[b-hebrew] Literature and literacy contemporary to the Torah.
peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Jul 8 05:40:04 EDT 2004
On 08/07/2004 01:13, Christopher V. Kimball wrote:
> Taking the Torah as a 5-6 th century BCE document, what other
> documents OF COMPARABLE LENGTH, in any language, of this period are
I think immediately of Herodotus' Histories, from the 5th century and of
comparable length. And then there are Hindu, Buddhist and Zoroastrian
scriptures, maybe also Chinese writings, which may date back that far,
but I'm not sure about length.
But then I don't accept your presupposition - perhaps for the more or
less final form of the Torah, but not for much of the contents.
> Again focusing on the 5-6 th century BCE, how many people (of a
> population of how many) could read the Torah, if they had a copy?
We can only guess, as we know almost nothing about the Israelite
community of that time except for what is written in the Bible. Anything
based on other communities of the time is highly speculative because we
know that at least a few centuries later the Jewish community was much
more literate than many surrounding peoples, and that distinction might
date back to your period. The stronger limitation would probably have
been whether people had copies; there would probably have been few
copies in existence, and quite possibly only the priestly community had
direct access to them.
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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