Jesus, the Theological Educator | Themelios

What then were the characteristics of his teaching, especially of the twelve? For it is in teaching his disciples, a small group he individually selected for training and to whom he devoted immense time and energy, that we may discern the earliest model of what we might term Christian theological education. It was for those few men a richly varied experience and one which would have an immense impact not only on them but also, as they continued Jesus’ own mission, on the whole of human history. For this reason the manner of Jesus’ teaching—his pedagogy—merits attention from anybody engaged in whatever way in the formation of Christian believers, rather more attention indeed than it has tended to receive. ‘Just why leaders of the church over the centuries have made so little attempt to understand and appreciate the teaching techniques and environments used by Jesus will likely remain one of the great mysteries.’ Moreover, serious consideration of Jesus’ approach is especially important in the case of theological and biblical educators whose purpose is to train the future leadership of God’s people, as Jesus did. The university model of education which emerged early in the last millennium has spread across the globe, and forms of theological education are everywhere increasingly patterned after it. There are advantages no doubt in such an approach but by no means unequivocally so. While it would perhaps be naïve to suggest that Jesus’ model of training should directly transfer to our own hugely different contexts, we nevertheless may gain much from discerning the principles which underlay it and reassessing current values, pedagogies, and structures of theological education in the light of what Jesus did with such indisputably successful effect. To that end, this article explores aspects of Jesus’ work as theological educator and then suggests some implications for our practice today. [Read More]