I believe I’ll try to write about what I have been reading this morning about Jewish education. William Barclay wrote a book called educational Ideals in the Ancient World. It is really quite interesting. The first chapter (the only one I have read recently) is about Jewish education. Barclay is not a fundamentalist for sure. He thinks that Deuteronomy was not “published” until 621 B.C. Well, that seems to me to be about 800 years too late. He makes the point about the date of Deuteronomy to say that it was not until after that time and in conjunction with Ezra’s ministry that elementary schools developed in the Jewish culture. I have no problem with the idea that there were no elementary schools in the Jewish culture until the time of Ezra, but to base that on the 621 B.C. “publication” of Deuteronomy is a problem. He says that with the publication of Deuteronomy there was available a “curriculum” to teach to elementary children. Before this time there was plenty of educating taking place, but nothing prescribed clearly as in Deuteronomy.
The Jewish education, like many eastern culture’s, was largely oratorical (is that a word?). Meaning that they learned to repeat their lessons and did not do much of reading or writing. This is interesting, because the Jewish people were “people of the Book.” And they were. They lived their whole lives according to the Book. But they did not learn the Book by just reading it. They learned by saying and repeating it. Being a people of the Book also distinguishes Jewish education making it thoroughly and completely religious. This is interesting to note. The Jews did not think any other education was important. But I would have to concur, seeing that they applied the Book to every aspect of their lives. The Book does address every area of life, therefore, it must be made to apply in all areas. So, I don’t look at this distinction to Jewish education as a drawback.
The Jewish people felt that the education of their children was of utmost importance. There are sayings that the work in the Temple could be stopped before they should stop the teaching of their children. There is a lot more than this, but the timer went off, and I need to put this and the rest of this info into a format more fit for a dissertation.