Christian commentary: G-d free to misquote Old Testament in the New because He owns the copyright!
Today, I was perusing through my copy of an NIV version of The Scofield Study Bible (once given to me as a gift), one of the most popular Bible commentaries in the English-speaking world. There I happened upon one of the well-known misquotations of the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament, specifically Hebrews 10:5, which purports to quote what G-d supposedly said through David in Psalm 40:6, ostensibly in an allusion to Jesus’ future sacrifice on the cross:
NIV Hebrews 10:5
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;“
However, when we open the “Old Testament”, also in the same NIV, and leaf over to read this quote in its original Psalm 40:6 context, we find the following very different wording:
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced (or opened);
But in this post I want to focus not on the misquotation itself, but rather on the explanation given for it in the commentary section below it. This is because I found it quite amusing, if a little incredulous. It’s certainly very novel. At first, the commentators give a litany of stock excuses meant to explain why the anonymous author of Hebrews felt free to change what the Hebrew Bible actually said in order to shoehorn Jesus into the Tanakh (e.g. he chose to quote not from the Hebrew original but some Greek translation; he was just paraphrasing; it was not meant to be accurate.) However, it was this last little gem that stood out for me:
The Holy Spirit who inspired the O.T. was free to reword a quotation just as a human author may restate his own writings in other words, without negating the accuracy of the original statement… The doctrine of complete inspiration only required that revelation be expressed without error.
In other words, should you dear reader come across any of the gospel authors, Paul or any other writer in the New Testament misquote or misuse the Hebrew Bible or even completely twist its original meaning, worry not. You can rest assured that since the Christian New Testament is as fully inspired by the Holy Spirit as the Jewish “Old Testament”, any and all “rewordings” have G-d’s full approval. After all, He’s the copyright holder!