Is there any biblical evidence that suggests Jesus read or wrote anything, and was he literate?
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Jesus read Isaiah 61 in a synagogue:
Jesus wrote on the ground:
In addition to the direct implications of these, we have less direct but still strong evidence in events such as his delivery of the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7). Also, if you are a Christian, you believe he co-authored the entire Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Times change, and the exact measure that defines "literacy" changes with them. The concept of an "essay" would have been unknown in Jesus' day, but it is quite clear from the record of we have of his interaction with other learned men that he was treated as if he was educated. As we learn from the verses quoted in parap's answer he was clearly able to read the Tanakh scrolls. These two factors are enough for us to label him as being literate. Living and ministering in a primarily oral culture, it is not surprising that Jesus chose not to sit and write books but rather preached with parables to the public and by reasoning from the Scriptures with those educated in them.
The verse here says that Jesus astonish them learned men of his day with his wisdom and he taught them. This is not the work of an unlearned man. Teaching from, reasoning from and accurately quoting the OT Scriptures (dozens of times) are clear signs of solid education and literacy skills.
John 8:6 would appear to show that Jesus could write:
However, this passage, known as the Pericope Adulterae is regarded as inauthentic by the great majority of biblical scholars, being absent from most early manuscripts, as well as being found in different locations when it does occur. It provides no reliable biblical evidence that Jesus could write, and the presence of this verse could merely indicate a desire among later scholars to prove that Jesus could indeed read and write.
In The Birth of Christianity, pages 234-5, John Dominic Crossan cites evidence from rabbinic sources that support a conclusion that the literacy rate in the Jewish homeland was less than 3 per cent. He says this literacy rate, though low by modern standards, was not low at all taking into account the needs of a traditional society in the past.
Crossan points out Jesus was a peasant from a peasant village. Therefore, for Crossan, Jesus was illiterate until the opposite is proven. It is not proven but simply presumed by Luke, when he has Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth in 4:16-20 (Remembering that Luke, if he was the author of the gospel that now bears his name, appears never to have met Jesus). Jesus did not write, and in the opinion of Crossan, could not write.
protected by Community♦ Dec 28 '13 at 10:23
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