Biblical Literacy & Composite Citations

In a recent post on the fascinating phenomena of composite citations in the New Testament, the host of the podcast remarked that the New Testament authors were comfortable using composite citations which indicated they knew their audiences were very familiar with what we now call the Old Testament. When you take a look at Romans 3:10-18 which was discussed in some detail during the podcast, it is one complex catena of 6 different citations combined into one composite citation.

Today, Christians struggle greatly with single Old Testament quotations that are longer than a line but the early Church seemed to be quite conversant with composite citations. Back then no one had ready access to the Bible as they knew it. There were even no public libraries that you could freely visit to reference these things. Moreover, the Roman church Paul was writing to were mostly Gentile so most of them had not grown up hearing and learning the Scriptures unlike Jewish communities.

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Composite Quotations

Any attentive reader of the New Testament will notice how it quotes the Old Testament is often pretty weird. Sometimes it seems pretty arbitrary and other times it looks like it is misquoted. If you have ever wondered about this and how the New uses the Old in general, the following interview of New Testament scholar Seth Ehorn certainly helps address these questions. The interview, which is for Deeper Waters Podcast, is centred on his two-volume series he co-edited with Sean Adams Composite Citations in Antiquity (Vol. 1 2015, Vol. 2 2018, T&T Clark.)

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