Friday, January 29, 2010

Paul's Use of the OT

Romans 1:16-17 stands as one of the great statements of the apostle Paul, capped by Paul's quotation of Habakkuk 2:4. Notice the slight difference in Paul's quote from the OT context:

Romans 1:17
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith." ( δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται)

Hab. 2:4 MT
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. (וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה)

Hab. 2:4 LXX
If he should draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith. ( δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται)

Richard Hays writes in his book:

In the Hebrew text of Habakkuk, God's answer to the prophet is an exhortation to keep the faith: "The righteous one shall live by his faithfulness," that is, the person who remains faithful will be rewarded in the end by God. The LXX, however, has reinterpreted the dictum as a promise about the character of God: "The righteous one shall live by my faithfulness," that is, God's own integrity in preserving the covenant with Israel will ultimately be confirmed. As Paul allows the quotation to reverberate into the text of Romans he elides the crucial personal pronoun, so that we hear only "the righteous one shall live by faithfulness." Whose faithfulness? We are not told. The ambiguity thus created allows the echoed oracle to serve simultaneously as a warrant for two different claims that Paul has made in his keynote formulation of the gospel: in the gospel God's own righteousness is revealed; and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

I think Hays comment is very shrewd and Paul's use of the Scripture is brilliant!


Janice said...


Mike S. said...

Janice: I agree! This whole NT use of OT is a crazy world...