A position in Boy Scouts, just like Troop Librarian.

The scribe has the job of taking the minutes of a meeting, taking attendance, etc.

If a first class scout or better does this for at least 6 months or more, they can finish one of their requirements for advancement. Note that you can't just do a poor job, you're reviewed in a Scoutmaster conference, and a Board of review, kinda like a job audit.

grammatica dividit

The first scribes were the archivists and scriveners in the employ of the official bureaucracy of the fertile crescent in the late fourth millennium before Christ. The professional development paralleled the need for records of economic transactions, in origin nothing more complicated than a clay tablet stating something like 'I sold 4 sheep to Utuhegal the Leatherworker today', then sealed and placed on the shelf until Utuhegal tries to sue for non-delivery of 4 sheep.

But let's concentrate on purely mechanical aspects here. The need for scribes grew with the need for records of political and social transactions; the more complex these became, the more recordings were needed. Thus we have many records and many scribes being educated in the Akkadian empire of Sargon, in the Ur III period, and in the Babylonian state of Hammurabi, but relatively few during the unstable periods, and so forth.

Scribal training was systematized relatively early, but the best records still date to the Old Babylonian period. Most likely, scribal training remained within families, though this is far from certain, and began at a relatively young age. We can trace the development of these school-boys (female scribes were rare) through school texts, identified archaeologically by their distinctive shape, content, and failures in writing (though it is admittedly almost impossible to distinguish between the writing of an advanced student and an incompetent, practicing scribe). In the first stage, a student simply learned how to form basic strokes, then signs; some 300 were required to write a workable cuneiform text. In the second stage, he began copying dictations, learning the terminology necessary to write legal documents and form letters. Here also he began with lexical lists, tablets divided into three columns containing a Sumerian cuneiform sign, its pronunciation, and its Akkadian meaning. Thousands of these remain, and seem to form the basic method of learning Sumerian as a foreign language, organized sometimes alphabetically (first sign bu, second ba, third bi, etc.), sometimes topically (types of trees, types of birds, etc.). The last stage of training was instruction in literature, in which the students composed and copied temple hymns, wisdom literature, and traditional stories and mythology. These basics of literacy were supplemented by mathematics, astronomy, and even music.

The scribal schools (Sumerian edubba) were run by professional teachers (called "fathers"), who with their own teaching assistants ("elder brothers") taught the "sons of the tablet house" in their particular fields; we know most schools had a professor of Sumerian to teach that language separately (whether lectures were held in Sumerian or not is still a matter of debate). Corporal punishment was quite common for slackers, and many so-called "school days texts" talk about poor conditions, ill treatment by disinterested teachers, and seditious students unwilling to learn their lessons. Advancement required successful completion of exams: translating obscure Sumerian lexical terms, or listing technical terms used by metal-workers. The individual schools were often, but not always, connected with the temples or palace. Indeed, the scribes were an almost completely lay group; priests and royal officials were usually illiterate.

The social importance of these scribes is not in the creation of a new and thriving body of literature, though certainly remarkable innovation takes place through the 3000 years of Mesopotamian political history, but the preservation of a traditional and conservative element. Early military and economic expeditions took along scribes, and ensured the expansion of the cuneiform writing system throughout the Middle East, adapted by the Elamites, the Hittites, the Persians, and countless other, lesser peoples. With the writing system came a rich literary tradition, religion and mythology, and ritual and cultural practices which spread to the foreign peoples and reinforced the dominance of the Mesopotamian city-states and empires. The fixed written tradition, in function similar to the oral traditions of the Irish bards or the Indic Vedas, served as a carrier of cultural continuity which survived countless political upheavals. This scribal tradition allowed Babylon, the site of one of the most important scribal schools, and Marduk to survive long after the imperial torch had passed to Assur, and the Babylonian Berossos in the 3rd century B.C. to continue writing about 2000-year old stories for a Greek audience.

Though of course this whole business above has been limited to Akkadian Mesopotamia, the same principle applies to Rome in the 4th century of the empire, Byzantium in the dark ages, Egypt in the interdynastic periods and first millennium time of foreign dominance, and the monasteries of Medieval Europe. Scribal schools and education, though functionally supporting the administration, became guardians of language, preserving the mechanics of literary, cultural transmission.

{Jewish Sects and Orders}

The word Scribe appears to be used in Scripture with different meanings at different periods in the history. Literally signifying "writer," it would naturally have this variety of application according to the kind of writing required. Thus in the Old Testament it denotes at times what we should term a secretary of state (See 2 Samuel 20:25; 2 Kings 19:2, etc.) in charge of secular (Nehemiah 13:13) or military affairs (2 Kings 25:19; Jeremiah 52:25).

Undoubtedly, however, the chief use of the term was in relation to the Word of God ("scripture"), of which the Scribe was the copyist, depositary, and expounder. In this sense Baruch is the first "Scribe" of whom we read (Jeremiah 36:4, etc.) and Ezra the most illustrious (Nehemiah 8:1). After the time of the latter, when the Old Testament canon was arranged, and the custody and transmission of the sacred books were entrusted to the "Great Synagogue," the Scribes became a recognized order. The arrangement was rendered all the more necessary from the fact that after the captivity the Chaldee, or square letters, were adopted in place of the ancient Hebrew characters, the language of course remaining the same; and the work of transcribing the sacred books became one of great labor and responsibility - nothing less than the rewriting of the nation's literature.

The art of writing was long confined to the few; and very naturally the transcriber and reader of Scripture became its expositor. By degrees, therefore, the Scribes assumed the office of public teachers; the very priests, unless also Scribes, taking a subordinate place. Herod consulted the chief priests and Scribes as to where the Christ should be born; they forthwith examined the sacred writings and informed him (Matthew 2:4-6). They sat as teachers in Moses' seat (Matthew 23:2,3). To their authority on doctrinal matters frequent appeal was made (Matthew 17:10). Their manner of teaching was compared with that of Jesus (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22). As the oral as well as the written Law was the subject of their teaching they are constantly coupled with the Pharisees, the great exponents of the former (Matthew 23 throughout; Luke 5:30, etc.). They are reproached as having often abused their calling for purposes of ostentation and extortion (Mark 12:38-40); and in the end they became among the most rancorous enemies of Christ (Matthew 26:3; etc., where "chief priests and scribes and elders" express the Sanhedrin, the great court of the nation), also of His Apostles (Acts 4:5; 6:12).

At the same time the office, from its responsibility and dignity, becomes the symbol of faithfulness in instruction (Matthew 13:52). And it was a Scribe to whom Jesus said, "'You are not for from the kingdom of God'" (Mark 12:34). Then true to his position, the Scribe sat in Moses' seat. He was the successor to the prophet. The prophet communicated new Scripture, the Scribe guarded and elucidated the old. Hence when the people saw that Jesus taught not as the Scribes, they discerned in Him no mere expositor, but an original instructor.

Scribe (?), n. [L. scriba, fr. scribere to write; cf. Gr. a splinter, pencil, style (for writing), E. scarify. Cf. Ascribe, Describe, Script, Scrivener, Scrutoire.]


One who writes; a draughtsman; a writer for another; especially, an offical or public writer; an amanuensis or secretary; a notary; a copyist.

2. Jewish Hist.

A writer and doctor of the law; one skilled in the law and traditions; one who read and explained the law to the people.


© Webster 1913.

Scribe (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Scribed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Scribing.]


To write, engrave, or mark upon; to inscribe.


2. Carp.

To cut (anything) in such a way as to fit closely to a somewhat irregular surface, as a baseboard to a floor which is out of level, a board to the curves of a molding, or the like; -- so called because the workman marks, or scribe, with the compasses the line that he afterwards cuts.


To score or mark with compasses or a scribing iron.

Scribing iron, an iron-pointed instrument for scribing, or marking, casks and logs.


© Webster 1913.

Scribe, v. i.

To make a mark.

With the separated points of a pair of spring dividers scribe around the edge of the templet. A. M. Mayer.


© Webster 1913.

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