Over the past few years, I’ve occasionally heard Christians (including a pastor at the pulpit) make the claim that Jesus was trained as a rabbi. While I initially thought this claim seemed reasonable, and I understand that Jesus was frequently addressed as “Rabbi” and imitated the style of contemporary rabbis (public teaching with close personal instruction for select disciples), I have since noticed that the gospels indicate that Jesus did not formally train under a rabbi.
For example, Mark 6:2b-3 tells us the reaction of the people of Nazareth to His teaching (Matthew 13:54-56 reads similarly): “‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him" (NIV). A response of this type seems unlikely if Jesus had formally trained under a rabbi, as it stresses Jesus as being a common, laboring man from an unexceptional family.
Recently, though, I noticed that John’s gospel explicitly states that Jesus was not formally trained: “Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having been taught?’” (John 7:14-15). While Jesus, like any properly-raised Jewish boy of the 1st century, no doubt learned the Old Testament by heart and may have had the advantage of learning to read and write, this passage seems to clearly indicate that He was not the disciple of a rabbi. (In fact, having a human teacher would have probably undermined His claim to be teaching what was given to Him by the Father.)
Does anyone know where the “Jesus was a rabbi” idea originally came from? Was it a Christian idea, or was it perhaps a secular idea originally formulated to try to explain away the divinely inspired aspect of His ministry?