Quote:For most of the Christain period very few people had the ability to read, all known stories were passed verbally.
Do you have evidence about your claim? I tried to research it on Google, but failed. Maybe you can direct us to the right resource(s).
William Harris, the author of the first historical monograph on Greco-Roman literacy, published in 1989, has estimated (328) that even in Greece in the fourth century BCE no more than 10-15 percent of the population would have been literate. As for the Roman empire, he argues (330) that a high degree of literacy can only be assumed for the urban upper classes and that only a few artisans and traders and even fewer farmers and rural workers would have been literate. Harris suggests that in the provinces the level of women's literacy is likely to have been well under 5%. Catherine Hezser reasonably concludes from this (23) that an overall literacy rate of 10-15 percent would have applied in the Roman period as well. Although Harris's book stirred up a lively discussion (see the essays in Beard 1991), Hezser correctly notes (26) that "[h]ardly anyone has questioned his low estimation of the literacy rate in the ancient world." In her own substantial monograph, JEWISH LITERACY IN ROMAN PALESTINE, Hezser argues that in spite of the common view that literacy rates were higher among Israelites because of their use of written texts in prayer and worship, in fact their literacy rate must have been lower than elsewhere, especially because of the high percentage of the population living in rural areas in Palestine. The rate was possibly as low as 3% (496). Harry Y. Gamble has recently estimated (1995: 5, 10) that literacy levels among Christ-followers were probably similar to those in the population at large--about 10-15 percent. The general accuracy of these well argued estimates is assumed in what follows.
For most of the Christain period very few people had the ability to read, all known stories were passed verbally. (emphasis added)
John Wycliffe is credited with producing the first translation of the complete Bible into English, although he was probably assisted with the translation of the Old Testament. It was produced between 1380 and 1384 and was a very literal and word for word translation of the 4th Century Latin text that was used by the church throughout Europe at that time.
Wycliffe had propounded a theory of ''Dominion by Grace".
Accordingly, each person was individually responsible to God and his Law. Therefore, everyone should be able to read God's Law in his native English. John Wycliffe urged all men, "great and small, learned and unlearned", to make themselves acquainted with God's Law by reading the Bible. He was a keen Bible student, a scholarly commentator and an intense preacher. His principles were spread throughout England by a group of traveling preachers who also increased the use of this new translation. After Wycliffe's death, a second version of his Bible was completed by John Purvey late in the 14th Century. The English in this second version was much easier to read, which greatly increased its demand.
Even though written by hand, both versions of Wycliffe's Bible were copied many times and distributed throughout England. They remained in use for a great many years and are probably the Bibles referred to by Sir Thomas More in 1528. He had seen ''Bibles fair and old written in English in laymen's and women's hands". Wycliffe's followers, known as the Lollards, 'poor preachers', took his Bible far and wide throughout England. This was the beginning of the Reformation in England.
The Pope was so enraged at the success of these heretics that he ordered Wycliffe's body disinterred, burnt and the ashes tossed into the river. It has been said, ''his ashes flowed into the seas of the world, spreading the Gospel to all the world".
In spite of the zeal with which the hierarchy sought to destroy it, there still exist about 150 manuscripts, complete or partial, containing the translation in its revised form. From this one may easily infer how widely diffused it was in the fifteenth century. For this reason the Wycliffeites in England were often designated by their opponents as "Bible men." Just as Luther's version had great influence upon the German language, so Wycliffe's, by reason of its clarity, beauty, and strength, influenced English.
The main objection to the use of the vernacular lay in a belief that Christian dogma was more perfectly expressed in Latin. As one critic, the Domincan Thomas Palmer wrote (in Latin), "Not only is the English language lacking in letter, but also in expressions since there are no English words and expressions corresponding to the most well-known and common expressions in Latin." (qtd in Aston 303) Palmer further argued that the pearls of the holy mysteries ought not to be cast before the swine of the common folk: “Many things are to be hidden and not shown to the people, lest being known and familiar they should be cheapened.” Defenders of vernacular theology contended, however, that the gospel was too important to be "claspud vp, ne closid in no cloyster" and should thus be made universally available. (Watson, 839). (emphasis added)
It is no accident that copies of scripture were not available to the general population. Established religion did not want the common people to know how scripture actually reads.
Wycliffe's translation of the "new testament" into English was condemned by ecclesiastic authorities in England on a claim that it contained mistranslations and erroneous commentaries, and it was banned. Whenever a copy was found, it was to be turned into the church, which would burn it. Despite that, and despite the fact that it had to be copied by hand in the traditional manner, 150 full or partial copies of the revised Wycliffe Bible survive to this day. That's a hell of a record, and would be even for printed books produced a century later. Therefore, your claim about how expensive and rare books were doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Perhaps you can provide a source for your claim.
The book had a very wide circulation. While the Anglo-Saxon versions
were confined for the most part to the few religious houses where they were
written, Wycliffe's Bible, in spite of its disadvantage of being only
manuscript, was circulated largely through the kingdom; and, though the cost a
good deal restricted its possession to the wealthier classes, those who could
not hope to possess it gained access to it too, as well through their own
efforts as through the ministrations of Wycliffe's "pore priestes." A
considerable sum was paid for even a few sheets of the manuscript, a load of
hay was given for permission to read it for a certain period one hour a day,
^1 and those who could not afford even such expenses adopted what means they
but to teach by word
No. Books were not 'rare' or 'too expensive' for the common folk. Reading and writing was. It cost real money to get an education and you could only get it from the Church. And even then it was not a skill that people practised, records were frequently kept in ways that bypassed the need to write them down
The Wycliff Bible, late into the Christan era as it was, that is your argument that books the size of the bible could have been reproduced for the masses? Nope, that argument is false, that bible was very expensive.
I am not however willing to condom the Church for choosing tradition of the Mass over the public reading of the Bible.
Show me where your mayor's job description says it's part of his job to get the people's trash removed. Show me where the governor's job description says it's his job to build and run museums. My point is, it's for voters to decide the specifics of what is or isn't in their officials' job descriptions. Don't like mayors who allow religious displays on public property? Fine. Vote for somebody else.
Sure they are. So, when cities allow Christians to celebrate Christmas on public property, they also have to allow atheists to celebrate Newton day, and Jews to celebrate Hanuka. Your "ban them all" approach is by no means the only one consistent with the constitution.