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Friday, July 16, 2010

kingdom priests: the use of Exodus 19:6 in the New Testament

The question came up in my current study of 1 Peter because J.H. Elliott (1 Peter, Anchor Bible) has devoted several publications over the last half century to questioning Martin Luther’s reading of 1Peter 3:5,9 in regard to the priesthood of all believers. That isn’t the subject of this post. The aim here is to look at how the Hebrew expression mamleket kohanim in Exodus 19:6 was used and quoted in the greek texts and Jubilees.

A formal equivalence representation of the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT) is found in Aquila: βασιλεία ἱερέων which readers mamleket kohanim, where mamleket is in the construct state. The LXX OG reads βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα which is an interpretive rendering, an adjective with a collective noun. J.W. Wevers (Notes on Greek Text Exodus, 295) points out that this is a chaistic construction; adjective noun conjunction noun adjective; βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα καὶ ἔθνος ἅγιον. Wevers notes this is not a common pattern in Exodus LXX OG. Theodotian and Symmachus appear to read mamlekha kohanim where mamlekha is in the absolute state rendering βασιλείαν ἱερεῖς where ἱερεῖς could be read in apposition to βασιλείαν.

In the New Testament, 1Pet. 2:9 reads like the LXX OG, Rev. 1:6 reads like Theodotian and Symmachus, and Rev. 5:10 reads like Jubilees which is not a Greek text.

Here is summary of the data:

1Pet. 2:9 ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς·

LXX OG Exodus 19:6 ὑμεῖς δὲ ἔσεσθέ μοι βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα καὶ ἔθνος ἅγιον ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ


Rev. 1:6 καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας [τῶν αἰώνων]· ἀμήν.

Theodotian and Symmachus: βασιλείαν ἱερεῖς


Rev. 5:10 καὶ ἐποίησας αὐτοὺς τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν βασιλείαν καὶ ἱερεῖς, καὶ βασιλεύσουσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

βασιλείαν καὶ ἱερεῖς - Jubilees 16:18 (R.H. Charles Rev. ICC v1 p118)


That is a summary of the problem. The question is: What is going on here?


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