At the ladies' bible study I attend twice a month, we are studying Exodus. During the Christmas break, I have been reading through the entire book and doing brief summaries just to keep in my head the overall context of the book. I was reading Exodus 28 the other day, and I was amazed at the details. This chapter describes the priestly garments that Moses was to have made. The details are very exact and specific.
These directions were given orally. They had to be remembered. They weren't included as an attachment to an e-mail that sits in your inbox for months or years on end. The demands on a auditory culture are something I don't think we really comprehend. We are used to having cheap paper and other media to remind us of things. There was a day when paper, while accessible, was probably expensive. Paper is fairly cheap now, but people are beginning to rely on hand held items to carry their information. Pretty soon, I suspect that we will have to have a myriad of "apps" at our disposal just to go to the bathroom. Eventually, I think, hand held devices like cell phones will become cheap like paper because everyone will have to have them to get by. Maybe paper will get more expensive or harder to find. I wonder if there will be a day when the Bible will have to be purchased via getting an "app" on a cell phone. The paper ones will be antiques. Animal activists everywhere will stand up and cheer because calf skin will no longer be used to bind Bibles.
The children of Isreal did not have such ease with taking in information. They had to remember what God said to them. They needed to be reminded often. Things had to be passed down orally to their children and to their children's children. Even as early as the sixteenth century, people had to memorize a lot if they wanted to remember things. Think of the expectations put on a brain that must learn in a strictly auditory environment. Think about only ever being able to know Scripture by hearing it and then memorizing it. It really does amaze me what our ancestors lived with. We have innumerable ways to access Scripture, and yet we are probably a very biblically illiterate society. It's quite a paradox.