A Note On Paul’s Use Of Isaiah -- By: Douglas A. Oss

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 02:1 (NA 1992)
Article: A Note On Paul’s Use Of Isaiah
Author: Douglas A. Oss


A Note On Paul’s Use Of Isaiah

Douglas A. Oss

Central Bible College
Springfield, Missouri

An analysis of Paul’s citations from Isaiah reveals specific tendencies on the part of Paul with regard to both his theological appropriation of Isaiah and the distribution of his citations across a variety of Isaian contexts. The tendencies of Paul with respect to the distribution of his citations from Isaiah is particularly relevant to the discussion concerning the viability of the “testimony book” hypothesis. In this brief note we will examine both of these matters.1

I. Theological Tendenz In Paul’s Citations From Isaiah

The single most striking aspect of the thematic grouping of Paul’s citations from Isaiah is the concentrated use of the citations in Romans to deal explicitly with the issue of Jew and Gentile in Christ.2 When we consider the heavy concentration of these citations in Romans relative to Paul’s use of other OT books there, particularly his use of Isaiah in Romans 9-11, it becomes evident that as Paul explained the relationship between Jew and Gentile to the Roman church he was reflecting primarily on, and drawing primarily from, the book of Isaiah.3 Based solely on the number of times he cites Isaiah with regard to this issue, although there are other compelling reasons as well, it is reasonable to conclude that no other single OT book influenced Paul’s theology of Jew and Gentile in Christ as much as Isaiah.

Paul cites Isaiah sixteen times in Romans, and eleven of these occur in Romans 9-11 where fifteen different verses from Isaiah are used (Isa 29:16 only counted once). Moreover, chapters 9-11 contain a total of thirty citations from the OT, so the use of Isaiah constitutes more than one-third of the total, and far outweighs the use of any other single OT book in this section of Romans (Gen-3 citations [4 vv.]; Exod--2 citations; Hos--2 citations; Joel--1 citation; Pss--3 citations [4 vv.]; Mal--1 citation [2 vv.]; Deut--3 citations [7 vv.]; 1 Kgs--2 citations [3 vv.]; 1 Sam--1 citation; Job-1 citation). Here we find a striking, concentrated use of the OT, and chiefly of Isaiah, in a critical argument concerning the Jew-Gentile-in-Christ issue.

Briefly, we will survey the specific contribution of each citation in Romans to Paul’s discussion of Jew and Gentile by means of providing a thematic statement and listing the citations...

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