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Scribes were a dedicated group responsible for studying, copying, and interpreting the Holy Scriptures. They played a vital role from the time of the Babylonian exile until the destruction of the second Temple in 70 A.D. Their meticulous efforts in accurately copying the Scriptures were crucial for preserving the Old Testament, especially in an era without durable writing materials and modern copying technology. Without their dedication, much of the Old Testament might have been lost to history.

Some scribes were priests, like Ezra (Ezra 7:5-6), but others came from various backgrounds, including Levites and common people. Their expertise extended beyond copying scriptures to include judicial procedures, often serving on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court system. Their profound knowledge of the Bible, dedication to service, and strict adherence to the Laws earned them respect and authority among the Jewish people.

However, their traditionalism often led scribes to oppose Jesus. They frequently aligned with the Pharisees in resisting Jesus’ teachings, which challenged their man-made laws and traditions. Despite their opposition to Jesus, it’s important to recognize the scribes’ significant role in preserving the Scriptures and guiding people according to God’s Word.

The Role and Influence of Scribes

In addition to meticulously copying the Pentateuch, scribes deeply studied the Scriptures and provided guidance on their application in daily life. Their interpretations and teachings were orally transmitted from generation to generation, forming a substantial part of Jewish tradition. Highly esteemed for their wisdom, top-level scribes were known as Rabbis.

A notable difference between the scribes and Jesus was their teaching methods. Scribes based their teachings on traditional interpretations and directions passed down from previous generations. In contrast, Jesus taught with His own authority (Lk 4:32), and His teachings carried weight because He practiced what He preached.

Scribes vs. Scholars of the Law

It is essential to differentiate between scribes and scholars of the law. Scholars of the law were experts in the Mosaic laws given in the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah or Pentateuch. They were not regular lawyers as understood today but specialized scribes focusing on Mosaic law. An example is the lawyer who questioned Jesus in Luke 10:25-37. Such scholars were highly sought after since the Israelites’ lives were governed by the written laws and their interpretations.


Though the scribes opposed Jesus, their contributions to the preservation of the Holy Scriptures and the education of the people were significant. As Christians, we are called to love the Bible, learn from it, and help others understand its teachings.

Unlike the scribes of Jesus’ time, we should strive to practice what the Bible teaches. James 1:22-25 reminds us to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. By living out the teachings of the Bible, we reflect the love and truth of Christ in our daily lives. Let us cherish the Word of God, allow it to transform us, and guide others towards the light of its truth.

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