ONE SLAVE ALTERS THE THINKING OF SECULAR HISTORIANS WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT THE READING CULTURE OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY?

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 100 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Omar ibn Said was a writer and Islamic scholar, born and educated in what is now Senegal in West Africa, who was enslaved and transported to the United States in 1807. There, while enslaved for the remainder of his life, he wrote a series of works of history and theology, including a posthumously famous autobiography.

Dr. Ala Alryyes, who has a PhD. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, now teaching at Queens College of Cuny says that this one slave, Said’s “literacy and culture completely go against, abolishes, one might say annihilates the narrative that slaves were not people of culture. In fact, they were persons with distinct histories, abilities, culture, and backgrounds.” Alryyes goes to say that Said has “erased countless narratives.”

Mary-Jane Deeb, the African and Middle-Eastern Division of the Library of Congress says that Said “was highly educated.” Deeb goes on to say that Said “challenges the original concept of who slaves were when they came here, that they didn’t really have a system of belief, they were uncultured, that they did not have a written system, this is what he [Said] brings to the table and basically says that is who we really are.”

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Sylvia Albro headed up the restoration team at the Library of Congress to restore Said 200-year-old manuscript as close to its original form as possible. Albro says of the material themselves help us better understand the life of Said, “It’s actually surprising for the quality of paper for his [Said’s] manuscript is really pretty good. The fact that he had at his disposal good quality materials is an indication of the respect that he had as a figure even as a slave.”

We can objectively notice here how these secular scholars are overly generous in the extreme to the early history of slaves in America, as to culture and literacy, with the evidence of one man. Dr. Ala Alryyes said of Said’s, “literacy and culture completely go against, abolishes, one might say annihilates the narrative …” Predominately, secular historians are of a totally different mindset with early Christianity and the Roman Empire when there is a mountainous amount of evidence that says otherwise.

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

Clearly, the tremendous amount of document discoveries and other archaeological evidence throughout the Roman Empire begs for widespread literacy not low levels. We are not trying to overturn the apple cart here. The common consensus of the historians is that in the Roman Empire of the first three centuries of Christianity were 5-10 percent literate and they were male. We are not trying to suggest that widespread means the 80-90 percent literacy but instead at least 40-50 percent, if not more. We think of the immense production of the twenty-seven New Testament books of the first century and the Apostolic Fathers in the late first and early second centuries, as well as the Apologists from near the middle of the second century through its end. Then, we consider the publication of these books, the copying of these books, as well as their circulation, and we conclude that the use of these books in the early Christian Church are apparent. They, along with all else that has been discussed in this chapter give us clear visible proof of some level literacy within Christianity, but it cannot offer us the exact extent. We would argue the percentage be broken down instead of trying to suggest a one size fits all.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Full Illiteracy (20%): This one has no reading or writing skills, no math skills, and is incapable of signing his name for daily living and employment beyond fundamental manual labor. He would work as fruit and vegetable picking, handling materials or low-level tools, manual digging or building, farming, or working in large workshops that produced items such as dishes or pots, as well as household slaves.

Fragmentary Literacy (40%): (inconsistent or incomplete in some areas) The very basic ability to understand spoken words, a very basic grasp of written words, very basic math skills (buying in the market place), and the ability to sign one’s name for daily living and employment. He would work as a manual laborer in the market place not requiring math, a shop assistant that performs manual labor, or a soldier.

Fundamental Literacy (20%): The basic ability to understand spoken words, an elementary grasp of written words, basic math skills and the ability to sign one’s name and the ability to read and write simple words for daily living and employment, such as work as a craftsman, works in the marketplace, or soldier.

Functional Literacy (15%): This one has the competent ability to understand spoken words, a beginner-intermediate level grasp of written words, and the ability to prepare basic documents for daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level. He is a semiliterate writer who is untrained in writing but has the ability to read or write simple sentences and can take on some basic jobs, such as a copyist or scribe.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Proficient Literacy (3%): This one is a highly skilled person, who can understand spoken words, and has an intermediate-advanced level grasp of written words. He has the proficient ability to prepare short texts for daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills at the intermediate level. He is a literate writer who is trained in writing and can take on jobs, such as a copyist or scribe, a tax collector or clerk.

Full Literacy (2%): This one is a highly skilled expert, who can understand spoken words, an advanced level grasp of written words. He has the professional ability to prepare long texts for daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills at the advanced level. He is a fully literate writer who is professionally trained in writing and can take on jobs, such as a copyist or scribe, a tax collector, teacher, lawyer, or a clerk to high-ranking positions like Senators.

The Reading Culture of Early ChristianityTHE READING CULTURE OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY provides the reader with the production process of the New Testament books, the publication process, how they were circulated, and to what extent they were used in the early Christian church. It examines the making of the New Testament books, the New Testament secretaries and the material they used, how the early Christians viewed the New Testament books, and the literacy level of the Christians in the first three centuries. It also explores how the gospels went from an oral message to a written record, the accusation that the apostles were uneducated, the inspiration and inerrancy in the writing process of the New Testament books, the trustworthiness of the early Christian copyists, and the claim that the early scribes were predominantly amateurs. Andrews also looks into the early Christian’s use of the codex [book form], how did the spread of early Christianity affect the text of the New Testament, and how was the text impacted by the Roman Empire’s persecution of the early Christians?

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