Based on evidence taken from a wide range of source material, Christine Schams employs an innovative approach to the study of Jewish scribes and their role in the Second Temple period. This historical investigation uncovers the status and the functions of the scribes, and explore their role in ancient Jewish society. She begins with a detailed overview of previous scholarship, and discusses the corpus of relevant evidence and existing literature on the subject. She then presents new evidence, and provides a description of a large variety of economic, social, religious, and political factors operating during the Second Temple period which provides possible explanations for the complex evidence about the scribes. This important monograph will benefit the scholars of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish history.
Christine Schams succeeds in drawing together a wide range of relevant texts from a six-century span to construct a variegated portrayal of the status, power, and functions of Jewish scribes during the Second Temple period. She argues that the scribal role has changed over time and in different geographical locales. . . . In four chapters, she reviews prior scholarship on her topic, examines literature pertaining to scribes from the post-exilic Achaemenid Persian to the Roman period, and advances her own view of the evolution of the role and status of scribes. . . . A principle strength of Schams’ work is the comprehensiveness of sources she treats and her careful assessment of each of the sources. The book is well-researched and in dialogue with considerable scholarly literature. By treating all relevant sources from the Second Temple period, she has provided scholars with a very useful catalogue of information.
—Judith H. Newman, Review of Biblical Literature