I. EDUCATION DEFINED
II. EDUCATION IN EARLY ISRAEL
1. Nomadic and Agricultural Periods 2. The Monarchical Period 3. Deuteronomic Legislation 4. Reading and Writing
III. EDUCATION IN LATER ISRAEL
1. Educational Significance of the Prophets 2. The Book of the Law 3. Wise Men or Sages 4. The5. Scribes and Levites 6. Greek and Roman Influences
IV. EDUCATION IN NEW TESTAMENT TIMES
1. Subject Matter of Instruction 2. Method and Aims 3. Valuable Results of Jewish Education 4. The Preeminence of Jesus as a Teacher 5. Educational Work of the Early Disciples
I. Education Defined.
By education we understand the sum total of those processes whereby society transmits from one generation to the next its accumulated social, intellectual and religious experience and heritage. In part these processes are informal and incidental, arising from participation in certain forms of social life and activity which exist on their own account and not for the sake of their educative influence upon the rising generation. The more formal educative processes are designed
(1) to give the immature members of society a mastery over the symbols and technique of civilization, including language (reading and writing), the arts, the sciences, and religion, and
(2) to enlarge the fund of individual and community knowledge beyond the measure furnished by the direct activities of the immediate environment (compare Dewey, article on "Education" in Monroe’s CE; compare Butler, ME).
Religious education among ancient and modern peoples alike reveals clearly this twofold aspect of all education. On its informal side it consists in the transmission of religious ideas and experience by means of the reciprocal processes of imitation and example; each generation, by actually participating in the religious activities and ceremonies of the social group, imbibing as it were the spirit and ideals of the preceding generation as these are modified by the particular economic and industrial conditions under which the entire process takes place. Formal religious education begins with the conscious and systematic effort on the part of the mature members of a social group (tribe, nation, or religious fellowship) to initiate the immature members by means of solemn rites and ceremonies, or patient training, or both, into the mysteries and high privileges of their own religious fellowship and experience. As regards both the content and form of this instruction, these will in every case be determined by the type and stage of civilization reflected in the life, occupations, habits and customs of the people. Among primitive races educational method is simpler and the content of formal instruction less differentiated than on higher culture levels (Ames, PRE). All education is at first religious in the sense that religious motives and ideas predominate in the educational efforts of all primitive peoples. The degree to which religion continues preeminent in the educational system of a progressive nation depends upon the vitality of its religion and upon the measure of efficiency and success with which from the first that religion is instilled into the very bone and sinew of each succeeding generation. Here lies the explanation of the religious-educational character of Hebrew national life, and here, too, the secret of Israel’s incomparable influence upon the religious and educational development of the world. The religion of Israel was a vital religion and it was a teaching religion (Kent, GTJC).
II. Education in Early Israel.
In their social and national development the Hebrews passed through several clearly marked cultural stages which it is important to note in connection with their educational history. At the earliest point at which thegives us any knowledge of them, they, like their ancestors, were nomads and shepherds. Their chief interest centered in the flocks and herds from which they gained a livelihood, and in the simple, useful arts that seem gradually to have become hereditary in certain families. With the settlement of the Hebrew tribes in Palestine and their closer contact with Canaanitish culture, a more established agricultural life with resulting changes in social and religious institutions gradually superseded the nomadic stage of culture. A permanent dwelling-place made possible, as the continual warfare of gradual conquest made necessary, a closer federation of the tribes, which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the monarchy under David (W. R. Smith, RS; Davidson, HE).
1. Nomadic and Agricultural Periods:
In these earliest cultural periods, both the nomadic and the agricultural, there was no distinct separation between the spheres of religion and ordinary life. The relation of the people to Yahweh was conceived by them in simple fashion as involving on their part the obligation of filial obedience and loyalty, and on Yahweh’s part reciprocal parental care over them as His people. The family was the social unit and its head the person in whom centered also religious authority and leadership, The tribal head or patriarch in turn combined in himself the functions which later were differentiated into those of priest and prophet and king. Education was a matter of purely domestic interest and concern. The home was the only school and the parents the only teachers. But there was real instruction, all of which, moreover, was given in a spirit of devout religious earnestness and of reverence for the common religious ceremonies and beliefs, no matter whether the subject of instruction was the simple task of husbandry or of some useful art, or whether it was the sacred history and traditions of the tribe, or the actual performance of its religious rites. According to Josephus (Ant., IV, viii, 12) Moses himself had commanded, "All boys shall learn the most important parts of the law since such knowledge is most valuable and the source of happiness"; and again he commanded (Apion, II, 25) to teach them the rudiments of learning (reading and writing) together with the laws and deeds of the ancestors, in order that they might not transgress or seem ignorant of the laws of their ancestors, but rather emulate their example. Certain it is that the earliest legislation, including the Decalogue, emphasized parental authority and their claim on the reverence of their children: "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which Yahweh thy God giveth thee" (
2. The Monarchical Period:
The period of conquest and settlement developed leaders who not only led the allied tribes in battle, but served as judges between their people, and were active in the maintenance of the ancestral religion. In time, sufficient cooperation was obtained to make possible the organization of strong intertribal leagues and, finally, the kingship. "This increasing political unification," says Ames, "was accompanied by a religious consciousness which became ultimately the most remarkable product of the national development" (Ames, PRE, 174 f). The establishment of the kingdom and the beginnings of city and commercial life were accompanied by more radical cultural changes, including the differentiation of religious from other social institutions, the organization of the priesthood, and the rise and development of prophecy. Elijah, the Tishbite, Amos, the herdsman from Tekoa, Isaiah, the son of Amoz, were all champions of a simple faith and ancient religious ideals as over against the worldly-wise diplomacy and sensuous idolatry of the surrounding nations. Under the monarchy also a new religious symbolism developed. Yahweh was thought of as a king in whose hands actually lay the supreme guidance of the state: "Accordingly the organization of the state included provision for consulting His will and obtaining His direction in all weighty matters" (W. R. Smith, RS, 30). Under the teaching of the prophets the ideal of personal and civic righteousness was moved to the very forefront of Hebrew religious thought, while the prophetic ideal of the future was that of a time when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea" (
3. Deuteronomic Legislation:
"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life."
4. Reading and Writing:
With the development and reorganization of the ritual, priests and Levites, as the guardians of the law, were the principal instructors of the people, while parents remained in charge of the training of the children. In families of the aristocracy the place of the parents was sometimes taken by tutors, as appears from the case of the infant Solomon, whose training stems to have been entrusted to the prophet Nathan (
III. Education in Later Israel.
The national disaster that befell the Hebrew people in the downfall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity was not without its compensating, purifying and stimulating influence upon the religious and educational development of the nation. Under the pressure of adverse external circumstances the only source of comfort for the exiled people was in the law and covenant of Yahweh, while the shattering of all hope of immediate national greatness turned the thought and attention of the religious leaders away from the present toward the future. Two types of Messianic expectation characterized the religious development of the exilic period. The first is the priestly, material hope of return and restoration reflected in the prophecies of Ezekiel. The exiled tribes are to return again to Jerusalem; the temple is to be restored, its ritual and worship purified and exalted, the priestly ordinance and service elaborated. The second is the spiritualized and idealized Messianic expectation of the Second Isaiah, based on teachings of the earlier prophets. For the greatest of Hebrew prophets Yahweh is the only God, and the God of all nations as well as of Israel. For him Israel is Yahweh’s servant, His instrument for revealing Himself to other nations, who, when they witness the redemption of Yahweh’s suffering Servant, will bow down to Yahweh and acknowledge His rule. "Thus the trials of the nation lead to a comprehensive universalism within which the suffering Israel gains an elevated and ennobling explanation" (Ames, PRE, 185). In the prophetic vision of Ezekiel we must seek the inspiration for the later development of Jewish ritual, as well as the basis of those eschatological hopes and expectations which find their fuller expression in the apocalypse of Daniel and the kindred literature of the later centuries. The prophecies of the Isaiahs and the Messianic hope which these kindled in the hearts of the faithful prepared the way for the teachings of Jesus concerning a Divine spiritual kingdom, based upon the personal, ethical character of the individual and the mutual, spiritual fellowship of believers.
1. Educational Significance of the Prophets:
The educational significance of the prophetic writings of this as of the preceding periods is that the prophets themselves were the real religious leaders and representative men (Kulturtrager) of the nation. In advance of their age they were the heralds of Divine truth; the watchmen on the mountain tops whose clear insight into the future detected the significant elements in the social and religious conditions and tendencies about them, and whose keen intellect and lofty faith grasped the eternal principles which are the basis of all individual and national integrity and worth. These truths and principles they impressed upon the consciousness of their own and succeeding generations, thereby giving to future teachers of their race the essence of their message, and preparing the way for the larger and fuller interpretation of religion and life contained in the teachings of Jesus. The immediate influence of their teaching is explained in part by the variety and effectiveness of their teaching method, their marvelous simplicity and directness of speech, their dramatic emphasis upon essentials and their intelligent appreciation of social conditions and problems about them.
2. The Book of the Law:
The immediate bond of union, as well as the textbook and program of religious instruction, during the period of the captivity and subsequently, was the Book of the Law, which the exiles carried with them to Babylon. When in 458 BC a company of exiles returned to Palestine, they along with their poorer brethren who had not been carried away, restored the Jewish community at Jerusalem, and under the suzerainty of Persia, founded a new nationalism, based, even more than had been the earlier monarchy, upon the theocratic conception of Israel’s relation to Yahweh. During this period it was that writings of poets, lawgivers, prophets and sages were brought together into one sacred collection of scrolls, known later as the Old Testament canon, of which the Torah (the law) was educationally the most significant. The recognized teachers of this period included, in addition to the priests and Levites, the "wise men," or "sages" and the "scribes" or copherim (literally, "those learned in Scriptures").
3. Wise Men or Sages:
Whether or not the sages and scribes of the later post-exilic times are to be regarded as one and the same class, as an increasing number of scholars are inclined to believe, or thought of as distinct classes, the wise men clearly antedate, not only the copherim but in all probability all forms of book learning as well. Suggestions of their existence and function are met with in earliest times both in Israel and among other nations of the East. As illustrations of their appearance in preexilic Old Testament history may be cited the references in
"He seeks out the hidden meaning of proverbs, And is conversant with the subtleties of parables, He serves among great men, And appears before him who rules; He travels through the land of strange nations; For he hath tried good things and evil among men".
"He shows forth the instruction which he has been taught, And glories in the law of the covenant of the Lord".
"Nations shall declare his wisdom, And the congregation shall tell out his praise."
4. The Book of Proverbs:
Of the pedagogic experience, wisdom and learning of these sages, the Book of Proverbs forms the Biblical repository. Aside from the Torah it is thus the oldest handbook of education. The wise men conceive of life itself as a discipline. Parents are the natural instructors of their children:
"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother."
(Compare 4:1-4 ff; 6:20; 13:1.) The substance of such parental teaching is to be the `fear of Yahweh’ which "is the beginning of wisdom"; and fidelity in the performance of this parental obligation has the promise of success: "Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it."
In their training of children, parents are to observe sternness, not hesitating to apply the rod of correction, when needed (compare
"To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion: That the wise man may hear, and increase in learning; And that the man of understanding may attain unto sound counsels." --
5. Scribes and Levites:
The copherim or "men of book learning" were editors and interpreters as well as scribes or copyists of ancient and current writings. As a class they did not become prominent until the wise men, as such, stepped into the background, nor until the exigencies of the situation demanded more teachers and teaching than the ranks of priests and Levites, charged with increasing ritualistic duties, could supply. Ezra was both a priest and a copher (
6. Greek and Roman Influences:
The conquest of Persia by Alexander (332 BC) marks the rise of Greek influence in Palestine. Alexander himself visited Palestine and perhaps Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant, X, i, 8), befriended the Jews and granted to them the privilege of seir- government, and the maintenance of their own social and religious customs, both at home and in Alexandria, the new center of Greek learning, in the founding of which many Jews participated (see Alexandria). During the succeeding dynasty of the Ptolemies, Greek ideas and Greek culture penetrated to the very heart of Judaism at Jerusalem, and threatened the overthrow of Jewish social and religious institutions. The Maccabean revolt under (174-164 BC) and the reestablishment of a purified temple ritual during the early part of the Maccabean period (161-63 BC) were the natural reaction against the attempt of the Seleucids forcibly to substitute the Greek gymnasium and theater for the Jewish synagogue and temple (Felten, NZ, I, 83 f; compare 1 Macc 1, 3, 9, 13 and 2 Macc 4-10). The end of the Maccabean period found Phariseeism and strict Jewish orthodoxy in the ascendancy with such Hellenic tendencies as had found permanent lodgment in Judaism reflected in the agnosticism of the aristocratic Sadducees. The establishment of Roman authority in Palestine (63 BC) introduced a new determining element into the environmental conditions under which Judaism was to attain its final distinguishing characteristics. The genius of the Romans was practical, legalistic and institutional. As organizers and administrators they were preeminent. But their religion never inspired to any exalted view of life, and education to them meant always merely a preparation for life’s practical duties. Hence, the influence of Roman authority upon Judaism was favorable to the development of a narrow individualistic Phariseeism, rather than to the fostering of Greek idealism and universalism. With the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans a little more than a century later (70 AD) and the cessation of the temple worship, the Sadducees as a class disappeared from Judaism, which has ever since been represented by the Pharisees devoted to the study of the law. Outside of Jerusalem and Palestine, meanwhile, the Jewish communities at Alexandria and elsewhere were much more hospitable to Greek culture and learning, at the same time exerting a reciprocal, modifying influence upon Greek thought. It was, however, through its influence upon early Christian theology and education that the Hellenistic philosophy of the Alexandrian school left its deeper impress upon the substance and method of later Christian education.
IV. Education inTimes.
Elementary schools: Jewish education in the time of Christ was of the orthodox traditional type and in the hands of scribes, Pharisees and learned rabbis. The home was still the chief institution for the dispensation of elementary instruction, although synagogues, with attached schools for the young were to be found in every important Jewish community. Public elementary schools, other than those connected with the synagogues were of slower growth and do not seem to have been common until, some time after Joshua ben Gamala, high priest from 63-65 AD, ordered that teachers be appointed in every province and city to instruct children having attained the age of 6-7 years. In the synagogue schools the chazzan, or attendant, not infrequently served as schoolmaster (compare SCHOOL; SCHOOLMASTER).
1. Subject Matter of Instruction:
As in earlier times the Torah, connoting now the sacred Old Testament writings as a whole, though with emphasis still upon the law, furnished the subject-matter of instruction. To this were added, in the secondary schools (colleges) of the rabbis, the illustrative and parabolical rabbinical interpretation of the law (the haggadhah) and its application to daily life in the form of concise precept or rule of conduct (the halakhah). Together the haggadhah and halakhah furnish the content of the Talmud (or Talmuds), as the voluminous collections of orthodox Jewish teachings of later centuries came to be known.
2. Method and Aims:
As regards teaching method the scribes and rabbis of New Testament times did not improve much upon the practice of the copherim and sages of earlier centuries. Memorization, the exact reproduction by the pupil of the master’s teaching, rather than general knowledge or culture, was the main objective. Since the voice of prophecy had become silent and the canon of revealed truth was considered closed, the intellectual mastery and interpretation of this sacred revelation of the past was the only aim that education on its intellectual side could have. On its practical side it sought, as formerly, the inculcation of habits of strict ritualistic observance, obedience to the letter of the law as a condition of association and fellowship with the selected company of true Israelites to which scribes and Pharisees considered themselves to belong. The success with which the teachings of the scribes and rabbis were accompanied is an evidence of their devotion to their work, and more still of the psychological insight manifested by them in utilizing every subtle means and method for securing and holding the attention of their pupils, and making their memories the trained and obedient servants of an educational ideal. The defects in their work were largely the defects in that ideal. Their theory and philosophy of education were narrow. "Their eyes were turned too much to the past rather than the present and future." They failed to distinguish clearly the gold from the dross in their inherited teachings, or to adapt these to the vital urgent needs of the common people. In its struggle against foreign cults and foreign culture, Judaism had encased itself in a shell of stereotyped orthodoxy, the attempt to adapt which to new conditions and to a constantly changing social order resulted in an insincere and shallow casuistry of which the fantastic conglomerate mass of Talmudic wisdom of the 4th and 6th centuries is the lasting memorial.
3. Valuable Results of Jewish Education:
Nevertheless, Jewish education, though defective both in matter and in method, and tending to fetter rather than to free the mind, achieved four valuable results:
(1) it developed a taste for close, critical study;
(2) it sharpened the wits, even to the point of perversity;
(3) it encouraged a reverence for law and produced desirable social conduct; and
(4) it formed a powerful bond of union among the Jewish people. To these four points of excellence enumerated by Davidson (Historia Ecclesiastica, 80) must be added a fifth which, briefly stated, is this:
(5) Jewish education by its consistent teaching of lofty monotheism, and its emphasis, sometimes incidental add sometimes outstanding, upon righteousness and holiness of life as a condition of participation in a future Messianic kingdom, prepared the way for the Christian view of God and the world, set forth in its original distinctness of outline and incomparable simplicity in the teachings of Jesus.
4. The Preeminence of Jesus as a Teacher:
Jesus was more than a teacher; but He was a teacher first. To His contemporaries he appeared as a Jewish rabbi of exceptional influence and popularity. He used the teaching methods of the rabbis; gathered about Him, as did they, a group of chosen disciples (learners) whom He trained and taught more explicitly with a view to perpetuating through them His own influence and work. His followers called Him Rabbi and Master, and the scribes and Pharisees conceded His popularity and power. He taught, as did the rabbis of His time, in the temple courts, in the synagogue, in private, and on the public highway as the exigencies of the case demanded. His textbook, so far as He used any, was the same as theirs; His form of speech (parable and connected discourse), manner of life and methods of instruction were theirs. Yet into His message and method He put a new note of authority that challenged attention and inspired confidence. Breaking with the traditions of the past He substituted for devotion to the letter of the law an interest in men, with boundless sympathy for their misfortune, abiding faith in their worth and high destiny and earnest solicitude for their regeneration and perfection. To say that Jesus was the world’s greatest and foremost example as a teacher is to state a fact borne out by every inquiry, test and comparison that modern educational science can apply to the work and influence of its great creative geniuses of the past. Where His contemporaries and even His own followers saw only "as in a glass, darkly," He saw clearly; and His view of God and the world, of human life and human destiny, has come down through the ages as a Divine revelation vouchsafed the world in Him. Viewed from the intellectual side, it was the life philosophy of Jesus that made His teachings imperishable; esthetically it was the compassionate tenderness and solicitude of His message that drew the multitudes to Him; judged from the standpoint of will, it was the example of His life, its purpose, its purity, its helpfulness, that caused men to follow Him; and tested by its immediate and lasting social influence, it was the doctrine, the ideal and example of the human brotherliness and Divine sonship, that made Jesus the pattern of the great teachers of mankind in every age and generation. With a keen, penetrating insight into the ultimate meaning of life, He reached out, as it were, over the conflicting opinions of men and the mingling social and cultural currents of His time backward to the fundamental truths uttered by the ancient prophets of His race and forward to the ultimate goal of the race. Then with simple directness of speech He addressed Himself to the consciences and wills of men, setting before them the ideal of the higher life, and with infinite patience sought to lift them to the plane of fellowship with Himself in thought and action.
5. Educational Work of the Early Disciples:
See further SCHOOL; TEACHER; TUTOR.
Ames, Psychology of Religious Experience, chapter x; Box, article "Education," in Encyclopedia Biblica; Butler, The Meaning of Education; Davidson, History of Education; Dewey, article "Education," in Monroe’s Cyclopedia of Education; Edersheim, "The Upbringing of Jewish Children," in SJSL, and Life and Times of Jesus, I, 225 f; Fairweather, Background of the Gospels; Felten, "Schriftgelehrten, Synagogen u. Schulen," in Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, I; Ginsburg, article "Education," in Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopedia; Hiegemoser u. Bock, Quellenbuch u. Uberblick d. Geschichte d. Padagogik; Katzer, articles "Jesus als Lehrer" and "Judenchristenturn," in Rein’s Encyklopadisches Handbuch d. Padagogik; Kennedy, article "Education," in HDB, I; Kohler and Gudemann, article "Education" in Jew Encyclopedia, V; Kent, Great Teachers of Judaism and Christianity and Makers and Teachers of Judaism; Laurie, Historical Survey of Pre-; Lewit, Darstellung d. theoretischen u. praktischen Padagogik im jud. Altertume; Oehler, article "Padagogik d. Alten Testaments," in Schmid’s Encyclopadie d. Gesammten Erziehungs-u. Unterrichtswesen; Schurer, "Schriftgelehrsamkeit, Schule u. Synagoge," in Geschichte d. jud. Volkes (ed 1907); W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites; Straussburger, Geschichte d. Unterrichts bei d. Israeliten; von Rohden, article "Katechetik" in Rein’s EHP.