In the New Testament, there are 3 types of Old Testament quotes: from the Hebrew, from the Septuagint (Greek), and "spontaneous" (ie, not directly from either). My question is, can anyone kindly provide the distribution of these? In other words which verses are from the Hebrew, which from the LXX, etc..

This question was inspired by the fact that I heard some theologian (that I do not particularly like) claim that Paul only quoted from the LXX, and I wanted to investigate how accurate a claim that is.

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    Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but BibleHub, 80% of the way down one page, says "In other passages St Paul departs still further from the LXX., quoting freely..." (biblehub.com/library/swete/…) Dec 27, 2014 at 21:52
  • Wow! That's an excellent link! That might be exactly what I was looking for, when I have a moment I will read through it. How come you didn't post as an answer, instead of a comment? Dec 28, 2014 at 16:35
  • There are a couple of important works on the OT citations in the NT available on Archive.org. There has been more recent work (some already noted in answers here), but these works should not be overlooked.
    – Dɑvïd
    Dec 28, 2014 at 18:09
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    Perhaps a dumb question, but since Paul was writing in Greek, why would he translate the Hebrew anew into Greek when a respected and authoritative translation of the Hebrew Scriptures by Jews into Greek already existed?
    – user33515
    Mar 6, 2017 at 4:26

2 Answers 2


BibleHub about 4/5 of the way down one page gives verses and says “(e) More than half of the direct quotations from the O.T. in the Epistles of St Paul are taken from the LXX. without material change…” “In other passages St Paul departs still further from the LXX, quoting freely...” BibleHub Quotations from the LXX

Another entity, about 1/3 of the way down one page, says “3. Of Paul's abundance of quotes, about half demonstrate LXX forms (with minor variations from it) and the other half show a completely independent treatment of the Hebrew Text." Christian Think Tank

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    BibleHub points to a valuable reference. It comes from Henry Barclay Swete's An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek (2nd edn; CUP, 1914), see Pt. 3, Ch. 2 for context (BibleHub quote starts on p. 400) - in fact, all the chapters in Part 3 on the use and value of the "Greek OT" inform this question. Later studies refine Swete's work, but it retains its value over the years.
    – Dɑvïd
    Dec 28, 2014 at 18:00

The theologian was right, at least on this point. As far as we know*, Paul did only quote from the LXX, not from the Hebrew texts. This may have been because as a diaspora Jew he was not sufficiently familiar with the Hebrew language (in spite of Acts 22:3) or so that his gentile converts could read his sources in Greek.

Christopher D. Stanley says in As it is Written, page 3 (edited by Porter and Stanley) that the wording of his quotations and allusions often diverges significantly from the texts that he cites. The sense that he derives from the biblical text also deviates fairly often from what modern readers might see as the "original meaning" of the passages to which he refers. Similar problems can be discerned in the writings of other New Testament authors.

The four New Testament gospels contain numerous quotations and allusions to the Old Testament scriptures. As with Paul's epistles, all the gospels were originally written in Greek (including Matthew, in spite of a long-held tradition) and when they refer to the scriptures, these references are identifiably to the Septuagint (LXX).

(*) In 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul says, "... For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness," but there is no known text that corresponds closely to this. Steve Moyise say, in 'Quotations', published in As it is Written, page 16 (edited by Porter and Stanley) that the thought is close to Job 5:12-13, but the LXX that comes down to us is very different to Paul's words. Moyise says it is possible that Paul is offering his own translation of the Hebrew, but this is a minority position today.

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