“The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?”” ‭‭John‬ ‭7:15‬ ‭

We know that there were multiples sects at the time of Jesus’ incarnate life. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were predominantly featured in the Biblical discourse.

It is clear that they had never seen Jesus attend any of their rabbinical schools otherwise they would not have marveled that he was well studied.

Jesus could read Luke 4:16, therefore he was literate and consequently educated though not necessarily by a religious rabbi.

And there were other religious schools like the Essenes. Would it be out of the question Jesus was taught by an Essene? They were renown for their love for the Scriptures.

Jesus also grew up near the city of Sepphoris. He certainly used the term hypocrite which might indicate having at least been to this city and seen its amphitheater, if not attended and spectated a theatrical performance. He might have received his education from here by a religious or non religious teacher?

In light of the fact that Jesus according to Philippians 2:7 voluntarily emptied or nullified His divine attributes whilst in a human body, meaning He had to learn (Isaiah 7:15) and could not rely on His omniscience, why were these people marveling? Surely the Pharisees were not the only ones who could teach on the Scriptures? Did they hold a monopoly on religious education?

Or was it (also) a matter of costs? Jesus didn’t look/dress like he was part of high society to have afforded an education (private) in his childhood?

  • 1
    is there a reason for this question other than to invite speculation and opinion?
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 3:17
  • We are not told except that Jesus had been doing this since the age of 12 (Luke 2:46) and thus was presumably the fact that Jesus clearly say the mission of Messiah bout which the teachers were confused.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 3:30
  • @user48152 I am merely asking what was meant by the translated “he has never studied” because clearly he had studied, so what did they mean exactly. Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 4:04
  • 3
    The same kinds of comments are sometimes made today about people who don't have a degree from a prestigious university (often by those who do). It doesn't mean they have received no education; it means some people (foolishly) mock their education as inferior. There were prominent scribes & Pharisees who wanted to control what counted as "education" in order to inculcate future generations with their own ideas. Jesus shared how He felt about all this in Matthew 23:15 Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 4:49
  • 1
    I feel you @HoldToTheRod Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 4:57

2 Answers 2


It’s unlikely Jesus was ‘educated’ under any Rabbinical school. The Pharisees were ‘educated’ under the Oral Traditions (interpretation of Torah, as opposed to the Torah).

In those days, different groups/sects all had their own ‘teachers’ (Rabbis). A ‘Rabbi’ was not just associated with the Pharisees. Rather a term applied to any ‘teacher’ with ‘students’ (disciples).

Note the reaction of the Jews to the teachings of Jesus ...

JOHN 5:15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

It is more likely that he was taught [only] by the Holy Spirit, while reading the Torah. [self taught]. He was ‘expert’ with this - it’s arguably how he learnt everything - including who ‘He’ was. And off course let’s not discount the ‘teaching’ of his parents! Mary and Joseph both ‘knew’ who their son was - an angel had told them!

LUKE 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

The Essenes were the only group who ‘believed’ the Torah. It’s certain John the Baptist was ‘educated’ in their teachings, and ‘headed’ their school of the prophets, but it’s unlikely Jesus had any direct dealings with them. And the ‘teaching foundations’ the of Sadducees being only a part of the Torah would have discounted their influence.

[Footnote] - I’ve just learnt that the DSS’s say that the Messiah did interact occasionally and teach them (Essenes), so he did interact - but only as a Rabbi, not as a student.

  • What a refreshing answer Dave.
    – user49416
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 11:22

The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” (John 7:15, ESV)

Interpreting this verse has the question here: How should πῶς οὗτος γράμματα οἶδεν μὴ μεμαθηκώς; (NA27) be translated in John 7:15?

Apparently Jesus had the normal education for a Jewish boy, but not educated in the rabbinical schools. A. Edersheim is the reference in the previous question.

The statement by the Jewish leaders had the sense of marvel at what Jesus knew, but also criticism that he did not give their traditional answers.

This passage indicates that Jesus' knowledge of scripture did not depend on human education.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41–52, ESV)

Other than this passage showing Jesus' knowledge far exceeded his formal education, we do not have a clear indication about Jesus' education other that background information A. Edersheim excelled in.

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