[b-greek] Re: the intent of Mk. 14:38

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (jgibson000@home.com)
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 14:53:38 EDT

Glenn Blank wrote:

> Paul wrote on Tue, 29 May 2001 22:57:31 -0700-
> >I have serious doubts whether PEIRASMON refers to "subjecting God to a
> >testing of his faithfulness" rather than to the temptation of the
> >disciples. In the immediate context it appears Christ serves as an
> >example of praying so that He Himself would not enter into temptation (v.
> >36). In fact, this is the second time Christ prayed so He would not
> >enter temptation, the first time being when He had prayed and fasted for
> >40 days, and Satan came to tempt Him (1:13).
> >
> >No, the normal interpretation here seems contextually preferrable.
> >Christ prayed so He would not enter into temptation and He encouraged His
> >disciples to do the same. He knew that even though we may mean well (in
> >spirit), our tired and weak flesh if unchecked by prayer will lead us
> >into temptation and sin. Such indeed was the case with the disciples who
> >failed to pray, fell asleep, and fell away with fear when the Master was
> >arrested.
> I agree. In addition to the immediate context of Christ praying so as to
> not succumb to temptation, the recent interchange between Peter and Jesus in
> 29-31 adds significance to this understanding of PEIRASMON as "temptation"
> and not "subjecting God to testing." It is as if Jesus is saying, "I know
> you think will never deny me, but you don't understand just how weak your
> flesh is."
> Hence, while there is possibly a hint of allusion to Psalm 78:38 in Mark
> 14:38c, one need not look so far afield for its relevance to the exhortation
> to watch: Peter's self-confidence in in v 29 against the backdrop of the
> disciples' complacency in v 37a would provide all the motivation necessary
> for adding v 38c to his exhortation.

I wonder if this is not reading modern understandings of the human personality into
the text. In any case, a datum that we have to take into account here is the
presentation through out Mark's Gospel of how the disciples, who should be loyal to
Jesus, keep sliding over to the side of "this generation" and "those outside" who,
like the wilderness generation are characterized by the same sort of unfaithfulness
displayed by the wilderness generation, until here they end up going over completely.
Moreover, Peter has already shown himself at Mk 8:27-31 to thinking the "things of
men" when it comes to accepting "the way" God demands of all who would follow him. So
in the light of this, the idea that the disciples on the verge of fully doubting and
rejecting the sufficiency of God's ways, of becoming like the wilderness generation,
is underscored since, in Mark's story world, it is what they have been giving
themselves over to all along since Peter's "confession" (cf. the story of James and
John asking for seats of glory).

Then there's the larger issue of whether PEIRASMOS **ever** means "temptation". But
B-Greek readers from long ago know where I stand on that one.


Jeffrey Gibson
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626
e-mail jgibson000@home.com

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