Fortigurn, on 08 October 2010 - 03:16 PM, said:
Richie, on 08 October 2010 - 02:55 PM, said:
We can't be sure the LXX wasn't changed to match the NT.
There are ways of assessing this. I have attached some of the relevant literature.
Those extracts from McLay are interesting and revealing. Particularly in the analysis of Amos 9 / Acts 15 there are illustrated some significant problems in aspects of the scholarly approach:
* The basic assumption, taken as a foundation and left entirely unquestioned, is that NT is actually quoting from the LXX in the first place. But is it?
* Then there is a simplifying but simplistic focus on the words of the individual passage as quoted in the NT. This is made without obvious consideration of the quoting context and any possible purpose of making the quotation, as presented by that context.
* Lastly, there is assumption that the words we find in the NT are to be understood simply as a translation into Greek of the words of a single quoted original (Hebrew or Aramaic) passage. Of course, that goes with the first assumption; it is all that we would expect in the LXX, though it is not what we find in the NT.
But the text in Acts 15 gives us indications that these elements of such an analysis are at least weak, if not downright wrong. To summarise:
Firstly, the comparison between Acts 15 and the LXX of Amos 9 shows a considerable number of differences, as the table lays out. Whatever we else we might say about it, the clear point is that the NT wording is not by any means a verbatim quote from the LXX of Amos. (The differences are much more than mere minor grammatical adaptations to fit into the quoting context.) Moreover, this is a case where it is hard if not impossible to argue for an earlier Hebrew original text (vorlage) that was different from the Masoretic Text, and of which the claimed LXX rendering is an accurate translation. In this case, a pre-NT-era Hebrew form of Amos 9 is known from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and that form in fact matches the Masoretic Text1
On the second aspect, no attention at all is given by McLay as to why
James quotes from Amos. What is the point of the quotation, in the argument that he presents? What relevance to his case for accepting Gentiles as brethren, without causing them to come under the law of Moses, do Amos' words have in their original context, and might that in any way lead to the quotation being understood in a different way? I propose that indeed James, who with Peter and the rest of the apostles was directed by the holy spirit (Acts 15:28), is drawing out significant issues from the contextual background in Amos. It is these that explain why we do not find the words of the Hebrew original, translated directly into Greek as we find it in Acts, but entirely unaltered in their sense. Rather, James is developing and adjusting the quotation in the form of exposition, in a manner matched to the argument he is making. And it is clearly absurd to imagine that the same argument would be being made, or that the same reasons for rendering the prophets' words as James does would be shared, by an earlier supposed translator of Amos from Hebrew to Greek.
The assumption that Acts 15:16-17 are simply a quote from some pre-existing Greek translation of Amos 9:11-12, and nothing more, is directly signalled to be in error by the detail of the introductory words: "And to this agree the words of the prophets
, as it is written ...". James is explicitly not quoting only Amos. He is quoting other prophets (at least two others) as well. And if we would take the hint from the content, the words that James does quote from Amos, we would begin to find out who those other prophets are, and why he is quoting their words also, as it can be shown that he does.
In short, this is not a quotation from the (uninspired) LXX; it is rather an inspired quotation from the holy scriptures themselves. James, one of the holy apostles, is showing by the spirit how the gentiles can become fellow heirs with faithful Jews, and of the same body, and partakers of God's promise in Christ by the gospel. He is using the original words of God through his former prophets (plural), centred in a section from Amos but expanding and adapting it, including words from other prophets, to fit the needs of the situation the apostles in Jerusalem were facing. The primary Amos source is used deliberately because of the original context, in order to prove the point they make, that the Gentiles are not required to keep the law; this argument is substantiated by Paul's later words to Peter (as reported Gal 2:11-16). And one of the plain points of the context in Amos 9 is precisely aligned with Paul's rebuke of Peter: Jews fail to keep the law too, so they are not better than Gentiles in they regard. But James under the spirit's direction is also drawing in words from elsewhere in scripture, spoken by other prophets, to build his argument about the situation of those Gentiles who, having heard the gospel, have obeyed.
In respect of the scriptural evidence about this quotation, we have no grounds to suppose that James in Acts 15 is quoting from the LXX, at all.
Washburn, David L., A catalogue of Biblical Passages in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, 2002.
Edited by Mark Taunton, 08 October 2010 - 11:16 PM.