Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-xii

Contents

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Foreword

Larry W. Hurtado

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pp. xvii-xx

This book is an important contribution to our understanding of how texts were handled in early Christian circles and in their larger Roman-era cultural environment. For a few decades now, both in biblical studies and in classical studies, scholars have explored and debated a variety of questions about the distribution and usage of texts, the level and degrees of Roman-era literacy, the relationship between “orality” and texts, and the factors affecting the transmission and stability of texts. In the process, some earlier exaggerations and...

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Preface

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pp. xxi-xxiv

My interest in this topic, in one sense, started in the fall of 2004, when I was taking a Greek course under Daniel B. Wallace at Dallas Theological Seminary. During that course, we not only had to recognize and memorize Koine Greek, but also had to compose it—meaning we were required to go both ways, from Greek to English and from English to Greek. That, in turn, gave me a greater appreciation for, and interest in, the Greek language. From there, my interest developed and transitioned into the transmission of the Greek New...

Abbreviations

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pp. xxv-xxvi

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Introducing a New Control Category

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pp. 1-10

During the first few centuries CE, literary traditions were often broadcast via communal reading and recitation events. These events, in part, help explain why many ancient authors note the importance and influence of them. Among Christian communities, the author of 1 Timothy instructs the recipient of his letter to prioritize the communal reading of Scripture: “Devote yourself to the communal reading of Scripture” (1 Tim 4:13). The author of the book of Revelation addresses both the reader and the ones who hear the reading: “Blessed...

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Finding Communal Reading Events in the Time of Jesus

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pp. 11-22

No doubt exists that communal reading events were part of the firstcentury Greco-Roman socio-historical milieu. Identifying and locating such events, however, is complicated. There are many kinds of evidence. The dating of such evidence is debatable. Provenances are often difficult, if not impossible, to establish. The terminology varied significantly among communities and individuals.

Before launching further into this study, then, these details need to be addressed. Similarly, it should be said from the outset that the more...

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Economic and Political Factors

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pp. 23-38

For an economy to flourish, there ought to be growth in various areas. In modern terms, these areas would include such topics as jobs, government spending, infrastructure, aggregate demand, and progressive inventions.1 Looking at the first few centuries CE,2 then, there ought to be development in several of these types of categories if the core economy were stable to prospering.3 In relation to our present topic, if the core economy across multiple regions had been at least stable, then it makes sense that communal reading events...

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Social Context

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pp. 39-60

French historian Jérôme Carcopino wrote one of the classic texts on ancient Roman life,1 with an entire section devoted to communal reading and recitation events. His work, however, is often missing from such discussions in modern works.2 This is unfortunate, since he still has much to offer. He writes about communal reading events as follows:

This practice [of Asinius Pollio reading his works before his friends] was too well suited to the conditions of writers and the desires of...

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Communal Reading Events in the First Century: Selected Authors and Texts

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pp. 61-116

Now that we have established some parameters while surveying and defining communal reading events, let us examine a selective and specifically targeted set of literary evidence in order to identify where there is enough evidence to find a plausible context for communal reading events in the Greco-Roman world apart from the New Testament writings. It is acknowledged that this selectivity necessarily excludes valuable information from other evidence. Nevertheless, due to the scope of our study, such selectivity is necessary. Not included...

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Communal Reading Events in the First Century: The New Testament Corpus

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pp. 117-206

Christ-believing communities were much like other scholastic communities in that they focused on the reading and interpretation of texts.1 In over three hundred passages, the New Testament includes 317 direct quotes of the Old Testament.2 If allusions and verbal parallels are included, there are another 2,310 Old Testament references.3 When comparing the formulas introducing Scriptural quotations in the New Testament corpus with other literature, such as the Mishnah, Bruce Metzger notes that “in the NT the frequency of this type...

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Concluding Remarks

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pp. 207-210

The lack of attention given to communal reading events in the first century has resulted in an impoverished understanding of the GrecoRoman socio-historical context within which Christianity emerged. Beyond merely assuming a second-century practice emulated an earlier tradition, I have argued that communal reading events were already a prevailing practice over a wide geographic range in the first century CE. In other words, communal reading events were...

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Appendix: Some Additional Evidence

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pp. 211-232

All of the following texts illustrate communal reading events to some extent. My aim is merely to offer an additional set of selected texts that were not specifically examined in this study. In other words, beyond the 20 first-century authors in chapter 5 and the 27 first-century literary works in chapter 6, there are at least another 142 texts from 60 additional authors to factor into this discussion. Granted, I have somewhat broadened the time frame to include some examples from the centuries before and after the first century CE (i.e., ca. 100...

Bibliography

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pp. 233-270

Subject Index

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pp. 271-276

Author Index

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pp. 277-284

Scripture Index

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pp. 285-293

Back Cover

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