Literacies in the Roman World


Larry Hurtado's Blog

A few decades ago, it became fashionable in some scholarly circles, including NT/Christian Origins, to hold the view that in the Roman period there was an extremely low level of literacy, and that only elite levels of society had that skill.  One still sees this view touted today (typically by those echoing what they believe to be authoritative pronouncements on the matter by others).  But a number of studies show that such generalizations are simplistic, and that “literacy” was both more diverse and much more widely distributed than some earlier estimates.  The earlier claims of an extremely low level of literacy resurfaced in some comments, so I take the time to draw attention to some previous postings on the subject.

In a previous posting (here) I complained about the frequent failure to take account of relevant material evidence for reading and writing in the Roman world.  In other…

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