This is a study of language and literacy in an ancient multi-lingual setting, Judaea in the years 63 B.C.E. - 136 C.E. It first surveys scholarly views on these topics, and then proposes a new method of investigating the questions raised: a study of the signed documents and letters discovered among the materials conventionally known as the "Bar Kokhba texts." The major sites where materials were discovered are reviewed, and the complex history of publication is examined for each site. The essential approach is that of "signature literacy," a well-established method for investigating the rates of literacy in societies of the past. The language of each signature is studied in relation to the language of the document to which it is attached, and analyzed to determine fluency of the writing. One thereby learns something about language knowledge and level of literacy for each signatory. In tandem with this approach significant efforts are made to elucidate the prosopography of the texts. A separate chapter considers the Bar Kokhba letters. The final chapter proposes a new understanding of the uses of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in Judaea during these years, and argues for particular levels of literacy for each tongue.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2012. Major: Classics. Advisor: George A. Sheets. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 597 pages.
Wise, Michael Owen.
Language and literacy in Roman Judaea: a study of the Bar Kokhba documents.
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