People of the Book

Posted: April 7, 2009 by joelmartin in Biblical Studies
     James Jordan has written that the writers of the Old Testament were “highly educated priests and Levites…The Bible is not written in parole Hebrew, but in written and also hieratic Hebrew. It is written in a line by men in a line, men who were a small majority at odds with their surrounding idol and high-place Israelite culture.” 
     I love this idea that the writers of the sacred books were not ignorant men, they were educated in what matters – both in terms of God and man. Michael Fishbane suggests that there were scribal guilds or schools based on I Chronicles 2.55, “The clans also of the scribes who lived at Jabez…” Fishbane points to Ecclesiastes 12.9-12 as an example of the compilation activity of a scribe. He points to the royal transmission of literature in Proverbs 25.1, “These also are the proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.”
     This devotion to the book, to writing, to reading and living the word of God is continued in our day. The Anglican tradition tells priests when they are ordained to “consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures, and in framing the manners both of yourselves, and of them that specially pertain unto you, according to the rule of the same Scriptures; and for this self-same cause, how ye ought to forsake and set aside, as much as ye may, all worldly cares and studies.”
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