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Finally, the supposed reference to persecution may be a literary device, as pointed out by Welborn.
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This statement is usually interpreted as an allusion to a persecution through which the church at Rome has just been passing. 5 speaks of the Neronian persecution as something long past, the sporadic assaults of Domitian must be meant. The account of the deaths of Peter and Paul in chap. The presbyters installed by the apostles have died (44:2), and a second ecclesiastical generation has passed (44:3). Loisy maintains that the author of 1 Clement was a distinguished Roman elder who flourished 130-140 and that this Clement was named in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vision, 8:3), which is also to be dated to the mid second century.
But the langauge of 1:1 is so vague that one may doubt whether it refers to persecution at all (Merrill 1924: 160); and the evidence for a persecution under Domitian is tenuous (Merrill 1924: 148-73). The church at Rome is called "ancient" (47:6); and the emissaries from Rome are said to have lived "blamelessly" as Christians "from youth to old age" (63:3). Thus one may place the composition of 1 Clement between A. Notably, a writing is mentioned in 1 Clement 23:3 in which the challenge is quoted, "These things we did hear in the days of our fathers also, and behold we have grown old, and none of these things hath befallen us." Because this source document for 1 Clement must have been written when the hope of the imminent parousia was waning, and because 1 Clement itself must have dealt with the same issue, the document can scarcely be dated to the time of the first Christian generation.