Amanuensis [ipa: əˌmænjuˈɛnsɪs] is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour. The term is derived from a Latin expression which may be literally translated as "manual labourer".

Origin and secretarial uses

The word originated in ancient Rome, for a slave at his master's personal service 'within hand reach', performing any command; later it was specifically applied to an intimately trusted servant (often a freedman) acting as a personal secretary.

A similar semantic evolution occurred at the French royal court, where the "secrétaire de la main du roi", originally a lowly clerk specializing in producing (technically forging, but on royal command) the Sovereign's signature on more documents than he cared to put his pen to, developed into the "secrétaires d'état", the first permanent portfolio ministers, to which the British Secretaries of State would be the counterpart.

The term is often used interchangeably with "secretary" or "scribe".

Academic uses

It is also used in a specific sense in some academic contexts, for instance when an injured or disabled person is helped by an amanuensis at a written examination.

In the Netherlands it refers to a (technically schooled) physics laboratory assistant responsible for preparing and assisting with tests and maintaining the instruments. When employed as such in a school environment s/he will have the title of "TOA" Technical Teaching Assistant

In Norway, "amanuensis" is an academic rank corresponding to that of assistant professor in the United States. "Førsteamanuensis" (Norwegian for "first amanuensis") is the equivalent of associate professor.

In Sweden, "amanuens" is used to denote roughly a teaching assistant.

The term is used to describe one who assists an organist during a performance, by drawing and retiring stops, and by turning pages.

Laborial uses

On the other hand, certain employers use the term for (generally unskilled) manual labourers at the bottom of the hierarchy, e.g. as factotum.

ources and references

*Bokmålsordboken (official Norwegian language dictionary)
*Pauly-Wissowa (Encyclopaedia on classical antiquity, in German)
*Larousse (General Encyclopaedia in French)

*Aland, Kurt. “The Problem of Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Christian Literature of the First Two Centuries.” "Journal of Theological Studies" 12 (1961): 39-49.
*Bahr, Gordon J. “Paul and Letter Writing in the First Century.” "Catholic Biblical Quarterly" 28 (1966): 465-77. idem, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters.” "Journal of Biblical Literature" 2 (1968): 27-41.
*Bauckham, Richard J. “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters.” "Journal of Biblical Literature" 107 (1988): 469-94.
*Carson, D.A. “Pseudonymity and Pseudepigraphy.” "Dictionary of New Testament Background". Eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000. 857-64.
*Cousar, Charles B. "The Letters of Paul". Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
*Deissmann, G. Adolf. "Bible Studies". Trans. Alexander Grieve. 1901. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988.
*Doty, William G. "Letters in Primitive Christianity". Guides to Biblical Scholarship. New Testament. Ed. Dan O. Via, Jr. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
*Gamble, Harry Y. “Amanuensis.” "Anchor Bible Dictionary". Vol. 1. Ed. David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
*Haines-Eitzen, Kim. “‘Girls Trained in Beautiful Writing’: Female Scribes in Roman Antiquity and Early Christianity.” "Journal of Early Christian Studies" 6.4 (1998): 629-46.
*Longenecker, Richard N. “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles.” "New Dimensions in New Testament Study". Eds. Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974. 281-97. idem, “On the Form, Function, and Authority of the New Testament Letters.” "Scripture and Truth". Eds. D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. 101-14.
*Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. "Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills". Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1995.
*Richards, E. Randolph. "The Secretary in the Letters of Paul". Tübingen: Mohr, 1991. idem, “The Codex and the Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” "Bulletin for Biblical Research" 8 (1998): 151-66. idem, "Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition, and Collection". Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
*Robson, E. Iliff. “Composition and Dictation in New Testament Books.” "Journal of Theological Studies" 18 (1917): 288-301.
*Stowers, Stanley K. "Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity". Library of Early Christianity. Vol. 8. Ed. Wayne A. Meeks. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.
*Wall, Robert W. “Introduction to Epistolary Literature.” "New Interpreter’s Bible". Vol. 10. Ed. Leander E. Keck. Nashville: Abingdon, 2002. 369-91.

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  • Amanuensis — (Plural: Amanuenses) ist eine veraltete Bezeichnung für einen Sekretär oder Schreibgehilfen eines Gelehrten. Der Begriff ist lateinischen Ursprungs und kann wörtlich als „Handarbeiter“ oder „Handlanger“ übersetzt werden. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • amanuensis — (n.) one who takes dictation, 1610s, from L. amanuensis adjective used as a noun, from servus a manu secretary, lit. servant from the hand, from a from + manu, ablative of manus hand (see MANUAL (Cf. manual) (adj.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • amanuensis — amanuènsis m DEFINICIJA pov. 1. u antičkom Rimu rob koji obavlja pisarske poslove 2. u srednjem vijeku prepisivač rukopisa 3. naziv za početnika u bibliotekarskom zvanju ETIMOLOGIJA lat. (servus) amanuensis ≃ manus: ruka …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Amanuensis — A*man u*en sis, n.; pl. {Amanuenses}. [L., fr. a, ab + manus hand.] A person whose employment is to write what another dictates, or to copy what another has written. [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Amanuensis — (röm. Ant.), 1) in der Kaiserzeit Sklav, welcher für seinen Herrn schrieb, demselben vorlas, überhaupt ihm zu wissenschaftlichen Zwecken diente; 2) jetzt auf höheren Schulen od. an Universitäten Schüler od. Studenten, welche dem Lehrer od.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Amanuénsis — (lat., »Handlanger«), bei den Römern ein Sklave, der dem Herrn als Sekretär diente; auf Universitäten soviel wie Famulus (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Amanuénsis — (lat.), bei den alten Römern der Sklave, dessen man sich zum Abschreiben, Vorlesen etc. bediente; jetzt, ähnlich wie Famulus, ein Schüler oder Student, der seinem Lehrer Hilfsdienste leistet …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Amanuensis — Amanuensis, bei den Römern der Sklave, der als Sekretär, Vorleser u. dgl. diente; daher jetzt Famulus, Abschreiber, Gehilfe von Gelehrten, Studenten und Oberschreibern …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • amanuensis — noun clerk, recorder, recording secretary, scribe, scrivener, secretary, writer Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • AMANUENSIS — vide infra Scriptor …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

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