The role and education of children in Old Testament times

Allen, Shirley May (2001-12)

On title page: Master of Philosophy in Bible Skills

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2001

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Children in the Old Testament world, at first glance, seem to playa very minor role in the make-up of that society but was this really so? In researching the role and education there are many questions, which need answering. Questions that come to mind are: What role did children play in the tribe, clan and family? How did children relate to their fathers, mothers and siblings? What education and training did children receive? When did they receive it? Was it formal or informal? Did the status and education of children change from early Israel through to the beginning of New Testament times? How could children identify with their religion? What did children contribute to their religion? What legal rights did children have? How did their situation compare to the children in other countries in the . Ancient Near East? In investigating these questions in chapter one it was necessary to research the social system, which included the complex multigenerational family. It was also important to look at children in the Old Testament world from a sociological anthropological stance. As religion and religious concepts were embedded in the fabric of the Old Testament society it was important to see which ones influenced the status of children. There was also a need to investigate how children were protected by the law and how they were affected by the economy as Israelite society was largely an agrarian society. In chapter two when investigating the education of children in the Old Testament world it was necessary to look at parental responsibility as well as the role of priests, prophets, sages, scribes and teachers. Wisdom literature in the Old Testament played an important role in the education of every child, either formally or informally. Not all of the education was moral education; much of the instruction that children received was vocational. The challenge when looking at education is that the evidence is mostly inferred. In analysing the role of children in the Old Testament world it becomes apparent that children play a far greater role and are of higher social status than it appears at a cursory glance when looking at the patriarchal society in which they lived. The education of children took place mostly in the setting of the home on an informal basis. It was only much later that formal education was introduced and even then the exact beginning of schools is difficult to pinpoint. It would be incorrect to attempt to transplant the role of the child in the Old Testament world into contemporary culture without transplanting the whole society. It would however be correct to look at the Old Testament child within the context of the extended family as far as redemptive history and creation is concerned.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kinders in die Ou Testamentwêreld blyk met die eerste oogopslag In geringe rol te speel in die samestelling van daardie gemeenskap, maar is dit werklik so? Met die navorsing van die rol en opvoeding was daar baie vrae wat beantwoord behoort te word. Vrae wat opduik is: Watter rol het die kinders gespeel in die stam, familiegroep en gesin? Wat was die verhouding tussen die kinders en hulle vaders, moeders, broers en susters? Watter opvoeding en onderrig het kinders ontvang? Wanneer het hulle dit ontvang? Was dit formeelof informeel? Het die status en opvoeding van kinders verander van vroeë Israel deur tot aan di~ begin van Nuwe Testamenttye? Hoe kon die kinders met hulle geloof identifiseer? Watter bydrae het kinders tot hulle geloof gelewer? Wat~er wetlike regte het kinders gehad? Hoe het hulle situasie vergelyk met die kinders in ander lande in die Antieke Nabye- Ooste? Deur hierdie vrae in hoofstuk een te ondersoek was dit nodig om die ,. maatskaplike stelsel te ondersoek, wat die komplekse veelvuldige geslagfamilie ingesluit het. Dit was ook belangrik om na kinders in die Ou Testamentwêreld vanuit In sosiologiese antropologiese oogpunt te kyk. Aangesien godsdiens en godsdienstige konsepte ingebed was in die wese van die Ou Testamentiese samelewing, was dit belangrik om te sien watter die status van kinders beïnvloed het. Dit was ook nodig om te ondersoek hoe kinders deur die wet beskerm is en hulle beïnvloed is deur die ekonomie aangesien die samelewing in Israel hoofsaaklik In landelike gemeenskap was. In hoofstuk twee met die ondersoek van die opvoeding van kinders in die wêreld van die Ou Testament was dit nodig om te kyk na ouerlike verantwoordelikheid sowel as die rol van priesters, profete, wysgere, skrifgeleerdes en leermeesters/onderwysers. Wysheidsliteratuur in die Ou Testament het In belangrike rol gespeel in die opvoeding van elke kind, hetsy formeelof informeel. Die opvoeding was nie alles morele opvoeding nie; 'n groot gedeelte van die onderrig wat kinders ontvang het was beroepsgerig. Die uitdaging wanneer na die opvoeding gekyk word, is dat die meeste bewyse hoofsaaklik afgeleide bewyse is. Wanneer die rol van kinders in die Ou Testamentwêreld geanaliseer word, word dit duidelik dat kinders 'n baie groter rol gespeel het, en 'n hoër maatskaplike aansien geniet het as wat 'n bloot tersaaklike blik op die patriargale samelewing waarin hulle gewoon het, aantoon. Die opvoeding wat kinders ontvang het, het hoofsaaklik in die konteks van die huis, en op fn informele basis plaasgevind. Dit was eers baie later dat formele opvoeding bekendgestel is en die presiese begin van skole is ook moeilik om vas te stel. Dit sou nie korrek wees om te probeer om die rol van die kind in die Ou Testament oor te plaas in die wêreld van die kontemporêre kultuur sonder om die hele samelewing ook oor te plaas nie. Die sou egter korrek wees om na die Ou Testament kind te kyk binne die konteks van die uitgebreide gesin wat verlossingsgeskiedenis en die skepping aan betref.

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