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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Scribes, a learned body of men, otherwise denominated lawyers, whose influence with the Jewish nation was very great at the time when our Savior appeared.

There is every probability that they must have taken their rise contemporaneously with the commencement of the Mosaic polity. They were both a learned and a sacred caste. They had the care of the law; it was their duty to make transcripts of it; they also expounded its difficulties, and taught its doctrines, and so performed several functions which are now distributed among different professions, being keepers of the records, consulting lawyers, authorized expounders of holy writ, and, finally, schoolmasters—thus blending together in one character the several elements of intellectual, moral, social, and religious influence.

In the New Testament the scribes are found as a body of high state functionaries, who, in conjunction with the Pharisees and the high-priests, constituted the Sanhedrim, and united all the resources of their power and learning in order to entrap and destroy the Savior of mankind. The array of influence thus brought against 'the carpenter's son' was very great. That influence comprised, besides the supreme power of the state, the first legal functionaries, who watched Jesus closely in order to detect him in some breach of the law; the recognized expositors of duty, who lost no opportunity to take exception to his utterances, to blame his conduct, and misrepresent his morals; also the acutest intellects of the nation, who eagerly sought to entangle him in the web of their sophistries, or to confound him by their artful questions. Yet even all these malign influences failed. Jesus was triumphant in argument; he failed only when force interposed its revengeful arm.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Scribes'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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