Second Clement suffers from a lack of clarity about its historical and literary contexts. The anonymous text’s date and provenance have defied precise determination and, although it is referred to a few times in the history of tradition, it seems not to be cited at all. Moreover, its first two verses maintain a history of translation into modern languages employing expressions long out of date. The word, μικρά occurs four times in the first two verses, twice as part of the expression, μικρὰ φρονεῖν. This article identifies the outmoded nature of current translations of these words and proposes an updated translation that better reflects important new interpretations of the text’s purpose, values, and assumptions.
In mid-December2010Google Labs released the Ngram Viewer a word-search database created by Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel and released. On use of the Ngram Viewer in Humanities fields see E. Aiden and J.-B. Michel Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture (New York 2013); http://books.google.com/ngrams/ ;http://books.google.com/ngrams/info (05/16/13). For a recent response to the debate see: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117711/digital-humanities-have-immense-promise-response-adam-kirsh. This word-search database employs a phrase-usage tool that graphs the count of selected “n-grams” (i.e. letter combinations words and phrases) in over 5.2 million Google-digitized books published between 1500 and 2008. The database accesses 500 billion words in American English British English French German Spanish Russian and Chinese. (Italian words are counted by their use in other languages.) The Ngram tool offers the option to select among the source languages for word search operations. If an ngram is found in forty or more books the Ngram Viewer plots its occurrence rate on a graph. Although to my knowledge this tool has not yet been applied to the analysis of biblical literature it is ideal for translators seeking a check on the usage of individual words and idioms. To be sure the effectiveness of a given translation is based on more than just occurrence rates within a single decade or generation. Translations of the texts of the Apostolic Fathers cater to a small educated subset of the reading public able to make sense of even the most outdated translation. This should not however suggest that new translations routinely ignore questions of contemporaneity accuracy and effectiveness.