Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The School of Tyrannus

Acts 19: 9 tells us…So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

The lecture of of Tyrannus. Hmmmm…..

Where was that?

What was that?

Who was Tyrannus?

Unfortunately, we aren’t very sure. There are no remains of the lecture hall, and we only have little hints from Scripture regarding Paul’s discussions there. The picture I’ve posted here shows some of the ruins that remain at Ephesus, but not the lecture hall.

Paul was in Ephesus around 52 AD during his third missionary journey. It made sense for Paul to journey there…..Ephesus was the capital of an Asian province and was a major population and trade center. He could reach many people there with his Good News. Acts 20:31 reminds us that Paul spent three years in Ephesus…..Remember for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears, and for two of the three years he lectured and debated in the school of Tyrannus per Acts 19:10….This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Prior to having his discussions in the leture hall of Tyrannus, Paul had begun his ministry in a synagogue, but was soon forced out due to obstinate people, but why a school? The word used for school in the original Greek….schole….meant “leisure”. Not exactly my definition of school being an educator, but in Paul’s day discussions and debates were done during leisure time, and the word finally came to refer to a group of persons meeting for the purpose of having discussions or the place where the meeting was held. Schools during Paul’s time can be thought of as modern day literary or philosophy clubs.

The Greek manuscript of Acts, the Codex Beza, advises discussions were held between 11am and 4 pm…..the part of the day when men were expected to be conducting leisure activities….not work. During those hours men pursued their hobbies, they rested, or they took part in great discussions in a lecture hall or school, as it were.

During these discussions we know that Paul “reasoned” with others. Acts 17:17-18 states….So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this blabber trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

So….during his hours of leisure Paul was preaching or discussing the Good News. Perhaps Tyrannus allowed Paul the use of his building during the afternoon hours which was very advantageous in that the hours of 11 am to 4 pm would give him the largest audience possible, and it would afford Paul the morning hours to actually work at his trade which was tent-making.

We also know that due to his lectures at the school of Tyrannus Paul gained many contacts with officials in Ephesus that proved to be helpful to him. Acts 19:31 states….Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

Acts also clues us in to the fact that Paul didn’t only share the good news in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, but he also went “from house to house” and “with tears” per Acts 20:20, 31….You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house…So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I have never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

But of Tyrannus….who WAS he?

Some scholars believe he was a teacher or at least the owner of the school/lecture hall. Others have suggested he could have been the donor or the patron of the school…much like our tradition of naming buildings after the people who donate the money to pay for them.

The name “Tyrannus” brings a question to mind as well. The word means “tyrant”.

What mother in her right mind would name her little baby “Tyrant”?

It was certainly not a popular name during the first century, and this very fact has led scholars to believe Tyrannus was NOT his real name. Perhaps a group of students had nicknamed this particular teacher Tyrannus.

Hmmm….I’ve been called lots of things by students. I wonder if any of them ever thought I was a tyrant?


Grace & Peace said...

Thanks for your time and insightful comments. I was reading Acts 19 this morning and that verse caught my attention. It seems Paul had to leave one place where he was being hindered from sharing the Gospel (the synagogue), to go to another place where he could do so with greater success.


hq said...

Hi all

Last November I followed tour and was in Ephesus. Now looking back all the pictures I took and read the New Testament, I am wondering where is the "hall of Tyrannus". I searched for hours but could not find anything saying the whereabout of it.
If you happen to find a picture of the ruin of it please share with me.


Anonymous said...

So...leisure time...when some would take "siesta" others would study!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post (: Just looking into the meaning of the name Tyrannus myself. I found it actually means prince; one who rules. or in greek, sovereign. Just for musings sake (:

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