Quotations from the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament

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Numerous quotations of the Hebrew Bible are made in the New Testament. In general, the New Testament writers quote from the Septuagint ("LXX") version of the Hebrew Bible,[citation needed][neutrality is disputed] as it was then in common use among Gentiles, both Roman and Greek, while Jews of the time spoke mainly Aramaic and Hebrew, and would either have read the Hebrew Bible in its original Hebrew, or in an Aramaic translation. However, the quotations quite often are not exact; this can be attributed either to the author using a different source text, or simply to the author paraphrasing the quotation.

This article is not intended as a complete reference list of Hebrew Bible quotations in the New Testament; merely as an overview of the practice.

Quotations not using chapter/verse notation[edit]

Because of the number and disparity of the New Testament authors, there is no uniform standard for these quotes. When the New Testament was written, the Old Testament was not divided into chapters and verses, and hence the authors had to provide contextual references:

  • When Luke (20:37) refers to Exodus 3:6, he quotes from "Moses at the bush", i.e. the section containing the record of Moses at the bush.
  • Mark (2:26) refers to 1 Samuel 21:1-6, in the words "in the days of Abiathar".
  • Paul (Romans 11:2) refers to 1 Kings ch. 17-19, in the words, "in Elias", i.e. in the portion of the history regarding Elias.

Literal versus altered quotations[edit]

Sometimes the quotations do not agree literally either with the Septuagint or the Hebrew text. In about ninety instances, the Septuagint is literally quoted. However, in around eighty further instances, the quote is corrected or altered in some way. For example, at Matthew 21:42 Jesus says "Did ye never read in the scriptures that the stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner?" - a reference to Psalm 118:22. Likewise, Mark 12:10.

Direct quotes from associated religious texts[edit]

Other quotations are sometimes made directly from the Hebrew text (Matthew 4:15–16; John 19:37; 1 Corinthians 15:54). Besides the quotations made directly, there are found numberless allusions, more or less distinct, showing that the minds of the New Testament writers were filled with the expressions and ideas as well as historical facts recorded in the Old Testament.

Chester Beatty XII, Greek manuscript of the Book of Enoch, with the text quoted by Epistle of Jude (4th century)

There are in all two hundred and eighty-three direct quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament, and some quotations from other books. A number of Old Testament books remain unquoted in the New Testament. In Paul's writings, there are three quotations from certain Greek poets (Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12). These quotations are memorials of his early classical education. The Epistle of Jude quotes the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch (1 Enoch 1:9) and the Assumption of Moses.


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.