Tzvee Zahavy, "Political and Social Dimensions in the Formation of Early Jewish Prayer: the Case of the Shema`," from the Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, Division C, Vol. 1, pp. 33-40, Jerusalem, 1990.We still agree with our old hypothesis, evidence and conclusions, but now with a shift from the outside to the inside.
In our current writing project, we are seeking after, not history, but the archetypes that comprise the Jewish soul. We've found the scribe at the center of the crowd of the inner master personalities of the Jew.
We haven't yet tightly construed just what the scribe represents. Some canned definitions go like this, "Scribes in Ancient Israel, as in most of the ancient world, were distinguished professionals who could exercise functions we would associate with lawyers, government ministers, judges, or even financiers. Some scribes copied documents, but this was not necessarily part of their job" (from Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible, via Wikipedia).
We'd like to call the scribe the professional of the book for the people of the book. Scribes authored and or copied the Tanakh. the Mishnah, Midrash and Talmud. By later times they morphed into rabbis. They wrote and promoted the mitzvot of tefillin and mezzuzot, other amulets, marriage and divorce documents and more.
Keep in mind that scribes are archetypically distinct from priests and patriarchs (and the other characters that we shall describe). And here is how we began our story at a conference in Jerusalem in the old paradigm, now posted for your reading pleasure, and soon to be superseded by the new model:
Prayer services do not emerge spontaneously or arbitrarily in a vacuum. They are the public pronouncements of the central values and concepts of the religious leaders who initially propounded them and are social rituals that often emerge out of intense conflict and hard-fought compromise. Once established as standard within a given community, prayers are not easily changed because their rituals must be accountable on a regular basis to a community of pious devotees.
Specific historical, social and political conditions contributed to the distinct origin of two major rabbinic services. In the crucial transitional period after the destruction of the Temple, the Shema` emerged as the primary ritual of the scribal profession and its proponents. The Amidah at this formative time was a ritual sponsored mainly by the patriarchal families and their priestly adherents...