Finishing my paper for Atlanta tomorrow night. Here's a brief excerpt.
...But I digress again. The original manuscripts of the New Testament were quite possibly around for some time, long enough for a significant number of pretty accurate copies to be made and for their keepers, whoever they were, to recognize early variations. I’m not saying that the earliest Christians had a culture of double-checking. When I look at how New Testament authors use the Old Testament, I feel quite confident that the message was far more what they were interested in than the precise wording or even the historical meaning as we think of it today.
The most radical example that comes to mind of this dynamic of Scripture use in the New Testament is Matthew 2:23: “And he [that is Joseph] went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” It is hard to know exactly what Old Testament verse Matthew is referring to. Judges 13:5 comes close: “the child shall be a Nazirite.” But of course this verse was referring to Samson, and a Nazirite is something quite different from Nazareth. Nazareth was a village in Galilee. A Nazirite was someone who vowed not to drink wine or cut his hair for a lifetime. Jesus was not a Nazirite.
On the other hand, Isaiah 11:1 uses a Hebrew word that looks somewhat similar to Nazareth. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” This passage is often taken messianically as a prophecy about to Jesus, and the Hebrew word for branch is nēzer. In seems to me that the best explanation of Matthew’s quote is a combination of something like these two passages, the form somewhat coming from Judges and the substance coming from Isaiah 11. The hypothesis seems confirmed by the fact that Matthew doesn’t say that this prophecy comes from a "prophet," singular. Instead, he says it was spoken “by the prophets,” plural.
By the way, this was the issue I was talking about that troubled me after my first year of seminary. I concluded that the New Testament authors read the Old Testament more like charismatics than like my seminary professors were telling me to read it. This is why that, even though I myself prefer a more “wooden” or what some call a more “literal” translation, I don’t have a problem with those who prefer The Message or biblical paraphrases. Ironically, one of the factors in Bart Ehrman losing his faith is that he found the variety among manuscripts problematic to his view of Scripture. For him, it was “wild copying,” and it was a major problem. Maybe if he had been a charismatic, he wouldn’t have lost his faith.