Jesus and the Scriptures…
Recently I have been thinking on some things that I have read.
One of those things, for better or for worse, comes from Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis. Now, I am not a Rob Bell fan persay. He has done some great things in Michigan and has led many people to a new life and new understanding of Jesus. He is also the guy behind Nooma videos which I would totally use as conversation starters in settings with nonChristians. That being said, I come from a campus where his lesser-teachings are regarded as incredible by people who should be devouring more mature spiritual foods, and this is annoying.
One thing he writes in his book Velvet Elvis is found in chapter five. It is a discussion of the Torah and how the average Jewish person sees and experiences the books of the Law. Rob lays out how a Jewish child will begin going to Torah school at six until they are ten. At ten they would have the whole Torah memorized.
This was because they were commanded to have the law written on their hearts, but also because the individual only saw a copy of the Torah once a week, that was at synagogue. There would only be one Torah scroll in the whole town.
The kids who showed most potential and memorization of the scriptures went on to more learning at the House of Learning until they were fourteen. Those students would memorize the rest of the Jewish writings through Malachi. However, the students who did not make the cut went home to work in the family trade.
Then, the best students would learn about the ideas and questions surrounding the Jewish scriptures. This included ideas from hundreds of years of Rabbis who had commented on the text before.
Eventually the best students would be selected to study under a Rabbi. It was a harsh application process, but the best students were selected and became Rabbi themselves.
Now, these are the facts laid out by Rob Bell in his book and from many other sources I have heard over the years. This being the case, I don’t have much reason to doubt the validity of his sources.
So, if that is true, what does that say about the person of Jesus when we find him in Mark 6 and people are asking, “Where did he learn this? Isn’t he a carpenter?”
To say he was a carpenter is also to say that he was not a rabbi. To say that he went home and learned the family business also seems to suggest that he had not made it through all the stages of school and had instead had to leave at some point.
This is confusing because it would seem to suggest that others were perhaps better than the son of God at knowing the scriptures. Could this be?
How comfortable am I willing to be with that?
On one hand, like I said, I am a little uncomfortable with Jesus being out done by men on issues of spiritual knowledge. On the other hand, I like it. Perhaps he was able to identify with the widow, the lepper, the lame, the sick the meek, the adulterers and the Samaritans better because he had left school early. Perhaps in being a common-person and living with and serving common people he was able to identify with them better than he would have if he had instead spent his impressionable years learning about why he was supposed to detest them.
I think you still see a measure of this today. I know I see it in academia. You will have a professor who has spent the vast majority of his life in a classroom reading, writing, studying, excelling and eventually being a major contributor to the field, but after all that time in books gaining knowledge they lose the ability to deal with others effectively. They are a bit disconnected, maybe disinterested in other people. Most of all they don’t know how to joke.
I think we may see some of that in Jesus and his ministry. When the Pharisees bring to Jesus the woman caught in adultery it is as if they are saying, “We know the law!” And Jesus says, “Yeah, but you don’t know people.”
And when the Pharisees see Jesus’s followers not joining in a fast they say, “Why aren’t your disciples fasting?!” Jesus says, “Because where I am there is a good time. There is something more important going on here.”
I am coming to grips a little more every day with Jesus the regular guy.
Thats a savior I can go to.