SEEK THE CONTEXT: Biblical Texts, Language, Cultural Background & Meaning. Context Changes Everything!

Help for Imperfect Scribes

Help for Imperfect Scribes

Have you ever sent an email and then realized that you colossally misspelled a couple of words in your message? I have. And even worse, the grammatical structure of one of my sentences was so backward that I truly wondered if it made sense to the reader. It is human to make mistakes and most often we do not (and cannot) see the tiny errors we make. Ancient scribes who preserved biblical scrolls were meticulous but even they made errors.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…” (Is 61:1a) In this photo of the Great Isaiah Scroll (from the Dead Sea collection), you can see how a scribe from 2300 years ago left out the word “he has sent me” (שְׁלָחַנִי; shelachani) from Isaiah 61:1. After the scribe finished writing the sentance he added the missed word above the spot where it should be. Writing on a durable surface, this is the only way to correct the error.

Today we may not be responsible for preserving the Scriptures, but just as people who lived thousands of years ago, we make mistakes when we write. In my case, about 99% of what I write is digital, and unlike a leather scroll, a corrected mistake in a digital message is invisible! I want to tell you about a very modern digital tool I use these days to help me catch my errors before I hit “send” or “publish” buttons – its called Grammarly.

Grammarly is a piece of software used by millions today. More than 600 educational and corporate clients, including Princeton University, University of South Florida, University of Virginia tap into this writing aid. The app offers online spelling and grammar checking helping people find and correct all sorts of writing issues. Students get better grades, professionals look more professional, and language learners improve their written English.

The best part is the app is super easy to use, it plugs right into your browser and you can use Grammarly for FREE! A premium version costs a few bucks per month but offers more powerful help and you may want to upgrade depending on your writing needs. Go ahead click the banner above and try it out… I have been using it for years and I love it!  


I am an educator, researcher, a faculty member and an avid believer in online education. My specialties are Sacred Texts and Cultures (Second Temple period, early Judaism and nascent Christianity). I am passionate about meaning, context, and cultural transmission of ancient texts. My preoccupations with history, ancient languages and contextual interpretation often find expression in my blog posts. Every human has a pretext, every message has a context. Context changes everything! Enjoy reading.

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