Illiteracy rates in first-century Palestine were staggeringly high, particularly for the poor. It is estimated that nearly 97 percent of the Jewish peasantry could neither read nor write, a not unexpected figure for predominantly oral societies such as the one in which Jesus lived. Certainly the Hebrew Scriptures played a prominent role in the lives of the Jewish people. But the overwhelming majority of Jews in Jesus's time would have had only the most rudimentary grasp of Hebrew, barely enough to understand the scriptures when they were read to them at the synagogue. Hebrew was the language of the scribes and scholars of the law - the language of learning. Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Reza Aslan, The Westbourne Press, 2013, p34-35
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