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Translations and Manuscripts discuss Hebrews 10:5 in the The Scriptures forums; Is this verse a quotation from the Old Testament? If so, where?...

  1. #1
    TimV's Avatar
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    Hebrews 10:5

    Is this verse a quotation from the Old Testament? If so, where?
    Tim Vaughan
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  2. #2
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    Basically the citation is Ps 40:6-8.
    P.E. Hughes has this to say:

    It should be remarked that the statement, "a body hast thou prepared for me," corresponds in meaning with the Greek of the Septuagint, which it is our author's custom to follow when quoting from the Old Testament, but not with the Hebrew of Ps. 40:7, the literal sense of which is, "ears thou hast dug for me" (RSV mg.). It is possible that the translators of the Septuagint version had before them a Hebrew text which read "body" instead of "ears" (though external evidence for any such variant is lacking), or that the ddiscrepancy is due to a copyist's error which became entrenched in the Greek of the Septuagint. Conjectures aside, however, the difference between the Septuagint and the Hebrew is not so great as it might at first appear to be. The former is in fact described by Delitzsch as "a free, generalizing rendering" of the latter. Calvin reminds us that the apostolic authors "were not over-scrupulous in quoting words provided that they did not misuse Scripture for their convenience" and that "we must always look at the purpose for which quotations are made." And Owen contends that we have here an example of synecdoche, that is, the use of a part for the whole, in this instance the ears for the body, "because as it is impossible that anyone should have ears of any use but by virtue of his having a body, so the ears are that part fo the body by which alone instruction unto obedience, the thing aimed at, is received."
    There's more, where he goes into the meaning, but that may go beyond your question.
    Clark Brooking
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    If Psalm 40 was the source of the quote, and there are a few words that are different in the New Testament, can we still say that Psalm 40 was

    immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages?
    Tim Vaughan
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    Technically, every word is different. Not only is it a translation from one language to another, but it is a translation involving two very different language families. We should rejoice that we have here in the NT an inspired translation and explanation of the Hebrew.

    Owen's conclusion on the matter, after discussing it fairly briefly:
    The words, therefore, in this place are the words whereby the apostle expressed the sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost in those used in the
    psalmist, or that which was intended in them. He did not take them from the translation of the LXX., but used them himself, to express the sense of the Hebrew text.
    Thus we have the Hebrew original (perfectly preserved) and the inspired apostolic translation and explanation in Greek (perfectly preserved).
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  5. #5
    TimV's Avatar
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    If the Septuagint rendering is the same as the Greek NT rendering, would the Septuagint rendering be accurate?
    Tim Vaughan
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    For the sake of continuity, I'll give Owen's response to your most recent question:

    It doth not seem probable unto me that the LXX. did ever translate these words as they are now extant in all the copies of that translation, swma de kathrtisw moi. For,

    (1.) It is not a translation of the original words, but an interpretation and exposition of the sense and meaning of them; which was no part of their design.

    (2.) If they made this exposition, they did so either by chance, as it were, or from a right understanding of the mystery contained in them. That they
    should be cast upon it by a mere conjecture, is altogether improbable; and that they understood the mystery couched in that metaphorical expression
    (without which no account can be given of the version of the words) will not be granted by them who know any thing of those translators or their translation.

    If they, in fact, did render it using the same words as the Apostle (which Owen finds unlikely -- scribes later changing the text to "correct it" to match the NT, as he thinks the many variants of the passage confirm), it was purely by accident, as they could not have understood the Christological significance of the passage. But it must certainly be understood that the apostle's rendition is not a "bare translation," but a translation which involves opening and explanation. We don't need to pit the Hebrew original and the NT rendering against one another.
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    If they, in fact, did render it using the same words as the Apostle (which Owen finds unlikely -- scribes later changing the text to "correct it" to match the NT, as he thinks the many variants of the passage confirm), it was purely by accident, as they could not have understood the Christological significance of the passage.
    Yes, I understand that Owen represents a minority view on the subject. But even he admits to the possibility (notice his word "probable") of the pre-Christian Septuagint being the same as NT.

    So, if the Septuagint reading is the same as the New Testament reading, is the Septuagint a valid reading? Or is it a sinful reading? In other words, are Orthodox churches wrong in their Bibles because the quote in Hebrews 10 is the same as in their Old Testament? Are they morally obligated to change their Bible?
    Tim Vaughan
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimV View Post
    If they, in fact, did render it using the same words as the Apostle (which Owen finds unlikely -- scribes later changing the text to "correct it" to match the NT, as he thinks the many variants of the passage confirm), it was purely by accident, as they could not have understood the Christological significance of the passage.
    Yes, I understand that Owen represents a minority view on the subject. But even he admits to the possibility (notice his word "probable") of the pre-Christian Septuagint being the same as NT.

    So, if the Septuagint reading is the same as the New Testament reading, is the Septuagint a valid reading? Or is it a sinful reading? In other words, are Orthodox churches wrong in their Bibles because the quote in Hebrews 10 is the same as in their Old Testament? Are they morally obligated to change their Bible?
    I'm not quite sure he was representing a minority view, but we've been over this ground before, and it need not be retrod.

    Confessionally, the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is considered the divine original, so I'm not sure why we need to bring in the Eastern Orthodox practice of using the LXX as their Old Testament. I thought we would all agree that such was incorrect. We should let both the Hebrew original and its inspired, NT Greek rendition and opening speak for themselves, and rejoice that we have such divine illumination provided for our understanding of this Psalm.
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    Confessionally, the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is considered the divine original, so I'm not sure why we need to bring in the Eastern Orthodox practice of using the LXX as their Old Testament. I thought we would all agree that such was incorrect. We should let both the Hebrew original and its inspired, NT Greek rendition and opening speak for themselves, and rejoice that we have such divine illumination provided for our understanding of this Psalm.
    The translators of the King James Version thought the Septuagint was acceptable to the Holy Spirit for His purposes, while needing some corrections which would come later, in His time as our knowledge increased. Even today, Confessional translators always take the Septuagint into consideration when translating difficult Old Testament passages. This is from the preface of the 1611 version's "The Translators To The Reader":
    "When the fullness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world...it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of...Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek....This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching...."

    "It is certain that that translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostle-like men? Yet it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient), rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church...."
    There are no major Reformed or even Protestant denominations that frown on using the Septuagint as an aid when translating difficult Old Testament passages.

    So, if as the translators of the King James Version, along with the overwhelming majority of modern scholars believe the Septuagint to have pre-dated Christ, can one be Confessional and still believe that translating Psalm 40 in the Old Testament using the same words as where Psalm 40 is quoted in the New Testament is acceptable? And at the same time believe that Psalm 40 as translated from the Masoretic texts is acceptable? That both are the Word of God?
    Tim Vaughan
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  10. #10
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    Tim, I'm not sure who would say that the LXX should not be considered when translating the Old Testament; that would indeed be a strange thing to say, and I have never heard it.

    And I'm pretty sure all are agreed that the Greek Old Testament existed pre-Christ; I'm not sure who denies that, either. What Owen and many others do deny is that we know the state of the Greek Old Testament in its pre-Christ existence, and thus to make judgments that "this wording is taken straight from the LXX" would be improper (unless, of course, we believe that the LXX has been perfectly preserved word-for-word).

    The 1611 Preface quoted above contains almost identical content to Turretin's exposition of the NT use of the LXX -- Turretin held that, when the LXX agreed properly with the Hebrew Text, the Holy Ghost and apostles would make use of its wording so as not to trouble the readers; but when it disagreed, they rejected its reading. This was his way of arguing that the LXX is not in itself authoritative scripture, but only inasmuch as it agrees with the Hebrew text -- it has a mediate authority.

    I'm honestly not exactly sure what you're pushing for in wanting to translate Psalm 40 in the Old Testament as it is interpreted in the New. I don't know of a single translation of scripture which does this. I think we're all agreed that in translating Psalm 40 from the Hebrew, it should be rendered "my ears have you opened," with perhaps a footnote indicating the NT interpretation or elucidation thereof.
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  11. #11
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    And I'm pretty sure all are agreed that the Greek Old Testament existed pre-Christ; I'm not sure who denies that, either.
    Paul, it's pretty commonly denied by supporters of the TR only theory. Steve Rafalsky, who is posting on this sub-forum wrote:

    In the book by Floyd Nolen Jones, The Septuagint: A Critical Analysis.pdf, the historical background and quality of the LXX is thoroughly examined. These are among the points concluded (see page 22):

    (1) The letter of Aristeas [which purports to give a history of the LXX –SMR] is mere fabrication (Kahle called it propaganda), and there is no hard historical evidence that a group of scholars translated the O.T. into Greek between 285-150 B.C.

    (2) The research of Paul Kahle shows that there was no pre-Christian LXX.

    (3) No one has produced a Greek copy of the Old Testament written before 150 A.D.

    (4) Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion and Origen produced the first "Septuagints" – that none
    existed before their works.

    (5) The Septuagint "quotes" from the New Testament and not vice versa, i.e. in the matter of
    N.T. - O.T. quotation, the later formulators of the Greek O.T. made it conform with the New
    Testament Text which they had before them as they forged their product.

    (6) After 1900 years of searching, archaeology has failed to produce a single piece of papyrus
    written in Greek before c.150 A.D. that any writer of the New Testament used for a "quotation".

    They further point out that the nearest thing to an Old Testament Greek Bible found by anyone is the Ryland Papyrus (No. 458), which has a few portions of Deuteronomy 23-28 on it. This piece of papyrus is dated 150 B.C. (questionable date) which is fifty to one hundred years later than the writing of the so-called original Septuagint (see footnote 1, p. 36).”
    A History Of The Authorized Version

    I could quote others if you'd like.

    Cheers
    Tim
    Tim Vaughan
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    Though I would much rather have him be able to speak for himself, note what Steve wrote later in the same thread:
    If there is no evidence that a pre-Christ LXX – a complete and standard version – existed, how else say it? I think it clear from all of the above that I am not denying at least a copy of the Pentateuch, and some other portions of the prophets did exist (we have reports of this), but the actual documents, or copies thereof, are no longer extant, and the Septuagint which does exist today is certainly not the same as whatever may have existed in the past. The fact is, we do not know what existed – we do not have any of the words written, save in the “Ryland Papyrus (No. 458), which has a few portions of Deuteronomy 23-28 on it. This piece of papyrus is dated 150 B.C. [with some uncertainty –SMR].” Otherwise there are no extant pre-Christ manuscripts. (Found here. Emphasis mine)
    Either way, this is tangential to the root topic. It is our duty in translating the Old Testament to render the Hebrew as precisely and literally as possible; and likewise to do so with the Apostle's Greek elucidation thereof in the New Testament.

    Anyway, I am content to leave things here. Do you think there is more to cover in this thread? If so, I will gladly continue, and hope the thread will continue to remain profitable. I think this is not really a "TR Debate," as every translation I know of follows the Hebrew of the Old Testament when translating Psalm 40. Anyway, Thanks for the interaction.
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    TimV's Avatar
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    as every translation I know of follows the Hebrew of the Old Testament when translating Psalm 40.
    Gill writes of the relevant part of Ps. 40

    the words are rendered as by the Septuagint, "but a body hast thou prepared me"; and with it the Arabic and Ethiopic versions agree;
    So there are clearly other Bibles where the NT quotes the OT more similarly than in our English Bibles.

    To me it is clear why most Reformed scholars are in line with most other orthodox scholars in saying that NT authors quoted both the Hebrew and Greek families of texts. That there were different textual traditions during the time of Christ, none of which had differences enough to change any basic doctrine of faith or practice. So both could be called God's Word (as the translators of the KJV said, both the Septuagint and the Hebrew are "sufficient") and people of good will accepted that preservation down through the ages didn't mean every single place name spelling had to be exactly the same as somebody's template for a translation to be called the Word of God. And it's the same way today in my denomination, which is one of the most conservative around.
    Tim Vaughan
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    Tim, when I spoke of translations, I was referring to English translations -- not to ancient versions. Sorry for ambiguity.

    I can wholeheartedly affirm that the LXX as we have it is God's Word in the same way that NASB is God's word -- inasmuch as it is faithful to the Hebrew scripture, it is inspired according to the matter, but not wording. As the preface which you quoted earlier clearly articulates, it is imperfect and in need of correction. It can serve as an imperfect translation for Greek speaking people (even as our Geneva or ESV can for English speaking people), but cannot be used to undermine or alter the Hebrew original; nor can it serve confessionally as the basis for Old Testament translation.

    At this point, I'm not sure there is actually any debate going on between us. We both affirm that 1.) the LXX is an imperfect translation of the Hebrew, and inasmuch as it agrees therewith it is the Word of God; 2.) The WCF states that the Hebrew Old Testament is that which is immediately inspired by God and kept pure in all ages; 3.) If the NT does make use of the LXX's wording (which we cannot know with certainty), it only does so where it adequately represents the sense of the Hebrew original, and use other wording when it differs.

    I suppose in the end, in order to keep this from becoming an irrelevant, idealistic thread with no grounding in reality -- do you think that Psalm 40 should be translated "a body have you prepared me"? If not, then I'm not sure what we're supposed to be debating, as we clearly agree that the Hebrew should be rendered the same way, and that the NT presents the true sense of the passage, but with differing words.
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    TimV's Avatar
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    do you think that Psalm 40 should be translated "a body have you prepared me"?
    I don't know. It would be "sufficient", and is sufficient and God's Word for Greeks, Ethiopians and Arabs. For now I'll take the Hebrew as the best, since the Confession requires it, but the Confession doesn't require the Hebrew we have now to be settled, word for word.
    Tim Vaughan
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    Karen Jobes has discussed this text in the Trinity Journal (I don't have time to locate year and issue). Utilising the Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian it is shown that the text uses a rhetorical function known as paronomasia, which includes forms of phonetic assonance. As Hebrews is a "word of exhortation," a common feature of the Hebrew synagogue, it is natural to conclude that the reference to Psalm 40 is not designed to be a quotation in the technical sense, but an appropriation to the specific subject at hand which makes use of accepted rhetorical devices of the day.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

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    Quote Originally Posted by armourbearer View Post
    Karen Jobes has discussed this text in the Trinity Journal (I don't have time to locate year and issue). Utilising the Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian it is shown that the text uses a rhetorical function known as paronomasia, which includes forms of phonetic assonance. As Hebrews is a "word of exhortation," a common feature of the Hebrew synagogue, it is natural to conclude that the reference to Psalm 40 is not designed to be a quotation in the technical sense, but an appropriation to the specific subject at hand which makes use of accepted rhetorical devices of the day.
    You are probably referring to this: "The Use of Paronomasia in Hebrews 10:5-7." Trinity Journal 13 (1992).

    She has another related article:
    "Rhetorical Achievement in the Hebrews 10 'Misquote' of Psalm 40." Biblica 72, 3 (1991)
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    Last edited by SolaGratia; 08-16-2009 at 06:53 PM.

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