YCAS 2015 Profiles 12: Dominique Côté

This is the twelfth in a series of profiles of the presenters at the upcoming 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium to be held September 25-26 at York University in Toronto. Just over a week away! Remember, if you register for the symposium, you will receive drafts of the papers in advance (and many of them are available now), thus enabling you to participate more fully in the discussions that follow. For registration information, visit the YCAS 2015 web site (HERE).

Dominique Cote Head ShotDominique Côté is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of Le thème de l’opposition entre Pierre et Simon dans les Pseudo-Clémentines (Paris, Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 2001), which explores the literary and philosophical background of the pseudo-Clementine novel. In addition to several publications on the Pseudo-Clementines and their interaction with Greek culture and Jewish mysticism, he has also conducted research on Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists, examining the definition of the sophist and the philosopher.

Though, strictly speaking, neither a philologist nor a historian, Côté is a classicist interested in the history of ideas, in the concept of Greek culture and its transformation in Late Antiquity (3rd-5th centuries), to be more precise. In particular, he focuses on the representation and the definition of the Sophos (philosopher, sophist, saint) in Jewish-Christian (the Pseudo-Clementines) and Greek literature (Eunapius of Sardis, Libanius, and the Emperor Julian) of the 4th century. He has recently become interested in Rufinus of Aquileia’s Latin translation of the pseudo-clementine Recognitions in the context of the Origenist crisis.

In addition to teaching courses on Greek literature, Greek mythology, and the Christianization of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, Côté, a graduate of l’Université de Montréal (BA and MA in Classics), and of l’Université Laval (PhD in Theology), is currently Chair in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa.


“In the Name of James and Clement. The Brother of Jesus in the Pseudo-Clementines”

Every scholar who is familiar with the Pseudo-Clementines knows that the Homilies and the Recognitions, attributed to Clement of Rome, are presented as a summary of Peter’s preaching (Rec. III, 75; Ep. Cl., 20) to be sent to James, the Lord and the bishop of bishops (Ep. Cl. 1, 1). Almost absent from the Homilies and confined essentially, in the Recognitions, to Book I, 27-71, James of Jerusalem has a peripheral role in the Pseudo-Clementines’ plot. It is mainly in the introductory writings (Epistula Clementis, Epistula Petri, Contestatio) that James emerges as an authority that even Peter must obey. Both the Homilies and the Recognitions include the Epistula Clementis, whereas the Epistula Petri and the writing known as the Contestatio or Diamartyria are attached to the Homilies only. In this paper, I shall try to understand why James’ importance as a leader is concentrated in these introductory writings. In order to do so, the issue of these writings’ authorship will be examined again, following Strecker, Wehnert, Pouderon and Bovon inter alios, in an attempt to see, for instance, if some or all of these writings were attached to the Homilies by its author, or by a later redactor, or if the Homilist simply made up these writings. Beyond the authorship problem, this paper will explore possible answers to the question of why invoke the authority of James in the fourth century, or in other words, why present the Apostle Peter as subject to the authority of James, the Brother of the Lord, at this time in the history of Christianity?

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