Christopher Stanley in his work, Arguing with Scripture: The Rhetoric of Quotations in the Letters of Paul, suggests that the only references “that Paul’s first-century audience definitely would have recognized are those that are marked as such within the text” (e.g., as with “an explicit quotation formula”). Stanley thus cautions “against the presumption that Paul’s first-century audience recognized and appreciated his many unmarked references to the biblical text.” I say cautions, as there may be legitimate appeals to intertextuality where formal quotation formulae are absent. Stanley's helpful contribution comes to us in his analysis of types of audiences.
Types of Audiences
(a) The informed audience – ‘a person who knows the original context of every one of Paul's quotations and is willing to engage in critical dialogue with Paul about his handling of the biblical text.’
(b) The competent audience – the ‘hypothetical person who knows just enough of the Jewish Scriptures to grasp the point of Paul's quotations in their current rhetorical context.’
(c) The minimal audience – ‘...people in this category were aware of the high degree of respect given to the Scriptures in Christian circles. As a result, they would have been inclined to take seriously any argument that claimed to be grounded in the biblical text. But their ability to follow the argument of a passage laced with quotations would have been limited.’
Richard Hays has suggested that, “The implied readers of these letters appear to be primarily Gentile Christians with an extensive knowledge of the LXX and an urgent interest in interpretation.” Is this a valid assumption? Does this work for all the letters of Paul or the New Testament, or just some of the letters? The question remains, what type of audience will be able to recognise, recall, connect, assess and trust Paul’s intertextual reading?