A few posts (here and here) have allowed me the opportunity to think upon some of my former observations regarding how the New Testament authors use the Hebrew Bible in ways which some of my Evangelical friends would consider, to some degree, liberal.
Back in my Bible College days I was taught (rightly) to use critical thinking skills when I stumbled upon obscure textual problems. I am happy that I learned this tool very early in my professional training. In particular, when I would come across a passage in the New Testament which cites a verse from the Hebrew Bible, I considered it wise and valuable to go back and investigate the source. However, on a few occasions I did not find what I was in fact seeking. There are some places where the Greek of the NT citation has a different reading than what is found on the pages of the Hebrew Bible. Now I am certainly aware that some NT authors quoted passages loosely, maybe even from memory. Nevertheless, there are some places where the Masoretic Text pointed the words which resulted in a different reading than what the translators of the LXX wrote.
One such example can be found in Acts 15:16-18. This passage is in the midst of the Jerusalem Council where James attempts to bring unity to a diversified group of believers. In order to accomplish this feat, he (i.e., Luke) cites Amos 9:11-12. I’ll quote the Acts passage here:
After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord– even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.
In the middle of this quote (Acts 15:17) the line says “all other peoples” may seek the Lord. The phrase here for “peoples” is τῶν ἀνθρώπων. However, when I flip back to Amos 9:11-12, expecting to find this reading, I unfortunately fall short:
In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the LORD who does this.
The Masoretic Texts has “Edom” (אֱדוֹם). The translator of the LXX, who did not have the vowel points, read the noun as adam (“humanity”). Therefore, he translated what he thought was adam into anthropos.
The point here is that the Bible preserves two different readings of Amos 9:12; one with “Edom” (in the Masoretic Text) and another with “humanity/people” (in the LXX which is quoted in Acts 15:17). No way around it. These texts say two different things.
I want to pose a question for my readers (since I don’t think I personally have made up my mind yet). What is the most appropriate way to fit this rare phenomenon into one’s view of Scripture?