Where the world comes to study the Bible

Managing “Over-Cites”: Learning from Evangelical Treatments of Faulty New Testament Citations of the Old Testament

Related Media

Editor’s note: Wes Gristy is a Th.M. student at Dallas Seminary and one of my interns for the 2003-04 school year. This paper was read at the first annual Student Academic Conference of Dallas Seminary, held on April 16, 2004. Wes received the award for best paper at the conference. Congratulations, Wes, on a job well done!

Daniel B. Wallace

Introduction

The conflicts and confusion of life can cause many an individual to reflect upon the wise and well-known saying of Plato the philosopher: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” 1 Similarly, the complexities and conundrums of the biblical text can cause many an evangelical to reflect upon the wise and not so well-known saying: “The unexamined text is not worth living.” Thus we enter into the fray of evangelical treatments of two so-called “problem passages.”

Perhaps the citation blunder above has already caused the technical precision of this paper to be held in suspect. On the other hand, such a mishap may gain sympathy as we consider apparently made faulty citations 2 by New Testament authors of the Old Testament text. The two most infamous instances occur in Matthew 27:9-10 and Mark 1:2-3.3 At the end of the account of Judas’ suicide, Matthew ascribes to Jeremiah a passage that appears to be most closely related to Zechariah 11:12-13: “Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘They took the thirty silver coins, the price of the one whose price had been set by the people of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me’” (Matt 27:9-10 NET). Mark’s problematic citation, on the other hand, is somewhat different in that at the beginning of his Gospel he attributes two separate quotations from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 to the one source Isaiah: “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight”’” (Mark 1:2-3 NET). The obvious question in both passages for the interpreter to address is this: Why did the evangelist ascribe his quotation (or part of his quotation) to the wrong Old Testament author?

For many evangelicals, who for the purpose of this paper will be defined as those affirming the ETS doctrinal statement,4 this problem creates a crisis because it sets the phenomena of the text against certain held assumptions about the text. How can one committed to the inerrancy of Scripture explain these discrepancies? How should one defend a high bibliology in light of such apparent imprecision? Attempts by evangelicals to answer these questions and thus relieve the tension generated by these citations have been numerous and span the gamut.5 This paper intends to examine and evaluated these various suggested solutions proposed by evangelicals as to why Matthew 27:9 and Mark 1:2 apparently make faulty citations of the Old Testament. Hopefully, a careful study of these interpretations will teach us a number of truths about evangelicals, their dealings with difficult texts, and the role the doctrine of inerrancy plays in their interpretations.

The various approaches taken toward solving the unusual ascription problems found in these passages can be categorized into three broad groups: (1) attempts at finding text-critical solutions, (2) explanations based on possible citation methods of the ancient culture, and (3) arguments claiming that Matthew and Mark acquired their quotations from outside sources.6

Text-Critical Treatments

The presence of a diverse textual tradition behind both citations has led many interpreters to find a solution in textual criticism. Thus the “blame” for the citation problem is shifted from the New Testament author himself to the transcribers of the text. These two passages serve as an interesting study in textual criticism because the Jeremiah reading in Matthew is supported by the majority of New Testament manuscripts while the Isaiah reading in Mark is not.

Matthew 27:9

A handful of interpreters are inclined to argue that Matthew never wrote the name “Jeremiah” in the first place. Thus they either point to a few late witnesses that read “Zechariah” (22 syrhmg)7 or to others that omit the name entirely (F 33 a b sys.p boms).8 Edward Young, for example, after discussing a number of plausible solutions is inclined “to the view that originally the word Zechariah stood in the text, and that sometime, very early indeed, the word Jeremiah, by a copyist’s error, was substituted for it.”9 Young chose this solution because he believed it answered what was to him the most central question: Did Matthew intend to quote from Jeremiah or did he intend to quote from Zechariah? With this either/or approach, Young chose the latter by means of a text-critical route since the frame of the quotation itself is most obviously built upon Zechariah.

The specifics of Young’s textual explanation find their roots in C. H. Toy, who proposes an unintentional scribal slip: “It is more likely that it is a clerical error: instead of the abbreviation zriou [for Zechariah], a scribe may have written iriou [an abbreviation for Jeremiah], and so the latter may have been perpetuated.”10 However, evidence for such abbreviations does not exist in the textual tradition.11 Thus the approach taken by Young, and apparently by Toy as well,12 is influenced more by what they believe Matthew must have written versus what the historical evidence more likely indicates.13

James Morison puts forward another novel approach that should be mentioned in this section on text-critical treatments. After interacting with twelve suggested interpretive solutions, he presumes that the Jeremiah reading is a “publishing error.”14 In other words, the error supposedly first appears when the original autograph was read aloud to a number of copyists in one setting. The “publishing error” would have thus occurred as Morison describes: “And hence if the reader, under any momentary illusion or fit of mental absence, misread a word, and especially if the word were a proper name which would not suggest to the writers an absurdity or impropriety, the erratum would be apt to be a fixture in the edition.”15

Obviously, such a conjecture is not only mere speculation but highly improbable since New Testament manuscripts were not likely to be transmitted in this fashion during the early years of the church. 16 Yet because Morison unquestionably views the Jeremiah reading as an error, 17 the doctrine of inerrancy becomes the overriding impetus behind his interpretation.

The majority of scholars, however, believe that Jeremiah is, in fact, the original reading due to its strong external support and, on internal grounds, because it is the harder reading that best explains the rise of the other readings. The textual critic Bruce Metzger, in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, gives the Jeremiah reading an A rating.18

Mark 1:2

The text-critical problem in Mark’s Gospel draws much more attention than the Matthew passage primarily because Mark 1:2 has often served as the venue for debate between the two most prominent text-critical methods—the majority text theory and reasoned eclecticism.19 Thus, a majority text advocate will not find a citation problem in this passage to explain, only the majority text method to defend. And in defending this method, a common tactic often employed is applied to Mark 1:2, the impugning of error to the Isaiah reading. For example, in reaction to the Isaiah reading, Burgon exclaims, “Why, in the face of all the copies in the world, will men insist on imputing to an inspired writer a foolish mis-statement, instead of frankly admitting that the text must needs have been corrupted in that little handful of copies?”20

Specific defenses such as these have led to a more general attitude among those in the majority text camp—an attitude that claims the majority text is the only inerrant text. For instance, Pickering writes, “It seems unreasonable that individuals and organizations that profess to champion a high view of Scripture, that defend verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Autographs, should embrace a Greek text that effectively undermines their belief.”21 Also, James Borland expresses this same sentiment after defending the majority text reading for two other problem passages22 in the New Testament: “If we accept the inerrancy of Scripture and yet countenance a textual criticism that voids inerrancy, something is amiss—and I would suggest that it is not the Word of God that needs reconsideration but rather our principles of textual criticism.”23

So while the doctrine of inerrancy not only drives some interpreters to text-critical explanations of difficult texts, the above approaches indicate that the doctrine of inerrancy can also be a determining factor in what text-critical method one adheres to.24 Certainly the citation problem in Mark 1:2 contributes to this tendency.

One wonders, then, how a majority text advocate would handle the more difficult citation problem of Matthew 27:9. Suffice to say, there appears to be little to no discussion of this passage in the writings of the primary spokesmen for the majority text.25 We probably would assume correctly they would handle Matthew 27:9 according to one of the various suggested solutions presented below. If that is indeed the case, the question must be asked: Why are passages like Mark 1:2 considered an error apart from a majority text reading while more difficult problems are explained with other interpretive solutions?

The reasoned eclectic, on the other hand, has a decision to make regarding the reading of Mark 1:2. Surprisingly though, few reasoned eclectics choose the reading “in the prophet” over “in Isaiah the prophet,” even in light of the citation problem.26 The strong external and internal support for the Isaiah reading seem to make this conclusion almost unassailable. For on external grounds, the Isaiah reading is early and geographically widespread ( B D L f 1 33 565 700 892 1241 2427 al syp co Ir); and internally, in light of the citation problem, it makes easier sense to see why copyists would have smoothed out the reading and changed it to “in the prophets.”27 Again, these are reasons that lead Metzger to give the Isaiah reading an A rating as well.28

Ancient Citing Methods

The various ways in which New Testament authors referenced the source of their quotations has led many interpreters to find a solution in ancient citing methods. Thus the “blame” for the citation problem is shifted from the New Testament author himself to first-century writing conventions.

Inexact Citation

In an attempt to explain the ascription of Matthew and Mark, some interpreters are inclined to simply attribute this conundrum to inexactness. These approaches remind the 21st-century reader that “the New Testament writers did not have the same rules for quotations as are nowadays enforced in works of a scientific character…[and] this common present usage is by no means a standard by which to judge the ancient writers.”29 In light of this poignant observation, Ramm argues that Matthew could merely be referring to “the spirit of Jeremiah” that was in Zechariah, and his lack of exactness, if shown to be in line with the uses loquendi of the times, would be perfectly legitimate.30 Such a reference would be akin to a thematic citation of a theological source rather than a canonical citation of a literary source. Yet in this instance the burden of proof rests upon Ramm to show that such abstract citation practices were normative or even exampled in ancient times. This task might be difficult for two reasons: (1) this kind of thematic citation is unattested for in the New Testament; and (2) the explicit textual reference to Jeremiah in Matthew 2:17 “suggests rather that here too Matthew had an actual text or combination of texts in mind.”31

For the problem in Mark 1:2, others simply recognize that Mark’s single reference to Isaiah by no means insinuates that Mark erred because Malachi was not mentioned. For since “Mark and other biblical writers simply did not employ the technical precision of modern research,” 32 it was not necessary for Mark to point out both sources. While this approach certainly makes a valid point, again the burden of proof rests upon these interpreters to show other instances in the New Testament where authors quote from two or more differing sources while mentioning only one of those sources.33

Representative Citation

A very popular approach taken by many commentators to the Matthew problem finds its origin with John Lightfoot in his A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, originally published in the late 17th-century. Lightfoot argues that Matthew cited Jeremiah “because he stood first in the volume of the prophets,” 34 thus representing all the prophets. The evidence for his claim is found in the Babylonian Talmud in a listing of the order of the prophets.35 Since Lightfoot’s discovery, other newly found Hebrew manuscripts have given weight to this possible arrangement.36 As a result, Lightfoot’s explanation has been one of the prevailing interpretations among many evangelicals. Some of these commentators who follow in Lightfoot’s footsteps are Charles Feinberg,37 R. C. H. Lenski,38 John MacArthur,39 Merrill Unger,40 and John Walvoord.41

Yet other interpreters are far from convinced with this approach. Morison describes Lightfoot’s view as “too evidently ingenious, and hyper-ingenious,—far-fetched.”42 Furthermore, both Toy and Ridderbos bring attention to the fact that “such a mode of citation is unexampled.”43 D. A. Carson calls this explanation a “highly improbable ‘solution’…[because] it is not at all certain that Jeremiah was first in Matthew’s day.”44 In other words, too much stock is given to Jewish documents written approximately 500 years after Matthew’s Gospel. And even if weight is given to the historical roots of this rabbinical literature, it should be noted that Jeremiah is not always listed first; in fact, Isaiah heads up the list twice as often.45 Michael Knowles further points out that “since the one other ascription of a formula quotation to ‘Jeremiah’ (in 2:17-18) is clearly to the canonical work of the prophet, a more general reference here seems highly improbable.”46 And lastly, if the mention of Jeremiah is truly equivalent to writing “in the prophets,” we should expect Jeremiah to be cited liberally throughout the whole of the New Testament when any passage from the prophets is quoted, which of course, is not the case.47

Ironically, some evangelicals use this same line of reasoning for the problem in Mark 1:2. For example, one commentator writes, “Just as the term ‘Psalms’ is apparently used for the third division of the Hebrew canon (Luke 24:44),…so it may be that ‘Isaiah’ was sometimes used to designate the writing prophets of Israel.”48 Even though this is not a common interpretation for the citation problem in Mark, the frequent mention of Isaiah throughout the New Testament makes it much more conceivable than those above who maintain that Jeremiah’s mention in Matthew 27:9 represents the latter prophets.49 However, this view falters at two points. First, the analogy with the use of the heading “Psalms” in the New Testament is weak. Even though “Psalms” is used once in the New Testament to designate the entire section of the Writings (Luke 24:44), it is never employed this way as a reference to a quotation (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20; 13:33). Second, every time a New Testament author cites Isaiah, he explicitly quotes from Isaiah and not from another Old Testament prophet.

Citation of the Prominent Source

Another popular approach taken toward resolving these two problematic passages is the view that suggests the citations are an ancient literary device used simply to specify the more prominent source of those that were quoted. Obviously, this explanation assumes that the New Testament author is alluding to more than one source, an assumption that is debated for Matthew 27:9-10. 50 But since the quotation in Matthew is a “rough rendering” 51 of Zechariah, many commentators naturally venture to find allusions to the book of Jeremiah. For instance, because Zechariah says nothing about the purchase of a field, many scholars suggest a possible connection with the incident in Jeremiah 32:6-9, where Jeremiah himself purchases a field.52 Other scholars posit that Matthew may be hinting at the episode in Jeremiah 19:1-13 that describes the breaking of a potter’s jar. 53 These potential parallels have allowed for a reoccurring theme to develop in the literature—namely, that Matthew’s intention is purely to highlight “the most celebrated prophet,”54 “the more popular prophet,”55 “the better-known of the two prophets,”56 “the more prominent individual,”57 or “the major prophet.”58

The prominence view is even more prominent among Markan interpreters, especially since Mark clearly quotes from more than one source. Thus, Mark’s single ascription to Isaiah is often explained by the following: “The Jewish custom in citing two or three prophets in a brief catena of Scripture was to name only the leading prophet.”59 Yet oddly enough, little if any evidence is produced to support this claim. The most common parallel utilized to give credence to this view for Mark’s unusual ascription, ironically, is Matthew 27:9-10.60 And even vice versa, those who explain Matthew’s citation as due to prominence inevitably mention Mark 1:2 for validation.61

The inherent difficulty with this codependency tactic, besides the fact that both texts are problem passages, is the differing nature of the very literary structure involved in each quotation. Mark 1:2-3 is a clear example of what is commonly called a catena, a string or chain of more than one Old Testament quotations. However, the form of Matthew’s quotation, with or without an allusion to Jeremiah, does not fit this definition of a catena. So even if it was customary to mention the more prominent prophet in a quotation chain, such as Mark 1:2-3, the link with Matthew 27:9-10 would still be ill-advised.

However, the theory itself that the standard literary convention of the day was to cite the more prominent source should also be questioned, for referring to one particular source before a string of quotations is virtually unattested in the New Testament apart from the possibility of Mark 1:2-3. The normative practice of New Testament authors when quoting from more than one source is to refrain from mentioning any particular source. Instead, these quotations are typically introduced with phrases such as “it is written” (e.g., Matt 21:13; Rom 3:10-18; 11:26-27; 1 Cor 15:54-55).

Citation for Literary Purposes

Rather than simply attributing the citation of an Old Testament author to prominence, a recent and emerging interpretation suggests that the New Testament author is intending to do something literarily by referring to a particular source as opposed to the other. In other words, the cited reference is mentioned because it serves some sort of literary purpose for the author. Though an unusual practice, Craig Evans acknowledges that “appealing to one text, interpreted in light of another, is a form of exegesis that is not foreign to Jewish exegetical practices of the time.”62 Furthermore, such a method of citation could apply to quotations with differing literary structures (e.g., Matt 27:9-10 and Mark 1:2-3).

While there still remains some debate regarding what portion of Jeremiah that Matthew might be alluding to, 63 the leading figures arguing for this approach find the strongest connections with Jeremiah 19:1-13. 64 For instance, Robert Gundry65 observes a number of parallels between Matthew 27:1-10 and Jeremiah 19:1-13: (1) the mention of “innocent blood” (Matt 27:4; Jer 19:4), (2) the word “potter” (Matt 27:7; Jer 19:1, 11), (3) the presence of “the elders” and “the (chief) priests” (Matt 27:1, 3, 6; Jer 19:1), (4) the burial of the dead (Matt 27:7; Jer 19:11), and (5) the similarity between the renamed locales “The Field of Blood” and “The Valley of Slaughter” (Matt 27:8; Jer 19:6).66 These suggestive allusions to Jeremiah 19:1-13 scattered throughout Matthew 27:1-10 coupled with the basic quotation taken from Zechariah 11:12-13 leads Gundry to conclude the following: “Matthew, then, sees two separate prophecies, one typical and one explicit, fulfilled in one event, and makes the ascription to Jeremiah because the manifestations of the quotation from Zechariah and the lack of verbal resemblance to Jeremiah would cause the Jeremiah-side prophecies to be lost.”67

Douglas Moo also finds Matthew’s quotation built essentially upon Zechariah 11:12-13 and yet reworked in light of Jeremiah 19:1-13.68 According to Moo, Matthew’s primary purpose in collating these two texts was to indicate the fulfillment of two prophecies—the first regarding the wages of the rejected shepherd in Zechariah, and the second concerning the destiny of the Valley of Topheth in Jeremiah.69 If this is in fact Matthew’s intent, then it is natural to conclude that “Jeremiah is mentioned in the introductory formula because Jeremiah 19 was the least obvious reference, yet most important from the point of view of the application of the quotation.”70

Mark’s ascription to Isaiah is also taken by some to be employed for literary reasons.71 For instance, Grassmick believes that Mark singly refers to Isaiah so that his readers will pick up on the phrase “a voice of one calling” within the Isaiah quotation and connect it with John the Baptist. 72 Darrell Bock contends that Mark is instead using the link words “in the wilderness” to highlight not only the ministry of John the Baptist, but the entire exposition that follows (1:4-13), which includes Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.73 However, other scholars still do not feel like these approaches go far enough. In Rikki Watt’s Isaiah’s New Exodus and Mark, he “argues that Mark’s primary concern is to present Jesus as the one who unexpectedly fulfills the hope of Isaiah’s long-delayed new exodus.”74 According to his position, this objective of Mark’s is evident from the very outset of the Gospel, especially in his opening quotation. For “Mark’s use of the Isaiah ascription…indicates that the overall conceptual framework for his Gospel is the Isaianic [New Exodus].”75

These attempts to explain the citation problems in Matthew and Mark in terms of literary purposes have much to their favor, except for the complexity of the arguments. Did Matthew really intend for his readers to grasp all of these suggested connections and allusions with Jeremiah? The ongoing debate concerning the very passage Matthew might be referring to should give one pause in answering this question. Furthermore, was Mark actually signaling his readers with the Isaiah ascription to view either his prologue or the entire Gospel itself along certain literary themes? The strength of this interpretation lessens in light of Mark’s Gentile audience and his overall utilization of relatively little Old Testament material.

Source of Quotation

The possibility that Matthew and Mark could have obtained the form of their quotation from another source leads some evangelicals to resolve this issue through source criticism. Thus the “blame” for the citation problem is shifted from the New Testament author himself to the source of his quotation.

Oral Tradition

Few commentators argue that the faulty ascriptions in Matthew and Mark can be explained by oral tradition primarily because no evidence can be produced for such a claim. However, if no other rationale seems satisfactory, this view might be advanced. In the case of Matthew 27:9, the argument is occasionally put forward that the “prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah and became a part of the Jewish oral tradition. It was later written by Zechariah.”76 Such a notion is doubtful at best, yet it is advanced in prominent places like the following note taken from The Nelson Study Bible: “The best solution to the problem seems to be that the prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah and recorded by Zechariah.”77 One wonders if an overly literal understanding of the text perpetuated this view, as illustrated by this dogmatic assertion:

Does this not prove that Matthew erred? Answer: Not at all. It rather proves the inerrancy of the Bible. If you read the language of Matthew carefully, you will note that Matthew does not say that Jeremiah wrote the statement, but that he “spake” it. Zechariah wrote it to be sure; but the Holy Spirit knew what the prophets spake, as well as what they wrote.78

Sadly, the above route is unavailable for Markan interpreters because the text reads “it is written” (1:2). However, another suggestion is sometimes added into the mix: “Since the prophecies in the composite quotation have to do with John the Baptist, they may have been taken over into the Gospel from the disciples of John the Baptist in the form used by them.”79 Like the view above, though, such a hypothesis is not falsifiable and thus offers little.

Written Testimonia

Many interpreters believe that Matthew and Mark may have obtained their quotations along with their ascriptions from a “Testimony Book”—that is, a collection of Old Testament proof-texts.80 The two strongest arguments which lend themselves to the theory that the New Testament writers utilized such manuals are as follows: (1) the reoccurrence of composite quotations in the New Testament and patristic writings that agree against Old Testament texts, and (2) the existence of a testimonia edited by Cyprian dated in the third century.81 Such a hypothesis did not pick up steam though until a catena of Messianic texts was discovered at Qumran.82 In light of this find, Joseph Fitzmyer draws the following conclusion:

4QT shows that the stringing together of Old Testament texts from various books was a pre-Christian literary procedure, which may well have been imitated in the early stage of the formation of the New Testament. It resembles so strongly the composite citations of the New Testament writers that it is difficult not to admit that testimonia influenced certain parts of the New Testament.83

Consequently, some evangelicals attribute the ascription problem in Matthew and Mark to a testimonia source, as F. F. Bruce parenthetically suggests: “It was not an issue of great moment that a prophecy from Malachi should be attributed to Isaiah in Mark 1:2 or one from Zechariah to Jeremiah in Matthew 27:9-10 (in both places the quotations were probably taken from ‘testimony’ collections).”84

Nevertheless, a number of factors place this approach on tentative ground. First, there still remains a lack of concrete evidence for first century Christian testimonia. Second, this view underestimates the ability of Matthew and Mark to work from the Old Testament text itself. And third, even in assuming that such sources were used, “it is impossible to determine which quotations might have belonged to testimony traditions.” 85 Thus, all things considered, Gundry’s conclusion is well-taken: “The Testimony Book is a partially confirmed hypothesis which disappointingly explains little or nothing.”86

Conclusion

In view of this brief survey and analysis of evangelical treatments of apparently made faulty ascriptions of Old Testaments passages by New Testament authors, what can we learn?

First, we can learn that one of the most powerful forces that influence dealings with problem passages is one’s previously constructed view of inerrancy. This reality is dangerous because one’s definition of inerrancy should be derived from the phenomena of the text itself, including those texts that cause some uneasiness. Instead, as evident from the text-critical treatments above, many evangelicals urge the adoption of a methodology for examining historical evidence based on what they believe the text must do.87 Other evangelicals simply refuse to entertain possible proposed solutions based on solid exegesis because, in their minds, these views fall outside of what they believe inerrancy is.88 However, instead of excluding possible views from consideration because of one’s preconceived notion of inerrancy, one should be ready and willing to ask, if warranted by the evidence, how a potential view would shape one’s understanding of inerrancy. For example, if the historical evidence begins to strongly indicate that Matthew’s citation of Jeremiah is due to a written testimonia which itself mistakenly ascribed a passage in Zechariah to Jeremiah, then one’s understanding of inerrancy must consequently be informed by and perhaps adjust to that reality.89

Second, we can learn of the danger of offering proof-texts. That is, evangelicals tend to tag biblical references behind their assertions to present the appearance of valid support. The danger lies in failing to validate how the cited texts give credence to one’s conclusions. This shortcoming is evident in the number of interpreters commenting on Matthew 27:9 or Mark 1:2 who simply refer to the other passage to add weight to their proposed claim without explaining the correlation. After finding a number of distinct differences between these two problem passages, such simplistic “proof-texting” can become frustrating.

Third, we can learn that conclusions based on sparse evidence should be held tentatively, allowing for various other interpretive options. For instance, many adherents to Lightfoot’s view excluded any other interpretation that understood Matthew 27:9-10 as alluding to more than one source.90 And some of those who argued for a citation based on a literary emphasis seemed to not allow for the possibility of views based on written testimonia.91 While no one should tolerate a type of “postmodern” approach to exegesis, which says that all interpretations can be right, evangelicals must learn to tolerate other possible positions, an attitude which says that one of these proposed solutions could be right. Thus, a high level of tolerance and a low degree of dogma are important when handling such problem passages.

Certainly we can learn many other lessons from how evangelicals manage “over-cites,” but perhaps you’re now wondering which view ought to be advanced. If so, then maybe we can learn one more thing from this study: we are slow to admit uncertainty when dealing with difficult texts. Instead we want solid conclusions, incontrovertible evidence, and airtight rationale for every perceived biblical conundrum. 92 This proneness to look for quick and easy answers to the more difficult questions wrought by Scripture exudes an overly optimistic attitude of interpretation. This tendency is illustrated by Lightfoot’s proposal to the Matthew problem—a simple solution that became very popular among evangelicals though the interpretation was based on meager evidence and weak logic. In comparison, however, failing to solve an interpretive problem can sometimes be a sufficient response, as illustrated by Broadus’ comment on the perceived discrepancy in Matthew 27:9: “If not quite content with any of these explanations, we had better leave the question as it stands, remembering how slight an unknown circumstance might solve it in a moment, and how many a once celebrated difficulty has been cleared up in the gradual progress of Biblical knowledge.”93

Leaving an issue open does not imply disrespect for the authority of Scripture; in fact, under the right circumstances, delaying a decision could be indeed the best way to show God’s Word respect. And one should also keep in mind that the doctrine of inerrancy does not necessarily go down the drain in the midst of biblical questions left unanswered. In fact, Moreland argues that “one can be rational in affirming inerrancy in the presence of a number of anomalies even if this involves suspending judgment.”94 So then, maybe we ought to stop here.


1 Plato, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Symposium, Republic, ed. Louise Ropes Loomis, trans. Benjamin Jowett (New York: Published for the Classics Club by W. J. Black, 1942), 56. Because of the modern literary device of footnotes I am able to clarify that the quoted maxim, though recorded by Plato, was actually spoken by Socrates.

2 The term “citation” is to be distinguished from the term “quotation” throughout this paper as follows: a citation is an ascription to the source of that which follows while a quotation is the actual verbiage itself.

3 Another apparently made faulty citation occurs in Matthew 13:35. In this passage, Matthew quotes from Psalm 78:2 and either attributes the quotation to “the prophet” (1 B C D L W 0233 0242 lat sy co) or to “the prophet Isaiah” (* f1.13 33 pc). Either reading would need to be explained in light of the fact that the composer of the Psalm was Asaph. Romans 9:27 is a less likely instance of a faulty made ascription in which Paul cites and quotes from Isaiah while also alluding to Hosea with the phrase “the sons of Israel.” John 10:34; 15:25 and 1 Corinthians 14:21 are unlikely examples of an ascription problem because the word “law” is sometimes “extended in meaning to embrace the whole of the Old Testament” (Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995], 467).

4 The ETS doctrinal basis states, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.” Obviously, the former sentence will have a greater bear upon our study.

5 For instance, in the case of Matthew 27:9, the following interpretations have been suggested by evangelicals: (1) there is no problem, the quotation is solely from Jeremiah; (2) “Zechariah” is the original reading; (3) “the prophet” is the original reading; (4) a publishing error; (5) Jeremiah authored Zechariah 9-11; (6) the quotation was taken from an apocryphal writing ascribed to Jeremiah; (7) Zechariah recorded oral tradition attributed to Jeremiah; (8) Zechariah reproduced sections of Jeremiah; (9) Jeremiah represents all the prophets; (10) the sense of the quotation comes from Jeremiah; (11) the passage comes from a list of testimonia under Jeremiah’s name; (12) Jeremiah was the earlier prophet; (13) Jeremiah was the more prominent prophet; and (14) Matthew cites Jeremiah for literary purposes.

6 Another approach taken is to label the ascription as a mistake on the author’s part. For example, Lange writes of Matthew 27:9, “To us it seems probable that the Evangelist has been misled by the statement in Jeremiah 18:2, to name that prophet instead of Zechariah” (Johann Peter Lange, Matthew, vol. 16, Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homilectical, trans. Philip Schaff [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1950], 505). However, this view will not be evaluated here because evangelicals of the ETS stripe do not argue for or even entertain this possibility, for to say that Matthew or Mark made a mistake with their citation is considered by evangelicals as a violation of the doctrine of inerrancy, and consequently, outside the boundaries of the ETS doctrinal statement. On the other hand, questions regarding whether or not this is a legitimate deduction might need further reflection and discussion (see footnote 89).

7 This is suggested by Herman N. Ridderbos, Matthew (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1987). He writes, “The name Zechariah may have been changed to Jeremiah because he speaks of potters more than once (Jer 18:2-6; 19:1, 11) and also tells of buying a field for pieces of silver (32:7, 9). That at least could explain how the text became corrupt.” (513)

8 William Bruce exemplifies this view: “We incline to think the most reasonable conjecture to be that the passage in Matthew did not originally contain the prophet’s name, but read, ‘then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet,’ and that Jeremiah was inserted by some early transcriber” (William Bruce, Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 4th ed. [London: J. Speirs, 1910], 638).

9 Edward J. Young, Thy Word is Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 174-175.

10 Crawford Howell Toy, Quotations in the New Testament (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1884), 71.

11 That is, evidence for the Greek abbreviation of either Zechariah or Jeremiah. The author does recognize the textual phenomenon of nomina sacra (see footnote below).

12 Toy gives no indication as to why a scribal error is the “more likely” explanation as opposed to the other four suggested solutions he discusses (Ibid., 70-71). His position may be influenced by his familiarity with the New Testament phenomenon of nomina sacra—the abbreviation of certain sacred words found in Greek manuscripts (e.g., QC for qeov"). But it is different to conceive of someone arguing for the abbreviation of Zechariah or Jeremiah based on the existence of nomina sacra. Therefore, one could further speculate that his view of Scripture is driving his handling of Matthew’s citation problem.

13 Interestingly, when discussing the Mark 1:2 problem, Young argues for the Isaiah reading on this basis: “When, however, we must make a choice between an easier and a more difficult reading, we must remember that the more difficult reading is likely to be correct. And that is the case here. Not only is the more difficult reading here more likely to be correct, but it is also attested by better manuscripts” (Thy Word Is Truth, 151). According to this canon, one would assume that Young would have also chosen the Jeremiah reading as original in Matthew 27:9. Such inconsistency can only be ascribed to Young’s self-imposed understanding of inerrancy upon the biblical text.

14 James Morison, Matthew's Memoirs of Jesus Christ, or, A Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, 4th ed. (London: Hamilton Adams, 1875), 623-627.

15 Ibid., 626.

16 “All manuscripts must have been copied privately by individuals in the early period. A scriptorium with professional scribes producing manuscripts (a large number at a time, usually following dictation from a single exemplar) would have been an impossibility at the time, especially when Christians were threatened or suffering persecution.” (Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989], 70)

17 Morrison, while assuming for argument’s sake the validity of the Jeremiah reading, writes, “Calvin was right, then, in his decision regarding the word that it is an erratum” (626).

18 Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 55.

19 For instance, see Gordon D. Fee, “A Critique of W. N. Pickering's The Identity of the NT Text,” WTJ 41 (1979): 397-423; M. A. Robinson, “Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis,” Faith and Mission 13 (1996): 66-111.

20 John William Burgon and Edward Miller, The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels (London: G. Bell, 1896), 114. See also Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text II (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003), 174.

21 Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text II, 169.

22 Matthew 1:7, 10; Luke 23:45.

23 James A. Borland, “Re-Examining New Testament Text-Critical Principles and Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy,” JETS 25 (1982), 506.

24 A more reasonable defense for the reading “in the prophets” by a majority text advocate is made by Maurice Robinson in his article “Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis,” but his interests do not touch the citation problem. However, his comments merit a brief discussion here. Robinson argues that a transcriber could have failed to notice the loosely quoted allusion of Malachi in Mark 1:2, thus changing “in the prophets” to “in Isaiah the prophet” to fit the only quotation he would have recognized—the more precise one in Mark 1:3. The tendency of scribes to harmonize passages to other synoptic parallels would have also influenced this change, because neither the Matthew nor the Luke parallel quotes from Malachi. Furthermore, Robinson argues, the prophet Isaiah is never identified in Mark’s other quotations of Isaiah (4:12; 11:17; 12:32), except once on the mouth of Jesus (7:6). Lastly, Robinson makes a good point when he compares Mark 1:2 with Matthew 27:9. If scribes had a tendency to smooth out difficult readings, as reasoned eclectics argue, then why is the Zechariah reading in Matthew 27:9, a much more difficult text, not found in the majority of manuscripts? While an in-depth evaluation of Robinson’s argument is not possible here, a few comments are warranted: (1) the textual tradition of Matthew 27:9, while not as diverse as Mark 1:2, does indicate that transcribers were indeed struggling with this difficult text. (2) The textual critic should not expect the exact same phenomenon in the textual tradition in each similar textual problem, only general tendencies. The transmission of the New Testament text through history is much more complex than simple formulas. Similar textual situations should move in the same direction, but not necessarily the same distance. (3) The textual critic still must explain the strong external support (early and geographically widespread) in favor of the Isaiah reading in Mark 1:2.

25 J. W. Burgon, Edward F. Hills, Zane Hodges, Wilbur N. Pickering, and Maurice Robinson do not discuss the citation problem in Matthew 27:9 in any of their major writings. However, as will be mentioned below, the note in The NKJV Nelson Study Bible attributes the Jeremiah citation to an earlier Jeremiah saying that Zechariah later recorded.

26 In fact, the author was unable to find any reasoned eclectic who argued that “in the prophets” was original.

27 Bart Ehrman writes, “No other explanation can adequately account for the existence of both variants” (Bart D. Ehrman, “New Testament Textual Criticism” [M.Div. Thesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1981], 85). However, the security of the Isaiah reading has not shut the door on attempts to solve this citation problem by text-critical means. Rawlinson proposes that Mark’s quotation of Malachi in verse 2 was later inserted “by a very early copyist, who was more interested in fulfillments of Scriptural prophecy then the Evangelist himself was” (St. Mark [London: Methuen, 1925], 5). Though Rawlinson acknowledges there is no textual evidence to support this claim, his argument centers on the fact that Matthew and Luke, both of whom used Mark as a source, “agree in omitting the quotation from Malachi here, though they both give the quotation from Isaiah” (Matt 11:10; Luke 3:4) (St. Mark, 5; Cf. Vincent Taylor, The Gospel according to St. Mark [London: Macmillan, 1953], 153). This discussion is mentioned here in a footnote because it is doubtful that Rawlinson and Taylor would consider themselves evangelical.

28 Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 62. This discussion might cause some interpreters to revisit the textual problem of Matthew 13:35. This verse contains a quotation from Psalm 78:2, which is either attributed to “the prophet” (1 B C D L W 0233 0242 lat sy co) or to “the prophet Isaiah” (* f1.13 33 pc). Metzger only gives the reading “the prophet” a rating of a C (27).

29 Roger Nicole, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” in Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), 144.

30 Bernard L. Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics, 3d rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1970), 203.

31 Michael Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew's Gospel: The Rejected-Prophet Motif in Matthaean Redaction (Sheffield, Eng.: JSOT Press, 1993), 66.

32 James A. Brooks, Mark (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1991), 40.

33 Typically, however, when a New Testament author quotes from two or more sources, he does not cite a single source but instead introduces the quotations with a phrase such as “it is written” (Matt 21:13; Rom 3:10-18; 11:26-27; 1 Cor 15:54-55).

34 John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew - I Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1979), 363.

35 b. Baba Bathra 14b.

36 Christian D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (New York: Ktav Pub. House, 1966), 5-6. Five other Hebrew manuscripts are mentioned which place Jeremiah first among the latter prophets.

37 Charles Lee Feinberg, God Remembers (Wheaton, Ill.: Van Kampen Press, 1950), 217.

38 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961), 1082.

39 John MacArthur, Matthew 24-28 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), 229.

40 Merrill Frederick Unger, Zechariah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 201.

41 John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), 227.

42 Morison, Matthew's Memoirs of Jesus Christ, or, A Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, 625.

43 Toy, Quotations in the New Testament, 71; Ridderbos, Matthew, 513. This applies to quotations ascribed to the Psalms as well. The term “Psalms” is only used once in the New Testament to designate the entire section of the Writings in the Old Testament (Luke 24:44), but in this instance it is not employed as an ascription to a quotation. However, every time Psalms in the New Testament before a quotation, the quotation comes directly from the book of Psalms and not from some other portion of the Writings (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20; 13:33).

44 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 563.

45 Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible, 5-6. Isaiah is listed first in eleven Hebrew manuscripts and five early editions. Contra MacArthur who mistakenly asserts, “In the rabbinical order of the prophetic books, Jeremiah was always listed first” (Matthew 24-28, 229, italics mine).

46 Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew's Gospel: The Rejected-Prophet Motif in Matthaean Redaction, 65.

47 Jeremiah only occurs three times in the New Testament, each instance in the book of Matthew (2:17; 16:14; 27:9) and only twice used as a citation (2:17; 27:9). Often ignored is the fact that Matthew quotes from and cites Isaiah twice as often (3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14; 15:7).

48 Ralph Earle, The Gospel according to Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), 28.

49 Isaiah is mentioned 22 times in the New Testament as opposed to Jeremiah’s three occurrences.

50 For instance, despite the fact that many “have tried to relate the quotation to sections of Jeremiah,” MacArthur insists that “it clearly does not fit” (Matthew 24-28, 229). Lenski adds, “We honor the efforts of those who have sought to find the prophecy in Jeremiah’s own book; but after all is said and done…we must go to Zechariah 11:12, 13” (The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, 1083). However, embedded within both MacArthur’s and Lenski’s argument is an assumption about the nature of Matthew’s quotation, namely, that Matthew either quoted from Zechariah or Jeremiah, but not from both. See also Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 227.

51 Carson, “Matthew,” 562.

52 William Arndt, Does the Bible Contradict Itself?, 5th ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955), 52; Gleason Leonard Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 345; David C. McCann, “Matthew's Use of the Old Testament in Matthew 27:1-10” (Th.M. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1984); Berkeley Mickelsen, “The Bible's Own Approach to Authority,” in Biblical Authority, ed. Jack Bartlett Rogers (Waco: Word Books, 1977), 86; A. Lukyn Williams and B. C. Caffin, Matthew, vol. 15, Pulpit Commentary, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 582.

53 William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1973), 948; Abel D. Threeton, “A Critical Analysis of the Current Evangelical Debate on Inerrancy” (Th.M. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1969), 44-45; Williams and Caffin, Matthew, 582. Still others see a connection with the mention of a “potter’s jar” in Jeremiah 18:2, though this interpretation is scarcely defended.

54 Williams and Caffin, Matthew, 582.

55 Norman L. Geisler and Thomas A. Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997), 321.

56 R. T. France, The Gospel according to Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 387.

57 Robert H. Mounce, Matthew (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 253.

58 Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, vol. New Testament (Colorado Springs: Victor Books, 1983), 87. Would it not make more sense, though, for an author to cite the less prominent prophet since his readers would be less inclined to pick up on the allusion to lesser known source?

59 Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics, 203. See also Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 345; Bruce B. Barton, Mark, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), 4; James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 27; R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 63; Robert Horton Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on his Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 35.

60 William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1975), 34.

61 Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, xxxii; Craig Blomberg, Matthew (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 409.

62 Craig A. Evans, “The Function of the Old Testament in the New,” in Introducing New Testament Interpretation, ed. Scot McKnight (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1989), 175.

63 For example, Craig Keener leaves the decision that Matthew is alluding to either Jeremiah 32 or Jeremiah 18-19 to the reader: “By appealing to ‘Jeremiah’ rather than to Zechariah, however, Matthew makes clear that he intends his biblically literate audience to link an analogous passage in Jeremiah (32:6-14) and to interpret them together…Matthew may well allude to Jeremiah 18-19 as well; in this case he evokes a prophecy of the impending destruction of Jerusalem” (Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 657). We could assume, then, that Matthew, even in appealing to Jeremiah, rather does not make it clear which specific passage he is referring to.

64 See Blomberg, Matthew, 409; Carson, “Matthew,” 563; Evans, “The Function of the Old Testament in the New,” 177; Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993), 314, as well as those discussed below. The origin for this view is found in seed form in the interpretation offered by Hengstenberg. He proposes that the Zechariah passage was essentially a renewing of the prophecy made in Jeremiah 19:1-13. He makes this assertion by arguing at length that Zechariah’s expression “to the potter” (11:13) refers to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, thus linking his prophecy to Jeremiah 19. Because of this relation between these two prophecies, he contends, Matthew names Jeremiah so that the connection would not be lost for his readers (Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, trans. Theod. Meyer and James Martin, vol. 4 [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1956], 35-45).

65 Even though dismissed from the Evangelical Theological Society, Gundry himself never denied the doctrine of inerrancy and still considers himself an evangelical.

66 Robert Horton Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967), 125.

67 Ibid., 125.

68 Douglas J. Moo, “Tradition and Old Testament in Matthew 27:3-10,” in Gospel Perspectives: Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels, ed. R. T. France and David Wenham (Sheffield, Eng.: JSOT Press, 1980), 160. See also Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew's Gospel: The Rejected-Prophet Motif in Matthaean Redaction, 69-81.

69 Moo, “Tradition and Old Testament in Matthew 27:3-10,” 165.

70 Ibid., 161.

71 See Douglas R. A. Hare, Mark, 1st ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 14; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1946), 24, as well as those discussed below.

72 John Grassmick, “Mark,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, vol. New Testament (Colorado Springs: Victor Books, 1983), 103. See also Robert A. Guelich, Mark 1-8:26 (Dallas: Word Books, 1989), 10.

73 Darrell L. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 79.

74 Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah's New Exodus and Mark (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997), back cover.

75 Ibid., 90. David Garland seems to suggest the same sentiment when he writes, “Mark probably ascribes the entire quotation to Isaiah not to identify its source but because that prophet had special importance for him. It is a hint that ‘his whole story of “the beginning of the gospel” is to be understood against the backdrop of Isaian themes’” (David E. Garland, Mark [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 44).

76 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. Matthew – Galatians (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1989), 100.

77 Earl D. Radmacher, H. Wayne House, and Ronald Barclay Allen, The Nelson Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 1630 (emphasis theirs).

78 Louis T. Talbot, Bible Questions Explained (Los Angeles: L. T. Talbot, 1938), 20 (italics his).

79 Hugh Anderson, The Gospel of Mark (Greenwood, S.C.: Attic Press, 1976), 69. See also Klyne R. Snodgrass, “Streams of Tradition Emerging from Isaiah 40:1-5 and Their Adaptation in the New Testament,” JSNT 8 (1980), 36.

80 The use of ancient testimonia was first argued for by Edwin Hatch, who writes, “The existence of composite quotations in the New Testament, and in some of the early Fathers suggests the hypothesis that we have in them relics of such manuals” (Essays in Biblical Greek [Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1889], 203). J. R. Harris picked up this view and popularized it in his Testimonies (Cambridge [England]: University Press, 1916).

81 Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope, 163.

82 C. H. Dodd’s argument against this view found in his According to the Scriptures was the primary reason the theory for the New Testament’s use of testimonia was not advanced until this find (C. H. Dodd, According to the Scriptures [New York: Scribner, 1953], 26f.). His arguments are rehashed by Gundry, some of which include the following: (1) influence from the New Testament itself upon the patristic writers, (2) dependence by the church fathers upon other patristic writings, (3) New Testament texts sometimes disagree with patristic writings, (4) the existence of composite quotations outside of the testimony tradition, (5) Cyprian’s use of a testimony book does not necessarily mean this was a normal first-century practice among New Testament authors, and (6) the ability of the New Testament authors to utilize the Old Testament (Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope, 163-64).

83 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament (London: G. Chapman, 1971), 85.

84 F. F. Bruce, “Canon,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKight, and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 99. See also F. F. Bruce, “The Book of Zechariah and the Passion Narrative,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 43 (1960-61), 341; R. A. Cole, The Gospel according to St. Mark (London: Tyndale Press, 1961), 57; Richard N. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 122, 33; Klyne Snodgrass, “The Use of the Old Testament in the New,” in The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New, ed. G. K. Beale (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), 44.

85 Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope, 165.

86 Ibid., 166.

87 Liberals tend to have a similar methodology, as astutely observed by Martin Hengel: “Orthodox-fundamental biblicism has its counterpart in critical biblicism. Both are nave and in danger of doing violence to historical reality—the one, because of its ahistorical biblical literalism, and the other, because it selects and interprets in accordance with its modern world-view and theological interests” (Studies in Early Christology [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995], 71). In other words, the methods of both liberals and fundamentalists are the same—the results dictate the method.

88 This tendency is illustrated by those who do not (or will not) even interact with Gundry’s, Moo’s, or Watt’s interpretation because it is viewed as being too involved in higher criticism.

89 We could take this a step further by entertaining the possibility that the “blame” for the citation problem should not be shifted from the New Testament author himself. In other words, what if Matthew or Mark did make a slight mistake? If the data necessitated such a move, how should the doctrine of inerrancy be informed by and adjust to that reality? Or can it adjust? Would the doctrine of inerrancy consequently be in jeopardy? Such discussions seem to be avoided in evangelical circles and, in my opinion, to our disadvantage. At a time when the definition of inerrancy is anything but clear and concise, honest dialogue and shared concerns within a safe environment would certainly prove to cover more ground in this ongoing affair than if we censored these types of questions.

90 For example Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, 1083; MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 229; Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 227.

91 For example Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope, 165; Watts, Isaiah's New Exodus and Mark, 88-89.

92 As evident from such resources as Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, and F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), and Geisler and Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, and William L. Pettingill, Bible Questions Answered (Findlay, OH.: Fundamental Truth Publishers, 1935), and Talbot, Bible Questions Explained. The thought of entitling a book Bible Questions Left Unanswered is laughable in today’s Western culture.

93 John Albert Broadus, Commentary on Matthew (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990), 559. See also similar responses in H. A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, 1st ed. (New York: Loizeaux Bros. Bible Truth Depot, 1948), 374-75, and in Ivor Powell, Matthew's Majestic Gospel (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1986), 492.

94 J. P. Moreland, “The Rationality of Belief in Inerrancy,” TrinJ 7 (1986), 85.

Related Topics: Dispensational / Covenantal Theology, Scripture Twisting