Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Allusion and the Use of Psalm 16 in Acts 2

There is no question that Luke's use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28 follows the LXX exactly. There are changes that the LXX has made to the MT, the significance of which is beyond the scope of my brief comments. I mention these facts because the question of allusion is made complicated particularly when it is not clear whether the author intends the MT or the LXX. In this instance, consistent with Luke’s usage the allusion is to the LXX. Furthermore, there is no question that Luke intends an allusion to Psalm 16:8-11 because he has employed an exact quotation. We must remember that NT authors neither had nor used quotation marks.

Thus my first question is how many exact words are necessary to establish the existence of an allusion. I already know that some will say, “Your answer may vary according to the circumstances.” Shakespeare’s use of the word “prodigal” a number of times in the Merchant of Venice has not been accepted as an allusion to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Yet yesterday, I noted a number of scholars have said Luke’s use of the word “kept back” was an allusion to the story of Achan in the Book of Joshua.

I am not aware of any single principle that has been found to adequately describe the different ways New Testament authors have handled the Old Testament Scriptures. But I am looking.

Copyrighted 2005


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