May 6, 2014 is the annual Teacher Appreciation Day. I am certainly grateful for many teachers that I knew and met. However, I want to focus on those teachers I read and learned from in the scriptures. Their power has also blessed my life. It may only be one man’s opinion, but here are the top ten best scriptural teachers ever.
When the wicked priests of King Noah ask Abinadi a question about how to interpret Isaiah 52:7, he says he’ll answer the question, but then goes on to teach all the ten commandments and the nature of God all before answering their original question. That’s some expert pedagogy.
Speaking of Isaiah, people are still riddling over every turn of phrase. Capturing that much detail-oriented attention for so many millenia is quite the task. Still it’s hard to put Isaiah too high up on the list, unfortunately, since most people still don’t know what he’s talking about.
True James may not have contributed much to the scriptural cannon (his lone contribution the book of James is only five chapters), yet his clarity and succinctness separate him as a teacher of special skill. It was his straight forward instruction “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” that sent Joseph Smith praying in the Sacred Grove.
David is hard to rank because we know that example is the greatest teacher, and David’s downfall isn’t a very good one. But David is credited with writing Psalms some of the most powerful and inspirational words in all of scriptures.
Only one sermon of King Benjamin’s is recorded but in it he covers everything from kindness to salvation to parenthood. Yet in addition to the complexity some scholars have concluded that the entire sermon is organized as one long intertwined poem! Benjamin’s signature teaching, “When ye are in the service of your fellow man, ye are only in the service of your God,” has inspired generations.
True, Lehi’s teaching in Jerusalem may not have had much effect, but we know it wasn’t from a lack of teaching talent. Though we no longer have Lehi’s original writings, his final sermons to his children are recorded at the beginning of 2nd Nephi. Lehi is able to distill ideas fundamental to human life such as agency, opposition, and happiness, into memorable pockets of wisdom.
Paul was an expert in using his own experience as a convert as a teaching tool. He taught in person, such as to King Agrippa, and while on his many missions, and through the written word which makes up much of the New Testament.
When your title is “The Wise” it’s easy to find yourself on the list of the best teachers. Solomon solidifies his claim by authoring the Proverbs. King Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Enough said.
So Alma, the former bad boy, might be something of a surprise at number two, but Alma’s power with metaphor changed the hearts of people in his day and today. Alma’s most popular sermon comparing faith to a seed has helped millions grow closer to their Savior. And his powerful instructions to his sons may lack the brevity of other teachers, but more than makes up for it in depth.
Perhaps this was an easy choice, but it is also undeniably true. Whether through His perfect example, powerful and straight forward sermons, or deep and brief parables, Jesus was and is the master teacher.
Who are some of your favorite scriptural teachers? Who did I miss? Did I rank someone too high? Let me know in the comments.