Did Jesus quote from the LXX
It is the claim by many people that Jesus and the apostles either read from or quoted from “the” Septuagint.
They claim that when Jesus quoted the OT he most often quoted from “the” Septuagint and not the Hebrew masoretic text. This therefore validates the text of “the” Septuagint over and above that of the masoretic text.
This claim is so often stated as a matter of fact. I do wonder how many who make this claim have actually studied the scriptures and the quotations themselves and are not simply regurgitating what they have been told. However there are those that have studied and yet still make this claim.
There are some problems with this claim.
Firstly there are no manuscripts from before the New Testament had been written that validate the claim. The earliest come from the 3rd century. 3rd century manuscripts are at least 200 years after the New Testament had already been composed. It is just as easily argued that the words of the New Testament quotes were retrospectively added back into the Old Testament passages after the New Testament had been written by those who saw the quotes did not align, thought that this was a mistake and then tried to better align the texts.
Secondly if Jesus most often quoted “the” Septuagint over the Hebrew but sometimes quoted the Hebrew over “the” Septuagint this would mean that Jesus was at best inconsistent with his quotations. It would also, while showing that Jesus thought “the” Septuagint was, percentage wise anyway, more accurate than the Hebrew, also show that there were at least places where Jesus thought the Hebrew was superior over “the” Septuagint. This means that the Jews must not have ONLY been using “the” Septuagint. Otherwise Jesus would have only quoted “the” Septuagint, there would have been no point in quoting the Hebrew which if they only used “the” Septuagint he would not have have had access to anyway. Jesus quoting the Hebrew at all, means the Jews must have also been using the Hebrew texts, and thus showing they did speak Hebrew at the time. Something many who claim Jesus quoted “the” Septuagint actually argue against.
Without going into the argument regarding the actuality of a Septuagint that was in existence at the time of Jesus.which I do argue against in another writing, this would mean that the Septuagint must have existed at the time of Jesus, the Jews in Jerusalem had a copy of it, they used it read from it and they presented Jesus with a copy for him to read from and they would also have had and utilised the Hebrew texts.
But let’s analyse some of these quotations of Jesus and the New Testament writers that supposedly came from “the” Septuagint.
We shall start with one of the most famous quotes of Jesus, where he actually reads from Isaiah and proclaims that he was the fulfilling of what he quoted.
Luke 4- 21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Jesus was presented with the book of Isaiah. He opened the book, found where it was written and proceeded to quote.
Luke 4- 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The words of Jesus are then recorded.
Luke 4-18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. KJV
The place we find this quote is Isaiah 61-1 and 2
Isaiah 61- 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;KJV
It does not take a Biblical scholar to see that the quote in Luke does not perfectly align with what is written in Isaiah. Most people who claim Jesus quoted “the” Septuagint will point to the clause In Luke “and recovering of sight to the blind,” which is not found in the passage in Isaiah which is translated from the Masoretic text. The clause is not found in the Masoretic text.
They will then point to the fact that the it is included in the passage of Isaiah that is found in “the” Septuagint.
Isaiah 61- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord”
Lancelot C. L. Brenton English translation of the LXX
So there you go. Clearly Jesus must have been quoting “the” Septuagint and not from the Hebrew. The clause is used by Jesus,it is not in the Hebrew but it is in “the” Septuagint.
Seems pretty straightforward. But all is not as straightforward as it might seem.
What is almost never mentioned is that there is in fact a clause that is included in the Hebrew of Isaiah that also appears in Luke that is NOT included in “the” Septuagint.
This being “to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Luke 4-18
“and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” Isaiah 61-1
While the words are not exactly the same the meaning implied is.
Liberty is the Greek ἄφεσις Aphesis meaning to release. Bruised is θραύω thrauó and can mean oppressed which has the same meaning as those that are bound.
This clause as stated is totally missing from the Septuagint.
So while it is true that “the” Septuagint does have one clause that the MT does not have. The Masoretic text also has a clause that “the” Septuagint does not. If the argument can be made that Jesus must have quoted “the” Septuagint because Jesus used a clause that is found only in “the” Septuagint then we can use that EXACT same argument to actually say that Jesus quoted the Hebrew Masoretic text and not “the” Septuagint..
If Jesus using a clause not found in the Hebrew text supports the use of “the“ Septuagint then the clause found in the Masoretic text and not “the” Septuagint must be used as support for his quoting the Masoretic text, if we are going to remain honest and consistent anyway. If Jesus did quote directly from the Septuagint then he did no better a job of it than if he quoted directly from the Hebrew as the quote found in Luke is NEITHER a perfect match of the Hebrew or “the” Septuagint.
The FACT is Jesus did not quote ANY text word for word which as we have seen is demonstrably so, and neither is there any reason that he should have.
Luke states that Jesus turned to where it was written. Not that Jesus quoted the passage word for word. Jesus and in fact many NT writers expounded and explained the word as it was written. They did not quote what was written in the exact way that it was written.
God himself quoted people not using the exact words that they had used.
In Genesis God told Abraham that Sarah was going to have a son.
Sarah laughed at this
Genesis 18- 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
However when God “quoted” Sarah to Abraham in the VERY NEXT VERSE he does not in fact quote her word for word. Rather God simply “quotes” the meaning of what Sarah had said.
Genesis 18- 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
Another perfect example of a paraphrased quotation is found in 1 Samuel chapter 15
1 Samuel 15- 2Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
However when this is quoted in the same chapter the quote is not word for word.
1 Samuel 15- 18And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
The simple fact is that biblical quotations do not have to align perfectly in order to be quotes. It is evident that quotations simply need to reflect the general meaning of that which is being “quoted”.
The Biblical writers often amalgamated passages together. One example of this is found at the start of the mission of John the Baptist.
Mark 1-2As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee 3The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Prophets plural here because this quote of what was written is actually not found in one particular prophet.
“Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee” is found in Malachi 3-1
Malachi 3-1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
While “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Is found in Isaiah 40-3
Isaiah 40-3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Many new versions incorrectly state this is written in Isaiah the PROPHET singular in Mark 1-2
Mark 1-2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — NIV
Mark 1-2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, ESV
Mark 1-2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; NASB
This as shown is incorrect. Mark actually demonstrates that John the Baptist had amalgamated two saying from 2 different prophets not just Isaiah.
So back to the quotation of Jesus.
It cannot go without mentioning the total inconsistency of some modern versions such as the NIV and ESV. BOTH of these version omit the clause ““to heal the brokenhearted” in Luke, despite the clause being present in Isaiah 61-1 “to bind up the brokenhearted”
The Hebrew חָבַשׁ chabash means to bind like binding a bandage which has the same contextual meaning as to heal.
They omit this clause based on the fact it is not found in the text of Luke in Codex Vaticanus or Codex Sinaiticus.
However this clause IS included in the Septuagint of Isaiah
They then in fact have NOT followed the septuagint of which they proclaim Jesus quoted from.
BOTH the NIV and the ESV however DO include the clause in Isaiah which is what Jesus was supposedly quoting from.…..
Isaiah 61-1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, NIV
Isaiah 61- The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; ESV
The inconsistency is staggering and really makes a mockery of the claim Jesus quoted “the” Septuagint because of one clause found in “the” Septuagint. It’s just simply dishonest to ignore the rest of the evidence.
We must understand that “the” Septuagint that is in reference here was actually compiled in the 19th century some 1750+ years after the NT had been written.
If Jesus did quote “the” Septuagint which one did he quote and what were his words? The Text of “the” Septuagint of Brenton is not the same text as the Greek that Jesus would have used 2000 years ago had it actually existed that’s for sure, as shown.
Jesus actually almost certainly quoted from more than just Isaiah 61-1 and 2
Although the main quotation does come from this passage, Jesus very likely quoted from a number of passages. He almost certainly expounded and amalgamated Isaiah 47-2 into his teaching.
When we look at Isaiah 42-7 we find the clause missing from the Masoretic text.
“and recovering of sight to the blind,”
Isaiah 42- 7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
The Passage in Isaiah 47-2 also supports the clause “to preach deliverance to the captives,”
The claim that Jesus quoted “the” Septuagint is based on a very simplistic investigation of the text and dare I say it, an ignorance of how Biblical “quotations” are actually implemented.
More quotations will be added as and when they are completed.