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Modern scholars are divided concerning the existence of scribal schools in Israel during the Iron Age — B. But the eventual standardization of the Hebrew letter forms and writing system between the eighth and sixth centuries B.

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The education of scribes in ancient Israel was supported at least in part by the state and the Temple cult , although some scribal arts could have been taught within a small number of families. Even after some of the earliest portions of what later became Scripture were committed to writing perhaps in the eighth to seventh centuries B.

Most people did not read the texts that would become parts of the Bible, but rather heard them. Literacy rates in the ancient Near East , including Israel, were extremely low—between 5 and 15 percent of the total population, with urban centers averaging higher percentages. And while the vast majority of literate individuals and scribes appear to have been men from the upper end of the socioeconomic and societal spectrum, texts recovered from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt indicate that women—daughters of scribes or members of the royal entourage—occasionally also functioned as scribes.

Ancient Israelite scribes had many opportunities for contact with literate individuals from other cultures—through merchants who traded both goods and stories, for example, or through military and governmental figures, foreign and local.

History of the Bible - Who Wrote the Bible - Why It's Reliable ? History Documentary

These verbal interactions offered a way to engage with the shared conceptual landscape and linguistic traditions of the wider ancient Near East. Some non-Israelite myths, traditions, law, and lore became integrated into Israelite tradition. This trend came to a head during the Babylonian Exile B. Our best evidence for scribal activity in ancient Judaism , and its relation to the Hebrew Bible, comes from the witness of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Discovered beginning in and dating from approximately B.

Although many of these manuscripts are nearly identical to the consonantal text that would become standard in later Judaism the Masoretic Text , others diverge from that text in striking ways. These are more similar to the Hebrew text from which the Septuagint, the early Greek Bible, was translated. Until the turn of the millennium, the scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their related communities lived in an era in which they were free to innovate.

There was, as yet, no finalized form of the Hebrew Bible. This type of inexact copying, whether in the case of books appearing in fundamentally different editions or in words differing here and there, quite possibly had its origin in the oral culture that originally produced what became the Bible.

These too reflect a milieu in which texts that became the Bible were extremely flexible. Even once the collection of books that formed the Bible the canon began to stabilize, each version of a book retained variations. This is not surprising; in the ancient Near Eastern world, important works typically circulated in different versions and among different communities.

Historicity of the Bible - Wikipedia

Such variations were a reflection of diverse oral traditions and scribal interpretation of that tradition. The paucity of literary remains from Judah and Israel during the biblical period suggests that facility in reading and writing was largely limited to scribal families. Knowing something about ancient Near Eastern history and culture will deepen the historical understanding of the documents that compose the Hebrew Bible.

The Bible did not just appear in its entirety. It was written, edited, and collected by people over the centuries. Over a thousand-year period, biblical texts were written onto scrolls, copied by scribes, and circulated in various communities who deemed them canonical or not. Ann E. Philip R. Davies: 'Josiah and the Law Book' Lester Grabbe's new book addresses this dispute directly.

The essays, from a variety of scholars, range from general reflections on historical method to studies of particular episodes in the history of ancient Israel and the sources for them, especially the Hebrew Bible. To help the reader sort these essays out, Grabbe provides summaries of them, along with remarks on the common issues they treat and the context of contemporary scholarship to which they belong.

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The essays themselves are detailed and provocative, and while a number of them take a seriously critical stance toward the Hebrew Bible as a reliable historical source, Grabbe has sought in places to balance these out with others that offer an opposing or moderating voice. In all, a substantial volume that repays close scrutiny.


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  1. Historicity of the Bible - Wikipedia!
  2. Loop Group: A Novel;
  3. Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?: Lester L. Grabbe: T&T Clark.
  4. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East?
  5. H. G. M. Williamson.
  6. Historicity of the Bible;
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