Catechetical School of Alexandria

The Catechetical School of Alexandria was a school of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria.[1] The teachers and students of the school (also known as the Didascalium) were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church. It was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity, the other being the School of Antioch.

According to Jerome the Alexandrian school was founded by Mark the Apostle. The earliest recorded dean was supposedly Athenagoras (176). He was succeeded by Pantaenus 181, who was succeeded as head of the school by his student Clement of Alexandria in 190.[2]

Other notable theologians with a connection to the school include Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Heraclas, Dionysius "the Great", and Didymus the Blind. Others, including Jerome and Basil, made trips to the school to interact with the scholars there.

Continuity with the ancient school is claimed by the Coptic Theological Seminary, Cairo.


The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. Jerome records that the Christian School of Alexandria was founded by St. Mark himself[3] and the first manager appointed by Saint Mark was Saint Justus, who later became the sixth bishop of Alexandria.[4] There is another opinion that the school was founded mid-second century,[5] around 190 A.D.

Under the leadership of the scholar Pantaenus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus, and the great Origen, who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Many scholars, such as Jerome, visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars.

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–211/216).

The scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects. Apart from subjects like theology, Christian philosophy and the Bible; science, mathematics and Greek & Roman literature, logic and the arts were also taught. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, and, 15 centuries before Braille, blind students at the school were using wood-carving techniques to read and write.

Chronological list of Deans

  1. Justus, (62-118)
  2. Eumenius, (118-129)
  3. Markianos, (129-152)
  4. Pantaenus, (181-190)
  5. Clement of Alexandria, (190-202)
  6. Origen, (203-?)
  7. Heraclas, (?-231)
  8. Dionysius, (231-247)
  9. Thaugust, (3rd century)
  10. Pierius, (4th century)
  11. Achillas, (4th century)
  12. Peter, (4th century)
  13. Serapion, (4th century)
  14. Macaruis, (4th century)
  15. Didymus the Blind, (340-391)
  16. Rodon, (5th century)
  17. Bishop of the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great (5th century - 19th century)
  18. Youssef Marcarius, (1893-1918)
  19. Archdeacon Habib Girgis, (1918-1951)
  20. Fr. Ibrahim Attia, (1951-?)
  21. Pope Shenouda III, (1962-1987)
  22. Bishop Gregory, (1987-present)

Notable alumni

Pope Eumenes of Alexandria, Pope Markianos of Alexandria, Athenagoras of Athens, Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory the Theologian, Alexandrous the Bishop of Jerusalem, Pope Julian of Alexandria, Pope Heraclas of Alexandria, Pope Dionysius of Alexandria, Pope Peter of Alexandria, Pope Achillas of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, Didymus the Blind, Archdeacon Habib Girgis, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Theodora of Alexandria, Catherine of Alexandria, Dorothea of Alexandria.

See also

Further Reading

Wickert, Ulrich. "Alexandrian Theology." In The Encyclopedia of Christianity, edited by Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, 38-39. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999. ISBN 0802824137


  1. How Alexandrian was Clement of Alexandria? Reflections on Clement and his Alexandrian Background A Hoek - The Heythrop Journal, 1990 "... Eusebius had a special connection with Alexandrian theology.6 He had direct contact with the tradition of the catechetical school of Alexandria via his teacher Pamphilus, a presbyter of Caesarea who was martyred around 310"
  2. Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Clement of Alexandria, St.". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Coptic Church .net
  4. L A Copts
  5. Encyclopaedia Britannica

External links

Origen was excommunicated by the Coptic Orthodox Church in early church history.

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