15 March 2022

Isaiah: Part 5

In this blog entry we continue focusing on the most complex structure diagrams in the Book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 28:16 in I_Peter 2:6

(If you click on a structure diagram, you can change the numbers into Greek/Latin texts and back.)


In some previous blog entries we already found that Isaiah 28:16 is quoted in the Romans (in a combined form with Isaiah 8:14). Here we learn that a second quotation appears in I_Peter 2:6. Similarly to Romans, here there are some slight differences. Again, the word “τιθημι” (“I lay”) is used by Peter, instead of “εγω εμβαλω εις τα θεμελια” (“I shall put for the foundations”). The rest of the quotation is quasi-literal, but some words from Isaiah are skipped (class 4).

The getrefs algorithm finds literal parts of the quoted text in 3 chunks on 9, 15 and 33 characters. The first and third chunks correspond to the parts in the structure diagram, but the second chunk contains only its last 13 characters that correspond to the beginning of the part with 27 characters. Anyway, this quotation can be very well identified mechanically.

Isaiah 42:1-4 in Matthew 12:18-21


This is a case of mixing class 4/5 quotations. There are several skipped parts of the Old Testament, and a couple of insertions are made:
  1. The first word “Ιδου” (“behold”), 4 letters, is a very frequent word in LXX (with 989 occurrences), but it does not appear in this part of Isaiah. Two verses before that, however, we can find it, but it does not seem to make sense to connect the two words here.
  2. The second insertion “ον ηρετισα, ο αγαπητος μου εις ον ευδοκησεν” (“whom I have chosen, the beloved of me in whom has found delight”), 35 letters, seems to be an extra concept added by Matthew, because the search ηρετι* αγαπητ* in BibleTime gives no result. The search ευδοκησ* gives 27 results, but none of them appear in Isaiah. One may say that Matthew uses a combination from multiple books, but it does not seem to be the case. On the other hand, the Hebrew text contains this extra concept. So maybe the Greek translation was considered not adequate enough by Matthew, and he went back to use the Hebrew text, and he re-translated it into Greek.
  3. The third insertion “απαγγελει / ουκ ερισει ουδε κραυγασει” (“He will proclaim / Not will He quarrel nor will He cry out”), 31 letters, seems a reformulation of Isaiah's text with synonyms. Isaiah's formulates these words like this: “εξοισει / ου κεκραξεται ουδε ανησει” (“He shall bring forth / He shall not cry out nor shall he send up his voice”). It seems very difficult to identify this pair mechanically, however, some parts of the match may be tell-tale signs. The Jaccard distance of these two texts is about 47%. (Check this via bibref.)
  4. The fourth insertion “τις εν ταις πλατειαις / την” (“anyone in the streets / the”), 21 letters, seems to have no counterpart in LXX. The expression “εν ταις πλατειαις την” (“in the streets”) occurs, however, several times – but none of the occurrences have a similar context. In Isaiah we read the word “εξω” (“outside”) which can have a similar meaning, so, in some sense, Matthew uses a synonym instead. On the other hand, the Hebrew text contains a word that has the meaning of a “street” more exactly.
  5. The first word of the fifth insertion “συντετριμμενον ου κατεαξει” ([a reed] “bruised not He will break”), 24 letters, is somewhat similar to the last word of the skipped LXX passage “τεθλασμενον ου συντριψει” (“being crushed he will not break”), but an even closer match (about 46%) can be identified in the ABPGRK variant of the Old Testament text: it reads “συντεθλασμενον ου συντριψει” (note the first three characters). (Check this via bibref.) Anyway, this passage seems to be a synonym of the Old Testament text.
  6. The sixth insertion “εως αν εκβαλη εις νικος την” (“until He leads to victory”), 22 letters, introduces the concept of victory. These words are not present in the LXX, even a BibleTime search “εκβ* νικ*” gives no result. Also, the Hebrew text of Isaiah does not mention the concept of victory. Hence this part seems to be an intentional addition by Matthew.
Summary. This is the first quotation in our sequence of studies that has a reference to the Hebrew text. As a consequence, the Hebrew original text cannot be forgotten or ignored, even if the Greek translation is satisfactory in most cases. We also learn that Matthew intentionally adds some new concepts to extend the meaning of Isaiah's text. It is remarkable that Matthew cites additional passage from the Old Testament in chapter 11 (Exodus 23:20, literally), chapter 12 (Hosea 6:6, literally) and chapter 13 (Isaiah 6:9, quasi-literally, and Psalms 78:2, literally), so we cannot claim that Matthew does not take care of quoting precisely in general:





My personal intention is that Matthew 12:18-21 requires a special attention and needs to be studied differently as the most quotations. But, interestingly enough, several parts of this quotation can be clearly identified by the getrefs algorithm (the identified literal matches are 19, 17, 12, 12, 10, 14 and 28 characters long). (Check this via bibref.) Even if Matthew eventually used a different source than the LXX for this particular passage, a kind of “fingerprint” of the message remains constantly over translations and languages.


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Zoltán Kovács
Linzer Zentrum für Mathematik Didaktik
Johannes Kepler Universität
Altenberger Strasse 54
A-4040 Linz