Taking on the “Smell of the Sheep”: The Rabbinic Understanding of Discipleship

Authored by Scott McKellar in Issue #35.2 of The Sower

Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. (Evangelii Guadium, 24)

Today when we hear the words disciple or discipleship these words have a specific religious connotation. We would normally not describe an apprentice plumber or student teacher as a disciple. In the world of the New Testament these words had a much wider usage. Among the ancient Greek philosophers, disciples learned by imitating the teacher’s entire way of life and not just by remembering the spoken words of the teacher. This is completely different from our modern lecture based modehttps://thesowerreview.org/sites/default/files/images/reading-torah.jpgl of classroom instruction. The first century philosopher Seneca appeals to the “living voice and intimacy of common life” of the disciple-teacher relationship of many different philosophers:
"Cleanthes could not have been the express image of Zeno, if he had merely heard his lectures; he also shared in his life, saw into his hidden purposes, and watched him to see whether he lived according to his own rules. Plato, Aristotle, and the whole throng of sages who were destined to go each his different way, derived more benefit from the character than from the words of Socrates."
Although there was considerable tension between the influence of Greek culture and Jewish way of life, it appears that the educational methods of the Greeks were taken over and adapted by rabbinic schools. Clearly the rabbinic model of discipleship builds on the Old Testament examples of relationships such as Moses to Joshua, Eli to Samuel, and especially Elisha’s call to “follow” Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:19-20), but it also adapts many features common to the Greco-Roman tradition of philosophers and teachers of rhetoric.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

RCIA & Adult Faith Formation: The RCIA Process as a Dating Relationship
By Dcn. Drake McCalister
Many people wanting to becoming Catholic are often surprised that it can take a year or more. In my former denomination, it was very different. The way one became a Christian was, at the end of any given Church service, the pastor would ask people to bow their heads and close their eyes. He would then ask whoever wanted to receive Jesus as their... Read more
Children's Catechesis: Faith Formation—It’s Not Just for Kids
By Joseph D. White
Parable of the Paper Cups Once upon a time, there was a village called “Ville de Soif.” Ville de Soif was located along a river, which was the water source for the whole town. At various times, people came to the river to drink, using their hands. But they didn’t seem to have a way to take water with them when they left. The adults in town busied... Read more
AD: Books on the Power of Truth, Love and Common Sense
By Colleen Rainone
Free This is a paid advertisement in the July-September 2019 issue. Advertisements should not be viewed as endorsements from the publisher. To order these books, click on their direct links The Power of Truth , or Eight Ways of Loving God , or Common Sense Catholicsim ; or call 1-800-651-1531. Or for more books by Ignatius Press, click here . Let them... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now