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Acts 15 Exegetical Study

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Seeing the Old Testament in the New
Definition of Quotations and Allusions and Criteria for Discerning Them
Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation Chapter 2: Seeing the Old Testament in the New: Definitions of Quotations and Allusions and Criteria for Discerning Them

One must start somewhere in studying the use of the OT in the NT. The obvious starting point is first to identify where the NT quotes and alludes to the OT. This is fairly easy in the case of quotations but more difficult with allusions. First we will look at the definition of a quotation and criteria for recognizing one and then address the thorny problem of allusions.

Recognizing Quotations in the New Testament

A quotation is a direct citation of an OT passage that is easily recognizable by its clear and unique verbal parallelism. Many of these quotations are introduced by a formula, such as “that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled” (Matt. 2:15 AT), “it is written” (Rom. 3:4), or another similar expression. Other citations without such introductory indicators are so obviously parallel to an OT text that clearly a quotation is being made (e.g., see Gal. 3:6; Eph. 6:3). Most commentators agree on the vast majority of what should be recognized as quotations from the OT.

Recognizing Allusions in the New Testament

In contrast to quotations, there is greater debate about the definition of an allusion and the criteria by which one can discern an allusion. Accordingly, commentators differ about how many allusions there are in the entire NT. The count goes anywhere from about 600 allusions to 1,650 and even up to about 4,100.

An “allusion” may simply be defined as a brief expression consciously intended by an author to be dependent on an OT passage. In contrast to a quotation of the OT, which is a direct reference, allusions are indirect references (the OT wording is not reproduced directly as in a quotation). Some believe that an allusion must consist of a reproduction from the OT passage of a unique combination of at least three words. Though this may be a good rule of thumb, it remains possible that fewer than three words or even an idea may be an allusion. The telltale key to discerning an allusion is that of recognizing an incomparable or unique parallel in wording, syntax, concept, or cluster of motifs in the same order or structure. When both unique wording (verbal coherence) and theme are found, the proposed allusion takes on greater probability. Recognizing allusions is like interpretation: there are degrees of probability and possibility in any attempt to identify an allusion.

Thus the echo is merely a subtle reference to the OT that is not as clear a reference as an allusion. Another way to say this is that an echo is an allusion that is possibly dependent on an OT text in distinction to a reference that is clearly or probably dependent

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation Chapter 3: An Approach to Interpreting the Old Testament in the New

An Approach to Interpreting the Old Testament in the New

Overview

Here I elaborate on the following ninefold approach to interpreting the use of the OT in the NT. First, it will be helpful to see an overview of the approach before elaborating on each of the nine steps.

Overview

Here I elaborate on the following ninefold approach to interpreting the use of the OT in the NT. First, it will be helpful to see an overview of the approach before elaborating on each of the nine steps.

1. Identify the OT reference. Is it a quotation or allusion? If it is an allusion, then there must be validation that it is an allusion, judging by the criteria discussed in the preceding chapter.

2. Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.

3. Analyze the OT context both broadly and immediately, especially thoroughly interpreting the paragraph in which the quotation or allusion occurs.

4. Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be of relevance to the NT appropriation of the OT text.

5. Compare the texts (including their textual variants): NT, LXX, MT, and targums, early Jewish citations (DSS, the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo). Underline or color-code the various differences.

6. Analyze the author’s textual use of the OT. (Which text does the author rely on, or is the author making his own rendering, and how does this bear on the interpretation of the OT text?)

7. Analyze the author’s interpretative (hermeneutical) use of the OT.

8. Analyze the author’s theological use of the OT.

9. Analyze the author’s rhetorical use of the OT.

Elaboration

Here each of the nine steps listed above will be elaborated.

Identify the OT reference. Is it a quotation or allusion? If it is an allusion, then there must be validation that it is an allusion, judging by the criteria discussed in the preceding chapter

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation Analyze the Broad NT Context Where the OT Reference Occurs

Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs

1. Overview of the broad NT context. Try to discover the occasion for the particular NT book in which the OT quotation occurs. Why was it written? To whom? These questions are easier to answer in epistolary literature but harder in the Gospels and Acts. Next, gather an overview of the outline of the entire NT book in which the OT reference occurs. Try as best as possible to discern the way the argument develops logically throughout the book, paying special attention to the main themes of the paragraphs and how they appear to be related. Since this is a massive task in itself, it is advisable that after a reading of the entire biblical book and reflection on how the argument develops, the introductions of two or three substantive commentaries on the biblical book should be consulted. Pay special attention to those introductory sections where these commentaries outline the book (and how they break down the major literary units) and how they trace the progress of thought throughout the book. Combine your own views with what you consider to be the best views of the commentaries and construct a tentative working outline of the book, showing how its argument develops.

(AV)
1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction James’ Speech in 15:13–21

James’ speech in 15:13–21

During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes Amos 9:11–12 to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if Amos 9:11–12 is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (Acts 15:23–29). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the LXX reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.

3And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
<PreachingTheme = Circumcision>
4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

Leviticus 12:3

3And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Luke 1:59

59And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,

Luke 2:21–22

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

John 7:22

22Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.

8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

Leviticus 12:3

3And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Luke 1:59

59And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,

Luke 2:21–22

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

John 7:22

22Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.

Acts 15:1

1But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16After 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:
17That 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.

Amos 9:11–12

11“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, 12that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the LORD who does this.

Acts 15:16–17

16“ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things

18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction James’ Speech in 15:13–21

James’ speech in 15:13–21

During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes Amos 9:11–12 to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if Amos 9:11–12 is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (Acts 15:23–29). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the LXX reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.

Leviticus 12:3

3And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Luke 1:59

59And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,

Luke 2:21–22

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

John 7:22

22Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.

Is this passage a Direct Quotation or an Allusion?

15:1

The “custom of [i.e., taught by] Moses” is another designation for the law of Moses (cf. 6:14) that was beginning to develop in Judaism (cf. Wis. 14:16), since it was the law that determined the characteristic manner of life.

Circumcision was inculcated by the story of Abraham and his family being circumcised in accordance with a direct divine command that was to continue to be obeyed in all future generations (Gen. 17:1–27; cf. 21:4); see Josh. 5:2–8. Somewhat surprisingly, circumcision does not figure elsewhere in the legislation in the last four books of the Pentateuch, except in Lev. 12:3 (where it is incidental to purification after childbirth) and in the Passover regulations for non-Israelites participating in the meal (Exod. 12:44, 48–49) and in metaphorical references (Lev. 19:23; 26:41; Deut. 10:16; 30:6 [cf. Jer. 4:4; 9:25–26]).

Amos 9:11–12

11“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, 12that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the LORD who does this.

Acts 15:16–17

16“ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things

15:1
upport the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
The “custom of [i.e., taught by] Moses” is another designation for the law of Moses (cf. 6:14) that was beginning to develop in Judaism (cf. ), since it was the law that determined the characteristic manner of life.
15:1
15:1
l raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
Circumcision was inculcated by the story of Abraham and his family being circumcised in accordance with a direct divine command that was to continue to be obeyed in all future generations (; cf. 21:4); see . Somewhat surprisingly, circumcision does not figure elsewhere in the legislation in the last four books of the Pentateuch, except in (where it is incidental to purification after childbirth) and in the Passover regulations for non-Israelites participating in the meal (, ) and in metaphorical references (; ; ; [cf. ; ]).
During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 588–589.15:1
The “custom of [i.e., taught by] Moses” is another designation for the law of Moses (cf. 6:14) that was beginning to develop in Judaism (cf. ), since it was the law that determined the characteristic manner of life.
During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
James’ speech in 15:13–21
The “custom of [i.e., taught by] Moses” is another designation for the law of Moses (cf. 6:14) that was beginning to develop in Judaism (cf. ), since it was the law that determined the characteristic manner of life.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction, T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies (London: T&T Clark International, 2001), 57.l raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction, T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies (London: T&T Clark International, 2001), 57.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction, T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical St
Circumcision was inculcated by the story of Abraham and his family being circumcised in accordance with a direct divine command that was to continue to be obeyed in all future generations (; cf. 21:4); see . Somewhat surprisingly, circumcision does not figure elsewhere in the legislation in the last four books of the Pentateuch, except in (where it is incidental to purification after childbirth) and in the Passover regulations for non-Israelites participating in the meal (, ) and in metaphorical references (; ; ; [cf. ; ]).
During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
Circumcision was inculcated by the story of Abraham and his family being circumcised in accordance with a direct divine command that was to continue to be obeyed in all future generations (; cf. 21:4); see . Somewhat surprisingly, circumcision does not figure elsewhere in the legislation in the last four books of the Pentateuch, except in (where it is incidental to purification after childbirth) and in the Passover regulations for non-Israelites participating in the meal (, ) and in metaphorical references (; ; ; [cf. ; ]).
I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 588–589.
I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 588–589.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction, T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies (London: T&T Clark International, 2001), 57.
James’ speech in 15:13–21

15:12–21

Bowker (1967–1968: 107–9) has identified James’s speech as falling into the pattern of the yelammedenu homily, in which a question of conduct (here posed in 15:5 by some believing Pharisees) is answered by reference to precedent and to Scripture. The precedent is the case of Peter’s evangelism of Cornelius and his household, the Scripture is drawn from Amos 9, and James concludes with a strong recommendation that Bowker likens to a rabbinic taqqanah, in which the Torah is amended or alleviated. What is lacking is any evidence based on the Torah, without which an appeal to the prophets would have little force, and Bowker therefore has to postulate that what we have here is only a fragment of a longer discourse.

15:14

“To take from the nations a people for himself” (labein ex ethnōn laon tō onomati autou) has some similarity to Deut. 14:2, where God “chose you to be a special people from all the nations on the face of the earth” (laon periousion apo pantōn tōn ethnōn [cf. Exod. 19:5; 23:22 LXX; Deut. 7:6; 26:18–19]), but whereas Deuteronomy refers to God selecting Israel to be his special people separate from the nations, James here appears to mean that God is now taking a group of people out of the Gentile nations to be a people for himself; James does not take up the question of the relationship between these believing Gentiles and the existing Jewish people. Maybe there is a deliberate use of the OT verse in a different sense from the original. The MT of Deut. 14:2 has the same Hebrew word (ʿam) that the LXX translates with two different words, so that Acts here reflects the LXX rendering. Moessner (1996: 241–42) traces the influence of Jer. 12:15–17, but although there is some similarity in motif, there are no decisive linguistic parallels. The combination “a people for his name” is not found in the LXX, but it is used in the Palestinian Targum as a paraphrase for “a people for the Lord” (Dahl 1957–1958). Dahl notes the relevance of Zech. 2:15 MT (2:11 ET; 2:15 LXX), “Many Gentiles will take refuge in the Lord in that day and will become his people,” where the Targum has this phrase. See further Dupont (1985), who understands 18:10 similarly of a people that includes the Gentiles who have faith in God.

15:12–21
Bowker (1967–1968: 107–9) has identified James’s speech as falling into the pattern of the yelammedenu homily, in which a question of conduct (here posed in 15:5 by some believing Pharisees) is answered by reference to precedent and to Scripture. The precedent is the case of Peter’s evangelism of Cornelius and his household, the Scripture is drawn from , and James concludes with a strong recommendation that Bowker likens to a rabbinic taqqanah, in which the Torah is amended or alleviated. What is lacking is any evidence based on the Torah, without which an appeal to the prophets would have little force, and Bowker therefore has to postulate that what we have here is only a fragment of a longer discourse.
During the so-called Jerusalem council, James quotes to support the view that God’s purposes have always been to include Gentiles among the people of God. However, if is read in an English translation (which follows the Hebrew), one might question the relevance of a text which says that God will raise up the fallen booth of David ‘in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name’. The explanation appears to be that James is quoting from a Greek text that read ‘Adam’ for ‘Edom’ (along with other changes) to form the phrase, ‘so that all other peoples may seek the Lord’. But is James, the brother of Jesus, likely to have quoted from a Greek mistranslation in the middle of Jerusalem? Most scholars think not and suggest that the speech is Luke’s own creation, along with the resulting decree (). Others, however, point out that James was surely bilingual and that the lxx reading might be evidence for a different form of the Hebrew text.
I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 589.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the New: An Introduction, T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies (London: T&T Clark International, 2001), 57.
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