Saturday, November 23, 2019

Eusebius, EH.5.9-11: Pantaenus and Clement of Alexandria

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 5, chapters 9-11. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These three chapters focus on the bishops and teachers at Alexandria, Egypt.

Chapter 9 notes the imperial transition from Antoninus to Commodus (sole emperor, 180-192). In Alexandria Julian succeeded Agrippinus as bishop.

Chapter 10 introduced Pantaenus, a man “very famous for his learning”, who directed a “school of sacred learning” in Alexandria, which, Eusebius says, continued to his day. It is noted that Pantaenus had been influenced by Stoicism and that tradition holds he had been a herald of the gospel to the East and had gone as far as India as an “evangelist.” It is also noted that when he arrived in India, he found that there were already those who knew Christ, since the apostle Bartholomew had preached to them and left them the Gospel of Matthew “in Hebrew letters.”

Chapter 11 turns to Clement of Alexandria (named after Clement of Rome), who had studied the Scriptures with Pantaenus. Eusebius says that Clement made reference to Pantaenus in his Hypotyposes and alluded to him also in his Stromateis, where he also makes reference to having consulted various men who had known the ancient men and preserved the “true tradition” directly from the apostles.


We see another emphasis on imperial and ecclesiastical succession. We also see an emphasis on Alexandria as a key center of early Christianity and especially a center of learning, scholarship, and study of the Scriptures.


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