The Amanuensis in Scripture: Who it is?
Its importance in hearing the Feminine Voice of Scripture
It should come as no surprise to us (who have been taught the old standard line about 30 men who wrote the Bible) that not every word purported to appear in certain books was written by the original author whose name may appear on the book. A very simple example of this concerns the death of Moses, which is referenced in a narrative text found in Deuteronomy 34. While this text is certainly a part of the Mosaic body literature, which we call ‘the Law of Moses” or ‘the Torah’, it is clear that this text is added by some type of an authorized secretarial figure. This is just one place where we find this phenomenon taking place.
In fact, not only are small explanatory texts added or placed in collections of books written by others, but whole books which bear the names of certain persons, were in fact written by other people, known as “amanuenses”, an academic word for a ‘secretary.’
It might also be a surprise to some that divine beings also have their own texts written by human hands. Note the following quote:
“There are five books in the New Testament which represent the basic teachings of Christ within a historical framework. They are called the four Gospels and the Book of Acts. The first four books account for the period when Christ taught in the flesh (both before and after his resurrection) and the fifth occupies the period from the conclusion of his earthly teaching (Acts 1:4-11) and continues with the progression of that teaching (now directed from heaven) until it reached the city of Rome.
There is a unity of purpose and design within these five historical books. Indeed, the Book of Acts is as much a "Gospel" as the first four, though it is common to designate only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by the literary term "Gospels." This is a proper designation because the fifth book is simply a continuation of Luke's Gospel. It would be perfectly proper to call Luke's first composition "The First Gospel of Luke," and the Book of Acts "The Second Gospel of Luke." The internal evidence shows that both are truly "Gospels" in the strict sense of the word. This means there are really five Gospels in the New Testament, not four.
This fact has been recognized by scholars. As mentioned before, Luke's first Gospel deals with the teachings of Christ while he was in the flesh, while the second is the Gospel of the Holy Spirit directed by Christ from heaven, Note the appraisal of Ehrhardt. "The whole purpose of the Book of Acts ... is no less than to be the Gospel of the Holy Spirit" (The Construction and Purpose of the Acts of the Apostles, St.Th., XII, 1958, p.55). (Ernest L. Martin, Restoring the Original Bible, ASK Publications: 1994, pg.332))
Most of the New Testament books were not written by the people directly whose names appear on them.
“As for the Gospel of Mark, it has long been known that John Mark was recognized as the secretary, or amanuensis, of the apostle Peter. Indeed, in the Gospel of Mark the great humility of Peter is conspicuous in all parts of it. Where anything is related which might show Peter's weakness, we find it recorded in detail whereas the other Gospels often show Peter's strengths. In Mark there is scarcely an action by Christ in which Peter is not mentioned as being a close observer or communicant. All of this affords a reasonable deduction that the writer of the Gospel of Mark was an eyewitness and close observer of the events recorded about Christ's life from the baptism of John to his crucifixion in Jerusalem. The ancient testimony of Papias, in the early second century, that Mark was the secretary of the apostle Peter (and not the actual eyewitness himself) has such good credentials, and the internal evidence of the Gospel itself is so compatible to this view that it seems evident that the Gospel of Mark is really the Gospel of Peter.” (ibid. pg. 335-336)
“There was no reason for such a change because it can be shown that Mark and Luke were simply the secretaries for two apostles: Peter and Paul. It was common in the first century for men of authority to have amanuenses (official secretaries) to write their letters or books for them. Paul used such people on many occasions. His writing of the Book of Romans is an example. "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord" (Romans 16:22). Most, if not all, of Paul's epistles were actually written by amanuenses whom he maintained on his staff of transcribers. Since Luke was a companion of Paul, it is perfectly proper to assume that Luke's Gospel and the Book of Acts were actually the historical record which Paul called "my Gospel" in Second Timothy 2:8.” (ibid. pg.335)
Now, if it was common for some of the men of Scripture to have and use amanuenses are we to be surprised if some of the men whose writings appear in Scripture acted as amanuenses mainly for their mothers? This should not surprise us at all and in fact, we have direct testimony in Scripture that this is exactly the case. Note Proverbs 31:1:
"The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him." (Proverbs 31:1 ESV)
No one knows who this Lemuel is (some say it is Solomon and if that is the case, then the person who authored this section of Scripture is Bathsheba!) Who is the author makes no difference. What is important is that this text of Scripture is 100% authored by a woman and transcribed by her son, her secretary.
Have you ever noticed how close Solomon and his mother were? I have always been blown away at the image of the King bowing down to his mother when she requested to see him! Talk about respect and honor being displayed to one’s mom!
“So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king's mother, and she sat on his right.” (1 Kings 2:19 ESV)
So, now that we have this very specific open example of a son being the secretary for his mother, can we find any other instances of this in Scripture? One may be very surprised at what one might find if we are just willing to be open to the idea.