"The Talmud ascribes to Moses the rule that the Torah should be publicly read on the Sabbath, on festivals, and on the
New Moon, and to Ezra the inauguration of the reading on Monday, Thursdays (days that the local courts convened), and Sabbath
afternoons. (Jewish Liturgy, pg. 91).
The New Testament, as well as the Jewish historians, Philo and Josephus, refer to public readings of the Torah and Haftorah
(the Prophets) during the time period that they were written in as though the reading was "ancient practice."
"The earliest reference to a fixed cycle of consecutive readings is found in the Babylonian Talmud: 'In the West
(that is, Eretz Israel) the reading of the Torah was completed in three years.'
The old division of the Pentateuch into 153, 155, or 167 SEDARIM, or divisions, is based on this triennial cycle. (The
singular form of this word is SIDRAH; an alternative term is PARASHAH.)
In Babylon (modern Iraq) and other communities outside Palestine, an annual cycle was followed according to which the
Pentateuch was divided into 54 SIDDARIM. This became the universal Jewish practice, except for certain isolated instances.
In Palestine, too, the triennial cycle was superseded by the annual, possibly under the influence of Babylonian immigrants."
(Jewish Liturgy, pg. 92).
One of the reasons that the Jewish people have always had a higher level of literacy than the surrounding populations
of people is due to the relationship of the requirement of knowing how to read the Torah (and Prophets) for oneself upon the
rank and file Jew, instead of just being the job of the Priest to read, interpret, define and determine.
In 1st century Palestine most male Jews could read Hebrew, and Western (Assyrian) Aramaic. Many could also read Greek,
and or Latin. In the diaspora, the Jews not only read Hebrew, but also Greek and Latin.