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An Hypothesis about Scribal Authorship

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Studying Matthew for my Bethlehem Bible study (3/18/2009), Dennis Duling noted that a scribe probably composed this gospel and he alluded to Mat 13:52: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (NRSV: Harper-Collins Study Bible, page 1858) D. Duling noted that the Gospel was attributed to Matthew in the second century, probably to lend it authority.

The problem of ancient reverse plagiarism has always intrigued me. We commit the academic crime by copying someone else’s work and attaching our name to it. Someone wrote material back in ancient times and then attached someone else’s, that is, a famous person’s name to it.

Perhaps, however, because famous people did not know how to write, their scribes wrote for them in their behalf. If traditions were first oral and only later committed to writing, then the household of this scribe may well have been overseen by Matthew and then been recorded by this “Greek-speaking, Jewish Christian, probably a scribe,” as Duling puts it.

I used to think that the scribe belonged to a school or corporate personality and identified completely with the authority he wrote under, but that a scribe wrote for a famous person or their household may be a better explanation.


Written by peterkrey

March 18, 2009 at 6:23 pm

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