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In Luke 4:18, 19 (ESV translation), we read that Jesus reads from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. In this particular translation, Jesus (quoting Isaiah) says that

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...to set at liberty those who are oppressed."

My ESV translation of this Isaiah 61:1, 2 passage is similar, but some of the phrasing is different, such as the part about the Spirit anointing me

"...to bind up the brokenhearted...and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

My question is: why doesn't Jesus' Isaiah quotation in Luke 4 include the part about the brokenhearted, and why does his version include mention of the oppressed, whereas my "version" of Isaiah 61 mentions prisoners, without any mention of the oppressed per se? Is that a translation difference, or did he have access to a different "version" of this prophetic book to which we in modern times do not have access?

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There is a textual "problem" in Luke 4:18 and a translation matter in between the Masoretic (Hebrew) text and the Septuagint (LXX) of Isa 61:1, 2. So, let met set these out in detail.

NA28/UBS5 text of Luke 4:18, 19 = "UBS5"

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Byzantine text of Luke 4:18, 19 = "Byz"

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Masoretic Text of Isa 61:1, 2 = "MT"

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of our God’s vengeance, to comfort all who mourn

The Septuagint Text of Isa 61:1, 2 = "LXX"

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; 2 to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompence; to comfort all that mourn;

Let us observe several things about this four sets of texts.

  1. Jesus stops quoting Isa 61:1, 2 part-way through the second verse of Isa 61:2. Nothing surprising about this. That is, the highlighted text in the NT and LXX is not quoted by Jesus.
  2. The main difference between the record in the text of Luke 4:18 concerns the highlighted text "He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted". The UBS5 text omits it while the Byz text includes it.

In almost all cases, where the NT quotes the OT, the quoted text comes from the LXX rather than the MT. The evidence for the choice of text in UBS5 is (in brief):

  • Many ancient MSS witnesses such as 01(IV), 03(IV), 05(V), 019(VIII), 032(IV), 040(VI), f13, 33(IX), etc omit the extra text. The extra text appears to come from later scribes in MSS such as 02(V), 037(IX), 038(IX), 044(IX), 0102(VII), 0233(VII), etc. For much more information about MSS support for each reading see UBS5.

As Perry Webb has correctly noted, Bruce Metzger suggests this from the UBS5/NA28 editorial committee,

"This [additional text] is an obvious scribal supplement introduced in order to bring the quotation more completely in accord with the Septuagint text Isa 61:1."

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Isaiah 61:1 New International Version

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Luke 4:18 New International Version

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

Same NIV, in Isaiah "brokenhearted" is mentioned but not in Luke.

King James Bible Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

However, "brokenhearted" appears in KJV of Luke.

Ellicott:

(18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.--The passage that follows reproduces, with a few unimportant variations, the LXX. version of Isaiah 61:1-2. The words "to heal the broken-hearted" are not in the best MSS.

From what “version” of Isaiah 61 was Jesus reading in Luke 4?

Dependent on the Greek manuscripts, some translators believed that Jesus did use the word "brokenhearted" while others disagreed.

Is that a translation difference?

Not really. The difference was due to the manuscript selection.

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The Hebrew scriptures have already been translated into Greek a few centuries before Christ; as such, the best place to start would be the Septuagint's rendering of Isaiah 61, which reads:

πνεῦμα Κυρίου ἐπ’ ἐμέ, οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέ με· εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς ἀπέσταλκέ με,
ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τὴν καρδίαν,
κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν,

καλέσαι ἐνιαυτὸν Κυρίου δεκτὸν

and compare it with the two oldest versions of Luke 4, from Sinai and the Vatican, which read:

πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμὲ οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς, ἀπέσταλκέν με,

κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν,
ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,
κηρύξαι
ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν.

as opposed to the English received text, which has:

πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμέ· οὗ ἕνεκεν ἔχρισέ με εὐαγγελίζεσθαι πτωχοῖς, ἀπέσταλκέ με
ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τὴν καρδίαν·
κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν, καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν·
ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει·
κηρύξαι
ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν.

Notice that the latter is simply a joining of the two Greek texts; as such, the question boils down to why Christ and/or the evangelist render(s) the phrase ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τὴν καρδίαν as ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει. Now, the Septuagint's συντετριμμένους is strikingly similar to the New Testament's τεθραυσμένους, theta being the spirant version of tau; as for ἀφέσει, the word already appears in the preceding phrase as ἄφεσιν; notice that something very similar is happening to κηρύξαι within the very same passage, its repetition replacing the initial καλέσαι, as ἐν ἀφέσει does with τὴν καρδίαν, epsilon and eta representing variations of the same sound. Ἀποστεῖλαι is then finally provided to fill in the gap corresponding to an appropriate missing verb, so that [...] τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει might make logical sense.

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Here is Metzger's comment about the textual variation. He explained that it is more likely for a scribe to add "to bind up the brokenhearted" to match the Old Testament than for a scribe to omit it.

  4:18      με (2) {A}

Following ἀπέσταλκέν με, a number of witnesses continue with the words ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τὴν καρδίαν. This is an obvious scribal supplement introduced in order to bring the quotation more completely in accord with the Septuagint text of Is 61:1. -- Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (p. 114). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

The tradition in the synagogues was to read the scripture passage in Hebrew then give the traditional interpretation in Aramaic. These traditional interpretations later were written down in the Targums. This verse is consistent with that synagogue following this tradition.

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. (Luke 4:20, ESV)

Finally after everyone was waiting for Jesus to give the traditional interpretation:

And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21, ESV)

Significant is that Jesus stopped reading just before he got to, "and the day of vengeance of our God;..."
(in Isa. 61:2, ESV)

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