To help you better understand the historical-cultural context of the Acts of Faith series (The Centurion’s Wife, The Hidden Flame, and The Damascus Way), I’d like to introduce you to the primary Judean authorities at the early part of Acts. This is Part 5 of 10.
The first-century scribes are often portrayed as simply copying the text of the Scriptures. But the scribes were also responsible for education. They specialized in the intricacies of the Law, maintaining the exactitude of the holy texts and their interpretations.
Scribes were most often Pharisees but could also be Sadducees. It is widely believed that all the scribes referred to in the Gospels were Pharisees, so we will focus our attention upon this group.
These scribes were obsessed with the end times. They might spend entire lifetimes in endless discussions over the apocalyptic texts, such as the visions of Daniel.
The Pharisees and their scribes were concerned enough about Jesus’ early teachings that they went out into the countryside and searched for him. At that point, the Sadducees basically ignored him.
Because Jesus began talking about the kingdom of heaven, which he claimed was close at hand. They easily dismissed a poor Galilean, and a Nazarene at that, and his talk about heaven.
In contrast the Pharisees lived for this, their scribes in particular. So when Jesus began his teaching on the kingdom, revealing his vision at odds with their own, he came into direct conflict with the scribes.
These Pharisee scribes had a checklist, one developed over generations. They knew precisely how the Messiah was to come and how the end times were going to unfold. To be a Pharisee and a scribe meant that they had memorized these texts, imbedded them into the fabric of their daily life. They had it down cold.
When they heard Jesus say the kingdom of heaven is here—it is now, and when he chided them for becoming lost in minutia and forgetting their responsibilities to the people, they were incensed. From that moment on, they conspired to shut him down.
Here are links to each of the books in the Acts of Faith Series. I believe it will enhance your understanding of first-century power players to read the novels as we progress through this series.
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Coming next: The Sanhedrin