|« Pancratius, martyr||Pantaenus, of Alexandria||Papa »|
Pantaenus, of Alexandria
Pantaenus, chief of the catechetical school of Alexandria, in the latter part of the 2nd cent. and perhaps the early years of the 3rd. Of his previous life little is known with certainty. We are not informed whether he was originally a Christian or became one by conversion. Our authorities agree, however, that he was trained in the Greek philosophy, and owed to this training much of his eminence as a teacher. Origen, in a passage preserved by Eusebius (H. E. vi. 19), names him as an example—the earliest, apparently, that he can adduce—of a Christian doctor who availed himself of his heathen learning. Eusebius tells us (ib. v. 10) that in his zeal for the faith he undertook the work of an evangelist in the East, and penetrated as far as India; where he found that St. Bartholomew had already preached the Word and had left there a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel in Hebrew characters, which was still treasured by the Christians there. Jerome (de Vir. Ill. 36) adds (but 798probably without authority) that Pantaenus brought this to Alexandria. He also represents that the people of India had heard his fame as a teacher and sent a deputation to solicit this mission. This is by no means incredible, considering the celebrity of Alexandria as a seat of learning. But Jerome raises a difficulty when he names Demetrius as the bishop by whom he was sent. For Eusebius places the accession of Demetrius to the patriarchate in the 10th year of Commodus (H. E. v. 22; cf. Chron.), a.d. 189; while he represents Pantaenus as head of the Alexandrian school in his 1st year (H. E. v. 9, 10) and distinctly conveys that this appointment was after his return from his Indian mission.
There is a like conflict of authority concerning the relation of Pantaenus to Clement of Alexandria. Eusebius (v. 11) unhesitatingly assumes that Pantaenus is the unnamed master whom Clement in his Stromateis (i. p. 322, Potter) places above all the great men by whose teaching he was profited, "last met, but first in power," in whom he "found rest." To this authority we may add that of Pamphilus, who was principal author of their joint Apology for Origen; for Photius (Bibl. cxviii.) states on the authority of that work (now lost) that Clement "was the hearer of Pantaenus and his successor in the school." This information Pamphilus no doubt had from his master Pierius, himself head of the same school, a follower of Origen and probably less than 50 years his junior. Maximus the Confessor (Scholia in S. Greg. Naz.) styles Pantaenus "the master" (καθηγητὴν) of Clement. But Philip of Side (c. 427) in his Hist. Christiana, as we learn from a fragment first pub. by Dodwell, made "Clement the disciple of Athenagoras, and Pantaenus of Clement." We unhesitatingly prefer the witness of Eusebius. Dodwell's attempts to discredit it are ineffectual. This contradiction, however, and the difficulty as to the chronology of Pantaenus, may be solved, or at least accounted for, if we suppose that Pantaenus was head of the school both before and after his sojourn in India, and Clement in his absence. Origen afterwards thus quitted and resumed the same office. If Pantaenus was the senior, Clement was the more brilliant; and at the close of the 2nd cent. it may well have seemed a question which was master and which disciple. This hypothesis agrees with the probable date of Clement's headship; and likewise with the note in the Chronicon of Eusebius, under year of Pertinax, or 2nd of Severus (c. 193), where we read that Clement was then in Alexandria, "a most excellent teacher (διδάσκαλος) and shining light (διέλαμπε) of Christian philosophy," and Pantaenus "was distinguished as an expositor of the Word of God." Thus also Alexander, bp. of Jerusalem (ap. Eus. H. E. vi. 14), in a letter to Origen, couples the names of Pantaenus and Clement (placing, however, Pantaenus first), as "fathers," and speaks of both as recently deceased. This letter shows, further, that this Alexander and the illustrious Origen himself were almost certainly pupils of Pantaenus.
We do not know the date of his death, but the Chronicon (vid. sup.) confirms Jerome in prolonging his activity into the reign of Severus (193–211), and not improbably, as Jerome states, he lived into the following reign—a statement repeated in the (later) Roman Martyrology. Photius is thus wrong in believing that Pantaenus was a hearer not only "of those who had seen the apostles" (which he may well have been), but also "of some of the apostles themselves." A man alive after 193 and not the senior of Clement by more than a generation could not possibly have been born so early as to have been a hearer even of St. John. Photius was probably misled by a too literal construction of Clement's statement (Strom. u.s.)—that his teachers "had received the true tradition of the blessed doctrine straight from the holy apostles Peter, James, John, and Paul."
Eusebius tells us that Pantaenus "interpreted the treasures of the divine dogmas"; Jerome, that he left "many commentaries on the Scriptures." Both however indicate that the church owed more to his spoken utterances than to his writings. The two extant fragments (see Routh, Rel. Sac. i. p. 378) appear to be relics of his oral teaching. One bears the character of a verbal reply to a question; it is preserved by Maximus the Confessor (Scholia in S. Greg. Naz.), who, in illustration of the teaching of Dionysius the Areopagite concerning the divine will, tells us that Pantaenus when asked by certain philosophers, "in what manner Christians suppose God to know things that are?" replied, "Neither by sense things sensible, nor by intellect things intelligible. For it is not possible that He Who is above the things that are, should apprehend the things that are according to the things that are. But we say that He knows the things that are, as acts of His own will (ὡς ἴδια θελήματα); and we give good reason for so saying; for if by act of His will He hath made all things (which reason will not gainsay), and if it is ever both pious and right to say that God knows His own will, and He of His will hath made each thing that hath come to be; therefore God knows the things that are as acts of His own will, inasmuch as He of His will hath made the things that are." The other, contained in the Eclogae e Propheticis appended to the works of Clement, is introduced by "Our Pantaenus used to say" (ἔλεγε), and lays down as a principle in interpreting prophecy that it "for the most part utters its sayings indefinitely [as to time], using the present sometimes for the future and sometimes for the past." Anastasius of Sinai (7th cent.), in his Contemplations on the Hexaemeron (quoted by Routh, i. p. 15), twice cites Pantaenus as one authority for an interpretation according to which Christ and his church are foreshewn in the history of the creation of Paradise (I. p. 860; VII. cont. p. 893 in Bibl. Max. PP. t. ix. ed. Lyons, 1677), the true inference from these references apparently being that Pantaenus led the way in that method of spiritual or mystical interpretation of O.T., usually associated with his more famous followers, Clement and Origen.
Anastasius describes him as "priest of the church of the Alexandrians (τῆς Ἀλεξανδρέων ἱερεύς)"; which is noteworthy in the absence of all direct information concerning the 799time and place, or even the fact, of his ordination. That he was a priest may be inferred—not indeed from his headship of a school, for Origen was a layman, but—from the fact that he was sent by his bishop to evangelize India.
Besides authors quoted, see Baronius, Ann., s.a. 183; Cave, Primitive Fathers, p. 185 (1677); Hist. Lit. t. i. p. 51 (1688); Du Pin, Auteurs ecclés. t. i. pt. i. p.184; Lardner, Credibility, c. xxi.; Le Quien, Oriens Chr. t. ii. coll. 382, 391; Tillem. Mém. t. iii. p. 170.
|« Pancratius, martyr||Pantaenus, of Alexandria||Papa »|