In the following series I am going to explore who might have taught Jesus. Of course Bible Scholars say that his teachings are closest to that of the Essenes, but I want to start from scratch, looking at every possibility. I'm hoping I can get to the point where I could actually name his teacher. It is taking me ages to do this research, so I'll just give updates as I do it.
In the New Testament it says that Jesus could read. We know this from
Luke 4:16-21 (NIV)
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Some scholars believe that in those days only the very richest 10% of the population could read so how could Jesus have afforded an education?
Well,Jewish legend has it that Mary was born into rich family but had a thing for working class men (Sanh 106a):
R. Papa observed: This is what men say, 'She who was the descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters
Now if this is true, she may have had money of her own to pay for it. Is there any evidence in the New Testament that Jesus was born into a rich family? Why, yes!
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
OK, so if this is true he could afford an education. Even if he couldn't though, the Oral Torah, which was explanations of the Old Testament taught in the time of Jesus says this (B.M. 85a):
He who teaches Torah to his neighbor's son will be privileged to sit in the Heavenly Academy, for it is written, If thou [sc. Jeremiah] wilt cause [Israel] to repent, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me.22 And he who teaches Torah to the son of an 'am ha-arez,23 even if the Holy One, blessed be He, makes a decree, He annuls it for his sake, as it is written, and if thou shalt take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.
(An am ha-arez is an uneducated person).
This says that if you had a person who was immoral or if he was of questionable parentage or ignorant, you could redeem him by teaching him Torah. Remember, that even if Jesus was the literal son of God, while he was growing up people would have thought he was an illegitimate child. And the Old Testament is really harsh when it comes to bastards:
Deuteronomy 23:2 (King James Version)
A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
So teaching him Torah would lift this decree. You'd do this for a neighbor or a relative or a friend. So was there anyone who fit this category who could have taught Jesus?
Well, obviously we don't know who his neighbors were, but we do know that Mary was related to the wife of a priest. We know she was close to this family because she spent 3 months with this woman when she was pregnant. This woman was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.
Luke 1:5-6 (NIV)
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly.
Luke 1:36 (NIV)
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
Luke 1:56 (NIV)
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Elizabeth was John the Baptist's mother, and his father was a priest of the Temple, so you could see how they might want to help Mary out, and it suggests Jesus and John would have known each other growing up.
But if his mother did come from the ruling class and if he really was rich and he was educated by a priest you'd expect him to be a Sadducee. But he wasn't. Sadducee didn't believe in resurrection and Jesus did, so it is unlikely that he was taught by a priest. Also, Jesus knew some of the teachings of the Pharisees, so maybe he'd been taught by them? Jewish legend said he was. I explore that in my next post.
Next Post in the Series: Who Taught Jesus? The Pharisees?
All NIV Bible quotes are from:
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
taken from http://www.biblegateway.com
The King James version comes from the same site but is Public Domain.