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Fathers of the Church

Fragments

Description

Relates certain ideas of Pantaenus.

Provenance

Taken from a collection of fragmented writings of the second and third centuries. Pantaenus was a Stoic who fell in love with Christian philosophy and endeavored to spread it throughout the world. He was Clement's teacher at the Alexandrian school, and also became a missionary to Oriental Ethiopia. He was master of the school in Alexandria until about 212 A.D., and it was his teaching that made the school famous.

by Pantaenus, the Alexandrian Philosopher in 182-212 A.D. | translated by Rev. B. P. Pratten

I.

"In the sun hath He set His tent." Some affirm that the reference is to the Lord's body, which He Himself places in the sun; Hermogenes, for instance. As to His body, some say it is His tent, others the Church of the faithful. But our Pantaenus said: "The language employed by prophecy is for the most part indefinite, the present tense being used for the future, and again the present for the past."

II.

This mode of speaking Saint Dionysius the Areopagite declares to be used in Scripture to denote predeterminations and expressions of the divine will. In like manner also the followers of Pantaenus, who became the preceptor of the great Clement the Stromatist, affirm that they are commonly used in Scripture for expressions of the divine will. Accordingly, when asked by some who prided themselves on the outside learning, in what way the Christians supposed God to become acquainted with the universe, their own opinion being that He obtains His knowledge of it in different ways,—of things falling within the province of the understanding by means of the understanding, and of those within the region of the senses by means of the senses,—they replied: "Neither does He gain acquaintance with sensible things by the senses, nor with things within the sphere of the understanding by the understanding: for it is not possible that He who is above all existing things should apprehend them by means of existing things. We assert, on the contrary, that He is acquainted with existing things as the products of His own volition." They added, by way of showing the reasonableness of their view: "If He has made all things by an act of His will (and no argument will be adduced to gainsay this), and if it is ever a matter of piety and rectitude to say that God is acquainted with His own will, and if He has voluntarily made every several thing that has come into existence, then surely God must be acquainted with all existing things as the products of His own will, seeing that it was in the exercise of that will that He made them."

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (ANF 8, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.