Learning to be a Biblical Scribe: Examples from the Letter Writing Genre

William M. Schniedewind


The paper illustrates how scribal education shaped and influenced biblical
literature. It discusses how educational curriculum can be reconstructed from
Hebrew inscriptions and comparative examples in cuneiform literature. The
Hebrew educational curriculum was adapted from cuneiform models in the 12th
century BCE. These models were known in Canaan, and then used by early
alphabetic scribes. The best repository of ancient Hebrew scribal practice comes
from the desert fortress of Kuntillet ʿAjrud where all the categories of elementary
scribal education are known. Perhaps the most important of these was letter
writing, which was a basic part of a scribe’s everyday duties. Not surprisingly, letter
writing was also one of the foundations of scribal education, and it was adapted
and used for writing biblical literature in ways both mundane and profound. This
included both the structuring of biblical narrative and the genre of writing


Scribes. Education. Letters Prophecy. Biblical narrative.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7213/2175-1838.12.002.DS02


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