B Teachers and Tradition

This a priori logic is supported by the evidence that the passing on of tradition was part of church founding from the first. Paul was careful to refer his churches back to such foundation traditions on several occasions;17 the evidence is hardly to be explained as references solely to kerygmatic or confessional formulae. Rather, we find that it includes community tradition (1 Cor. 23), teaching on how the new converts should live (e.g., Phil. 4.9; 1 Thess. 4.1; 2 Thess. 3.6), and traditions of Jesus in accordance with which they should conduct their lives (Col. 2.6-7; kata Christon in 2.8).18

If further confirmation is needed, it is provided by the prominence of teachers within the earliest Christian churches.19 Teachers, indeed, seem to have been the first regularly paid ministry within the earliest Christian movement (Gal. 6.6; Did. 13.2). Why teachers? Why else than to serve as the congregation's repository of oral tradition? What else would Christian teachers teach? A Christian interpretation of the Scriptures, no doubt. But also, we can surely safely assume, the traditions which distinguished house churches from local house synagogues or other religious, trade, or burial societies.20

We should pause at this point to recall just how crucial teachers were to ancient communities. All who read these pages will have been bred to a society

16. Moule is one of remarkably few who recognized this fundamental (human) need in his Birth of the New Testament; chs. 3-6, each entitled 'The Church Explains Itself in different ways.

17. 1 Cor. 11.2,23; 15.1-3; Phil. 4.9; Col. 2.6-7; 1 Thess. 4.1; 2 Thess. 2.15; 3.6.

18. See my Colossians and Philemon (NIGT C; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996) 138-41, 151; and further my Theology ofPaul 194-95.

19. Acts 13.1; Rom. 12.7; 1 Cor. 12.28-29; Eph. 4.11; Heb. 5.12; Jas 3.1;Did. 15.1-2.

20. See also A. F. Zimmermann, Die urchristlichen Lehrer (WUNT 2.12; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1984), though he pushes too hard his thesis that in the early community the teachers formed a Jewish-Christian-Pharisaic circle. From what we know of more formal teaching in the schools, we can be sure that oral instruction was the predominant means: 'it is the "living voice" of the teacher that has priority' (L. C. A. Alexander, 'The Living Voice: Scepticism Towards the Written Word in Early Christianity and in Graeco-Roman Texts', in D. J. A. Clines, etal., eds., The Bible in Three Dimensions: Essays in Celebration of Forty Years of Biblical Studies in the University of Sheffield [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1990] 221-47 [here 244]).

long accustomed to being able to rely on textbooks, encyclopaedias, and other reference works. But an ancient oral society had few if any such resources and had to rely instead on individuals whose role in their community was to function as what Jan Vansina describes as 'a walking reference library'.21

Nor should it be forgotten that, at least according to the tradition, Jesus himself was regarded as a 'teacher' (didaskalos),22 and was so regarded by his disciples.23 Jesus may even have regarded himself as such (Matt. 10.24-25/Luke 6.40). That the disciples of Jesus are consistently called 'disciples', that is 'those taught, learners' (Hebrew talmidim; Greek mathetai) — should also be in-cluded.24 The relation between Jesus and his disciples was remembered as one between teacher and taught, with the implication that, as such, the disciples understood themselves to be committed to remember their teacher's teaching.

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