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August 9, 2007 / vivator

New Testament quotation from Old Testament

One reason why Protestants reject deuterocanonical books is the absence of quotation of those books in New Testament.   However there is no single quotation from Esther, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes either – not being quoted in New Testament is therefore not convincing reason to reject deuterocanonical books.  Furthermore if being quoted in New Testament makes a book inspired then we have quotation from outside both Catholic and Protestant’s Old Testament.  

Jerome (c. 347 to 420 AD) saw a manuscript of apocryphal work (now lost) attributed to Jeremiah that had the exact words quoted in Matthew 27:9 (source: Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, 4.27.10, in Ancient Christian Commentary of Scripture, New Testament, Vol. 1b, Inter Varsity Press, 2002, page 275).  Yet Jerome still believed that Matthew 27:9-10 is mix-quotation from Zechariah and Jeremiah.  What Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, preceded with the phrase “it is written”, resembles but not equal to Isaiah 64:4.  According to Ambrosiaster (c. 4th century AD) it is quotation from apocryphal Apocalypse of Elijah (source: Ambrosiaster, Commentary on 1 Corinthians, in Ancient Christian Commentary of Scripture, New Testament, Vol. 7, Inter Varsity Press, 2002, page 23).   We have only fragments of Apocalypse of Elijah today.  Ambrosiaster (pseudo Ambrose) was the name given by Dutch theologian Erasmus (1466 to 1536) to otherwise anonymous 4th century author who wrote commentary of all Paul’s epistles.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:4 about the spiritual rock that followed the Israelites during Exodus, which is not mentioned in Exodus.  In 2 Peter 2:22, Proverbs 26:11 is placed in par with a proverb from outside the Bible.  Jude 14-16 quotes from the apocryphal 1 Enoch 1:9.  Jude 9 quotes from the apocryphal Ascension of Moses, based on testimony of Origen (c. 185 to 251 AD) in his work “de Principiis 3:2” – no manuscript of Ascension of Moses survives today.  We also have quotation from unknown scripture in John 7:38 and James 4:5, both preceded with the phrase “scripture says”.  

The standard reply for those quotations is they are not quoted as scripture, just like Paul quoted from Cretan poet Epimenides in Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12.  However quotation from non-Jewish works was obviously non-scriptural. Others might argue that since they are quoted without being preceded with phrases like “it is written”, “Scripture says”, “prophet says”, they should not be considered as scriptural quotation.  However quotations from recognized Scripture are also quoted without those words.  Those phrases do not appear in the book of Revelation – certainly it does not mean Revelation does not quote any single verse from Old Testament.


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  1. tiber jumper / Aug 15 2007 2:16 pm

    thanks for the posts. I have learned a lot here.
    God bless!!!!

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