This chapter presents the theoretical and methodological framework of the book. It opens with a brief review of the philosophical discussions of speech and writing in Plato and Derrida, and continues with an outline of new trends in the study of literacy. It presents the “ideological model” in literacy research, which is identified with New Literacy Studies and which serves as one of the theoretical foundations of this monograph. According to this model, literacy is an arena of social, cultural, political, and other power struggles, which segregate, exclude, oppress, and control, no less than they advance and promote social progress. The remainder of the chapter takes a closer look into this study's methodology. It places the study within a tradition of ethnographically-oriented research, which analyzes events and practices of reading and writing in their immediate socio-cultural context. Inspired by this approach, the study draws on a close reading of a large corpus of stories of writing and reading collected from autobiographies, memoirs, ethnographic texts, and literary works of the period. These testimonies, and external sources confirming them, combine to show that literacy is not of a piece and that diverse kinds of literacy existed in Jewish society side by side.