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Scribe

From Academic Kids

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Illustration of a 15th century scribe

This is about scribe, the profession. For the New Zealand rapper, please see the Scribe (rapper) article.

Scribe (or Scrivener) is an ancient profession, a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and history records for rulers such as kings, nobility, temples, and cities. Later the profession developed for example into public servants, accountants, and lawyers.

Scribes in Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egyptian scribe

In ancient Egypt with its complex hieroglyphic script scribes even had their own god, Imhotep, and similarly the god Nabu in the Mesopotamian cultures (Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian) with their cuneiform writing.

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Accessories used by Egyptian scribes

Scribes in the Bible

Scribes held various important offices in the public affairs of the nation in ancient times. The Hebrew word so rendered (sopher) is first used to designate the holder of some military office (Judg. 5:14; A.V., "pen of the writer;" R.V., "the marshal's staff;" marg., "the staff of the scribe"). The scribes acted as secretaries of state, whose business it was to prepare and issue decrees in the name of the king (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25; 1 Chr. 18:16; 24:6; 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 12:9-11; 18:18-37, etc.). They discharged various other important public duties as men of high authority and influence in the affairs of state.

There was also a subordinate class of scribes, most of whom were Levites. They were engaged in various ways as writers. Such, for example, was Baruch, who "wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord" (Jer. 36:4, 32).

In later times, after the Captivity, when the nation lost its independence, the scribes turned their attention to the law, gaining for themselves distinction by their intimate acquaintance with its contents. On them devolved the duty of multiplying copies of the law and of teaching it to others (Ezra 7:6, 10-12; Neh. 8:1, 4, 9, 13). It is evident that in New Testament times the scribes belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, who supplemented the ancient written law by their traditions (Matt. 23). The titles "scribes" and "lawyers" (q.v.) are in the Gospels interchangeable (Matt. 22:35; Gospel of Mark 12:28; Luke 20:39, etc.).

See also


This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation.

de:Kopist pt:Escribas

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