The Authority of the Scribes
There's no doubt that the Scribes were diligent about preserving The written Word. They even went through painstaking methods of copying the Torah. Yet, they were intent on discovering hidden meanings not only in every word, but in every syllable and every letter of every word. Their investigation of the letter of the law was destructive of all spiritual instruction.Jesus clearly denounced peoples dependence upon the "tradition of the elders" (Mark 7:7,8) and he pronounced Woe to those "lawyers" who had taken away the key of knowledge, entering not in themselves, and hindering those who are trying to enter.
When the Bible says that after Jesus had spoken they had been "astonished
at His doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their
Scribes" (Matt. 7:28-29), there's no doubt about the contrast of Jesus
teaching and that of the Scribes.
During the time of Jesus Christ there were Jewish teachers who explained the Torah, the law of God, by translating it (The Targums arise from this group), and giving commentary in the form of Haggadah (parables and various sayings) and would carefully show how the instructions of the law, for example, laws relating to the Sabbath and food, were to be lived out in everyday life (Halachah).At this time, in addition to the written law, volumes of explanations were given, believed to have been handed down orally by men of God. These oral commandments carried with them great authority. It is exactly these oral traditions which is referred to in the New Testament. (Mark 7:9; Matthew 15; Galatians 1:14).
Most of the time the Scribes earned their living by copying and interpreting the law. They were not in absolute agreement as to their explanations of Scripture, which were usually given in the Beth-hamidrash (House of study).In the New Testament the Scribes are mentioned as the "teachers" of the law, the rabbis and the official leaders of the people, along with the Pharisees, and the Gospels referred to them as "doctors of the Law". According to the New Testament they sat in the Sanhedrin (Matt 16:21).
Jesus came into conflict with the Scribes often because He and His disciples did not observe their traditions. Mark 7 describes an example of Jesus and His followers not observing traditional rules in relation to the Sabbath and cleanness. In Matt. 23, where Jesus pronounces his woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees, He repeated His prophetic curse upon them, "Woe to you" eight times because of their arrogance, hypocrisy, self-seeking ambition and scrupulous observances.