The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament

Daniel O. McClellan

Daniel O. McClellan, "The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament," in New Testament History, Culture, and Society: A Background to the Texts of the New Testament, ed. Lincoln H. Blumell (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2019), 497-513.

Daniel O. McClellan is a scripture translation supervisor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If “remember” is the most important word in the scriptures, then one of the most important functions of scripture is to serve as a repository for “social memory,” or the shared understanding a group has of its collective past and its identity.[1] This conceptualization of scripture certainly aligns well with many of the rhetorical goals expressed by the authors and editors of the Book of Mormon, as well as with their own application of scripture. Indeed, Nephi’s statement that he “did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23) reflects a deeper insight into the function of scripture than Latter-day Saints might generally be aware.[2] Social memory is relevant to a community only to the degree that it informs and gives meaning to their experiences and their identity, so for scripture to remain relevant, a group must constantly renegotiate between its sacred past and the circumstances, needs, and contexts of its present. Likening the scriptures is not a single event but an ongoing process of making meaning.

The texts of the New Testament function not only to narrate the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and his earliest followers but also to renegotiate the relationship of those followers to their own ideological and scriptural heritage within the Jewish faith. They assert a shared history and ideology and a place in the macronarrative of God’s dealings with humanity. This was accomplished through the rereading of Jewish scripture through the interpretive lenses of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, as well as the formation of his Church. The more Jewish scripture could be integrated into the telling of those events, the stronger the link to that sacred past and the stronger the claim for viewing Christianity as the fulfilment of all that which Judaism looked forward to and all it waited upon.[3] Sometimes this integration was explicit, and the authors preceded quotations with introductory formulae such as “as it is written . . .” (1 Corinthians 2:9) or “it is written in the prophets . . .” (John 6:45), while more frequently paraphrase or allusion was employed to give rich scriptural flavor and add semantic layers for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear.

As a result of this framing of the life and teachings of Christ and his Church, as well as the need to anchor the Christian gospel to the bedrock of early Judaism, the latter’s sacred texts—including, but not limited to, those that would become our Old Testament—exercised a profound influence on the shape and message of the New Testament. While this may seem a rather basic observation, its application to a close study of the New Testament raises a number of important questions and reveals many complexities with which Latter-day Saints do not often engage. For example, there are quite significant differences between some of the New Testament’s quotations of the Old Testament and the sources of those quotations within the version of the Old Testament to which we today assign authority. Additionally, the New Testament sometimes quotes texts and traditions that do not appear to come from the Old Testament at all. In other places, different authors interpret the same Old Testament text in very different ways.

The goal of this essay is to consider some of the dynamics associated with the New Testament’s engagement with the Old Testament (hereafter OT) and discuss how those dynamics might influence our approaches to reading the New Testament (hereafter NT) and applying its messages. The essay will begin with an introduction to the nature and function of scripture in the first century AD, while the bulk of the essay will briefly examine the ways that the books of Matthew, John, Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation quote, dialogue with, or otherwise engage early Jewish scripture.[4] Each author approaches Jewish scripture in their own unique way, using the texts in a variety of ways to frame their presentation of the gospel for their particular audiences and rhetorical goals. A better understanding of these dynamics will enhance the readers’ abilities not only to engage in more meaningful study of the NT text but also to more fully liken the scriptures unto themselves.

Scripture in First-Century Judaism

The concept of scripture was quite a bit more broad and vague in the first century than it is now. No concept of canon at all related to our own modern one existed at the time the NT was being composed, and while there was within the NT a rough grouping of sacred texts into the Law and the Prophets (and sometimes the Psalms),[5] the boundaries of those categories do not appear to have been clearly delineated.[6] There was quite a bit more textual fluidity at that time as well. Many biblical books circulated in slightly different versions, while some more foundational texts like Genesis were expounded upon, paraphrased, and rewritten in an effort to increase their relevance and value to then-contemporary communities.[7]

In addition, many other texts written during the previous two centuries—a period of considerable literary production within Judaism—were considered historical and authoritative.[8] Alongside texts we now identify as biblical, a number of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical texts have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, with no indication they were considered any less genuine or inspired.[9] There were around two dozen different manuscripts of the pseudepigraphical 1 Enoch discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, making it the third most represented text at Qumran, outnumbered only by the Psalms and Deuteronomy. There is evidence that the authors of the NT had a similar approach to these texts. As just one example, the author of Jude directly quotes from the book of 1 Enoch (1 Enoch 1:9) in Jude 1:14, attributing the quote to the prophet Enoch.[10] As a result of these circumstances in first-century Judaism, the NT authors had a far wider range of texts, versions, and traditions influencing their perspectives and from which they could quote or draw inspiration.[11]

The methods of engagement with scripture were also quite distinct in the first century. Early Jewish scriptures were not grouped together into delineated collections and bound into books, but kept on individual scrolls, with smaller and related books sometimes consolidated on a single scroll. This meant there was no standardized order of books, and some authors might have access to only a select few books. While scribes and Jewish leaders could access and read these scrolls, only around 10 percent of the population is estimated to have been literate.[12] Encountering the scriptures was not commonly a private and silent matter but a public and auditory one. Most people only heard scripture as it was read out loud, usually from an Aramaic or Greek translation. The story in Luke 4:16–20 of Jesus’s synagogue reading may have been representative of the exposure Jewish people of the day would have had to the scriptures. This story reveals another fascinating aspect of scripture: if we compare Luke 4:18–19 to Isaiah 61:1–2, we note some differences in what the texts say. Most critically, the reference to the recovery of sight to the blind is completely absent in the OT passage.

That reference is found, however, in a Greek translation of Isaiah, and this leads us to another factor contributing to early Christian perspectives on the OT: the NT authors—who were writing in Greek—relied overwhelmingly on Greek translations of the Jewish scriptures.[13] As a result of many factors, including textual variation and translation technique, these translations often reflected readings that differed from the Hebrew manuscripts upon which most modern translations of the Bible are based. By the first century AD, these Hebrew manuscripts show signs of being harmonized with each other and with the textual tradition that would become known as the Masoretic Text (hereafter MT).[14] While fragments of Greek manuscripts of OT books have been discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls and in other places, the earliest extant collections of Greek translations of the entire OT are Christian collections dating to the fourth and fifth centuries AD, and they include apocryphal and other books, and order the texts in different ways. In this essay I will use the designation “Septuagint” (abbreviated “LXX”) to refer generally to Greek translations of the OT and other Jewish scripture, but the term was originally used to refer specifically to the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, or the first five books of Moses. I will occasionally refer to the “Old Greek” (or “OG”) as well as to later revisions of the Septuagint.[15]

As a result of the NT authors’ reliance on the LXX, it was widely considered by early Christians to be more accurate than the Hebrew. In fact, some even accused Jewish scribes of altering the Hebrew text in an effort to obscure the Christian ideologies that they found in so many places in the Greek.[16] It was not until after Jerome’s translation of the OT into Latin in the early fifth century AD that that preference shifted toward the Hebrew text.[17] Our modern preference for the Hebrew version is a product of that shift and is a departure from the preferences of the authors of the NT. Neither should be given unilateral preference, however. In some places the LXX preserves older and more reliable readings than are found in the MT, while in others it preserves demonstrably later and secondary readings. In still other places, a firm conclusion eludes scholars.[18]

As this brief review has hopefully made clear, scripture in the first century AD was a fluid and dynamic category that differed greatly from the concept as we understand it today. There is still much conceptual and text-critical work left for scholars to do, but in the meantime, it enriches our study of the scriptures to be aware of these dynamics and their influence on the authors of the NT. This will hopefully equip the reader to approach the NT with constructive and informed questions in mind about the authors’ assumptions about the scriptures, their rhetorical goals, and their methods for achieving them. I now turn to the examination of individual books of the NT and their engagement with Jewish scripture.

Matthew

The Gospel attributed to Matthew by the second century AD is canonically first but chronologically second (Mark was most likely written first). The Gospel of Matthew is among the most thoroughly and intentionally embedded in the Jewish scriptural tradition. One of the primary rhetorical priorities of the author of Matthew was to assert the centrality of Jewish tradition to the gospel preached by Christ and to embed Christ’s mission in that tradition. By the time of the composition of Matthew in the late first century AD, missionary work had extended well beyond Judea and the composition of the Church was becoming increasingly gentile. Matthew’s Gospel reasserts the Jewish embeddedness of Christ by presenting Jesus through the lenses of the OT, framing him as a new Moses who came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17–18; compare Luke 16:16–17). Despite the concern for the Jewishness of Jesus, the author also highlights the tension between Christ’s fulfilment of the law and the existing Jewish hierarchy and its traditions; the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests are the primary antagonists in Matthew, while non-Israelite supplicants are held up as exemplifying faith over and against the unbelief of Israel (Matthew 8:10; 15:24–28).

One of the ways the Gospel of Matthew links Jesus to Jewish tradition is with OT imagery and titles, most notably “Christ,” the Greek translation of the Hebrew משׁיח (māšîaẖ, “anointed”; compare Daniel 9:25). One of the more curious Matthean titles in reference to Jesus is “Son of man” (Matthew 24:30; compare Mark 14:21; Luke 9:22; John 6:27), which occurs exclusively in the OT in reference to humans (most commonly the prophet Ezekiel; see 2:1; 6:2; 8:5; 11:2). In Hebrew, “son of” can be used to refer to a member of a group or class, so “son of man” simply means “human.”[19] In the NT, however, it functions as a title for the Messiah (Matthew 24:27; Mark 2:10; Luke 9:22; John 6:27).[20] There is no clear explanation for the difference between the OT and the NT usage of this title.

A close look at Matthew’s OT sources helps clarify the picture considerably. In referencing the Son of man, Matthew 24:30 quotes from Daniel: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Daniel 7:13 reads, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” The English translations do not make the quotation clear, but the Greek phrase ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὑρανοῦ (epi tōn nefelōn tou ouranou, “upon the clouds of heaven”) is identical in Matthew and the Old Greek translation of Daniel, suggesting Matthew is drawing from the OG of Daniel 7. The “one like the Son of man” in Daniel would be better translated “one like a son of man” (Aramaic: כבר אנשׁ, kǝbar ’ĕnāš), or in other words, someone who looked like a human. The second half of Daniel 7:13 says (in Aramaic) that this human-looking figure “came to the Ancient of days” (ועד-עתיק יומיא מטה), but the Greek translation to which the author of Matthew had access does not have the expected preposition ἕως (heōs, “to,” or “until”), it has ὡς (hōs, “as”), reading ὡς παλαιὸς ἡμερῶν παρῆν (hōs palaios ēmerōn parēn), “as the Ancient of days he came.” This suggests the identification of the Son of man with the Ancient of Days.[21]

That passage of Daniel is not quoted in Matthew, but the context certainly would have been influential in the borrowing of the rest of verse 13. Whatever the reason for the peculiar rendering of the Aramaic preposition “to” in Greek, the translation seems to have resulted in the conflation of an originally unidentified human-looking figure with the Ancient of Days, which contributed to the association of the title “Son of man” with the divine Ancient of Days. The messianic use of this title would have been in circulation primarily among Greek speakers who did not have access to the Hebrew or to those who preferred the messianic implications of the Greek tradition.[22]

One of the centerpieces of the rhetorical campaign of the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus’s fulfillment of OT prophecy. The first assertion of this fulfillment occurs where the author evokes Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:22–23: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” The Hebrew word translated “virgin” in the King James Version of Isaiah 7:14 is עלמה (‘almah), which means “young woman” and does not necessarily have any semantic association with virginity. The author of Matthew is quoting from the Greek translation of Isaiah, however, which renders עלמה with the Greek παρθένος, a term more clearly (although not exclusively) associated with virginity.[23] While the original Hebrew in no way precludes reading the text as a reference to virgin birth, the LXX rendering makes that interpretation much easier and incentivizes the author of Matthew to give preference to that text.

In some places, the author’s reliance on the LXX guided them into rather unusual rhetorical territory. Matthew 21, which narrates Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem before his death, provides an interesting example of this. When Jesus and his disciples reached the Mount of Olives, he instructed them to go find an ass and a colt to bring to him. The author explains that this was done in order to fulfill the words of the prophet Zechariah, and then quotes the following (Matthew 21:5): “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”[24] Matthew 21:6–7 then describe Christ’s fulfillment of the prophecy: “And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.”

What is peculiar about this passage is that it describes Jesus being placed upon two animals at the same time. It is not quite as explicit in English, but the Greek phrase translated “thereon” in the King James Version (KJV) is ἐπάνω αὐτῶν (epanō autōn), which means “upon them.” This peculiar story results from the author’s reliance on the Greek translation of Zechariah. In the Hebrew of Zechariah 9:9, the final clause is an appositional phrase: ורכב על-חמור ועל-עיר בן-אתנות (vǝrōkēb ‘al-ḥămôr vǝ‘al-‘ayir ben-’ătōnôt), which might be more helpfully translated “. . . and riding upon a donkey, that is a colt, the offspring of a jenny.”[25] The Greek translation used a simple conjunction that easily obscured the apposition and led to the misunderstanding that two animals are in view. The author of Matthew was so concerned with presenting Jesus as exactly fulfilling OT prophecy that he closely followed the literal Greek translation and described Jesus entering Jerusalem simultaneously astride two animals. The other Gospels narrate this scene with a single colt (Mark 11:7; Luke 19:35; John 12:14–15). Note also that a footnote in the Latter-day Saint editions of the Bible quotes a Joseph Smith Translation revision that reads, “. . . and brought the colt, and put on it their clothes; and Jesus took the colt and sat thereon; and they followed him.” Joseph Smith recognized the problem but, without knowing the underlying reason, resolved it by simply revising the text of Matthew.

John

John is unique among the Gospels, both in its narrative and its ideology. It is the only Gospel that discusses Christ’s premortal identity and oneness with God, but it also has only a fraction of the OT quotations found in the other Gospels.[26] Rather than quote from the OT directly, the author(s) of John prefer to weave allusions to the imagery and symbols of the OT into their presentation of Christ’s life, mission, and identity.[27] Among the more significant allusions to the OT in John are the seven “I am” statements the authors use to frame Jesus’s self-identity and tie his mission to God’s own agency and authority (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1), as well as other uses of the Greek ἐγώ εἰμι (egō eimi), “I am.” These statements appeal to an important means of divine self-identification used in the OT. When Moses asked God in Exodus 6 what name he should give to the Israelites when they ask who sent him, the response is “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” The Hebrew rendered “I am that I am” reads אהיה אשׁר אהיה (’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh), or “I will be what I will be,” which is a folk etymology that ties the divine name YHWH to the verbal root “to be” (היה, HYH).

The Greek translation of this passage turns the folk etymology into a complete sentence by rendering ἐγω εἰμι ὁ ὤν (egō eimi ho ōn), or “I am the one who is.” Elsewhere in the LXX, the Greek phrase ἐγώ εἰμι is also used to translate the Hebrew אני הוא (’ănî hû’, “I am he”), which is another method of self-identification used by the Lord.[28] For instance, in Deuteronomy 32:39, the Lord states, “See now that I, even I, am he (אני הוא), and there is no god with me” (compare Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; 44:6). In light of this, Jesus’s use of the Greek ἐγώ εἰμι can be understood to function as an assertion of a special relationship with the God of the OT, YHWH (or Jehovah).[29] This is particularly emphatic in John 8:58, in which Jesus asserts, “Before Abraham was, I am.” In order for the rhetorical force of this rather ungrammatical statement to land, we must read “I am” not as a predication of existence but as one of God’s titles. Jesus is saying that the great “I Am” existed before Abraham, at the same time asserting some kind of identification with him.

While this rhetorical identification has long facilitated the identification of Christ with God within mainstream Christian communities, the sense is more likely an assertion of access to divine agency. The divine name YHWH was considered a vehicle for divine agency within early Judaism, and so to possess it was to possess the authority to exercise God’s power. The clearest example of this is found in Exodus 23:20–21, in which God deputizes his angel to exercise divine prerogatives:[30] “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.”[31] By appealing to this tradition, the authors of John are closely linking Christ with the God of Israel and with other significant divine figures of the OT.

Jesus’s quotation of Psalm 82 in John 10 is well-known among Latter-day Saints but primarily as a proof text for humanity’s divine heritage.[32] The rest of the psalm, which narrates the judgment and condemnation of the unjust gods, rather complicates the rhetorical value of the Latter-day Saint reading, but that does not appear to be how the psalm or its quotation in John were intended to be understood anyway. Jesus’s use of the psalm is clearly meant to undercut the condemnation of his claim to unity with God, but its precise rhetorical function is unclear. Jesus states in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one,” which enrages some gathered Jewish people who immediately undertake to stone him. When asked why, they respond that even though Jesus is a human, he makes himself out to be a god.[33] At this point, Jesus quotes the psalm: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:34–36).

On the surface, the quotation appears to defend Christ’s divinity on the grounds that at least some humans were explicitly called “gods” in the scriptures.[34] This seems a rather weak defense, but a closer look at how the psalm was read during this period reveals quite a bit more nuance and significance, particularly for Latter-day Saints. The key is to understand who, precisely, was thought to have been called “gods.” The passage refers obliquely to “them,” which suggests there was a common interpretation of the psalm in circulation at the time the text was written that did not require elaboration—the hearers would have understood who they were. Originally, the psalm referred to the gods of the nations who were neglecting their duty to administer justice within their assigned stewardships on behalf of the poor and the needy.[35] We find several rabbinic texts from shortly after the time of Christ, however, interpreting Psalm 82 as a reference to the Israelites at Sinai.[36] According to this reading, when the Israelites received the law of Moses (compare “unto whom the word of God came”), they were freed from the power of the Angel of Death and effectively rendered immortal (compare “ye are gods”). Upon their sinning with the golden calf, however, they were condemned to mortality (compare Psalm 82:7: “But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes”). This reading recontextualized the psalm in a way that was relevant to the self-identity of the community at the time—it “likened” the scriptures unto them.

Christ’s appeal to the psalm employed that likening to highlight his identity as the very “Word of God.” If the Israelites were made divine by the reception of that word, how much more divine is that very Word himself, sanctified by the Father and sent into the world? If anyone has a legitimate claim to divinity, it is the Word of God. This reading of John 10:34–36 fits comfortably within the authors’ emphasis on Christ’s identity as God’s Word (compare John 1:1–14) but also with their insistence that those who believe on the Son will be given power to become the “sons of God” (compare John 1:12). Those authors did not read Psalm 82 the way today’s Latter-day Saints read it, nor did they read it the way it was likely originally intended to be understood, but they did employ a popular contemporary reading to assert Christ’s divinity as well as the divine potential of all humanity.

Acts

The author of Luke–Acts shows close familiarity with the vocabulary and phraseology of the OT, and particularly the LXX, quoting most heavily from Greek translations of the Psalms, the minor prophets, Isaiah, and the Pentateuch. This section will discuss two examples of this engagement, specifically Stephen’s summary of Jewish history in Acts 7 and James’s quotation of Amos 9 in Acts 15.

Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:2–53 is the longest speech in the book of Acts, and it draws repeatedly from the unique terminology of the LXX.[37] In the speech, Stephen responds to accusations of blasphemy against the law and the temple by selectively recounting the history of Judaism’s dealings with God independent from the law and the temple, from Abraham down to the construction of the first temple. In his recounting, Stephen highlights the many different ways the will of God was made known to the patriarchs apart from the law, as well as the disobedience of the Israelites in general to that will, particularly as mediated by Moses, the giver of the law. Stephen relativizes the temple as well, insisting “the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48). He concludes by turning the accusations around and indicting the members of the Sanhedrin themselves: “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:52–53).

In recounting the history in this way, Stephen uses Israelite history as a framework for interpreting the early Church’s relationship to God and to Judaism. This gives meaning to Christianity’s confrontation with Jewish leadership and also inserts Christians into the biblical narrative, insisting they are actors in the same drama. Christ fills the role of the prophets, mediating God’s will to his people. Stephen and the other Christians are those who followed God’s will as mediated through his prophets, while the members of the Sanhedrin play the role of the wicked Israelites who disobeyed and persecuted the prophets in direct contradiction to the will of God. It is not Stephen who stands in opposition to God, but the Jewish leaders who blithely prioritize the law and the temple over God’s own will.

Acts 15 contains a fascinating quotation from the LXX.[38] In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas have come to Jerusalem to investigate a disagreement regarding whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity must keep the law of Moses by being circumcised. During the debate, Peter reminds the audience of his revelation regarding taking the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:9–16) and Paul and Barnabas then share their experiences preaching to the Gentiles. At this point, James gives his testimony, declaring that Peter’s experience agrees with “the words of the prophets” (Acts 15:15). In verses 16–17 he quotes from what appears to be the book of Amos: “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” In verses 19–20 James concludes, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” This satisfied the gathered apostles and elders, who sent letters to the scattered congregations announcing the consensus.

A look at the version of Amos 9:11–12 from the Hebrew manuscripts reveals some important differences from the version quoted by James, though. Here is the text from the KJV: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.”

Our main concern is the way Amos 9:12 is represented in Acts 15:17. Instead of referring to the “remnant of Edom,” the version in Acts refers to the “residue of men,” which reflects a reading of the Hebrew אדום (’edôm, “Edom”) as אדם (’adam, “humanity”). Additionally, the verb has changed from “possess” to “seek after,” which suggests a reading of the Hebrew יירשׁו (yîršû, “they will possess”) as ידרשׁו (yīdrǝšû, “they will seek after”). These are the readings found in the Septuagint translation, but in addition to deviating from the Hebrew text, the LXX also introduces a grammatical problem. In the Hebrew, “the remnant of Edom” is the direct object of the verb “possess.” With the Septuagint reading, however, the “residue of men” becomes the subject of the transitive verb “seek after,” leaving that verb without a direct object. What will the “residue of men” seek after? In the Septuagint, the clause is simply left incomplete, but in Acts 15:17, an object is provided: “the Lord.”

These two different readings produce vastly different messages. The Hebrew version of Amos 9:11–12 refers to the military conquest of Edom and other lands around Israel, which would not have served the rhetorical goals of the author of Acts. The Greek translation quoted in Acts 15 fits comfortably with the rhetorical purposes for which it was cited, namely to suggest the prophetic foretelling of the extension of the gospel beyond the house of Israel to the Gentiles. Either James was familiar with and chose to quote from the Greek translation, or the author of Acts put those words in his mouth. Either way, the Septuagint was a better ideological fit for the missionary interests of the developing Christian Church.

Hebrews

Regarding the book of Hebrews, biblical scholar George Guthrie has asserted that it “packs more of the Old Testament into its complex discourse than any other New Testament writing.”[39] Indeed, the text quotes the OT seven times in the first chapter alone (and each time from the LXX), and some of these quotations differ significantly from their Hebrew sources.[40] In some cases in Hebrews, these differences clarify confusing passages from our OT. For instance, in Hosea 14:2, Israel is exhorted to turn to the Lord and to “say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” The phrase “calves of our lips” seems to have something to do with some manner of offering or sacrifice of prayer or praise, but it is quite unusual, even for the OT. The Hebrew word rendered “calves” here is פרים (pārîm), which means “bulls,” but without the final consonant, the word פרי (pǝrî) means “fruit.” This reading makes more sense and is the one found in the LXX. Hebrews 13:15 appears to quote the LXX: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Chapter 11 of Hebrews is a famous explanation of and exhortation to faith that appeals to a number of narratives and traditions about the heroes of Jewish history. The author mentions Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many others.[41] In Hebrews 11:35–37, the author states, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”

Two references are of interest for us. First, verse 35b refers to those who did not accept deliverance from torture in the interest of obtaining a “better resurrection.” Second, verse 37 refers to someone being “sawn asunder.” Neither of these two references fit with the stories from our OT, which raises the question of the traditions to which the author is referring.

Fortunately, this mystery is not terribly difficult to solve. The first reference is to the book 2 Maccabees, which is found in the Apocrypha (or what Catholics often call the deuterocanonical books) and was included in the early uncial manuscripts like Sinaiticus (fourth century) and Alexandrinus (fifth century).[42] Second Maccabees recounts historical events related to the Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes during the 160s BC. It expands on the narrative from the first seven chapters of the book of 1 Maccabees, filling in some additional detail, including a well-known narrative about the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons, which is likely the source of the reference in Hebrews 11:35. According to that narrative, Antiochus arrested the mother and her seven sons and threatened to torture them if they do not eat pork. One by one, they refused and were tortured to death. Several of the sons declared that while Antiochus will have nothing but divine punishment to look forward to, they look forward to a glorious resurrection as a result of dying for the law:[43]

2 Maccabees 7:9

2 Maccabees 7:14

And when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”

When he was near death, he said, “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!”

The reference in Hebrews 11 to one “sawn asunder” comes from an early Jewish composition known as the Martyrdom of Isaiah, incorporated into a Christian text known as the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah. In the first chapter of this work, the prophet Isaiah prophesies of his death (Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 1:9):[44] “He will cause many in Jerusalem and Judah to desert the true faith, and Beliar will dwell in Manasseh, and by his hands I will be sawed in half.”

The martyrdom itself is narrated in the fifth chapter (Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 5:1, 14): “Because of these visions, therefore, Beliar was angry with Isaiah, and he dwelt in the heart of Manasseh, and he sawed Isaiah in half with a wood saw. . . . And while Isaiah was being sawed in half, he did not cry out, or weep, but his mouth spoke with the Holy Spirit until he was sawed in two.”

These narratives were written during the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and were intended to exhort Jewish people to remain faithful in the face of those persecutions. Prior to these stories, champions of faith like Daniel and his companions were miraculously saved by the intercession of God, but these martyrdoms marked a new motif in which the faithful were not saved, but looked forward to recompense on the other side of the veil. Isaiah asserts to Hezekiah that he will receive “the inheritance of the Beloved” (Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 1:13), while the mother and her seven sons look forward to resurrection to a glorious life. While neither text would ultimately be included in the canon that would develop centuries later, they were considered authoritative and historically accurate among some early Christians, and they provided powerful examples of faith to which the author of Hebrews could appeal in his exhortation of Christians to endure persecution.

Revelation

The book of Revelation narrates John’s vision of the eschaton, or end times, given by Jesus while John was exiled on the island of Patmos. As is conventional with the genre of apocalypse,[45] the book of Revelation is oriented toward the future, but the imagery and the themes of the book are drawn directly from the OT and Judaism’s sacred past, even while it avoids directly quoting from scripture. The clearest allusions to the OT are to the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Psalms, but imagery and paraphrases are also drawn from the minor prophets and from the historical books of Samuel and Kings. In places, the author is clearly drawing from a Greek translation. For instance, the author paraphrases Psalm 2:9 in Revelation 2:27; 12:5; and 19:15, but instead of stating God will “break them with a rod of iron,” the text reflects the Greek rendering, “rule them with a rod of iron.” Elsewhere, the references fall closer to the Hebrew versions than to any known Greek versions. The author clearly seeks to reflect a Hebrew background in some places (e.g., Revelation 16:16), but because the paraphrases may indicate quotation from memory, and because we know other Greek translations to which we do not have access were in circulation, it is difficult to reach a conclusion.

The biblical imagery in Revelation is employed in an effort not only to more firmly tie Christianity’s future to its Jewish past, but also to reframe the understanding of both in light of Christ’s mission and what Christians were experiencing contemporaneously. One of the central concerns of the book of Revelation is to overturn the Christian expectation of political autonomy. For instance, the author draws from the OT imagery of power and rule in stating that John heard an elder state that the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (see Genesis 49:9–10) and the “Root of David” (see Isaiah 11:1) has conquered (“prevailed” in the KJV), but when John looks for himself, what he sees is a slain lamb. The elders literally change their tune: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Revelation 5:9). This unexpected fulfillment replaces the symbol of David and a mighty lion with a slaughtered lamb, rhetorically asserting that victory for God and his people is achieved through sacrifice, not through military or political power.

Toward the end of Revelation, the author appropriates and rearranges the final chapters of Ezekiel to again renegotiate the significance of OT prophecy in light of Christ’s victory over sin and death. In Ezekiel 37, the prophet sees a vision of a valley of dry bones and prophesies of resurrection, the gathering of Israel, the reestablishment of Davidic kingship, and the foundation of God’s temple in the midst of his people for all time. Chapters 38–39 narrate the battle of Gog, with birds feasting on the dead, and 40–48 describe the temple and its ordinances and surroundings. The author of Revelation rearranges things slightly, beginning with the birds feasting on the dead in Revelation 19, followed by the resurrection of the dead in chapter 20, and then the battle of Gog and Magog. After God’s victory, the New Jerusalem is described in terms related to Ezekiel’s, although the city is a thousand times larger and there is no temple; rather than be confined to a physical structure, the presence of God and the Lamb will pervade the whole city.

Conclusion

As this brief discussion has hopefully demonstrated, the OT and the social memory it facilitated were critical to the success of the rhetorical goals of the authors of the NT and foundational in early Christianity’s development of its identity. Each author had their own goals and concerns, but some general observations can be made. Writing in Greek, NT authors had easier access to Greek translations of the Jewish scriptures, which had been translated within the previous two centuries and were much more closely aligned with the ideological lenses through which they were interpreting the OT themselves. There was also a much broader corpus from which they could draw. Much of the influential literature of Greco-Roman period Judaism was composed originally in Greek. This produced a natural bias toward the Greek translations (but the importance of the Hebrew heritage of Judaism was certainly not lost on them). The “Son of man” traditions from Daniel and Enoch had increased messianic expectations in the century or so preceding the birth of Christ, particularly in their Greek translations, so those texts became increasingly significant in understanding Christ’s mission and in renegotiating Christianity’s relationship to its Jewish past. The foundational narratives of creation, Sinai, and exile remained influential frameworks, however, and the promise of restoration took on new significance for a group that had come to understand the kingdom of God not to constitute a literal political entity, but a community of believers worshipping the God of heaven. Related prophecies were reinterpreted accordingly.

Latter-day Saints read the NT for a variety of reasons, but certainly understanding our sacred past and our relationship to it is high on the list. Being aware of the dynamics associated with the NT authors’ own negotiations with their own sacred past significantly complicates our reading, but the challenge is certainly worth the effort. A better understanding of the rhetorical goals and methods of the authors of the NT helps us get closer to their messages and also helps us to better understand the processes involved in likening the scriptures to ourselves, which should improve our engagement with scripture across all the methods we may employ and help us to better understand the mission of the Savior and apply his teachings.

Notes
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[1] This oft-repeated sentiment is an extrapolation from President Spencer W. Kimball’s famous statement that the most important word in the dictionary may well be “remember”: “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of (us) have made covenants . . . our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day—to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that (we) ‘may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given (us).’ . . . ‘Remember’ is the word.” Spencer W. Kimball, “Circles of Exaltation,” address to religious educators, Brigham Young University, June 28, 1968, 8.

[2] For an excellent discussion of some of the ways this “likening” takes place in the Book of Mormon’s use of Isaiah, see Joseph M. Spencer, “Isaiah 52 in the Book of Mormon: Notes on Isaiah’s Reception History,” Relegere 6, no. 2 (2016): 189–217.

[3] See Luke 24:44: “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

[4] I have of necessity been selective regarding what texts to evaluate. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible passages will be quoted from the 2013 Latter-day Saint edition of the KJV.

[5] Matthew 5:17; 7:12; Luke 16:16. Luke 24:44 refers to that which was “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms.”

[6] Josephus asserts a tripartite division of authoritative texts that total twenty-two books, which does not quite match the number of books in the traditional canon. Different attempts have been made to fit the modern canon into this number, but such approaches beg the question. For a helpful discussion, see Steve Mason, “Josephus and His Twenty-Two Book Canon,” in The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin MacDonald and James A. Sanders (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 110–27.

[7] See Hanne von Weissenberg, Juha Pakkala, and Marko Marttila, eds., Changes in Scriptures: Rewriting and Interpreting Authoritative Traditions in the Second Temple Period (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011). As a single example, the targumim were Aramaic translations of biblical texts from the turn of the Era that frequently altered and added to the biblical narratives. Joseph Smith’s revision of the Bible closely aligns with the practice of targumic expansion and exposition. Unfortunately, the implications of this observation have yet to be fully teased out by Latter-day Saint scholars.

[8] For excellent discussions of the concepts of “scripture” and “canon” and their development in early Christianity, see Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); MacDonald and Sanders, eds., The Canon Debate; Lee Martin MacDonald, The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007); Michael J. Kruger, The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013). On the Septuagint as canon, see Simon Crisp, “The Septuagint as Canon,” Bible Translator 67, no. 2 (2016): 137–50. See also Timothy Michael Law, When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

[9] “Pseudepigrapha” means “false writings” and is used in biblical studies to refer to texts spuriously attributed to well-known figures from Jewish and Christian history.

[10] See Edward Mazich, “‘The Lord Will Come with His Holy Myriads’: An Investigation of the Linguistic Source of the Citation of 1 Enoch 1,9 in Jude 14b–15,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 94, no. 3–4 (2003): 276–81; Nicholas J. Moore, “Is Enoch Also among the Prophets? The Impact of Jude’s Citation of 1 Enoch on the Reception of Both Texts in the Early Church,” Journal of Theological Studies 64.2 (2013): 498–515. For a translation of the book of Enoch, see George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: A New Translation (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2004).

[11] On the influence of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible on the formation of the Christian scriptures, see Law, When God Spoke Greek.

[12] For a fascinating discussion of literacy during Jesus’s life, see Craig A. Evans, Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2012), 63–88. For earlier periods, see Shira Faigenbaym-Golovin et al., “Algorithmic Handwriting Analysis of Judah’s Military Correspondence Sheds Light on Composition of Biblical Texts,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113, no. 17 (2016): 4,664–69.

[13] These Greek translations began to appear in the late third or early second century BC as new generations of Jewish practitioners in Egypt and elsewhere could not adequately comprehend the scriptures in Hebrew. The traditional story from the pseudepigraphical Letter of Aristeas of seventy-two elders from the twelve tribes of Israel translating the Torah at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus is not historical. For recent analyses of the Letter of Aristeas, see Sylvie Honigman, The Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria: A Study in the Narrative of the Letter of Aristeas (London: Routledge, 2003); Erich S. Gruen, “The Letter of Aristeas and the Cultural Context of the Septuagint,” in Die Septuaginta – Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten, ed. Martin Karrer and Wolfgang Kraus, WUNT 219 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 134–56; Benjamin G. Wright III, The Letter of Aristeas: ‘Aristeas to Philocrates’ or ‘On the Translation of the Law of the Jews’ (CEJL; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015). On the Septuagint in the New Testament, see Mogens Müller, “The Septuagint as the Bible of the New Testament Church,” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 7, no. 2 (1993): 194–207; R. Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003).

[14] For good overviews of the state of the Old Testament in the early centuries AD and the development of the Masoretic Text, see Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Third Edition (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012); Ernst Würthwein and Alexander Achilles Fischer, The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Bibla Hebraica. Third Edition, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014).

[15] For a helpful discussion of the history of the term “Septuagint,” see Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 1–9. For introductions to the Septuagint, see Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible, trans. Wilfred G. E. Watson (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Dines, The Septuagint; Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015).

[16] Most famously, Origen (an Alexandrian Christian theologian who died around AD 253/4) referred to the Septuagint as “our scriptures,” and the Hebrew version as “the Jewish scriptures.” Origen, Epistula ad Africanum 5. He also produced a six-column text known as the Hexapla that put side-by-side the Hebrew text, a Greek transliteration of that Hebrew text, and four versions of the Septuagint. It had annotations in the text to identify places where Origen believed the text to have been altered either by omission or addition.

[17] See Dennis Brown, “Jerome and the Vulgate,” in A History of Biblical Interpretation. Volume 1: The Ancient Period, ed. Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 355–79; Paul B. Decock, “Jerome’s Turn to the Hebraica Veritas and His Rejection of the Traditional View of the Septuagint,” Neotestamenica 42, no. 2 (2008): 25–22.

[18] These dynamics are complex and are scattered around the scholarship, but for the best discussions, see Anneli Aejmelaeus, On the Trail of the Septuagint Translators. Collected Essays. Revised and Expanded Edition (Leuven: Peeters, 2007); Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 3rd ed., rev. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), 127–41; Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, Septuagint: Collected Essays, vol. 3 (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

[19] On this usage, see Paul Joüon and Takamitsu Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006), §129j.

[20] On the history of this usage, see Delbert Burkett, The Son of Man Debate: A History and Evaluation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Benjamin E. Reynolds, “The ‘One Like a Son of Man’ According to the Old Greek of Daniel 7,13–14,” Biblica 89, no. 1 (2008): 70–80; Mogens Müller, The Expression ‘Son of Man’ and the Development of Christology (London: Equinox, 2008); Leslie W. Walck, The Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and in Matthew (London: T&T Clark, 2011).

[21] See McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research, 156–58.

[22] One can see this conflation of the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days in the combination of their imagery in the description of Christ from Revelation 1:7, 13–14 (see below).

[23] See Rodrigo de Sousa, “Is the Choice of ΠΑΡΘΕΝΟΣ in LXX Isa. 7:14 Theologically Motivated?” Journal of Semitic Studies 53, no. 2 (2008): 211–32.

[24] This differs slightly from the prophecy preserved in the KJV’s version of Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

[25] In an appositional phrase, a noun is usually followed by another noun or adjective that restates, describes, specifies, or provides more information about the first—for instance, “I’m a better golfer than my brother, Dave.” In that sentence, “Dave” is in apposition to the phrase “my brother” and serves to provide more information about that phrase.

[26] The Westcott-Hort list of OT references lists 124 for Matthew, 70 for Mark, 109 for Luke, and only 27 for John.

[27] I refer to plural authors of John in light of John 21:24, which reads in the KJV, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” A Johannine community is clearly responsible for the final form of the text. Rather than attempt to decouple the disciple’s own testimony from the editorial or authorial work of that community, I simply assume multiple authors. For a recent discussion of authorship, see Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AYB 38a; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 65–71.

[28] For a helpful examination of this Hebrew phrase in Jewish and Christian literature, see Catrin H. Williams, I am He: The Interpretation of ’Anî Hû’ in Jewish and Early Christian Literature (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000).

[29] “Jehovah” represents the combination of the vowels from the Hebrew word for “lord” (אדני, ’ădonāy; used as a substitute for pronouncing the divine name) and the consonants from the divine name, יהוה, by a thirteenth century AD Spanish monk named Raymundo Martini. While scholars today transliterate the divine name YHWH, when this combination became popular and was regularly printed, the yod was transliterated as /j/ when appearing as a consonant, and the waw was transliterated as /v/. (Martini originally wrote the name “Yohoua.”)

[30] This passage is likely an attempt to make sense of many earlier biblical passages where the identity of God and his angel appear confused or conflated (e.g., Genesis 16:7–13; 21:17–19; 22:11–18; 31:11–13; Exodus 3:2–6; Numbers 22:22–35; Judges 6:11–23; 13:3–23). For more on the possession of the divine name and the angel of the Lord, see Jarl E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord (Tübingen; Mohr Siebeck, 1985).

[31] The fact that this passage appears to give the angel the authority to forgive or not forgive sins is not insignificant. Another tacit assertion of Jesus’s possession of the divine name, and therefore divine power, is found in Mark 2:5–12, in which Christ asserts the divine prerogative to forgive sins, which the scribes scoff is something God alone can do. Exodus 23:21 is likely lurking in the background of this story. See Daniel Johansson, “‘Who Can Forgive Sins but God Alone?’ Human and Angelic Agents, and Divine Forgiveness in Early Judaism,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33, no. 4 (2011): 351–74.

[32] See, for instance, Boyd K. Packer, “The Pattern of Our Parentage,” in Conference Report, October 1984, 68; Tad R. Callister, “Our Identity and Our Destiny,” Brigham Young University 2012–2013 Speeches (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2013): 3–4.

[33] The KJV renders “thou, being a man, makes thyself God,” which suggests Jesus is claiming to be God the Father himself. The Greek does not have the definite article, however, and “divine,” or “a god” is a more likely interpretation of the Jewish accusation.

[34] For the many different approaches to this passage, see James A. Emerton, “The Interpretation of Ps lxxxii in John x,” Journal of Theological Studies 11 (1960): 329–32; James S. Ackerman, “The Rabbinic Interpretation of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John,” Harvard Theological Review 59, no. 2 (1966): 186–91; Anthony Hanson, “John’s Citation of Psalm LXXXII Reconsidered,” New Testament Studies 13 (1966): 363–67; Jerome H. Neyrey, “‘I Said: You Are Gods’: Psalm 82:6 and John 10,” Journal of Biblical Literature 108, no. 4 (1989): 647–63; Mark D. Nispel, “Christian Deification and the Early Testimonia,” Vigiliae Christianae 53 (1999): 289–304; Carl Mosser, “The Earliest Patristic Interpretations of Psalm 82, Jewish Antecedents, and the Origin of Christian Deification,” Journal of Theological Studies 56 (2005): 30–74; Michael Heiser, “Jesus’s Quotation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34: A Different View of John’s Theological Strategy” (paper presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, May 13, 2011, Spokane, WA). See also Daniel O. McClellan, “Psalm 82 in Contemporary Latter-day Saint Tradition,” Interpreter 15 (2015): 79–96.

[35] On this reading, see Simon B. Parker, “The Beginning of the Reign of God: Psalm 82 as Myth and Liturgy,” Revue Biblique 102.4 (1995): 532–59; Robert P. Gordon, “The Gods Must Die: A Theme in Isaiah and Beyond,” in M. n. van der Meer et al., eds., Isaiah in Context: Studies in Honour of Arie van der Kooij on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 53–55; David Frankel, “El as the Speaking Voice in Psalm 82:6–8,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 10 (2010), jhsonline.org/Articles/article_144.pdf; Peter Machinist, “How Gods Die, Biblically and Otherwise: A Problem of Cosmic Restructuring,” in B. Pongratz-Leisten, ed., Reconsidering the Concept of Revolutionary Monotheism (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011), 189–240; James M. Trotter, “Death of the אלהים in Psalm 82,” Journal of Biblical Literature 131, no. 2 (2012): 221–39; Brent A. Strawn, “The Poetics of Psalm 82: Three Critical Notes along with a Plea for the Poetic,” Revue Biblique 121, no. 1 (2014): 21–46; Ellen White, Yahweh’s Council: Its Structure and Membership (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 24–33; Daniel McClellan, “The Gods-Complaint: Psalm 82 as a Psalm of Complaint,” Journal of Biblical Literature 137, no. 4 (2018): 833–51.

[36] Tanuma B. 9; ‘Abodah Zarah 5a; Midrash Rabbah Exodus 32:7.

[37] For more on the textual and linguistic background of this passage, see Richard I. Pervo, Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 171–93.

[38] For discussions of this passage, see McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research, 17–30; Wolfgang Kraus, “The Role of the Septuagint in the New Testament: Amos 9:11–12 as a Test Case,” in “Translation If Required”: The Septuagint in Retrospect and Prospect, ed. Robert J. V. Hiebert (SCS 10; Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), 171–90; W. Edward Glenny, “The Septuagint and Apostolic Hermeneutics: Amos 9 in Acts 15,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 22, no. 1 (2012): 1–26.

[39] George H. Guthrie, “Hebrews’ Use of the Old Testament: Recent Trends in Research,” Currents in Biblical Research 1, no. 2 (2003): 271.

[40] Hebrews 1:5a (Psalms 2:7); Hebrews 1:5b (2 Samuel 7:14//1 Chronicles 17:13); Hebrews 1:6 (Deuteronomy 32:43); Hebrews 1:7 (Psalm 103:4); Hebrews 1:8–9 (Psalm 44:7–8); Hebrews 1:10–12 (Psalm 101:26–29); and Hebrews 1:13 (Psalm 109:1). See Susan Docherty, “The Text Form of the OT Citations in Hebrews Chapter 1 and the Implications for the Study of the Septuagint,” New Testament Studies 55, no. 3 (2009): 355–65.

[41] There is no reliable evidence for Pauline authorship of Hebrews. For a thorough review of the scholarship on authorship, see Clare K. Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon: The History and Significance of the Pauline Attribution of Hebrews (WUNT 235; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).

[42] For a recent and very helpful commentary on 2 Maccabees, see Daniel R. Schwartz, 2 Maccabees, CEJL (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2008).

[43] The following quotations are taken from the NRSV.

[44] The translation is from M. A. Knibb, “Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth, 2 vols. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), 2.157, 163–64.

[45] For an insightful recent discussion of this genre, see John J. Collins, “The Genre Apocalypse Reconsidered,” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 20, no. 1 (2016): 21–40.