Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses authorship, books, and readers in Old Testament and New Testament times. In the Old Testament world, authorship is necessarily admitted in letters, and related to letters are prophetic communications. The usual physical form of the book in Babylonia was the clay tablet, normally of a size convenient to hold in the left hand while the right impressed the cuneiform signs with a reed stylus. The complexity of the cuneiform script meant that reading was a skill confined to those trained in scribal schools, some of whom may have progressed from the scribal profession to take other offices in temples and royal courts. The New Testament writings follow the traditional patterns. The letters declare their senders' identities, although not always by name, with the exception of Hebrews, and the single prophetic work makes its author clear. The roll of papyrus or leather remained the standard form of book throughout the Hellenistic period and well into Roman times. Jewish tradition required males to be able to read the Torah, and there were schools throughout Palestine from the first century BCE according to rabbinic sources, borne out by Josephus. The early Christian communities similarly included members able to read, as demonstrated by the despatch of letters to them by Paul and others.

Keywords: Old Testament, New Testament, Babylonia, clay tablet, cuneiform

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.