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Luke 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;...

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

What is the explanation of Jesus seemingly misquoting Deuteronomy 6:5 in Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:37?

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  • 1
    The premise of this question is not necessarily correct - Jesus may not have misquoted - the evangelists may have misquoted Jesus. In any case, there are numerous places where the quotes from the OT are not exactly verbatim but often paraphraistic. You should show why this instance is unusual.
    – Dottard
    Jul 10 '20 at 2:24
  • Even if it is a change or an addition remember this: "You have heard it said...but I say unto you..." (Matthew 5) As God's Word made flesh Jesus astonished folk in his day by teaching, not like the other teachers but with authority. Jul 10 '20 at 11:16
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Luke 10 (KJV):

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

So, Luke records that a lawyer tempted Jesus with a question concerning eternal life, and the Deuteronomy reference came from the lawyer in answer to a question from Jesus.

Matthew 22 (KJV):

35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

-- Matthew 22:35-40 (KJV)

So, Matthew records that a lawyer tempted Jesus with a question concerning "the great commandment in the law".

It is clear that Luke and Matthew are recording different encounters. As a matter of interest, the BibleHub Timeline of the NT has Luke 10 occurring in AD 29 and Matthew 22 in AD 30.

The first lawyer tempted Jesus with a question about eternal life but Jesus didn't answer, preferring to ask the lawyer what he read in the Law. A year later (or thereabout), a second lawyer (perhaps, even likely, the same one) asks a question about the great commandment, this time Jesus answers him directly, not with a quote of Deuteronomy 6:5 but with the answer the first lawyer gave concerning his own reading of the Law.

Jesus was clearly aware of the conspiracy that was being perpetrated against him.

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  • Thank you for the response, and sorry for the delay in reply. I have a couple of problems with your suggestion. The first is that I am not clear on why if a lawyer misquoted a commandment Jesus would be expected to also then use the misquote when talking to someone else. The second is that the formulation in Matthew 22:37 is not the same as the one in Luke 10:27. All three versions mentioned in the original question are different.
    – Glenn
    Jul 14 '20 at 17:07
  • It's my view that Jesus was responding to the same lawyer in both incidents, which is why he gave back the lawyer his own words. For Jesus to have done that indicates, firstly, there was nothing inherently wrong with the lawyers paraphrase. If the lawyers intent in trapping Jesus (i.e. 'tempting him') was based on how he would reply, then the lawyer could hardly argue with his own words. The only ones in the Gospel accounts hung up on the jots and tittles of words were the Scribes, and Pharisees, and nothing indicates they didn't like his reply.
    – enegue
    Jul 14 '20 at 21:44
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The Command in Deuteronomy

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5) [ESV]
ואהבת את יהוה אלהיך בכל־לבבך ובכל־נפשך ובכל־מאדך

Might is מְאֹד which does mean strength. However, that is not how this command was taught:

Might: Hebrew "me'od" is elsewhere an adverb meaning "very" or "exceedingly." It is used as a noun only here and in the Deuteronomistic description of King Josiah, which cites this verse to portray Josiah as the paragon of obedience to Torah (2 Kings 23.25). While the word's basic meaning is "might" or "strength," it was understood as "wealth" or "property" both at Qumran (CD 9.11; 12.10) and in early rabbinic literature (Tg. Jon.; Sifre). The two interpretations each call for full commitment to God, whether psychological or practical; both are preserved in the Mishnah (m. Ber. 9.5)1

A literal translation might be "to love God with all 'your everything.'" "Strength" by itself is deficient, at least in terms of the rabbinic interpretation and instruction. So, not ...with all your strength but "...with the "results of all your strength," (such as your wealth and property).

Similarly, the command "to love" is understood as requiring action:

The paradox of commanding a feeling (as in Leviticus 19.17-18) is resolved with the recognition that covenantal "love" does not refer to internal sentiment or to private emotion. The focus is, instead, upon loyalty of action toward both deity and neighbor...2

Therefore, quoting verbatim would fail to convey how one was taught to apply the command.

The Command in Luke
First, in Luke, it is not Jesus who is speaking:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (ἰσχύϊ) and with all your mind (διανοίας), and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10)

"He" who is citing the command is a νομικός, an instructor or interpreter of the Mosaic law. Second, the lawyer is not quoting directly from the Greek translation (LXX):

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and all thy strength. (LXX-Deuteronomy 6:5)
καὶ ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου

Where the LXX treats the Hebrew מְאֹד as "strength" using δύναμις which is physical ability, the lawyer uses ἰσχύς which means "capability to function effectively, strength, power, might."3 For example:

saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might (ἰσχὺν) and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

In fact, some translations have "strength." The lawyer has made two changes to the literal command. First, he rejected the LXX use of δύναμις which more properly means "physical ability" and used ἰσχύς which means the type of "strength" more in keeping with how one is taught to apply the command. Second, he added "mind" (διανοίας), which means understanding or way of thinking.

Obviously, Jesus approved the lawyer's interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:5 (cf. Luke 10:28) and his decision to include the command in Leviticus (19:18).

The Command in Matthew
In Matthew, the roles are reversed and Jesus was questioned by a lawyer (νομικός):

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (διανοίᾳ). 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22)

His answer is very similar to the one given by the lawyer. The only significant difference is, Jesus does not include strength (ἰσχύϊ):

Love the LORD your God with all your:
The Law, Deuteronomy: heart - soul - might
The Lawyer (Luke):    heart - soul - might - mind
Jesus (Matthew):      heart - soul - mind

From the point of a literal translation of the Law, Jesus replaced "might" in Deuteronomy with "mind." From the standpoint of how the lawyer interpreted or taught the Law, Jesus omitted "might" altogether. Technically, "might" is expected based on the Hebrew text. However, when "love" is understood as an action not an inward feeling, "might" is largely unnecessary and, "might" alone falls short, as the lawyer's addition shows.

"Mind" which is added by both Jesus and the lawyer is διάνοια which has five uses:

the faculty of thinking, comprehending, and reasoning. understanding, intelligence, mind
mind as a mode of thinking, disposition, thoughts, mind
mind focused on objective, purpose, plan
mind as fantasizing power, imagination
mind in sensory aspect, power, impulse

The first is likely the meaning in both Luke and Matthew (also Mark 12:30).4Yet, like love, there is a sense implying purposeful or focused action.

The Command in Mark
In yet another test, Jesus gives another answer:

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12)

After beginning with Deuteronomy 6:4, Jesus gives an answer which includes the four things the lawyer cited:

Love the LORD your God with all your:
The Law (Deuteronomy): heart - soul - might
The Lawyer (Luke):     heart - soul - might - mind
Jesus (Matthew):       heart - soul - mind
Jesus (Mark):          heart - soul - mind  - might

The four are the same as in Luke, except Jesus alters the lawyer's sequence by placing mind before might. So what is implied in Matthew is made explicit in Mark: the mind focused on God is seen in all your "might." What is interesting is the scribes response. Like the lawyer in Luke, the scribe acknowledges the accuracy of how Jesus answered, but he paraphrases Jesus' answer. Rather than διάνοια, "mind" which both Jesus and the lawyer used, the scribe calls for a different type of understanding, σύνεσις. The primary difference is σύνεσις is intellectual:5

the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, shrewdness
the content of understanding or comprehension, insight, understanding

In terms of the original command the scribe inserted σύνεσις between heart and soul:

Jesus (Mark):         heart - soul          - mind - might
Scribe (Mark):        heart - understanding - soul - might
The Law (Deuteronomy) heart - soul -               - might

In contrast to the lawyer whose addition better expressed the intent of the original command, the scribe's paraphrase arguably adds something which is foreign: intellectual understanding. In other words, where both Jesus and the lawyer agree "mind" (διανοίας) is appropriate, the scribe disagrees calling instead for "understanding" (σύνεσις).

A scribe was more than someone who copied texts:

During the time of Christ the scribes exerted a powerful religious influence as teachers, and because of their ability to make judicial decisions based on scriptural exegesis, occupied important positions in the Sanhedrin (Mt 16:21; 26:3).6

The scribe is described as approaching Jesus immediately after the Sanhedrin; given the close relationship with the Sanhedrin, the scribe's paraphrase may display a lack of understanding of the Scripture. σύνεσις is "from συνίημι, to send or bring together. Hence συνίημι is a union or bringing together of the mind with an object..."7 Arguably the scribe's interpretation minimizes the sense of "soul" by adding intellectual "understanding" between heart and soul. Regardless of the intention, mere "intellectual" understanding is foreign to both the literal text and its proper application.

Conclusion
A comparison of Deuteronomy 6:5 shows that Jesus never cited the literal text, as it was originally stated in the LXX. However, as seen in Luke, Jesus was agreeing with how the lawyer taught the command. More importantly, when love is understood as "loyalty of action" to God, "might" is superfluous and if one is to choose only one between might and mind, ἰσχύς is the better way to express the command in Greek.


1 Bernard M. Levinson, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p.380
2 Ibid.
3 Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 484
4 Ibid., p. 234
5 Ibid., p. 970
6 Earl B. Robinson, Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Howard F. Vos, John Rea, Editors, Hendrickson Publisher, Inc., 2001, p. 1536
7 Vincent Word Studies Mark 12:33

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  • Thank you that was very informative. Are you suggesting that Jesus was speaking in Greek, or that similar distinctions are made in Hebrew or perhaps Aramaic?
    – Glenn
    Jul 14 '20 at 17:26
  • @Glenn The original reading of Deuteronomy 6:4 (which is not part of your question) expresses "monolatry" which is the exclusive worship of YHVH without denying the existence of other gods. In the late Second Temple period this was replaced by exclusive monotheism. This change can been seen in how the LXX translates the phrase as: *...the Lord our God is one Lord." In Mark Jesus begins by citing 6:4 as it is in the LXX, which indicates (IMO) He answered the scribe in Greek. IOW, 6:4 in either Hebrew or Aramaic will fall short of the more specific meaning of the phrase in Greek and since Jesus- Jul 14 '20 at 17:51
  • begins with 6:4 as the first commandment quoting the Greek verbatim, it is more reasonable to see His complete answer as given in Greek. Jul 14 '20 at 17:54
  • Thank you for that, if I've understood you correctly you are thinking that Jesus used the LXX and spoke in Greek.
    – Glenn
    Jul 15 '20 at 16:53
  • @Glenn Correct. Mark 12:29 is quoting the LXX verbatim, and Hebrew does have the ability to explain the meaning that specifically. So the written chronologic sequence is first, Hebrew which has one than one correct understanding and then Greek which has the more narrow understanding: "one Lord." Jul 15 '20 at 17:07
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There are numerous places in the NT that quote the OT. Very rarely do they quote it verbatim - the quote is often paraphraistic and sometimes even changes the meaning. Here are some examples:

Example 1:

Isa 40:3-5 - A voice of one calling: “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it."

Luke 3:4-6 - as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, and every mountain and hill made low. The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth. And all humanity will see God’s salvation.'"

Example 2:

Isa 9:1, 2 - Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Matt 4:15, 16 - Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

Example 3:

Isa 42:4 - He will not grow weak or discouraged before He has established justice on the earth. In His law the islands will put their hope.”

Matt 12:21 - And in His name the Gentiles will hope.

Example 4:

Isa 29:13 - Therefore the Lord said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men.

Matt 15:8, 9 - These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’

Example 5:

Ps 8:2 - From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger.

Matt 21:16 - Jesus answered. “Have you never read: ‘From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise’?”

Example 6:

Joel 2:28-32 - And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My menservants and maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:17-21 - No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on My menservants and maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and glorious Day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ there will be deliverance, as the LORD has promised, among the remnant called by the LORD.

Example 7:

Ps 16:8-11 - I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

Acts 2:25-28 - David says about Him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’

There are hundreds more.

In all these examples, we see obvious differences and there are at least three reasons for these differences:

  1. When the NT writers quote the OT they are often (not always) quoting not from the Hebrew Bible but from the common translation then in use - the Greek Septuagint. Thus, they were quoting a translation, not the original text.
  2. This Septuagint translation had several variants with text added in some places and deleted in other places and reworded in still further places.
  3. The inspired NT writers often felt free to paraphrase the text rather than quote it verbatim. Since they were inspired, by the same Spirit that inspired the OT writers, they were free to do this.

Thus, it is not surprising they we see variants between the OT text and the quotes in the NT.

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  • Thank you. When you say that the NT writers use the Greek Septuagint, you seem to be suggesting that they weren't quoting exactly what Jesus said. Leaving open the idea that Jesus said it correctly but what was reported wasn't totally accurate. Also another example of a misquote is in Galatians 3:13 where Paul supposedly states that it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, when that isn't what the Hebrew Bible states. I find it surprising that if Paul had been taught by the Jewish teacher Gamaliel that he would have quoted from a Greek translation that wasn't a literal one.
    – Glenn
    Jul 14 '20 at 17:44
  • @Glenn - just one correct - I did not suggest that writers didn't quote Jesus correctly. I said that NY writers did not quote the OT exactly. However, we also have several cases in the synoptics of quoted statements of the Jesus that vary as well. Clearly Bible writers were less concerned about verbatim speech.
    – Dottard
    Jul 14 '20 at 20:24
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They were not misquotations. Jesus wanted to make it clear and explicit that was implicit in Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Jesus wanted to bring out the fact that the mind is part of the heart and soul. In this way, Jesus actually clarified Deuteronomy 6:5.

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

mind.
διανοίᾳ (dianoia)
Noun - Dative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1271: From dia and nous; deep thought, properly, the faculty, by implication, its exercise.

For me, knowing the Greek meaning of the word "mind" deepens my understanding of Deuteronomy 6:5. Thanks to Jesus.

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    So you think Jesus was speaking in Greek?
    – Glenn
    Jul 14 '20 at 17:27
  • Good comment. I don't know. I merely assumed that The first Greek manuscript was inspired.
    – Tony Chan
    Jul 14 '20 at 19:46
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Great thoughts all. It seems to me that somewhere between Deuteronomy and the New Testament the inclusion of "mind" in the place of or in addition to the word "might" became common practice.

Jewish law was being extrapolated in the Babylonian exile into what would later become the Mishnah. I'm wondering if that could be an explanation of the difference and why Jesus chose to use the wording which he did-speaking in the language of the hearers.

I have no research to back this up-it is merely conjecture. Personally, (I know-"avoid . . . making statements based on opinion. . .) I figure it's all the same thing in that the use of any part of your strength or might must begin in the mind.

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