Jesus the Teacher. By J.M. Price. Originally published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1946, reprint, Vol. 7 of Southwestern Library of Centennial Classics, Fort Worth TX, 2008. 139 pages. Hardcover, $100.00 for set.
This reprinted volume is one of the ten volumes of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Centennial Classics. John Milburn Price was the founding dean of Southwestern Seminary’s School of Religious Education (currently the School of Christian Education). Price joined the Southwestern faculty as a result of an invitation of the founding president, B.H. Carroll in 1915. He remained integrally connected to Southwestern until his death in 1976. The building on the Fort Worth campus which houses the School of Christian Education bears his name.
In Jesus the Teacher, J.M. Price gleans from the greatest “master of the teaching art” (20) in hopes of providing an exhortation to contemporary Bible teachers. Price engages his readers with his straightforward points peppered with numerous helpful illustrations or examples. Price’s keys to the teaching art can be summarized with the following descriptors: biblically oriented, people focused, holistic and engaging.
Jesus modeled these characteristics above all and becomes an exemplary case study for Price in his encouragement to modern teachers. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of a good teacher including the necessary life to match the truth of his teaching. Jesus drew from His knowledge of the Scriptures and human nature to develop a group of inept followers into maturing disciples. Jesus’ intent was to reveal truth, but at the same time to meet recognized human needs. He was able to integrate truth and illustration in a way that engaged His listeners and kept them moving toward His teaching aim of maturity.
Price notes that Jesus always kept His listeners’ needs and context in mind. Price remarks that modern teachers should also remember that they are not teaching curriculum, but people. Though Price states that Jesus did not have a set method of teaching, the Master Teacher did usually introduce His lesson in a way to gain His audience’s attention (often through miracles or drawing on examples from everyday life). He then developed His ideas in ways that were conducive to His audience’s understanding. Finally, He concluded His lessons with an appeal to action or response. Jesus drew on a variety of teaching techniques (e.g. dialogue or discourse), figures of speech (e.g. parables or proverbs), dramatic elements, and Scriptural examples to produce a lesson that transformed lives.
Price’s work challenges contemporary Bible teachers to follow the example of the Master. Just as Jesus was interested in the life change or “regeneration” (126) of His listeners, today’s Bible teachers should not be satisfied with simply a clear presentation of facts. They must strive toward the goal of producing true disciples (learners) who themselves will become teachers like Jesus.
Jason K. Lee
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary