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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Judaism was a religious system which regulated the lives of its adherents in the minutest particulars. The necessary regulations were contained partly in a written Law, partly in a mass of oral tradition and authoritative precedents. Hence a class was needful who should make it their business to preserve and expound these. This class was the scribes.

1. Functions. -(a) Their primary function has just been indicated. It involved the making of accurate copies of the Scriptures, and the laborious memorizing of tradition. (b) In the synagogue a scribe acted as the expounder of Scripture to the people. (c) The scribe was a lawyer who had to decide all legal disputes. (d) To meet new cases for which there was no regulation written or oral, and no precedent to guide, he had to determine what the law should be. Hence the mass of traditions and precedents assumed overwhelming proportions. (e) The education of the young in schools was the charge of the scribe. As the Law was regulative of all human activities, the knowledge of the scribe was encyclopaedic. In his person were combined the offices now distributed among clergymen, doctors, lawyers, and teachers.

2. Training. -The period of training for such a profession was naturally long. When it was finished and he had been called to a particular post, the scribe was ordained, and received the title Rabbi (see Doctor).

3. Schools. -Scribes were divided into various schools. While doubtless the majority were Pharisees, the Sadducees had their scribes also (implied in  Acts 23:9). Further, the Pharisee scribes were divided into two great schools, the followers of Hillel and of Shammai. It was only on points of detail, and on no fundamental principle, that they divided. On the whole, the school of Shammai was the more rigid.

4. Influence. -The influence of the scribes was naturally very great, and they were highly esteemed. After the fall of Jerusalem, they became more important than ever. Temple and priesthood disappeared. The synagogue became the sole centre of Jewish religious and national life, and the scribe the most important official (see under Pharisees).

5. Relation to the early Church. -In the early history of Christianity we have only three references to the scribes. (1) Gamaliel, a scribe and the teacher of St. Paul ( Acts 22:3), on the occasion of the trial of St. Peter and his associates counselled toleration, and his advice was accepted ( Acts 5:34 ff.). (2) When St. Paul was on his trial, the Pharisaic scribes repeated Gamaliel’s advice ( Acts 23:9). (3) On the other hand,  Acts 6:12 mentions scribes among those who proceeded against Stephen. Probably we should regard them as Sadducees. But in nearly all cases of Jews rising against Christians, especially outside Jerusalem, we may be sure that the scribes, the recognized leaders of the people, were the instigators.

Literature.-articles ‘Scribe’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), Dict. of Christ and the Gospels, Encyclopaedia Biblica, Jewish Encyclopedia; E Schürer, HJP[Note: JP History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).]II. i. [Edinburgh, 1885] 312 ff.; W. Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im neutest. Zeitalter, Berlin, 1903, p. 139 ff.; W. O. E. Cesterley, The Books of the Apocrypha, their Origin, Teaching and Contents, London, 1914, p. 113 ff.

W. D. Niven.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [2]

In the earlier Hebrew writings, was one skilled in writing and accounts,  Exodus 5:6   Judges 5:14   Jeremiah 52:25; the person who communicated to the people the commands of the king, like the modern Secretary of State,  2 Samuel 8:17   20:25 . In the later times of the Old Testament, especially after the captivity, and in the New Testament, a scribe is a person skilled in the Jewish law, a teacher or interpreter of the law. So Ezra was "a ready scribe in the laws of Moses,"  Ezra 7:6   1 Chronicles 27:32 . The scribes of the New Testament were a class of men educated for the purpose of preserving and expounding the sacred books. They had the charge of transcribing them, of interpreting the more difficult passages, and of deciding in cases which grew out of the ceremonial law,  Matthew 2:4 , and were especially skilled in those glosses and traditions by which the Jews made void the law,  Matthew 15:1-6 . Jewish writers speak of them as the schoolmasters of the nation; and one mode in which they exercised their office was by meeting the people from time to time, in every town, for the purpose of holding familiar discussions, and raising questions of the law for debate.

Their influence was of course great; many of them were members of the Sanhedrin, and we often find them mentioned in connection with the elders and chief priests,  Matthew 5:20   7:29   12:38   20:18   21:15 . Like the Pharisees, they were bitterly opposed to Christ, and joined with the priests and counselors in persecuting him and his followers, having little knowledge of Him concerning whom Moses and the prophets did write. The same persons who are termed scribes, are in parallel passages sometimes called lawyers and doctors of the law,  Matthew 22:35   Mark 12:28 . Hence "scribe" is also used for a person distinguished for learning and wisdom,  1 Corinthians 1.20 .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Γραμματεύς (Strong'S #1122 — Noun Masculine — grammateus — gram-mat-yooce' )

from gramma, "a writing," denotes "a scribe, a man of letters, a teacher of the law;" the "scribes" are mentioned frequently in the Synoptists, especially in connection with the Pharisees, with whom they virtually formed one party (see  Luke 5:21 ), sometimes with the chief priests, e.g.,  Matthew 2:4;  Mark 8:31;  10:33;  11:18,27;  Luke 9:22 . They are mentioned only once in John's Gospel,  John 8:3 , three times in the Acts, 4:5; 6:12; 23:9; elsewhere only in  1—Corinthians 1:20 , in the singular. They were considered naturally qualified to teach in the synagogues,  Mark 1:22 . They were ambitious of honor, e.g.,  Matthew 23:5-11 , which they demanded especially from their pupils, and which was readily granted them, as well as by the people generally. Like Ezra ( Ezra 7:12 ), the "scribes" were found originally among the priests and Levites. The priests being the official interpreters of the Law, the "scribes" ere long became an independent company; though they never held political power, they became leaders of the people.

 Matthew 23:16 Luke 11:46 Luke 11:52 Acts 19:35

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Scribe. There are two Hebrew words which mean "a writer," but one is usually translated in the A. V. by "officer," the other is rendered "scribe." The art of writing among the Hebrews may not have been in early times generally learned, and therefore a class of men would arise who earned their living by carrying on correspondence or conducting accounts. Sheva was the scribe of David.  2 Samuel 20:25. The king's scribe recorded the edicts, and sometimes acted as treasurer.  2 Kings 12:10. Scribes also officiated in the army.  Jeremiah 52:25. Scribes in the New Testament were the copyists of the law, and were popularly regarded as the teachers or expounders of the law. Ezra was their leader and pattern.  Ezra 7:6. But these learned expounders of the law took greater liberties with the text and made it void through their traditions.  Mark 7:13. Some were members of the Sanhedrin.  Matthew 26:3 (A. V. but omitted in R. V.); 21:15. Jesus reproved them repeatedly and in the most unmeasured terms.  Matthew 23:1-33. They were his determined and wily foes.  Luke 5:30;  Luke 6:7;  Luke 11:53. That there were exceptions is manifest, for Jesus speaks of scribes being sent of God,  Matthew 23:34, and one of his parables relates to a scribe "instructed unto the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 13:52. The scribes and lawyers were one class.

King James Dictionary [5]

Scribe n. L. scriba, from scribo, to write formed probably on the root of grave, scrape, scrub. The first writing was probably engraving on wood or stone.

1. In a general sense, a writer. Hence, 2. A notary a public writer. 3. In ecclesiastical meetings and associations in America, a secretary or clerk one who records the transactions of an ecclesiastical body. 4. In Scripture and the Jewish history, a clerk or secretary to the king. Seraiah was scribe to king David.

 2 Samuel 8 .

5. An officer who enrolled or kept the rolls of the army, and called over the names and reviewed them.  2 Chronicles 24 .  2 Kings 25 . 6. A writer and a doctor of the law a man of learning one skilled in the law one who read and explained the law to the people.  Ezra 8 .

SCRIBE, To mark by a model or rule to mark so as to fit one piece to another a term used by carpenters and joiners.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) One who writes; a draughtsman; a writer for another; especially, an offical or public writer; an amanuensis or secretary; a notary; a copyist.

(2): ( v. i.) To make a mark.

(3): ( v. t.) To cut (anything) in such a way as to fit closely to a somewhat irregular surface, as a baseboard to a floor which is out of level, a board to the curves of a molding, or the like; - so called because the workman marks, or scribe, with the compasses the line that he afterwards cuts.

(4): ( v. t.) To write, engrave, or mark upon; to inscribe.

(5): ( v. t.) To score or mark with compasses or a scribing iron.

(6): ( n.) A writer and doctor of the law; one skilled in the law and traditions; one who read and explained the law to the people.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

We read in the Old Testament Scripture of this office in the time of the Kings, and it should seem at that time that it was an employment of great power. Thus when the king of Assyria sent to Hezekiah a blasphemous message and letter, we are told that then came out to the messengers Eleakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Josh the recorder. ( 2 Kings 18:18) And the name in the Hebrew for scribe, Sepher, seems to intimate a person of learning. In the days of our Lord the scribes were among the leading men of the nation. One thing however appears striking, and worthy our notice, namely learned as they might be in the law, they were ignorant of the spiritual sense of it. And what an awful string of woes hath the Lord Jesus caused to be recorded concerning then! ( Matthew 23:13-39)

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Jeremiah 36:26 1 Chronicles 24:6 Esther 3:12 Ezra 7:6 Mark 2:16 Luke 19:47 Matthew 23:1GovernmentSanhedrinSecretary

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [9]

This word has different significations in Scripture.

1. A clerk, or writer, or secretary,  2 Samuel 8:17 .

2. A commissary, or muster-master of the army,  2 Chronicles 26:11 ,  2 Kings 25:19 .

3. A man of learning, a doctor of the law,  1 Chronicles 27:32 .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

SCRIBE . See King, p. 516 b .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Scribe'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.