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The Classical and Hellenistic Background

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Chapter Summary

Μαθητής only comes into prominence in the written literature of Greece in the classical period. The earliest extant occurrence of the term is found in Herodotu. The usage varied somewhat according to the historical period, user, and context of use, and the purpose of this chapter is to clarify the usage as a background to understanding its use in the New Testament period. Μαθητής was used in the early classical period in a general way to denote a "learner". This is illustrated in a passage in Plato. Μαθητής was also used at an early stage of the classical period with a technical sense. That is, the term denoted "a direct dependence of the one under instruction upon an authority superior in knowledge, and which emphasizes the fact that this relation cannot be dissolved". The technical use placed more emphasis upon dependency, life-commitment, and the ongoing nature of the relationship.

Keywords: Μαθητής; classical period; Greece; Herodotu; learner; Plato; technical sense

10.1163/9789004266896_003
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