Original Research

Living voice and lifeless letters: Reserve towards writing in the Graeco-Roman world

P. J.J. Botha
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 49, No 4 | a2519 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v49i4.2519 | © 1993 P. J.J. Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 January 1993 | Published: 13 January 1993

About the author(s)

P. J.J. Botha, University of South Africa, South Africa

Full Text:

PDF (420KB)


This study contributes to the understanding of communication in antiquity by analysing a few specific references to oral and literate traditions in Hellenistic and Christian texts. In the Graeco-Roman world we find a surprising widespread reticence towards writing, varying from mere indifference to active scepticism. The scribal culture of antiquity exhibits a strong bias towards orality, with even literates expressing little confidence in writing. There was a prevailing preference for the ‘living voice’ in education, and a strong belief that corpora of teaching which were never written down, and could not be written down, distinguished the insiders from the outsiders.


No related keywords in the metadata.


Total abstract views: 2213
Total article views: 2149

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.