Monday, June 15, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 2 (3)


Who should provide instruction? (cont'd.)

The Abraham covenant required individuals to know their commitment and duties to God (through the covenant), their nation (Israel), and the world (blessings to the world). Abraham’s faithful instruction to his family is reflected in the elderly Joseph’s ability to say, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Gen 50:24, NIV).

Joseph learned this from his family, not Potiphar’s Preschool or Pharaoh’s Academy. Daniel, another young man separated from his family, was influential in the Babylon school because of the character his parents had instilled. Now think about this. How many moderns can identify the sayings of their great-grandfather or know how the world is influenced by their family?

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 specifies that parents must constantly, consistently, and contextually bear the responsibility for educating their children. According to Kenneth Gangel, “Hebrew parents were continually to whet the intellectual appetites of their children…They were to sharpen their minds, prompting questions which would create teachable moments so that instruction in the faith of Israel might be given.”(1)

The home was the central place of instruction.

During the fifth century B.C., things changed. The synagogue became a fixed location for teaching Hebrew theology, and scribes like Ezra and Nehemiah began special houses of learning for adults.

Hebrew was taught to those who spoke Aramaic so the faith could continue to be passed down. The Hebrews could no longer read or listen to Scripture because of the exile and the dispersion; instead, they thought in the language of other cultures. Today, we think in the language of non-Christian cultures.

As a reaction to Greek paganism, “houses of the book” were opened for younger children. According to Robert Ulich, “The old custom of teaching children within the family seems to have degenerated” during the Second Commonwealth (515 B.C.-70 A.D.).(2)

(1) Kenneth O. Gangel, “Toward a Biblical Theology of Marriage and Family,” Journal of Psychology and Theology 5 (winter 1977): 60.
(2) Robert Ulich, A History of Religious Education (New York: New York University, 1968), 13.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved

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