Education and Transmission of Tradition
Person, Raymond F., Jr. “Education and Transmission of Tradition.” Companion to Ancient Israel, edited by Susan Niditch. Oxford: Blackwell, 2016, pp. 366-378.
In any society, education and the transmission of culture begins in the family home, where we learn our language from our parents and siblings and our culture through such everyday tasks as eating. Ancient Israel was no exception. An elite minority within the temple/palace bureaucracy received a formal education that included reading and writing. However, like the vast majority, even their education was primarily oral in nature and the use of texts as a part of their curriculum was primarily as mnemonic aids for the internalization of the culture. Thus, even ancient Israelite scribes approached the task of reading, writing, and copying texts in ways that differ remarkably from how we moderns understand these same activities. As the literate members of their society, scribes would have played an important role in the public education of the people by their recitation by memory and/or their public reading of traditional texts.