Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter X
Chapter X.—Pantænus the Philosopher.
1. About that time, Pantænus, 1505 a man highly distinguished for his learning, had charge of the school of the faithful in Alexandria. 1506 A school of sacred learning, which continues to our day, was established there in ancient times, 1507 p. 225 and as we have been informed, 1508 was managed by men of great ability and zeal for divine things. Among these it is reported 1509 that Pantænus was at that time especially conspicuous, as he had been educated in the philosophical system of those called Stoics.
2. They say that he displayed such zeal for the divine Word, that he was appointed as a herald of the Gospel of Christ to the nations in the East, and was sent as far as India. 1510 For indeed 1511 there were still many evangelists of the Word who sought earnestly to use their inspired zeal, after the examples of the apostles, for the increase and building up of the Divine Word.
3. Pantænus was one of these, and is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among persons there who knew of Christ, he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had anticipated his own arrival. For Bartholomew, 1512 one of the apostles, had preached to them, and left with them the writing of Matthew in the Hebrew language, 1513 which they had preserved till that time.
4. After many good deeds, Pantænus finally became the head of the school at Alexandria, 1514 and expounded the treasures of divine doctrine both orally and in writing. 1515
Pantænus is the first teacher of the Alexandrian school that is known to us, and even his life is involved in obscurity. His chief significance for us lies in the fact that he was the teacher of Clement, with whom the Alexandrian school first steps out into the full light of history, and makes itself felt as a power in Christendom. Another prominent pupil of Pantænus was Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 14). Pantænus was originally a Stoic philosopher, and must have discussed philosophy in his school in connection with theology, for Origen appeals to him as his example in this respect (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 19). His abilities are testified to by Clement (in his Hypotyposes; see the next chapter, §4), who speaks of him always in terms of the deepest respect and affection. Of his birth and death we know nothing. Clement, Strom. I. 1, calls him a “Sicilian bee,” which may, perhaps, have reference to his birthplace. The statement of Philip of Side, that he was an Athenian, is worthless. We do not know when he began his work in Alexandria, nor when he finished it. But from Bk. VI. chap. 6 we learn that Clement had succeeded Pantænus, and was in charge of the school in the time of Septimius Severus. This probably means not merely that Pantænus had left Egypt, but that he was already dead; and if that be the case, the statement of Jerome (de vir. ill. 36), that Pantænus was in charge of the school during the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, is erroneous (Jerome himself expressly says, in ibid. chap. 38, that Clement succeeded Pantænus upon the death of the latter). Jeromes statement, however, that Pantænus was sent to India by Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, is not necessarily in conflict with the indefinite account of Eusebius, who gives no dates. What authority Jerome has for his account we do not know. If his statement be correct, the journey must have taken place after 190; and thus after, or in the midst or, his Alexandrian activity. Eusebius apparently accepted the latter opinion, though his statement at the end of this chapter is dark, and evidently implies that he was very uncertain in regard to the matter. His whole account rests simply on hearsay, and therefore too much weight must not be laid upon its accuracy. After Clement comes upon the scene (which was at least some years before the outbreak of the persecution of Severus, 200 a.d.—when he left the city) we hear nothing more of Pantænus. Some have put his journey to India in this later period; but this is contrary to the report of Eusebius, and there is no authority for the opinion. Photius (Cod. 118) records a tradition that Pantænus had himself heard some of the apostles; but this is impossible, and is asserted by no one else. According to Jerome, numerous commentaries of Pantænus were extant in his time. Eusebius, at the close of this chapter, speaks of his expounding the Scriptures “both orally and in writing,” but he does not enumerate his works, and apparently had never seen them. No traces of them are now extant, unless some brief reminiscences of his teaching, which we have, are supposed to be drawn from his works, and not merely from his lectures or conversations (see Routh, Rel. Sac. I. p. 375–383).224:1506
The origin of this school of the faithful, or “catechetical school,” in Alexandria is involved in obscurity. Philip of Side names Athenagoras as the founder of the school, but his account is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, and deserves no credence. The school first comes out into the light of history at this time with Pantænus at its head, and plays a prominent part in Church history under Clement, Origen, Heraclas, Dionysius, Didymus, &c., until the end of the fourth century, when it sinks out of sight in the midst of the dissensions of the Alexandrian church, and its end like its beginning is involved in obscurity. It probably owed its origin to no particular individual, but arose naturally as an outgrowth from the practice which flourished in the early Church of instructing catechumens in the elements of Christianity before admitting them to baptism. In such a philosophical metropolis as Alexandria, a school, though intended only for catechumens, would very naturally soon assume a learned character, and it had already in the time of Pantænus at least become a regular theological school for the preparation especially of teachers and preachers. It exercised a great influence upon theological science, and numbered among its pupils many celebrated theologians and bishops. See the article by Redepenning in Herzog, 2d ed. I. 290–292, and Schaffs Ch. Hist. II. 777–781, where the literature of the subject is given.224:1507
Jerome (de vir. ill. c. 36) states that there had always been ecclesiastical teachers in Alexandria from the time of Mark. He is evidently, however, giving no independent tradition, but merely draws his conclusion from the words of Eusebius who simply says “from ancient times.” The date of the origin of the school is in fact entirely unknown, though there is nothing improbable in the statement of Jerome that ecclesiastical teachers were always there. It must, however, have been some years before a school could be developed or the need of it be felt.225:1508
Jerome (de vir. ill. 36) says that he was sent to India by the bishop Demetrius at the request of the Indians themselves,—a statement more exact than that of Eusebius, whether resting upon tradition merely, or upon more accurate information, or whether it is simply a combination of Jeromes, we do not know. It is at any rate not at all improbable (see above, note 1). A little farther on Eusebius indicates that Pantænus preached in the same country in which the apostle Bartholomew had done missionary work. But according to Lipsius (Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 22) Bartholomews traditional field of labor was the region of the Bosphorus. He follows Gutschmid therefore in claiming that the Indians here are confounded with the Sindians, over whom the Bosphorian kings of the house of Polemo ruled. Jerome (Ep. ad Magnum; Migne, Ep. 70) evidently regards the India where Pantænus preached as India proper (Pantænus Stoicæ sectæ philosophus, ob pracipue eruditionis gloriam, a Demetrio Alexandriæ episcopo missus est in Indiam, ut Christum apud Brachmanas, et illius gentis philosophos prædicaret). Whether the original tradition was that Pantænus went to India, and his connection with Bartholomew (who was wrongly supposed to have preached to the Indians) was a later combination, or whether, on the other hand, the tradition that he preached in Bartholomews field of labor was the original and the mission to India a later combination, we cannot tell. It is probable that Eusebius meant India proper, as Jerome certainly did, but both of them may have been mistaken.225:1511
ἦσαν γὰρ, ἦσαν εἰσέτι. Eusebius seems to think it a remarkable fact that there should still have been preaching evangelists. Evidently they were no longer common in his day. It is interesting to notice that he calls them “evangelists.” In earlier times they were called “apostles” (e.g. in the Didache), but the latter had long before Eusebius time become a narrower, technical term.225:1512
See note 6.225:1513
If the truth of this account be accepted, Pantænus is a witness to the existence of a Hebrew Matthew. See above, Bk. III. chap. 24, note 5. It has been assumed by some that this Gospel was the Gospel according to the Hebrews (see Bk. III. chap. 25, note 24). This is possible; but even if Pantænus really did find a Hebrew Gospel of Matthew as Eusebius says (and which, according to Jerome, de vir. ill. 36, he brought back to Alexandria with him), we have no grounds upon which to base a conclusion as to its nature, or its relation to our Greek Matthew.225:1514
Eusebius apparently puts the journey of Pantænus in the middle of his Alexandrian activity, and makes him return again and teach there until his death. Jerome also agrees in putting the journey in the middle and not at the beginning or close of his Alexandrian activity. It must be confessed, however, that Eusebius language is very vague, and of such a nature as perhaps to imply that he really had no idea when the mission took place.225:1515
See above, note 1.
Next: Chapter XI
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