Paul’s Creative And Contextual Use Of Isaiah In Ephesians 5:14 -- By: Jonathan M. Lunde

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:1 (Mar 2012)
Article: Paul’s Creative And Contextual Use Of Isaiah In Ephesians 5:14
Author: Jonathan M. Lunde

Paul’s Creative And Contextual Use Of Isaiah In Ephesians 5:14

Jonathan M. Lunde

and John Anthony Dunne

Jonathan Lunde is associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639-0001, where John Dunne serves as his graduate assistant.

The broad and long-standing consensus of scholarship regarding the quotation in Eph 5:14 has been that Paul is utilizing an early Christian hymn, weaving its lyrics into the flow of his argument. The combination of its Christianized wording and telltale marks of pre-existing tradition has led many scholars simply to assume this conclusion. The unfortunate consequence of this assumption has been the diversion of scholarly attention away from the contexts surrounding the likely OT texts behind 5:14, resulting in a diminished appreciation of Paul’s contextually-rich typology and theologically-motivated redaction.1 The present study is an attempt to explore the possibility that Paul himself creatively composed this “hymnic” material. To support this thesis, we will draw special attention to the ways in which the contexts of the Isaianic passages conflated in 5:14 have influenced the broader contours of Ephesians, as well as the ways in which the Ephesians context has contributed to the redaction and application of the OT text. It is our contention that this bi-directional influence presents a challenge to the scholarly consensus regarding the origins of this provocative citation.

I. The OT Texts Behind The Citation

After discussing the function of the Spirit’s ministries by which the body is built up and brought to a mature grasp of the truth about Jesus (4:11-16), Paul moves on to exhort his readers to live out in daily life the ethical dimensions of this knowledge.2 To ground this exhortation, he inserts his citation:

Awake, O sleeper,

And arise from the dead,

And Christ will shine on you. (Eph 5:14 esv)

Although this excerpt does include strong allusions to Isa 26:19 and 60:1-2, it does not cohere closely with either text, as the table below illustrates.3



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