Thursday, May 03, 2012

Jesus was literate

Chris Keith has a book, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of  Jesus (New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents 38; Leiden: E.J. Brill,  2009), in which he argues cogently (according to Michael J. Kruger) that the pericope of the woman taken in adultery is designed to show that Jesus was indeed literate and that --since it is an independent pericope--it was perhaps inserted into the text in the third century CE to answer accusations and pagan challenges that Jesus and Jesus' followers were illiterate. Previous scholarship on "the woman taken in adultery" focuses on what Jesus wrote, not that he wrote, and this is a helpful refocus. There is of course much more to say about the book, a revised dissertation. 


rick allen said...

How does saying that something was inserted in a text 200 years later to bolster a fact support that fact?

Tim Bulkeley said...

Hmm, not having read the book, and at Brill's prices I doubt I ever will, I can't help but feel the argument (at least as you sketch it) lacks cogency:
The pericope was convenient for 3rdC Christians to counter arguments that Jesus was illiterate.
Therefore Jesus was literate.

I'd have thought the opposite was true, unless there is evidence for the information in the pericope before the 3rdC this is evidence he might not have been literate!