From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

In early times there were no schools such as we know them today, and most children were educated at home. It was the responsibility of parents to teach their children the history and social customs of their nation, to instruct them in right living and to prepare them for adult life. This preparation involved teaching and training in reading, writing, crafts, trades and household work ( Exodus 13:8;  Exodus 13:14;  Deuteronomy 4:9-10;  Proverbs 1:8;  Proverbs 4:1-9;  Proverbs 31:1). In the case of Israelites, parents had a particular responsibility to teach their children the religion given them by God ( Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Christian parents have a similar responsibility ( Ephesians 6:4;  2 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 3:15; see Family ).

People of higher social status often received a more formal education through private instructors who were appointed as the children’s guardians ( 2 Kings 10:1;  Acts 7:22;  Galatians 3:24-25). Institutions known as wisdom schools were later established for the teaching and training of upper class people in philosophical thought ( Ecclesiastes 12:9;  Ecclesiastes 12:11;  Jeremiah 18:18; see Wisdom Literature ). Prophets also had schools for the training of their disciples ( 2 Kings 2:3;  2 Kings 4:38;  Isaiah 8:16; see Prophet ).

For ordinary Israelites, the highest academic instruction they received was the teaching of the law of Moses. Originally the priests were the teachers, but by New Testament times the scribes had taken over most of the teaching activity ( Deuteronomy 33:10;  Ezra 7:6;  Ezra 7:10;  Nehemiah 8:1-4;  Nehemiah 8:8;  Matthew 23:2-3; see Scribes ). The power of the scribes had developed along with the establishment of places known as synagogues, which became centres of instruction for Jewish people in general ( Matthew 4:23;  Luke 4:16-21; see Synagogue ).

Jewish men could, if they wished, receive a more thorough education in the Jewish law by becoming students of learned Jewish teachers ( John 3:10;  Acts 5:34; see Rabbi ). They usually sat at the feet of their teachers ( Acts 22:3), and learnt by memorizing facts and having question-and-answer sessions with their teachers ( Deuteronomy 31:19;  Luke 2:46). These teachers often taught in the temple ( Matthew 26:55;  Luke 2:46; cf.  Luke 19:47). (Concerning teachers in the church see TEACHER.)

In addition to education in this traditional religious setting, education in a Greek philosophical setting was also common in New Testament times. This created difficulties for Christians, because of the conflicts between values taught in this kind of education and values taught in Christian homes and churches ( 1 Corinthians 1:20-25;  Colossians 2:8).

Such conflicts will always exist. Christians may consider that when a government accepts responsibility for the education of its citizens, it is fulfilling part of its God-given task. It is helping provide for society’s well-being ( Romans 13:4). But this does not relieve Christian parents and church leaders of their responsibilities concerning the proper instruction, development and growth of those within their care ( Ephesians 4:13-15;  Ephesians 6:4;  2 Timothy 3:14-17;  Hebrews 5:14;  Hebrews 13:17; see also Ethics ).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

1. Jewish. -The Jews from early times prized education in a measure beyond the nations around them. It was the key to the knowledge of their written Law, the observance of which was required by the whole people without respect of rank or class. They were the people of a Book, and wherever there is a written literature, and that religiously binding, elementary education, at least in the forms of reading and writing, is imperative and indispensable. The rise of the synagogue, and of the order of Scribes in connexion therewith, exercised a powerful influence upon the progress of education among the mass of the people. In the 4th cent. b.c. there was a synagogue in every town, and in the 2nd cent. in every considerable village as well. To the synagogues there were in all probability attached schools, both elementary and higher, and the ḥazzân (‘the attendant,’  Luke 4:20 Revised Version) may well have been the teacher. The value of education was understood among the Jews before the Christian era. In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs we read: ‘Do ye also teach your children letters, that they may have understanding all their life, reading unceasingly the Law of God’ (‘Levi,’ xiii. 2). In the Psalms of Solomon the frequent use of παιδεύειν, παιδευτής, and παιδεία (with the significant addition of ῥάσδος, 7:8, and of μάδτιξ, 18:8) points to the existence of schools and of a professional class of teachers. By the Apostolic Age there is abundant evidence of the general diffusion of education among the people. ‘Our principal care of all,’ says Josephus ( c. Ap . i. 12), comparing the Jews with other nations, ‘is to educate our children well, and to observe the laws, and we think it to be the most necessary business of our whole life to keep this religion which has been handed down to us.’ Among the Jews every child had to learn to read; scarcely any Jewish children were to be found to whom reading of a written document was strange, and therefore were there so many poor Jewish parents ready to deny themselves the necessaries of life in order to let their children have instruction ( c. Ap . ii. 26; cf. B. Strassburger, Gesch. der Erziehung bei den Israeliten , 1885, p. 7). The result of instruction from the earliest years in the home, and of teaching received on the Sabbath, and on the frequent occasions of national festivals, is, according to the Jewish historian, ‘that if anybody do but ask any one of our people about our laws, he could more easily tell them all than he could tell his own name. For because of ear having learned them as soon as ever we became sensible of anything, we have them as it were engraven on our souls’ ( c. Ap . ii. 19).

Education began, as Josephus says, ‘with the earliest infancy.’ Philo speaks of Jewish youth ‘being taught, so to speak, from their very swaddling clothes by parents and teachers and inspectors, even before they receive instruction in the holy laws and unwritten customs of their religion, to believe in God the one Father and Creator of the world’ ( Legat. ad Gaium , 16). ‘From a babe thou hast known the sacred writings,’ writes St. Paul to Timothy ( 2 Timothy 3:15), recalling his disciple’s early acquaintance with the OT Scriptures. At the age of six the Jewish boy would go to the elementary school ( Bêth ha-Sçpher ), but before this he would have received lessons in Scripture from his parents and have learned the Shʿma‘ and the Hallçl , From the sixth to the tenth year he would make a study of the Law, along with writing and arithmetic. At the age of ten he would be admitted to the higher school ( Bêth ha-Midrâsh ), where he would make the acquaintance of the oral Law, beginning with the Mishna, ‘repetition,’ the oral traditions of the Law. At the age of thirteen he would be acknowledged by a sort of rite of confirmation as a ‘Son of the Commandment’ ( Bar-miṣvâh ), and from this point his further studies would depend upon the career he was to follow in life. If he was to become a Rabbi, he would continue his studies in the Law, and, as Saul of Tarsus did, betake himself to some famous teacher and sit at his feet as a disciple.

Although schools were thus in existence in connexion with the synagogues, it was not till comparatively late that schools, in the modern sense, for the education of children by themselves, seem to have been instituted (see article‘Education’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ). They are said to have been first established by Simon bên-Shetach in the 1st cent. b.c., but this is disputed. However this may be, schools were placed upon a satisfactory and permanent footing by Joshua bên-Gamaliel, who is said to have been high priest from a.d. 63 to 65, and who ordained that teachers of youth should be placed in every town and every village, and that children on arriving at school age should be sent to them for instruction. Of him it is said that if he had not lived, the Law would have perished from Israel. The love of sacred learning and the study of the Law in synagogue and school saved the Jewish people from extinction. When Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Jewish population had been scattered after the disastrous events of a.d. 70, the school accompanied the people into the lands of their dispersion. Jamnia, between Joppa and Ashdod, then became the headquarters of Jewish learning, and retained the position till the unhappy close of Bar Cochba’s rebellion. The learned circle then moved northwards to Galilee, and Tiberias and Sepphoris became seats of Rabbinical training. Wherever the Jews were settled, the family gathering of the Passover, the household instruction as to its origin and history, and the training in the knowledge of the Law, served to knit them together and to intensify their national feeling even in the midst of heathen surroundings.

While the great subject of school instruction was the Law, the work of the elementary school embraced reading, writing , and arithmetic . To make the Jewish boy familiar with the Hebrew characters in every jot and tittle, and to make him able to produce them himself, was the business of the Bêth ha-Sçpher , ‘the House of the Book.’ Reading thus came to be a universal accomplishment among the Jewish people, and it was a necessary qualification where the sacred books were not the exclusive concern of a priestly caste, but were meant to be read and studied in the home as well as read aloud and expounded in the synagogue. The case of Timothy already referred to is evidence of this; and the Scriptures which the Jewish converts of Berœa ‘examined daily’ were no doubt the OT in Greek which they were trained to study for themselves. Writing may not have been so general an accomplishment, but it must also have been in considerable demand. This can be inferred from the numerous copies of the Scripture books which had to be produced; and from the prevalence of tʿphillîn (‘phylacteries’) and mʿzûzôth , little metal cases containing the Shʿma‘ , the name of God, and texts of Scripture, fastened to the ‘doorposts’ of Jewish houses, which were in use before the Apostolic Age. The simple rules of arithmetic would be wanted to calculate the weeks, months, and festivals of the Jewish year.

In the higher school, Bêth ha-Midrâsh , ‘the House of Study,’ the contents of the Law and the Books of Scripture as a whole were expounded by the authorities. It is said to have been a rule of the Jewish schools not to allow all and sundry, without regard to age, to read all the books of Holy Scripture, but to give to the young all those portions of Scripture whose literal sense commanded universal acceptance, and only after they had attained the age of twenty-five to allow them to read the whole. Origen lefts of the scruples of the Jewish teachers in regard to the reading of the Song of Solomon by the young (Harnack, Bible Reading in the Early Church , 1912, p. 30f.). But there was no lack of materials for reading and exposition. In course of time there grew up the great and varied literature now contained in the Talmud-the Mishna , the Gemara , and the Midrâshic literature of all sorts-narrative, illustrative, proverbial, parabolic, and allegorical (see I. Abrahams, Short History of Jewish Literature , 1906, ch. iv.; Oesterley and Box, Religion and Worship of the Synagogue 2, 1911, ch. v.).

In the school the children sat on the floor in a circle round the teacher, who occupied a chair or bench ( Luke 2:46;  Luke 10:39,  Acts 22:3). The method of instruction was oral and catechetical. In the schools attached to the synagogues of Eastern Judaism to this day, committing to memory and learning by rote are the chief methods of instruction, and the clamour of infant and youthful voices is heard repeating verses and passages of Scripture the whole school day. This kind of oral repetition and committing to memory undoubtedly occupied a large place in the earliest Christian teaching, and had an important influence in the composition of the gospel narratives. The purpose of St. Luke in writing his Gospel was that Theophilus might know more fully the certainty of the things concerning Jesus wherein he had been instructed (κατηχήθης) ( Luke 1:4). Apollos having been thus instructed in the way or the Lord ( Acts 18:25) taught with accuracy the facts concerning Jesus. But whilst the method had great advantages, it had also great dangers, tending to crush out all originality and life, and to result in barren formalism.

In the education of the Jewish boy, punishment , we may be sure, was not withheld. The directions of the Book of Proverbs, which is itself a treasury of sound educational principles, were carried out not only in the home but in the school ( Proverbs 12:24;  Proverbs 19:18;  Proverbs 23:13). St. Paul, addressing a self-righteous Jew, exposes the inconsistency of the man who professes to be a guide of the blind (ὀδηγὸν τυφλῶν), a corrector of the foolish (παιδευτὴν ἀφρόνων), and a teacher of infants (διδάσκαλον νηπίων), and yet does not know the inwardness of the Law ( Romans 2:19 f.).

Games had some part in the life of Jewish schoolboys. One game consisted in imitating their elders at marriages and funerals ( Matthew 11:16 f.). Riddles and guesses seem to have been common, and story-telling, music, and song were not wanting. But when, under the influence of Antiochus Epiphanes, a gymnasion for the athletic performances of the Greeks was set up in Jerusalem and the youth of the city were required to strip themselves of their clothing, it became a grievous cause of offence to the pious among the people ( 1 Maccabees 1:11 ff.). See art ‘Games’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) .

Whilst the education of Jewish youth on the theoretical side centred in the Law and was calculated to instil piety towards God, no instruction was complete without the knowledge of some trade or handicraft. To circumcise him, to teach him the Law, to give him a trade, were the primary obligations of a father towards his son. ‘He that teacheth not his son a trade doeth the same as if he taught him to be a thief,’ is a Jewish saying. Jesus Himself was the carpenter ( Mark 6:3), and Saul of Tarsus, the scholar of Gamaliel, was a tent-maker ( Acts 18:3). We hear of Rabbis who were needle-makers, tanners, and followed other occupations, and who, like St. Paul, made it their boast that their own hands ministered to their necessities and to them that accompanied them ( Acts 20:34).

The education of the Jewish youth began at home, and the parents were the first instructors. Of a noted teacher of the 2nd cent. a.d. it was said that he never broke his fast until he had first given a lesson to his son. But in due course the children were sent to school, in Rabbinic times apparently under the protection of a pœdagogue , better known, however, in Greek family life ( Galatians 3:24). The teacher was required to be a man of unblemished character, of gentle and patient disposition, with aptness to teach. Only married men could be employed as teachers. Women and unmarried men were excluded from the office. The office itself was full of honour: ‘A city which neglects to appoint teachers ought to be destroyed,’ runs the saying. One teacher was to be employed where there were 25 scholars (with an assistant where the number exceeded 25), and two where they exceeded 40. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the Christian era teachers received salaries, but the remuneration was in respect of the more technical part of the instruction. Nothing was to be charged for the Midrâsh , the exposition of Scripture.

The girls in Jewish families were not by any means left without instruction. The women of the household, like Eunice, the mother, and Lois, the grandmother, of Timothy ( 2 Timothy 1:5), who at least influenced the boys, would have a more active part in the instruction of the girls. This means that they were not themselves left without education. The example of Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, shows that a Jewess (who did not owe all her training to Christianity) might be possessed of high gifts and attainments ( Acts 18:26). In the Talmud similar instances of gifted and accomplished women are to be found. One of the most notable features in what is known as the Reform movement in modern Judaism is the earnestness with which its adherents insist upon the mere general and the higher education of women.

Literature.-Relevant articles in J. Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie für Bibel und Talmud 2, 1884ff. S. S. Laurie, Hist. Survey of pre-Christian Education , 1895; ‘The Semitic Races’; A. Büchler, The Economic Conditions of Judœa after the Destruction of the Second Temple , 1912 article‘Education (Jewish)’ by Morris Joseph in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics v. [1912] 194, and Literature there cited.

2. Greek .-Among the Greeks education was the affair of the State. Its purpose was to prepare the sons of free citizens for the duties awaiting them, first in the family and then in the State. Whilst among the Jews education was meant for all, without respect of rank or class, among the Greeks it was intended for the few-the wealthy and the well-born. Plutarch in his treatise on the education of children says: ‘Some one may object that I in undertaking to give prescriptions in the training of children of free citizens apparently neglect the training of the poor townsmen, and only think of instructing the rich-to which the obvious answer is that I should desire the training I prescribe to be attainable alike by all; but if any through want of private means cannot attain it, let them blame their fortune and not their adviser. Every effort, however, must be made even by the poor to train their children in the best possible way, and if this is beyond them to do it according to their means’ [ de Lib. Educ . ii.). Down to the Roman period at least, this educational exclusiveness was maintained, and only the sons of those who were full citizens were the subjects of education, although there were cases in which daughters rose to distinction in letters, and even examples of slaves, like the philosopher Epictetus, who burst the restraints of their position and showed themselves capable of rising to eminence in learning and virtue. We even read of bequests being made to provide free education to children of both sexes, but the rule was that women needed no more instruction than they were likely to receive at home. Being an affair of the State, education was under the control of officials appointed to superintend it. Gymnastic , for the training of the body, and music in the larger sense, including letters, for the training of the mind, were the subjects of instruction. These-athletics, literature, music-were regulated by a body of guardians of public instruction (παιδονόμοι.) We hear of an Ephebarch at the head of a college of ἔφηβοι, or youths who have entered the higher school, and of a Gymnasiarch who superintends the exercises of the παλαίστρα and pays the training-masters.

The stages of education were practically the same in all the different branches of the wide-spread Grecian people. First, there was the stage of home education, extending from birth to the end of the seventh year, when the children were under parental supervision; second, the stage of school education, beginning with the eighth year and lasting to the sixteenth or eighteenth year; thirdly, there was the stage from the sixteenth or eighteenth to the twenty-first year, when the youths were ἔφηβοι, and were subjected to strict discipline and training. Before a youth was enrolled among the ἔφηβοι he had to undergo an examination (δοκιμασία) to make sure that he was the son of an Athenian citizen and that he had the physique for the duties now devolving upon him. This was really the university stage of his career, for he then attended the class of the rhetors and sophists who lectured in such institutions as the Lyceum and the Academy, and devoted himself to the study of rhetoric and philosophy (cf.  Acts 19:9). On the completion of this course he was ready to enter upon the exercise of his duties towards the State.

When the boy, at the age of seven, went to school-the grammar school and the gymnastic school-he was accompanied by a servant called a παιδαγωγός who carried his books and writing materials, his lyre and other instruments, and saw him to school and back (see Schoolmaster, Tutor). The school-rooms of ancient Athens seem to have been simple enough, containing little or no furniture-they were often nothing but porches open to wind and sun, where the children sat on the ground, or on low benches, and the teacher on a high chair. At first the child would be exercised in ‘the rudiments,’ τὰ στοιχεῖα (cf.  Colossians 2:8 and Xen. Mem . II. i. 1). Great stress was laid upon reading, recitation, and singing. In particular, the memory was exercised upon the best literature, and cultivated to an extraordinary degree of retentiveness. The works of aesop and Theognis were much in use in the class-rooms. Homer was valued not merely as a poet but as an inspired moral teacher, and the Iliad and Odyssey were the Bible of the Greeks. Great pains were also taken with the art of writing. Tablets covered with wax formed the material to receive the writing, and the stylus was employed to trace the letters. By apostolic times papyrus or parchment was in use, written upon with pen (κάλαμος) and ink (μέλαν) ( 2 John 1:12,  3 John 1:13; cf.  2 Corinthians 3:3 and  2 Timothy 4:13). Sherds (ὄστρακα) were a common writing material-that used by the very poor in ancient Egypt. Exercises in writing and in grammar have been preserved to us in the soil of Egypt written on ostraca, on wooden tablets, on tablets smeared over with wax, and have now been recovered to let us see the performances of the school children of twenty centuries ago. Among them are school copies giving the letters of the alphabet, Syllables, common words and proper names, conjugation of verbs, pithy or proverbial sayings as headlines, and there are even exercises having the appearance of being school punishments (E. Ziebarth, Aus der antiken Schule , 1910, in Lietzmann’s Kleine Texte ).

The mention of school punishments leads to the subject of school discipline. At home, at school, and in the palaestra, the rod and the lash were freely used. It is from school life, both Jewish and Greek, that St. Paul, as noted already, derives the imagery of a well-known passage in his Epistles ( Romans 2:17-21). In the Psalms of Solomon , a Jewish book written under Greek influence, there is reference both to the rod (ῥάβδος, 7:8) and to the lash (μάστιξ, 18:8) as instruments of punishment; and ‘chastening,’ ‘correction’ (παιδεία), occurs again and again in this sense ( Ephesians 6:4,  2 Timothy 3:16,  Hebrews 12:11; cf. Didache , 4).

‘We are given over to grammar,’ says Sextus Empiricus ( adv. Math . i. 41), ‘from childhood, and almost from our baby-clothes.’ Grammar was succeeded by rhetoric, which had accomplished its purpose when the student had acquired the power of speaking offhand on any subject under discussion. In addition to these subjects, philosophy was also taught, its technical terms being mastered and its various schools discriminated. Arithmetic, geometry, astronomy belonged to the programme of secondary education, and from Plato and Aristotle there have come down to us the seven liberal arts-the trivium and the quadrivium of the Middle Ages. All the while gymnastic training went hand in hand with the training of the intellect. The gymnasion , where the youths of Greece exercised themselves naked, was enclosed by walls and fitted up with dressing-rooms, bath-rooms, and requisites for running, leaping, wrestling, boxing, and other athletic exercises, and there were seats round about the course for spectators, and porticoes where philosophers gathered.

By the Apostolic Age it had become the practice for promising students to supplement their school education by seeking out and attending the lectures of eminent teachers in what we should call the great universities. Roman Emperors like Claudius and Nero had done much to encourage Greek culture and to introduce it into Rome itself, where the Athenaeum was a great centre of learning. At this epoch Athens and Rome had famous schools, but even they had to yield to Rhodes, Alexandria, and Tarsus; and Marseilles, which had been from the very early days of Greek history a centre of Greek influence, was in the time of Strabo more frequented than Athens. The idea that Barnabas of Cyprus and Saul of Tarsus had met in early life at the university of Tarsus is by no means fanciful, and it was to his education at Tarsus that St. Paul owed the power to ‘move in Hellenic Society at his ease’ (W. M. Ramsay, Pictures of the Apostolic Church , 1910, p. 346). That St. Luke had received a medical education and was familiar with the great medical writers of the Greek world is now almost universally admitted; his literary style and the frequent echoes of Greek authors, at least in the Acts of the Apostles, prove him to have been a well-educated and cultured Hellenist. Of the various philosophic schools then exercising an influence upon thought in the Greek world two are expressly mentioned in the Acts (17:18)-the Stoics and the Epicureans. St. Paul must have received Stoic teaching at Tarsus, where the school flourished, and he knew and quoted at least one Stoic poet ( Acts 17:28). A century later Marcus Aurelius endowed the four great philosophical schools of Athens-the Academic, the Peripatetic, the Epicurean, and the Stoic. Justin Martyr, a little earlier, in the account he gives of his conversion to Christianity ( Dial. cum Tryph . 2ff.), shows how the representatives of the Stoic, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Academic (Platonic) Schools in turn failed to satisfy his yearning after truth, and satisfaction came to him when he found Christianity to be the only philosophy sure and suited to the needs of man. Christianity, brought into contact with the society in which this philosophical habit of mind had established itself, modified, stimulated, and elevated it, and in turn was modified by the habit of mind of those who accepted it. ‘It was impossible for Greeks, educated as they were with an education which penetrated their whole nature, to receive or to retain Christianity in its primitive simplicity. Their own life had become complex and artificial: it had its fixed ideas and its permanent categories: it necessarily gave to Christianity something of its own form’ (E. Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church [ Hibbert Lectures , 1888], 1890, ch. ii. p. 48f.).

Literature.-T. Davidson, Aristotle (in Great Educators ), 1892; S. S. Laurie, Hist. Survey of Pre-Christian Education , 1895: ‘The Hellenic Race’; J. P. Mahaffy, The Greek World under Roman Sway , 1890; article‘Education (Greek)’ by W. Murison in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics v. 185 and Literature there cited.

3. Christian .-The sentiment which caused education to be so prized among the Jews must in course of time have caused it to be greatly desired among the followers of Christ. To the first Christians, as to the Lord and His apostles, the OT Scriptures were the Bible, and, outside the Holy Land at least, the Bible in the Septuaginttranslation. No doubt it was a roll of this translation which the Ethiopian eunuch was carrying back with him to his home far up the Nile, when Philip the Evangelist joined him in his chariot on the Gaza road ( Acts 8:27 ff.). It was the same Scriptures wherein the youthful Timothy was instructed from infancy in the home of his Greek father, under the guidance of Eunice and Lois ( 2 Timothy 3:15). St. Paul, in the many quotations he makes from the OT, quotes from the Septuagintrather than from the Hebrew original. ‘The Septuagintwas to him as much “the Bible” as our English version is to us; and, as is the case with many Christian writers, he knew it so well that his sentences are constantly moulded by its rhythm, and his thoughts incessantly coloured by its expressions’ (Farrar, St. Paul , 1879, i. 47). It was not till the second half of the 2nd cent. that most of the NT books were recognized in the Church as the Oracles of God, and on the same level of authority as the books of the OT. ‘Among the Jewish Christians,’ as Harnack points out, ‘the private use of the Holy Scriptures simply continued; for the fact that they had become believers in the Messiahship of Jesus had absolutely no other effect than to increase this use, in so far as it was now necessary to study not only the Law but also the Prophets and the Kethubim, seeing that these afforded prophetic proofs of the Messiah-ship of Jesus, and in so far as the religious independence of the individual Christian was still greater than that of the ordinary Jew’ ( Bible Reading in the Early Church , p. 32).

That the private study which had been devoted to the OT came in due course to be given to the books of the NT may be seen from the use of them in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The OT, the Gospels, and the Epistles of St. Paul had a wide circulation at an early period, in all the provinces of the early Church, and were perused and applied to their spiritual needs by multitudes of Christians, not clerical only, but lay; not men only, but women. ‘Ye know the Holy Scriptures,’ writes Clement of Rome to the Corinthian Christians (1 Clem. liii. 1), ‘Yea, your knowledge is laudable, and ye have deep insight into the Oracles of God.’ ‘What are these articles in your hand bag?’ asks the proconsul Saturninus when examining Speratus, one of the band of Scillitan martyrs in N. Africa. ‘The books and epistles of St. Paul,’ was the reply ( Texts and Studies i. 2 [1891], p. 114). The feeling grew and spread that it was at once a privilege and a duty thus to make acquaintance with the meaning and teaching of Holy Scripture. In Asia Minor and in Gaul, in Syria and Egypt, this feeling prevailed. Men like Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, became Christians-such is their own acknowledgment-by reading the Scriptures for themselves. By and by wealthy Christians had Bibles copied at their own expense to be given or lent to their poorer brethren. Pamphilus, the friend of Eusebius, whose library at Caesarea was famous, had Bibles copied to keep in stock and to be given away as occasion demanded, ‘not only to men but also to women whom he saw devoted to the reading of Scripture’ (Jerome, Apol. c. Rufin . i. 9).

All this intellectual activity devoted to the study of the Scriptures implies throughout the early Church a considerable level of educational attainment. That many of the poorest and least educated found in Christ and His teaching the satisfaction of their deepest needs is manifest from the NT itself ( 1 Corinthians 1:26 ff.), and Celsus sought to discredit the Christian system by aspersing the intellectual as well as the moral character of its adherents. Origen in answer points to the passages of the OT, especially in the Psalms, which the Christians also use, which inculcate wisdom and understanding, and declares that education, so far from being despised among the Christians, is the pathway to virtue and knowledge, the one stable and permanent reality ( c. Cels . iii. 49, 72). We must not suppose, however, that the Church of the first days took any steps to provide schools and an educational system of her own. Members of the Christian community had no alternative but to send their sons to the schools of their localities to receive instruction along with scholars who were heathen and accustomed to the usages and customs, the superstitions and fables, often corrupt and unclean, of paganism. Although the Fathers of the Church did not permit their youth to become instructors in pagan schools, they did not consider it wise to deny them the advantages of a liberal education, even though associated with falsehood and idolatry. If they had forbidden their attendance they would have justly incurred the charges made by Celsus of hostility to learning. Christian parents made a virtue of necessity, which Tertullian approves, only recommending Christian pupils to accept the good and reject the bad ( de Idolatria , x.).

Scarcely less pressing and even more difficult was the question of the propriety of studying the productions of the great pagan writers. Among those who took the liberal view was Justin Martyr, who held that ‘those who lived with Logos are Christians, even if they were accounted atheists: of whom among Greeks were Socrates and Heraclitus’ ( Apol . i. 46). Clement of Alexandria was conspicuously broad in his Christian sympathies, and his quotations from classical writers have preserved to us fragments of authors whose works have otherwise perished. Others, like Cyprian, drew a sharp dividing line between pagan philosophy and Christian doctrine.

But though the circumstances of the times rendered separate Christian elementary instruction impossible and inadvisable in the early Church, the Church was not indifferent to the Christian instruction of her members. Foremost among the members belonging to the Body of Christ are ‘teachers,’ mentioned along with ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ ( 1 Corinthians 12:28). Elsewhere they are classed with ‘pastors’ ( Ephesians 4:11). Among the gifts that minister to the upbuilding of the social fabric of Christianity is ‘teaching’ ( Romans 12:7). Power to teach was a qualification which Timothy was charged to look for in the bishops whom he should appoint ( 1 Timothy 3:2), and he was told that the servant of the Lord in any office must have aptness to teach ( 2 Timothy 2:24). The teacher as a separate functionary seems early to have disappeared from the Church, his functions being absorbed by the more official presbyter or bishop ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ), who was always required to be able to teach (Charteris, The Church of Christ , p. 32). The need, however, for institutions for higher instruction in the things of Christ came to be felt early, Out of the training of the candidates for baptism grew the catechetical schools in great centres of pagan learning. The first and most notable of them was the catechetical school of Alexandria, of which Pantaenus was the founder, and Clement and Origen were the most distinguished ornaments. This was the counterpart of the pagan university, offering to philosophic pagans an academic and articulated view of the Christian system, and to earnest Christians of intellectual gifts and tastes training for the offices of preachers and teachers. Gregory Thaumaturgus commends Origen as having taught him philosophy, logic, mathematics, general literature, and ethics as the ground-work of theological training, after which he proceeded to the exposition of the sacred Scriptures. Under Clement and Origen the school was great and prosperous, and schools at Caesarea, Jerusalem, and elsewhere were founded upon its model.

The share which woman had in the work of Christian education apart from her influence and work in the home is not made clear in the records of Church history. In the Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum , however, translated by Mrs. M. D. Gibson (1903), we have an official document of the 3rd cent. directing the deaconesses to assist in the baptism of women, to teach and educate them afterwards, and to visit and nurse the sick.

Literature.-A. Harnack, Bible Reading in the Early Church , 1912; A. H. Charteris, The Church of Christ , 1905, under ‘Education’ and ‘Teachers’; P. Monroe, Text-Book in the History of Education , 1905; article‘Bible in the Church’ by E. von Dobschütz in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics ii. 579.

Thomas Nicol.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

EDUCATION . In the importance which they attached to the education of the young, it may fairly be claimed that the Hebrews were facile princeps among the nations of antiquity. Indeed, if the ultimate aim of education be the formation of character, the Hebrew ideals and methods will bear comparison with the best even of modern times. In character Hebrew education was predominantly, one might almost say exclusively, religious and ethical. Its fundamental principle may be expressed in the familiar words: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ (  Proverbs 1:7 ). Yet it recognized that conduct was the true test of character; in the words of Simeon, the son of Gamaliel, that ‘not learning but doing is the chief thing.’

As to the educational attainments of the Hebrews before the conquest of Canaan, it is useless to speculate. On their settlement in Canaan, however, they were brought into contact with a civilization which for two thousand years or more had been under the influence of Babylonia and in a less degree of Egypt. The language of Babylonia, with its complicated system of wedge-writing, had for long been the medium of communication not only between the rulers of the petty states of Canaan and the great powers outside its borders, but even, as we now know from Sellin’s discoveries at Taanach, between these rulers themselves. This implies the existence of some provision for instruction in reading and writing the difficult Babylonian script. Although in this early period such accomplishments were probably confined to a limited number of high officials and professional scribes, the incident in Gideon’s experience,  Judges 8:14 (where we must render with RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘wrote down’), warns us against unduly restricting the number of those able to read and write in the somewhat later period of the Judges. The more stable political conditions under the monarchy, and in particular the development of the administration and the growth of commerce under Solomon, must undoubtedly have furthered the spread of education among all classes.

Of schools and schoolmasters, however, there is no evidence till after the Exile, for the expression ‘schools of the prophets’ has no Scripture warrant. Only once, indeed, is the word ‘school’ to be found even in NT (  Acts 19:9 ), and then only of the lecture-room of a Greek teacher in Ephesus. The explanation of this silence is found in the fact that the Hebrew child received his education in the home, with his parents as his only instructors. Although he grew up ignorant of much that ‘every school-boy’ knows to-day, he must not on that account be set down as uneducated. He had been instructed, first of all, in the truths of his ancestral religion (see   Deuteronomy 6:20-25 and elsewhere); and in the ritual of the recurring festivals there was provided for him object-lessons in history and religion (  Exodus 12:26 f.,   Exodus 13:8;   Exodus 13:14 ). In the traditions of his family and race some of which are still preserved in the older parts of OT he had a unique storehouse of the highest ideals of faith and conduct, and these after all are the things that matter.

Descending the stream of history, we reach an epoch-making event in the history of education, not less than of religion, among the Jews, in the assembly convened by Ezra and Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 8:1 ff.), at which the people pledged themselves to accept ‘the book of the law of Moses’ as the norm of their life in all its relations. Henceforward the Jews were pre-eminently, in Mohammed’s phrase, ‘the people of the Book.’ But if the Jewish community was henceforth to regulate its whole life, not according to the living word of priest and prophet, but according to the requirements of a written law, it was indispensable that provision should be made for the instruction of all classes in this law. To this practical necessity is due the origin of the synagogue (wh. see), which, from the Jewish point of view, was essentially a meeting-place for religious instruction, and, indeed, is expressly so named by Philo. In NT also the preacher or expounder in the synagogue is invariably said to ‘teach’ (  Matthew 4:23 ,   Mark 1:21 , and passim ), and the education of youth continues to the last to be associated with the synagogue (see below). The situation created by this new zeal for the Law has been admirably described by Wellhausen: ‘The Bible became the spelling-book, the community a school.… Piety and education were inseparable; whoever could not read was no true Jew. We may say that in this way were created the beginnings of popular education.’

This new educational movement was under the guidance of a body of students and teachers of the Law known as the Sôpherim (lit. ‘book-men’) or scribes , of whom Ezra is the typical example (  Ezra 7:6 ). Alongside these, if not identical with them, as many hold, we find an influential class of religious and moral teachers, known as the Sages or the Wise, whose activity culminates in the century preceding the fall of the Persian empire (b.c. 430 330). The arguments for the identity in all important respects of the early scribes and the sages are given by the present writer in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] i. 648; but even if the two classes were originally distinct, there can be no doubt that by the time of Jesus hen Sira, the author of Ecclesiasticus ( cir . b.c. 180 170), himself a scribe and the last of the sages, they had become merged in one.

To appreciate the religious and ethical teaching of the sages, we have only to open the Book of Proverbs. Here life is pictured as a discipline, the Hebrew word for which is found thirty times in this book. ‘The whole of life,’ it has been said, ‘is here considered from the view-point of a pædagogic institution. God educates men, and men educate each other’ (O. Holtzmann).

With the coming of the Greeks a new educational force in the shape of Hellenistic culture entered Palestine a force which made itself felt in many directions in the pre-Maccabean age. From a reference in Josephus ( Ant . XII. iv. 6) it may be inferred that schools on the Greek model had been established in Jerusalem itself before b.c. 220. It was somewhere in this period, too, that the preacher could say: ‘Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh’ (  Ecclesiastes 12:12 ) reflexions which necessarily presuppose a wide-spread interest in intellectual pursuits. The edict of Antiochus Epiphanes at a later date ( 1Ma 1:57 ) equally implies a considerable circulation of the Torah among the people, with the ability to profit by its study.

Passing now, as this brief sketch requires, to the period of Jewish history that lies between the triumph of the Maccabees and the end of the Jewish State in a.d. 70, we find a tradition there is no valid reason for rejecting it as untrustworthy which illustrates the extent to which elementary education, at least, was fostered under the later Maccabean princes. A famous scribe of the period ( cir . b.c. 75), Simon ben-Shetach, brother of Queen Alexandra, is said to have got a law passed ordaining that ‘the children shall attend the elementary school.’ This we understand on various grounds to mean, not that these schools were first instituted, but that attendance at them was henceforth to be compulsory. The elementary school, termed ‘the house of the Book’ ( i.e. Scripture), in opposition to ‘the house of study’ or college of the scribes (see below), was always closely associated with the synagogue. In the smaller places, indeed, the same building served for both.

The elementary teachers , as we may call them, formed the lowest rank in the powerful guild of the scribes. They are ‘the doctors (lit. teachers) of the law,’ who, in our Lord’s day, were to be found in ‘every village of Galilee and Judæa’ (  Luke 5:17 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), and who figure so frequently in the Gospels. Attendance at the elementary school began at the age of six. Already the boy had learned to repeat the Shema (‘Hear, O Israel,’ etc.,   Deuteronomy 6:4 ), selected proverbs and verses from the Psalms. He now began to learn to read. His only textbooks were the rolls of the sacred Scriptures, especially the roll of the Law, the opening chapters of Leviticus being usually the first to be taken in hand. After the letters were mastered, the teacher copied a verse which the child had already learned by heart, and taught him to identify the individual words. The chief feature of the teaching was learning by rote, and that audibly, for the Jewish teachers were thorough believers in the Latin maxim, repetitio mater studiorum . The pupils sat on the floor at the teacher’s feet, as did Saul at the feet of Gamaliel (  Acts 22:3 ).

The subjects taught were ‘the three R [Note: Redactor.] ’s’ reading, writing, and arithmetic, the last in a very elementary form. The child’s first attempts at writing were probably done, as in the Greek schools of the period, on sherds of pottery; from these he would be promoted to a wax tablet ( Luke 1:63 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), on which he wrote ‘with a pointed style or metal instrument, very much as if one wrote on thickly buttered bread with a small stiletto.’ Only after considerable progress had been made would he finally reach the dignity of papyrus.

For the mass of young Jews of the male sex, for whom alone public provision was made, the girls being still restricted to the tuition of the home, the teaching of the primary school sufficed. Those, however, who wished to be themselves teachers, or otherwise to devote themselves to the professional study of the Law, passed on to the higher schools or colleges above mentioned. At the beginning of our era the two most important of these colleges were taught by the famous ‘doctors of the law,’ Hillel and Shammai. It was a grandson of the former, Gamaliel I., who, thirty years later, numbered Saul of Tarsus among his students ( Acts 22:3 ). In the Beth hammidrash (house of study) the exclusive subjects of study were the interpretation of the OT, and the art of applying the regulations of the Torah, by means of certain exegetical canons, to the minutest details of the life of the time.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

Chiefly in the law of God ( Exodus 12:26;  Exodus 13:8;  Exodus 13:14;  Deuteronomy 4:5;  Deuteronomy 4:9-10;  Deuteronomy 6:2;  Deuteronomy 6:7;  Deuteronomy 6:20;  Deuteronomy 11:19;  Deuteronomy 11:21;  Acts 22:3;  2 Timothy 3:15). The Book of Proverbs inculcates on parents, as to their children, the duty of disciplinary instruction and training in the word of God. This was the ONE book of national education in the reformations undertaken by Jehoshaphat and Josiah ( 2 Chronicles 17:7-9;  2 Chronicles 34:30). The priests' and Levites' duty especially was to teach the people ( 2 Chronicles 15:3;  Leviticus 10:11;  Malachi 2:7;  Nehemiah 8:2;  Nehemiah 8:8-9;  Nehemiah 8:13;  Jeremiah 18:18).

The Mishna says that parents ought to teach their children some trade, and he who did not virtually taught his child to steal. The prophets, or special public authoritative teachers, were trained in schools or colleges ( Amos 7:14). "Writers," or musterers general, belonging to Zebulun, who enrolled recruits and wrote the names of those who went to war, are mentioned ( Judges 5:14). "Scribes of the host" ( Jeremiah 52:25) appear in the Assyrian bas-reliefs, writing down the various persons or objects brought to them, so that there is less exaggeration than in the Egyptian representations of battle. Seraiah was David's scribe or secretary, and Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, was "recorder" or writer of chronicles, historiographer ( 2 Samuel 8:16-17); Shebun was Hezekiah's scribe ( 2 Kings 18:37).

The learned, according to the rabbis, were called "sons of the noble," and took precedence at table. Boys at five years of age, says the Mishna, were to begin reading Scripture, at ten they were to begin reading the Mishna, and at thirteen years of age they were subject to the whole law ( Luke 2:46); at fifteen they entered study of the Gemara. The prophetic schools included females such as Huldah ( 2 Kings 22:14). The position and duties of females among the Jews were much higher than among other Orientals ( Proverbs 31:10-31;  Luke 8:2-3;  Luke 10:38, etc.;  Acts 13:50;  2 Timothy 1:5).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Education. There is little trace among the Hebrews in earlier times of education in any other subjects than the law. The wisdom, therefore, and instruction, of which so much is said in the book of Proverbs, are to be understood chiefly of moral and religious discipline, imparted, according to the direction of the law, by the teaching and under the example of parents.

(But Solomon himself wrote treatises on several scientific subjects, which must have been studied in those days). In later times, the prophecies and comments on them, as well as on the earlier Scriptures, together with other subjects, were studied. Parents were required to teach their children some trade.

(Girls also went to schools, and women generally among the Jews were treated with greater equality to men than in any other ancient nation). Previous to the captivity, the chief depositaries of learning were the schools or colleges, from which in most cases proceeded that succession of public teachers who at various times endeavored to reform the moral and religious conduct of both rulers and people. Besides the prophetical schools, instruction was given by the priests in the Temple and elsewhere. See Schools .

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(n.) The act or process of educating; the result of educating, as determined by the knowledge skill, or discipline of character, acquired; also, the act or process of training by a prescribed or customary course of study or discipline; as, an education for the bar or the pulpit; he has finished his education.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

ed - ū̇ - kā´shun  :

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. The Book of Proverbs

5. 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 Preëminence 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 preëminent 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 the Old Testament gives 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" ( Exodus 20:12 ); "And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death" ( Exodus 21:15 ,  Exodus 21:17 ); while every father was exhorted to explain to his son the origin and significance of the great Passover ceremony with its feast of unleavened bread: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying, It is because of that which Yahweh did for me when I came forth out of Egypt" ( Exodus 13:8 ).

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 coöperation 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" ( Isaiah 11:9 ), when all "from the least of them unto the greatest of them" shall know him ( Jeremiah 31:34 ). Concerning the so-called "schools of the prophets" which, in the days of Elijah, existed at Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal ( 2 Kings 2:3 ,  2 Kings 2:1;  2 Kings 4:38 f), and probably in other places, it should be noted that these were associations or brotherhoods established for the purpose of mutual edification rather than education. The Bible does not use the word "schools" to designate these fraternities. Nevertheless, we cannot conceive of the element of religious training as being entirely absent.

3. Deuteronomic Legislation

Shortly before the Babylonian captivity King Josiah gave official recognition and sanction to the teachings of the prophets, while the Deuteronomic legislation of the same period strongly emphasized the responsibility of parents for the religious and moral instruction and training of their children. Concerning the words of the law Israel is admonished: "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" ( Deuteronomy 6:7;  Deuteronomy 11:19 ). For the benefit of children as well as adults the law was to be written "upon the door-posts" and "gates" ( Deuteronomy 6:9;  Deuteronomy 11:20 ), and "very plainly" upon "great stones" set up for this purpose upon the hilltops and beside the altars ( Deuteronomy 27:1-8 ). From the Deuteronomic period forward, religious training to the Jew became the synonym of education, while the word Ṭōrāh , which originally denoted simply "Law" ( Exodus 24:12;  Leviticus 7:1;  Leviticus 26:46 ), came to mean "religious instruction or teaching," in which sense it is used in  Deuteronomy 4:44;  Deuteronomy 5:1 , "This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:... Hear, O I srael, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and observe to do them"; and in  Proverbs 6:23 ,

"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light;

And reproofs of instruction are the way of life."

(Compare  Psalm 19:8;  Proverbs 3:1;  Proverbs 4:2 .)

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 ( 2 Samuel 12:25 ). There is no way of determining to what extent the common people were able to read and write. Our judgment that these rudiments of formal education in the modern sense were not restricted to the higher classes is based upon such passages as  Isaiah 29:11 ,  Isaiah 29:12 , which distinguishes between the man who "is learned" (literally, "knoweth letters") and the one who is "not learned," and  Isaiah 10:19 , referring to the ability of a child "to write," taken together with such facts as that the literary prophets Amos and Micah sprang from the ranks of the common people, and that "the workman who excavated the tunnel from the Virgin's Spring to the Pool of Siloam carved in the rock the manner of their work" (Kennedy in HDB ). It should be added that the later Jewish tradition reflected in the Talmud, Targum and Midrash, and which represents both public, elementary and college education as highly developed even in patriarchal times, is generally regarded as altogether untrustworthy.

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 ( Kulturträger ) 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 Ṭorah (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 ṣōpherı̄m (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 ṣōpherı̄m 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 preëxilic Old Testament history may be cited the references in 2 Sam 14:1-20;  1 Kings 4:32;  Isaiah 29:10 . It is no lesser personage than King Solomon who, both by his contemporaries and later generations as well, was regarded as the greatest representative of this earlier group of teachers who uttered their wisdom in the form of clever, epigrammatic proverbs and shrewd sayings. The climax of Wisdom-teaching belongs, however, to the later post-exilic period. Of the wise men of this later day an excellent description is preserved for us in the Book of Ecclesiasticus (39:3, 4, 8, 10; compare 1:1-11):

"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 Ṭorah 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." -  Proverbs 1:8 .

(Compare  Proverbs 4:1-4;  Proverbs 6:20;  Proverbs 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." -  Proverbs 22:6 .

In their training of children, parents are to observe sternness, not hesitating to apply the rod of correction, when needed (compare  Proverbs 23:13 ,  Proverbs 23:14 ), yet doing so with discretion, since wise reproof is better than "a hundred stripes" ( Proverbs 17:10 ). Following the home training there is provision for further instruction at the hands of professional teachers for all who would really obtain unto "wisdom" and who can afford the time and expense of such special training. The teachers are none other than the wise men or sages whose words "heard in quiet" ( Ecclesiastes 9:17 ) are "as goads, and as nails well fastened" ( Ecclesiastes 12:11 ). Their precepts teach diligence Prov ( Proverbs 6:6-11 ), chastity ( Proverbs 7:5 ), charity ( Proverbs 14:21 ), truthfulness ( Proverbs 17:7 ) and temperance ( Proverbs 21:17;  Proverbs 23:20 ,  Proverbs 23:21 ,  Proverbs 23:29-35 ); for the aim of all Wisdom-teaching is none other than

"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." -  Proverbs 1:4 ,  Proverbs 1:5 .

5. Scribes and Levites

The ṣōpherı̄m 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 ṣōphēr ( Ezra 7:11;  Nehemiah 8:1 f), concerning whom we read that he "set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances" (  Ezra 7:10 ). Likewise the Levites often appear as teachers of the law, and we must think of the development of sopherism (scribism) as a distinct profession as proceeding very gradually. The same is true of the characteristic Jewish religious-educational institution, the synagogue, the origin and development of which fell within this same general period (compare Synagogue ). The pupils of the ṣōpherı̄m were the Pharisees ( perūshı̄m or "separatists") who during the Maccabean period came to be distinguished from the priestly party or Sadducees.

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 Antiochus Epiphanes (174-164 bc) and the re-establishment 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 preëminent. 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 in New Testament Times

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 ḥazzān , or attendant, not infrequently served as schoolmaster (compare School; Schoolmaster ).

1. Subject Matter of Instruction

As in earlier times the Ṭorah , 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 haggādhāh ) and its application to daily life in the form of concise precept or rule of conduct (the halākhāh ). Together the haggādhāh and halākhāh 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 ṣōpherı̄m 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 Preëminence 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

It remained for the disciples of Jesus to perpetuate His teaching ministry and to organize the new forces making for human betterment. In this work, which was distinctly religious-educational in character, some found a field of labor among their own Jewish kinsmen, and others, like Paul, among the needy Gentiles ( Galatians 1:16;  Galatians 2:7;  1 Timothy 2:7 ). As regards a division of labor in the apostolic church, we read of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (  1 Corinthians 12:28;  Ephesians 4:11 ). The apostles were the itinerant leaders and missionaries of the entire church. Their work was largely that of teaching, Paul insisting on calling himself a teacher as well as an apostle ( 2 Timothy 1:11;  1 Corinthians 4:17 ). The prophets were men with a special message like that of Agabus ( Acts 21:10 ,  Acts 21:11 ). The evangelists were itinerant preachers, as was Philip ( Acts 8:40 ), while the pastors, also called bishops, had permanent charge of individual churches. The professional teachers included both laymen and those ordained by the laying on of hands. Their work was regarded with highest honor in the church and community. In contrast with the itinerant church officers, apostles and evangelists, they, like the pastors, resided permanently in local communities. With this class the author of the Epistle of Jas identifies himself, and there can be little doubt that the epistle which he wrote reflects both the content and form of the instruction which these earliest Christian teachers gave to their pupils. Before the close of the 1st century the religious educational work of the church had been organized into a more systematic form, out of which there developed gradually the catechumenate of the early post-apostolic period (see Catechist ). In the Didache , or Teachings of the Apostles, there has been reserved for us a textbook of religious instruction from this earlier period (Kent, GTJC ). Necessarily, the entire missionary and evangelistic work of the apostolic church was educational in character, and throughout this earliest period of church history we must think of the work of apostles, evangelists and pastors, as well as that of professional teachers, as including a certain amount of systematic religious instruction. See further Pedagogy; 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. Überblick d. Geschichte d. Pädagogik  ; Katzer, articles "Jesus als Lehrer" and "Judenchristenturn," in Rein's Encyklopädisches Handbuch d. Pädagogik  ; Kennedy, article "Education," in HDB , I; Kohler and Gudemann, article "Education" in Jewish Encyclopedia , V; Kent, Great Teachers of Judaism and Christianity and Makers and Teachers of Judaism  ; Laurie, Historical Survey of Pre-Christian Education  ; Lewit, Darstellung d. theoretischen u. praktischen Pädagogik im jüd. Altertume  ; Oehler, article "Pädagogik d. Alten Testaments," in Schmid's Encyclopädie d. Gesammten Erziehungs-u. Unterrichtswesen  ; Schürer, "Schriftgelehrsamkeit, Schule u. Synagoge," in Geschichte d. jüd. 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 .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [8]

As conceived of by Ruskin, and alone worthy of the name, "the leading human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them"; and attained, "not by telling a man what he knew not, but by making him what he was not."