Aspectual Substitution

Verbal Change in New Testament Quotations of the Septuagint

by Samuel J. Freney (Author)
©2020 Monographs XVIII, 306 Pages
Series: Studies in Biblical Greek, Volume 20


Aspectual Substitution: Verbal Change in New Testament Quotations of the Septuagint examines quotations where the New Testament author quotes the Septuagint but changes the tense-form of the verb, substituting one aspectual value for another, often in furtherance of a typological, prophetic, or theological connection. Taking into account various models of the verb in Koine Greek, including tenseless and aspect-prominent proposals, this study employs contrastive substitution to analyze the significance of aspectual substitution in quotations, concluding that the future tense-form encodes perfective aspect and is marked for future temporal reference.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations and Conventions
  • 1 Introduction
  • Aspectual Substitution in New Testament Quotations
  • Research Question
  • Contribution of This Study
  • Outline of Contents
  • 2 Background Issues
  • Interlocking Fields
  • The Nature of the LXX
  • The Old Testament in the New
  • Verbal Aspect
  • Summary of Background Issues
  • 3 Linguistic Models and Methodology
  • Systemic Functional Linguistics
  • Selecting the Data
  • Linguistic Justification
  • 4 The Synoptic Gospels
  • Matthew 4:15–16
  • Matthew 13:14 || Mark 4:12 || Luke 8:10 || Acts 28:26
  • Matthew 19:18–19 || Mark 10:19 || Luke 18:20 || James 2:11
  • Matthew 22:24 || Mark 12:19 || Luke 20:28
  • Matthew 24:29 || Mark 13:25
  • Matthew 24:30 || Mark 13:26 || Luke 21:27; Matthew 26:64 || Mark 14:62
  • Matthew 26:31 || Mark 14:27
  • Matthew 27:35 || Mark 15:24 || Luke 23:34 || John 19:24
  • Mark 9:48
  • Luke 23:46
  • 5 Other Narrative: John, Acts
  • John 1:51
  • John 2:17
  • John 15:25
  • Acts 2:27–31; 13:35–37
  • Acts 7:5
  • Acts 7:40
  • 6 Epistolary Material
  • Romans 3:4
  • Romans 9:33; 10:11
  • Romans 11:2
  • Romans 11:3–4
  • 1 Corinthians 5:13
  • Hebrews 8:5
  • Hebrews 8:8–12; 10:16–17
  • James 2:11
  • Revelation 2:27
  • 7 Synthesis
  • Aspectual Substitution
  • Quotation Technique
  • The Future Tense-Form
  • 8. Conclusions
  • Appendix Non-aspectual Changes
  • A.1 Matthew 2:15
  • A.2 Matthew 2:18
  • A.3 Matthew 3:3 || Mark 1:3 || Luke 3:5 || John 1:23
  • A.4 Matthew 4:10 || Luke 4:8
  • A.5 Matthew 16:27 || Romans 2:6
  • A.6 Matthew 19:4–5 || Mark 10:6–8
  • A.7 Luke 4:19
  • A.8 Acts 1:20
  • A.9 Acts 4:24
  • A.10 Romans 2:6
  • A.11 Romans 9:9
  • A.12 Romans 9:27
  • A.13 Romans 12:20
  • A.14 1 Corinthians 1:19
  • A.15 1 Corinthians 15:27
  • A.16 1 Corinthians 15:54
  • A.17 Hebrews 2:12
  • A.18 Hebrews 13:5
  • A.19 1 Peter 2:3
  • A.20 1 Peter 3:10–12
  • A.21 Revelation 7:17 || Revelation 21:4
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

←x | xi→



Table 4.1 Isaiah 8:23–9:1; Matthew 4:14–16

Table 4.2Isaiah 6:9–10; Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12

Table 4.3 Isaiah 6:9–10; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26

Table 4.4 Exodus 20:12–16; Deuteronomy 5:16–20; Matthew 19:18–19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; James 2:11

Table 4.5 Genesis 38:8; Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28

Table 4.6 Isaiah 34:4; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24–25

Table 4.7 Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62 Luke 21:27

Table 4.8 Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27

Table 4.9 Psalm 21:19; Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24

Table 4.10 Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48

Table 4.11 Psalm 30:6; Luke 23:46

Table 5.1 Genesis 28:12; John 1:51

Table 5.2 Psalm 68:9–10; John 2:17

Table 5.3 Psalm 34:19–20; Psalm 68:4–5; John 15:25

Table 5.4 Psalm 15:8–10; Acts 2:25–28, 31

Table 5.5 Psalm 15:10; Acts 13:34–35, 36–37

←xi | xii→

Table 5.6 Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; 48:4; Acts 7:5

Table 5.7 Exodus 32:1; 32:23; Acts 7:40

Table 6.1 Psalm 50:6; Romans 3:4

Table 6.2 Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33; 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6

Table 6.3 1 Kingdoms 12:22; Psalm 93:14; Romans 11:2

Table 6.4 3 Kingdoms 19:10, 14, 18; Romans 11:2–4

Table 6.5 Deuteronomy 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21; 22:24; 24:7; 1 Corinthians 5:13

Table 6.6 Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5

Table 6.7 Jeremiah 38:31–34; Hebrews 8:8–12

Table 6.8 Jeremiah 38:31–34; Hebrews 10:16–17

Table 6.9 Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27

Table 7.1 Psalm 93:9; Plant. 29

Table 7.2 Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; Barnabas 5:12

←xiv | xv→



I wish to offer my thanks to those who have contributed significantly to getting me to this point. This book started out life as a doctoral dissertation, so first thanks go to my supervisor, Dr. Constantine Campbell: I have deeply appreciated his guidance in the direction of the project, his close reading and eye for detail along the way, his jazz recommendations, and our shared appreciation of fine coffee. So too for my other advisors, Dr. Dana Harris and Dr. Richard Averbeck: their insights and suggestions have helped shape this study to be far stronger than it otherwise would have been. The editorial team at Peter Lang have also provided great support in the transition stages of this project to its final form, especially Liam McLean and Meagan Simpson.

I have also been helped by the communities of which I have been a part. My colleagues at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) have been a great encouragement, especially those in my regular prayer group: Dan Cole, Sean Christensen, Derek Rishmawy, and Okode Enoch. My study/coffee/snorkelling group from Moore Theological College (dubbed “Team Zissou” for reasons that are lost to time) has also been a great support and useful source of discussion, insight, and proof-reading. Special thanks go to Chris Swann, Rebekah Earnshaw, and Mike Allen on this front.

←xv |

My family have been invaluable support over the past few years. My daughter Elissa has weathered moving around the world, all manner of life changes, and still managed to muster enthusiasm for a “PhDone Party” on our return to Australia. (She also thinks that getting mentioned at the start of a book is pretty neat.) The years working on this project has cost my wife Kristy quite a lot, but she too has weathered it with characteristic grace and humor. I am very thankful to God for both of them.

←xvi | xvii→


List of Abbreviations and Conventions

Abbreviations in this book follow the conventions laid out in the Society of Biblical Literature Handbook of Style, second edition, with the following additions:


Acta Linguistica Hafniensia


Biblical and Greek Linguistics


Believers Church Bible Commentary


Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies


Expositor’s Bible Commentary


Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society


Foundations of Language


IVP New Testament Commentary Series


Journal of Linguistics


Journal of Translation and Textilinguistics


Midwest Region Society of Biblical Literature


New Studies in Biblical Theology


Studies in Biblical Greek


Story of God Bible Commentary


Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy


Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

←xvii |

Conventions used in this work include the following:

1. Greek tense-forms are capitalized, for example, Aorist, Present, Future, etc. This distinguishes the morphological descriptor from temporal indicators or other functional descriptions, for example, the Future tense-form vs. future temporal reference; the Historical Present vs. a factor being present in a clause, etc.

2. In exegetical chapters, tables are provided for comparison of texts.

  (i) Words that have been removed in the NT context are marked with strikethrough text.

 (ii) Additions are not marked.

(iii) Clauses that have been transposed from their original position are marked with this symbol: ∿.

3. Throughout the text, emphasis is marked by italic font-face. When considering Greek text in particular this should not be confused with the NA28 convention of indicating quotations with italics.

4. Versification of the LXX, MT, and English versions of the OT often differ. Unless indicated otherwise, references are to LXX versification, except for where secondary material using a different convention is directly cited.

←0 | 1→



Aspectual Substitution in New Testament Quotations

Seeing in advance, David spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, for his soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his body see decay. (Acts 2:31)

As Peter preached to the crowds at Pentecost, one of the portions of the Greek Scriptures he drew on was David’s prophecy about the Messiah in Psalm 15 LXX. Specifically, in order to make the case that Jesus of Nazareth is both Lord and Christ, he faithfully quoted Psalm 15:8–11:1

προορώμην τὸν κύριον ἐνώπιόν μου διὰ παντός,

ὅτι ἐκ δεξιῶν μού ἐστιν ἵνα μὴ σαλευθῶ.

διὰ τοῦτο ηὐφράνθη ἡ καρδία μου καὶ ἠγαλλιάσατο ἡ γλῶσσά μου,

ἔτι δὲ καὶ ἡ σάρξ μου κατασκηνώσει ἐπ᾿ ἐλπίδι,

ὅτι οὐκ ἐγκαταλείψεις τὴν ψυχήν μου εἰς ᾅδην

οὐδὲ δώσεις τὸν ὅσιόν σου ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν.

←1 | 2→

ἐγνώρισάς μοι ὁδοὺς ζωῆς,

πληρώσεις με εὐφροσύνης μετὰ τοῦ προσώπου σου.

I saw the Lord always before me,

because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced,

and my flesh will dwell in hope,

because you will not abandon my soul to Hades,

nor give your holy one to see decay.

You made known to me the paths of life:

you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Acts 2:25–28)2

In his subsequent commentary on the significance of this passage, the apostle again referred to this same text of Psalm 15 LXX, but as he argued that David must have been speaking not about himself but of the resurrection of the Christ (τῆς ἀναστάσεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ), he changed original Future tense-forms to Aorist forms:

ὅτι οὔτε ἐγκατελείφθη εἰς ᾅδην οὔτε ἡ σὰρξ αὐτοῦ εἶδεν διαφθοράν.

For he was not abandoned in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:31, compare 2:27)

Specifically, ἐγκαταλείψεις, δώσεις … ἰδεῖν of 2:27 (cf. Ps 15:10 LXX) were altered to ἐγκατελείφθη, εἶδεν (Acts 2:31). More detailed analysis of what exactly this change in verbal form contributes to the argument of Peter’s sermon will appear below. For now, this example serves to illustrate what happens in many places throughout the NT: citations of the Greek Scriptures frequently occur with altered verb forms. Rarely is the change made quite so explicitly as here, but it is by no means the only instance of verbal change in NT quotations of the OT. Similar changes to verbal forms in quotations occur across the NT corpus, with formal changes to aspect, mood, person, and lexeme.3

←2 | 3→

Morphological changes like this are interesting data points regarding the conversation surrounding the Greek verbal system.4 Major recent scholarship has several focal points: the degree to which the Greek verb formally encodes temporal reference;⁠5 the nature of the Future tense-form;6 and how the Perfect form is to be understood.7 Analyzing the distribution of quotation changes holds promise for the first two debates. It will not allow us, however, to make any determination on the question of the Perfect, for the simple reason that in keeping with broader distribution of tense-forms there are precious few Perfect/Pluperfect verbs in the ←3 | 4→set of altered quotations. There are, however, a great number of Future tense-forms, especially in opposition to Present and Aorist tense-forms. Furthermore, these changes often take place in contexts charged with biblical-theological import. These factors suggest that these changes, if considered through the lens of a suitable linguistic framework, may shed light on the nature of the Future form and the (a)temporal nature of the verb.


XVIII, 306
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (February)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XVIII, 306 pp., 29 tables.

Biographical notes

Samuel J. Freney (Author)

Samuel J. Freney works in Sydney, Australia, in Christian ministry with university students and translation projects for Australian indigenous languages. He earned his PhD in theological studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.


Title: Aspectual Substitution
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
326 pages