They never wielded any political power, but they were admitted to the Sanhedrin on a par with the chief priests and elders and thus enjoyed official recognition.With the increasing formalism, which their influence doubtless helped to develop, the character of the scribes and their activities underwent a marked change.
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They are also rebuked by Christ because of the undue importance ascribed by them to the "traditions of the elders".
Their teaching on this point was that Moses himself had delivered to Israel an oral as well as a written Law.
This oral Law, according to their theory, had come down in an authentic form through the Prophets to Esdras, the first and greatest of the scribes, and rested practically on the same Divine authority as the written Word.
Through this conception of an oral law to which all their traditional customs and interpretations, however recent, were referred, the scribes were led into many departures from the spirit of the written Law ( Mark ), and even with regard to the latter their teaching was characterized by a slavish literalism.
When under Antiochus Epiphanes Hellenism threatened to overthrow the Jewish religion, the scribes joined the party of the zealous Assideans ( 1 Maccabees , 13 ), who were ready to die for their faith (see account of the martyrdom of the scribe Eleazar, 2 Maccabees -31 ), while not a few aristocratic members of the priesthood favoured the Hellenistic tendencies.
This resulted in a certain opposition between the two classes; the scribes, through their devotion to the Law, acquired great influence with the people while the priesthood lost much of its prestige.
But while the scribes devoted their chief attention to the Law, both written and oral, they also elaborated in fantastic and arbitrary fashion, teachings of an edifying character from the historical and didactic contents of the Old Testament.
These homiletic teachings were called Hagada, and embraced doctrinal and practical admonitions mingled with illustrative parables and legends. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online.
As a natural consequence, the scribes as a class became narrow, haughty and exclusive.