For family scripture study in the mornings we’ve started just following the Primary manual rather than merely reading the scriptures. This has lead to much, much more fruitful scripture study I think. If you’ve not done this yourself, consider trying it out for a week or two. I’m not sure kids get as much out of reading the scriptures particularly in the KJV. Yet when you discuss the issues with them they understand it much better. This week we were covering Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
The story that interested me the most was young Jesus getting left behind in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph. They discover Jesus missing a day later and have to head back to Jerusalem. They find him in the temple discussing things with the local rabbis. This always struck me as showing Jesus to be so human and fallible. Why didn’t he tell Joseph or his mother what he was doing? Yet Jesus is also so precocious apparently having understanding surpassing what was typical for one his age. There’s almost an inherent contradiction in the text. Jesus is simultaneously portrayed as flawed yet unusually gifted.
While I think we should always be somewhat careful with accounts of Jesus’ childhood, the idea of a rabbinical prodigy has a long history. There’s even a Hebrew word for it – illui. In the Talmud and Midrash possibly reflecting traditions at Jesus’ time there’s the idea of an angel’s slap. The tradition is also interesting for Mormons and our conception of forgetting at birth. This is from Urbach’s The Sages 
…a child, while still in its mother’s womb, is taught the entire Torah to the glow of a supernatural lamp that allows it to see to the ends of the earth. It is only at the moment of birth that an angel appears and imposes upon it an oath to live a righteous life, and then slaps the youngster on the mouth or the nose, causing it to forget all that it has learned.
The angel’s smack in the Talmudic legend produces total amnesia for all, but in the Greek theory of “anamnesis” the souls quaff varying quantities of the oblivion-inducing potion. The clever souls drink no more than they have to, which makes for an easier job of learning and recalling during their coming lives. Only the foolish and short-sighted souls make the mistake of rashly and greedily gulping down excessive doses, dooming them to lives of ignorance and dull-wittedness.
Furthermore, the Jewish world had its share of child prodigies and geniuses who mastered the Talmud at a tender age (such a person is known in Hebrew as an “Illui”). This phenomenon could be ascribed to the soul’s evading the angel’s slap, whether by accident or design.
1. The Sages, while a fairly old book is a book well worth picking up for interesting selections from the Talmud. It first came out way back in 1969 and so in some ways is quite dated. Yet there’s a good reason that it gets reprinted in a new edition every decade. A lot of the topics are of interest to members interested in ancient Judaism as well as how it relates to contemporary theology. One should remember that most of these texts post-date the New Testament often by quite some time. Yet the traditions often reflect the views at the time of Christ – particularly the two prominent pharisee teachers Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai whose thought can be found throughout the New Testament.