This fascinating and lively book provides the first comprehensive discussion of the production, circulation, and use of books in early Christianity. It explores the extent of literacy in early Christian communities; the relation in the early church between oral tradition and written materials; the physical form of early Christian books; how books were produced, transcribed, published, duplicated, and disseminated; how Christian libraries were formed; who read the books, in what circumstances, and to what purposes.
Harry Y. Gamble interweaves practical and technological dimensions of the production and use of early Christian books with the social and institutional history of the period. Drawing on evidence from papyrology, codicology, textual criticism, and early church history, as well as on knowledge about the bibliographical practices that characterized Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, he offers a new perspective on the role of books in the first five centuries of the early church.