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Answers to this question provide convincing evidence that Jesus reportedly read from the Septuagint (Greek) version of Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19, when he began his public ministry in Nazareth. My question is whether Matthew correctly reports Jesus as reading from the Septuagint. Possible scenarios include:

  • Jesus did read from the Greek version of the Jewish scripture.
  • Jesus read from an unknown Hebrew or Aramaic text that closely resembled the Septuagint.
  • Jesus read from the traditional Hebrew Bible, but when Matthew reported this reading, he used the Septuagint.

A related question is whether Matthew's putative using the LXX - when Jesus used a different version - would contradict the hypothesis of Biblical inerrancy.


Note: adequate answers to the previous question about this issue have already been given. This question seek to know whether Matthew accurately reported Jesus' specific words.

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  • According to the Church Fathers - but disputed by "the scholars" - Matthew wrote his Gospel account originally in Aramaic and it was later translated into Greek. So another scenario would be that whoever translated Matthew was the one who quoted from the Septuagint.
    – user33515
    Commented Jan 28 at 2:07
  • There is evidence that Matthew wrote a gospel in Aramaic. It is not clear that the Gospel of Matthew we have is a mere translation versus Matthew writing an new Gospel .
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jan 28 at 12:38
  • The confusing part of your question, Why do you do you write Matthew then quote from Luke?
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jan 28 at 12:40

2 Answers 2

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Here's what contradicts that Jesus read from the Septuagint. The custom of that day in the synagogue was to read the Scripture in Hebrew, then because they spoke a Hebrew influenced by Aramaic at that time, most didn't understand the old Hebrew, so they gave an interpretation in Aramaic Hebrew called a Targum. That is why:

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)

Then because he did not give the traditional Targum/interpretation, but instead applied the prophecy to him being the Messiah, this happened:

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.  But passing through their midst, he went away. (Luke 4:28–30, ESV).

Thus, although Luke, writing his Gospel in Greek, uses the Septuagint for the Scripture that Jesus read, this passage does not support that Jesus read from the Septuagint.

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Here are the OP's options listed so as to number them conveniently:

  1. Jesus did read from the Greek version of the Jewish scripture.
  2. Jesus read from an unknown Hebrew or Aramaic text that closely resembled the Septuagint.
  3. Jesus read from the traditional Hebrew Bible, but when Matthew reported this reading, he used the Septuagint.

Before proceeding, I should betray my bias by revealing that I believe in Biblical inerrancy but this does not mean verbal inspiration. Thus, the answer to this question hinges on what one believes about the mechanism of inspiration for which there are several options.

How Does Inspiration Work?

Traditionally, there have been three broad views about how the Bible writers were inspired:

  1. Verbal Inspiration: The Holy Spirit dictated the Bible, word for word.
  2. Thought Inspiration: The Holy Spirit inspired men’s ideas; prophets then expressed these ideas in their own words.
  3. The Bible contains the Word of God, that is, it records the experiences of great and Godly men and so has other material not necessarily inspired. That is, in the judgement of those who subscribe to this view, some parts of the Bible are not worthy of the sacred canon. This might be called “non-plenary”, “incomplete”, or “partial” inspiration.

We will ignore the third view as an example of “Cafeteria Theology” where one is free to decide what parts of the Bible to believe and what can be ignored. Let us assume immediately that the entire Bible, as we have it, is inspired, as declared in 2 Tim 3:16, 17, 2 Peter 1:19-21. See also 2 Sam 23:2, Neh 9:30, Eze 2:2, 11:5, 24, Micah 3:8, Zech 7:12, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Rom 1:2, 3:2, Heb 3:7, 5:12, 9:8, Mark 12:36, Acts 28:25, 1 Tim 4:1.

  • Paul says that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor 14:32) indicating that the prophet does not lose his/her personality in the process.

Lastly, if God had dictated the words of the Bible intending that they would be immutable and important, then God would have miraculously preserved the exact words as inspired and “dictated”. Even a casual glace at the history of the Bible text suggests that this was never the case – there are thousands of variations in the Bible text, but all preserve the ideas in the text. That is, while many “errors” and variations exist in the Bible text between manuscripts, none are significant for the message.

Thus, the Bible, God’s Word and its central message of God’s love and salvation, has been miraculously preserved but not necessarily the exact words that the Bible writers used. (It is possible that some Bible writers produced more than one version or revision themselves!)

Thus, "Bible inerrancy" to me is the inerrancy of the ideas taught by the Bible. In any case, if the Bible were to have been verbally inspired, its style would be uniformly that of the Holy Spirit which is patently not the case. Each author of the Bible, while fully inspired in their thoughts, was free to select the langue and thus, each author has a unique style of writing.

  • John is simple
  • Paul concise and erudite
  • Luke is a little wordy and almost classical Greek in places
  • etc.

Therefore, Let us assume the OP's option #3 is correct; this would not in any way interfere with plenary thought inspiration.

In reality, the most likely scenario is that:

  • Jesus read from the Hebrew text
  • Jesus spoke a running translation
  • Matthew recorded the same passage from the LXX

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