The Finger of the Scribe: How Scribes Learned to Write the Bible
William Schniedewind (UCLA) with Aaron Burke (UCLA)
One of the enduring problems in biblical studies is how the Bible came to be written. Clearly, scribes were involved. But our knowledge of scribal training in ancient Israel is limited. William Schniedewind explores the unexpected cache of inscriptions discovered at a remote, Iron Age military post called Kuntillet ‘Ajrud to reconstruct how scribes were taught to write. Here, far from such urban centers as Jerusalem or Samaria, plaster walls and storage pithoi were littered with inscriptions. Apart from the sensational nature of some of the contents—perhaps suggesting Yahweh had a consort—these inscriptions reflect actual student exercises among soldiers stationed near the frontier. What emerges is a glimpse of the ancient Israelite educational system: how Hebrew scribes were trained, the Mesopotamian and cuneiform pedigrees of these training methods, and how these shaped the Bible.