Scribes and Scribal Groups in the Early Second Temple Period


There is an increasing awareness among biblical scholars in various specialisation fields of the fact that the late Achaemenid-Persian and early Hellenistic periods were constitutive for the formation (origin, finalisation, redaction, etc.) of a significant part of the Hebrew Bible. Various scholars have therefore started investigating the broader discourses of these time periods in order to come to a better understanding of the interaction and cross-influence of different scribal groups of the time, and resultant literature formations. However, there is still not much collaboration between and correlation of results in the various fields of expertise. This 5-year research unit will therefore bring together scholars from various relevant sub-fields for the purpose of investigating the practices and cross-influences of scribal activities in the late Achaemenid-Persian and early Hellenistic periods in Jerusalem in Yehud/Judea. The aim will be to establish how scribal groups with different ideological (and theological) agendas participated in the political-theological discourses of their time, and how they contributed to the biblical literature formation processes of the time period.


Scribalism; Early Second Temple Biblical Literature; Literature Formation; Levitical Scribal Activity


Jaeyoung Jeon 

University of Lausanne 

Louis C. Jonker
University of Stellenbosch

Katharina Pyschny
Humboldt-University of Berlin

Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

Scholars have endeavoured to identify the authors and redactors of biblical texts since the beginning of modern biblical criticism and invented and used the notions of scribal groups or schools e.g., Dtr, P, and prophetic groups. Scholars, however, have paid less attention to the criteria for making a concrete connection between a text and a scribal group, their purpose, and meanings in a specific socio-historical context. Moreover, biblical scholars traditionally identified scribal groups based on the biblical texts without reflecting on the social-cultural contexts within which these scribal activities took place. This hiatus in biblical scholarship should therefore be appended with comparative studies from the wider ancient Near Eastern world and from extra-biblical literature. This session therefore aims to open in-depth and focused methodological discussions by addressing scribes and scribal groups in socio-historical perspective first and then by critically reassessing the definition of scribal groups based on the biblical literature. We cordially invite scholars working on issues on scribes, scribal groups and scribal activities within biblical and extra biblical literature, from the Persian period onwards, to submit papers on methodological aspects.