Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

(writer). The Hebrew scribe or writer appears to have been at first a court or military official (Ex. 5:6; Judg. 5:14); then secretary or recorder, for kings, priests, and prophets (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25); finally a secretary of state, doctor, or teacher (Ezra 7:6). Scribes became a class or guild, copyists and expounders of the law, and through their innovations fell under the same denunciations as priests and Pharisees (Matt. 23:1-33; Mark 7:5-13; Luke 5:30).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

In the Old Testament this word is applied to the officer who carried on the correspondence for a king, the army, and so forth, what is now generally understood by secretary (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Chron. 24:11; Esther 3:12; Isa. 36:3). It is also applied to those who wrote and explained the scriptures: thus Ezra was “a ready scribe in the law,” even “a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord,” though he was also a priest (Ezra 7:6, 11; Neh. 8:1-13).
In the New Testament the word is used in the sense in which it is applied to Ezra, and scribes are classed with the chief priests and the elders. They are described as sitting in Moses’ seat, and what they taught was to be observed; but, alas, their works were not to be followed (Matt. 7:29; Matt. 23:2,13-33). Many woes are proclaimed against them, and they are addressed, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Thus these men, who ought to have been examples to others, were publicly denounced because their practice denied what they taught. They did not form a separate sect in New Testament times, a person might be both scribe and Pharisee or Sadducee (compare Acts 23:9).

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Matthew 7:29. He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
See also Mark 1:22.
Anciently the scribes were merely officers whose duties included writing of various kinds; but, on the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the sopherim, as the scribes were called, were organized by Ezra into a distinct body, and they became interpreters of God’s law as well as copyists. Among other duties, they copied the Pentateuch, the Phylacteries, (see note on Matt. 23:5, #697) and the Mezuzoth. See note on Deuteronomy 6:9 (#190). So great was their care in copying that they counted and compared all the letters, to be sure that none were left out that belonged to the text, or none admitted improperly. On stated occasions they read the law in the synagogues. They also lectured to their disciples, and commented on the law.
The lawyers (see Matt. 22:35; Luke 7:30; 11:45; 14:3) and the doctors of the law (see Luke 2:46; 5: 17; Acts 5:34) were substantially the same as the scribes. Efforts have been made to show that different classes of duties were assigned to lawyers, doctors, and scribes, but without any very definite results. It may be, as some suppose, that the doctors were a higher grade than the ordinary scribes. The scribes were all carefully educated for their work from early life, and at an appropriate time—some say at the age of thirty—they were admitted to office with special forms of solemnity.
The scribes were not only copyists of the law, but they were also the keepers of the oral traditionary comments and additions to the law. Gradually accumulating with the progress of time these were numerous, and were regarded by many as of equal value with the law itself. To this Jesus alludes in Mark 7:5-13. Paul represents himself as having been, before his conversion, “exceedingly zealous of the traditions” of his fathers. Galatians 1:14. The scribes also adopted forced interpretations of the law, endeavoring to find a special meaning in every word, syllable, and letter. Thus the Saviour charges them: “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” Luke 11:52.
At the time of Christ the people were increasingly dependent on the scribes for a knowledge of their Scriptures. The language of the Jews was passing into the Aramaic dialect, and the mass of the people, being unable to understand their own sacred books, were obliged to accept the interpretation which the scribes put upon them. Hence their astonishment, as indicated in the text, at the peculiar style of teaching adopted by Jesus, and especially illustrated in his Sermon on the Mount. The scribes repeated traditions; Jesus spake with authority: “I say unto you.” They had but little sympathy with the masses; he went about mingling with the people, and explaining to them in a simple practical way the duties of religion.

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