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RE: [XTalk] literacy in Jesus' time

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  • Geoff Hudson
    ... From: Jim West [mailto:jwest@highland.net] Sent: 12 July 2003 13:27 To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Cc: biblical-studies@yahoogroups.com;
    Message 1 of 40 , Jul 12, 2003
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jim West [mailto:jwest@...]
      Sent: 12 July 2003 13:27
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: biblical-studies@yahoogroups.com; ioudaios-l@...
      Subject: [XTalk] literacy in Jesus' time

      listers may want to look at this:


      By Alan Millard, "Literacy in the Time of Jesus".

      This is a quote from the article:

      "Jesus himself almost certainly knew how to read and write. He read from the
      scroll of Isaiah in the Nazareth synagogue, according to Luke (4:16-17). He
      also quoted widely from the Jewish holy books. Yet he would rarely have
      needed to write. In fact, the only instance in the Gospels of Jesus writing
      occurs in the case of the woman caught in adultery;### when she is brought
      before him, he writes some mysterious words on the ground with his finger
      (John 8:1-11)."

      At least one person in this group has argued the opposite to the view
      expressed in the article. Even without the modern information, there is one
      good argument for thinking that Jesus could read and write. I cannot
      believe that a poor illiterate peasant could just roll up at the temple one
      day and start teaching. I wonder what the response would be today to an
      illiterate peasant who asked an archbishop if he could teach in his
      cathedral! Jesus must have had some basic hereditary right to be in the
      temple teaching, and he must surely have had the necessary literacy to do
      it, otherwise the authorities would not have allowed it, which they
      obviously did.

      Jesus protested after his arrest: "Every day I was WITH you teaching in the
      temple courts, and you did not arrest me" (Mk.14:49). He was addressing the
      "crowd" who had come to arrest him, but they were no doubt sent by the
      Sanhedrin and included a servant of the high priest.
      In John, those who arrest Jesus are some soldiers and some officials from
      the chief priests and Pharisees. So, Jesus' teaching was not done in some
      quiet precinct with a close little band of followers. It was done with at
      least some representatives of the Sanhedrin present, probably every day he
      was teaching. No doubt, the high priests, the Sadducees, and the teachers
      of the law all came along at some time or another to check up on the content
      of Jesus' teaching. If Jesus was not a priest, how did he come to have the
      right to teach in the temple?
      Secondly, how might he have acquired the literary qualifications to do such

    • RSBrenchley@aol.com
      ... You could be right, of course, but I ve seen nothing that would inspire a movement to persist in an unfriendly world the way the EC did. I think spiritual
      Message 40 of 40 , Jul 24, 2003
        > Why not? We know that Paul was an example of controlling leadership
        > who was out to lower the level of prophetic activity and exercise
        > control over what was admissible, while nevertheless valuing it
        > highly when properly controlled. Surely he would tell you not to
        > prophesy (Unclean Spirit!) if he didn't like what you said. And that
        > is the whole purpose of the letter 1 John. And then as time goes on,
        > up to Irenaeus e.g., a matter discussed in Pagels' new book, the
        > practice began to die out and was encouraged to die out by the
        > leadership. So what is it that makes you think that this isn't what
        > the NT authors were talking about?
        > Steve Daivies

        You could be right, of course, but I've seen nothing that would inspire a
        movement to persist in an unfriendly world the way the EC did. I think
        'spiritual gifts', particularly glossolalia, have a sociological function in
        Pentecostalism; the Spirit seems to be more 'popular' in churches made up of
        low-status people (I'm drawing from memory here; I lost my source of material on this
        last year). I also think Pentecostalism draws its strength, not from this, but
        from building community, like its Methodist predecessors. Quite possibly the
        EC did as well.

        My doubts are largely rooted in the way Pentecostalism draws a dogmatic
        picture of 'spiritual gifts' on the basis of not very much in the NT. This may,
        of course, indicate that gifts were not functionally important in the EC!
        There were controversies in early Pentecostalism about how the gifts were to be
        interpreted; were tongues real languages or not, for instance? The answers that
        emerged may not, as far as I can see, be very close to whatever Paul was
        talking about. I should perhaps add that I was being deliberately provocative in


        Robert Brenchley
        Birmingham, UK
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