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History of the Seminary

In the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, the heart of civilization, Hellenistic culture and philosophy, the great Didascalium once stood. The greatest teachers and philosophers of their time came from the East and West to teach. Though it was not only a major landmark climacteric in the Alexandrian Church but a turning point in the history of Christianity, the school would later move to the desert, eventually ceasing to exist. Centuries later, in the middle of the digital generation, surrounded by modern contexts a need for a contemporary model of the legendary protype started to persistently present itself. This urgency culminated in coincidence with the appointment of HG Bishop Pavly as an auxiliary bishop in Alexandria, in December 2015. Being a strong advocate all his life for theological education, His Grace immediately responded to this pastoral need by focusing on establishing an esteemed theological institution for the spiritual and theological formation and discipleship of the servants of the city of St.Mark’s seat (see). Fr.Athanasius George was assigned both the tasks of conceptualization and implementation. Assembling a team of eight servants (of which four were later ordained into the priesthood), the project was initiated in a few short months. Two valuable additions would join the group soon after. The magnitude of the Alexandrian servants’ starvation and eagerness to learn theology was reflected in the one thousand two-hundred plus (1200+) applicants that were interviewed over the course of six weeks (April to mid-June 2016). A mixture of tears, immense joy, deep passion and a yearning to learn filled the rooms were the interviews were held for many hours, as applicants expressed their inability to understand Scriptures or the fathers and their incompetence at conveying theological themes at Sunday school. This burdened the servants’ conscience all the more, evolving the rationale of the seminary from a mere school that would teach basics (as many anticipated at first) to a humble attempt at reviving the glory and power of the Catechetical school once more. The opening ceremony was held on the 24th of August 2016, headed by HG Bishop Pavly and several other bishops alongside more than seventy priests attending from Alexandria, the general congregation council, the seminary’s board and the six-hundred and ten (610) students accepted at St.Mina’s Church in Fleming, Alexandria. The Church’s exceptional theatre was chosen to host the lectures due to its impressive capacity and for geographical reasons (Fleming falls in the centre of Alexandria – a convenient location for almost everyone). It was also decided that the tutorial classes were to be held in the halls of ElKarouz centre inside the main building at the Patriarchate of Alexandria. From here, a journey of academic excellence that fosters a spirit of prayer and research going hand in hand together began. On October 2nd 2019, the graduation ceremony of the first class was held in the theatre at St.Mina’s Church. The ceremony was headed by HG Bishop Pavly and blessed with HG Bishop Hermina’s (Auxiliary bishop of central and east Alexandria) presence. HH Pope Tawadros II intended on blessing the ceremony but was needed elsewhere on important pastoral duties. His Holiness recorded a heartfelt message of congratulations and appreciation to the year group. Many priests attended (of which a number were graduates) from all over Alexandria, the general congregation council, servants, members of our faculty and the family/friends of the graduating class, filling the theatre and entire Church yard outside. The famous group David Ensemble were invited to perform some ten spectacular hymns.

Tyrannus in Holy Scripture

By definition, the ancient Greek word τῠ́ρᾰννος means absolute ruler or monarch
However, in light of the New Testament events, Tyrannus is the name of prince, a Greek rhetorician, in whose “school” at Ephesus St.Paul the apostle carried out most of his ministry, disputing and reasoning daily over the course of two years concerning the Gospel with those who came to him (Acts 19:9).
D Syriac that St.Paul taught at the school “from the 5th hour unto the 10th”, meaning eleven o’clock in the morning until four in the afternoon. This likely to have been the case because these were the hottest hours of the day when most people rested after the midday meal. So the apostle Paul sought to take advantage and utilise these hours. During these times, the hall would normally be vacant, and perhaps rent cheaper, (Tyrannus would normally teach in the cooler morning hours). The halls or rooms of the philosophers were called σχολαί among the later Greeks (Liddell and Scott,s.v.).
This schedule would allow Paul to work at his own trade during business hours (Acts 20:34;1 Cor 4:12). Then, instead of resting, he engaged in mission work and apologetics when those in trades and business were at leisure to hear him. As a result, “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).
St.Paul repaired to this Tyrannus’ school after having been compelled to leave the Jewish synagogue (Ac 19:9), evidently as a means of gaining access to the Gentiles in addition to the Jews.
This seems to have been his normal procedure upon leaving or being expelled from the synagogue of any city. He normally used a large residence offered by one of his more prominent and wealthy disciples or rented an establishment whereby he could reason and persuade people, whether Jew or gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. In Philippi, Paul worked from Lydia’s home (Acts 16:14-15), and in Thessalonica it seems he operated from Jason’s home (Acts 17:5-9). In Athens he used the marketplace and the Areopagus, probably because the few believers there may not have owned a suitable place for public discussion, or if they did, didn’t offer it to Paul for the sake of the Gospel. However, when he arrived at Corinth, he used the residence of Justus (Acts 18:4-7), which seems to have had a common wall with the local synagogue there.
These places were used by the apostle to discuss what he wished especially those thing pertaining to the Scriptures in contrast to the strict limitations and restrictions which he faces in the synagogue.
As Tyrannus himself, some scholars have supposed that he was a Jewish rabbi, and that his “school” was a private synagogue. Others presume that he was a Greek, and a public teacher of philosophy or rhetoric.

Educational effectiveness

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With our goals clearly defined, our mission began to teach those who seek life in the teachings of the Church (learning for the sake of living) without giving any attention to topical controversy. This focus and clarity of purpose reaped miraculous things before our eyes.
For the first time in this generation of Alexandrian servants, proper theological terminology became widespread when referring to doctrines, citing patristic references or discussing matters of theology. Writings of the fathers were ventured once again, developing great familiarity was made with our rich heritage. As they became increasingly more confident with theology, they started addressing more complex spiritual and theological topics and including references of a more academic/scholastic nature in their preaching. Comparisons between pieces that they’d written (before and after), displayed such contrasts in their ability to express Orthodox thought. Likewise, huge improvements were made in the practical skills especially in their oration skills. These transitions began a contagious loop of transmitting their passion and knowledge, spreading theological awareness, and directing their fellow servants to more profound (patristic) literature. Servants began to notice an upgrade in their peers’ capabilities, thought and in the enhanced effectiveness of their ministry. A prime example to illustrate this is when one of the student’s son passed away in 2017. Instead of the custom tradition of what Copts do in Egypt for the 40th day memorial Liturgy, the man distributed in excess of three hundred copies of “The homilies of St.Macarius the great”!
Message from the chancellor

The Chancellor

Man was created by nature thirsty for knowledge in its different forms. This knowledge can either lead them to life or destruction. For this reason, the wise Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. (Proverbs 9:10) This knowledge gives us wisdom and understanding which furnish us with awareness of our world/surroundings and also enable us to live in our reality yet above time simultaneously. For the knowledge of the greatness of Christ our God raises us above worldly living. From this idea was the departure and conception of Tyrannus’ seminary, a humble attempt at enlightening our congregation who are longing to experience authentic Orthodox Spirituality. We have regarded the nourishing of our students with the indispensable words of Eternal Life our primary responsibility. Accordingly, we delve in the wellsprings of the lives and writings of our great fathers who enriched the Church through their giving and offering of their lives as a sweet aroma. Every student has found through the seminary those who are competent to answer their questions and guide them in their venture as they navigate and explore these treasures in the persons of venerated teachers who teach through scholarship, virtue and praxis, reflecting their immense love for Christ and His Church. For this reason we sing with David the Psalmist and King, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalms 126:3). Finally, the purpose of this project is for the Glory of Christ our God and to elevate our students’ line of thought as befitting for the honour of serving the Master who preceded and washed our feet.

Bishop Pavly

The Dean

Welcome to Tyrannus, a school of theology that stands in the vicinity of the great Didascalium both geographically and in terms of principle. We are dedicated to providing high caliber theological education to all those who seek Sophia through the channels of grace granted to us from on high. We strive to present a contemporary model of the Catechetical school that holds true to our long history of Alexandrian spirituality and theological tradition. Valuing both our board’s (of which many are priests) our students’ time, we aim with great diligence to supply our students with a world-class faculty to maximise our capabilities and resources, enabling them to realise more than their full potential as a generation of youth and servants passionate about their Church and learning about God. We coach them to process and analuyse information from a range of sources and utilize the theological knowledgebase which they will acquire in providing practical solutions to real pastoral dilemmas, challenges and phenomena. It is with great pleasure that we guide them as they discover themselves that the disconnect between living and knowing in Christianity is a long-standing illusion. Our seminary can be viewed as paradox in numerous ways. It endeavours to transmit enlightenment by immersing modern readers in early texts. Our emphasis on academic excellence is driven by pastoral motives. We mentor the students to reflect the spirit and knowledge of what they learn in their lives and communicate it by different means in their Church community (in ministry/service) and to the wider world also. While relying on scholarly expertise to convey theological themes, our curriculums are greatly influenced by the idea of Catechism, personal inquiry based on scientific research methodology and relevant modern apologetics. While training students to critically think and synthesise, we demonstrate continuously the correlation between theological knowledge and spirituality. In the words of Evagarius of Pontus, “a theologian, is one who knows how to pray, and he who prays in spirit and in truth is by that very act a theologian”. Following this piece of patristic wisdom, our teaching reinforces the importance of personal encounter with the Holy Trinity. Another key cornerstone in our philosophy is experiencing what we study through Liturgics, illustrating how the fathers ingeniously recorded our faith in these texts to preserve it throughout history. For we pray what we believe, and believe in what we pray Finally, we look on our work and mission as a process of formation and discipleship. We view our teaching style as a long journey of exploration in which we discover more and more about God. Individual units and whole study programs are designed to educate formatively, gradually and progressively in all aspects – the complete opposite of intensive-course-culture. As a part of the whole experience, physical presence (on-campus students) is of the essence for countless reasons such as encountering the spiritual giants and eminent academic figures that come to teach or the spirit of community and Koinonia. May the love of God the Father, The grace of the only-begotten Son, our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos St.Mary and prayers of St.Mark the Apostle, Evangelist and martyr, St.Mina the martyr, St.Athanasius, St.Cyril and all the fathers of the Church
Fr. Athanasius Fahmy George,
Pope_T

President

HH Pope Tawadros II
The seminary is based in city of Alexandria, the birthplace of the see of St.Mark and is headed under the auspices of HH Pope Tawadros II – Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the see of St.Mark Having grown up in Damanhour, His Holiness has completed degrees in Pharmacy, a profession he is passionate about to this day. His Holiness was a distinguished servant in the city, eventually becoming the head servant at his Church. Shortly after his ordination as a monk (Fr.Theodore), at the monastery of St.Bishoy, Scetis in 1988, His Holiness was called to serve in his hometown in the diocese of Beheira, for several years before becoming consecrated as an auxiliary bishop (Bishop Tawadros) to assist HE Metropolitan Pachomius in 1997. During the years of his Bishopric, he was best known for his diligent work in fields such as child development, designing several Sunday-school curriculums for the age group himself in addition to being an active member of the Childhood committee in the Coptic Holy Synod and a prolific writer on the topic. He was ordained as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the see of Saint Mark on the 9th of Hatour 1729 A.M. (18th of November 2012). One of His Holiness’ all-time favourite hobbies is reading, which he does multilingually. His Holiness has written a number of books, most prominently introductory works on Scripture, the Creed and short-stories. His Holiness earned a Bachelor’s of theological studies in 1983 and has had some experience teaching “New Testament” at Coptic seminaries.

Chancellor

HG Bishop Pavly
All spiritual, ecclesial and educational activities and functions are overlooked by HG Bishop Pavly – auxiliary bishop of the Montaza province in Alexandria and the youth of the city.
Holding a degree in computer engineering, His Grace worked in several multinational companies in addition to being gifted in youth ministry, preaching and deacon chorus mentoring prior to his consecration as full-time servant. He would later be ordained as a celibate priest by the late Anba Makari of thrice blessed memory, martyr bishop of Sinai, serving as his disciple, eventually becoming vicar of the diocese. His Grace was ordained as a bishop on June 1st 2014, serving briefly in Cairo before assuming his post in Alexandria. Today His Grace has transformed the districts in which he serves spiritually and socially through his Christian humanitarian work, in addition to having become a widely known Biblical preacher whose sermons have become popular with the international Arabic audience.

Dean

Fr. Athanasius Fahmy George, Ph.D – hegumenos of St.Mina’s Church, Fleming, Alexandria
Having grown up in St.Mary’s Church, Moharem Bey in Alexandria, the birthplace and melting pot of the Alexandrian Sunday-school movement, Orthodox Spirituality was deeply rooted in Fr.Athanasius from the pioneers in his Church from scholars in theology to Coptic language to experts in Holy Scriptures and masters of Coptic hymnology. His passion for the fathers was inspired by his spiritual fathers the late Fr.Bishoy Kamel and Fr.Tadros Yacoub Malaty and the Head servant at St.Mary’s Church, Dr.Youssef Habib (Abouna Bishoy and Abouna Tadros’ mentor). With the love of Sunday-school ministry filling his heart, he decided to become a full-time servant in 1987, residing at the Patriarchate. In 1989, he was appointed Head-servant of Sunday-school and youth ministry in Alexandria, becoming appointed as the youngest member of the Higher Committee of Sunday school education in the Coptic Church in history the following year. He also participated in many ecumenical functions in connection with both the Middle East Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, having represented the Coptic Church and HH Pope Shenouda III on many different occasions. In 1997 he was ordained as a priest to serve in the diocese of Ireland, Scotland and North-East England, becoming vicar of the diocese after three years and a hegumen in 2005. In September 2015, according to his wish, he moved back to serve in Alexandria at St.Mina’s Church in Fleming. In terms of education, Fr.Athanasius holds a degree in Business Management, a Master’s degree in Christian education and psychology from the Higher institute of Coptic studies and has a doctoral degree in Patristic theology from the University of Chalkida (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), in addition to some other studies at the University of Oxford and Balamand. However, he is best known for his Arabic Patristic series Ichthus (over 80 books).

Tuition style

Tyrannus has become known and respected amongst the Oriental Orthodox Churches across the globe for distinguished academia especially Arabic tuition which has produced high quality graduates in past few years since its establishment. Students are not only taught in the classical way but more personal tuition and supervision is incorporated as a part of our educational framework.

How you're taught

At Tyrannus, we believe students learn the most through the details such as encountering certain figures in our faculty, Liturgical worship or the warmth of our social functions. However, when it comes to academics, our students are taught through a combination deliver lectures delivered by members of our expert faculty, tutorial classes, practicals, supervised independent research and symposiums.

Teaching methods

Lectures act as a point of departure in students’ own research, forming the basis of the points which the tutorials will then address. These sessions are highly concentrated in nature, lasting around 75-90 minutes.
Many lecturers are leading academics in the Church, meaning that lectures often present to students the latest research work done on certain topics.

While the lecture is delivered to entire year groups (anywhere up to several hundred students), the tutorials on campus are usually held for groups as small as 10 students up to a maximum of 40. These sessions are designed to deal with the specifics and details of the courses. The volume and pace are more relaxed than the lectures as our teaching assistants focus on dissecting, analysing and synthesising. Students are exposed to the subject in an interactive manner that encourages them to actively participate in group discussions. Weekly tasks are assigned after each tutorial, varied in nature.

This element of tuition involves hands-on application as students are guided through practical coursework.
These classes are only held in courses with practical components such Homiletics, Coptic Iconography/art units and our unit on Coptic hymnology.

Students research topics by completing certain reading assignments that are then complimented with their own research work and findings. Guided sessions are held weekly to discuss the passages that they read and new findings/conclusions that they draw from their further investigation of the topic. Written work inspired by their research is corrected and feedback is provided.

Grading system

* It is permissible for students who underachieve in a course (score below a “C minus”) to request to sit the college’s make-up exam which takes place about two weeks after the results come out. However, this exam is only marked out of 70% of the total points allotted for the paper

Mission

Over the years, society evolves. Tendencies, lifestyles, principles, ethics, taste, culture, paradigms and perception of life changes radically. This is especially true with the rise of technology, the internet and social media which have connected the globe, shortening distances immensely in a way more powerful than anyone could contemplate.
From a growing reality of spiritual deterioration and detachment from Oriental patristic identity, placing Copts both inside and out of Egypt in a state of flux driven by invisible forces began the mission of the seminary.
What shapes everything we do at Tyrannus is the idea of fashioning the ideal 21st century Orthodox Christian through an intersection of antiquity and modernity and a synthesis of personal encounter with the Holy Trinity and practical vision for ministry in contemporary times.
This is achieved through a stimulating and enriching learning system that is anchored in Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church while being relevant to world in which we live in, for the Glory of God and the flourishing of His Church.
Mission

Vision

With the grace of God, we aspire to be a beacon of Orthodoxy whose light emanates from the city of Alexandria, shining to all the ends of the world through distinguished theological education.

Vision

Values

To preserve Alexandrian Orthodox tradition

To pursue the life of the Church by following in the footsteps of the saints in addition to their understanding and abiding by the Word of God

To prioritise each of our students’ individual spiritual formation and ensure that they encounter God through their study

To actively prepare students for ministry, equipping them with all the tools, skills and knowledge that they will need.

To coach our students to offer themselves as exemplars of Orthodoxy, witnessing to Christ in all that they do.

To communicate the spirit of divine love and salvation within our Church and broader Christian communities

To maintain the same communal atmosphere of enthusiasm, passion, collaboration, diligence, mutual respect and innovation since the beginning of the seminary
Values

Objectives

Understanding Orthodox Theology and Coptic heritage through scholarship, research and academic excellence, following the footsteps and legacy of the Catechetical school of Alexandria.

Holistic development and sculpting of a true theologian by the means of Spiritual, Ecclesiastical and academic discipleship of the highest levels. Each course is taught by several professors who hold doctoral and master’s degrees from reputable universities in their respective fields.

Theological education motivated by pastoral objectives. Our programs are aimed particularly at youth and those serving in ministry and evangelism.

Upbringing a generation of effective, competent and fruitful servants with good zeal and proper Church etiquette and decorum to inspire a spiritual revival to transform our pastoral reality.

Embracing our responsibility of stewardship in the modern world, preserving and defending our Orthodox faith to the last breath
Objectives