In our day, when we want to make a copy of a document, it’s relatively easy. We go to our printer, turn it on, and with a touch of buttons, we can make all kinds of selections (color, pagination, reducing, enlarging, stapling, binding, etc.). We do it without thinking too hard. And provided our printer is working properly, the printer will give us just what we selected.
It’s so easy for us to forget the great difficulties that belonged to the copying of early Greek manuscripts by hand. Printing presses certainly came much later.
Here is a job description for a scribe:
- 48 hour work week
- Must possess superior writing skills
- Superior concentration
- Willing to take correction
- Conditions: work space = board balanced over knees, sitting on stool
- Environment: very cold in winter and hot and humid in summer
- Poor lighting
- Pay = room & board
- No conversation during working hours
- Excellent eyesight and hearing a must
- Discipline for errors (often missing meals for a day; possible whipping)
- Commitment for 15 years
My question is this…How many of you would sign up for a job like this? ?
The truth of the matter is that early scribes were so committed to the transmission of the Greek text and its timeless message(s) from one generation to the next or to a new geographical area that they gave their lives, and in many cases, their health—to further the Christian gospel.
Stay Tuned…I have a 5 part video series coming soon which walks through the history and source documents of the New Testament!
-Dr. J. Lyle Story, Professor of Biblical Languages Regent University