Book: Adam2
Gospel of John - Scribes Gospel of John - Scribes Gospel of John - Scribes Gospel of John - Scribes

The following is taken from the Book, Adam2: A Guide For The Walk Home, written by our founder. It is A Commentary On The Gospel Of John, complete with a background look at the contemporary Jewish groups active in Jesus' day. It includes a summary of each chapter, a redacted study of each disciple, a brief study of Gnosticism of the time, pertinet timelines, and much more. Each chapter of study includes extensive Biblical references to the notes on the chapter.

A chronological excerpt of each section will be posted here at the beginning of each month. You can access free of charge at any time a complete online digital version for your further study. It is also available on CD. Thank you for your interest in this study. Our hope and prayer is that through the work of the Holy Spirit as you study you will be blessed by it, and if so, recommend it to a friend.

We look now at the study of the Scribes from the book: Adam2.

  1. Of the five groups we have chosen to study, only one fails to appear by name in our Bible—the Essenes—which we will consider last. Of the remaining four, the scribe is the only one appearing by name in both the Old and New Testament records. Although the remaining three, Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots, do not appear by name in the Old Testament, traces of each's origin can be seen there, and in the New Testament even the leader of the first Zealot uprising in A.D. 6 is identified in Acts 5:37 and corroborated by Josephus in his record (Antiq.8.1.1; Wars 2.8.1 - pp. 376, 476). However, since the scribes are the first to appear in the early days of Jewish national life, we have chosen to examine them first.
  2. Unlike the remaining four groups to be studied, the scribes are not identified as a political or religious party, or sect, within the Jewish state. This is not to say that they were not individually involved in matters of Jewish affairs, for indeed they were quite active, as we shall see in our study. However, according to a well respected contemporary Jewish historian, the scribes as a group merely "represented a function rather than a sect" (Simon, p. 86). Indeed, it is precisely the evolution of this function that gave rise to this large group in Jesus' day and was arguably His greatest antagonist. But numbers alone do not constitute a sect. Without exploring the difficulties and technicalities of a literal definition, suffice it to say then for our purposes that a sect in that period was a viable current within the mainstream of Judaism as seen in the Pharisee, Sadducee, and Essene. Though not a sect, the scribes' function had a significant influence upon the Jewish people and played a direct role in the death of Christ. For this reason we have chosen the term "group" rather than "sect" to refer to these five bodies that we might include the scribes in our study. Let us look now at their name.
  3. In the Old Testament, Young makes no distinction in Hebrew for the scribe, or saphar, meaning "to cypher, number, or write." However, he does separate the scribe more commonly of the former kind, seen in the pre-exilic era, to that of the latter in Ezra's post-exilic days ( Ezr.4:8,9,17,23; 7:12), with the exceptions of Ezr.7:6 & 11 and all those designated in Nehemiah and Esther.
  4. In the New Testament, we find only one Greek designation, grammateus, meaning "scribe, writer, or clerk," or more precisely, nomikoi, meaning "lawyer," and nomodidaskaloi, meaning "teacher of the law," referring in the main to those scribes of the law of Moses (cf., Lk.7:30; Jn.3:2,10). Only in I Co.1:20 do we see in the term an inference to a universal meaning, since the implication there seems to include all world systems, or knowledge, be it government, religion, or otherwise.
  5. A scribe by name clearly had his origin in pre-Hebrew cultures, as evidenced in the many archaeological findings among earlier peoples. Two can be seen in those early times. In the beginning, a scribe was mainly designated as an officer of a government whose function was that of a clerk, or secretary of government affairs and records. Another was called an amanuensis, that is a public writer, or one who takes dictation, as in personal, business, commerce, etc. Characteristics of these two types of scribes would later be seen in the pre-exilic scribe that would eventually produce the Mosaic scribe of the post-exilic era. Both of these examples can be seen within our Old Testament record (for the former, cf., II Ki.12:10; 22:3; 25:19; I Chr.24:6; 27:32; II Chr.24:11; 26:11; Jer.36:20; 52:25; and the latter, Jer.36:3,26,32).
  6. When the Hebrew people appeared on the scene with their religion concomitant with secular life, the lines that were once distinctly drawn between government and religious affairs were no longer applicable. In addition to recording the affairs of state, as did his predecessor, the Hebrew scribe would quite naturally become involved in the responsibilities of recording and preserving the religious annals and archives of his greater community, since these were the laws and practices given by God to be implemented in daily ceremonial life.
  7. Even before the early Hebrew scribe appeared, if we use the third, final, and literal definition of a scribe as it applied to his unique post-Babylonian function—a copier of the Mosaic Law—then Moses himself would be the first ( Deu.31:9). And it was Moses who first read this law to this newly forming Jewish nation (Ex.24:3-8). After it had been completely transcribed by him, he then committed it to the future care of the Levites ( Deu.31:9,24-26), from whom was evolving the priesthood and would the latter day Mosaic scribe (Ezr.8:15-21; Neh.8:1-9; 9:4-38). (It must be remembered that Moses himself was also from this Levite tribe - Ex.2:1.)
  8. So divinely enlightened and filled with revelation was he in receiving this law that Moses even forewarned the Hebrews of their future failure in its observance ( Deu.31:27-30). He knew that it was imperative they not forget it, for the future well-being of their personal and national life depended upon it. Here, I suppose, we could apply a modern day cliché—out of sight out of mind—to see that these Hebrews, in a way, were no different then than we of today. So to insure this would not happen, portions of this law (Ex.13:2-10; 13:11-17; Deu.6:4-9; 11:13-21) were to be bound upon the forearms and foreheads (called tefillin, or phylacteries) of the sons of Israel and written upon the door posts of their homes (called, mezuzah, containing Deu.6:9; 11:20) for a permanent reminder of their everlasting covenant. In addition, fathers and families were to talk about and teach them to their children in their daily coming and going ( Deu.6:7).
  9. Moreover, foreseeing their future demand for an Earthly king, further instructions were given for a copy of this law and covenant to be made by the king, and he was to read it daily himself, lest he also forget and become exalted in his own heart and mind, thus cutting him off from the promise of its blessings (cf., Deu.17:14-20; I Sam.12, key vs.14,25; I Ki.2:1-4). In this they would tragically fail, thus accounting for much of Israel's subsequent woes, idolatry, and foreign domination (cf., I Ki.11:11; Jer.4:9-18; 9:12-16; 16:10-13; 17:1-4; 22:8-9).
  10. With Moses' work complete and himself not permitted to enter the promised land, the pen was then passed to the Levites concurrently with the mantle of leadership falling upon Joshua, an Ephraimite of the tribe of Joseph. It must be noted here that although most Christian and Jewish scholars attribute to Moses the authorship of the first five books of our Old Testament, called the Torah, or the books of Moses, to the beginning reader it must seem obvious that he could not have penned the final pages of Deuteronomy (chs 32-34, or at the least ch.34). Though Josephus attributes even this record of Moses' death to Moses himself, most scholars since see Joshua, or a Levite under his direction, penning these final words in the record of Moses. If so, then we have the origin now of someone other than Moses transcribing scripture for historical preservation, whether by Joshua's own hand, or a Levite at his direction. Joshua himself would later write for preservation his account of their ongoing history in the book of the law ( Jos.24:26).
  11. To continue, having been previously instructed by God, upon entering the promised land the people were to erect and carve upon stone monuments all His laws given, beginning at Sinai. One half of the congregation was to stand over against Mt. Gerizim and the other one half against Mt. Ebal (this would be the future site of worship for the fallen mixed-blood Samaritan Jew. For the full-blood Jew, it would always be Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem - Jn.4:20). God then designated the Levites to pronounce to the congregation the cursings for disobedience and blessings for obedience (Deu.27 & 28). All this indeed was done, with Joshua reading all that had been recorded by Moses to the entire number of the Hebrew people (Jos.8:30-35). With this second reading, the first by Moses and now by his successor, Joshua, the precedent was set for public reading and the law being established vital, if not central, in group worship. This practice would not be based solely upon historical precedent and handed down tradition. Clearly in God's revelation to Moses, upon the establishment of their national life within Canaan, these laws preserved and subsequently handed down were to be read before the congregation at specified intervals, festivals, and holy days, lest future generations forget them as well ( Deu.31:10-13).
  12. Finally, when a king was permitted for Israel (albeit against God's intention and Samuel's great displeasure - I Sam.8), God gave additional laws regarding his duties to the people and function among other nations. As Moses and Joshua before, here we see the pen in Samuel's hand, transcribing for future record God's requirements and Israel's history ( I Sam.10:25). And it is during this period of the kings we see the Hebrew scribe first appearing by name in the Old Testament ( II Sam.8:17). Like his secular predecessors, in the beginning his was the function of recording national history and custodian of government records.
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- Author: Ken Livingston
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