Thursday, January 01, 2009

What Jesus Read

On his inaugural sermon, Jesus is given the scroll of Isaiah. He opens to the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

Luke records the LXX version, but has Jesus include: "and to let the oppressed go free," from 58:6. The English translation of the Greek NT has "opening the eyes of the blind" following the LXX. " tuflois anablepsin" is indeed best translated that way.

But what of this insertion? Why is it said to be "read" if it is not in the text. I submit that it was right there on the page, with his right thumb "marking the spot." He read his own interpretive insertion from the text in front of him.

The picture above is from the "Great Isaiah Scroll" (c. 150 BC). I have three pages as they would have unrolled from that copy of Isaiah. I have marked the words he read. Clicking on the image will give a larger version.

Jesus read everything Luke says he read, undoubtedly from a Hebrew scroll. Luke cites the LXX version because that is what he is familiar with. There is no inconsistency. The copy Jesus had may have had the verses on adjacent pages (its only a matter of a few words moved up. His copy might have been of a finer hand, putting the verses even closer on the page. The point is, this explains an apparent discrepancy in a concrete way.

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