Jesus the schoolboy

Aired on Premier Radio on Saturday November 22nd at 12:30pm

Jesus the schoolboy

The Gospels tell us little of the life of Yeshua (Jesus) in the "missing years". This doesn't mean we are totally ignorant of those times. Here are a few facts.

Firstly, Yeshua and his education. The Mishnah, a third century collection of the oral "Traditions of the Elders" tells us that Jewish boys of the day would study the Torah (The first five books of the Bible) at the age of five, the oral "Traditions" at the age of ten and be trained in halachot, rabbinic legal decisions, at the ripe old age of fifteen! Sunday School was never harder! It was made harder still when one realises that reading material was scarce and a poor family like theirs would have, at best, just one or two Biblical scrolls, just a small part of the total breadth of Scripture. So much was committed to memory. In the schools, study of the Bible was often done by chanting out aloud. In that day people passing by such schools would remark on "the chirping of children".

The Talmud (more "Traditions of the Elders") sheds some light on techniques used to commit scripture to memory by describing the mnemonics used to teach small children the Hebrew alphabet. Children used the Sabbath day of rest to memorise material learned in the week. And if they ventured outside while memorising, there was a warning in the Mishnah.

"A person walking along the road repeating his lessons who interrupts his memorisation and exclaims: "What a beautiful tree!" or "What a beautiful field!" it is imputed to him as if he were guilty of a crime punishable by death".

The Talmud also sings the praises of memorisation. "A person who repeats his lesson a hundred times is not to be compared to a person who repeats it a hundred and one times" and "if a student learns Torah and does not go over it again and again, he is like a man who sows without reaping".

by Steve Maltz


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