Friday, February 24, 2012

does Paul quote Hosea from memory?

The concept of "memory," especially of "social memory," is a live issue among New Testament scholars. (Social memory refers to a field of inquiry within the Humanities that raises questions about the social distribution, function, and contestation of knowledge about the past. In other words, how do humans, as part of the social groups of which they find themselves members, remember, utilize, and argue about the images, narratives, and rituals of the past?) I'm certain that social memory research holds potential for Pauline scholarship just as much as it has opened up new questions and routes of inquiry in Jesus scholarship, but I don't know specifically how.

As I was working on my comments on Romans 9 for a graduate course I'm teaching, I noted that Paul's citation of Hosea (and Isaiah, too) in this chapters seems a bit haphazard. Robert Jewett (Romans [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007], 599) provides a nice chart showing how re-arranged is Paul's citation(s) from Hosea 2:

It might be difficult to read, but the basic point is that Paul cites passages from Hosea in the following order:

  • Hos. 2.25c
  • Hos. 2.25b
  • Hos. 2.1b
  • Hos. 2.1c
My question: Does this suggest that Paul is citing Hosea from memory? Does it matter that neither his citations from Hosea here or of Isaiah in 9.27–29 exactly match the Septuagintal form of either text? If Paul is citing from memory, does this offer us a glimpse into how the traditions as well as the written texts of the Hebrew Bible worked (or functioned) in early Christian memory?

1 comment:

Tyler Stewart said...

The issue of whether or not Paul is citing from memory or not is a thorny one that is difficult to prove one way or another. Chris Stanley in "Paul and the Language of Scripture" suggests that Paul used notes for his OT citations as evidenced in Pliny's practice. Furthermore, he suggests that this note-taking practice helps explain why his citations have affinities to different text traditions. Paul appears to have cited from whatever text that he happened to have taken notes from wherever he happened to be.

Regarding textual rearrangements, Stanley shows, I think quite convincingly, that this was common practice when citing a previous work.

I wrote a brief review of his book here:

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