Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus by Alan Millard
(Biblical Seminar)

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Jesus never wrote a book. The main sources about him, the Four Gospels, were written some forty years after his death, and contentious debates reign concerning their sometimes contradictory portrayals, which accounts are credible, and how far their authors may have altered or invented episodes to support a view or doctrine of the early Church.

Most scholars assume that information about Jesus was preserved only orally up until the writing of the Gospels, allowing ample time for the stories of Jesus to grow and diversify. Alan Millard here argues that written reports about Jesus could have been made during his lifetime and that some among his audiences and followers may very well have kept notes, first-hand documents that the Evangelists could weave into their narratives.

Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus first provides a brief, fascinating introduction to the history of writing's early survival, how we have the documents we have, and what they can tell us about the times and places of their origins. This overview is followed by a more specific look at what biblical and religious writings survive, how they are dated, and who was able to read and write at the time of their creation. Finally, Millard examines the possibility that Jesus' words and actions were committed to writing during his lifetime and what this would mean for the study of Christianity and the origins of the Gospels.


About Alan Millard

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Alan Millard is Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of many articles and books as well as coeditor of the Dictionary of the Ancient Near East (British Museum Press) and a consulting editor for the New Bible Dictionary (IVP).
Published August 1, 2000 by NYU Press. 212 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction