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

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (jgibson000@home.com)
Date: Thu May 31 2001 - 17:50:16 EDT

Glenn Blank wrote:

> >
> In answer to my,
> >>
> >> It seems that Mark 1:13 is itself an example of PEIRAZW meaning to be
> >> tempted. Satan is doing the tempting, and his intent is not just to test
> >> Jesus but to entice Jesus to sin.
> You wrote,
> >Is it? The testing is actually authored by God since it is the Spirit which
> forces
> >Jesus into the encounter. And the Stan is under God's directive to do what
> he does to
> >Jesus. Is any enticement mentioned?
> I would contend that yes, enticement is mentioned, at least in Matthew. Is
> not Satan seeking to entice Jesus to use his power for satisfying his own
> desires and to worship Satan? Is he not also presenting an enticement to do
> so: that is, the promise to give Jesus all the Kingdoms of the earth?

This is a common reading. But it seems belied by the fact that each of the things that
Jesus is asked to do (call upon God to, as is his right as son to do, to provide him
with sustenance from rocks, sustain him in dangerous situations, and, like the
Israelites who, on the verge of entering into Canaan, heard the tales of the Giants
who inhabited the land and thought that they should give fealty to idols rather than
Yahweh in order to insure that they gain what is by rights theirs) is a recapitulation
of what the Israelites' "testing" in the wilderness. And these were not enticements.
They were provings.

Moreover, we have a thematic and formal parallel to The Matthean Lukan version of the
wilderness testing in b. Sanhedren 89b -- a midrash on God's testing of Abraham in
Genesis 22 in which the devil is commissioned to carry out a this divinely ordained
testing and uses Scripture to do so. Now it's instructive to note that here when the
devil tests Abraham, he does not "tempt" him -- that is, entice him, offer him the
prospect of pleasure or advantage if he acts one way rather than another. Rather,
under God's directive, his method is to appeal to scripture and to his knowledge of
God's ways by virtue of his privileged position as a member of the heavenly court (the
devil is, as in Job, a bene Elohim) to convince Abraham that he need not carry out
God's command, for it is contrary to God's ways and not really what God requires of of
the Patriarch.

In other words, what this text indicates is that you may be importing into the
wilderness testing story some assumptions about the MO of the devil when he is engaged
in "testing" that may NOT have been part of the way that those in the first century
thought the devil operated.

> Whether or not God is the ultimate author of the testing, or to what extent
> He directs Satan as opposed to merely permitting Satan is not clear from the
> text (I suppose at issue here would be whether the infinitive PEIRASQHNAI in
> Matthew 4:1 is purposive).

This is how it is taken by most commentators.

> What is explicit in the text is that Satan is
> presented as the agent of PEIRAZAMENOS (hUPO SATANA), and from Matthew and
> Luke we learn that the PEIRASMOS involved enticement to do evil. That seems
> to me to be the definition of "temptation."

It may be what the definition of temptation is. But the question is whether or not
"temptation" is an adequate or justified translation of PEIRASMOS!



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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