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Re: [XTalk] Jesus' education

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  • Jack Kilmon
    Although Aramaic was the spoken language of Jesus and the Palestinian population in the 1st century, Hebrew was the language of the literate (about 3% of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2006
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      Although Aramaic was the spoken language of Jesus and the Palestinian
      population in the 1st century, Hebrew was the language of the literate
      (about 3% of the population). Greek was still the language of commerce
      throughout the Mediterranean. Nazareth is on the southern slope of the
      Lebanon Mountains just 4 miles southeast of Sepphoris/Zippori. A family of
      tektons that consisted of a father and 4 sons was essentially a building
      contractor and the skills of carpentry, metal work and brick laying were
      probably distributed among the 5. An electricians license was probably too
      expensive :) These tektons certainly worked in the many building projects
      going on in the rapidly developing Sepphoris. Greek would have been the
      language of discourse doing business in Sepphoris. That Jesus had
      discussions with gentiles in Galilee, centurians and Pontius Pilatus are
      good indicators that Jesus was facile in at least rudimentary Greek. But
      for the incident at the temple at age 12 corresponds to the ceremony of
      discernment and taking vows. I wonder if the missing "pre-mission" years of
      His life was spent in education, a beyt sefer at home and a beyt midrash
      perhaps in Jerusalem. (1) His appearance at the temple at the Age of
      Discernment (12) and his discussions with the Pharisees corresponds with the
      age when an "advanced" education would begin. His appearance at age 30 to
      "make his place" in society correlates to the time when that advanced
      education had ended and he was deserving of the title "maran." (2) There
      are other strong indicators that Jesus had a formal education. His reading
      of the Isaiah scroll, his use of Danielic and Enochian terminology are
      examples. The beyt haSeferym supposedly established by Shymeon ben Shetah
      would only have covered "elementary school" if there was one in Sepphoris
      (likely) or Nazareth..unlikely for a hamlet of less than 25 households.
      What I am proposing is that Jesus could have received part of his education
      (which the texts strongly indicate he had) at Jerusalem and probably in the
      Beyt Midrash under Gamaliel. I don't know where else he would have learned
      what he very obviously knew far above the common knowledge of the am
      ha-aretz. This would mean, chronologically, that he would have "graduated"
      around 15 CE to assume his role in his vocation and as head of the household
      as the eldest son. Brother Yaqub could not have been too far behind him in
      an education that appears likely from what we know about "James, the
      This theory would have Paul of Tarsus in the same school about 10 years
      after Jesus left (We know zilch about the other bar Yahosef boys). Is
      there any indication in the Pauline Corpus that Paul had heard about Jesus
      prior to his role as a prosecutor for the High Priest (which is weird)?

      1. Shmuel Safrai "Education and Study of Torah" in The Jewish People in the
      First Century. 1975, Fortress.
      2. Midrash Avot 5.21

      Just musing with my morning coffee

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