In the ancient world, few people were able to read or write, and so scribes were called upon to perform various secretarial and legal duties and to write documents of history etc. A group of scribes served in the Sanhedrin, the highest administrative court of the Jews. These men were experts in the study of the law of Moses and as such instructed pupils in the synagogues. As they were responsible for upholding the law they were also termed lawyers (Mt 22:35; Lk 2:46, 5:21) Jesus condemned the external formalities which they fostered because although they taught, they did it without conviction or authority (Mt 7:28,29).

As was to be expected, the scribes who served the Pharisees sided with Paul on the matter of the resurrection while the Sadducean scribes opposed him (Acts 23:9).

See also: Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin.


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