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Pantaenus

Pantaenus

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Saint Pantaenus was a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 theologian who founded the Catechetical School of Alexandria
Catechetical School of Alexandria
The Catechetical School of Alexandria was and is a place for the training of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria. The teachers and students of the school were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church.The earliest recorded instructor at the...

 about AD 190. This school was the earliest catechetical
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

 school, and became influential in the development of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

.

Pantaenus was a Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 philosopher teaching in Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

. He converted to the Christian faith, and sought to reconcile his new faith with Greek philosophy
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

. His most famous student, Clement
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

, who was his successor as head of the Catechetical School, described Pantaenus as "the Sicilian bee". Although no writings by Pantaenus are extant, his legacy is known by the influence of the Catechetical School on the development of Christian theology, in particular in the early debates on the interpretation of the Bible, the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

, and Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

. He was the main supporter of Serapion of Antioch
Serapion of Antioch
Serapion was Patriarch of Antioch . He is known primarily through his theological writings. Eusebius refers to three works of Serapion in his history, but admits that others probably existed: first is a private letter addressed to Caricus and Pontius against Montanism, from which Eusebius quotes an...

 for acting against the influence of Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

.

In addition to his work as a teacher, Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 reports that Pantaenus was for a time a missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

, traveling as far as India where, according to Eusebius, he found Christian communities using the Gospel of Matthew written in "Hebrew letters", supposedly left them by the apostle Bartholemew (and which might have been the Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of the Hebrews
The Gospel of the Hebrews , commonly shortened from the Gospel according to the Hebrews or simply called the Hebrew Gospel, is a hypothesised lost gospel preserved in fragments within the writings of the Church Fathers....

). This may indicate that Syrian Christians, using a Syriac version of the New Testament, had already evangelized parts of India by late 2nd century. However, some writers have suggested that having difficulty with the language of Saint Thomas Christians
Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians are an ancient body of Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are also known as "Nasranis" because they are followers of "Jesus of Nazareth". The term "Nasrani" is still used by St...

, Pantaenus misinterpreted their reference to Mar Thoma (Bishop Thomas), who is currently credited with an evangelization mission to India by the Syrian churches, as Bar Tolmai (the Hebrew name of Bartholomew). Others say Eusebius may have confused India with Arabia or Ethiopia as was done by some other Greek writers. St. Thomas Christians themselves have always maintained that Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

 himself was the first to bring Christianity to India.

Saint Jerome, apparently relying entirely on Eusebius' evidence from Historia Ecclesiastica, wrote that Pantaenus visited India, “to preach Christ to the Brahmans and philosophers there. ” It is unlikely that Jerome has any information about Pantaenus' mission to India that is independent of Eusebius. On the other hand,his claim that "many" of Pantaenus' Biblical commentaries were still extant is probably based on Jerome's own knowledge.

His feast day is July 7 (June 22 in the Coptic tradition).

19th Century and Modern study on Pantaenus


The Universalist Church of America
Universalist Church of America
The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States . Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942...

 historian J. W. Hanson (1899) argued that Pantaenus "must, beyond question" have taught Universalism to Clement of Alexandria and Origen, but since it is now considered that Clement of Alexandria's views contained a tension between salvation and freewill, and that he and Origen did not clearly teach universal reconciliation of all immortal souls in their understanding of apokatastasis, Hanson's conclusion about Pantaenus lacks a firm basis.

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