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Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee
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Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee


T&T Clark 2011

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Chris Keith critically engages the question “could Jesus read or write?” Building on the significant scholarly progression of the last 10 to 15 years, Keith argues that Jesus was able to simultaneously convince his contemporaries both that he was literate and that he was illiterate.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Save more when you purchase this book as part of the T&T Clark Jesus Studies Collection.

Key Features

  • Provides fresh perspectives on the historical Jesus
  • Presents multiple angles to explore the knowledge and humanity of Jesus
  • Engages the question “could Jesus read or write?”


  • Jesus, Reading, and Writing
  • Jesuses Literate and Illiterate
  • Jesus Tradition, Memory, and What Really Happened
  • Scribal Culture in the Time of Jesus
  • Jesus’ Scribal-Literate Status in Early Christianity
  • Jesus and Scribal Literacy
  • The Controversy of Jesus the Teacher

Praise for the Print Edition

Keith makes two important contributions to the ongoing exploration of Jesus’ life—he demonstrates the strengths of an emerging methodology in Gospel studies, what he identifies as the ‘Jesus-memory approach,’ as well as nuances the category of literacy to better reflect the historical situation in first century Galilee and Judea. His even-handed critique of the criteria of authenticity and his careful examination of the various levels of reading and writing abilities evidenced in the ancient sources further support his case. Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee opens compelling vistas in the study of Jesus and the Gospels; his compelling arguments deserve careful attention.

Lynn H. Cohick, associate professor of New Testament Biblical and theological studies at Wheaton College in Illinois

Indeed, all subsequent discussions will inevitably take their bearings from Jesus’ Literacy. The work is comprehensive, well-informed, and well-argued, and time and time again it reveals that almost everybody who has addressed the pertinent issues has come to premature conclusions.

Dale C. Allison Junior, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Chris Keith offers scholars the learned study of the literacy of Jesus that has been much needed. For too long scholars have made assumptions about the literacy or illiteracy of Jesus and his followers. Offering a critical analysis of all the relevant data, Keith’s impressive book sheds a great deal of light on this important topic. I recommend it enthusiastically.

Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Canada

Product Details

About Chris Keith

Chris Keith is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity, and director of the Center for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary’s University College in the United Kingdom. He is the author of The Pericope Adulterae, The Gospel of John, and a co-editor of Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity, Jesus Among Friends and Enemies: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels. Keith was the winner of the 2010 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, and in 2012 he was named a Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar.