.
  • Idem. Hierarchy, Eldership, Isangelia: Clement of Alexandria and the Ascetic Tradition. In Doru Costache, Philip Kariatlis, and Mario Baghos, editors, Alexandrian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, pages 2–45. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 2015.
  • G.W. Butterworth. The Deification of Man in Clement of Alexandria. JTS, 17:157–69, 1916.
  • Christian Oeyen. Eine frühchristliche Engelpneumatologie bei Klemens von Alexandrien. Bern, 1966.

On Cosmic Ascent in Clement:

  • G. Békés. De continua oratione Clementis Alexandri doctrina. Studia Anselmiana, 14, 1942. pp. 73-88.
  • D.W. Bousset. Die Himmelsreise der Seele. Archiv fúr Religionswissenschaft, pages 136–69, 220–71, 1901. pp. 148-9.
  • Salvatore Lilla. Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1971. pp. 181-89.
  • A. Méhat. Étude sur les ‘Stromates’ de Clément d’ Alexandrie. Paris, 1966. pp. 456-75.

On Angelification/Deification:

  • John J. Collins. A Throne in the Heavens: Apotheosis in Pre-Christian Judaism. In John J. Collins and Michael Fishbane, editors, Death, Ecstasy, and Other Worldly Journeys, pages 43–58. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 1995.
  • Andrei A. Orlov. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2005.



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