Doesn’t the Bible Call Jesus a Rabbi?
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Date First Published: October 14, 2006
Ancient Rabbis

lthough it was only after 70 A.D. that רַבִּי (raBI, my master, my teacher) became a formal title for a teacher, and therefore it is anachronistic to speak of Jesus as a “rabbi,” this term may be more helpful than any other in conveying a correct image of Jesus to the average Christian reader. Jesus was recognized as a teacher in his day and as such was addressed “raBI,” the polite form of address to a teacher. See David Bivin, “Was Jesus a Rabbi?

From the Gospel accounts, Jesus clearly appears as a typical first-century Jewish sage, and was famous enough to draw students to himself. Perhaps the most convincing proof that Jesus was a sage was his style of teaching, for he used the same methods of Scripture interpretation and instruction as the other Jewish sages of his day. A simple example of this is Jesus’ use of parables to convey his teachings.

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