The Principles of Education in the Old Testament with a Focus on the Word Musar -- By: Todd K. Estes

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 20:1 (Fall 2002)
Article: The Principles of Education in the Old Testament with a Focus on the Word Musar
Author: Todd K. Estes

The Principles of Education in the Old Testament
with a Focus on the Word Musar

Todd K. Estes

Kingsville Baptist Church
Ball, Louisiana 71405

Recently, Al Mohler challenged a group of evangelicals to keep Scripture at the heart of Christian education. He called Christian education not driven by the centrality of Scripture a “lie.”1 Christian education must be “scriptural in its shape and substance, in its authority, in its formation.”2 This challenge is one that all Christian educators, whether in a ecclesiastical position or in a position in an educational institution, must pay heed to. But the challenge must also be seen in a different facet. If the Bible is to be the center of education, and this writer would include all education, one needs to explore what the Bible says about education itself. In the Old Testament, musar,3 is the best word to render as “education.”4 Its most frequent occurrences are in the Book of Proverbs, and these occurrences will be the focus of this paper. But as one examines the term musar, they also will find it beneficial to understand the culture in which the term was used. By examining the culture, specifically the educational philosophy and practice of the Hebrew people, it will become even more evident of the theocentric educational idealism that is promoted in Scripture.5 Christian education does need to be Bible based; all too often, the Old Testament is overlooked when searching for principles to support this concept.

Jewish Educational Philosophies

Jewish education was religious education. The culture, the institutions, society as a whole, centered around the worship of YHWH. The cult practices were one of the main devices in the educational process of the society.6 By the use of religious festivals, feasts, fasts, and family rituals, the Jews learned of YHWH and His works in and through His people.7 The cult practices taught history, morality, attributes of YHWH, prophecy, and the position of man in relation to YHWH. These practices varied in accordance to the existence, or nonexistence, of the temple and its predecessor, the tabernacle; the practices were constant in their importance in the Hebrew society and their role throughout the history of Jewish education.

The history of Jewish educational practices can be div...

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