The Confucian “scene of instruction” is the most influential model of discipleship for the Warring States through the Han period. It portrays the collective identity of master and disciples (dizi) as derived from the production, recitation, and transmission of texts. However, examination of how pre-Qin texts depict discipleship as a social phenomenon suggests that learning to read and write was not a universal aspiration of dizi. Moreover, attention to emplotment, motifs, wording, and tone in historical narratives about the master-disciple relationship shows increasing similarities over time to the patron-retainer relationship, including the potential for aggression and expectations of material returns. Discipleship, however, apparently created a permanent mutual obligation not shared by retainership. Further research is needed to understand the broad range of social roles expected of dizi in early Chinese texts.
在許多學者的心目中，孔子與其弟子的集體認同源自他們對文本的創作、 複述和傳遞，然而學會閱讀和寫作並非一般弟子的普遍志向。有關孔子和弟子間 的關係的歷史記載所採用的編撰風格體現出這一關係越發相似於養士者與食客間 的關係。