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CLEMENTINE LITERATURE

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Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 494 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CLEMENTINE LITERATURE, the name generally given to the writings which at one time or another were fathered upon Pope Clement I. (q.v.), commonly called Clemens Romanus, who was early regarded as a disciple of St Peter. Thus they are for the most part a species of the larger pseudo-Petrine genus. Chief among them are: (1) The so-called Second Epistle; (2) two Epistles on Virginity; (3) the Homilies and Recognitions; (4) the Apostolical Constitutions (q.v.); and (5) five epistles forming part of the Forged Decretals (see DECRETALS). The present article deals mainly with the third group, to which the title Clementine literature " is usually confined, owing to the stress laid upon it in the famous Tubingen reconstruction of primitive Christianity, in which it played a leading part; but later criticism has lowered its importance as its true date and historical relations have been progressively ascertained. (1) and (2) became " Clementine " only by chance, but (3) was so originally by literary device or fiction, the cause at work also in (4) and (5). But while in all cases the suggestion of Clement's authorship came ultimately from his prestige as writer of the genuine Epistle of Clement (see CLEMENT I.), both (3) and (4) were due to this idea as operative on Syrian soil; (5) is a secondary formation based on (3) as known to the West. (r) The " Second Epistle of Clement."—This is really the earliest extant Christian homily (see APosTOLIc FATHERS). Its theme is the duty of Christian repentance, with a view to obedience to Christ's precepts as the true confession and homage which He requires. Its special charge is " Preserve the flesh pure and the seal (i.e. baptism) unstained " (viii. 6). But the peculiar way in which it enforces its morals in terms of the Platonic contrast between the spiritual and sensuous worlds, as archetype and temporal manifestation, suggests a special local type of theology which must be taken into account in fixing its provenance. This theology, the fact that the preacher seems to quote the Gospel according to the Egyptians (in ch. xii, and possibly else-where) as if familiar to his hearers, and indeed its literary affinities generally, all point to Alexandria as the original home of the homily, at a date about 120-140 (see Zeit. f . N. T. Wissenschaft; vii. 123 ff). Neither Corinth (as Lightfoot) nor Rome (as Harnack, who assigns it to Bishop Soter, c. 166–174) satisfies all the internal conditions, while the Eastern nature of the external evidence and the homily's quasi-canonical status in the Codex-Alexandrinus strongly favour an Alexandrine origin. (2) The Two Epistles to Virgins, i.e. to Christian celibates of both sexes. These are known in their entirety only in Syriac, and were first published by Wetstein (1752), who held them genuine. This view is now generally discredited, even by Roman Catholics like Funk, their best recent editor (Patres Apost., vol. ii.). External evidence begins with Epiphanius (Haer. xxx. 15) and Jerome (Ad Jovin. i. 12); and the silence of Eusebius tells heavily against their existence before the 4th century, at any rate as writings of Clement. The Monophysite Timothy of Alexandria (A.D. 457) cites one of them as Clement's, while Antiochus of St Saba (c. A.D. 620) makes copious but unacknowledged extracts from both in the original Greek. There is no trace of their use in the West. Thus their Syrian origin is manifest, the more so that in the Syriac MS. they are appended to the New Testament, like the better-known epistles of Clement in the Codex Alexandrinus. Indeed, judging from another Syriac MS. of earlier date, which includes the latter writings in its canon, it seems that the Epistles on Virginity gradually replaced the earlier pair in certain Syrian churches—even should Lightfoot be right in doubting if this had really occurred by Epiphanius's day (S. Clement of Rome, i. 412). Probably these epistles did not originally bear Clement's name at all, but formed a single epistle addressed to ascetics among an actual circle of churches. In that case they, or rather it, may date from the 3rd century in spite of Eusebius's silence, and are not pseudo-Clementine in any real sense. It matters little whether or not the false ascription was made before the division into two implied already by Epiphanius (c. A.D. 375). Special occasion for such a hortatory letter may be discerned in its polemic against intimate relations between ascetics of opposite sex, implied to exist among its readers, in contrast to usage in the writer's own locality. Now we know that spiritual unions, prompted originally by highstrung Christian idealism as to a religious fellowship transcending the law of nature in relation to sex, did exist between persons living under vows of celibacy during the 3rd century in particular, and not least in Syria (cf. the case of Paul of Samosata, c. 265, and the Synod of Ancyra in Galatia, c. 314). It is natural, then, to see in the original epistle a protest against the dangers of such spiritual boldness (cf. " Subintroductae " in Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopddie), prior perhaps to the famous case at Antioch just noted. Possibly it is the feeling of south Syria or Palestine that here expresses itself in remonstrance against usages prevalent in north Syria. Such a view finds support also in the New Testament canon implied in these epistles. (3) [a] The Epistle of Clement to James (the Lord's brother). This was originally part of (3) [b], in connexion with which its origin and date are discussed. But as known to the West through . Rufinus's Latin version, it was quoted as genuine by the synod of Vaison (A.D. 442) and throughout the middle ages. It became " the starting point of the most momentous and gigantic of medieval forgeries, the Isidorian Decretals," " where it stands at the head of the pontifical letters, extended to more than twice its original length." This extension perhaps occurred during the 5th century. At any rate the letter in this form, along with, a " second epistle to James." (on the Eucharist, church furniture, &c.), dating from the early 6th century, had separate currency long before the 9th century, when they were incorporated in the Decretals by the forger who raised the Clementine epistles to five (see Lightfoot, Clement, i. 414 ff.). (3) [b] The " Homilies " and " Recognitions."—" The' two chief extant Clementine writings, differing considerably in some respects in doctrine, are both evidently the outcome of a peculiar speculative type of Judaistic Christianity, for which the most characteristic name of Christ was ` the true Prophet.' The frame-work of both is a narrative purporting to be written by Clement (of Rome) to St James, the Lord's brother, describing at the beginning his own conversion and the circumstances of his first acquaintance with St Peter, and then a long succession of incidents accompanying St Peter's discourses and disputations, leading up to a romantic recognition of Clement's father,, mother and two brothers, from whom he had been separated since child-hood. The problems discussed under this fictitious guise are with rare exceptions fundamental problems for every age; and, whatever may be thought of the positions maintained, the discussions are hardly ever feeble or trivial. Regarded simply as mirroring the past, few, if any, remains of Christian antiquity present us with so vivid a picture of the working of men's minds under the influence of the new leaven which had entered into the world " (Hort, Clem. Recog., p. xiv.). The indispensable preliminary to a really historic view of these writings is some solution of the problem of their mutual relations. The older criticism assumed a dependence of one upon the other, and assigned one or both to the latter part of the 2nd century. Recent criticism, however, builds on the principle, which emerges alike from the external and internal evidence (see Salmon in the Dict. of Christian Biography), that both used a common basis. Our main task, then, is to define the nature, origin and date of the parent document, and if possible its own literary antecedents. Towards the solution of this problem two contributions of prime importance have recently been made. The earlier of these is by F. J. A. Hort, and was delivered in the form of lectures as far back as 1884, though issued posthumously only in 1901; the other is the elaborate monograph of Dr Hans Waitz (1904). Criticism.—(i.) External Evidence as to the Clementine Romance. The evidence of ancient writers really begins, not with Origen,1 but with Eusebius of Caesarea, who in his Ecci. Hist. writes as follows: " Certain men have quite lately brought forward as written by him (Clement) other verbose and lengthy writings, containing dialogues of Peter, forsooth, and Apion, whereof not the slightest mention is to be found among the ancients, for they do not even preserve in purity the stamp of the Apostolic orthodoxy." Apion, the Alexandrine grammarian 1 Dr Armitage Robinson, in his edition of the Philocalia (extracts made c. 358 by Basil and Gregory from Origen's writings), proved that the passage cited below is simply introduced as a parallel to an extract of Origen's; while Dom Chapman, in the Journal of Theo'. Studies, iii. 436 if., made it probable that the passages in Origen's Comm. on Matthew akin to those in the Opus Imperf . in Matth. are insertions in the former, which is extant only in a Latin version. Subsequently he suggested (Zeitsch. f. N. T. Wissenschaft, ix. 33 f.) that the passage in the Philocalia is due not to its authors but to an early editor, since it is the only citation not referred to Origen. and foe of Judaism, whose criticism was answered by Josephus, appears in this character both in Homilies and Recognitions, though mainly in the former (iv. 6-vii. 5). Thus Eusebius implies (i) a spurious Clementine work containing matter found also in our Homilies at any rate; and (2) its quite recent origin. Next we note that an extract in the Philocalia is introduced as follows: " Yea, and Clement the Roman, a disciple of Peter the Apostle, after using words in harmony with these on the present problem, in conversation with his father at Laodicea in the Circuits, speaks a very necessary word for the end of arguments touching this matter, viz. those things which seem to have proceeded from genesis (= astrological destiny), in the fourteenth book." The extract answers to Recognitions, x. 10-13, but it is absent from our Homilies. Here we observe that (I) the extract agrees this time with Recognitions, not with Homilies; (2) its framework is that of the Clementine romance found in both; (3) the tenth and last book of Recognitions is here parallel to book xiv. of a work called Circuits (Periodoi). This last point leads on naturally to the witness of Epiphanius (c. 375), who, speaking of Ebionites or Judaizing Christians of various sorts, and particularly the Essene type, says (Haer. xxx. 15) that " they use certain other books likewise, to wit, the so-called Circuits of Peter, which were written by the hand of Clement, falsifying their contents, though leaving a few genuine things." Here Ephiphanius simply assumes that the Ebionite Circuits of Peter was based on a genuine work of the same scope, and goes on to say that the spurious elements are proved such by contrast with the tenor of Clement's " encyclic epistles " (i.e. those to virgins, (2) above); for these enjoin virginity (celibacy), and praise Elijah, David, Samson, and all the prophets, whereas the Ebionite Circuits favour marriage (even in Apostles) and depreciate the prophets between Moses and Christ, " the true Prophet." " In the Circuits, then, they adapted the whole to their own views, representing Peter falsely in many ways, as that he was daily baptized for the sake of purification, as these also do; and they say that he likewise abstained from animal food and meat, as they themselves also do." Now all the points here noted in the Circuits can be traced in our Homilies and Recognitions, though toned down in different degrees. The witness of the Arianizing Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum (c. 400) is in general similar. Its usual form of citation is " Peter in Clement " (aped Clementem). This points to " Clement " as a brief title for the Clementine Periodoi, a title actually found in a Syriac MS. of A.D. 411 which contains large parts of Recognitions and Homilies, and twice used by Rufinus, e.g. when he proposes to inscribe his version of the Recognitions "Rufinus Clemens." Rufinus in his preface to this work—in which for the first time we meet the title Recognition(s)—observes that there are two editions to which the name applies, two collections of books differing in some points but in many respects containing the same narrative. This he remarks in explanation of the order of his version in some places, which he feels may strike his friend Gaudentius as unusual, the inference being that the other edition was the better-known one, although it lacked " the transformation of Simon " (i.e. of Clement's father into Simon's likeness), which is common to the close both of our Recognitions and Homilies, and so probably belonged to the Circuits. We may assume, too (e.g. on the basis of our Syriac MS.), that the Greek edition of the Recognition(s) actually used by Rufinus was much nearer the text of the Periodoi of which we have found traces than we should imagine from its Latin form. So far we have no sure trace of our Homilies at all, apart from the Syriac version. Even four centuries later, Photius, in refer-ring to a collection of books called both Acts of Peter and the Recognition of Clement, does not make clear whether he means Homilies or Recognitions or either. " In all the copies which we have seen (and they are not a few) after those different epistles (viz. ` Peter to James ' and ` Clement to James,' prefixed, the one in some MSS. the other in others) and titles, we found without variation the same treatise, beginning, I, Clement, &c." But it is not clear that he had read more than the opening ofthese MSS. The fact that different epistles are prefixed to the same work leads him to conjecture " that there were two editions made of the Acts of Peter (his usual title for the collection), but in course of time the one perished and that of Clement prevailed." This is interesting as anticipating a result of modern criticism, as will appear below. The earliest probable reference to our Homilies occurs in a work of doubtful date, the pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis, which mentions " Clementines, whence came by selection and rewriting the true and inspired form." Here too we have the first sure trace of an expurgated recension, made with the idea of recovering the genuine form assumed, as earlier by Epiphanius, to lie behind an unorthodox recension of Clement's narrative. As, moreover, the extant Epitome is based on our Homilies, it is natural to suppose it was also the basis of earlier orthodox recensions, one or more of which may be used in certain Florilegia of the 7th century and later. Nowhere do we find the title Homilies given to any form of the Clementine collection in antiquity. (ii.) The Genesis of the Clementine Literature. It has been needful to cite so much of the evidence proving that our Homilies and Recognitions are both recensions of a common basis, at first known as the Circuits of Peter and later by titles connecting it rather with Clement, its ostensible author, because it affords data, also for the historical problems touching (a) the contents and origin of the primary Clementine work, and (b) the conditions under which our extant recensions of it arose. (a) The Circuits of Peter, as defined on the one hand by the epistle of Clement to James originally prefixed to it and by patristic evidence, and on the other by the common element in our Homilies and Recognitions, may be conceived as follows. It contained accounts of Peter's teachings and discussions at various points on a route beginning at Caesarea, and extending northwards along the coast-lands of Syria as far as Antioch. During this tour he meets with persons of typically erroneous views, which it was presumably the aim of the work to refute in the interests of true Christianity, conceived as the final form of divine revelation—a revelation given through true prophecy embodied in a succession of persons, the chief of whom were Moses and the prophet whom Moses foretold, Jesus the Christ. The prime exponent of the spurious religion is Simon Magus. A second protagonist of error, this time of Gentile philosophic criticism directed against fundamental Judaism, is Apion, the notorious anti-Jewish Alexandrine grammarian of Peter's day; while the role of upholder of astrological fatalism (Genesis) is played by Faustus, father of Clement, with whom Peter and Clement debate at Laodicea. Finally, all this is already embedded in a setting determined by the romance of Clement and his lost relatives, " recognition " of whom forms the denouement of the story. There is no reason to doubt that such, roughly speaking, were the contents of the Clementine work to which Eusebius alludes slightingly, in connexion with that section of it which had to his eye least verisimilitude, viz. the dialogues between Peter and Apion. Now Eusebius believed the work to have been of quite recent and suspicious origin. This points to a date about the last quarter of the 3rd century; and the prevailing doctrinal tone of the contents, as known to us, leads to the same result. The standpoint is that of the peculiar Judaizing or Ebonite Christianity due to persistence among Christians of the tendencies known among pre-Christian Jews as Essene. The Essenes, while clinging to what they held to be original Mosaism, yet conceived and practised their ancestral faith in ways which showed distinct traces of syncretism, or the operation of influences foreign to Judaism proper. They thus occupied an ambiguous position on the borders of Judaism. Similarly Christian Essen-ism was syncretist in spirit, as we see from its best-known representatives, the Elchasaites, of whom we first hear about 220, when a certain Alcibiades of Apamea in Syria (some 6o in. south of Antioch) brought to Rome the Book of Helxai—the manifesto of their distinctive message (Hippol., Philos. ix. 13)—and again some twenty years later, when Origen refers to one of their leaders as having lately arrived at Caesarea (Euseb. vi. 38). The first half of the 3rd century was marked, especially in Syria, by a strong tendency to syncretism, which may well have stirred certain Christian Essenes to fresh propaganda. Other writings than the Book of Helxai, representing also other species of the same genus, would take shape. Such may have been some of the pseudo-apostolic Acts to which Epiphanius alludes as in use among the Ebionites of his own day: and such was probably the nucleus of our Clementine writings, the Periodoi of Peter. Harnack (Chronologie, ii. 522 f.), indeed, while admitting that much (e.g. in Homilies, viii. 5-7) points the other way, prefers the view that even the Circuits were of Catholic origin (Chapman, as above, says Arian, soon after 325), regarding the syncretistic Jewish-Christian features in it as due either to its earlier basis or to an instinct to preserve continuity of manner (e.g. absence of explicit reference to Paul). Hort, on the contrary, assumes as author " an ingenious Helxaite . . . perhaps stimulated by the example of the many Encratite Periodoi" (p. 131), and writing about A.D. 200. Only it must not be thought of as properly Elchasaite, since it knew no baptism distinct from the ordinary Christian one. It seems rather to represent a later and modified Essene Christianity, already half-Catholic, such as would suit a date after 250, in keeping with Eusebius's evidence. Confirmation of such a date is afforded by the silence of the Syrian Didascalia, itself perhaps dating from about 250, as to any visit of Simon Magus to Caesarea, in contrast to the reference in its later form, the Apostolical Constitutions (c. 350-400), which is plainly coloured (vi. 9) by the Clementine story. On the other hand, the Didascalia seems to have been evoked partly by Judaizing propaganda in north Syria. If, then, it helps to date the Periodoi as after 250, it may also suggest as place of origin one of the large cities lying south of Antioch, say Laodicea (itself on the coast about 30 M. from Apamea), where the Clementine story reaches its climax. The intimacy of local knowledge touching this region implied in the narrative common to Homilies and Recognitions is notable, and tells against an origin for the Periodoi outside Syria (e.g. in Rome, as Waitz and Harnack hold, but Lightfoot disproves, Clem. i. S5 f., 64,ioo, cf. Hort, p. 131). Further, though the curtain even in it fell on Peter at Antioch itself (our one complete MS. of the Homilies is proved by the Epitome, based on the Homilies, to be here abridged), the interest of the story culminates at Laodicea. If we assume, then, that the common source of our extant Clementines arose in Syria, perhaps c. 265,1 had it also a written source or sources which we can trace? Though Hort doubts it, most recent scholars (e.g. Waitz, Harnack) infer the existence of at least one source, " Preachings (Kerygmata) of Peter," containing no reference at all to Clement. Such a work seems implied by the epistle of Peter to James and its appended adjuration, prefixed in our MSS. to the Homilies along with the epistle of Clement to James. Thus the later work aimed at superseding the earlier, much as Photius suggests (see above). It was, then, to these " Preachings of Peter " that the most Ebionite features, and especially the anti-Pauline allusions under the guise of Simon still inhering in the Periodoi (as implied by Homilies in particular), originally belonged. The fact, however, that these were not more completely suppressed in the later work, proves that it, too, arose in circles of kindred, though largely modified, Judaeo-Christian sentiment (cf. Homilies, vii., e.g. ch. 8). The differences of standpoint may be due not only to lapse of time, and the emergence of new problems on the horizon of Syrian Christianity generally, but also to change in locality and in the degree of Greek culture represented by the two works. A probable date for the " Preachings " used in the Periodoi is c. 200? While Hart and Waitz say c. 200, Harnack says c. 260. The reign of Gallienus (260-268) would suit the tone of its references to the Roman emperor (Waitz, p. 74), and also any polemic against the Neoplatonic philosophy of revelation by visions and dreams which it may contain. s Even Waitz agrees to this, though he argues back to a yet earlier anti-Pauline (rather than anti-Marcionite) form, composed in Caesarea, c. 135. If the home of the Periodoi was the region of the Syrian Laodicea, we can readily explain most of its characteristics. Photius refers to the " excellences of its language and its learning "; while Waitz describes the aim and spirit of its contents as those of an apology for Christianity against heresy and paganism, in the widest sense of the word, written in order to win over both Jews (cf. Recognitions, i. 53-70) and pagans, but mainly the latter. In particular it had in view persons of culture, as most apt to be swayed by the philosophical tendencies in the sphere of religion prevalent in that age, the age of neo-Platonism. It was in fact designed for propaganda among religious seekers in a time of singular religious restlessness and varied inquiry, and, above all, for use by catechumens (cf. Ep. Clem. 2, 13) in the earlier stages of their preparation for Christian baptism. To such its romantic setting would be specially adapted, as falling in with the literary habits and tastes of the period; while its doctrinal peculiarities would least give offence in a work of the aim and character just described. As regards the sources it the narrative part of the Periodoi, it is possible that the " recognition " motif was a literary common-place. The account of Peter's journeyings was no doubt based largely on local Syrian tradition, perhaps as already embodied in written Acts of Peter (so Waitz and Harnack), but differing from the Western type, e.g. in bringing Peter to Rome long before Nero's reign. As for the allusions, more or less indirect, to St Paul behind the figure of Simon, as the arch-enemy of the truth—allusions which first directed attention to the Clementines in the last century—there can be no doubt as to their presence, but only as to their origin and the degree to which they are so meant in Homilies and Recognitions. There is certainly " an application to Simon of words used by or of St Paul, or of claims made by or in behalf of St Paul" (Hort), especially in Homilies (ii. 17 f., xi. 35, xvii. 19), where a consciousness also of the double reference must still be present, though this does not seem to be the case in Recognitions (in Rufinus's Latin.) Such covert reference to Paul must designedly have formed part of the Periodoi, yet as adopted from its more bitterly anti-Pauline basis, the " Preachings of Peter " (cf. Homilies, ii. 17 f. with Ep. Pet. ad Jac. 2), which probably shared most of the features of Ebionite Essenism as described by Epiphanius xxx. 15 f. (including the qualified dualism of the two kingdoms—the present one of the devil, and the future one of the angelic Christ—which appears also in the Periodoi, cf. Ep. Clem. ad Jac. r fin.). (b) That the Periodoi was a longer work than either our Homilies or Recognitions is practically certain; and its mere bulk may well, as Hort suggests (p. 88), have been a chief cause of the changes of form. Yet Homilies and Recognitions are abridgments made on different principles and convey rather different impressions to their readers. " The Homilies care most for doctrine," especially philosophical doctrine, " and seem to transpose very freely for doctrinal purposes " (e.g. matter in xvi.-xix. is placed at the end for effect, while xx. 1-to gives additional emphasis to the Homilies' theory of evil, perhaps over against Manichaeism). " The Recognitions care most for the story," as a means of religious edification, " and have preserved the general framework much more nearly." They arose in different circles: indeed, save the compiler of the text represented by the Syriac MS. of 411 A.D., " not a single ancient writer shows a knowledge of both books in any form." But Hort is hardly right in suggesting that, while Homilies arose in Syria, Recognitions took shape in Rome. Both probably arose in Syria (so Lightfoot), but in circles varying a good deal in religious standpoint.' Homilies was a sort of second edition, made largely in the spirit of its original and perhaps in much the same locality, with a view to maintaining and propagating the doctrines of a semi-Judaic Christianity (cf. bk. vii.), as it existed a generation or two after the Periodoi appeared. The Recognitions, in both recensions, as is shown by the fact that it was read in the original with general admiration not only by Rufinus but also by others in the West, was more Catholic in tone and aimed chiefly at a Dom Chapman maintains that the Recognitions (c. 370-390,) even attack the doctrine of God in the Homilies or their archetype. commending the Christian religion over against all non-Christian rivals or gnostic perversions. That is, more than one effort of this sort had been made to adapt the story of Clement's Recognitions to general Christian use. Later the Homilies underwent further adaptation to Catholic feeling even before the Epitome, in its two extant forms, was made by more drastic methods of expurgation. One kind of adaptation at least is proved to have existed before the end of the 4th century, namely a selection of certain discourses from the Homilies under special headings, following on Recognitions, i.-iii., as seen in a Syriac MS. of A.D. 41 I. As this MS. contains transcriptional errors, and as its archetype had perhaps a Greek basis, the Recognitions may be dated c. 350—3753 (its Christology suggested to Rufinus an Arianism like that of Eunomius of Cyzicus, c. 362), and the Homilies prior even to 350. But the different circles represented by the two make relative dating precarious. Summary.—The Clementine literature throws light upon a very obscure phase of Christian development, that of Judaeo-Christianity, and proves that it embraced more intermediate types, between Ebionism proper and Catholicism, than has generally been realized. Incidentally, too, its successive forms illustrate many matters of belief and usage among Syrian Christians generally in the 3rd and 4th centuries, notably their apologetic and catechetical needs and methods. Further, it discusses, as Hort observes, certain indestructible problems which much early Christian theology passes by or deals with rather perfunctorily; and it does so with a freshness and reality which, as we compare the original 3rd-century basis with the conventional manner of the Epitome, we see to be not unconnected with origin in an age as yet free from the trammels of formal orthodoxy. Again it is a notable specimen of early Christian pseudepigraphy, and one which had manifold and far-reaching results. Finally the romance to which it owed much of its popular appeal, became, through the medium of Rufinus's Latin, the parent of the late medieval legend of Faust, and so the ancestor of a famous type in modern literature.
End of Article: CLEMENTINE LITERATURE
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