The Voices Of Scripture: Citations And Personifications In Paul -- By: Joseph R. Dodson

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 20:3 (NA 2010)
Article: The Voices Of Scripture: Citations And Personifications In Paul
Author: Joseph R. Dodson

The Voices Of Scripture: Citations And Personifications In Paul

Joseph R. Dodson

Ouachita Baptist University

This article investigates Paul’s use of personifications to cite Scripture and examines the differences between these citations and more-traditional formulas. After surveying current categories used to understand Scripture citations and after defining personification, this article explores the three most developed personifications Paul uses to quote the OT. It argues that these citations do not fit aptly into any of the current categories proposed by Francis Watson or by Vernon Robbins and, therefore, suggests that a new category be introduced.

Key Words: Paul, Scripture citation, personification, Rom 7:7, Rom 10:5, Gal 3:8, the NT use of the OT

Author’s note: This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the British New Testament Conference held at the University of Durham, September 5, 2008. I am grateful for the insights offered by the participants. All translations in this article are mine.


This article investigates Paul’s use of personifications—namely, γραφη, νομος, and δικαιοσυνη—to cite Scripture. Such a strategy to introduce OT Scripture is unusual in the NT; “It is written,” the “prophet”1 or the “Lord says” are more common formulas used by NT writers to cite OT Scripture. Scripture (Graphe) is often fulfilled, but nowhere in the LXX and only occasionally in the NT does she actually speak.2 However, in Gal 3:8, Paul not only gives voice to Graphe; he says that she foresees and prophesies. Further, outside of the writings of Paul, the only biblical record of the Law (Nomos) speaking is in 4 Maccabees;3 however, in Romans, Paul personifies Law as what slips in the back door, rules over people, and even speaks to

them. Even more unusual is Paul’s giving of voice to Righteousness (Dikaiosyne) by Faith in Rom 10:5.4

Why does Paul personify these terms rather than employ the more common phrases used to introduce Scripture citations? Is there a difference between citations introduced by personifications a...

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