Matthew 27:9 - fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet

Steven Avery

Matthew 27:9
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,
saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the price of him that was valued,
whom they of the children of Israel did value;

[textualcriticism] Matthew 27:9 - Apocryphon of Jeremiah - Prophecy to Pashhur
Steven Avery - 2010

Steven Avery

Matthew 27:9 - Apocryphon of Jeremiah - 2010 textualcriticism discussion

First post on textualcritciism

Professor James R. Davila
A brief work called Jeremiah's Prophecy to Pashhur usually follows the Ethiopic version of the book of Jeremiah and is also known in Sahidic Coptic. In it the prophet predicts that the progeny of the hostile priest Pashhur of Jeremiah 20 will condemn a righteous healer (i.e., Christ) for thirty pieces of silver and shall reap eternal condemnation as a result.

Thank you James !
This is an extremely important document, since Matthew 27:9 :

Matthew 27:9
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued,
whom they of the children of Israel did value;

is a major verse in textual conceptual battles and theories. Many note that this verse is unusual in
the verb "saying" rather than "written" or "scripture" making for a wider field of consistent interpretation.

My Pashhur section is at bottom, the next is more general review.

e.g. Daniel Wallace uses the verse in an article to try to show that the Received Text has the same type of difficulties as the TR (comparing to Alexandrian difficulties like the swine marathon from Gerasa or Mark 1:2.)

Similarly Charles Augustus Briggs uses this verse to demonstrate supposed fallibility, error, in scripture, in his heresy trial.

In the disputations with William Fulke and the rcc Stapleton the verse has a significant place, with one issue being the possible fallibility of the Reformation Bible text (even though the Vulgate agrees). Also referenced by the Fulke editor, Charles Henry Hartshorne, is an argument that the Jews attribute the last four chapters of Zechariah to Jeremiah, referenced from Allix and Mede. (This is referenced in other recent articles as well.) While William Kelly gives a rabbinical references for: "Jeremiah stood as a beginning and title to the later prophets". These are separate from the arguments that Zechariah wrote what was spoken by Jeremiah. An iceberg-tip to the historical discussion.

Professor Maurice Robinson excellently uses this verse as an example of how scribes were very slow to tamper even with difficult texts, to lectio-difficilior around, since so few manuscripts have other than Jeremy. Dean John Burgon mentions this aspect as well. William Pickering says that over 98% of the Greek mss have Jeremiah.

Ray Pritz wrote about the Jerome Commentary, although he apparently did not know about the Apocryphon.

Nazarene Jewish Christianity
Ray Pritz
... May we conclude from this that the Nazarenes possessed an apocryphal Jeremiah? It should perhaps first be noted that there is effectively no supporting evidence for Jerome's statement so our acceptance or rejection will have to depend solely on our analysis of his own words.

Note the reference to the Origen commentary.

We have the full Jerome commentary translated, with commentary, courtesy of Thomas P. Scheck.

Commentary on Matthew (2008)
Thomas P. Scheck
This testimony is not found in Jeremiah.
1 Something similar is recorded in Zechariah, who is nearly the last of the twelve prophets. 2 Yet both the order and the wording are different, although the sense is not that discordant. Recently I read something in a certain little Hebrew book that a Hebrew from the Nazarene sect 3 brought to me. It was an apocryphon of Jeremiah in which I found this text written word for word. 4 Yet it still seems more likely to me that the testimony was taken from Zechariah by a common practice of the evangelists and apostles. In citation they bring out only the sense from the Old Testament. They tend to neglect the order of the words. 5

1 Cf. Homily 11 on Ps 77 (78) in FOTC 48, 83.

2 The citation is from Zec 11.121 3 combined with the idea of purchasing a field suggested by Jer 32.6-15. This is linked with Jeremiah's description of a potter in Jer 18.2-4; 19.1-2

3. See above on Mt 12.13; !3.53-54; 22.23 n; 23.35-36.

4. Although this sounds like an authentic autobiographical incident in Jerome's recent past, G. Bardy. " "Jérôme et ses maîtres hébreux," Revue Bénédictine 46 (1934): 161, thinks that Jerome has fabricated the story based on Origen's conjecture (In Matth. comm. series, 117) about the existence of this apocryphal text. It seems possible that Jerome was inspired by Origen's reference to consult a "Hebrew from the Nazarene sect."

5. Jerome gives this same solution to the present difficulty in Ep. 57.7 to Pammachius.

The Matthew quote is also in the ACCS series.

Matthew 14-28 (2002)
Manlio Simonetti

Along with Chrysostom and Maximus of Turin, who do not comment on the apologetics.
No reference to Origen or Augustine, however.

Nor to Bede, who has a section, untranslated, here.

Tunc impletum est quod dictum est per Jeremiam ...

Any translation would be appreciated :) .

We get a discussion of the Augustine material here:

Biblical authority: a critique of the Rogers/McKim proposal (1982)
John D. Woodbridge, Kenneth S. Kantzer
In treating the problems surrounding Matthew's reference to Jeremiah rather than Zechariah in Matthew 27:9, he proposes several intricate solutions: he suggests that some interpreters may prefer to see the problem as emerging from a copyist mistake (HI, 7, 29), though he himself did not like this solution to this particular textual question; or, he notes that since the prophets spoke with one voice, for Matthew to cite Jeremiah would be the same as for him to cite Zechariah (and thus the "discrepancy" disappears, III, 7, 30). ... Or, he propounds the possibility that the Evangelist had some kind of mystical meaning in mind that clarified his reference to Jeremiah (III, 7,31).

The full Latin Augustine text is given here along with a sympathetic view and a lot of corollary material
(including a Mark 1:2 section).

A treatise on the authorship of Ecclesiastes: to which is added a dissertation on
That which was spoken through Jeremiah the Prophet, as quoted in Matthew 27. 9-10. (1880)
David Johnston

And this is a fascinating work, needing digestion !

The Jereme Pammachius quote is online :

Jerome - To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating.
....They may accuse the apostle of falsifying his version seeing that it agrees neither with the Hebrew nor with the translators of the Septuagint: and worse than this, they may say that he has mistaken the author’s name putting down Jeremiah when it should be Zechariah. Far be it from us to speak thus of a follower of Christ, who made it his care to formulate dogmas rather than to hunt for words and syllables.

John Lightoot helps with the Augustine reference, through Beza. His section is fascinating, a little wordy for here, so I will only leave in the references to Beza, Augustine, Eusebius and Kimchi, omitting Jerome and his own conclusions.

A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (c. 1660)
Exercitations upon the Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 27
John Lightfoot

How much this place hath troubled interpreters, let the famous Beza, instead of many others, declare: "This knot hath hampered all the most ancient interpreters, in that the testimony here is taken out of Zechariah, and not from Jeremiah; so that it seem plainly to have been a failing of memory, as Augustine supposes in his third book, 'De consensu evagelistarum,' chapter the seventh; as also Eusebius in the twentieth book of demonstration.

We will transcribe the following monument of antiquity out of the Talmudists (snip) ..You have this tradition quoted by David Kimchi in his preface to Jeremiah. Whence it is very plain that Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets: and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest, Matthew 16:14, because he stood first in the volume of the prophets, therefore he is first named....

Matthew 16:14
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist:
some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

This next Philip Hughes paper, in the context of Matthew 27:9, references Whitaker, Erasmus and Calvin.
And references the Augustine comment, although it is unclear if Matthew 27:9 is in the Augustine context.

The Inspiration of Scripture in the English Reformers Illuminated by John Calvin
Philip Edgcumbe Hughes
Westminster Theological Journal 23/2 (May 1961), pp. 129-151.
Augustine gives to Jerome: ‘If any, even the smallest, lie be admitted in the scriptures, the whole authority of scripture is presently invalidated and destroyed’ [Ep. XXVIII, to Jerome]. That form which the prophets use so often, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ is to be attributed also to the apostles and evangelists. For the Holy Spirit dictated to them whatever things they wrote.” (28. Op. cit., pp. 37f.

Another paper online gives a lot of technical review.

Managing “Over-Cites”: Learning from Evangelical Treatments of Faulty New Testament Citations of the Old Testament
Wes Gristy

While a fascinating paper, giving a lot of the proposed understandings, the lack of even referencing Jerome or Gill or the Apocryphon is a major missing component. It is almost as if Gristy is looking to not have any simple and strong solution.

And John Gill gives an excellent overview of the arguments and texts up to his day, overlapping a lot of what is above. Why so many modern scholars neglect Gill on issues like this and Hebraic references is a puzzle.

John Gill


Apocryphon of Jeremiah - Pashhur

Returning to Pashhur, yes, you have to consider the possibility that the work post-dates the NT and was influenced by the NT,
however the Jerome commentary is a very strong counterpoint to that conception, since Jerome very specifically says "written word for word" ! Thus if the work existed, it would be expected to be ... "word for word" as Jerome specifically says. This should not then be a surprise or a cause of rejection for being too "Christian".

Yes, someone could theorize creation of the document from between 40-50 AD to some time before Jerome, but this adds extra levels of difficulty to a late creation fabrication theory, getting accepted and around the Jerome scholarship filter.

Raymond Brown, as usual excellent in the scholarly details, is dismissive, however I do not think he correlates the Jerome statement to the Apocryphon. If someone has Death of the Messiah handy, perhaps you can check.

Raymond Brown
A pertinent Jeremiah apocryphon is known in Ethiopic, Coptic. and Arabic. Vaccari ("Versioni") reports on a 9th-cent.-AD Arabic codex of the prophets where in Jeremiah's speech to Pashhur (Jer 20) the text citcd by Matt is found but wiih clear Christian flavoring: The one who is priced heals sickness and forgives sins. Eternal perdition is invoked on those involved in the potter's field "and on their sons after them because innocent blood will be condemned. All this evidence stems from the Christian era, raising the likelihood that the Jeremiah texts have been influenced by Matt 27:9-10. We have no evidence that such a Jeremiah writing was in circulation in Matt's time.

Then Raymond Brown goes on to other material, such as:

Quesnel ("Citations") argues that Matt is not citing Zech but but Lamentations 4: 1-2 (which mentions silver, pricing, the sons of Zion, and the potter), (Death of the Messiah, p. 651)

Is there more analysis and discussion along this line ?
When was the Apocryphon discovered ?

Despite being in three languages extant today it was apparently, surprisingly, unknown even to John Gill and the earlier Reformation writers who were very intense with early writings.

Inquiring minds ... would like to know :) .

2. Steven, you mentioned "an argument that the Jews attribute the last four chapters of Zechariah to Jeremiah". Could you give a more detailed reference to this? Is there any "modern" theory on this?
My next post:

Hi Folks,

Matthew 27:9
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued,
whom they of the children of Israel did value;

And I may have to adjust this.

It looks like there are two Jewish/Hebraic arguments .. which may be combined :

1) Jeremiah == Prophets .. this is based largely on Talmud ..Bava Bathra and Lightfoot embraced this (too) strongly
One scholar wrote this as: "the Babylonian Talmud placed Jeremiah first in its grouping of the prophets" and thus the collection can go by the name (similar to Jesus referring to "Psalms"). David Christian Ginsburg mentions some mentions in this order. (Gristy gives reference)

2) spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah -- Sepher Hagilgulim (according to Surenhusius) per William Kelly

Now, for a fascinating overview of the weakness of most arguments (except two)

Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew (1870)
James Morison (1895)

Combined with the Wes Gristy article, which utilizes Morison.

In my reference above to "
last four chapters of Zechariah to Jeremiah" I probably refer back to the whole
group of Mede, Kidder and Allix arguments that are more higher criticism than Judaic. Generally they
refer to three, or six chapters, I am not checking back right now to find why I had "four".

Quartz Hill
6. This leads us then, to the sixth and final possibility, which is the one that will be used in this outline of the Bible: Matthew is correct in attributing this to Jeremiah, and our understanding of the book of Zechariah needs some modification. (continues)

Calvin's editor John King is not very sympathetic to all this, and gives us more backdrop

Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 30: Zechariah, Malachai, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at
Since the days of Calvin a dispute has arisen, originated by Mede, respecting this last portion. Owing especially to a quotation in Matt. 27:9, 10, where Jeremiah, and not Zechariah, is mentioned, many since the time of Mede, such as Hammond, Newcome, and several German divines, have adopted the notion, that these chapters have somehow been misplaced, and that they belong to the book of Jeremiah. This view has been strongly opposed by Blayney and others, who, together with Scott, Adam Clarke, and Henderson, consider that there is no sufficient ground for such a supposition, and who for various reasons think that there is a typographical mistake in Matthew (continues)


None of these interests me much.

Leaving the following.

1) Apocryphon of Jeremiah, noted by Jerome (and noted properly by Gill)

Thus this thread is fascinating, relevant.

James Miller:
To me the decisive factor indicating a Jewish as opposed to a Christian origin for this work is the fact that Jerome saw the work in a Hebrew book. In other words, the work he saw was in Hebrew or perhaps Aramaic. A Hebrew/Aramaic original is often a key criterion for classifying a work as having a Jewish as opposed to a Christian origin.

An excellent point. It is the interplay of the Jerome notation of a Hebrew word "word for word" combined with the Apocryphon extant in three languages that makes a compelling evidence. I felt the Jerome evidence itself was very strong (when I did not know of the Apocryphon) and John Gill gave it a major note even without knowing of an extant text.

John Gill
Jerom affirms, that in an Hebrew volume, being an apocryphal work of Jeremy, which was shown him by one of the Nazarene sect, he read these words verbatim: so that though they do not stand in the writings of Jeremy, which are canonical Scripture, yet in an apocryphal book of his, and which may as well be referred to, as the book of Maccabees, the traditions of the Jews, the prophecies of Enoch, and the writings of the Heathen poets.

Now, if the Apocryphon was really slavishly Christian (extreme examples, referring to Mary or triune baptism) that would be a counterpoint, yet so far three is no such indication. Simply being a word-for-word prophetic notation in a Hebrew work in 400 AD extant that is matched in the Matthew reference is hard to accuse. Occam would lean to a simple reference by Matthew over a complex forgery designed to fool Jerome ... or something. (Although modern theorists are oft-enamored with forgery theories.)

My other major interest is any interpretation that emphasizes

spoken by Jeremy

over written or scripture. The discussions along the line of "spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah" -- more importantly with the simple idea of the Holy Spirit informing us that Zechariah was recording what had been previously spoken by Jeremiah, are fully acceptable. The usage of "spoken by" looks fully deliberate and unusual.

Yet the Apocryphon theory goes well with "spoken" as well, since "written" tends to imply scripture, and the Apocryphon is not scripture.
Teunis van Lopik
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Already in 1553 Nicolaus Zegerus quoted the Hieronymus' text on the Apocryphon of Jeremiah and mentioned it as a source of Matthew's gospel. So, there is a lot of literature to investigate on the subject before to make conclusions!


Although this still does not tell us much about the discovery of the three manuscripts, it shows us the proper respect given the Jerome notation even without any external evidence. (And substantially predates my mention of John Gill.)

And Debora Shuger tells us this goes back to an auxiliary understanding from Erasmus and also mentions Clarius (1495-1555) as well as Zegerus (died 1559),

The Renaissance Bible Scholarship, Sacrifice, and Subjectivity (1994)
After Allegory : New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance
Debora Kuller Shuger

Renaissance biblical scholarship likewise sifts textual cruxes for evidence of rule-governed praxis. A particularly interesting sequence of notes considers the problem of miscitation. The beginning of Matthew 27:9 reads: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet," a line that always presented difficulties since the ensuing passage does not appear in Jeremiah but instead closely resembles Zechariah 11:12–13. Earlier sixteenth-century exegetes like Erasmus and Sebastian Munster generally view the transposition as an early scribal error or as a mistake on Matthew's part. But Erasmus also offers an alternative explanation, based on Origen and Jerome, which found wide acceptance among subsequent Roman Catholic exegetes: the citation derives from a lost apocrypha of Jeremiah. Interestingly, Erasmus is far less uneasy than Jerome about the possibility that "an oracle explicating the mystery of the Passion" could have a noncanonical source (6:930); he elsewhere notes in passing that
clearly not a few books of the Old Testament have been lost, the titles of which still remain in the canonical books: the books of the Wars of the Lord, cited in Numbers 21, and the book of the just (librum Justorum ) cited in Joshua 10 and 2 Kings 1.... [Such books] must have had great authority, since canonical Scripture so often rests on that authority. But whether they belonged to the Hebrew canon I leave to others to discover. (6:132)
This explanation, repeated in the commentaries of Clarius and Zegerus ...

Debora Shugar then goes into the canon issues and into the Grotius understanding, which includes what was mentioned in an earlier post using the source:

Sepher Hagilgulim (according to Surenhusius) per William Kelly

With Grotius similarly saying:

"the Jews were accustomed to say that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah "

From the google cache we have much of the Jan Krans notation about Erasmus, which was clearly simplified by Debora Shuger to focus on a couple of points. However, possibly because of google cache limitations, so far we do not have the exact words of Erasmus about Jerome about the Apocryphon.

Beyond what is written: Erasmus and Beza as conjectural critics of the New Testament (2006)
Jan Krans

A similar conjecture is known on Matt 27:9. In 1516, Erasmus only mentions Jerome's opinion, according to which the citation presented under Jeremiah's name is not from the biblical book of Jeremiah nor from an apocryphal writing by Jeremiah, but from
Zechariah, but taken up by the evangelist in such a way that it that it hardly corresponds to either the Hebrew text or the Septuagint. In 1519, , the annotation is considerably enlarged, mainly in order to circumvent criticism. Erasmus adds Jerome's exact words, as a way of stressing against his critics that he was only transmitting some information. He now transmits four ways to solve the problem, the first two derived from Origen and the second two from Chrysostom: to assume an error in the transmission of Matthew's text; Erasmus adds that... " ... Matthew's indication as guided and warranted by the Holy Spirit." Of
these four possibilities, an error of transmission is the most likely possibility, according to Erasmus, but he adds:
For the rest, even if there had been a lapse of memory in the nameonly, I do not think it becoming that anyone be so irritable that for that reason the authority of the entire Holy Scripturewould waver. 5 Erasmus even adds a fifth possibility, according to which the prophet Zechariah may have had a double name, just as the Zechariah mentioned in Matt 23:35.'° In 1535, finally, Erasmus adds Augustine's rather complicated ideas, which hold that Matthew's lapse of memory (in writing 'Jeremiah') was actually ....

(p. 156-157)

5 - In the annotation 'Aperiam in parabolis os meum' on Matt 13:35(ASD VI-5, p. 226 ll. 838-847; from 1516 onwards). .

Paraphrase on Matthew (2008)
Jerome Comm in Matt 4 (on Matt 27:9-10) pl 26 205B had stated quite bluntly that the citation was not from Jeremiah. Cf Albright-Mann Matthew (ab) 341. ... (p. 364)