Isaiah 64:4 reads: 'For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.'
Paul quotes this passage in I Corinthians 2:9 where he says: 'But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'
It is noticeable that the words underlined do not occur in Isaiah. The Bible commentary of Henry and Scott explains: "The best opinion is that the Hebrew (Old Testament) text has been distorted.." Whereas Peake's Commentary offers the following explanation: "The source of the quotation is very uncertain. If from the Old Testament the points of contact are so slight that no confidence can be felt in this derivation. If the source is not the Old Testament, Paul has quoted another work under a misapprehension."
Psalm 40:6-7 reads: 'Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.'
Paul reproduces this passage in Hebrews 10:5-7: 'Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.'
The misquote is clear. Peake's Commentary says (p.896): "As usual the writer (Paul) quotes from the Septuagint which reads 'but a body hast thou prepared me' instead of 'mine ears thou hast opened' as in the Hebrew version." Henry and Scott's compilers have said: "This is a mistake of the scribes. Only one of the two statements is true."
By ignoring the language in which it was first revealed, as most Christians tend to do as a matter of routine, it became very easy to interpret passages from the Old Testament and mould them to conform to New Testament views. Hence, a common way of handling the Old Testament in the early Church was to allegorise it. In this way many non-existent prophecies about the coming Messiah, the Resurrection and even the Trinity were supposedly found in the Old Testament by Christians as proof of the correctness of their beliefs. Invariably, these became to a large extent the only texts Christians were content to quote from the Old Testament. This brought with it another problem, and which again deserves an answer: what should be the response to those cases in which the New Testament understands the Old in ways that diverge from the original meaning, particularly when the peculiarities of the original Old Testament language are ignored?
The New Testament uses Old Testament material in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes the New Testament authors state explicitly that they are quoting from the Old so as to show that the events recorded in the New Testament fulfil the promises of the Old. For example the passage which Matthew quotes in his Gospel, chapter 27, verse 9:
'Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel...'
This excerpt turned out to be one of Matthew's best known mistakes. The statement he ascribes to Jeremiah is not found anywhere in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah. A passage similar to it, however, is found in Zechariah 11:13. Horne observed in his Bible commentary (Vol.2/pp.385-386): "Some scholars think that it is an error of Matthew's version and the copier wrote Jeremiah instead of Zechariah; or it may be a later addition."
Another of Matthew's famous errors is found in his Gospel at 2:23: 'And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called Nazarene.'
This prophecy is not found in any of the books of the prophets in the Old Testament. Manfred, a Catholic scholar, wrote in his The Questions of the Question: "The books which contained this description have been destroyed, because in any of the present books of the Prophets we do not find the statement that Jesus would be called a 'Nazarene'."
Psalm 14 of the Latin and Greek translations of the Old Testament read: 'Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways and the way of the people of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.'