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Re: [GTh] Christian Origins

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  • Jeffrey Glen Jackson
    ... I ve often wondered if the ancient literacy rate might not have been much higher than commonly supposed. We English speakers tend to think reading and
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 2, 2002
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      > Peter is reputed to have converted 3000 in one day. As this is the
      > only numerical figure we have on that early Christian population,
      > based on a literacy rate of one half a percent .5, that leaves 15 people
      > literate. Am I off the mark here?

      I've often wondered if the ancient literacy rate might not have
      been much higher than commonly supposed. We English speakers
      tend to think reading and writing is very hard because we try to
      cram some 40 sounds, give or take, into 26 letters, then try to
      spell each of those sounds a half dozen ways each, resulting in
      a written language that virtually hieroglyphic in complexity.

      Given a language with a smaller number of sounds, and only one
      symbol per sound, how hard is it really to get to the point where
      you can sound out a sentence, or write something another person
      could read and understand? I dare say most any intelligent person
      could probably reach that point in a day or two of serious effort.
      Now granted that person is not going to be reading or writing a
      large number of words per minute, but ...

      What if the preference for short sayings in the synoptic Gospels is
      not entirely because Jesus always taught that way, as opposed to using
      extended discourses, as the Jesus Seminar folk suppose, but because
      the earliest church had large numbers of such marginally literate
      persons, and so a short saying distilling Jesus' teaching was something
      they could profitably read and understand?



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