The 2001 Translation

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2001 Translation


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    ‘Stone of stumbling’ quotes by Paul and Peter

    In Romans 9:33, Paul quotes a Bible verse, saying:

    As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”

    However, what verse is he quoting?

    Bible scholars usually say that Paul was mashing together words from the Hebrew Masoretic version of Isaiah 8:14 with the Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah 28:16.

    Those verses say:

    And He will be a sanctuary—but to both houses of Israel a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, to the dwellers of Jerusalem a trap and a snare. –Isaiah 8:14 (Hebrew Masoretic)

    {Look!} Upon the foundation of Zion
    I’ll place
    a valuable stone…
    A costly, select cornerstone,
    In order to serve as its base…
    And those trusting in him will never be shamed. –Isaiah 28:16 (Greek Septuagint)

    Meanwhile, in 1 Peter 1:28, the Apostle quotes a verse that looks like a shortened paraphrase of Isaiah 8:14 in the Hebrew Masoretic.

    ‘A stumbling block... and snare

    So what’s the problem?

    Well, firstly, while it may be okay for Paul to mash together words from two different verses (to combine information into a fuller picture), it seems extremely odd for Paul to mash together words from two different versions of Isaiah – the Masoretic and the Septuagint.

    Secondly, the Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah (at least, the one that has come down to us today) does not contain any reference to a ‘stone of stumbling’ or a ‘rock of offense’ at all! The words are only found in the Masoretic Text.

    Indeed, that verse is completely different in the Septuagint. If anything, it says the opposite – it says that the Jews will not stumble over stones. That’s rather alarming!

    So what’s going on?

    The Apostles were probably not quoting from the Septuagint text we have today. They were either quoting from an older now-lost Septuagint text, or from some old now-lost Aramaic Bible with different wording in Isaiah.

    So whatever happened, it seems like the Septuagint text of Isaiah that we use today is not the version the Apostles used.

    However, the missing words are present in the Hebrew Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It says:

    He will be a sanctuary, but for both houses of Israel, he will be a stumbling stone and a rock that makes them fall. For the people of Jerusalem, he will be a trap and a snare. –Isaiah 8:14, DSS

    Therefore, it may be that the copy of Isaiah from the Dead Sea Scrolls is, in fact, the one most closely resembling the version used by the Apostles.