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Re: orion-list Scribes - Transcribers vs. Lawyers

George Brooks asked:
   >[snip]  Was there different terms or terminology
   >for scribes who "transcribed" and "copied" documents....
   >versus..... those scribes who functioned as lawyers?

There is little question that scribal duties were differentiated by type
and title; BUT, only a few of the actual terms have come down to us...
and these mostly in Latin. In antiquity they made a clear distinction
between the physical act of writing (e.g. Classical and early late Latin
- caraxare and, incidentally, Old English staEfwritere) and the mental act
of writing (Latin - scribere). The conflation of the term 'scribere' to
mean *both* the author (mental act) and the writer of graphic characters
(physical act) is late, roughlly 7th-8th century CE. In all known cases, the
term (caraxare - character-writer, staEfwritere - graphic character-writer)
is descriptive of someone performing the physical act. If we bear these
facts in mind, we may better understand the use of, for example,
'catvan'/'catav' and 'sofer' in Hebrew.

   >Or does the idea that scribes functioned as lawyers
   >come more from the creative imaginations of New Testament
   >scholars who are trying to explain the use of the term "scribe"
   >in the Bible?

We have a dual heritage in the West, but people tend to ignore it...
The term "lawyer" has a dual meaning, something still recognized in
British terminology: a 'solicitor' prepares legal documents, an
'advocate' speaks for one... both are "lawyers" in the wider meaning
of the word.

The concept of using an advocate, someone to speak for oneself, comes
from Roman and Greek practices; it is not Semitic. On both sides of
the ANE, scribes (I wish I had another term to use, 'solicitors'??)
performed notarial duties from the very beginning. One aspect of
notarial duties is the preparation of legal documents...

The 'creativity' may stem from a lack of differentiation and
resultant misunderstanding, and not from what is actually written
in the texts.

Just some thoughts on the subject,


Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L  risa@hol.gr

For private reply, e-mail to "Rochelle I. Altman" <risa@mail.hol.gr>
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