Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine 978-3-16-147526-9 - Mohr Siebeck
Jewish Studies

Catherine Hezser

Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine

[Der jüdische Gebrauch der Schrift in der römischen Antike. Von Catherine Hezser.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-147526-9
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Published in English.
Catherine Hezser presents a comprehensive study of Jewish literacy in antiquity. She elucidates similarities and differences between the ancient Jewish and Graeco-Roman use of writing and follows recent social-anthropological approaches to literacy, focusing on the social contexts and purposes of writing.
Since Judaism has always been seen as the quintessential 'religion of the book', a high literacy rate amongst ancient Jews has usually been taken for granted. Catherine Hezser presents the first critical analysis of the various aspects of ancient Jewish literacy on the basis of all of the literary, epigraphic, and papyrological material published so far. Thereby she takes into consideration the analogies in Graeco-Roman culture and models and theories developed in the social sciences. Rather than trying to determine the exact literacy rate amongst ancient Jews, she examines the various types, social contexts, and functions of writing and the relationship between writing and oral forms of discourse. Following recent social-anthropological approaches to literacy, the guiding question is: who used what type of writing for which purpose?
First Catherine Hezser examines the conditions which would enable or prevent the spread of literacy, such as education and schools, the availability and costs of writing materials, religious interest in writing and books, the existence of archives and libraries, and the question of multilingualism. Afterwards she looks at the different types of writing, such as letters, documents, miscellaneous notes, inscriptions and graffiti, and literary and magical texts until she finally draws conclusions about the ways in which the various sectors of the populace were able to participate in a literate society.

Catherine Hezser 1986 Promotion in Ev. Theologie in Heidelberg mit Schwerpunkt Neues Testament; 1992 Promotion in Jewish Studies am Jewish Theological Seminary in New York; 1997 Habilitation an der FU Berlin; seit 2005 Professorin für Jewish Studies an der School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) der University of London.


The following reviews are known:

In: Verkündigung u. Forschung — 64 (2019), S. 4–18 (Alexandra Grund-Wittenberg)
In: Theologische Rundschau — 74 (2009), S. 303–304 (Bernd Schröder)
In: Arbeitskreis f.Evangelikale Theologie — Jg.16 (2002), S. 276ff (Dr.Roland Deines)
In: Hebrew Studies Journal — Vol.44 (2003), S.217ff
In: Studia Biblica Athanasiana — Vol.8 (2005), S.119ff (Molnárné L. Andrea)
In: Journal for the Study of the OT — Jg.99 (2002), S. 213 (G.J. Brooke)
In: International Review of Biblical Studies — Vol.47 (2000/2001)
In: Journal of Biblical Literature — Vol.121 (2002), H. 3, S. 559ff (H.Gregory Snyder)
In: Journal of Jewish Studies — Vol.54 (2003), H.2, S.154f (Tessa Rajak)
In: New Testament Abstracts — Vol.45 No.3, S. 620
In: Revue Biblique — 2003, H.1, S. 141f (J.Murphy-O'Connor)
In: Salesianum — Jg.63 (2001) Nr.2, S. 425 (Nur Bibliogrpahie)
In: Shofar — Jg.19 (2001) Nr.4, S. 168 (Book Notes)
In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — Jg.127 (2002), H.11, Sp. 1174ff (Friedrich Avemarie)
In: Theology Digest — Vol.49 (2002), H.1, S. 71f