Chris Keith, «'In My Own Hand': Grapho-Literacy and the Apostle Paul», Vol. 89 (2008) 39-58
Recent research in the school papyri of Egypt, especially Oxyrhychus, has illuminated our understanding of the pedagogical process in the Greco-Roman world. Particularly interesting in this respect is the acquisition and social function of grapho-literacy (i.e., the ability to compose writing). Since few were literate, and of those few, fewer could read than could write, understanding how one gained grapho-literacy, who gained grapho-literacy, and how that literacy was employed in day to day life shines new light on passages such as 1 Cor 16,21, Gal 6,11, Col 4,18, 2 Thess 3,17, and Phlm 19. In these passages, Paul draws attention to the fact that he has personally written in the text. This paper will argue that these passages are not merely interesting asides, but rather significantly heighten the rhetorical force of the text. They draw attention not only to Paul’s grapho-literacy, but also to his ability to avoid using it.