For some odd reason, I can’t seem to comment anymore on his blog. Hmmm….
So I have decided to comment here 🙂
This comment is in response to this:
Thanks for your reply,
For the record, here is the quote about literacy during the time of Jesus I am referring to:
“Several significant studies of literacy have appeared in recent years showing just how low literacy rates were in antiquity. The most frequently cited study is by Columbia professor William Harris in a book titled Ancient Literacy. By thoroughly examining all the surviving evidence, Harris draws the compelling though surprising conclusion that in the very best of times in the ancient world, only about 10 percent of the population could read at all and possibly copy out writing on a page. Far fewer than this, of course, could compose a sentence, let alone a story, let alone an entire book. And who were the people in this 10 percent? They were the upper-class elite who had the time, money, and leisure to afford an education. This is not an apt description of Jesus’s disciples. They were not upper-crust aristocrats.
In Roman Palestine the situation was even bleaker. The most thorough examination of literacy in Palestine is by a professor of Jewish studies at the University of London, Catherine Hezser, who shows that in the days of Jesus probably only 3 percent of Jews in Palestine were literate. Once again, these would be the people who could read and maybe write their names and copy words. Far fewer could compose sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books. And once again, these would have been the urban elites.
Source: Ehrman, Bart D. (2012-03-20). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 702-712). Harper Collins, Inc
Now you mentioned , “In any case, all you needed was one literate person for the whole assembly/synagogue to hear and learn from the texts read.” If you would make a guess, for every literate person how many layman would there be? There is a discrepancy between what your saying and the above quote. You make it seem like every congregation had one member that knew how to read and write the scripture fully. While the above quote gives the impression that only a few had that ability. I wonder if someone has done a comprehensive study on this….
“The NT, for example was quickly translated into Latin, Syriac, Coptic and other languages, and these translations treated fully as “scripture”.”
– Was literacy better in those communities? Regardless of what languages it has been translated into, if the common person didn’t have access to it, it shows that the your tradition was restricted to a few.
I was reading this article and they mentioned the following:
-Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.): “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”
-Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 C.E.: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned…”
-Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 C.E.: Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “…helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”
-Fate of William Tyndale in 1536 C.E.: William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.
————So your telling me Christians were literate enough and had the permission to read their Bible , but that changed during the Middle Ages?
” And as for recitation of the Qur’an by millions of Muslims, many of them have no idea what the text means, can’t read classical Arabic, and this doesn’t matter because traditional Muslim piety says it’s enough just to recite the words”
—The fact remains the Qur’an is in a living language and the Bible is in a dead language. Only a few handful of people speak Koine Greek. In contrast, you have hundred of millions upon millions who speak Arabic, while the rest of the billion can recite it.
The main reason for our tradition being preserved in Arabic is to allow a perfect uniformity in ritualistic practices.
If you go to an African American Baptist Church in the US, you will see a different type of Sunday service as opposed to perhaps an Anglican Church in England or maybe a Roman Catholic Church in Italy.
Conversely, if you go to a mosque in the Arab world, or Africa, or South Asia or Indo-China, you will pray the exact same way, in the exact same method, with the exact same language.