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Torah in the MouthWriting and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE - 400 CE$
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Martin S. Jaffee

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140672.001.0001

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Social Settings of Literacy and Scribal Orality

Social Settings of Literacy and Scribal Orality

(p.15) 1 Social Settings of Literacy and Scribal Orality
Torah in the Mouth

Martin S. Jaffee (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Explores the role of orality and oral‐performative tradition in the written literary activities of various scribal communities in Second Temple Judaism. It points out that true literacy was rare among Jews in this period, and was confined to various professional scribal groups associated with the Temple and its governing agencies. Even among scribal groups who created literary works, writing and literary transmission was highly oral in character. Nevertheless, these groups did not radically distinguish oral tradition from the written tradition of books claimed to stem from prophetic revelations. Rather, books were seen to stem from a kind of oral dictation from God to the prophet, as in the Testament of Levi and 4 Ezra, who functioned as a kind of scribe in transmitting the words of a divine or angelic author.

Keywords:   4 Ezra, literacy, oral tradition, orality, prophetic revelations, scribal groups, Second Temple Judaism, Testament of Levi

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