Literacy, Utopia and Memory: Is There a Public Teaching in Deuteronomy?

  • Kåre Berge


Let me start with the obvious: The society to which the Pentateuchal texts refer consisted of a small group of “intellectual” elites that mastered the art of writing and reading, and a vast major- ity of illiterate people. Some scholars estimate literacy to cover no more than five percent of the population. This may have changed in Hellenistic times, but it applies to the whole period of the evolu- tion of Deuteronomy, which stretches from late pre-exilic times through the exilic and possibly into the early Persian time.