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Bart Ehrman on Christian Literacy in the First Century

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.. Kindle Edition.

91.7 % of the Qur’an in First Century AH vs 0 % of the Bible in First Century AD

Keeping aside the oral tradition of the Qur’an of which the Bible does not have in Greek , let alone in Aramaic ( the language which Jesus spoke); how does the textual integrity of the surviving manuscripts of each respective book compare?

Just considering the first hundred years of each respective calendar (the Islamic Calendar vs the Christian Calendar), we find that within the early first century the Muslims can boast a 91.7 % completion rate . As for the Christians they do not have a Biblical fragment until the second century, and even then it is the size of a credit card. Moreover just based on manuscripts, it would take more than 300 years to get a complete Bible.

References

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/hijazi.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Testament_papyri

Jesus spoke Aramaic but the Bible is in Greek!

As Muslims we have the Qur’an verbatim from the Prophet(saw), he recited in Arabic and we recite in Arabic. word for word, letter for letter, dot for dot.

But can the same be said about Christianity? Basically we have a text which was originally supposed to be in Aramaic ( a sister language to Arabic) being written in Koine Greek (dead language which only a few know) translated into Latin and then FINALLY translated again into English, where it finds its common usage today.

Is it possible something could have been lost in translation?

Passion of the Christ: Jesus calls God, Allah!

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