Readers, Authors, And The Divine Author: An Evangelical Proposal For Identifying Paul’s Old Testament Citations -- By: Christopher R. Bruno

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 71:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Readers, Authors, And The Divine Author: An Evangelical Proposal For Identifying Paul’s Old Testament Citations
Author: Christopher R. Bruno


Readers, Authors, And The Divine Author: An Evangelical Proposal For Identifying Paul’s Old Testament Citations

Christopher R. Bruno

Christopher R. Bruno is a Ph.D. student at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Ill.

I. Introduction

Without a doubt, the OT was the primary literary source of the NT writers.1 The writings of Paul are no exception to this pattern.2 Although students of the NT have always recognized Paul’s dependence on the OT, the last thirty years have seen a number of significant scholarly discussions about Paul’s use of the OT.3 It is often noted that although Paul frequently includes a citation formula

when he quotes the OT, this is by no means always the case.4 In many cases, verbal parallels from the OT are seamlessly integrated into Paul’s letters. In spite of the great amount of attention these unmarked citations have received in recent years, no consensus has been reached about whether we can actually label verbal parallels between the OT and Paul as legitimate citations, and, if so, how many we can identify and what method we may use to identify them.5

Part of this question hangs on whether we adopt an author-centered or reader-centered approach in our analysis of these citations. In what follows, I will review several major proposals for analyzing these possible citations and evaluate how successful each approach is. Following this, I will suggest a distinctively evangelical approach to this question that draws on both methods to some extent.

II. Defining Terms

Before we begin, however, we will pause to establish preliminary definitions of the terms “author-centered” and “reader-centered.” One of the first to deal with the differences between author-and reader-centered approaches to Paul’s

OT citations was Christopher Stanley.6 According to Stanley, one using a reader-centered approach recognizes an OT citation only in those places where clear indicators marking the citation are present. Stanley suggests indicators such as introductory formulas, interpretative glosses, and unmistakable shifts in the author’s style as examples of such objective criteria.7 For Stanley, an author-centered approach, on the oth...

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