From Memory

The first Bible I read cover to cover was an NIV but my church used the KJV and now I predominantly read from the ESV and updated NIV. It’s not uncommon for me to quote these various versions from memory. At times I offer a mishmash quotation. Other times I paraphrase. And I know that I’m not unique in this regard.

Pauline scholars often note where Paul’s quotations of the OT follow the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, or are perhaps his own off the cuff translations. Some assume that Paul had the texts in front of him when quoting but I think it’s likely that Paul was quoting from memory more times than not. If I can do it then why not Paul?

The question that intrigues me is not whether or not he had the texts in front of him (since I don’t think he did) but rather was he consciously or subconsciously quoting the MT, LXX, or offering his own paraphrase? In my experience, I do both. There are times when I purposely quote the KJV because it gets my point across better. Other times I’ll quote the ESV without even thinking about it. So why not Paul?



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