SPECIAL TOPIC: SCRIBES

The title comes from the Hebrew noun (BDB 706, KB 767) which means "a spoken message," "a written document/decree" (KB 766).  The Greek translation grammateus (LXX) usually refers to a written message. It can denote

1. educator (Nehemiah 8)

2. governmental official (2 Kgs. 22:3-13)

3. recorder/secretary (1 Chr. 24:6; 2 Chr. 34:13; Jer. 36:22)

4. military musterofficer (cf. Jdgs. 5:14)

5. religious leader (i.e., Ezra, Ezra 7:6; Neh. 12:12-13)

 In the NT they are often associated with the Pharisees (see Special Topic: Pharisees).  In a sense they were people who were educated in the OT and the Oral Traditions (i.e., Talmud).  They helped interpret and apply the Jewish traditions to everyday life (cf. Sirah 39:6).  Apparently the scribes were also called "lawyers" (cf. Mark 12:28; Luke 7:30; 10:25; 11:45; 14:3).  However, their righteousness (i.e., Jewish legalism and ritual) could not bring peace with God (cf. Matt. 5:20; Rom. 3:19-20; 9:1-5,30-32; 10:1-6; Col. 2:20-22). 

 They were often depicted in the Synoptic gospels (John never mentions them, John 8:3 not original), as opposed to Jesus, and apparently coming as officials from Jerusalem (cf. Mark 3:22; 7:1).  Some, however, did respond to Him (cf. Matt. 8:19).

1. conflict over eating with sinners and tax-collectors, Mark 2:16; Matt. 9:9-13

2. conflict over the source of Jesus' authority in exorcisms, Mark 3:22

3. conflict over Jesus forgiving sin, Matt. 9:3; Luke 5:21

4. demand for a spectacular sign, Matt. 12:38

5. conflict over hand washing (i.e., ceremonial washings), Matt. 15:1-2; Mark 7:1-5

6. conflict over the crowds' affirmation at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Matt. 21:15

7. Jesus' accusation of their motives (i.e., seeking honor and preeminence), Mark 12:38-40

8. Jesus' accusing them of being hypocrites and blind guides in Moses' seat, Matt. 23:1-36

Because of their knowledge of Scripture, they should have been the first to recognize and embrace Jesus, but their traditions (cf. Isa. 29:13; 6:9-10) had blinded them! When light becomes darkness, how great is the darkness!

 

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