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Jesus’ Literacy

QUESTION: I don't know if you have covered this or not, but how about the issue of whether Jesus was literate or not? I came across a recent book on titled "Jesus' Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee" by Chris Keith, and the topic sounds interesting.   RESPONSE: Yes indeed, it’s a very interesting – and much debated – issue. I have not yet read Chris Keith’s book, but it’s on my (very long) list. I do know what he argues (since I just asked him in an email): he thinks that Jesus was not trained in reading and writing, the way scribes in Palestine were; but it may be that lower class people who heard Jesus engage in serious discussion over the meaning of the Torah may well have *mistaken* him for someone who was. Scribes themselves would have looked on him as not up to their standards. I’ll have to read the book before passing judgment. But basically, it sounds like he and I are on the same page. Here [...]

Peter as Literate?

IN RESPONSE TO MY POSTS ON SECRETARIES AND THE BOOK OF 1 PETER, SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE RAISED THE QUESTION OF WHETHER PETER WAS HIMSELF LITERATE (ABLE TO READ, OR MORE SIGNIFICANTLY, TO WRITE). THIS IS THE FIRST PART OF WHAT I SAY IN MY BOOK FORGERY AND COUNTERFORGERY; THE SECOND PART WILL BE IN THE NEXT POST. ************************************************************************************************************************ In his now-classic study of ancient literacy, William Harris gave compelling reasons for thinking that at the best of times in antiquity only 10% or so of the population was able to read [Ancient Literacy; Harvard University Press, 1989]. By far the highest portion of readers was located in urban settings. Widespread literacy like that enjoyed throughout modern societies requires certain cultural and historical forces to enact policies of near universal, or at least extensive, education of the masses. Prior to the industrial revolution, such a thing was neither imagined nor desired. As Meir Bar Ilan notes: “literacy does not emerge in a vacuum but rather from social and historical circumstances.” Moreover, far fewer people in antiquity [...]

2021-01-20T01:06:19-05:00August 6th, 2012|Book Discussions, Catholic Epistles|
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