The Scribal Prophet
Copyright 2017 Theresa Harvard Johnson
1 Peter 5:12 , "WITH THE HELP OF SILAS, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God."
The phrase "WITH THE HELP OF SILAS" would probably have indicated that Silas was dictating the Apostle Peter's words as he spoke. He would have served as an amaneusis or literary helper in modern language usage or a scribe in traditional scholarly study. Although Silas was Peter's brother in the Lord, he was accompanying him on a mission trip and would have assisted the senior apostle, as was protocol in that time. We know this by observation and references to Silas' interactions with the apostles through scripture.
Dictation was a common practice in the early church - not only among scribes, but prophets. Many published letters were ghostwritten, as we understand it today. While Silas may not have walked in the "office of a scribe," it is clear in this small passage that he was equipped in the craft - which would have required formal training, perhaps in a scribe school.
Another indicator that Silas may have served in the capacity of a scribe can be seen in this passage of Acts 15:27 , "Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing."
In antiquity, a critical role of scribes or those trained in the scribal arts was to deliver written messages by those they served, sometimes orally and in the form of a scroll. They would also post messages in public places as they travelled from city to city.
It is important to note, however, that Silas may have served as a scribe "as the gift was needed"... not necessarily out of a calling or the office. In other words, when Peter (or others) needed scribal help... he stepped up to the plate. Because he was a prophet and and exhorter, it would not be a far cry to say that he offered other scribal benefits to his companions as well in their missions. While we do not know for sure, these clues present reasonable arguments concerning scribal activity in the New Covenant. Visit The Scribal Arsenal online bookstore to learn more about the 21st Century ministry of the prophetic scribe and prophetic writer.
- Last Updated: 18 November 2017
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