Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians

Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians

Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians

Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians

Synopsis

Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World presents a comprehensive and accessible survey of religious and philosophical teaching and classroom practices in the ancient world. H. Gregory Snyder synthesizes a wide range of ancient evidence and modern scholarship to address such questions as how the literary practices of Jews and Christians compared to the literary practices of the philosophical schools and whether Christians were particularly noteworthy for their attatchment to scripture. Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World will be of interest to students of classics, ancient history, the early Christian world and Jewish studies.

Excerpt

“Book! you lie there; the fact is, you
books must know your places. You’ll do
to give us the bare words and facts, but
we come in to supply the thoughts.”

Stubb, Moby Dick

While no one is likely to confuse the second mate of the Pequod with a scholar or intellectual, Stubb’s remark about books is admirably direct and most relevant to the present study. Pierre Bourdieu says much the same thing in a more sophisticated idiom:

Re-siting reading and the text read in a history of cultural production and transmission means giving oneself a chance of understanding the reader’s relation to his or her object and also of understanding how the relation to the object is part and parcel of that object.

(Bourdieu 1990:101)

However it is stated, Bourdieu’s (and Stubb’s) insight is one of the fundamental convictions lying behind this book. Written texts presume users and contexts of use; they are embedded in a wide variety of human transactions. They should not and cannot be understood as isolated objects. Therefore, I have attempted to provide not another “history of the book,” but rather a contribution towards a “history of the reader,” or a “history of the reader-text relation.”

This study was initially motivated by a curiosity about the “suspicion of written texts” supposedly widespread in the ancient world. in certain fields, especially in biblical studies, this has become something of a scholarly commonplace. As a first step in getting at what

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