Larry Hurtado is a student of texts in the time when Christianity originated. Here’s an excerpt of his post which gives a brief view of “Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman World” by Roger Bagnall:
The broad import of the book is to caution us still more about simplistic views of the Graeco-Roman world as one in which texts and writing were the exclusive domain of a few elite. A few of his summarizing judgments will suffice here:
“The ubiquity and pervasiveness of everyday writing in Greek is clearly visible; that in the other great metropolitan written languages, Aramaic and Latin, is less well documented but starting to come into focus as well” (141);
“Even in a world where many people could not read or write, the use of written languages was not something restricted to a small, high-status group. Writing was everywhere, and a very wide range of people participated in the use of writing in some fashion” (142);
whereas some have claimed that writing was restricted to “a small class of literate mediators,” in fact “writing was far more pervasive and important than that; it was used all the time for private, informal, spontaneous, and ephemeral communications, writing for which one would not wish to spend the time and money to go to a professional scribe” (142).
See the entire post at Larry Hurtado’s Blog.