3 Minute Theologian

Words about God and Life for the Attention Deficit Generation

The Love of Learning

Gladstone' LibraaryThinking about the academic year that has just concluded, and thinking about the academic year that is soon upon us (August term at VTS begins on 13 August!), I cam across this passage from the Mishnah today, which I think should be incorporated as the official Student Learning Outcomes for the Virginia Theological Seminary:

The Learning of the Law

Greater is [learning in] the Law than priesthood or kingship; for kingship is acquired by thirty excellences and the priesthood by twenty-four; but [learning in] the Law by forty-eight.

And these are they:

  • by study,
  • by the hearing of the ear,
  • by the ordering of the lips,
  • by the understanding of the heart,
  • by the discernment of the heart,
  • by awe,
  • by reverence,
  • by humility,
  • by cheerfulness;
  • by attendance on the Sages,
  • by consorting with fellow-students,
  • by close argument with disciples;
  • by assiduity,
  • by [know-ledge of] Scripture and Mishnah;
  • by moderation in business, worldly occupation, pleasure, sleep, conversation, and jesting;
  • by longsuffering,
  • by a good heart,
  • by faith in the Sages,
  • by submission to sorrows;
  • [by being] one that recognizes his place and that rejoices in his lot and that makes a fence around his words and that claims no merit for himself;
  • [by being one that is] beloved, that loves God, that loves mankind, that loves well-doing, that loves rectitude, that loves reproof, that shuns honour and boasts not of his learning, and delights not in making decisions;
  • that helps his fellow to bear his yoke, and that judges him favourably, and that establishes him in the truth and establishes him in peace;
  • and that occupies himself assiduously· in his study;
  • [by being one] that asks and makes answer,
  • that hearkens and adds thereto;
  • that learns in order to teach and that learns in order to practice;
  • that makes his teacher wiser,
  • that retells exactly what he has heard and recalls a thing in the name of him that said it.

Lo, thou hast learnt that he that tells a thing in the name of him that said it brings deliverance unto the world…

?both, 6:6, The Mishnah, Herbert Danby, trans., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), p. 460


  1. Elizabeth Hadaway

    11 June, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    “…for it is written, ‘And Esther told the king thereof in Mordecai’s name.'” (I scored the 1950 reprint of Danby’s Mishnah at the VTS Library booksale and am using it to study for diocesan canonical exams).

  2. Take one “sufficient” for knowledge of the tradition!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.