Jump to content

christian forums

Worthy Christian Forums - Christian Forums

Welcome to Worthy Christian Forums
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!
Photo

Anybody know if the Ancient Jewish literacy claim is true?

* * * * * 1 votes

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
4 replies to this topic

#1
OakWood

OakWood

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,637 posts

I can't remember where or when but I heard some time ago that out of all the Ancient civilisations, the Jews were the only ones that tried to aim for 100% literacy amongst the people.This was unusual at the time because in most places on Earth only the wealthy and those of a certain class or profession would be able to read or write.

Israel was different and every person, great or small, rich or poor was taught to read. That would explain why the disciples were literate and even a humble fisherman like Peter could write an epistle.

Does anybody know if this claim is true?



#2
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,706 posts

Don't know if that is true or not. A lot of things were handed down very accurately through oral tradition.  Until just 160 years ago, reading and writing were actually a profession.  One guy is a baker, another guy is a carpenter or a stone mason and someone else reads and writes.

 

In ancient times, writing was expensive, especially writing on parchment.   It's not like it is today.  If we make an error, we wad up the paper and start over.   But if that single sheet of paper cost you $50, you are going to be extra careful and you are going to plan out just exactly what you need to say because you have limited space.   Parchment was expensive to make and so you had to get it right the first time. Hence, you hired someone to write it for you as you dictate the words.

 

Writing was prohibitive expensive and precluded each person having their own personal copy of the Scriptures, which we take for granted today.   So oral tradition made sense.  That is how they taught the Scriptures to their children.

 

When you consider how long Paul's letter to the Romans is, it had to be a very expensive scroll.   Since Paul's and the other apostles letters had to travel to and fro across the expanse of the Roman Empire, they had to be written on something durable like parchment, not papyrus.  

 

Paul would have been one of those who were blessed with literacy, but he still likely employed others  to write for him due to his possible issues with eye sickness. 



#3
Qnts2

Qnts2

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,377 posts

I can't remember where or when but I heard some time ago that out of all the Ancient civilisations, the Jews were the only ones that tried to aim for 100% literacy amongst the people.This was unusual at the time because in most places on Earth only the wealthy and those of a certain class or profession would be able to read or write.

Israel was different and every person, great or small, rich or poor was taught to read. That would explain why the disciples were literate and even a humble fisherman like Peter could write an epistle.

Does anybody know if this claim is true?

 

I don't know about before the exhile to Babylon, but after, when the Pharasaical system was established, the Pharaisees educated the people to be able to read Hebrew. And of course, offered education on the books of Moses (Torah). The basic education was available to anyone who would listen to the Pharaisees, and spend the time. An education was viewed as something of high value and part of religious practice.  Since that time, a large portion of Jewish people were able to read, although I would not say 100%, it was more common then not. After Roman rule, Jewish people in the diaspora often were hired into jobs because they could read.     

 

Prior to Babylon, I only know of references in scripture. Moses could read and write, as could David. Shadrach Mishach and Abednigo could read. Joseph could read. Mordecai from the book of Esther could read.  I do not know of any person in scripture who could not read. We know the Kings, the Priesthood, and the judges selected from the various tribes could read.

 

An interesting parallel, in the 1800's in the U.S. it was the Protestant churches which also offered education and ran schools. Most of the early school books were based on scripture.    



#4
Trinitron

Trinitron

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 128 posts

I know that it was thought that first century Jewish people were thought to be illiterate as a whole until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was then when it was realized that Rome destroyed all of their literature.  Luckily Royal Romans in the first century became Christians or the New Testaments Texts would have never been able to be passed along the Roman roads.  This is the reason that more New Testament texts survive today from back when they were written than any other literary work in civilization.  Their is also evidence now that first century Roman soldiers were Christian and the Christians would travel along the soldiers for protection when migrating.  Eusebius church historian(AD 265-340) actually only records 9 bishops and 2,000 martyrs over 300 years.  That's fewer than 7 per year on average.  Rome had over 100 provinces.  There were less Christian martyrs than strikes of lightening thank God.


Edited by Trinitron, 09 June 2014 - 06:48 AM.


#5
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,706 posts

I know that it was thought that first century Jewish people were thought to be illiterate as a whole until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was then when it was realized that Rome destroyed all of their literature.  Luckily Royal Romans in the first century became Christians or the New Testaments Texts would have never been able to be passed along the Roman roads.  This is the reason that more New Testament texts survive today from back when they were written than any other literary work in civilization.  Their is also evidence now that first century Roman soldiers were Christian and the Christians would travel along the soldiers for protection when migrating.  Eusebius church historian(AD 265-340) actually only records 9 bishops and 2,000 martyrs over 300 years.  That's fewer than 7 per year on average.  Rome had over 100 provinces.  There were less Christian martyrs than strikes of lightening thank God.

The NT texts were passing along Roman roads long before royal Romans (as you put it) became Christians. 






Worthy Christian Forums - Christian Message Boards - 1999-2014 part of the Worthy Network