In Mark 1:2 we see a quote from Malachi that reads:

Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way [before You.]

Ἰδού, [ἐγὼ] ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου [ἔμπροσθέν σου],

And a similar quote again in Matthew 11:10. This quote doesn't seem to be pulled from the Hebrew or Greek texts we currently have.

The LXX reads:

Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me

ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐξαποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου καὶ ἐπιβλέψεται ὁδὸν πρὸ προσώπου μου

And the Hebrew reads similar:

Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me.

Is there any manuscript attestation to the reading of Malachi 3:1 which is closer in line with this reading in Matthew & Mark? Perhaps in the Targums or elsewhere. Or is all OT manuscript evidence similar to a reading of "before Me" instead of "before You"?

My concern is regarding how we go from first-person pronouns in the OT to second-person pronouns in the NT, and whether there is some manuscript variant to trace back or whether this was an intentional change in the NT to highlight something.

  • We could be dealing with the NT authors' tendency to rephrase in their quotes. I'm curious to see what our Greek experts come up with in an answer.
    – Jesse
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 0:20
  • 3
    Jesus added to the text (in Matthew 11:10) when he quoted, Behold I send my messenger before thy face (the original has my face .) Mark is following Jesus' addition to the Masoretic text. In so doing, Jesus is making clear that the face of God can be 'thy' as well as 'my', in the mouth of God. Up-voted +1. Good question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 1:51
  • 1
    It is an intentional change, and almost all quotes are applied in a free and midrashic way, unlike how modern Christians view the quotation or OT use in the NT. This is a common way to interpret and apply the scripture for a subjective purpose. You should not look to find any mss variant explaining this or any other such example. If there was any targum quote then we would've already known that through commentaries.
    – Michael16
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 11:37
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    παρεσκευασμένη ἡ ὁδὸς Isa. 26:7 LXX and κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν (Matt. 11:10; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 7:27 NT Greek)
    – Betho's
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 21:33
  • Not only the prophecies are alluded midrashically in a creative way to prove and propagate the gospel, the gospel authors invented stories to fit into prophecies such as the Rachel weeping; account of infanticide by Herod and the escape to Egypt. You are to discern the literature wisely.
    – Michael16
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


Let us examine these one at a time. I will quote them in a very literal English to make things easier.

Mark 1:2

The Greek Text: "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way."

LXX (Mal 3:1): Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me:

Hebrew (Mal 3:1): “Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me.

It is immediately clear that Mark does not quote verbatim from any text now extant. Indeed, this is very common - NY writers most often do not care the quote verbatim but to a greater or lesser extent, they paraphrase.

There are dozens of such examples one could show a similar behavior. Indeed, if one consults (say) the list of verbal quotes and parallels in (say) the UBS5 and NA28, one will see immediately that NT paraphrasing is the norm, and sometimes with dramatic effects of producing quite different meanings.

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