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Romans 12:19. What was Paul's source?
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?
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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The Greek translation at Romans 12:19 is a direct quote from the Targum for Deut 32:35 that much is clear, as it is word for word..."Vengeance is mine, I will repay...." in the Targum.

You can see this here: on page 668
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As to where the Peshitta quotes from, it is not known, there is no reading close to it in Aramaic, Greek, or the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the Targums...and my be what Stephen says...a thought for thought translation, and not a litteral word for word translation of the Deut 32:35

Peshitta - Romans 12:19 "...for it is written: ???If you will not execute judgment for yourself, I shall execute
your judgment, says God.???

I find it quite clear that the Greek translation was not translated from the Aramaic New Testament text here, but translates straight from the Targum of Deut 32:24 word for word...

And that is quite a revelation!

Think about this for awhile...


Does anyone know which source text Lamsa uses to translate the Peshitta? His translation at Romans 12:19 is not at all like the others I have seen, and is very close to the Greek versions.

February 28, 2009

According to the Preface in Lamsa's 1957 translation: "Manuscripts used in making this translation were the Codex Ambrosianus for the Old Testament and the so-called Mortimer-McCawley manuscript for the New Testament; the former is in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, Italy, and has been identified as fifth century A.D.; the latter ... has been variously identified as sixth or seventh century A.D. Comparisons have been had with the Peshitta manuscripts in the Morgan Library, New York, N.Y., with manuscripts in the Freer Collection, Washington, D.C., with the Urumiah edition, and with dated Biblical manuscripts in existence. Our translator [Lamsa] states that comparisons show no differences between these manuscripts, and that he has filled in the few missing portions of Chronicles from other authentic Peshitta sources...." [May 1957]

Also, remember that Lamsa (who studied in Anglican and Episcopal schools) loved the King James style and often adopted modernized versions of its wordings when they were consistent with his reading of the Peshitta.


His translation at Romans 12:19 is not at all like the other Peshitta translations in English...can we say Lamsa has the correct reading from the text he used then, and the text itself reads this way...while the other translations are using other texts as their source?

Or is it that Lamsa like the Greek reading and its KJV translation better than what he found in the Peshitta text he used....if so, this is not good translating and tends to discredit the whole work.

February 28, 2009

Lamsa' s Translations:

Deuteronomy 32: 35 "To me belongs vengeance, and I will recompense them...."

Psalm 94:1 "O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs...."

Romans 12:19 "...for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will execute justice for you, said the Lord."

These seem consistent to me.


May I ask you what siginificance it might be whether Paul was quoting from the LXX(Greek Old Testament) or some other text family??

Your comments from another thread (as well as this one)has roused my curiosity. I have alos given this some thought as well and even did my own personal study on it. Now, I am not sure if there is any real major significance whether Paul (or any other NT writer for that matter) makes use of the Greek LXX or the Hebrew MT for his quotes from the Old Testament. Why?? Because Paul may well have been qouting straight from a Hebrew text source (or Hebrew family text type) different from the Hebrew MT.

To my knowledge the discovery of the DSS has showed us the Hebrew (family) texts that were underneath the Greek LXX translations; and thus, placing the argument for NT Greek Primacy on a fragile foundation. IOW, we see the possibility(probablility) that when the NT authors wrote quotes from the Old Testament - they were not neccessarily going to the Greek LXX but to the Hebrew LXX - if you know what I am trying to express.

I have read that for many decades NT critical scholars believed that the Hebrew translators , when they translated the Hebrew into the Greek,(for the Septuagint - beginning in Alexandria) just did a lousy job in translation for they (the scholars) saw that in many places the Greek was off from the original Hebrew and that the scribes just paraphrased much of the text or that they(the scribes) took too much liberty in certain passages. But it was found out that it wasn't so much that they paraphrased or took too much liberty but that they had a DIFFERENT HEBREW TEXT TYPE.

I had always thought that some of the Aramaic New Testament quotes of the OT (in great many places) gave a pretty good reason to support Greek Primacy until I came across some information that stated many of the Hebrew MSs BEHIND the LXX were discovered at Qumran caves (or DSS). This gives the probable scenerio that the NT Aramaic authors were quoting from (not the Greek) but Hebrew text sources.

You seem to believe that because many Aramaic New Testament quotes of the Old Testament take on the LXX tradition , that - that means a good argument for NT Greek Primacy. My answer could likely be, "so what?" Am I correct on this assertion concerning your view?? Please help me out here if I am missing something and I would be grateful.

Have you read Paul Younan's article on the Aramaic and the LXX?? I believe this is under FAQ on this site.



Thank you for that post Mike, and your gracious tone is a blessing to hear.

You look to be on the same overall track as I am with this...I think, like you, its quite possible that the Hebrew source used to translate into the Greek may indeed be the source for the New Testament quotes where they line up more closely with what we find in the MT of today.

What seems clear to me is that just like us today, who have many sources to look at, that the Apostles and their associates may as well have had similar resources when they sat down and wrote the New Testament books out...For instance when they quote an Old Testament passage, it is borne out that sometimes it lines up closer to the way the modern Hebrew MT text reads, sometimes the way the Septuagint reads, sometimes the Peshitta Old Testament, sometimes the Aramaic Targums, sometimes even the way the DSS reads.... and sometimes is even a unique rendering that just one or the other version has....and so it may be that they had then, something like what we have today...a number of source texts to cull from, and they, by the leading of The Holy Spirit, chose which one they saw as being most true.

Some may not like that idea, but I think it is naive to think that all they had to work with was one Hebrew or one Aramaic Old Testament text to translate from and that they dared not use the Greek, the Targums, or any another version that might have existed back then.

Also, it seems clear that at times the quote is more of a paraphrase or thought for thought translation, than a literal word for word translation that they go with...

Also, I want to make this clear...I have no hidden agenda here on this forum (not thinking that you were thinking this)...I am not trying to prove out which language the New Testament was originally written in at all, I am just investigating the whole matter...???Test all things, prove all things?????? and I am fairly new to all this really.

I sometimes even wonder if it could possibly be true that some of the New Testament books were penned both in Aramaic & Greek at the same time, perhaps by the same bilingual scribe, or maybe there we two employed... and sent out to the various Aramaic & Greek speaking gatherings at once...

To demonstrate this, it seems clear to me that the writer/writers of this verse in Romans 12:19, could not be using the same source text for the Old Testament quote here ???
Greek ??? Romans 12:19 Not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath, for it has been written, ???Vengeance is Mine,??? ???I will repay,??? says the Lord.
Peshitta - Romans 12:19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to rage, for it is written: ???If you will not execute judgment for yourself, I shall execute your judgment, says God.

The Greek here seems to come straight from the Aramaic Targum of Deut 32:35 that we can read today, while the Aramaic Peshitta looks like it culls a few Old Testament verses into one, or if not, then quotes from an unknown source we can???t find today???.

Mr. Bauscher notes: The quotation is quite different in The Peshitta from that of the Greek and Latin versions. The Greek is a quote from Deut. 32:35 (not LXX, but Hebrew or Peshitta).The Peshitta text of this verse cannot have come from the Greek of this verse; it is not like any OT text that I can find in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic.

Akhayn Thirdwoe and Mike,

Mike, excellent summary on the pre-MSS quotes found in the NT. I've always thought that whenever the LXX and Peshitta agree against the MSS, unless there is clearly a reason to believe they both independently mistranslated the Hebrew, then that reading should be preferred...especially when the DSS or Targums bear witness as well. In all other cases the MSS should be primary.

Thirdwoe, below are links to the recent Excommunication of the former CoE bishop:

As you can see, the first link is in the original Aramaic which is the official language of the CoE, however since the language of the government in Iraq is Arabic, the document was immediately translated into Arabic so that the communities in Iraq (where this Synod was held), both Christian and Muslim, could read the decree in case they can't understand Aramaic.

I can imagine that it really was no different during the Apostolic age, and that since the language of the government was Greek these documents were either immediately translated by the authors or their companions, or else they were translated immediately upon arrival at their destination (in the case of the epistles). I can even imagine that the first translation of the Epistle to the Romans may have been Latin before even the Greek.
+Shamasha Paul bar-Shimun de'Beth-Younan
[Image: sig.jpg]

Paul, I tend to agree with that and we also see this when the sign above the Messiah's head was made.

shlom lokh akh Paul,

These two letters might be a good example to analyse; of how a translation differs from the original. The Arabic and Aramaic differs from each other, and if someone was to read them he would think that they were written by two different people who attended the same event.

We're getting these divergences from two Semitic documents (Aramaic and Arabic) written by the same Church (with one which is the translation of the other), now imaging what happens to the NT when it went from the Aramaic to the Greek (a non-Semitic language).

push bashlomo,
Hey folks,

Thank you for your kind comments. It has got me thinking a little bit further. And thanks for your help.

Blessed be HIS wonderful and High Name,


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