Pantaenus:
First Head of the Didascalia


"When I came upon the last (teacher), he was the first in power, having pursued him out concealed in Egypt, I found rest. He, the true, the Sicilian bee gathering the spoil of the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow, engendered in the souls of hearers a deathless element of knowledge." —Clement of Alexandria, concerning Pantaenus

Pantaenus is the earliest teacher whose name has been preserved from the Catechetical School in Alexandria. He was converted Stoic philosopher who may have been a Hebrew originally from Palestine.

According to Eusebius, he went on a missionary journey to India in A.D. 189. While there he found the seeds of the Christian faith that had been sown by previous missionaries. He brought home with him a Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew, that had evidently been carried to India by Bartholomew.

Besides being a great teacher, he is credited as one of those who adopted the Greek alphabet in the Coptic script. He must have been a magnetic personality and teacher, as testified by Clement of Alexandria, the student who succeeded him as head of the school.

Though no written indications of his own work or thought have been preserved, he made an unmistakable impact upon the development of church theology. The Universalism of Clement, Origen and their successors must have been taught by their predecessor, Pantaenus.

Pantaenus was martyred A.D. 216.

--Mercy Aiken

 

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