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Tyrannus

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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TYRANNUS . This man is mentioned only in Acts 19:9 . St. Paul in Ephesus preached before the Jews and proselytes in the synagogue for three months. Finding them determinedly hostile, he resorted to the ‘school of Tyrannus,’ where he reasoned every day. The expression is somewhat enigmatical to us, as we have no other reference to this institution by which to illustrate it. The Greek word may be translated either ‘school’ or ‘lecture room,’ and Tyrannus may have been either a schoolmaster or what we call a professor. There is the further difficulty that Tyrannus may have been dead at the time, and that the building may have been merely known as ‘Tyrannus’s school,’ in memory of a once famous teacher who taught there. All the probabilities are in favour of this having been the name of a noted public building in Ephesus. Permission to use this building was given to Paul; perhaps it was hired by him or his friends. All this may be inferred from what is the generally accepted text of the passage in the present day. The Western and other texts have touched up this simpler text, and changed the situation considerably. They have inserted the word ‘a certain’ before ‘Tyrannus,’ and this at once converts the public building into a private one. The person Tyrannus would then be unknown to the readers, and would be one not unfavourable to St. Paul, who lent him his own building with or without fee. The most notable MS of the Western text adds the words: ‘from the fifth hour till the tenth.’ This addition is all of a piece with the idea that Tyrannus was a schoolmaster or professor, whose work, according to the ancient custom, would be over early in the day, thus leaving the building free for the rest of the day. Juvenal describes to us how the boys read their lessons to the master even before dawn. Augustine, himself a professor, tells us that his lecturing work was over early in the day. The experience of moderns in southern countries confirms this: the early morning is the time for brain work in the South, as the young Julius Charles Hare and his brother found when resident as boys in Italy. The hall was free to Paul at the hottest period of the day, when it must have been hard for people to listen, and yet harder for him to preach. All this is conveyed by the reading of the chief representative of the Western text, but the present writer has no doubt that here, as elsewhere, the reviser has been endeavouring to remove obscurity from the narrative. Almost all the Western variants can be explained by a greater or less effort to smooth difficulties of various sorts. The shorter reading discussed in the earlier paragraph is the genuine one.

A. Souter.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tyrannus'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​t/tyrannus.html. 1909.
 
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