What could be the possible reasons why Jesus never wrote anything down?


#1

The only time I can recall in scripture that Jesus ever writes anything down is in the parable of the adulterous women John 8:6

So what could be the possible reasons why Jesus never wrote anything down?


#2

We don’t know that Jesus never wrote anything.


#3

Exactly!
Its not because it is no where mentioned in the Bible that he wrote something down that we have to believe he never wrote something down.
In Acts 20:35, Paul repeats a saying of Jesus not mentioned anywhere in the gospels.
So its possible that Jesus wrote many things down but they were not mentioned in the gospels because the bible is not the fullness of truth. (the Church is)
Also, the gospels give us his spoken word, which, at the time He walked the earth, was more relevant for our salvation than anything written since at that time most people could neither read nor write.
:slight_smile:


#4

There is much debate on if he could write or not, and many New Testament scholars believe he could not.

As per studies on literacy in first Century Palestine, probably less than ten percent of people at that time in his area were somewhat literate…and if so, they were more apt to be able to read, rather than to write.

(The adulterous woman anecdote, as you may know, was not in the original canon, but added a few hundred years later. So there is question here, too, on how accurate that moment when he was writing on the ground is.)

.


#5

I was under the impression that He could read, as it is said that He read from scrolls at synagogue. That does not mean He could write very well. St. Paul employed a scribe to write the letters he dictated.
Literacy does not equate with intelligence, obviously, especially in the ancient world. It was not considered a valuable skill until after the invention of the printing press. Prior to the proliferation of books allowed for by the printing press, important information was passed on orally and memorized, much the same way that Catholic children are catechized today, with memorization and recitation.
Nobody in the ancient world could type either, but now that is considered to be a basic vital skill.

Edited to add: as a teacher, and now a homeschooling mother, I am very familiar with just how much more challenging it is to train the body to write than to train the brain to read. The hand-eye coordination, the hand strength, the fine motor skills, all of it are enough to reduce a capable child to tears. THIS is precisely why scribes were employed. They practiced penmanship as a profession. On a side note: Jesus did have His words written down. There may have been papers with sayings of Jesus that predated the writing of the Gospels. But if not, at the very least, some of His followers had His words committed to writing for the purposes of spreading the Gospel.


#6

hmmm, in the Gospels we are told that Jesus went to the Temple and shocked the learned there with His wisdom.

We are told He went to the sinagogue and preached, they called Him Rabby. That is “teacher” and that He read from the Old Testament.

The mith that the Israelites were an ignorant bunch of troglodites is not supported by the fact that their religion and faith imposed on them having to “read” in the sinagogue the content of the books of the Old Testament and before they had written them down they would learn them by heart. This was a requirement of their culture. Pretty much like even now the muslim are supposed to learn the koran by memory in arabic and not in their native language.

Yes they had “scribes” that were versed in writing, probably because eventually as the land was conquered by Mesopotamians and Persians and Greeks they had to addapt to write into this languages and not many were poliglots, this is the same today. How many can read and write in 2 or more languages?

A clue that this is the case comes from the 280 BC when the Rabbis of the Temple of Jerusalem were “forced” to allow the translation of the books of the Old Testament into Greek.
Because many more Jews could read Greek but not Aramaic or Hebrew and they HAD to read the OT in order to comply with the sinagogue assembly, hence the Septugiant was allowed to be prepared.

Writing or rather Copying the books of the OT was in itself a different story. Since it is such a sacred task only holy persons were allowed to do this, it did not matter if you could read and write, this was secondary in importance in this case.


#7

I actually think Eusebius says he wrote a letter to someone.


#8

Or, could it just be that He sent the spoken word forth, so that it would not be twisted by the ignorant and unstable? He did say “He who hears you hears me” - even, and especially in foreign tongues on the Pentecost. If uneducated Peter could call the others ignorant, was he then superior to his Master in teaching or intellect? Not at all! Peter Himself said “Lord, You know all things” in John 21. Our Lord said “No servant is above his master” As well, the contant tradition of the Church, both East and West, before and after the great schism, maintains that Jesus wrote nothing, and certainly nothing has been preserved. If the scriptures that we have (any many others that did not pass the test) were carefully preserved at the risk of death, would not something written by the Lord Himself still be with us?

Let us recall here that in His temptation in the desert, the devil quoted scripture to Jesus, twisting its meaning. The written form, by itself, is not a relaible method of transmitting the Gospel. If it was, we would have Christian unity among bible-alone believers. As it is, quite the opposite is true. See also Nehemiah 8:5-8. Ezra and the Levites read the OT scriptures to the public, and interpreted it for them so that they would have a proper sense of the written word. In Acts 8:26-35, Phillip had to interpret Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch so that he, a learned man, could understand the prophet’s words. Since the majority of words in any dictionary have multiple meanings, someone in authority must be authorized, and not self-appointed, to interpret them.


#9

Jerry Z,
That was fascinating. Thank you for sharing. However, I just wanted to mention that just because someone suggests that an ancient people was not overwhelmingly illiterate, does not mean they are implying that group of people was ignorant or stupid. It is quite obvious that the ancient Israelites prized knowledge and that they carefully passed on sacred writings, as did many other ancient people. Whether or not an ancient man could read is less relevant to this question than whether he could write well enough to compose letters on his own. Handwriting is the bane of many a student’s early education, and many very intelligent people never master the skill. Look at modern doctors! They are notorious for poor handwriting, despite their intelligence. :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

Beautiful analysis!


#11

many New Testament scholars believe he could not.

The things that pass for scholarship these days…


#12

Well thank you, and I certainly would never equate literacy (being able to read) or writing capability with intelligence.
Although I am afraid in our culture it is a stereotype :rolleyes:


#13

Jesus was a rabbi. Didn’t that imply that he had studied?


#14

Yes, and tradition tells us His mother served in the Temple, which implies that she likely had the opportunity to do much study of God’s word, too. I think that is wonderful to remember as I catechize my children. And I recall the images of St. Anne, Mary’s mother, which show her teaching her holy daughter at her knee.


#15

Would you think badly of Jesus if he could not write?
This may very well be the case, as much research and evidence points in this direction.
Why would that possible reality make you speak negatively about the researchers? (many of them Christians, by the way).
If he couldn’t write, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. No one is putting him down by saying this–it may just be fact, is all.
Would this for some reason be too upsetting for you to accept?

.


#16

I’m pretty sure you’re mistaken on this point. It was in there when the books were ratified, so we’ve no reason to believe that it was added later on.


#17

This is what I find so endearing about skeptics. They are only skeptical about the evidence that that jeopardizes their own conclusions but not so skeptical about evidence that supports their beliefs.

Scratch below the surface and you find skepticism to be just as “selective” as any other belief system.

The fact that the story of the adulterous woman was not found in the “original canon” (whatever that means) says nothing about whether it happened or not. The process of consigning words to writing is not always an accurate determiner of the historicity of events. Whether the story was only found in later texts does not mean it wasn’t present in earlier (and lost texts) nor that it wasn’t merely recalled later by Apostolic sources.

We need to have a firmer grasp on the real story before we submit inconclusive points as evidence contrary.


#18

God bless you on your quest for truth. I pray some day you will find it.


#19

Rabbi literally means teacher. They were the scribes at that time.

Rabbis were formed by becoming a disciple of an established Rabbi. When the disciple was fully formed, they would go out and teach under the authority of the Rabbi whom they studied under. They would say, “Rabbi Hillel says…” or “Rabbi Gamaliel says…” as a way to indicate whom they studied under and who’s authority they carried. Jesus never formally studied under a Rabbi but he would often sit and teach, a classic rabbinical posture.

*Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. (Matthew 5:1)

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. (Matthew 13:1-2)

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. (Luke 4:20)

Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. (Luke 5:3)*

The Gospels record Jesus sitting dozens of times. This isn’t just extra, interesting information. Jesus was assuming the classic posture of a rabbi who taught. They would sit while the students stood. You could clearly see who a Rabbi was this way.

Jesus references the custom of a Rabbi to cite the name of the person under whom he was a disciple and thereby his authority.

About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. The Jews marveled at it, saying, "How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?" So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:14-17)

Jesus’ Rabbi was God the Father. Jesus learned everything from God the Father and taught based on the authority of God the Father. Jesus never cited or quoted another Rabbi. People were amazed at this.

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27)

Jesus learned everything from The Father, and taught with the Father’s authority, and proved it in his deeds and works.

-Tim-


#20

The writing on the sand in the parable is a reference to the hand of God which wrote on the wall in Daniel 5, which no one could read except the Prophet Daniel.

And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5:25-28)

That’s what Jesus wrote. The hand of God wrote “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN” in the sand that day. It was a message to the temple authorities, scribes and Pharisees who accused the adulterous woman.

-Tim-


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.