Most Bible scholars follow the secular scholars in that they see very little literacy in ancient times. Is that really the case? What does the evidence really say?
What Do We Know About Books, Reading, and Writing; Literacy In Early Christianity?
Rome was a complex society. Levels of literacy were fluid because of the conditions of the day being as culturally and ethnically diverse as it was. The Roman Empire from the first century to the fourth century was as culturally and ethnically diverse as New York City and its five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. "Jesus was born in such a literate, well-documented period." - Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable? (2003, 20).