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Who is the author of Hebrews quoting in Hebrews 10:38?

Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

The "just shall live by faith" part seems to be a quote of Habakkuk 2:4. However, the next part ("my soul shall have no pleasure in him") is not found in that place in Habakkuk.

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The questions have been asked for centery and never answer with satisfaction. I wonder how it will turn out. –  David Laberge Jun 3 '12 at 17:25
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1 Answer

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The author of Hebrews is quoting Habakkuk 2:4 from the Septuagint (as opposed to the Hebrew.)

In the Hebrew, this part of the verse would literally translate something like this:

"Behold the scornful; his mind shall not be happy" (Stuart)

(Part of the difficulty in translating Heb. 10:38 is that this is an English translation of a Greek interpretation of a Greek translation of a Hebrew writing. Meanwhile, Hab. 2:4 is an English translation of a "modern" Hebrew interpretation of an ancient Hebrew writing. This makes direct word-for-word comparison of the English very difficult.)

Side Note

It is important to remember that the New Testament writers were not dogmatic adherents to our present Hermeneutical models! Their heremenutic went something like this:

1) Understand the Scriptures well enough to explain the meaning

2) Teach from a convenient translation (e.g. Septuagint)

3) Relate the meaning of the passage being "cited" (as opposed to a literal word-for-word translation)

4) Paste together whatever Old Testament passages seem necessary for supporting the argument

In other words, they "quoted" Scripture a lot like we do today in everyday conversation: close enough to serve the intent of the teacher. In contrast, modern Bible scholars are very concerned with exact literal word-for-word translations and careful consideration of history, grammar, immediate local application, etc. Since we think differently about interpretation today than they did in the Apostles' times, we are often confused by their methods of quotation.

At the end of the day we can rest assured that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, etc. Therefore, we can assume that between Hab. 2:4 and Heb. 10:38, we can look at the Hebrew and Greek that we have and get a sense of what the true meaning is.

And in this case, as usual, you could read it either way it would still be true (we know this based on other passages.)

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WOW!!! Thank you very much!!! –  brilliant Jun 4 '12 at 0:29
    
We must also remember that when they wrote the scriptures they were doing so under the control and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They were not acting haphazardly or carelessly, they were moved to write exactly what they wrote. Part of the way and reason the Holy Spirit moved them, was for this very purpose that we see and experience today! "Surely you are a God who Hides Himself Oh God of Israel Savior" Isaiah 45:15. The truth can only be seen, by the operation of the Holy Spirit in grace and faith..! –  John Unsworth Nov 10 '13 at 5:56
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