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Romans 12:19. What was Paul's source?
distazo Wrote:The Peshitta differs here, rather a lot from the Greek text.

The English interlinear translation of Romans 12:19 (G.D. Bauscher) is:

"And not be you avenging you yourselves, beloved, but give place to place to rage, for it is written that if not you will execute judgment for yourself, I shall execute your judgement, says God."

The Greek text is clearly a citation of Deut 32:35
But the Aramaic source, is not a citation of the MT, nor the LXX.

So, what do you think? What was the source of Paul's citation?

Septuagint translation
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Deuteronomy 32:35 In the day of vengeance I will recompense, whensoever their foot shall be tripped up; for the day of their destruction is near to them, and the judgments at hand are close upon you.
32:36 For the Lord shall judge his people, and shall be comforted over his servants; for he saw that they were utterly weakened, and failed in the hostile invasion, and were become feeble:

NKJV translation of the Massoretic text
32:35 Vengeance is mine and recompence;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the days of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.

32:36 For the LORD will judge his people,
And have compassion on his servants,
When he sees that their power is gone,
And there is no one remaining bond or free.

Whether one defers to the Septuagint or the Massoretic text the result is the same. The quote of Paul can be confidently traced to the Torah. It's the phrase "vengeance is mine and recompence" or the equivalent "vengeance is mine, I will repay" that ties Deuteronomy 32:35 with Romans 12:19.

John Wesley Etheridge
Romans 12:19 And avenge not yourselves, my beloved, but give place unto wrath; for it is written, that if thou execute not judgment for thyself, I will execute thy judgment, saith Aloha.

James Murdock
Romans 12:19 And be ye not avengers of yourselves, my beloved: but give place to wrath. For it is written: If thou dost not execute judgment for thyself, I will execute judgment for thee, saith God.

The Apostle Paul is paraphrasing the gist of Deuteronomy 32:35 as it is paraphrased in Hebrews 10:30. Also Psalm 94:1 follows this principle "LORD to whom vengeance belongs". The natural conclusion is "avenge not yourselves for the LORD is the only righteous avenger". In my honest opinion it is not necessary to defer to the Septuagint when the Massoretic text will suffice.

Moreover, it is not always the best exegesis to look for a verbatim quote from the Hebrew Jewish Bible, no matter what the translation whether Aramaic or Greek. Rather, "equivalent expression" (second rule of Hillel) is a valuable hermeneutic tool. It could very well be that Paul is paraphrasing the text rather than quoting it verbatim. I rather tend now to think that many of the so-called quotes from the Jewish Bible that appear in the New Testament are indeed paraphrases, and this was a common practice. The Dead Sea Scrolls are ripe with interpretive "paraphrases/peshers/commentaries". Otherwise, why the Targums in the first place? Why paraphrase at all? Isn't it "to give the sense" as Ezra prescribed? (Nehemiah 8:8)

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Re: Romans 12:19. What was Paul's source? - by Stephen Silver - 02-25-2009, 07:42 PM

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